Cider and Honey Roast Leg of Lamb

September 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

My blog is long overdue for a post so I decided to semi-document my dinner makings tonight – cider and honey roast leg of lamb! Which turned out to be succulent, tender, and overall delicious!

Courtesy of Chef Gordon Ramsay from his cookbook Cooking for Friends.

Ingredients:

1 leg of lamb, about 4 ½ pounds (it says fat trimmed, but I didn’t do anything to mine)
olive oil for drizzling
3-4 garlic cloves, skin on, halved
few sprigs of fresh thyme
juice of ½ lemon
4 tart cooking apples
2 cups hard cider
clear honey for drizzling
1 ¼ cups lamb or chicken stock
salt (I used French grey sea salt from The Spice House)
pepper

              

Preheat oven to 425 F. Calculate the cooking time for the lamb: 12 minutes per pout for medium rare, 15 minutes per pound for medium. I cooked this leg at medium for ~105 total minutes.

Score the fat around the leg of lamb in a crisscross pattern. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fat and rub all over with salt and pepper. Place in a deep roasting pan and scatter the garlic and thyme ove rand around the leg. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and drizzle on more olive oil. Sprinkle with a little more seasoning. Roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

Quarter and core the apples. Remove the lamb from the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Scatter the apples around the lamb and baste the lamb with the cider. Turn the leg over and drizzle on 2 tablespoons of honey. Roast for 30 minutes.

Turn the lamb over and baste with the pan juices, then drizzle another tablespoon of honey over the meat. Continue to roast for the calculated time. To check for doneness, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the lamb, then press the meat lightly; the redder the juices, the rarer the meat. Lift the lamb onto a carving board and cover with a piece of foil. Let rest in a warm place while you prepare the gravy.

At this point, the apples and garlic in the roasting pan should be very soft. Press with a fork, then tip the entire contents of the pan into a fine sieve set over a saucepan. Push down on the back of a ladle to extract all the juices and flavor from the apples and garlic. Discard the pulp. Place the saucepan over medium heat and add the stock. Bring to a boil and let bubble vigorously until the sauce has thickened to the desired gravy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then pour into a warm gravy boat. Carve the lamb into think slices and serve with the apple and cider gravy.

Wine paring recommendation: Cabernet Sauvignon

I made rosemary and thyme roasted potatoes and steamed baby broccoli to go along with it (though the potatoes were done late and thus the finished product is now in my stomach instead of in the picture, haha!).

Rosemary and thyme potatoes:

2 lbs red potatoes
olive oil
rosemary
thyme
salt
pepper

Quarter potatoes and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Toss in a bowl and place in an 8×8 baking dish. They take about an hour in a 400 F oven.

Pardon my poor photos…I’m not the best at taking them, that’s Aaron’s department!

Going Green

August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yes, you printed out that Groupon last week and are now rummaging through your purse to find the deal…except you accidentally threw it away yesterday whilst cleaning out the random “scraps” of paper. Oops. Thankfully Groupon has an app that lets you pull it up on your phone. This is why I now avoid printing out my special deals…I always lose them!

“Going Green” is annoying. Not recycling and causing air pollutants are not the real problems – it’s our high paced, instant satisfaction, consumer lifestyle. But in some ways, that lifestyle is going green on its own.

For the green part, I think I do my fair share to help the environment. I have plants and fish (Bubbie II and Fiona), I eat mostly (overpriced) organic foods, and I recycle glass bottles and jars. I minimize actual mail out of convenience (not out of greenness) and am a bad pen pal because I seldom write letters.

Growing up, recycle was an extra fee and it took forever to sort things out! And have you ever noticed how things in the store that are made out of recycled products are more expensive? I always wondered how a product that’s made out of someone else’s trash is more expensive?

In reality when people ask you to go green and reduce your carbon footprint, they are really asking you to spend more money and complicate your life – the two things people try to AVOID especially since advertising and products are built around ways to make our lives simpler. Not that I’m an environment hater here, but there has to be a better way of helping out the environment other than being green. Or maybe, it’s just that they’re going about it the wrong way.

So you lost your Groupon to the trash…so many things have become electronic these days, like Groupons, books, newspapers, magazines, articles, documents, presentations and even your mail! Paper is still a necessity of life, but that list presents a way of being more organized with the added benefit of less paper. There are some people who just need to print things out. Stop harassing them! Because the younger generations are using less paper, eventually most things will be electronic and your paper rants will be a thing of the past.

But what really gets me is the Carbon Footprint.

Gasoline and natural fuels have unfortunate air polluting byproducts. And that fact is not going to change, nor are people going to stop driving. Ok…so you get an electric or hybrid car. Electricity comes from gas or coal. Yes, you heard me Prius, Leaf, and Volt…you are false advertisement for “green.” And to those who would buy a car purely because of the fuel efficiency, remember that your old car is going to remain in the cycle and that you are only adding another car to the mix, that you are paying more money to burn less fuel…something to think about.

