Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roasted Leg o' Lamb

Ahhhhh, lamb... Anyone remember that sock puppet character that Shari Lewis (lady ventriliquist) did back in the 50's and 60's called Lambchop? It was on a childrens show, I do believe.

For those of you who are Lambchop fans, you may shudder as you read this: LAMB TASTES GOOD! I don't think I had ever eaten lamb till I arrived down unda, but I can understand why folks like it.

Lamb has a very delicate flavour compared to other meats. Very tender and it takes seasonings very well. Obviously, a strong, bold marinade or seasoning will overpower the lamb taste, so only use something like that if the lamb you are using is either a lesser cut, or you just happen to really like that flavour. BTW, teriyaki lamb chops on the grill are really good!

But, we aren't doing teriyaki lamb chops today. Neither are we doing the english minted lamb either. Oh, if you have lamb chops in certain parts of the UK it WILL be served with mint sauce.

No, today we are doing a leg of lamb roast with rosemary (drool)!

Rosemary is a great herb and it seems to be made for lamb. It's also one of the main herbs for chicken too (thyme and sage being a couple of others for them thar chooks). It'll grow wild down here with pretty much ZERO maintenance. If you'd like to grow it yourself you can. It propogates very well from cuttings, so if your neighbour has some, then you can have some too. If you live in an area that has winter *shudder*, then you better grow it in a pot cus you'll have to take it indoors when it's cold. It likes lots of sun and well drained soil. Don't let your indoor rosemary plant get too humid! Did you know that rosemary is part of the mint family? Well, know you do.

Quick aside: I was inspired to write this recipe down cus rachel did a grill lamb recipe on her blog and that reminded me of my steam roasted lamb. So thanks go to her, otherwise I might not of even thought of typing this in! BTW, hers sounds really really good.

Back to the food...

Roasted Leg o' Lamb

Whut u knead:

One leg of lamb on da bone
5 or 6 sprigs of rosemary, each one 8 to 10 inches long
a bit of sea salt
a bit of ground white pepper
a bit of dried mint leaves
one or two bamboo (or metal) skewers about the same diameter of the woody part of the rosemary sprigs
one big roasting dish with lid (it'll need to be big enough for the lamb leg)

Whut u due:

You might be able to see where I'm going with this, but for those of you who haven't figured it out... Here ya go:

Take a skewer and skewer the leg (of the lamb, not your own). Make sure you ream the hole out a few times, then follow the skewer with a rosemary sprig (the woody part of the sprig *should* push the skewer all the way through). If you can get the rosemary sprig all the way through (so that a bit of it sticks out on each side) then great. If not, no worries; just try to get it in a far as possible. Oh, push the thicker end of the sprig through first so you aren't "going against the grain" of the rosemary needles.

Same thing for the rest of the rosemary. Depending on the leg size and how far in you get the rosemary you'll use probably 4 to 8 sprigs.

Mix the bit of salt, pepper and dried mint in a bowl. Then give the leg (the one with the rosemary sticking out of it) a good rubdown with the seasonings. Place the leg in the roasting dish and pour about an inch of water around the leg. Cover that sucker and chuck it in a low oven for a couple of hours.

After 1.5 to 2 hours, turn the oven off, take lamb out, and pour the juices into a saucepan. At this point you have two was to go: cover the lamb and put it back in the oven for 15 mins while you do stuff with the juices, or leave it uncovered to "rest" while you make gravy from the juices.

I'll go through both!

1) Put the lid back on the lamb and return it to the oven (remember you turned the oven off already). To the saucepan that has pan juices, add a splash of red wine and then boil it till it's reduced by at least half.

After the sauce has been reduced, take lamb out of oven and carve it. You'll find it's very easy to carve; very very tender. Serve with roasted or boiled spuds and garden peas (cooked). Drizzle the sauce over everything.

2) Ok, so you've decided to do gravy, no worries. Gravy doesn't take long at all, so the lamb can set on you cutting board to rest for 5 mins while you make the gravy. It's easy: mix a tbsp or two of cornstarch (it's called corn flour down here) in some cold water. Bring the pan juices to a boil, turn the heat off, and whisk while pouring in the dissolved cornstarch. See? EASY!

