Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

Christmas Dinner: Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops

I don’t make lamb very often, for one reason, because it’s expensive, and for another reason, because I haven’t always enjoyed it. I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality or the preparation, but the lamb chops I made yesterday for Christmas dinner were fabulous.

You need a good, stainless steel pan for this recipe – a non-stick pan just won’t get a good sear on the meat to make it golden-brown and delicious!

Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops
Serves 2

4 lamb rib chops, about 1 inch thick
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and salt both sides lightly. Leave out to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. The salt will draw moisture from the chops, which will then be drawn back in, seasoning them beautifully.

Prepare herbs and garlic and mix together with pepper in a small bowl.

When ready to cook, drizzle one side of each chop with a little olive oil; cover with herb/garlic mixture and press to adhere. Heat a large stainless-steel saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and swirl the oil around the pan. Add chops, herbed side down, to pan and cook for one minute. With tongs, turn chops over and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should be 130 degrees F for medium-rare. If it’s still a little low, cover the pan and let rest, off the heat, for about five minutes. If you’d like it more done, let cook another minute before resting.

Herb-encrusted lamb chops

I served this with Duchess potatoes mm mm good!

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Kibbee and Bits

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgMy sister-in-law, Jennifer, is of Lebanese descent and when we were visiting one time, she showed me a cookbook she had – “Kibbee ‘n’ Spice and Everything Nice: Popular and easy recipes for the Lebanese and American Family,” by Janet Kalush. I was looking through it and talking about how much I like to try new things, and she gave me the book right there. Thanks again, Jen! 🙂

She also mentioned that kibbee is one of her favorite foods; I hadn’t heard of it before, but I tried it at Azar’s, a local Mediterranean restaurant, and liked it a lot. So I finally tried making it myself.

This is a variation of Lebanon’s national dish. The traditional way to make kibbee is to make the meat mixture shown below, then make another meat mixture to use as a filling; then the kibbee is baked or fried. I skipped the filling (this extra step is probably why I hadn’t made it earlier) and grilled them instead. You have to be very careful when grilling these; the bulghur wheat makes them a bit fragile. But it works!

btw, Dan kept calling it Kibbee and Bits, so here we are: Kibbee with bits of grilled potato 🙂

Kibbee Patties (spiced ground beef or lamb with bulghur)

1 cup finely ground bulghur wheat
1/2 medium onion, or one small onion
3/4 tsp. kibbee spice (see below)
2-1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. finely ground beef or lamb
2 rounds of pita bread
tzatziki sauce (cucumber/yogurt sauce)

Kibbee Spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. crushed dried mint (I used fresh mint from the garden, then dried it in the toaster oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes)
1-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine thoroughly in a small bowl; transfer to a spice bottle and keep in a cool, dry place.

For Kibbee

Rinse the bulghur wheat in cold water twice and drain. Cover by half an inch with fresh water and let soak. Finely mince the onion in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add the kibbee spice and salt; combine thoroughly. Add the ground meat to the bowl and mix completely by hand.

Squeeze excess water from the bulghur wheat and add to the meat mixture. Mix by hand until well blended. Add ice water if necessary, to maintain a soft consistency.

Form meat into eight 3-inch patties, and press in the center with your thumb to form a dimple. Grill 3-4 minutes on both sides until cooked through.

To serve: Serve kibbee patties over tzatziki sauce or in pita pockets. To serve in pita pockets, briefly grill pita rounds to warm them a bit; cut in half. Put a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce in each pita half and place two kibbee patties on top of sauce. Serves 4.

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the food blogging event that celebrates growing and preparing our own food. It was originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and is hosted this time by Andrea herself.

If you count the cucumber in the tzatziki, I used three ingredients from my garden in this meal: cucumber, onion and mint.

Kibbee patties ready for grilling
Kibbee patties ready for grilling

Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes
Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes

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Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Back in June, I won a cookbook featuring honey in an Iron Chef: Honey competition hosted by Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. I thought it would be fun to use a recipe from that book to contribute to another blogging event where the idea was to bake small breads, but unfortunately, I was unable to get the entry typed and posted in time.

But I did make the scones 🙂 And they were delish.

Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Savory Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups semolina
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mild herbal honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup cream or whole milk, plus more for brushing scones
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided
5 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, honey, egg, cream or milk, and 1 tsp. rosemary. Whisk just enough to break up the egg yolk and blend it with the honey.

Use a pastry cutter to work the goat cheese into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a large spatula until the dough forms a ball. Knead gently several times and turn onto a lightly floured board. Knead again, just enough to form a workable ball.

Pat the dough down into a circular shape measuring about 8 1/2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a knife or dough cutter into 8 or 10 pie-style wedges. Brush the tops with the cream or milk and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary. Place scones onto baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with more goat cheese and honey, or honey butter.

From Covered in Honey by Mani Niall

Closeup of rosemary-honey-goat cheese scones

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My Herb Garden

Just wanted to show off my herb garden 😉 I did a quick-n-dirty blur on the background, to make it easier to see the herbs. The tree on the left is a Japanese maple and there’s another tree on the right, in the clay pot – can’t remember what it is. And the other tree in the middle right is bay laurel. Yup, it grows as a tree here. Cool

This started off as a flower garden in the middle of the back yard. Then we moved my herbs into it, expanded it, and just keep adding more things to it. I think it needs to be expanded again 😉 And next year, I’m definitely moving the fennel somewhere else (that’s the tall, gray-green stuff to the right of and behind the birdbath). It just takes up too much space and shades some of the other herbs.

Off the top of my head, we have thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, Italian parsley, bay, purple basil, sweet basil, Thai basil, Greek oregano, dill (still going, although I have to pick off flowers almost every day), cilantro (almost done) and mint in a strawberry jar on the patio, to keep it from taking over.

Herb Garden, July 2008

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Grow Your Own: Tzatziki

Grow Your Own 2008For this month’s Grow Your Own food blogging event, hosted by Andrea of AndreasRecipes.com, I made tzatziki, the Greek sauce/dip made of yogurt, cucumbers and seasonings. My dill is still doing pretty well, although it likes cooler temperatures, so it probably won’t last much longer. I keep the mint in a strawberry jar on the patio, to keep it from invading and taking over the herb garden.

Ingredients for tzatziki

I love this stuff, especially in the summer – it’s so cool and refreshing. We eat it as a dip with homemade pita chips and crudites, and as a sauce for grilled chicken or gyro sandwiches. Just toast some pita pockets, season chicken with oregano, lemon and garlic (I use Penzey’s Greek seasoning), then slice the chicken and put it in the pita with chopped lettuce and tomato, topped with tzatziki and some feta cheese.

Here, I served it with pita chips and baby carrots.

Tzatziki with pita chips and baby carrots

Tzatziki

3 cups plain yogurt, or 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (preferred)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced fine
1 tsp. fresh mint, cut into chiffonade
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

If using regular yogurt, place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl; put bowl, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour to drain excess liquid. If using Greek yogurt, this step is not necessary.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, oil, vinegar, herbs and salt. Add cucumber and mix well. Place in a serving dish, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, to allow the flavors to mingle and make friends 😉

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Thai gardening

I have a couple of new plants this year that are going great so far, and they’re both for my interest in Thai cooking – a lime tree (Citrofortunella mitis) and lemongrass (I also have Thai basil, but forgot to take a picture – soon). Note to me: Here’s a post from Kalyn’s Kitchen on freezing herbs that includes several recipes using Thai basil.

Backyard lime tree
Lime tree

Lemongrass
Lemongrass

We decided to plant one lemongrass in the ground and one in a pot, to see if it will withstand the winter here, which is usually pretty mild.

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