Saturday, March 16, 2013
Beggars Purses, Hoosier Lamb Chops, Cheddar Pear Pie
Fire Drill! That's how I've been describing the last week. My email has built up to horrid levels. I've got mountains of files on my desk. My sleep is punctuated by dreams of paperwork. It's tax season. It's like this every year and every year I forget how tough it is. Friday I had a massage. Got back to the office about 5:15 and worked til a bit after 6:00 then came home and cooked. It was time for a complicated meal that took 100% of my attention and didn't allow me to think about the office. This meal succeeded. It prettty much kicked my butt. Exactly what I was trying for. And, best of all, we rated two dishes a five and one a four - on a scale of one to five. Well, actually, as I type this the fourth dish is cooling it's heels on the bar. That would be the cheddar pear pie. You see, Connie loves pears. And I saw a bag of pears at Costco last weekend. They finally hit perfection so we've been eating pears in salads. It was finally time for my sister-in-law Linda's famous cheddar pear pie. Probably our favorite pie ever.
Jessica's Biscuit had a $5 sale. That's $5 per cookbook for a list about a mile long. I ordered a few. We won't talk about how many, ok? Let's just say I"m having fun with new cookbooks. Oh, and remember that I hit the bargain bin at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and got three cookbooks. Hmmm, my bedtime reading will be cookbooks for a time. Home Food is the cookbook I'm currently cooking my way through. It's a cookbook of what 44 "great American chefs" cook on their day off. It was published a LONG time ago so I'm finding some of the photos humorous. Rick Bayless looks VERY young. So do a lot of the other chefs. Then, there are a bunch I've never heard of. I need to sit down with Google or Wikipedia and find out what's happened with these folks.
Well, the first recipe that caught my eye was Beggars Purses of Basil Crepes with Garden Greens and Warm Lemon Sauce. I'd seen the Hoosier Lamb Chops in Fix It and Enjoy It from the grocery bargain bin. The makings of a great dinner. Turns out we had a bag of kale from last weekend's shopping expedition. A jam-packed vinaigrette with a grilled pear half and some feta cheese would go well with that. And the salad would go well with the Beggar's Purses and the Hoosier Lamb Chops. Yup, that's the way it worked. The salads and Beggar's Purses were fives. The lamb chops were close but had to fall back to a four. Now, a word of warning. I didn't follow the directions totally. Shocking, I know. But I was out of space and burners... So, I'm going to give you directions the way I made the dishes with notes on how I differed from the recipes.
Here's what we made:
Beggars Purses of Basil Crepes with Garden Greens and Warm Lemon Sauce
for the filling:
2 T olive oil
2 c red onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c diced cremini mushrooms
1 lb fresh spinach
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 c fresh basil, minced or 2 T dried
2/3 c grated Gruyere cheese
whole chives or thin strips of leeks for tying purses
for the crepes:
1 c water
1 c milk
1 1/2 c flour
4 large eggs
3 T olive oil
3/4 t salt
5 T minced fresh basil
for the lemon sauce:
1 1/2 c vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 c dry white wine
3 large egg yolks
5 T fresh lemon juice
2 T minced chives (I was out of energy and forgot these...)
for the filling:
Saute the onions in the olive oil until they've just softened.
Add the mushrooms and basil and cook until the liquid is gone.
Add the spinach and cook again until the liquid is gone.
That will take 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
for the crepes:
In the bowl of a food processor, mix all the ingredients.
Puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Lightly oil a crepe pan or nonstick 10" pan. Heat it until the oil shimmers. Pour in 1/4 c batter and swirl until it covers the bottom of the pan. Cook for about a minute.
The bottom will be lightly browned. Flip and cook for another 30-60 seconds until the other side is browned. Remove to a cooling rack.
Repeat until the batter is gone.
for the sauce:
Whisk the eggs and lemon in a small bowl. Pour the stock and wine into a small saucepan. Cook vigorously until reduced by half. That will take 8-10 minutes. Slowly, whisk the stock/wine reduction into the egg/lemon mixture. Once it's combined, pour it all into the saucepan and simmer until it's thickened a bit.
Now here's where what I did REALLY differed. The recipe calls for tying the purses up with strings of chives or leeks. Instead, I made little folded purses and drizzled the sauce over. MUCH easier and tastes just the same, don't you know. My directions: Lay a crepe out on a plate. Put a generous 2T of filling on the crepe. Fold up the bottom, in the sides, down the top and roll it over. Drizzle it with sauce and serve. YUM!
Adapted from Home Food
Our next dish was pear salads. First, I made a vinaigrette with black currant-raspberry jam, dijon mustard, pear vinegar, tarragon, sugar and extra virgin olive oil. Then, I tossed baby kale in the dijon vinaigrette and left it on the counter for an hour. That softened it and took the bitterness out. Right before serving the salads I halved and cored a pear and had Connie add it to the party on the grill. When it came off, I plated it with the kale, then the pear, then the rest of the dressing, then a bit of crumbled feta cheese.
Last, but not least, the Hoosier Lamb Chops. We buy fabulous lamb from a local guy by the name of Terry Knudsen. I've always loved lamb. Terry's is the best I've ever had. It was the Hoosier Lamb Chops that got me to buy the Fix It and Enjoy It cookbook. Instead of making it as the recipe directed, I made a marinade then grilled the lamb chops and drizzled them with the sauce.
Hoosier Lamb Chops
four large or eight small lamb chops
for the marinade:
1/4 c black currant jam
2 t dijon mustard
1 T olive oil
for the sauce:
1 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c black currant or black raspberry jam
1/4 c Pinot Noir
1 T fresh mint, chopped
Mix the marinade ingredients and slather it on the lamb chops.
Heat your grill.
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion until softened. Add the other ingredients and simmer while the lamb chops are grilling. Serve the lamb chops drizzled with the sauce.
Last but not least, Connie's favorite:
Cheddar Pear Pie
4 large pears, thinly sliced
1/3 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/8 t salt
1 unbaked 9" pie shell
for the topping:
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c flour
1/4 c butter
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t salt
Preheat your oven to 425. Toss the pears with the other ingredients. Pour the pears into the pie shell.
In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients. You want the mixture to be crumbly.
Crumble the topping over the pears.
Bake at 425 until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before serving.