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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Preserved Lemons

They don't look like much but they pack a lot of amazing lemon flavor!
I think preserved lemons are wonderful: lemony, salty, just a little tart. I have a recipe that makes 8 of them, which is a lot because you don't need much in any recipe and they take up a bit of room in the fridge for months and months.

I recently found a recipe for just 2 of them. I started them yesterday and they should be ready to use in a week (though not at their best - that takes a month). It's really simple and you can keep them in a pint jar. This is just what I need to make this recipe - Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives - more often. Try it. You will love its fresh Mediterranean flavors. You don't need to make your own preserved lemons. They are now available at many good markets. But, it's so easy to do it, why not!

Preserved Lemons
(makes 2)

2 whole lemons, washed and dried
coarse salt, like kosher salt
about ½ cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

Cut the lemons into eighths. Pour a layer of salt into a shallow dish. Roll each lemon piece in the salt to cover. Drop in a pint canning jar with a tight-fighting lid. When all the lemons are in the jar, pour in enough lemon juice to cover. Squish the pieces down to remove any air bubbles. Cover tightly and leave on the counter at room temperature for 1 week. Each day invert. After 1 week, they are ready to use but they will be at their best after 1 month. Store in the fridge after 1 week. Will keep for at least 6 months.

From Cooking with Fruit by Rolce Redard Payne and Dorrit Speyer Senior, Random House, 1992.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Spicy Lamb Burgers

Paul Gauguin - La bergère bretonne.jpg
"Paul Gauguin - La bergère bretonne" by Paul Gauguin - Sotheby's (not for sale, only as a reference). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Lamb is one of my favorite meats, which is pretty obvious  if you look at recipes posted on this blog (like lamb espresso, Scotch broth, or a lamb-lentil stew). Most Americans do not share my love of lamb; yearly consumption is so small it barely shows up next to other meats. Hey, that doesn't deter me! I'll keep posting my favorite lamb recipes for you few "dyed in the wool" lamb lovers (yes, pun intended).

Ground lamb is often fairly fatty. If you grind it yourself, you can get a leaner mix. The added fat does add to the unctousness of the burgers, however.

Spicy Lamb Burgers
(serves 4)

1 pound ground lamb
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano or other hot green chile, minced
¼ cup minced parsley or cilantro
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Combine everything in a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Form into 4 burgers. Let rest for 10 minutes - use this time to get your grill smokin' hot. Grill or sear in a very hot cast-iron pan until done to your liking. I wouldn't go past medium and medium-rare is even better. For medium-rare, 4 minutes per side will be enough if you use a very hot grill or pan.

Though very much mixing up ethnic origins, this burger(Pakistani) is delicious with Romesco Sauce (Spanish).

Adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steve Raichlen, Workman Publishing Company, Inc, 1998.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Asparagus Ham Soup

Asparagus makes a lovely soup. This recipe is adapted from a microwave recipe in Barbara Kafka's The Microwave Gourmet, the original gourmet cookbook for the microwave. I didn't use my microwave, however. What can I say? I'm kind of old school when it comes to cooking.

You could use the whole spear but that seems like a bit of a waste here. Save up your trimmings and peelings in the freezer, then make this soup when you have collected enough.

Asparagus and Ham Soup
(serves 6)

1 pound asparagus trimmings
4 ½ cups ham stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup heavy cream
kosher salt to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper

Chop the asparagus trimmings into 1" pieces. Place the asparagus, ham stock, and chopped onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until asparagus is tender, about 30 minutes. Run the soup through the fine disk of a food mill - asparagus has a lot of long indestructible fibers, so this takes a bit of work. Return the soup to the saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice, cream, maybe a little bit of salt (ham stock is plenty salty), and black pepper. Heat on low until just hot, not boiling. Can also be served cold.

"Légumes du marché 2" by Vassil - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -