Tag Archives: Lamb

Curry Lamb Chops with Mint

Mint cools off this very simple, spicy summer lamb dish.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (I used pineapple mint from my herb garden…)

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Sea salt

4 lamb loin chops

Rough chop the mint and cilantro and place in a bowl.  Pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the paprika, allspice, curry and red pepper flakes.  Mix with a spoon and add sea salt to taste.

Lamb Marinade

Place the lamb chops in a plate and spoon the spice mixture on both sides.  Let the lamb marinate at room temperature for one hour.  Then, grill on medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side for medium rare, and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Consider serving with a side of grilled eggplant or ratatouille.

A Summer Side – Chocolate Mint Couscous

One of the greatest scents of summer is the fragrance of fresh herbs.  I use many of the herbs in my small garden nearly every day – basil in a Caprese salad, sorrel in scrambled eggs and thyme and sage in roasted potatoes.  The chocolate mint, with its clean aroma, presents more of a challenge.  However, last night’s dinner of lamb tenderloin demanded the mint.

Herbs

Rather than use the mint in a sauce for the lamb, I decided to incorporate it in a couscous.  First, I roughly chopped three sprigs of mint leaves and shelled and roughly chopped a handful of salted pistachios.

Pistachios

Then, I brought 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil and added 1 cup of whole wheat pearl couscous.  I stirred the couscous periodically and added one tablespoon of butter, a dash of turmeric and salt and pepper to taste.  When the couscous was just about cooked (after 8 minutes), I stirred in the pistachios and mint.  The saltiness of the pistachios was an excellent complement to the subtle chocolate flavor of the mint.  The color was also vibrant and summery.

Consider serving this couscous alongside a lamb dish, as I did with the lamb tenderloin marinated in olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  Make a little extra for the next day, as I found it to be a tasty addition to an antipasto lunch of prosciutto and cheeses.

Couscous

Spicy Merguez and Mango

This weekend I was happy to find Merguez sausage at Whole Foods.  The red, spicy lamb sausage called for a perfect pairing – couscous, rice, beans? I decided to go with a French theme and prepared French green lentils.   I added some sweetness to the spiciness of the sausage by adding a few slices of Champagne mango, my favorite variety of mango.

MangoTo prepare this dish, simply sauté the lamb sausage in olive oil in a non-stick pan.   (Were we enjoying spring weather, I would have grilled the sausage outdoors; however, we in the Northeast are still experiencing snow events!) The links are thin, so they only take a few minutes per side.

To cook the lentils, place one cup of lentils and four cups of water in a medium pot, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes.  Taste the lentils to make sure that they do not become mushy and fall apart. Drain the lentils into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.   Season with salt and pepper and stir together.

Plate two scoops of lentils with a sausage link sliced into two.   Add some fresh slices of Champagne mango and a slice of lemon.   The bright yellow of the mango and lemon alongside the red sausage makes for a vibrant plate.

LambLentil

The Fat Ham – Hamming It Up in Philadelphia

Chef Kevin Sbraga’s new restaurant, The Fat Ham, is slated to open this Friday, December 6th in University City.  Last night, my husband Vincent and I were fortunate enough to attend Friends and Family Night where we experienced the real deal in contemporary Southern food at an unlikely location on Philadelphia’s Left Bank.

Located at 3131 Walnut Street, The Fat Ham is Kevin Sbraga’s second restaurant; his top rated, flagship restaurant, Sbraga, located on Broad Street opened in 2011.  Ben Fileccia, the general manager of Sbraga, has brought his leadership talents to the other side of the Schuylkill.

The Fat Ham is a relaxed and cozy, 44 – seat space that boasts wood topped tables, eclectic seating and subway tiles that form unique wall art – the fat ham.  Other distinctive touches are the whiskey barrels for aging cocktails in the bar area and the servers’ plaid shirts, which add to the homey feel.

The fat ham at The Fat Ham

The fat ham at The Fat Ham

The bottle of The Fat Ham hot sauce on each table – made in house, of course – is a sign of the pleasant spiciness to the fare.   The bread, a corn biscuit in true Southern style, had just the right touch of sugar, allowing the natural sweetness of the corn to take center stage.   As there are no main courses, the more than helpful (and able to navigate a small space with agility) waitstaff recommends that each guest order three dishes, which are served family style and intended for sharing.

We started with a salad of mustard greens with benne (sesame) seeds, peanuts and hot vinegar dressing.  This refreshing, light salad packed a subtle heat in its vinegar dressing.  We then enjoyed the “Fat Ham Board” of bacon, ham, chicken liver and terrine paired with pickled vegetables and toasted bread points.  The chicken liver was among the best I have had; according to my husband, it was as creamy as an iced cream.

Then came the star, the “Hot Chicken” on white bread with ranch dressing and dill pickles.  We chose the dark meat option and were pleased with the juiciness of the meat and the crunchiness of the breading.  The heat from this dish was tempered by the white bread and ranch dressing.  The collard greens with ham hocks and pot liquor were next.  The ham was shredded after it was cooked down, and the whole combination was melt in your mouth comfort food.