Carve up the lamb, serve with spuds and peas; don't forget to put lashings of gravy on everything!

Hmmmmmm, what to do with the bone and all the offcuts... Well, there'll be some meat, gristle, cartilege etc hanging on it. Chuck it all in a big pot with lots of water and boil the heck out of it for a few hours! All the tasty marrow and great flavourings will be added to that water! TaDa: instant soup stock! Just make sure you strain it before storing it. You'll also want to defat the stock. I know of several ways to do that so just ask if you are interested, no worries.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worcestershire Sauce

Oh boy am I gonna open a big ole can o' worms with this one! To begin with... just how the hell is "worcestershire" pronounced? Fortunately, I am related to some folks from that part of the world by virtue (HA!) of marriage. So I have learned a wee thing or two about how I'm supposed to pronounce words from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, London, and many of the surrounding shires.

Ahem. Here's the fo-nah-teek way to pronounce it (according to a well place source whom I sleep with):  Worchestershire is pronounced   wuss-tu-shuh   

I'm not kidding! Even though the word has 3 r's, not a one of them is pronounced! The first part "worches" is "wuss", then the "ter" is "tu", and "shire" is "shuh". See, you learn something new every day by reading my useless tidbits. Oh yeah, an aussie would pronounce it "wuss-ta-shah".

Back to the sauce...

About a year ago or more, I needed some wusstushuh sauce for making something (it was even going to be edible). However, I was out of the sauce with the exception of a tiny bit of really cheap gunky wusstushuh. "Well," thought I, "I certainly can't use that crappy sauce for this! It'd be ruined!"

What to do... hmmmm, gotta think... I know! I'll make my own.

Fortunately there's this really cool thing y'all may have heard about; it's called The Internet. Just imagine, any info you want about anything or anybody is yours for the pilfering right at your fingertips without ever having to get your lazy ass out of the chair! Wow! Someone shoulda invented this a lot sooner... heck, there'd be even more couch potatoes!

Whoops, back to the recipe.

Now, I *know* that a lot of wusstushuh sauce recipes say you gotta have tamarind paste. Mine doesn't. Why? Cus the idea was to make it with only items that were in the pantry at the time. Going out and buying something would be cheating cus I could just grab a bottle of Lea & Perrins and be done.

After extensive reading and research on this great thingy called The Internet, I had compiled my own list of ingredients (all of which I had on hand, thank you) and a vague idea of what to do.

Soooo, here ya go: homemade wusstushuh sauce! I'm sure you will all have the ingredients in your kitchen pantry :)

Worcestershire sauce

What you need:

1 chopped tomato(e)
1 small chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
3 anchovy fillets, minced
1 small handfull of raisins
1/3 cup treacle OR molasses
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 cup water
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp raw sugar
2/3 cup beer (a dark lager works well)

Whew! That's quite the list, eh?

What you do:

Chuck it all in a pot, bring it to a boil (I'd suggest using some kind of heating device under the pot to do this) and then let it simmer for 1 hour (keep it covered, very important so you don't lose liquid). Let it cool.

Pour the cooled semi-lumpy stuff into a blender and then blenderize it till there ain't no lumps left. Should only take a minute or two.

Strain the liquid, then bottle the liquid in a jar, seal it, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and then
use it! See, simple! Easy!

You'll also note that this tastes much better than anything you'll buy off the shelf; trust me on that!

Oh, for the jarring part: just pour boiling water into the glass jar (toss the lid into the pot of boiling water for a moment too), then empty the jar and let it cool for a few. That's it, easy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Every once in a while I go off on a complete tangent to what I was thinking of. Actually, it happens pretty darned often. So much so that the clan household is used to it by now. Maybe perhaps y'all are? If not, too bad!

Did you know I make my own sauces? Well, now you do.

OT: Isn't the german language great? Depending on which form of 'you' is used they can be taking about a singular you, or a collective you. Bummer that english don't have that... guess that's why I use y'all a lot, eh?

See??!!?? I warned "you".

Back to sauces...

I just discovered a great way to make wasabi mayonnaise!

