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Adventures in Home Cooking 2

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Lamb and Beef Stew

Today was Purim, which requires (among other things) a festive meal called a “seudah.” It also just happens to be our 18th wedding anniversary, which also calls for a festive meal.

Because the events in the book of Esther occurred in Persia, I thought a lamb stew would be appropriate. Also, I love lamb stew. But my supermarket didn’t have lamb stew meat. It had brisket, lamb chops, half-racks of lamb and lamb shank, but no stew. So, I got the lamb shanks and a small package of beef stew meat.

I browned the meat in a little bit of oil – first the lamb, then the beef because I wanted the beef to pick up the lamb taste, then browned onion and celery. I put the lamb and beef back in the pot and added small cuts of two sweet potatoes and one turnip. My mother-in-law is very low carb, and anyway, lamb and turnip go together. I added three peeled cloves of garlic, some pepper, and bay leaf, and then poured in some white wine. I brought it to a boil and…turned it off or something. I don’t know. But sometime later, the pot was cool.

I brought it back to the boil and put it into a 450° oven. My big worry was that the lamb wouldn’t be tender by dinner time.

It was. I shredded the meat off the bones – it all but fell off. And it was all just delicious. I served it over tri-color couscous, just for the pretty, and a green salad with red onions and avocado. I made a vinaigrette of very good olive oil, white wine vinegar, some mustard powder, very fine garlic powder and salt and pepper. Just nice. One of our guests brought dessert – cookies and a gooey chocolate cake, and I had raspberries and blueberries so even my mother-in-law could have dessert. The rest of us had berries over our slender slices of cake. We served a semi-dry red with the meal, too.

Very nice, indeed.

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Categories: cooking

Adventures in Home Cooking

March 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Mostly, I’m experimenting with fish.

Last week, we had a guest for Shabbos dinner.  I didn’t want to make the same old gefilte fish – okay, I usually don’t do fish at all, but we did have a guest and I didn’t want to make soup.

So I made paupiettes of sole – I cooked about a cup of spinach and puréed it with chopped shallots.  (I used a handblender.  It worked beautifully.)  I spread that on fillets of sole that I’d flattened slightly with the bottom of a glass measuring cup.  I need to get a mallet with a smooth side.  Then I rolled the fillets up into pinwheels, which I fastened with toothpicks.

Note – use round toothpicks.  You might think that flat ones would hold better – I certainly did – but they turned soggy and broke without penetrating the fish at all.  The rounds worked beautifully.  I used two per fillet.  I shallow poached this (I made a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onion, cut *very* small, and simmered it in white wine, vinegar and lemon juice, plus some water, until it was tender.  This made a court boullion.  I put the paupiettes in the court boullion such that it reached about halfway.  When it came to a boil, I reduced the temp and covered it with parchment paper.) and in about ten minutes, they were done. I let them cool and served them on a bed of baby spinach tossed with balsamic vinegar, REALLY GOOD olive oil and red onions.  Delicious.

Tonight, I experimented again.  Last week, I forgot to take my knives home after my ServSafe test (which, by the way,  I PASSED!) so I dropped by the next day to pick them up.  Chef was teaching the boot camp, and having a fish day.  Which I’d missed half of last time, so cool.  I was only allowed to watch and eat, but that was okay.  One dish Chef made was braised salmon dijonnaise.  Oh, my goodness, delicious.  He’d taken salmon fillet, coated it very lightly with flour and browned it, then deglazed the pan with wine and then added dijon mustard and some non-dairy creamer.

I didn’t quite make that.  I couldn’t find Dijon mustard – the store is already changing over to Pesach and mustard is kitniyos – but there was some coarse grain deli mustard.  And I forgot the non-dairy creamer. Which is evil, anyway.  And I didn’t want to make the kitchen dairy and use real cream.  So.

I floured (and patted off) the fillets, and browned them in a little oil.  Then I browned some minced shallots,and deglazed with wine and added water and some mustard.  Then more mustard.  I brought the braising liquid to boil, reduced the temperature and covered the pan.  Let it cook for ten minutes.

Let me tell you.  The salmon was moist and falling apart tender and very flavorful.  I served it over rice with steamed broccoli, and it was just perfect with the slightly reduced braising liquid.  Saturday  night at a shul function, we had salmon that was dry as dust.  The difference – oh.  And it’s not just the one off of home cooking – braising is a great way of doing salmon for a dinner because it means controlled temps.

I love fish and I love braising and I love this so very much.

Categories: cooking