Roasted garlic can bring out great flavors in all kinds of dishes.  Roasting causes the sharp flavors of the garlic to mellow and sweeten.  To roast garlic, trim the ends off of the garlic cloves.  Create a pouch of aluminum foil, two sheets thick.  Add the garlic and 1 tsp. of  olive oil, plus a pinch of coarse salt.  Seal the pouch tightly and bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes.  Add roasted garlic to sauces, pasta, poultry, ice cream, breakfast cereal, bottled water, facial cleansers and motor oil!

Reading time: 1 min

DSC_0007These treats are great for holiday gift bags.  Arrange a handful of bonbons with cookies and peppermint bark in a a bag for thoughtful, handcrafted gifts. 

The picture to the right shows apricot and spice bonbons rolled in crystal sugar (recipe from epicurious.com).

Reading time: 1 min

lamb roll

You might be asking yourself, “Self, what is farmhouse nigiri?”.  That’s great, I appreciate your  inquisitive nature.  This dish combines all of the best qualities of savory, country cooking (roasted lamb, risotto, chevre and red beets) with the presentation quality and finger-foodiness of sushi.  It may sound strange, but one bite and anyone will be convinced: this is excellent. 

Makes:  2 people eat lamb with chopsticks
Total kitchen time: 45 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1/2-lb butterflied leg of lamb, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 12 slices of proscuitto (yes, as you can see, this recipe also works with bacon.  Yum!)
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 red beet, steamed and julienned
  • 2 tbsp sharp goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • aged balsamic vinegar (for dipping)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 450F.  Heat a very heavy skillet (large enough for the lamb) with a lid over high heat.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter into 1 tbsp of olive oil over high heat.  Add the rice and stir until you can smell a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add half of the chicken broth.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth has been absorbed.  Then, add the rest and repeat.
  4. Meanwhile, salt and pepper the lamb and rub with garlic and olive oil to coat.  Sear the meat on all sides in the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook, turning once, until the lamb registers 130F, about 10 minutes.  Let the lamb rest 5 minutes, then slice into thin, bite-sized pieces.
  5. Add a spoon full or two of pan drippings from the lamb into the risotto.  Take a taste, if you like. 
  6. Lay out a slice of proscuitto.  Spread a thin, even layer of risotto on the proscuitto, not quite to the edge.  Next, sprinkle on a little bit of goat cheese and a few stick of steamed beet.  Then, add a few pieces of lamb and roll the whole thing up.  Be careful not to overstuff your rolls or they won’t hold together.
  7. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet and bake until the proscuitto is slightly crispy (about 5 minutes, depending on your oven).

Serve with balsamic vinegar dipping sauce and a spoonful of risotto on the side.  These will also make great hors d’oeuvres, even without the lamb!  For kicks, insist on eating them with chopsticks.

Reading time: 2 min
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