A couple of decades ago (off on one of my tangents) I was talking to a friend (drinking buddy) about making spicy tartar sauce from scratch. She said it's easier than that; just chuck in however much chili powder you want to regular tartar sauce and mix it up. Please note, many of my drinking buds were female :)

So before any of "you" say to just take some mayo and stir in some wasabi paste, let me just say that I've thought of and tried that. The following is much better and only takes a min or two.

Wasabi Mayo

What you need:

2 egg yolks (3 if you've got tiny chooks)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp wasabi paste (or more if you'd like)
1/2 cup olive oil (I use extra virgin, fresh, cold-pressed cus I'm snooty)

What you do:

If your second food processor is really small, then use that. Don't try it in a regular sized one, there just ain't enough to get to set right. If you don't have a small food processor, then just use one of them handheld electric mixer thingy-ma-bobs. Heck, it's easier to clean too.

Anyways... put the first 3 ingredients (that's a fancy chef word meaning stuff you add to make something taste good) in your small food processor and process for 30 seconds or so till it's kinda creamy. Then pour in the olive oil in a thin stream while the blade is running. GAH! Why does everyone use that fraze "while the blade is running" when talking about adding liquids (or some solids) to a food processor???? Don't ya think we know by now? How can a blade "run" anyway? Doesn't it spin? Whoops, there I am on my soapbox again...

Anyways, pour in the olive oil into the food processor bowl while the motor on the food processor is running so that the blades are spinning. Process for about a minute till it's smooth and creamy.

This goes very well spread on bread. It's great for sandwiches. If you have a stuffy nose, then just add more wasabi, but I don't recommend snorting it!

This is good, really.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Onion Rings

I was thinking about starting a series of posts about pickling and drying, but I first decided to talk about one of THE BEST deep fried foods ever: The humble onion ring. I was reminded about onion rings not only from last weeks' post about deep frying, but from the death of a canoe story on my other blog.

There was, and I really hope it's still there, a restaurant in Los Anchorage called The Arctic RoadRunner.  They made great cheeseburgers and the worlds best onion rings.

I hope they are still there...

Anyways, I make my own onion rings. You can use batter if you'd like, but it doesn't stick to the rings very well and the oil gets in. So use breading! Many folks use buttermilk before dredging in the breading mix.

But there's a better way

Dingo Dave's Onion Rings:

What U Knead:

3 good sized onions (what? aren't you having company to enjoy these?)
2 cups flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp of cayenne powder (or less or more, your choice)
1 tsp mild paprika

and the secret... 2 cups of plain yog(h)urt

Don't worry if you don't like yoghurt, you won't even notice it's there. But it makes the breading stick GREAT and absolutely no oil gets into your onion rings.

What u due:

I think you can figure this out, but I'll go through it anyways. Slice the onions into rings (see, I told you you coulda figured it out). Mix all the dry ingredients. Give the yog(h)urt a good stir so it's not lumpy. Drag the rings through the yog(h)urt and then dredge in the flour mix. Notice how the breading REALLY stays on?

Deep fry in hot oil for 2 to 3 mins only, won't take long at all.

Now here's the really easy part: EAT THEM! Oh, they are best had with a light, hoppy, lager on a hot day.


Oh wait, I just gotta tell you about my lunch today. Here's what I had:

cocktail prawns (shrimp)
chilli marinated New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels
fried squid rings
battered fish
veggie egg rolls (healthy!)
sliced roast beef w/horseradish (not sauce, pure horseradish)
honey chicken
sweet and sour pork

and for dessert:
chocolate truffles
chocolate mousse
banana cake

I then took a two hour nap, and am NOT planning on having any dinner tonight.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Deep Frying Fool

Yes, I know it's bad for you... but gosh darn it: it tastes GOOD!

Deep fried goodness! Oh, come on now, doesn't everything taste better when tossed in hot oil with or without some type of coating? Hell, I've even deep fried sushi --TRUE (personally, I like it better raw and yes, I make damned good sushi).

Today though, you get a wonderful batter that'll fry a variety of things. I was cleaning out the fridge the other day, and had a little of this and a little of that. I thought for lunch I should deep fry the bits and see which ones come out best --for some reason, no one else in the clan house was as excited about this lunch as I was... hmmmmm...

