Friday, July 23, 2010

Grilled Lamb and Summer Squash Soup

My girlfriends came up from San Diego a few weeks ago and I promised them a delicious dinner. Since I had all day Friday off to plan, I decided to make things that were seasonal and I had never personally made before. Our dinner consisted of grilled lamb "lollipops" (recipe came from a coworker who made this at a work BBQ a few weeks prior), summer squash soup with cumin brown butter (from 101cookbooks), artichokes, and a mixed greens salad with farmers market tomatoes and home grown cucumbers from my garden. We had a day of wine tasting planned, so none of these recipes are super complex...just takes a little prior planning. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Grilled Lamb

1 "frenched" cut rack of lamb
1 bottle decent zinfandel- I used Trader Joe's organic
4 garlic cloves, smashed
4 T fresh oregano
1/4 c olive oil

Clean lamb and trim any excess fat. Mix all ingredients and marinate overnight in a shallow glass pan. If you can start marinating in the morning, this should prob suffice, it just needs a long soak in the vino.
Preheat the barbecue to med high. Grill the lamb fat side down for 12 minutes, turn and cook until desired doneness (we did about 5 more minutes for pink, but not super rare). Cover in foil and let rest at least 5 min, cut in between bones. we had some flare ups due to the olive oil/fat combination. Dave ended up bbqing it over foil after he got some initiall grill marks on this and it worked great.

Buttermilk Squash Soup (care of 101cookbooks)

1 t cumin seeds
1/4 c butter
sea salt

3 T butter
2 med yellow onions, chopped
2 med garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 lbs yellow summer squash
4 c vegetable stock
1 c buttermilk
1 bunch chives, finely chopped

In your smallest frying pan, over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Just a minute or two. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the seeds into a fine powder. (If you don't have this, you can leave them still tastes good). Set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and cook until it's brown. Remove from heat, stir the cumin into the butter along with a couple pinches of salt, then set aside in a warm place. You want the butter to stay liquid until you're ready to use it.

To make the soup, heat the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and a bit of salt. Saute for a few minutes, or until the onions start to get translucent. Stir in the potatoes and squash and cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until the squash starts to soften up. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the stock (most of it) - the stock should just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, roughly another 25 minutes. Remove the soup from heat, puree completely with a hand blender, then stir in the buttermilk. If you need to thin the soup out with a bit more stock, you can do so. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve each bowl topped with plenty of the cumin butter, and a sprinkling of chives.

Since the initial making of this soup, I couldn't get enough of it and made another batch. It hold up really nicely in the fridge, which makes it a great thing to prepare ahead of time if needed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Chipotle Peaches

I love summer because of the simplicity of foods you can make on the grill. Dave and I made this dish from the Bon Appetit July 2010 edition to celebrate the completion of our (his) hard work on the back yard. It was pretty easy and does not require a lot of ingredients, which are things I look for on week night cooking. It was a great use of summer fruit and the adobo sauce gave it a nice smoky flavor. We served this over brown rice with a little extra sauce poured over the top.

nonstick spray
1/3 c peach preserves
1/3 c peach nectar
4 t red wine vinegar
2 t adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles
2 t extra virgin olive oil
1 t chopped fresh cilantro
3 large peaches, rinsed, cut in half
1 pack boneless skinless chicken tenders

Coat grill rack with nonstick spray. Prep barbecue on medium high heat. Stir preserves and next three ingredients, 2 t oil, and cilantro into bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/4 cup dressing into another smaller bowl for brushing.

Brush peaches, then chicken with oil and dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Grill peaches until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.

Makes 4 servings. Place chicken and peaches over brown rice. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's Summer Time!

One of my friends made a recipe similar to this a few months ago for a dinner party we had and everyone loved it. I modified it a bit to go along with a Thai Red Duck Curry dish that Natalie made for us last weekend. The coolness and the texture were really nice to finish off a spicy meal. I am hoping one day Nat will post the curry recipe. I keep having dreams about it.

30 Nabisco "Famous Chocolate Wafer" cookies, crushed (I used my food processor)
5 T butter, melted
1 pinch salt
1 t vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and press into a pie plate that has been greased with cooking spray. Cook on 325 for 6-8 minutes until firm. Completely cool on a wire rack.

2 pints of your favorite sorbet. I used pomegranate, but I imagine lemon or coconut or raspberry would also be fantastic with this.

Set out sorbet until soft and spread evenly into pie with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until set about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the whipped cream.

Whipped cream:
2 c whipping cream
1 t vanilla
1/4 c powdered sugar- add more to desired sweetness

Beat in a cold bowl until stiff. Top the pie with the cream and again cover with plastic wrap. Freeze at least two hours.

To serve: Remove pie from freezer 20 minutes before serving. Top with toasted almonds and coconut.