"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lamb Chops with a Goat Cheese Crust

I learned this preparation at the famed Greenbrier Hotel while apprenticing there after culinary school.  The creamy, earthiness of the chevre cheese makes a fantastic compliment to the lamb.  Served with a simple lamb jus, rosemary roasted potatoes and heirloom carrots for a terrific weekend or holiday meal.

Serves 4-6 people

2 racks of lamb, frenched and trimmed (Frenching is just removing the fat and sinew from the bones of the lamb rack to give them a clean, neat appearance)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
4 oz. mild goat cheese, warmed to room temperature
1/2 C. panko bread crumbs
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Season lamb generously with salt and pepper.  Drizzle each with olive oil and reserve.  Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over high heat.  Make sure your hood vent is on, you are about to create a lot of smoke.  Once pan is very hot place lamb racks (one at a time) in the skillet fat side down and sear brown on all sides about 4-5 minutes then turn and sear the other side.  (This can be done outside on your grill, so you don't smoke up the house) Remove and reserve on a sheet pan.  Repeat with the other rack.  Once cool enough to handle rub garlic and herbs over entire surface of each rack.  Then coat each with mustard.  With bones facing down and using a rubber spatula, spread goat cheese evenly across each of the loin parts of the lamb, leaving the bones as clean as possible.  Once complete, coat each rack on all sides with breadcrumbs.

Place racks on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and into the hot oven; cook for 20-25 minutes until breadcrumbs have browned and lamb is medium-rare (125° F internal temperature).  If crumbs aren't sufficiently brown you can place racks under a hot broiler for a minute to get the color right.  Remove lamb from oven, reserve off to the side and DO NOT TOUCH for 10-15 minutes.  This is essential for the meat to rest and not bleed all over your board once cut.  Once rested properly, slice between ever two bones (double chops) and serve.  Enjoy!

Kim's Southwest Wedge Salad

As much as I love to cook, having someone cook for me is a very close second.  Especially, when it's done well.  Last night Kim took over the helm and prepared an expertly done grilled Romaine salad with an addictive Poblano dressing.  It included Mexican spiced chicken and a host of ingredients that came together in a smoky, seductive plate that I can't get off my mind.  It's simple, easy to prepare and you're going to love it.  Thanks Babe!  Enjoy!!

Poblano Dressing
1/2 C. fresh cilantro
1/2 C. roughly chopped Poblano pepper
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Tbsps. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped onion
1 Tbsp. agave (can also use honey)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 garlic clove
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

3 strips smoked bacon, diced
1# boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1"cubes (strips or shredded after cooked can work too)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 red onion, sliced into rings
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ears corn, shucked
1 C. cherry tomatoes
1 head red romaine, stem trimmed (but, still intact so head stays together)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

Preheat broiler to high heat.  Preheat grill to high.

Prepare dressing; place all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until completely smooth.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl add chicken, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat and set aside.  Broiler should be hot by now.  In a shallow oven dish, toss tomatoes with olive oil and place under broiler to blister; 2-3 minutes, then turn and 2-3 minutes more.  Remove, turn off broiler and reserve on the side.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel.  Chop bacon roughly and set aside.

Add chicken to hot bacon fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until cooked through 5-7 minutes.  Remove chicken and reserve in a bowl covered with tin foil to keep warm.  Add onion rings to hot skillet and sauté until slightly charred, 4-5 minutes.

Remove skillet from flame and add ears of corn directly to the burner.  Cook on burner for 5-7 minutes rotating corn frequently until slightly charred on all sides.  (The corn will pop and make all kinds of noise, this is normal and kinda fun!)  Once done, slice the corn off the cob and set aside in a small bowl.

Drizzle some olive oil on the cut-side of the romaine and season with salt and pepper.  Place cut-side down on very hot grill at a ten o'clock position (we're going to get those really cool diamond shaped char marks), press down gently and let sit for 1-2 minutes.  Using tongs move lettuce to a two o'clock position, press down gently and let cook for another minute or two.  (You are looking to just char the lettuce a bit, not cook it so as to be limp and mushy.  The lettuce should still be crisp, while getting a beautiful smoky quality from the grill.)

Assemble your salads; Use the lettuce wedge as the base and top with all the ingredients, don't forget the avocado.  Drizzle dressing over and serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lemon Bars

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For filling:
6 extra large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioner sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350° F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in a bowl with an electric mixer. Combine the flour and salt, with the mixer on low, add to the butter and mix until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands, press it into a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking sheet. Building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on. 

