Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Lamb

Spring and Easter are upon us and with it brings the perfect occasion for lamb! I love serving lamb in all forms; burgers, rack, chops but for Easter a boneless leg roast is perfect (and you might even have leftovers for a feta and lamb salad the next day).

My favorite way to serve a boneless lamb roast is actually my adaptation of a recipe I found on Food & Wine online for Vadouvan-Spiced Leg of Lamb.

Here is my version:

Clementine Vadouvan-Spiced Leg of Lamb

2 sticks unsalted butter
3 tablespoons vadouvan or curry powder
2 tablespoons coarsely grated Clementine zest (so floral and fresh!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons salt...citrus if you have it...I used Salt Farm's Lemon Pomegranate
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb

In a saucepan, combine the butter, vadouvan, zest, rosemary, mint, salt, pink peppercorns and black pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the butter is melted; let cool.
Rub the curry butter all over the lamb. Set the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and let stand for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450°. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes at this temperature and then lower it to 325°. Roast the lamb for about 25-30 minutes per pound for medium rare basting a couple of times. Look for the instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part to register 130° for medium-rare meat. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and skim off the fat. Set the roasting pan over moderately high heat. When the drippings sizzle, add the water and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. Add the deglazed drippings to the pan juices and keep hot. Carve the lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with the curried jus.

As a suggestion for a festive side why not roast the lamb over artichokes carrots and sweet potatoes too!?

What wine should you pair with this? Here are some classic and some fun suggestions:

For special holidays and occasions this lamb roast and a bottle of France's Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge are perfection. Of course in the spirit of the season and a newly named Pope a wine from the "New House of the Pope" is perfect!

Prefer domestic? Try a Central Coast Syrah or Grenache... Tablas Creek's Espirit de Beaucastel from Paso Robles for example.

When I say fun I also mean a little out of the normal thought process for wine pairing. My recent "fun" pairing for this roast was a bottle of white wine, a Viognier from Condrieu in France. The citrus notes from the curry butter danced magically with the orange blossom and dried apricot notes in the wine.

My domestic suggestion would be Darioush's Viognier from Napa Valley.  This wine would satisfy a red wine drinker and could hold up to the gaminess of the lamb.

Happy Easter and Slainte!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vivaciously Vegan ...

Last weekend I was invited to my dear friend Colleen's (CEO /Founder/President of GELA ) house for a dinner to celebrate her father and talented photographer Victor Rugg, being in town. The primary focus of the dinner was to serve vegan and gluten free dishes. She knows me well and knew I would insist on bringing something so she threw me a curve ball and requested a dessert that was both vegan and gluten free.

I do try to eat healthy and yes, at one time in my life I was a vegetarian but I was skeptical that I could make a tasty dessert both vegan and gluten free. I begin my research, as suspected, Sprouts Market made finding my ingredients easy and I got to work. If it were to be gluten free I had to decide what my "flour" would be. I happened to have chestnut flour already at home but almond flour would also work just as well. To make it vegan/replace the eggs I used none other than Vegenaise in the cupcake batter.

The frosting was my next challenge...a vanilla citrus butter cream without butter!? A company called Earth Balance makes vegan shortening sticks and it surprisingly whipped up quite nicely with the confectionery sugar. I did find I added more almond milk than I would add to a normal butter cream. But, at the end of the day they looked as I wanted them to.

Now to taste...they appeared to please and satiate the dinner attendees. Surprised am I but pleasantly. Since I have had numerous requests for the recipe so with great pleasure here it is. Enjoy!

Bridget's Vegan Vanilla Citrus Cupcakes

Soaking liquid
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste (found on Amazon)

2 cups chestnut flour (Gave the cupcakes a lovely nutty and gingery taste)

1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt (I used Salt Farm's Lemon Pomegranate salt)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup Vegenaise
1 tbsp Clementine zest
1 tbsp Clementine juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste

½ cup Earth Balance dairy free butter substitute
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp Clementine zest
Pinch of sea salt or Salt Farm's Lemon Pomegranate salt
Up to ¼ cup almond milk (only use as needed to smooth out and thin frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert paper liners into 12 standard muffin cups.
Prepare the soaking liquid by combining the ¼ cup sugar with the 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar has melted and continue to boil for 1 minute or until it thickens slightly. Let cool while preparing the cupcakes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, Vegenaise and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste until fully combined and no lumps from the Vegenaise. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups (it will be fairly liquid). Bake for 15 minutes or until firm to the touch, browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Spoon the soaking liquid onto the center of each cupcake. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
Prepare the frosting while the cupcakes cool. In a mixing bowl, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the Earth Balance, powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste, clementine zest and salt. Mix, starting on low speed, to combine. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and then turn the mixer to medium and beat for about 60 seconds. Add the almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency – it should be thick, smooth and spreadable.
Frost the cooled cupcakes with the frosting and decorate as desired. I had candied kumquats on hand so I used those but even more clementine zest would be pretty!