Totally did not eat the leftovers with a spoon

September 30, 2009

There is an episode of the Simpson's where Homer hallucinates about concubines bringing him a hose full of ranch dressing. My friend Pete has coveted that hose ever since. Seriously, the dude will put ranch dressing on anything. Probably even waffles. This dressing is way better than ranch, and, trust me, I love me some ranch dressing. If I had to choose a hose full of condiments, I just might choose this. Really, so easy, and so so good.

Buttermilk salad dressing
enough for 2 salads

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, well shaken
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 tablespoon mayo
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (or garlic chives)
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.

Great on a simple green salad.

VARIATIONS: You could also use fresh basil, oregano, or tarragon in this with delicious results. If you do that, use only a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs, and add about a 1/4 teaspoon of finely minced garlic.

For the love of lamb

September 25, 2009

My friend Walter got me and my husband a meat grinder for a wedding present. And a cleaver. I can turn now anything into ground meat! (Hi Walter!)I love ground meat because you can spice and flavor it however you like. Also, it seems more interesting than other meats. Like it went to art school or something.

Photo is the lamb patties with carrot salad and green beans.

Morrocan lamb patties OR burgers
Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper (or use hot pepper flakes)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 small onion, diced small
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon currants (Crazy, but trust me on this!)
salt and pepper
1 lb. ground lamb

olive oil, to cook

plain yogurt, to serve

Mix cinnamon through salt and pepper together well. (Everything except the lamb, oil to cook, and yogurt.) Add lamb, mix until just barely combine, being careful not to overmix. (If you keep mushing it together, your patties will be really tough. And not delicious. Also, your house might fall in.) Divide into 12 little patties. Heat a large skillet to medium high, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and put your patties in. You might have to cook two batches. Or use two skillets. Cook about 2-3 minutes each side, depending on how you like your lamb.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt on each patty.

VARIATION: Divide the meat into only 4 patties, and serve on a roll, topped with yogurt and carrot salad (julienne the carrots so it is more like a slaw).

Taste the rainbow

Carrots come in as many colors as Skittles. (Just take away the green and add white.) You just most often see the orange ones. Too bad, because the other colors are really cool, and make a beautiful carrot salad. If you've never had farm market or homegrown carrots, you really should give them a try. They taste so much more carrot-y than carrots from the grocery store.

As an aside, I have a friend who hates carrots. He even picks them out of Campbell's soup! (But they are so teeny! Maybe he uses tweezers.) John N., do not make this recipe. The main ingredient is carrots. It would knock you over with it's carrot-ness.

Carrot salad
Serves 4 (5, if John N. is coming to your house for dinner)

6 carrots (try the ones from the farm market! Or steal them out of your neighbor's garden like Peter Rabbit. But don't sue me if he comes after you with a shotgun.)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (you could use any herb, but I was going for a Moroccan thing)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Thinly slice carrots. Or julienne them in a food processor.

Whisk together cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss carrots with dressing.

The salad will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

What all sandwiches should aspire to be

September 24, 2009

This sandwich was so damn good I'm sure I will be pining for it mid-winter. And it was really easy to make and packed really well to take to work for lunch. Well, I'm currently between jobs, but that's what my husband said. We ate it for two days, and was just as good on the second day, although the bread was getting a little softer.

I based my recipe off of "A Big Tomato Sandwich" from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.

Tomato Sandwich
Serves 4

8-12 inch round loaf (I used a black olive thyme loaf from Firehook, a bakery in my 'hood.)
2 or more big ripe tomatoes (I used 2 big heirlooms, a Brandywine and a Nebraska Wedding)
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, and chopped
3.5 ounces goat cheese
6 slices Genoa salami from the deli
Herb vinaigrette (below)

Slice the top third off the loaf of bread. Pull out the inside crumbs of the top and bottom bread to make the loaf hollow. Brush the herb vinaigrette on the inside of the bread, then layer with tomato, pepper, cheese and more vinaigrette. Make a layer of salami and then push down to pack it in tight. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Put the bread "hat" back on. Wrap it in foil, then smoosh down the top to get it all nice and packed in. Cut it into 4 pieces, and share with people who you really like. (If you are taking it for lunch, only cut as many pieces as you'll use that day. Wrap it in foil for easy transporting.)

Herb vinaigrette

1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped garlic chives (you could also finely mince a clove of garlic)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together.

It's tomato soup served ice cold!

I love gazpacho. It tastes like summer. But the funny thing about making your own farm-fresh gazpacho is that the ingredients aren't really at their peak until late August or September. It's almost like nature is pointing and laughing at you, because right when you're ready for fall, it is giving up the summer bounty. Luckily, gazpacho-wise, it is usually boiling hot and humid in DC well through September.

I used to think that I had to really earn the deliciousness of gazpacho by chopping every ingredient by hand into a teeny tiny dice. And I did that lots of times. But then I went to my friend Kathryn's house and she had made the gazpacho from Barefoot Contessa. I was a little skeptical and judgy, because I knew Barefoot's recipe involved a food processor. But, alas, it was still chunky and delicious! I was won over. It's now my go-to gazpacho guide.

Serves 4-5

1 cucumber (not the waxy skinned kind, the long and skinny kind), halved and seeded but not peeled, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cored and seeded, cut into chunks
4 tomatoes (I used heirlooms: 3 green zebras and a Mr. Stripey), cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, chopped
24 oz. tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
fresh black pepper, to taste

Put each vegetable into the food processor one at a time. Pulse until it is finely chopped. After you chop each veggie, toss it in a big bowl. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Chill before serving.