Scalloped potatoes or au gratin potatoes! Who doesn’t like those dishes! Rich and indulgent, both of these potato casseroles are prepared with layers of sliced potatoes baked with cream and/or milk. (They differ only in that the au gratin variety typically has an addition of cheese.) It’s hard to improve on either of these favorites, but recently I spotted a recipe for a French version with a new twist. Lamb chops were set atop a pan of layered potatoes during their last few minutes in the oven. The meat cooked to a rosy hue as the potatoes baked to a golden tenderness.
In that French creation the potatoes were baked with stock and herbs, but with no milk, cream, or cheese. In my mind, I saw the pommes de terre cooked more traditionally with the irresistible trio of dairy ingredients. It took several tries to balance the amount of milk and Continue reading
When I was growing up, fried chicken, braised pork chops with onions, smothered cubed steaks, meatloaf with mushrooms, and the occasional steak were the staples of my mother’s weeknight repertoire. Lamb never made an appearance at our Southern table. Only later when I spent my junior year of college studying in Paris, did I discover the glories of lamb. I savored it in stews like the springtime lamb Navarin, tasted my first leg of lamb roasted to a perfect rosy hue, and admired stately racks of lamb.
Those memories stayed with me so that lamb, especially chops, are among the essentials of my own weeknight meals. Recently, when a local supermarket had a special on chops I Continue reading
This year–for the first time in more than a decade–we’ll be empty nesters on Easter Sunday! As it turns out this holiday coincides with our grandkids’ spring break so most of our clan will be away. Instead of cooking for six, I’m planning a menu for two.
Although ham was the star of Easter meals when I was growing up in the South, I’m a huge fan of lamb, and came up with the idea for grilled lamb chops topped with dollops of Pecorino/black pepper butter.
The topping is an “easy-to-put together” blending of softened sweet butter, grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, plus a generous accent of coarse black pepper. The butter takes only minutes to assemble and can be prepared a couple of days ahead. At serving time the chops need less than 10 minutes on an outdoor or stovetop grill. Peas Continue reading
Following a brief trip to London, we made our way to Paris and settled in the apartment we rent. After eating out for several days across the Channel, I couldn’t wait to go to the nearby markets and buy the makings for a simple supper. I decided on lamb chops marinated in a spicy mix of harissa, lemon juice, and olive oil along with fresh herbal accents of mint and cilantro. As a garnish for the lamb, I reserved some of this marinade as a dressing for cherry tomatoes and chickpeas.
Harissa, a North African condiment made with hot red peppers, garlic, and spices, is available throughout France. At home in the States, you can find it at few groceries, but your best option might be to order it from Amazon. Although I’ve seen it in jars, I prefer the harissa paste sold in tubes like the one here. Continue reading
Every so often a restaurant dish is so good, so inventive, yet so simple that I can’t wait to try it in my own kitchen. The grilled shiiktake mushrooms with sesame oil on the menu at Semilla (one of my favorite Paris restaurants) are such a creation. We’ve dined in this Left Bank place at least a half dozen times in the past year, and on every occasion either my husband or I have ordered them. They arrive, stemmed but left whole, usually a half dozen or so on a small plate. A sprinkling of chives and a few pools of sesame oil are the only garnishes. One bite of the tender fungi scented with fragrant toasted sesame oil and you’d be smitten too.
Shiitakes with Sesame Oil at Semilla
During a visit a few weeks ago, I asked our waitress for the recipe, and, smiling, she responded, “Mais c’est très facile!” Then she explained that the shiitakes were seasoned with soy and sesame oil and quickly pan grilled. A few days later I tried them in my petite French kitchen, and discovered that were indeed effortless, and took only a few minutes to prepare.
I decided to expand the recipe by pairing the shiitakes with lamb Continue reading
My son, Mike, is a talented cook, and during our family’s summer vacation, he and I teamed up to prepare the evening meals. Often we went to the market, chose what looked good, and decided how we’d use if after returning home. That was certainly the case with a colorful tomato and onion confit we whipped up one night.
A cache of plump, ripe summer tomatoes, a mound of garlic heads, and a bag of onions, were the inspiration for a simple but vibrant tomato and onion garnish. We chopped the onions into large pieces, sautéed them until golden, and then added tomatoes and a hefty accent of pressed garlic. Cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper added heat and color to our mélange. We served this quick confit with couscous and grilled Moroccan merguez sausages (easily found in France where we were staying). Back home I substituted lamb chops marinated with the same spices used in the confit with equally delicious results. Continue reading