Bleat This: Lamb Meatballs

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatballs

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatballs

I’ve become a big fan of lamb. Whenever I’m looking for something to break up the monotony of chicken, beef and fish, lamb is always the first thing that comes to mind.  It can replace beef in many dishes and works really nicely with Mediterranean flavors, curries and North African cuisines. Some people complain about it’s gamey flavor and tough, fibrous texture but when cooked well, with the right seasonings, it can be a revelation for meat-eaters.

Last Tuesday I had a hankering for meatballs but wanted to break free from the traditional Italian recipes.  I decided to try something different with Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Zucchini and Couscous.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

Use It or Lose It

Miso-Glazed Salmon

Miso-Glazed Salmon

Last week I found myself staring at the same container of miso paste that I used over a month ago for soup.  Miso paste has a long shelf life but it was taking up valuable real estate in my apartment-sized fridge.  I needed to either find some use for it or throw it away.  So I decided to make a miso-glazed salmon with red cabbage-miso slaw and kuromame (sweet black soybeans).

Kuromame is a traditional Japanese dish eaten as a part of the New Year’s celebration to ensure good health in the coming year.  It has a wonderfully sweet flavor and I thought they would be the perfect thing to compliment the spicy salmon and slaw.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Week With Blue Apron: Part IV

THE CHICKEN SUPREME

chicken supremes

After two underwhelming meals, my expectations for Chicken Supremes & Broccolini with Forbidden Rice, Pepitas and Mustard Sauce were understandably low.

I was intrigued by the chicken supremes, which are basically chicken breasts with the wing bone attached. All the other bones have been removed and in this case, the skin was left on.  I was also looking forward to working with forbidden rice, which I’ve had in restaurants but never cooked before.  Still, the mustard sauce didn’t sound all that appealing and I was worried that the chicken was going to be too bland, seasoned only with salt and pepper.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Week With Blue Apron: Part III

THE TAGINE

Moraccan beef tagine

For my second meal, I chose the Moroccan Beef Tagine with Ras el Hanout, Dates and Honey.  I seldom cook Moraccan food and was excited to experiment with new flavors and spices.  The tagine was comprised of dates, prunes, garlic, cilantro, cinnamon, honey, beef demi-glace and tomato paste.  It also had an ingredient that I had never worked with before, ras el hanout spice blend, which was made up of coriander, turmeric, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.  It reminded me of garam masala and seemed like exactly the sort of thing I would love. Altogether it sounded like a great dish and I had high hopes.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Week With Blue Apron: Part II

THE HAKE

hake

For my first meal, I decided to make Pan-Roasted Hake with Roasted Fennel, Fresh Grapes and Brown Butter Vinaigrette.  I figured the fish had the shortest shelf life and I was intrigued by the faro, which I have never cooked with before.  The recipe looked simple and I knew that I would have to resist the urge to improvise if I wanted to be able to judge the meal objectively.

To start, I prepared the fruits and vegetables, cooked the farro, roasted the fennel and toasted the nuts as per the instructions.  The steps were easy to follow and having everything measured out ahead of time was a big time-saver and made the whole cooking process go smoother.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Week With Blue Apron: Part I

3023150-inline-s-3-blue-apron-make-the-meals-mcpBlue Apron is a brilliant concept.  

They send you all the ingredients you need to make restaurant-quality dishes from the comfort of your kitchen without having to search for a recipe or travel to the market. Everything is already measured and packaged in separate containers and bags.  All you need is olive oil, salt and pepper.  They also provide you with illustrated recipe cards to show you how the food should be prepared and in what order.  All you need is a basic understanding of prep work (dice, mince, chop, etc.), a couple pots and pans and a few cooking utensils.

