Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2017

Looking for Lamb Curry

The days are getting shorter, and the temperature is slowly falling (at least at night) and I wanted to find a recipe--any recipe!--that didn't involve apples. We had a nice piece of leftover lamb in the fridge, and then I recalled an amazing lamb Korma I used to get for take-out lunches when I worked in Philadelphia, so I thought I'd give curry a try.

As I've said before, as I child I was a very cautious eater. I didn't trust onions or garlic, and I wouldn't even tolerate a sprinkle of black pepper on my food. Forget about sauces! (But I was okay with most vegetables, and I never had a problem with desserts!)

When I got braver as an adult, I started collecting cookbooks and experimenting, but it is no doubt significant that while I have Greek and Asian and Mexican cookbooks, among many others, I never considered getting an Indian cookbook. 

After a few years I discovered a brand of pre-mixed curry powder that I liked (translation: not too spicy!), and I figured that would do, and I use it regularly.

But . . . I read the list of ingredients on the curry container, and realized I had all the individual ingredients in my pantry. (I can't resist buying weird spices, although I haven't figured out a use for galengal yet.) Why not bite the bullet and start from scratch?

Of course, this was a little naive on my part, since no two curry recipes, packaged or home-made, are alike. So I tinkered. I knew what flavors I like, and I ignored a few others, and came up with something that worked (as well as you could expect from an Irish girl!). Note: Indian curries seem to fall into two main categories: spices only, or spices plus something creamy like Greek yoghurt. I decided to start simple. I'll save the coconut milk and cream for another day, while I fine-tune my own spice recipe.

My Very Own Lamb Curry

2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tblsp vegetable oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp minced green chile (you choose how hot!)

1 Tblsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
dash of ground cloves (optional)
2 Tblsp water

2 pounds cubed lamb (about 4 cups)
1 tsp salt

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, fry the sliced onions in the oil until they begin to brown around the edges.  Add the garlic, ginger and green chile and stir for one minute.

Garlic and ginger
Mix the ground spices with the water to form a thin paste, then add to the onion mixture. Stir briefly until the spice mixture is evenly distributed.

Add the lamb and salt and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the lamb is cooked through (but not too long or it will get tough), about 10-15 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if you wish.

Serve over white rice.

Easy, right? And tasty. I'm thinking you could mix the dry spices together and keep them in a sealed jar until you're in the mood for Indian flavors. And feel free to experiment with whatever spices you have handy!

Coming soon! (November 7th, to be exact.) Yes, there are recipes in this book, but no curry.

You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lamb Fillet with Cabbage and Mushrooms

I know, it’s a week past St. Patrick’s Day, But it’s an Irish recipe! And I liked it!

I like lamb. My parents liked lamb. I grew up eating lamb chops about once a week, although we weren't much into leg of lamb or even lamb stew (which I now make regularly). I know there are people who don't like the taste of lamb, and it's hard to find in stores.

When I came across this very Irish recipe, it sounded good to me. Problem was, I have no idea what a lamb fillet is. However, my market has recently started carrying what they call a butterflied leg of lamb (no bone), which is about the right weight and size. It’s from Australia, don’t ask me why. But it’s a lovely piece to work with, nice and tender, and easy to cook.

Roast Fillet of Lamb with Cabbage and Mushrooms (suggested by Clare Connery in Irish Cooking, 1996)


1 lamb fillet, about one pound, 

trimmed of most of its fat
vegetable oil for frying
1 small green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
4 oz butter
4 oz unsmoked bacon, diced (I used salt pork)
6 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (while wild mushrooms would be nice, there are quite a few interesting domestic varieties available in markets now—pick a flavorful variety, not the white kind)
2 oz red wine
2 Tblsp port or sherry
salt and pepper


Season the lamb fillet with salt and pepper.

Heat a small amount of oil in a roasting pan and sautee the meat (briefly) on all sides to sear it.

Finish cooking the lamb in an oven preheated to 425 degrees (hot!). Keep an eye on it. According to the original recipe, it should take 10-12 minutes to achieve medium-rare. That seemed kind of long to me, but it proved to be accurate for rare meat (which I like).

Remove the meat from the oven and keep warm.

Shredded (thank you, Cuisinart!)


