Sunday, January 30, 2011

Special Lamb Roast Dinner

On Friday night I made quite the dinner. I began the process at around 2:00 pm. Dinner was served around 7:00 pm. It wasn't extremely labour intensive, but a lot of waiting and planning with regards to oven time. Here is what was on the menu:

Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
Roasted Lamb in a bed of Vegetables
Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Today I will talk about the highlight of the show, if you would call a meal a show. That would be the roasted lamb in a bed of vegetables. Upon acquiring the leg of lamb from Fortinos (1.3 kg of leg) I browsed the internet for cooking times/cooking methods. After looking at a dozen sites I settled on a protocols. It turned out really well, besides being a bit underdone for my taste.

Roasted Leg of Lamb in a Bed of Vegetables

2-3 lb leg of lamb, bone-in
1.5 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 large shallots or small onions, cut into wedges
~20 small white mushrooms
1 can whole tomatoes, drained (liquid reserved)
~1/2 cup red wine
olive oil
black pepper
7 garlic cloves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place potatoes, onions, mushrooms and drained tomatoes in a large roasting pan.
3. Drizzle some olive oil, add rosemary, ground black pepper and toss to coat, breaking up whole tomatoes.
4. Place lamb on top of vegetables with the fat side up. With a sharp knife make cuts in the meat faced up. Pour the juice from the can of tomatoes on top, followed by the red wine. Sprinkle with black pepper and rosemary. Place 3 garlic cloves on top of lamb and 4 in the vegetables.

5. Heat lamb in oven for 30 minutes. Remove garlic cloves on top of lamb and stir vegetables.
6. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and roast until internal temperature is 170 degrees F (well done, about 35 minutes per pound). Stir vegetables every 30 minutes.
7. When internal temperature of 170 degrees F is reached, remove from oven and place lamb on a cutting board. Allow to rest for 20 minutes and cover veggies with foil to keep warm.

Although the thermometer read 170 degrees F, the lamb was more medium then well-done. I am unsure if the thermometer was a bit off or I didn't place it deep enough. It was cooked better at the top then at the bottom. This problem would have been solved with a wire rack over the veggies so heat could circulate the bottom, and then juices would still have dripped from the lamb into the veggies. Some basting would be required however.

The lamb was delicious even with its slight under cooked state, for my tastes. I hate (or love...not sure) to say it but the vegetables were really the star. They were so flavourful with the tomato, wine and lamb working really well together. This meal was rather pricey but definitely worth it. Can't say I will repeat this recipe any time soon for that reason but I would definitely try out the roasted vegetables sans lamb (or maybe with some less-expensive stewing lamb).

I hope to post the rest of the recipes by the end of the week, or maybe even tomorrow if we are granted with a snow day. There is a blizzard coming in Ontario. The members of this household plan to occupy our snow day (because it is happening) with snow angels, baking, movies, and tobogganing. Yes, we are 8 years old. Enjoy the snow!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baked Eggs with Artichokes

Eggs are a huge staple of mine. I eat an egg almost every day along with some egg whites. Usually scrambled, sometimes sandwiched within an English muffin with some goat cheese. That is probably my favourite. However, last week I found another fantastic way to eat my eggs and a hefty dose of protein. It all started when I was trying to find a way to use a can of artichoke hearts that were on sale (and therefore purchased by myself...obviously). I saw a few recipes out there for baked artichokes in eggs. I definitely could not pass up another way to use eggs.

Baked Eggs with Artichokes adapted from Epicurious
serves 1 or 2

2 artichoke hearts, cut into thirds (or you could use artichoke quarters)
1 egg
1/2 cup egg white
1/2 cup cottage cheese
black pepper to taste
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Lay artichokes in a greased small baking dish. Sprinkle with some black pepper

3. In a bowl beat the eggs, egg whites, and cottage cheese. Pour over the artichokes and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the eggs are set and no longer liquidy.

I loved the flavour combination of the artichokes with the eggs. I will definitely be making this one again. It would make a wonderful brunch item, especially if it was made in individual portions (in a muffin tray for example).

