Posts Tagged 'Tomatoes'

Provençal Rack of Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes

Provençal Rack of Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes

I typed up the recipe and posted the pictures to flickr a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, the real world interrupted and I never got around to writing an introduction. It appears that I’ve been a bad blog writer so my apologies. But this recipe should be worth the wait.

The best lamb I’ve ever had was Gigot D’agneau at a somewhat random bistro in Paris. The lamb was tender but flavorful. The accompanying gratin dauphinois was amazing (I had to keep close watch over it so Angela didn’t eat all of it). The ambiance was good including the French group at the next table reciting Chuck Norris facts in English (the rest of their conversation was in French). This is almost as good.

I noticed this when flipping through Gourmet and was immediately interested. Even the name makes it sound good. The in-magazine pictures didn’t hurt. We don’t usually eat rack of lamb because of the price but decided that it was worth a try.

Herb Marinade for Rack of Lamb

And it ended up being worth every penny. The lamb was tender and tasty. I’d almost recommend this as a dish to serve guests but the lamb is good that we ended up picking up individual lamb chops and biting off the bits of remaining meat. It probably is worth making a fool of one’s self for.

When making this, consider making extra potatoes (assuming they’ll fit in the pan). The potatoes are quite good and, in our household at least, extra potatoes are always well received.

This would go nicely with a nice Syrah or Shiraz (the 2001 Daniel Gehrs Shiraz we opened had gotten a little too old).

Browning Rack of Lamb

Provençal Rack of Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2008

2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 tsp chopped rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium tomatoes, halved
1 one lbs frenched rack of lamb
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thickly
2 tbsp water

  1. Preheat the oven 400°F.
  2. Mash the garlic into a paste and add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir in the thyme and rosemary and 1 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Put the tomatoes cut side up in a small baking dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of the garlic mixture over the tomatoes. Bake the tomatoes for 30 to 40 minutes total.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the lamb rack in half and dry the lamb with paper towels and season it all over with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in an oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Set the lamb aside. Discard the oil.
  6. Add 1 tbsp more olive oil to skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and potatoes and cook into they are just beginning to brown.
  7. Add the water and stir in 1/2 of the remaining garlic mixture to the skillet. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  8. Rub the remaining garlic mixture on the fat side of the lamb racks. Place the lamb racks on top of the potatoes, fat side up. Roast in the oven until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 135ºF about 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the lamb to rest for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve with the roasted tomatoes.

Serves 2.

Spaghetti al Pomodoro (Spaghetti with Tomatoes)

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Sometimes the simplest things are the best. And I think that spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce is one of them. Just the taste of pure, ripe tomatoes. Not overcooked and not overly complicated.

Recently, there was a book published (which I haven’t read) regarding the choice of last meals for chefs (apparently that discussion is popular among chefs). Apparently, the most common selections are simple, classic foods (with Mario Batali a notable exception). I would like to think that spaghetti al pomodoro would be a similar meal. Would it be my choice for a least meal? I don’t know. I don’t particularly relish the idea of devising a last meal.

In any case, I do like simple tomato sauces on pasta. There’s something both comforting and tasty about it. I’ve tried a number of different techniques and, while I still like a complicated ragú based on my grandmother’s, I think I’ve found a good option for a simple and fresh version.

This recipe really depends on the freshness of the tomatoes. I really don’t think it would nearly as well with canned tomatoes (even San Marzano). When we went to the Santa Monica Farmer’s market, I found several smallish tomatoes that were advertised as being especially for sauce. Given that I only ever really use tomatoes for sauces, I figured they’d be a good choice.

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This is fundamentally a simple recipe. The hardest part is making the pasta but that could be easily replaced by factory pasta.

My technique for pasta making comes mainly from experimentation. I have found that a ratio of 1 cup of King Arthur all purpose flour to 1 extra-large egg (the size of the egg is important). This is not the ratio recommended in any cookbook I’ve ever found (most recommend using large eggs but extra-large eggs are cheapest atTrader Joe’s). I don’t know how important the brand of flour is. I always make my pasta by the well method as it doesn’t seem worth dirtying my mixer bowl.

I wouldn’t recommend rolling the pasta by hand. I tried once (before I had a pasta maker) and it was a disaster. Without a pasta maker, use factory made pasta.

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Spaghetti al Pomodoro (Spaghetti with Tomatoes)
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1 lbs. tomatoes
1/4 large onion, skin removed
2 1/2 tbsp butter
Fresh pasta made with 2 cups of flour and 2 eggs
2 basil leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Slice the tomatoes in half vertically and place them in a skillet. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the tomatoes from the skillet and run them through a food mill (alternately, skin the tomatoes and then dice them).
  3. Return the tomatoes to the skillet and add the onion and butter. Slowly simmer over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Slightly undercook the pasta in salted boiling water (taste the pasta for doneness). Discard the onion and add the pasta to the skillet and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Serve the pasta with slivers of basil leaf and parmesan cheese on top.

