Friday, July 24, 2009

Marilyn Had a Little Lamb

When I found this cheap little beauty in the store the other day, I just had to buy it. Who cared if I had never heard of this particular cut before? Who cared just how much usable meat was on this cut? The point was that it was cheap! Hey, it was only $1.82 a pound. How could I have turned that away? Besides, I had a secret weapon at home - called the Internet.

Oooo-kay, after some searching, I ended up combining a couple of recipes. Surprised? Well, obviously, you haven't been reading this blog for very long then. I did indeed find some recipes for lamb breast, but I didn't care for any of the flavor profiles. So I expanded my search to all things lamb and came up with this recipe (more or less).

Mustard Herb Roasted Lamb Breast

Zest of 1 lemon (I had some in the freezer)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbs. Herbes de Provence
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
3.86 lb. lamb breast
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup turkey stock
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature

I followed the recipe directions and mixed together the lemon zest, garlic, Herbes de Provence, salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, and two tablespoons olive oil.

I only had one shallot on hand, so I quartered that and tossed that in a bit of the mustard sauce and some extra olive oil.

Now we get a better look at the lamb breast.

The recipes for lamb breast directed me to cut the meat into portion sizes. That meant that I needed to cut between the rib bones. In a couple of places I had to exert my influence and just break the bones. I am woman - hear me roar.

Luckily for you the Foodie Daughter was wandering through the kitchen and agreed to take some pictures for you.

For some reason the Foodie Daughter kept giggling as I was handling the meat. Kids.

At this point I opted to deviate from both recipes. I felt that, given the amount of fat on the lamb breast ribs, it would be wise to place the meat on a rack in order to keep the meat up off the bottom of the pan.

The meat cooked in a 325 degree oven for 2 - 3/4 hours ( the recipe I followed said that the meat should cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until fork-tender). I then placed the meat on a platter, covered with foil and a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes while I worked on the sauce.
If you recall the recipe, I heated 1/2 cup turkey stock, 1/4 cup white wine and the drippings (not fat) from the lamb over medium-high heat for a few minutes before adding 2 tablespoons butter.

I purchased mashed sweet potatoes for my daughter and made parsley-buttered red potatoes for us as sides to our lamb breast.

Wow, am I good or what?
The lamb was succulent with a flavorful crust protecting the tender meat underneath. There was also a good bit of meat on this cut of lamb, though the Foodie daughter still thought that she had to work a bit too hard to get to the meat.
As I had suspected, the meat did give off quite a bit of fat, so the rack was a very good idea and kept the meat above the rendered fat.

I love these parsley-buttered potatoes, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures in Cooking
Once again I recently found myself feeling rather bored with the foods I had been making for my family, so I updated my final will and testament, dug out my parka, donned my protective winter gear and bravely went exploring in the depths of my freezer to see just what sorts of foods I had available to me. A couple of hours, and a moderate case of frost bite later, I emerged victorious with a package of turkey breast cutlets and some pieces of thick-sliced bacon. Now, what to do with this find?
After my fingers had thawed out, I went to my computer and typed "turkey cutlets and bacon" into the friendly search engine and immediately found this intriguing recipe. Deciding that this was enough off the beaten path for me, I decided to give it a whirl.

The ingredients for this fine dish are
turkey cutlets
mozzarella cheese (since the foodie daughter only likes mozzarella)
fresh basil
black pepper

First, each cutlet was sprinkled with salt, pepper, chopped basil and minced garlic.

Then a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella cheese was place on top of each cutlet. The cutlets were then carefully rolled tightly up.

Since I had long slices of thick-cut bacon, I cut each in half and used one slice per cutlet.
The bacon-wrapped cutlets were placed in a baking dish.

The recipe directed me to cover the cutlets with aluminum foil and cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. However, perhaps since I only had thick-sliced bacon on hand, I believe that this time should have been decreased with the remaining time increased to allow for the bacon to better brown.

As you can see, after the required 25 minutes, the dish is looking rather anemic.

I had to increase the last leg of the cooking time in order to allow the bacon to cook through.

Voila, dinner is served. A rather pathetic canned creamed corn (note to self: make your own next time) and a nice bacon and broccoli craisin salad complete this meal.

This was a nice change of pace from the usual turkey cordon bleu.
And with just a few tweaks and adjustments, I think it will be a stellar dish.

And don't forget my world-famous bacon broccoli craisin salad.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes, You Can Make This at Home
Do you like sandwich spread but are somewhat leery of what may be lurking in that package sitting in the deli case of your local grocery store? Then you are in luck, as I can show you how to make your own sandwich spread, using only the good ingredients (credit Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa).