I have some other exciting food news (for me anyway). I tried a new kind of meat this weekend! I think this is exciting because how often do you try a new kind of meat? I haven't tried a new kind of meat in like 15-20 years. I have had all the "most common" meats out there. Chicken, turkey, beef (even grass-fed), tripe, pork, lamb and rabbit. Thanks to my housemates wonderful family I can add venison to the list! Now coming from someone who does not eat meat very often you would think this would not excited me very much but it is actually the opposite! I would consider myself a foodie. I like to try new foods, new restaurants, new recipes, new insert food related item here. So I was very excited to try venison. Especially when that meat was wild and acquired by my housemates Father. I am a big fan of tradition, especially when it comes to food, and you don't get much more traditional than hunting for your own meals.

The way the venison was prepared was phenomenal, and I plan to use a similar method on Friday to prepare a lamb roast for a special dinner. The meal is planned all the way down to dessert (so you know I mean business). I have never made a roast before. Lets hope for the best!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mushroom and Bean Bolognese

I realized this weekend after my weekly grocery store trip that I need to start to use up my pantry items. I really should take a picture to show you how full my cupboard is. The problem is, I head to the grocery store every week to get the essentials: milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, apples, bananas (locally grown exception). I then end up buying other things I don't need right now (but will need one day) that are on sale because I cannot pass up a sale. Over the Holidays I also took a trip to Goodness Me to use a gift card my wonderful Grandmother got me for my Birthday. This resulted in stocking up my pantry even more with some foods I have been wanting to try for a while (wheat berries, sucanat) and other items that are a bit too expensive to buy on a regular basis. Now I have a pantry crisis that I must begin to deal with. OH and how could I forget my freezer. I have numerous portions of cabbage rolls, soups, veggies, ripe bananas, meat, you name it, that needs to also be dealt with.

The need to use up my pantry items as well as some mushrooms (which I don't like to keep for very long after purchasing) lead to making this mushroom and bean bolognese adapted from 330 Vegetarian Recipes for Health.

Mushroom and Bean Bolognese adapted from 330 Vegetarian Recipes for Health

1 tbsp
1/2 large red onion, chopped
18 white mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
~ 1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers (from my freezer)
1.5 tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups dry vegetable shell pasta
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Heat olive oil in large pot on medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, roasted red peppers, tomato paste and oregano.
4. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low, allowing to simmer for 15-20 minutes while you cook the pasta.
5. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Top pasta with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

A bolognese sauce is traditionally meat heavy and has very little tomato sauce too it, often just with chunks of tomatoes. Therefore, draining the diced tomatoes would give a more authentic vegetarian bolognese, but I wanted something a little more saucy. This sauce was very thick and almost stew like. I could definitely eat it on its own.

Oh, and I know in my last post I said I would talk about a soup in my next post, but that soup was abysmal. After forcing myself to eat it two days in a row for lunch I decided that no one should make that soup for themselves; unless of course you like flavourless, watery, cruciferous soup. If you do, give me a shout, I have a recipe for you ;).

That's all for now! I should tend to the beets roasting in my oven before I forget about them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

My visit to the farmer's market last weekend didn't turn up too much of a bounty for a couple reasons. A) it was the first day back after the Holidays and B) the market was closing in less than a week for two weeks to move to the new location. I managed to get a few items though and as I was roaming around I tried to think of something I could make that would incorporate cabbage (which there was plenty of) and wasn't a soup (becuase that is all I feel like I have been making lately). So naturally I went with cabbage rolls! Now since I don't have much of an appetite for ground meats these are a vegetarian variety. I have only make cabbage rolls once before and they weren't anything to write about. I actually quite liked these ones and would only make one minor change in the future, which I will mention after the recipe

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot chopped finely
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
~15 white mushrooms
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked lentils
1.5 cups sauce or seasoned stewed tomatoes
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp driedoregano
1 tsp dried basil

1 medium cabbage
tomato sauce or seasoned stewed tomatoes

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add carrots and saute another 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and sautee until mushrooms are cooked. Remove from pan into a large bowl.