Boil the shredded cabbage until it is tender (if you've removed the coarse bits and shredded it finely, this shouldn't take long). Drain it and toss in half the butter. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

In another pan, melt the remaining butter and fry the diced bacon until lightly browned. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until they release their juices. Keep warm. (I hope you have a big kitchen, because by now you have three pans you're supposed to be keeping warm.)

Deglazing the pan
Retrieve the roasting pan with the lamb. Set the lamb on a plate (and keep it warm!) and pour off the excess fat from the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the wine and port. Bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add this to the other pan with the mushrooms and bacon. Taste the mixture for seasoning.

When you're ready to serve, warm your plates and divide the cabbage between them, making a pile in the center of each plate. You may cut the fillet of lamb into single chunks, or slice thinly and array over the cabbage pile (which is what I did). Scatter the mushrooms and bacon over the meat and cabbage, and pour the wine sauce over it all.

Eat quickly, while it's still warm! I added boiled potatoes to the plate as well.

With potatoes

I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I had my doubts about using bacon and lamb in the same dish, but everything worked well together. There are a lot of mushrooms, not just a scattering, and that worked too. I think this is a keeper, as long as I can find the lamb.

Only a week old! Cruel Winter, the fifth book of the County Cork Mysteries.

The snow has melted in Cork, I'm told, but there was a major snowstorm in County Carlow this past week, south of Dublin. My grandmother was born in a very small townland in Carlow.

Find Cruel Winter at Amazon (my apologies that the pub date of the ebook seems to keep migrating around there, but the print version is on sale!) and Barnes & Noble (likewise on sale there). 

And take a look at my updated website, which now includes a blog where I will ramble on about my Irish cottage when the spirit moves me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Irish Lamb Stew + Irish Soda Bread (gluten-free), #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

Happy almost St. Patrick's Day. The Irish side of me, Traynor (or Trainor), comes from County Cork.  My grandmother was raised there and often spoke of her home country, even though she and her brother made their way on a steamer in the late 1800s to America. Okay, yes, her family was with her, but to hear her tell it, she and her brother crossed alone. They were both scrappers.

She survived the 1906 quake in San Francisco. She travelled the world. She married a man. They had a son. She lost her husband tragically, so she married my grandfather, a man 30 years her senior. They had a son, my father. Grandmother Irene was a stalwart woman. She had rules. She liked things done in a certain way. Very Downton Abbey, come to think of it. But she loved the arts. She took me to the symphony and musicals. She loved to golf. She wasn't a cook. At least I never saw her cook. But she had a cook.  I remember some grand dinners at her house. I still make Christmas dinner the way it was served at her house: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, crisp green beans. Incredible sugar cookies for dessert.

One thing she never served was Irish lamb stew. I couldn't figure it out. Was it to peasant for her tastes? I remember having corned beef and cabbage but not stew. 

I simply had to make one for myself. I browsed my cookbook shelves for a recipe but couldn't find one. I found Irish Soda Bread in my very first cookbook, The Gourmet Cookbook, Volume I. That recipe will follow.

So I went online and searched for recipes. There were lots of choices, but none fit the bill, so I tweaked a recipe I found in a Southern Living site, of all things. And the result is tasty!  Also, gluten-free for those, like me, who need to eat that way.

So happy St. Patrick's Day. If you are Irish. If you wish to be Irish. If you simply like to eat, drink, and laugh heartily!

By the way, while cooking this stew, I came across a term in a recipe that always stumps me: salt and pepper to taste. Honestly, salt and pepper "mature" in a stew over time, so how much is too much and how little too little? Personally, I'd rather err on the side of "too little" and add more of each spice when served. So in this recipe, I give you exact amounts. If you want more, be my guest.

Irish Lamb Stew


Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1” cubes
2 large sweet onions, quartered and sliced
4-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white or black pepper
3 cups beef broth (gluten-free)
10-12 small white potatoes
½ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons water


Peel and dice the carrots and onions. Set to one side. Trim and cube the lamb. *Note: I found this easier to do with kitchen shears. Lamb is slippery!

In a large, deep sauté pan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Sauté the lamb in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until the lamb is browned and onion tender, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and add the chopped carrots, the bay leaf (I like more than most), parsley, salt, and pepper, and the beef broth.

Simmer for about 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, sliced in half if preferred, and cover. Continue cooking for 25 more minutes.

