Week of March 26 – April 1, 2018
Monday: Beans and Toast in Broth / App of Guacamole and Chips
Tuesday: Frittata with sausage, pancetta, goat cheese and herbs
Wednesday: Bisteck Hache, Greens with Lemon and Oil
Beez’s Home Alone Pantry Pasta
Thursday: Dunnings at The Cornerstone
Friday: Carrot and Cauliflower Soup with toasted baguette
(Recipe for Janice’s Pittsburgh Potatoes in next week’s blog)
Saturday: John and Janice Hart’s home for dinner
Sunday: Cheese, Olives and Crackers / Grilled Lamb / Roasted Potatoes /
House Salad / Blue Cheese with Walnuts and Raisins
Last week we wrote about John Welsh and Cindy Farranto’s cooking, and the week before about Julie Stoecklein’s. This week we’re going to share the joys of brunch at Rosie’s and dinner at John and Janice Hart’s. And we’ll share our own recipe for grilled leg of lamb (adapted from a Three Rivers Cookbook recipe).
Sharing a dinner with family and friends is, I have no doubt, one of the chief activities in heaven. It is also, of course, the driving force behind this blog. We are, clearly, blessed to have so many friends willing to invite us for weekends and dinners and brunches. I’m aware that for most of them, Beez is the drawing card – but I’m happy to be along for the ride.
Last Saturday, the Harts had us over for dinner, along with the Millers. John grilled some steak and Janice served that with asparagus and her own Pittsburgh potatoes. We have had the potatoes before, and hope to have them again. (I managed to smuggle a pocketful home to Casa Stuarti and it was well worth it, in spite of the laundry’s judgment that nothing could be done to save the trousers.) Janice inherited the recipe from her mother-in-law, and we will be sharing it with you next week (we’ll be working through international copyright law and patent issues in the meantime).
Then, on Easter Sunday, Rosie Welsh invited us to her house for brunch. A representative throng of the extended Welsh-Slavish clan were there which meant laughter, loud talk and several hogsheads of Bloody Marys. As for the food, Rosie’s brunch reminded us how great a good ham is – especially after fasting and attending 11:00 am. Mass. The other hits of the party were Julie Stoecklein’s donuts and the jelly beans that Rosie had scattered temptingly around the dining table. Brunch on Easter Sunday is magical. The end of Lent and the celebration of Easter bring a loosening and great hope into the world. In fact, we wanted to stay at Rosie’s all day and help set a record for total volume of vodka and tomato juice consumed per capita. But we returned to Casa Stuarti to prepare for a family party and to cook the largest piece of lamb we had ever tackled.
That evening brought its own joys – grilling and drinking with Mike and Greg on the deck, the beautiful and temperate (‘just water, please’) Kellie Stewart, UFR (not temperate), and Annie and Steven Smith, and Billy and Emily, which meant more laughter and drink, and the joy of sitting at the table over Calvados and Montbazillac (dessert wine of the Périgord and a favorite of Bruno, Chief of Police – if you don’t know Martin Walker’s series which features mystery, fascinating characters and the village life, food and drink of France’s culinary equivalent to Italy’s Emiglia-Romagna, call me for an overview).
Looking back over last week and factoring in Thursday night’s drinking with my friends (the Dunnings Group) and the beautiful cookbook which Beez gave me for my birthday (French Country Cooking), and Jimmy Kennedy’s wonderful gift of Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat, I think I can say that I had a near-perfect week. Here is one of the two of the dishes that made last week’s cooking memorable:
GRILLED, BUTTERFLIED, LEG OF LAMB
(Marinade from ‘Lamb on the Grill’ – Three Rivers Cookbook – grilling from our own experience – back in the day they tended to overcook lamb)
One day ahead of cooking: Marinate the Lamb (see below for marinade)
1 or more butterflied legs of lamb. (5.5 lbs. will serve about 8 people – our near-seven pound monster served 9, many of whom had seconds, and the leftovers supplied another dinner and 4 individual lunches for us)
For the Marinade:
1 ¼ cup of olive oil
¾ cup of soy sauce
¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of dry mustard
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoon of dried oregano (the recipe calls for dried parsley flakes instead)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves crushed
Make the Marinade and marinate the lamb one day before cooking:
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Pour over the lamb and turn the lamb a few times to coat. Marinate the lamb overnight in a roasting pan, turning a few more times).
Grilling the Lamb:
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator several hours before cooking. Remove from marinade just before cooking. Keep marinade for basting, if you wish – after a long marinade like this, basting will not be necessary.
The great sin in cooking lamb is to overcook it. Typically, a butterflied leg of lamb on a hot grill can be cooked to medium-rare, the Holy Grail of Ovine Cookery, in less than 10 minutes per side. With the 7 lbs. of butterflied lamb that we had, it took about 16 minutes per side. Keep a meat thermometer handy and when the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 130-135 F, take the lamb from the grill and let it rest 10 minutes or so before slicing. At that point, you’ll want to slice the whole thing to stop it from cooking any further. Note: If you have an effete guest who prefers well-done lamb, cut one of the thinner pieces from the butterfly and grill it by itself.
If you ask me, and I know you’d like to, you’d be doing well to serve this with a spicy lime-yogurt sauce we invented because we had forgotten to buy mint jelly:
Spicy Lime-Yogurt Sauce
We had a large jalapeño, a tub of yogurt and some limes. We made this up as we went along and kept tasting and adding things until it tasted good. And this sauce was great on sandwiches and pretty much anything you think of (we had a bunch left over). I’m purely guessing at the proportions:
1-2 cups of yogurt (we used over a cup, probably 1 1/2)
Large, chopped jalapeño (I split the pepper and removed the seeds from one side only, since we like the heat)
Lime Zest and juice from one lime
3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
Sliced scallion or shallot
(If you have some ginger, we think you might want to grate some into the mix for a little more heat and tang – we had no ginger, so we can’t vouch for this)
Put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. Serve on the side with the lamb.