Monday, April 27, 2009

Bea Arthur's leg of lamb

The last time I saw Bea Arthur was when she brought her stage show back to New York for one night to benefit the Ali Forney center her in New York.

I got involved with the center when they needed a wine donation for the after party. Bea did the show barefoot so I got Erica Brandler from Barefoot Cellars involved and we helped make the party a success.

Bea was in top form strutting back and forth on the stage and as those of you who have seen the show remember...she recited her leg of lamb recipe.

At the party afterwards I approached her, she was sitting in the back of the restaurant. I had to ask..."any particular proportions for the ingredients in the lamb prep"?

In her deep booming voice she responded..."How big is your lamb?"

"I don't know."

"Trust your instincts, use a lot of mustard to coat and enough of everything else to make it taste good."

I did as instructed and it was good...very good, and so today I share with you Bea Arthur's lamb. Trust your instincts....I like mine with a lot of garlic and rosemary and sandwiches the next day, live for.

A lot of Dijon mustard
Some olive oil
Some ground ginger
A lot of garlic ground up
A lot of Rosemary crushed enough to release the oils
Some salt

Mix into a paste and make some scores in the surface of the leg. Rub it all in, let it rest in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Put a meat thermometer in near the bone and roast 'til the lamb reaches 140 at 375 degrees. Cover with foil and let rest for a bit then carve. It should be a nice medium pink.

Bea loved to entertain. Have a few friends over and thank them for being your friends, then raise a glass to Bea.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Springtime Pollock

In New York we are getting some great Pollock from the Alaskan waters, both fresh and frozen. What I really love about this fish vs. other white fish is the texture. It has a richness that lends itself to so many preparations. I had eaten it with an anchovy caper sauce, I had done it in a stew, and I wasn't feeling creative, but I had fish and a guest coming for dinner.

I went on Facebook and my friend Robert made a suggestion that became a's really good, and if you are lucky enough to have fresh herbs you are really in for a treat. This is for two, but it can be easily doubled.

Salt and pepper two nice fillets and set aside.

1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
Splash of White Wine
2 anchovies cut into bits
A nice handful of spring chives
About a quarter cup of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of butter
2 nice wedges of lemon

Barely cook the fillets in a nonstick skillet and place on warm plates in the oven. Get the skillet hot and place the tomatoes cut side down in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes until the skin just begins to shrivel, they may brown a bit. Hit with the wine and anchovies and toss around. Melt in the butter, as you toss int he parsley turn off the heat and spoon the sauce over the fish and top with fresh chives. Serve with the lemon.

Because it is California artichoke season I served these with artichoke hearts warmed in oil and garlic and sprinkled with Romano cheese.

If you have always been a cod or sole person...try a little Pollock. Trust me on this one.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rice Cakes starring the Ham of God

Typically I made these with Smoked duck, or some really good sausage, but I know many of you will have Ham leftovers after tomorrow and they work well with the ham.

The Ham of God sits on many Easter tables all over the country and after a sandwich many can't wait to get rid of the stuff. If they are lucky they have a bone to cook with some beans, but fortunately this recipe does not require a bone.

1 cup leftover ham diced into tiny bits
1 small onion diced into tiny bits
2 cups cold sticky rice (Sushi rice works best, but Thai broken rice is nice as well. NO Uncle Bens or Minute)
2 eggs
Cayenne pepper
(1/4 cup of finely chopped leftover veg can be added)
Bread crumbs

Mix everything together except the bread crumbs and roll into balls. Press the balls into the crumbs and chill. Place cold patties into a nonstick skillet with a touch of oil and fry til crisp and hot.

I like them for breakfast with a couple of eggs, but you eat them for any meal that amuses you.

The Ham of God, like the Turkey of Thanksgiving will eventually be consumed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pasta vin Bianco Recipe

***Apologies to those regular readers who have been wondering what's been happening. I made a BIG move at the beginning of the month. My catering business is now bi-coastal and between packing and unpacking I have been making a lot of trips to the Chinese take out place. I am now stable and will get back to my regular cooking schedule.

We have all read the recipes for and possibly experimented with pasta or risotto cooked in red wine. It's traditional, it's delicious. Another favorite of mine is pasta with a garlic and wine sauce, often served with clams or other seafood.
I decided to try cooking the linguine IN the wine to see if I could give it a flavor boost, and it was very successful. You have to stir a LOT because you are cooking the pasta in much less water than normal and you don't want sticking but the results are worth it. Spaghetti can be substituted with great results.
1 bottle of decent white wine (a drinkable chardonnay is my favorite for this, but any full flavored white will do.) 1/2 cup reserved for final sauce.
2 cups water
1/2 pound of pasta
Salt, and bring this mixture to a boil, make sure to set aside the 1/2 cup of white for the final saucing.
8 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Small can of mini clams or chopped clams
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of butter
A good shake of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Toss the pasta into the water and keep and eye on it stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Saute the garlic in the olive oil and when it just begins to brown throw in the clams and wine. when the pasta is al dente toss in the clam and wine mixture shake on some red pepper flakes, finish with butter and toss with parsley and pepper just prior to removing from pan and putting into warmed bowls.
This is enough for four gorgeous appetizers or two main plates.
In the springtime it is lovely as an appetizer followed by a nice bit of fish with some fresh asparagus. Along with a good Rose, you can ask for little more.