Add more salt and pepper if desired.

Add peas. Stir.

In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch and water together until smooth and no lumps. Add the mixture to the stew and stir well. Raise heat to medium low and cook for 3-4 minutes until the broth thickens.

This can be served immediately or made a day or two ahead and reheated. Flavors will meld deliciously! My husband says it's one of the best stews he's ever had, and he can be picky about stew!  So enjoy!

Serve with soda bread or crusty loaf.

Irish Soda Bread
(tweaked from a recipe out of The Gourmet  Cookbook Volume 1)

Serves 6

2 cups gluten-free flour  (I used tapioca starch and potato starch)
1/8 cup sugar (2 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 °F. In a small bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and xanthan gum. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and egg. Combine until incorporated.  [Note: if you don't have buttermilk on hand, use 3/4 cup regular milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar.]

Turn the dough out on a board and knead it for 2 to 3 minutes until it is smooth. [Note: mine didn’t get “smooth” but was fully incorporated.]

Shape the dough into a round loaf. Put the loaf in an 8-inch cake pan. Press down [you might need to moisten your fingers] until it fills the pan. Using sharp scissors, cut a diagonal slit in the center of the loaf.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

My notes: I think I would have used a ½ teaspoon more of baking powder to make this fluffier. I’m not sure I needed the xanthan gum in a recipe that baked so fast. And my pan was a 9-inch cake pan. The bread came out rather flat. It cooked faster than the recipe called for. Therefore, it might have been puffier in an 8-inch cake pan.

No matter what, the flavor was lovely!

Savor the mystery!


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FUDGING THE BOOKS, the next Cookbook Nook Mystery, is available for order: order here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Other Burgers

by Sheila Connolly

Here we are in full summer, and farmers' markets are bursting with goodies. It’s often too hot to cook inside, so across the nation barbecues are turning out wonderful smells of cooking meats, chicken, and even vegetables. Life is good.

But don’t you ever get tired of the same-old-same-old hamburgers and hotdogs? And our government keeps telling us that we have to cook our beef all the way through (per the Food Network, “Because E. coli is killed at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA sets the minimum safe temperature for ground beef at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. We can only second this.), or risk dire consequences. The pundits on newscasts are saying, literally, “cook your beef until it is gray.” I respect the threat of various nasty bacteria, but I don’t want to eat gray meat. I’d rather do without.

But there are other options! I’m presenting two here, with a nod at Mark Bittman (who puts out too many darned good recipes). You do need a food processor to make these work, unless you really, really love chopping things very fine.

[Disclaimer: these recipes make four burgers. Since it’s only my husband and me around to eat them these days, I made half-recipes, and that’s what the pictures show.]


1-1/2 pounds boneless lamb (whatever cut you can get, or can afford)
1 small onion
1 Tblsp garlic, chopped
2 Tblsp parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim as much fat as you can from the lamb, as well as the “squiggly bits” as my daughter used to call them. Cut the lamb and the onion into coarse chunks (or if you don’t want a strong onion flavor, use shallots). Put everything in the food processor and pulse just until the meat is ground (do not just leave the food processor on or you will end up with lamb paste).

...and after

Shape the meat into burgers and grill, turning once, for 4-8 minutes total. If you like, you can top them with feta cheese.

Or for something completely different: Tunaburgers!

1-1/2 pounds tuna (fresh, not canned!)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 Tblsp capers, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tuna into large chunks. Put a quarter of the total amount in the food processor along with the mustard, mayonnaise and capers. Process until the mixture becomes pasty (this time you’re supposed to!). Add the rest of the tuna and pulse until the fish is chopped and well mixed (but don’t over-process).

Shape into four burgers. The cooking is a smidge more complicated, because (a) there is no fat in the fish, and (b) you want to cook these quickly over high heat to sear the outside while leaving the inside rare. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over high heat, turning once, about 4-6 minutes total.

This might work well with salmon too—I’ll try that next.

Yes, there's another Orchard Mystery, Picked to Die,  coming out on October 7th, and this one's about Meg's second harvest in Granford (nice timing, debuting in October, right in the middle of the harvest season, don't you think?).

But there may be another ebook sneaking into September: Seeing the Dead, a sequel to Relatively Dead (2013). No cover or blurb yet, so stay tuned!