Then came the crispy fried green tomatoes with buttermilk horseradish and the smoked lamb belly with cola sauce, green beans and tomatoes.  The lamb was sinful…the rendered lamb fat and cola sauce made for a decadent finale.  Finale to the savory dishes, that is.  For dessert, we ordered the banana pudding doughnut with spiced sugar.  The experience of having the doughnut dissolve on your tongue, leaving the banana pudding behind, is one that I highly recommend.

There is no doubt that the warm feel and tasty menu items, not to mention the very reasonable prices, will appeal to students and university employees as well as Philadelphians and visitors looking for a flair of the South in the City of Brotherly Love.

Styer’s Garden Café

A hidden gem of a restaurant, Styer’s Garden Café is set in an antique greenhouse at Terrain in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.  The walk from the parking area to the café is a treat in and of itself.  You can stroll through the store and browse among gourmet food items, cookbooks, candles, terrariums, table settings and bath products.  Or, you can follow the path through the nursery to check out the outside décor, which, at this time of year, will include pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes as well as colorful pepper plants and ornamental cabbage.

Arriving at the café, you will enter a conservatory of tables covered in linen tablecloths where the horticulture, lighting and friendly servers create the most serene and pleasant dining atmosphere in the area.  Unlike many restaurants where poor acoustics prevent you from hearing the person across from you, Styer’s Garden Café arranges the tables and greens to provide a peaceful and private surrounding.

The ever changing seasonal menu offers a taste for every palate.  I dined there on two occasions in the early fall – the first was with my husband Vincent and two friends and the second was just the two of us.

Our favorite appetizer was the Doe Run Hummingbird Cheese served with pickled farm beets and micro greens.  This soft ripened mild cheese from Doe Run Dairy in Chester County paired perfectly with the tartness of the pickled beets.  The colors in this dish were lovely – the red and gold beets, the creamy white cheese and the splash of green.  We also enjoyed a fall salad of roasted squash and arugula topped with blue cheese, candied walnuts, cranberries, balsamic and sunchoke crisps.

On one visit we focused on the seafood entrées, while on the other we opted for the meat dishes.  Overall, the seafood choices prevailed.  The grilled whole branzino was superb.  The skin was crispy, and the bed of toasted faro, pickled heirloom tomatoes, fennel and toasted almonds on which it was served was the ideal complement to the mild taste and flaky texture of the fish.

We also ordered the lobster three ways – butter poached tail, knuckle and radish salad and tempura fried claw.  Typically, poached lobster would not entice me, but the variety of preparations (especially the tempura claw!) along with the cauliflower vadouvan, a curry spice blend with a French flair, made this a noteworthy dish.  The only minor problem with the plating was the lack of a plate – it was served on a wood board that permitted the melted butter to run over the sides.

Of the meats on the menu, we chose the pork duo of braised cheeks and crispy belly and the braised lamb neck.  The duo was served with roasted Brussels sprouts, crispy polenta, hazelnuts and fig and cider jus – a side dish of true comfort food.  The braised cheeks were cooked to perfection, falling apart at the push of a fork.  The belly, on the other hand, was not sufficiently rendered to melt in your mouth.  As a result, the meat was tough and required forceful cutting to attempt a taste.

The braised lamb neck with local mushroom ragout, maple glazed squash steak and spicy carrot harissa made for a much better main course. The lamb was tender, the “steak” had a sweet maple crust and the harissa added an agreeable spice flavor.

For dessert, we enjoyed the generous cheese board of five local cheeses, including Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert and Rogue River Smokey Blue, along with honeycomb, quince paste and crostinis.  Ordering a cheese board for dessert is just the thing to do to finish your final few sips of wine.

Last, but not least, I must mention one of the highlights of the meal – the bread.  So many restaurants do not pay enough attention to the quality of the bread, while the bread makes one of the restaurant’s first impressions.  The bread at Styer’s Garden Café is meant to impress, and it succeeds.  It is a soft, buttery brioche baked in a clay flower pot accompanied with fresh butter and a unique salt – lavender or sage, for example.

Its tranquil setting and quality ingredients make Styer’s Garden Café difficult to beat. The fact that you can BYOB is an added bonus, making for a reasonable night out.  As the café also serves brunch and lunch, there is no excuse not to stroll through the store and nursery and then stay for a comforting meal.

Pumpkins at Styers

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association.  Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2013.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Saucisse Provencale

Last night I prepared a simple but tasty first course featuring a lamb, garlic, rosemary and mint sausage made in store at Whole Foods.  I sautéed the thin link sausage in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until it browned, only about five minutes, turning it several times.  Accompanying the sausage on the appetizer plate were some baby greens – red chard, spinach and arugula – drizzled with spicy harissa oil; a sun dried tomato; and a dollop of Edmond Fallot Provencal Dijon mustard flavored with red peppers, garlic and olive oil.  The perfect bite consisted of a slice of sausage, a leaf of green, a small piece of tomato and a touch of the mustard.