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Each week there are three options for both vegetarians and carnivores to choose from. For the most part, the meals sound interesting and I particularly like how they draw from international influences, with dishes like, Chili-Rubbed Flat Iron Steaks with Quick Kimchi and Tomato Rice and Chicken and Poblano Chilaquiles with Escarole and Avocado Salad. These adventurous recipes allow you to work with new and exciting ingredients and learn how to make things that you might be intimidated to undertake on your own.  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Holidays Revisited: Braise the Lord

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Braised Short Rib

After a somewhat disappointing dish last night that left me with little to write about, I thought I would revisit a meal from Christmas Eve that I had the prescience of mind to document at the time.

When our son was born, my wife and I quickly outgrew our old apartment.  The dining area, not much more than a wide hallway in our railroad style layout, became the baby’s area, and everything else became more compact.  As such, it was difficult to have family and friends over and it meant that most of our Holidays were spent elsewhere.  When we moved into our new apartment last Spring, we knew we had to start forging some new Holiday traditions. Since Thanksgiving was already spoken for, we decided to do Christmas.  And since some family members were flying out of town on Christmas Day, we decided to do Christmas Eve instead.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

Finding Tuna

Tuna and Avocado Salad

Tuna and Avocado Salad

The Holidays are a great time for food.  Starting with Thanksgiving and extending well past the New Year’s festivities, it’s like a never-ending parade of rich, hearty meals and decadent, sugary sweets.  It gets to the point where it feels like one more ounce of beef or piece of pie might send you into a food coma.  It’s as if you need to come up for air.

That’s where I found myself this past week.  I needed to lighten things up so I started by making Cod in Miso Soup with Udon and Shiitake on Saturday, followed by Tofu and Cauliflower Curry on Tuesday.  And to round out the week, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes, a simple Tuna and Avocado Salad with Soy-Lime Vinaigrette.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

Tofu: The Other White Meat

Tofu and Cauliflower Curry

Tofu and Cauliflower Curry

I’m not a big fan of tofu.  I don’t particularly like eating it.  I’ve never been comfortable cooking it.  I don’t even like looking at it in the supermarket.  I’ve heard repeatedly from vegetarians and vegans that it’s a great substitute for meat; that it’s the perfect blank canvas for flavor; that it can power your car if you run out of gas.  Okay, the last one I made up, but the point is, many people preach on about its virtues but I’ve never been a convert to the Church of Tofu… until this week, that is, when I made a curry tofu and cauliflower dish that was so good, it made me want to stand up and testify.

To start with, I knew that in order for this dish to succeed, the tofu would need to be as firm and crispy as possible.  To accomplish this, I bought extra-firm tofu and then proceeded to drain as much liquid as possible by placing it in between layers of paper towel and weighing it down with something heavy.  I let it sit like this for about 20 minutes while I prepared the rest of the meal.   Please, blog, may I have some more?

Miso Hungry!

Cod in Miso Soup with Udon and Shiitake

Cod in Miso Soup with Udon and Shiitake

My wife bought me a cookbook by Masaharu Morimoto last year after we had an amazing meal at his Hell’s Kitchen establishment. Flipping through the book, I was mesmerized by his artistically stunning culinary creations.  But as I started reading the recipes on how to construct these mouth-watering and eye-popping dishes, I was completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the list of ingredients and techniques that were required. I didn’t have the faintest idea where I would even find things like royal fern, chrysanthemum greens, lotus leaves or shanton broth, and I strongly doubted I would know what to do if I could find them. Sheepishly, I thanked my wife but told her to return the book as I was clearly not worthy of such culinary brilliance.

Let me be clear, International cuisines do not scare me.  I love experimenting with new flavors and ingredients and some of my favorite dishes originate from Thailand, India, China, Mexico and the Carribean.  However, Japanese food has always scared me for it embodies everything that I lack as a chef.  The flavors and sauces are light and subtle. The preparations are delicate and precise.  And the presentations are usually pristine and artistic, accentuating each ingredient on the plate.  In other words, the exact opposite of how I cook!

Please, blog, may I have some more?