The metro DC area burns thousands of dollars in gas every day in commuting. But thanks to technology, companies can and have started allowing some employees to work from home on occasion to decrease their commute. Video and teleconferencing are becoming increasingly popular and convenient ways of communicating. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before most meetings are conducted electronically, video conferencing will no longer be an option, but the main course of action. And people will start working from a home offices, allowing corporate offices to shrink into smaller spaces and decreasing industrial expansion. But then again, that’s my opinion.

My concluding thoughts on being green…are that I love trees, but trees grow back, time does not. I love fresh air and if I want more of it, I’ll move to a slower paced area where there is not so much traffic. I hate driving because of the stupid drivers (not because I’m afraid that I’m adding pollutants). I’m not going to waste my time and money on something that can be naturally replenished and you shouldn’t either.

PS – In lieu of my carbon footprint I am now accepting Christian Louboutin pumps in size 37 so I will have a smaller, red soled footprint (Jimmy Choo and Vera Wang Lavender are also accepted). 😉

un-(fashion)-able

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday as I was outside flipping through my latest Harper’s Bazaar I noticed, and have been noticing, a disturbing trend that has become increasingly prevalent…

They’re bringing back the 80’s and 90’s!!!!

I think we can all agree that whoever decided that it was ok to wear harem pants should have his designing privileges revoked. If you don’t know what harem pants are, you aren’t missing a thing. But I’m pretty sure you can’t forget the horrible geometric patterned shirts your mom used to wear (and maybe the ugly sweaters too?), or the brightly colored windbreakers your dad still has hidden in the coat closet, the floral patterns, the big shoulder pads, the bright bold stripes, the cropped tops! And without denial, everyone looks back on those styles with a little embarrassment for the people who wore those things.

Riddle me this, if we agree it’s bad, why are Paris, Milan, London, and New York bringing it back?

Runway pieces are hit and miss (most people think they’re outlandish and ugly). Since only bits and pieces of these styles actually hit the streets, it’s ok that they’re outlandish and ugly. But seriously…don’t encourage UGLY CLOTHES!

Who doesn’t love a good love/hate rant? So here’s a small rundown of some of my loves and hates from Harper’s Bazaar Fall 2011 collections:

First the hates…

All I can say is wtf?

Is this the Michelin Man's wife???

Pretty sure it isn't "fashionable" to dress like a homeschooler.

AKA we skinned the Cookie Monster for this coat.

Really...we're stealing clothes from children now?!

The 90's crop...should have been cropped in the 90's.

…yeah you get the point.

Thankfully, there were some redeeming pieces which I loved(!):

Very business casual, but I LOVE that they are bringing back bows and larger collar adornments!

This ensemble is the essence of fall. And it has leggings, what's not to like?

Balmain has it down. This is chic.

This was showcased in HB as one of their favorite styles, I have to agree.

Valentino never fails to disappoint!

One of the funkier pieces that I liked, but the high neck and clean lines are quite refreshing.

Final thoughts: Come this winter I really hope that ugly clothes aren’t roaming the streets…otherwise I will have a very large supply of books and tea.

The story begins…

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The first daily Sarah:

Brownies

This deliciously fudgy, cakey dessert is something of a household staple and truly an American original dessert, originating in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hotel in 1893 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_brownie).  Sadly, baking has become a lost art and has been replaced by box mixes and an inability to create this American tradition from actual ingredients, 7 ingredients to be exact. I once was one those Americans who stored box upon box of brownie and cake mixes in the pantry to use on a rainy day. But what do you do when you don’t have a box mix? As a kid, I remember my mom panicking one night when we were supposed to bring treats to class and she didn’t have a brownie mix! If only she had known that she could have easily made a quick batch (or two!) in the time that it took her to run to the store and buy a mix.

I recently read over the 22 ingredients in a Duncan Hines Chewy Brownies box mix…that included seaweed extract! YUCK! (http://www.duncanhines.com/products/brownies/chewy-fudge-premium-brownie-mix) After reading the ingredients list, it left my palette with little to be desired.

If you’d like to give real brownies a whirl with a little TLC and the following recipe, I doubt you will be disappointed and hopefully will decide to leave the box mix on the shelf the next time you are at the store.

Difficulty: EASY
Prep Time: 15 mins
Bake Time: ~30 mins

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (melted in a large bowl)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp real vanilla extract (not the fake kind, a little goes a LONG way: pure Madagascar vanilla extract)

2/3 cup cocoa powder (I use dutch processed cocoa)
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 9×13 pan.

Melt 1 cup butter in a large microwaveable bowl, or on a largeish pan on the stove (this will be your main bowl).
Mix in sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
Once blended, beat in cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Pour into 9×13 pan and bake for ~30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy!

For an extra special treat:

12 oz pkg strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

1 pint heavy whipping cream
~2-3 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz pkg very soft cream cheese
1/4 cup finely granulated sugar

Wash, stem, and thinly slice strawberries, pour sugar over top, mix, and set aside.

Put mixing bowl and whisk head in the freezer. Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth, set aside. Once the bowl and whisk are sufficiently cold, attach to mixer, pour in heavy cream, whip just until soft peaks form, add in powdered sugar and vanilla to taste. Gently fold in cream cheese mixture. Spread over top of (cooled) brownies, top with strawberries. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!