Showing posts with label economic meals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economic meals. Show all posts

Friday, October 8, 2010

A DINNER TO DIE FOR (Literally) and My Answer to the $40 Lamb Chop by Cleo Coyle

Mention "lamb" to any crime writer and you will likely hear about one of the most memorable culinary mystery plotlines in popular culture: "Lamb to the Slaughter," an episode of the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show, one that's been mentioned on this blog a time or two.

Cleo Coyle, who never murdered
(with a leg of lamb), is author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries.

The murderess of the story is Mary Maloney, a (seemingly) docile housewife completely in love with her police officer husband. As the story opens, he comes home from work with a grim disposition and very bad news: He's leaving her.

Mary is devastated. In a zombie-like homemaker haze, she continues about her business, going to the deep freezer to fetch a frozen leg of lamb for dinner. Mary then carries the club-shaped meat to the kitchen, walks up behind her husband, and introduces the back of his head to nine pounds of uncooked meat.

By the time detectives show, Mary has hidden the murder weapon (in her pre-heated oven). Hours later, the policemen at the scene appear tired and hungry. Ever the gracious homemaker, Mary offers them dinner and voila the evidence disappears--into the stomachs of the investigating officers.

Literary roots:
"Lamb to the Slaughter" was based
on a short story by the acclaimed
author of children's books Roald Dahl.
To learn more, including
where to read it, click here.

And now for this week's recipe...

French Pressed:
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Click here or on book cover
to learn more.
A few years ago, while researching the culinary elements in French Pressed, I attended a public event at New York's 92nd Street Y.

An esteemed panel had gathered to discuss New York City's restaurant scene. Among the members were Chef Jacques Pepin and legendary food writer Gael Greene.

One of the evening's discussion topics was "the forty dollar lamb chop," a half-joking example of the very high cost of operating a restaurant in NYC. How high?

According to the panel, it takes roughly $6 million to get a 200-seat restaurant off the ground in midtown Manhattan; and to maintain it, $500 to $800 per square foot, per month, just for rent.

Such high costs are, of course, passed on to the customer, which is why you see menus with a $40.00 lamb chop.

My husband and I write for a living, which is to say, there's no way in hell we can afford said chop on a regular basis, unless...we cook it ourselves!

And, so, today I am delighted to share with you...our amazing $3.00 Lamb Chop, just as good (if not better) than a midtown Manhattan chop, but with a savings of $37.00. (Unfortunately, you have to mix your own martini.)

Bottom line: We purchased the succulent rack of Australian lamb (you see in these photos) at Costco for about $20.00.

If you're a Costco member, keep your eyes open for these beauties because they are truly delicious and very easy to prepare. They're also quite nutritious. Australian lamb provides 2 times more iron than chicken or pork and 6 times more than fish. It's packed with B12 yet lower in cholesterol than other animal proteins. More info at this site.

If you're not a member of Costco, visit your local butcher or check out these other US retailers, listed state by state. Click here for the list.

Cleo Coyle’s
Absolute Favorite $3.00 lamb chop...

Rack of Lamb
with Lemon
and Rosemary

To save this recipe in an easy PDF form that you can print or share, click here. 


1-1/2 to 2 pound rack of lamb (We buy ours at Costco for about $20.00)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 fresh lemons
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


For a state-by-state list of US retailers who sell Australian lamb, click here.

Step 1: Prep meat and lemons - First allow the meat to reach room temperature, about 15-30 minutes outside of the refrigerator before cooking. (Placing cold meat into a hot oven will shock the tissue and make the meat tough instead of tender.) If your lemons were in the refrigerator, take them out and warm them to room temperature, as well.

Step 2: Prep pan - Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly coat the top rack of a broiler pan (or grill of a roasting pan) with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Unwrap the rack of lamb, gently rinse, pat dry, and place the meat fat side up on the greased rack.

Step 3: Mix flavor paste - Juice 1 and 1/2 of the room temperature lemons. (Again, you don’t want the juice to be cold or you’ll risk shocking the meat). Make a paste by mixing it with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and all the garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Step 4: Treat meat to an aromatic massage - Rub the paste all over the meat (both sides) and place on top rack of broiler pan, fat side up. Roast lamb in the center of oven for 70 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the roast. You want the thickest part of the meat to reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F.

Step 5: Allow juices to re-collect - If you cut the meat right away, the juices will run right out and your meat will taste dry instead of succulent. So allow the lamb to stand for 10 to 15 minutes and the juices to re-collect.

Step 6: Finish with fresh lemon - Meanwhile, juice the remaining 1 and 1/2 lemons. When meat has finished resting, spoon the fresh lemon juice over the meat; then slice, plate, and...


Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or 
learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Coffee Marinated Steak

Here’s a simple tip for making an economical cut of meat delicious—and a nice use for your leftover joe, too, because why not make use of every last drop?

Why I love this recipe: Grilling is a cooking process that too often overly dries thinner or less expensive cuts of meat. My coffee marinade imparts a wonderful, earthy character to the meat while also plumping it up, keeping it moist throughout the grilling process. Sure a super-fat T-bone steak would retain its moistness, but who can afford cuts like that for the whole family? As an experiment, I grilled my top round coffee-marinated steak alongside a rib eye steak treated only with dry rub. The top round was half the price, but tasted twice as good, thanks to its little bath in bean juice!

"Can't you just hear the sizzle?"....

Ingredients:Steaks for grilling or broiling
(I use top round)Cold coffee
Salt & Pepper
Worcestershire sauce (optional)Scallions or shallots (optional)Steak dry rub (optional)

Step 1: Purchase meatGo for an economical cut. (I use top round steak.) Pound the steak out with the spike side of a meat hammer. If you don’t have a meat hammer, then put your steak in a plastic bag and pound it with a regular hammer or the back of a ladle – and then prick it all over with a fork. This starts the tenderizing process. (It also gets all kinds of frustrations out. Who needs therapy when you can pound meat?)

Step 2: Cover with coffee
Place your steaks in a glass or plastic container and pour enough cold coffee over them to cover. You can use any kind of coffee. Just save the last dregs of your coffee pot for a few days (store in fridge) and you should have enough for the marinade.

Step 3: Add a little seasoning Add a tablespoon of salt (I like sea salt), a dash of pepper, and (optional) a couple of diced scallions or shallots along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cover the container with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours. No longer.

Step 4: Remove and grillPull the steaks out of the container and discard the liquid. Do not rinse. Just apply a favorite dry rub. There are many dry steak rubs available in your grocery aisle. (My favorite is Szeged brand Steak Rub in the cute little black metal can. Pictured right.) Cook your coffee-marinated steaks on a charcoal or gas grill, or broil the meat in the oven.

When my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, made a version of this dish in Through the Grinder, she cooked it in a cast iron skillet on the top of her stove. The stovetop is a great option, too, because it allows for pan drippings, which means...gravy! So I couldn’t resist having Clare whip up a delish side dish of Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Hearty Coffee Gravy. Yes. Coffee gravy! Lol! You can find those recipes in the back of Through the Grinder, too.

To find out more about my culinary mystery series, visit my Coffeehouse Mystery Web site, where you’ll find more recipes, as well.

Cheers, everyone! ~ Cleo