2. Add rice, lentils, sauce, cheese and spices to mushroom mixture and stir well to combine.

3. To cook and separate the cabbage leaves I find the following method the best: Take a knife and cut the stump off as much as you can without sacrificing too much leaf. Then take a knife and further cut around the stump so a leaf would free itself if it wasn't so rigidly bound around the cabbage. Boil a pot of water, reduce to a simmer, and immerse the cabbage. As the outer leaves turn a brighter green and soft, they will fall off with ease. Remove the loosened leaf from the water once cooked well and allow to cool. Note: The cabbage will be very hot so handle with care. I tend to stick a fork in the stem for easier handling.

4. Take the cooked cabbage leaf and put the filling in the stem end.

5. Wrap up and place in a deep baking dish

6. Cover with a generous amount of sauce and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.

I loved these. Took some time with cooking the rice and the lentils but so worth it. The Parmesan cheese really makes it so I suggest not leaving it out (but it could definitely be substituted). For a vegan option you could use bread crumbs or soft tofu I suspect. The one thing I would change are the carrots. Next time I would probably shred them as the chunks kind of ruined the soft inside of the filling.

I don't want to spoil any surprises but my next recipe will be a soup. It is very different from what I usually make and has an interesting story behind it. Lets just say it was in the making for almost 3 hours. I will also leave you with a picture of the most complex cake I have ever made. My housemate Jenna and I made the Reese's Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from Annie's Eats for our good friend Dani's going away party. It was quite the treat!

I am off to continue reading Eat, Pray, Love (I have jumped on the bandwagon a little late).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! As my gift to you I have a protein packed warm soup based off of a recipe on, New Year Noodle Soup. Before I get into the delicious details, I'd just like to say I had a fantastic new years eve weekend, and I hope you did too. I am not big into celebrating new years, but I am big into having some good fun at a cottage for a weekend. The weather was not on our side but that didn't stop us. While we didn't get to snowboard or toboggan, we did have a snowball fight. You can't complain about a good snowball fight.

I am also not much of a new years resolution type. I often make resolutions as the year goes on at random times based on how I am feeling. However, this year I have made a few.

1. Kick my sugar dependency that was achieved over the Holidays.
Too many squares, cookies, chocolate, cocktails, you name it.

2. Eat more local food.
Last term I was so busy with school I didn't get to visit the farmer's market as often as I would have liked. I will be heading there tomorrow before it closes for a week and a half (the Hamilton farmer's market is moving to its long awaited new location!). I hope to buy most of my produce that is grown locally, or at least in Ontario (I cannot give up bananas and citrus fruits though). We will see what goods I come home with tomorrow.

3. Train for and complete a sprint triathlon...pending getting my hands on a road bike.
In 2009 I did a tri-a-tri and had such a great time. My swim needs some work in order to complete a sprint triathlon and I definitely cannot get away with using my mountain bike in the increased distance.

4. Read more books.
The picture of my newly acquired stack speaks for itself.

5. Appreciate every day.
Not every day is the greatest day of your life, but without an appreciation for every day you live, good or bad, it is a day wasted. I don't want to waste a day.

6. Travel somewhere beautiful.
Hopefully I find the funds and the time to get away for a week or at least a long weekend. I want to visit a mountain or a coast. Something in North America would suffice.

I hope to achieve most of these and I think it is pretty reasonable. On kicking my sugar habit and starting to eat a little more normal I made a soup. I moved back to my own house today and had an empty refrigerator and a full pantry. Therefore this soup contains no fresh ingredients. But I wouldn't let that put you off, it is extremely nutritious.

Protein Packed Egg Noodle Soup adapted from

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 L vegetable stock
1 cup lentils
1 can chickpeas
1 3/4 cup edamame
1/3 package frozen chopped spinach
4 cups whole-wheat egg noodles

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chili flakes and heat for 1 minute.

new measuring spoons and cutting board :)

2. Add cumin, tumeric and pepper and heat until fragrant. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add lentils and cook for 20 minutes. Add chickpeas, edamame, and spinach. Simmer until lentils are soft.
4. Add egg noodles and simmer until cooked.

This soup was thick and delicious. Did I use chopsticks? No, but I wanted to have as many newly acquired kitchen stuff in my pictures in this post. While I haven't actually calculated the nutritional information, I imagine there is more than enough protein in this soup. I know it has kept me full for about 4 hours already, and that says something.