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioner sugar. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

1 red bell pepper
1 green onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Agave syrup (Can substitute honey)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Oregano
Juice of one lime
1/4 C. White vinegar
1/4 C. Olive oil
1/2 C. Canola oil
Kosher Salt and pepper

First, roast the red pepper.  This is easily done by turning one of the eyes on your range top to high.  Using tongs, place the whole red pepper directly onto the burner and let the skin char black.  Make sure to char the entire outside of the pepper.  This will take about five minutes. Make sure you rotate the pepper to blacken all of the skin. Once complete, remove from burner and place in bowl, cover tightly with saran wrap. Set aside and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Once done remove pepper and in the sink under a light stream of water, using a small utility knife (or fingers) remove all the charred skin, leaving the red flesh.  (This technique will allow you to very easily remove the skin and gives the pepper a beautiful smoky quality.) 
Now remove the stem, seeds, and ribs out of the pepper.  (I make all my dressings in a 4 cup Pyrex mixing cup and use a mixing wand to incorporate all ingredients.  Other than my 8" chef's knife and pans, it's the most used tool in my kitchen, I love it!!)  Assuming you don't have a wand, you can use a blender or food processor also.  If so, add all ingredients and process until fully emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper, Enjoy!
If you don't have any of these tools, just chop pepper finely and add to a clean mixing bowl.  Add all other ingredients EXCEPT the oils, salt and black pepper. Mix together.  Take a kitchen towel, twirl to make kind of a rope and place on the counter in a circle (looks like a towel ring).  Place the bowl in the center, so towel acts as a sort of base.  This will stop the bowl from rocking or moving as you are now going to do a whole lot of whisking.  Once ready, using your whisk (a fork can work too), very vigorously start whisking as you very slowly stream the oils into mixture and emulsify your dressing.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Mexican chicken casserole

This casserole is very easy to put together and quick enough to do (because of the cooked chicken) during the week. It was an instant hit with the family. I served it with mashed avocados and a simple salad tossed in a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. I’m sure it’ll be a hit with yours, Enjoy!

1 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (I love Costco for these, very large birds and you can't beat the price)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded Mexican style or taco cheese
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. Cilantro
1 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo sauce (some may find these very hot, use to taste)
1 Jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed, diced finely
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Sliced green onion to garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well until cheese and mayonnaise is fully incorporated. Lightly grease a casserole dish and add mixture to it. Cover and place in hot oven for 30 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.  Garnish with green onion, serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jalapeno and Cheddar Corn Muffins

These beauties are easy to throw together and delicious.  I made a chicken white bean chili last week and made these as a go with.  Can't get your hands on fresh tender corn, no problem, frozen will do.  Just make sure to fully thaw before you add them to the batter.  Enjoy!

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter plus more to grease muffin tin
1 C. tender raw corn kernels (use frozen (fully thawed) if fresh is unavailable)
1 jalapeno chile, chopped finely
Kosher salt
White pepper (use fresh cracked black if don't have)
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. white or yellow cornmeal
1 1/s tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
4 oz. grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Using soften butter grease muffin tins and reserve off to the side.

Put 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and heat over med-high heat.  Add corn and jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve off to the side.  Melt remaining 4 tablespoons in a separate pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients plus 1 teaspoon salt (except cheese).  Beat in buttermilk and eggs to make a thick batter.  Add corn, chiles, cheese, and melted butter.  Mix to incorporate.

Using a spoon put batter into each greased tin, fill 3/4 way.  Place into over and bake for 10 minutes (if using larger muffin tins you may need to cook longer, use toothpick to test doneness) until golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanly.  Let cool 15 minutes.  Serve and Enjoy!

weekly Menu 3/3 - 3/9

Dinner out with Paul and Robbie

Brined Pork Chops stuffed with Apples, Bacon and Mushrooms
Pan Gravy
Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Cranberries

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
Baby Greens Salad with Citrus-Herb Vinaigrette

Mexican Chicken Salad
Roasted Corn with Cilantro
Smashed Avocado

Pan Roasted Steelhead Trout with Shallots and Lemon Butter
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Roasted Carrots with Honey and Chiles

Chicken Piccata
Caesar Salad

Kona Rubbed Ribeye Steak
Wild Mushroom Braise
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Lemon Zest