Here are our usual suspects:
One pound package beef bologna
red onion

For some unknown reason I decided to chop everything by hand, despite the fact that I had spent nearly an hour outside this morning working in the garden.

At this point I added mayonnaise and the mustard sauce and mixed to taste.
I decided that the mix was just a bit too salty for my taste, so I added perhaps just under a half teaspoon of sugar to the sandwich spread to counter the salt.
Remember, sugar counteracts salt in food. But be careful to not go overboard, as you really don't want a sweet sandwich spread.

If I had a red bell pepper, I would have put that in this just for the color, taste and texture.

It was still good.

And it was even better in a sandwich with a fresh pasta salad and good potato chips with homemade chip dip.

Just remember to use the good stuff.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mayhem with Minx
Minx gets into quite a lot of mischief around the house. Want some proof?

Minx knows he's not allowed up on the dining room table, but he thought that surely that didn't matter when his "mommy" was making a lot of noise cleaning the carpets.

Minx has decided to "help" us pack for our trip to Lexington. Somehow I don't think that sitting on top of the suitcase is really helping us, Minx.

Minx missed his "daddy" while we were gone in Lexington.

Minx certainly is a curious kitty. What are you doing in the laundry sink, Minx?

Minx likes fresh catnip from the garden.

Minx really likes fresh catnip.

The foodie daughter has a new flashlight with a laser pointer. Minx likes to play with the funny red light.

Silly Minx.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wrapping up in Kentucky
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and indeed we must wrap up our tour in Kentucky.

Keeneland Race Course is a staple in the Lexington area. Indeed, Keeneland even has its own magazine.

It's quiet now...

Can you imagine the crowds, the excitement?

This must be the place to be and to be seen.

Nearby we find the famed Calumet Farm. As with nearly all the horse farms here, locked gates guard the entrance.

Another view of Calumet Farm.

Remember that I am without the Internet for the duration of this visit? Luckily I had brought some reading material with me. Hm, notice a theme here?

Why look, the hotel has some culinary herbs growing in pots near the outdoor pool.

One of those research thingies I had done prior to our arrival was for a place to eat before we toured The Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery. I settled on a little out of the way place that nobody has ever heard of in Wallace, Kentucky.

Hm, did I say that nobody had heard of this place? Guess that's not quite right. And Wallace Station is just a sandwich place, folks.

Well, at least we can peruse the menu while we stand outside in the sweltering 90-something degree heat.

Whew, we finally get to wait in line - inside. This place is packed.

Let's see, what was it we wanted again?

This is better. We got a peanut butter cookie to share and sandwiches and chips for each.

I ordered the Wild Turkey Triple Crown sandwich.

My husband ordered the Tuna Salad sandwich on grilled bread.
This was a lot of food and we didn't even get to the chips.

Don't you like these tree-lined roads?

I think these fields look as nice as most people's yards.

See what I mean?

We had our formal banquet on Saturday evening.
It was so nice to be back in the air-conditioning after being outside all afternoon.
First up - the ubiquitous salad.

The main course, except for vegetarians or those of us who are allergic to chicken, consisted of beef tenderloin with gravy, fried boneless chicken with white gravy, mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.

My plate had two beef tenderloins along with the mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. This was very good and the beef was moist and tender - not an easy feat for a banquet for 400 people.

Dessert was cheesecake with chocolate sauce. Rich and filling.

Let's move on to Sunday morning, shall we?

My husband and I had breakfast at the hotel's restaurant before heading home. Scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast along with orange juice and coffee are enough to get me going for the day.

We drove around Lexington a bit before heading out of town. Did you know that Lexington is home to the University of Kentucky? Well, neither did I, as they really don't advertise that fact too much.

Rupp Arena is actually a few blocks from campus.

A castle with a storied past.

All right, what I want to know is who is gonna drive out and get this newspaper laying by the side of the road?

On our way home we stopped in Frankfort, Kentucky. As some of you may know, neither Lexington nor Louisville is the capital of Kentucky. It seems that way back when, no one could come to an agreement as to where the state capital should be, so finally in desperation, tiny Frankfort was instead chosen. There, that will teach you to argue.

Let's see, what time is it?

Whereas Ohio's and Indiana's state buildings are both downtown, in commercial areas, Kentucky's government complex is hidden away in a quiet residential area.

The Kentucky governor's mansion.

Interesting, but I'm ready to head back home to Indiana now.
But not to worry, we'll be back here next year.