Monday, September 29, 2008

What's for Dinner? LindySez Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks YUMMY!

OMG - what a marvelous dinner we had last night. If you have never done a slow-braise, LindySez you need to try it. It is so easy and delicious to prepare and serve. Great for a dinner party because you can make it in advance, even days in advance. You also have so many choices about how you prepare it, slow cook in the oven, slow cook on top of the stove, throw it into a crock-pot or even make it in a third of the time by using a pressure cooker. LindySez the pressure cooker is one of her keeps the meat so moist, but all cooking methods give you a tender, fall off the bone, unami in the mouth...happy happy tummy dinner. And it's perfect for these days when the weather is getting cooler and cooler.

To start you need some meaty lamb shanks, don't have the butcher cut them or anything...just get the shanks and start cooking. Here's a great recipe for you to try.

Braised Rosemary Lemon Lamb Shanks

4 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, thinly sliced seeds removed
8 cloves garlic, sliced
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsly chopped (canned tomatoes are o.k.)
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Large pinch herbs de Provence
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water


Seaon the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, and brown the shanks well on all sides, you may need to do this in batches. Cause you know what happens when you crowd the meat, it steams rather then browns and we want brown. OK once the shanks are browned, remove them to a plate and lower the heat under the pot. Add the lemon slices and let them just start to brown, then add the garlic, tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock, rosemary sprigs and and the herbs de Provence. Bring to a simmr; cover and cook "slowly" on top of the stove for 3 hours, or in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours or in your crock-pot all day on low OR in your pressure cooker, for about 1 hour. After your cooking method is done, remove the rosemary sprigs...all of the leaves will have fallen off...and take the lamb shanks out and put them on a platter, cover them with some foil and put them into a warm oven to stay warm while you make the sauce. Pour the cornstach slurry into the simmering liquid and stir until the sauce thickens. Serve the shanks and the sauce over some yummy Polenta, or mashed taters or noodles.

LindySez, enjoy in good health.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How much garlic should one clove yield?

Don't you just hate it when a recipe calls for a "clove" of garlic. Have you ever seen a head of garlic? Are all the cloves on all the heads the "same size" Heck no. There are big cloves, little cloves, medium sized cloves. So when a recipe calls for a clove, how much garlic should that be?

Well, first and foremost, Lindy Sez all seasonings should be done to taste. When I see a recipe that calls for a set amount of any herb or spice, I use that as a guideline, and so should you. After adding their recommendation you should taste, add some more or not, depending on how you like that taste. And always, after you are done cooking, and before you serve, you should taste one last time and adjust. Tasting and smelling are two of the most important elements of cooking.

Once, when a non-cooking girlfriend was watching me prepare dinner, she asked "Lindy, why do you smell everything before you put it into your dish"...well, the reason is quite simple, if it doesn't smell good to start, it's not going to taste good to finish. And you would be surprised to find how many things can go bad, very quickly. Nuts are notorious for going rancid because of their high fat content- Lindy Sez keep your nuts in the freezer (OK...not those nuts). And you can do a lot of mental tasting done by smelling foods, and that helps keep those calories off your hips, and thighs, and stomach and everywhere else.

A very valuable lesson could have been learned had I followed this advice a few years ago. I was painting the rooms of my house, a buddy, who was a professional painter, told me that I could "save" my brushes without having to clean them after each days use, by wrapping them up in plastic wrap and putting them into the refrigerator. There they would stay fresh until I was ready to restart my project. Well, Lindy is all for saving time and energy with cleaning brushes (what a royal pain that is anyway); so I wrapped my brushes up and put them in the refrigerator. A couple of days later I decided to make some Salmon with Lime Jalapeno Sauce; I took the salmon (wild but frozen) from the freezer and let it thaw. Cooked it up, made the sauce, sat down to dinner and we take a bite "Wait a minute"...we all said "this tastes funny - what is that flavor?"...OK...important safety tip...if you are using a WATER based paint, you can wrap your brushes up and store them in the refrigerator, but, if you are using OIL based paint, not a particularly good idea. The flavor of oil based paint tainted the salmon...I could have smelled it, had I bothered to prior to cooking...but you could taste it for sure. We had a lovely pizza that night (thank goodness for take out).

Another time was when the family decided to make tamales. You know how much work is involved in making tamales, or perhaps you don't. Well, it's a lot of work. After making a most delicious Chili Verde filling, the family got to the business of making the tamales, laying out our corn husks, spreading the filling inside, rolling tying and finally we steamed them. We were looking forward to a lovely Mexican feast...but again, something was off. We nosed it to the culprit, the masa had turned. What a huge amount of work and food would have been saved had we simply smelled the ingredients before we put them together. So use your nose, it knows!

OK...back to the original question for today, how much garlic should one clove of garlic yield? An average clove of garlic will yield about 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic. Mystery solved.

OK...this recipe doesn't have any garlic in it, but it's yummy, especially when made with wild salmon, no paint.

Salmon with Lime Jalapeno Sauce

4 (5 ounce) Salmon filets (all bones removed)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 large jalapeno peppers, seed and cut into a julienne
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lime juice
dash salt
dash pepper

Fresh lime wedges
Snipped fresh chives, optional

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish. Place the salmon in the dish, skin side down. Combine the lime juice and olive oil; brush over the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes. Place fish in oven and bake until fish is almost opaque, about 8 minutes for each inch of thickness. Remove the skin.

While the fish cooks, prepare the sauce. Over a medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and butter; add the jalapenos and saute until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream and heat through, do not boil. Remove from heat; stir in the lime juice, salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate, spoon sauce over, sprinkle with minced chives, if desired.

Lindy Sez - Serve this one with a nice Sauvignon Blanc - it plays nice with the lime.