Anyways, I decided that a good, thick, egg batter would be best. Before I give you the batter recipe, let me list the things I was deep fryin':

pickled mussels
camenbert cheese
brie cheese
crab meat
feta cheese
blood sausage (black pudding)
bleu cheese

Ahem, yes, I like to eat... As you can tell, I needed a versatile batter (definitely not breading). It turns out, the feta was BEST, followed very closely by everything else. Hey, I am a deep frying King --been doing it a while.

The batter:

half flour/half polenta (corn meal will do) --about 3/4 cup of each
ground white pepper
milk powder (a tbsp or two)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp powdered coriander
1 tsp powdered cumin
2 eggs
enough water to make a good, thick batter.

Mix it all together, then use.

Oh, if you use a good, wide wok, then you only need an inch of oil. I use olive oil for everything except deep frying, for that I use sunflower oil.

As I said, the deep fried feta was great, but so was everything else (the mussels were a close second).

Hmmmm, maybe I should tell you how to make deep fried, soft boiled eggs sometime (it's a vietnamese thing).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Croutons and Spices

Quick Croutons:

This is for when you need some croutons in a hurry, and you don't feel like running out to the shops and paying for them!

Take some white bread slices, either fresh or semi-stale. Slice em into crouton sized pieces (about the size of dice). Toss them into a wok, and add some seasonings. The other day when I made them I used Egyptian type seasonings and they are GREAT!

All seasonings are either dried, ground, or crushed. Here's the Eqyptian seasonings I used:

Sea Salt

Oh, if you've been wondering how to get that beautiful Moroccan flavour (or any North African or Middle Eastern flavour) then you'll want to note that the key ingredient not known in many western kitchens is ground sumac.

Anywho, toss the seasonings into the bread cubes and drizzle some olive oil on them. Put the wok on a high heat, toss the cubes frequently (if you let them sit for more than 30 secs you'll burn them). After a couple of mins (add more olive oil as needed) you'll have nicely toasted and seasoned croutons.

Remove from heat and let cool --they are even better the next day.

You can use any kind of seasonings, whatever your taste buds like.

Oh, regarding sumac: There are quite a few edible types of sumac berries; when used in cooking they are generally dried and then crushed. There are, however, six type of sumac berries that are poisonous and (for the most part) the berries are white. These include stuff like poison ivy, poison oak and (of course) poison sumac. I wouldn't suggest going out and picking your own sumac berries, just buy the powdered stuff at your local shops!

Monday, March 3, 2008

REAL Chocolate Moose

Not sure if this is a "classic" choc moose recipe or not, but it's the one that takes a lot more time than my quickie one last post.

This takes about two hours (including cooling time), whereas my fake one takes about two minutes.

Whut U Knead:
1/2 pound dark cookin' chocolate (about 225 grams)
3 tbsp powdered sugar
3 tbsp strong coffee NOTE: my strong coffee is what truckers and warehousemen drink, so don't use my coffee, eh?
2 large egg yolks or 3 small egg yolks*
1 and 1/4 cups whipping cream

*if you aren't using the leftover egg whites for meringue, then you can freeze them for future use

Whut U Due:
Melt the choc in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, then just put a metal or glass  mixing bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water, very simple. Chuck in the sugar, egg yolks, and coffee and whisk it all up. Stir while it thickens (takes a min or two to thicken). Set the bowl (or top of double boiler) aside to cool slightly.

While the mix is cooling, whip the whipping cream. I'd suggest putting it in a bowl first, and an electric mixer is much faster than whisking it; just a tip!

Once the choc mix is cool enough (if you can put your pinky finger in it and hold it there for a few seconds, then it's cool enough), add the whipped cream and GENTLY stir it through.

Spoon the finished moose into serving glasses, and then fridge 'em for an hour or two.

For serving, try grating some chocolate over the top, you can also drizzle cherry or orange liquer over the top for serving. If you've got the money, drizzle some Grand Marnier over the top when serving. Sliced strawberries go well with it too, and a mint leaf for garnish is always a nice touch.

For a drink accompanianment (is that how you spell that word???), try a nice shooting sherry.