Serves 2 or 3.

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Fresh Pasta

1 egg per cup of flour

  1. Place the flour on a board and make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well.
  2. Using a fork, mix the eggs together. Slowly, add flour from the edges of the well. Eventually, the mixture will be too mixed to use a fork. Switch to your hands and mix the eggs and flour together.
  3. Once the mixture becomes somewhat homogeneous, start kneading the dough. Knead for several minutes after it has come together.
  4. Divide the dough into fourths. Feed each through the pasta maker individually. Start on the largest setting, feed the dough through, then fold in half, and feed through again. Repeat until the dough has become uniform.
  5. Feed the dough through the pasta maker at smaller settings until reaching the desired thickness (on the Kitchenaid Pasta Maker this is 6 for spaghetti for me). It should go through at least four settings on the pasta maker in total. Sprinkle flour on each piece of dough so it doesn’t stick.  And remember, when determining thickness, the pasta will approximately double in width when it’s cooked.
  6. Cut the dough into the desired shape (I use the larger pasta cutter for the spaghetti al pomodoro).
  7. Coil the pasta together and sprinkle with flour so it doesn’t stick.
  8. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. It will be done about 2 to 3 minutes after it floats to the top.

Serves 1 per egg/cup of flour.

Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup

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I work in a building that is, at times, fairly well air conditioned (read: cold). It’s also significantly closer to the beach then where I live (which means it’s cooler). So, on Monday, I was feeling a cold at work (I swear I walked between buildings and also was cold but it could’ve been that it’s heavily in shadows) and was trying to figure out what to make for dinner (the refrigerator is mostly bare and we had some tomatoes left over from last week). In early afternoon, I called Angela and said that it was a bit cooler and would she mind having tomato bisque for dinner.

Turns out, when I got home that there were two complications: it was most definitely not cold (it wasn’t quite hot but it was definitely not on the cold side of the scale) and Angela thought I meant this soup (not that I really had any particular recipe in mind). Well, when she-who-must-be-obeyed tells me that she expects one thing for dinner, if I’m smart (like that’ll happen regularly), I make what she wants. And so I did.

This recipe actually comes from one of my favorite cookbooks from one of my favorite restaurants. I went to college (er, technically I went to “institute”) in Rochester, NY and the area right around the school was a chain-restaurant wasteland. Every once in awhile, we’d consider it special enough (or when parents visited and were willing to pay), we’d venture downtown and go to Dinosaur BBQ. Now, not being from the south (Maryland never seceded y’all), I have no idea how this compares to the “real thing” (Angela, while being from Florida, is really from “Southern Long Island”). I consider it to be very good and that’s good enough for me (I’m getting hungry just thinking about the pulled pork; I may make my bastardized crock pot version this weekend).

Right before I graduated from college, I realized there were several things I would miss from Rochester (outside of the people). Towards the top of the list was Dinosaur BBQ, so while shopping at a bookstore I noticed they had a cookbook and I bought it. Now, I don’t have a backyard and, hence, no grill or other way to smoke meat but surprisingly, there are plenty of recipes for indoors (or that can be adapted for indoors use, such as the above mentioned pulled pork). Also, uniquely among barbeque restaurants (or so I’ve heard), they gave away their recipe for their sauce (of course, I’ve not made it from scratch; some grocery stores sell it and it’s indistinguishable from the original).

The thing that’s amazed me about the cookbook is that the recipes work. They’re clearly written and they work well. Outside of Julia Child, there are very few recipes that have worked as well for me as the ones in this cookbook. So I highly recommend you buy it if assuming (and this is a pretty easy assumption to make) you don’t own it.

And there are no pictures of the soup because they were pretty unattractive.

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Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup
Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 large garlic bulb or 2 small garlic bulbs
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes or 1 28 oz. can of tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp thyme, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tops off the bulbs of garlic, exposing the tops of the individual garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic bulbs in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until they are softened. When the garlic bulbs are finished cooking, squeeze out the garlic into a bowl and then, using a fork, make a paste of the garlic.
  2. Prepare the tomatoes by either running them through a food mill fitted with a disk with large wholes or, skin them, dice them, and crush them with a potato masher.
  3. In a soup pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Then, whisk in the chicken stock.
  5. Add the roasted garlic, the tomatoes, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Uncover and add the heavy cream, the parmesan cheese, thyme, and lemon juice. Season generously with Tabasco sauce.
  7. Remove from heat. Puree the soup either with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a food processor or blender. If you’d rather have a chunky soup, skip this step (I like it mostly pureed with some chunks in there).
  8. Return soup to medium-high heat and cook until thickened to your desired consistency (how thick do you like your soup?). Taste for seasoning.

Serves 6 to 8.