Monday, April 29, 2013

Moving on in the Lamb Pro-Am!

A big thank you to everyone who voted for my Green Goddess Lamb Kebabs in the 2013 Lamb Pro-Am! I am happy to announce that I have been paired up with Michael Scelfo from Russell House Tavern. I can't wait to see what he does with my recipe!

The Lamb Pro-Am Finals will be held at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge on May 19th. Ticket info can be found here. Please come and stuff the box with votes for me! ;)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lambtastic Voting

I spent the morning watching the interfaith service for the Boston Marathon. I think it was what we all needed to hear right about now.

And so life goes on.

Voting for the Lamb Pro-Am has opened, and I would be thrilled to receive your vote and move on in the contest. The top 4 of the 7 Boston bloggers will move on to work with a local chef to reinterpret their recipes. The Lamb Pro-Am Finals will be held on May 19th, and tickets can be purchased here.

Voting ends on April 26th, so vote, vote, vote!

Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Boston

There's not much to be said, but here I am anyway.

I am a Bostonian, born and bred, even though I have never lived within the limits of the city. Being a Bostonian is more a weirdly puritanical mindset than it is an indication of where you were born (it may have something to do with being able to speak and understand the accent, however). I have proudly called myself a Bostonian (and occasionally a Masshole) wherever I have traveled (often while wearing my Red Sox hat proudly). And I am proud to be a Bostonian today.

Plenty of other writers have said it more eloquently than I ever could, but Boston is a grand city with amazing history and tough-as-nails people, and this won't keep us down.

I am sad that someone chose one of our most sacred holidays, Patriots Day, to cause harm. I am sad that this day, which holds so many dear memories, will be marred. I am sad that my niece, whom we have always kidded about being a Tax Day baby, will hear about this day on her birthday for the forseeable future. I am, of course, sad for the loss of life and the injuries sustained by so many.

But mostly I'm just mad. You don't mess with Boston.

The title of this post refers to the Boston College fight song. I'd like to think of it more as this city's fight song right about now. Here's the Dropkick Murphys version.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Olive (yes, olive) Shortbread

I like a little challenge. That is exactly why I love Kitchen Play - the site often challenges me to think creatively about a particular ingredient. So when Kitchen Play hosted a progressive party (with different bloggers taking on each course) for Lindsay Olives, I wanted to join in. Five bloggers posted delicious recipes, and readers were invited to add their own course.

Now, the post was worded in such a way that immediately made me want to try making a dessert. But what to make? There are plenty of olive oil desserts out there, but not many that use actual olives.

Since cookies are probably my favorite thing to bake, I went for that. Shortbread, which doesn't have a lot of flavors already competing with the addition of olives, seemed perfect. I wanted to enhance the flavor of the black olives, so I subbed out a little of the butter in my normal shortbread recipe for olive oil.

The resulting cookie is floral and citrus-y and just a little bit unctuous. I had a very nice lemon olive oil sitting around from my trip to Italy last fall, but you could certainly use a plain olive oil instead. The chopped olives gave a nice amount of chew to the crispy cookie, plus they gave a little bit of a burst of olive-y goodness every once in a while. I sprinkled black sea salt on the tops of some of the cookies, and I enjoyed those even more (but then I'm a sucker for salt in my sweets).

Will I be making olive shortbread again? Oh yes!

Olive Shortbread
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter
1/4 cup good olive oil (lemon olive oil, preferably)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups flour
12 Lindsay large pitted black olives, washed and minced
black sea salt (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Cream in olive oil. Mix in egg and salt. Add in flour and mix until just combined. Gently mix in the minced olive so it doesn't get mushed. Halve dough and shape each half into a squared log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and freeze until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375°. Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on parchment-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown, just look for hints of color at the edges.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Green Goddess Lamb Kebabs

I had such a blast cooking in the inaugural Lamb Pro-Am last year, I jumped at the chance to participate again. Last year's recipe was so personal for me, and I was very proud that I got to the finals with that dish.

Because American lamb has such a wonderful taste (never that game-y flavor that most people associate with lamb), I didn't want to make anything that would cover up the actual lamb flavor. A mix of herbs, I thought, would compliment that taste without overpowering it while also making the dish feel very Spring-y.

But the herbs needed a vehicle. I started looking at Green Goddess dressing recipes, but I avoid most things that call for large amounts of mayonnaise. That got me thinking, however, about how I often swap mayo out of recipes for Greek yogurt, something I still don't eat on its own but which certainly still has its place in the kitchen. Using yogurt as a marinade base also has the wonderful effect of tenderizing the meat; the boneless leg of lamb I had was almost flawless, but a yogurt marinade can help a more grizzly chunk of meat soften up. I call these Green Goddess Lamb Kebabs, but I know this isn't a traditional Green Goddess dressing. Maybe Green Goddess-ish Kebabs would be a better name?

I served these kebabs with shaved parsnip chips and leftover marinade. The sweetness of the parsnips was a nice contrast to the creamy dip, plus the chips added some great texture.

A note on the herbs: I used a mix of parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, and mint. You can leave out any of these that you might like. For one container of yogurt, I filled an entire salad spinner with herb leaves (picked off their stems). This probably added up to about 2 grocery store-sized bunches of herbs. Use as much as you like, but this is definitely a case where the more, the merrier!

And thanks again to the wonderful American Lamb Board and Boston Chefs for sponsoring this event. They both go to great lengths to support American lamb, which I find the tastiest of all the lamb out there.

Voting is open now, and you can buy tickets to the Lamb Pro-Am Finals by heading here.

Here's my lamb grilling on our indoor electric grill because it rained the day I made this recipe.

Green Goddess Lamb Kebabs
16 oz. Greek yogurt (not fat-free)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
about 2 bunches worth of fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, mint), minced
4 scallions, minced
juice of 1 lemon
cayenne pepper
2-3 lbs lamb, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes

In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, minced herbs, scallions, and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then blend with an immersion blender. Salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Remove half of the sauce and reserve. Add lamb to remaining sauce in bowl, making sure all the lamb is well covered by the sauce. Refrigerate 24 hours.

Heat grill. Thread lamb onto wooden skewers, being careful not to pack them in too closely or they won't cook evenly. You do not have to wipe off any marinade that is clinging to the meat. Grill about 5 minutes per side, until they are pink in the middle. Serve with reserved sauce.