Monday, April 18, 2016

Smoked Leg of Lamb with Mediterranean Stuffing

Smoked Leg of Lamb with Mediterranean Stuffing 

   Lamb is a  favorite dish of mine and I wish I could eat it more often. I find that most cuts from the supermarket are not up to par and the local ones seem to be out of my price range for a causal Sunday dinner.  While on the hunt at my neighborhood grocery store  for something to put in the smoker this weekend, I found a beautiful all natural bone out leg of lamb at a great price! 
  This is my first time to smoke a leg of lamb; come to think of it this is the first time I have smoked any kind of lamb! Normally I roast it in the oven with a simple garlic and herb paste.  This cut had the bone removed so I decided to smoke it as it would take less time than having the bone in. 
  Since this cut has been butterflied I have to stuff it with something! Right? My usual method is to season it with a lot of  Mediterranean flavors such as garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and an abundance of fresh herbs are a match made in heaven for the richness of the lamb. I wanted the stuffing to be a nice continuation of the flavors native to the region. 
    The coastal regions of Spain, France, and Greece came to mind for this rich stuffing. A combination of garlic, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and copious amount of garden fresh herbs was perfect for this dish.  
    I trimmed up the lamb by cutting off most of the fat and any loose parts of meat. 


1 boneless leg of lamb 
1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt per pound 
2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic crushed into a paste 
6-8 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
4-6 artichoke hearts packed in water
1 ounce of feta cheese 
1 cup of fresh herbs
olive oil 
baking twine 

    Rinse off the oil from the sun dried tomatoes, dry them with a towel and julienne them finely. Mince the garlic and sprinkle a little salt and olive oil on top. With the back of your knife, crush them into a fine paste. Wash the artichoke hearts with clean water then tear them apart into small pieces. Finally chop the fresh herbs, and use what ever herbs  you have on hand. Today I used rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano,
     Rub the lamb with a little olive oil, along with garlic, salt, and pepper. Next, cover it with the fresh herbs. Save a little amount of the herbs to sprinkle over the stuffing mixture.

 Place all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then spread evenly on the side of the meat where the bone was removed.  I like mine a little more rustic so I leave the mixture unmixed by just placing them on the top of the meat. Try not to over crowd the stuffing in the lamb. It will only squeeze out when you tie it up. 
   Once the filling is in place it's time to tie up the leg. 

Toss a few more fresh herbs and let rest in the fridge for at least fours hours or overnight if possible,

Prepare the smoker and choose a wood that is not to heavy, I used Pecan for this one. It has a medium smoke flavor and a nice heat. Pull the meat out of the fridge and let come to room temp before you smoke it. Smoke at 250-275 degrees for at approximately four hours or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees if you like it rare which is how I prefer my lamb.

    Let rest for about fifteen minutes,covered, to let the juices redistribute. After you cut away all the binding and its time to slice and serve. 

I blanched some carrots with a few baby zucchini then sauteed  them in a little garlic and butter as a side. The flavors were fantastic together with a great addition of the light pecan smoke. The smokiness gave it a great southern twist on a classic Mediterranean dish! 

For a final touch I mixed the resting juices from the lamb with cooking liquid from the vegetables and melted in a little butter with the rest of the fresh herbs. Drizzle over the meat for a nice finishing sauce! 

Bon Appetit!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Country Style Whiskey Pate with Yard Eggs

Pates are really fun to make and there are infinite varieties.  The best part is that they are inexpensive and impressive! For this one I'm going with a rustic style, which means the meat is corse ground instead of emulsified. I also did not use any liver, only because I didn't have any when I started to make it. If you want liver simply subtract 1/4 pound of pork and add 1/4 pound of finely ground or emulsified pork or chicken liver. 

2-pounds course ground fatty pork 
8-slices of bacon
3-boiled eggs
2-tablespoons curing salt
1-teaspoon cayenne powder
3-bay leaves for garnish
Fresh thyme for garnish 
1/2 cup of whiskey, cognac or dry white wine
Add the following to a spice grinder and grind until very fine

2- bay leaves
2-tablespoons black peppercorns 
1-teaspoon coriander seeds
1-teaspoon caraway seeds
1-teaspoon mustard seed
2- sprigs fresh thyme

We start by mixing all your dry and wet ingredients together with the pork. Mix until well incorporated and the mixture is sticky. Next we line the pate pan with bacon. You can also use cald fat, but bacon is a lot easier to find. This keeps the pate from sticking to the pan. Some people like the bacon in the final product some don't. I leave it on and let my guests decide if they like it or not. 

Fill the pate pan halfway with the pork mixture and add the boiled eggs down the center. 
Stuff the rest of the pork mixture tightly around and over the eggs. Make sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. 
Flip your bacon ends over and garnish with bay leaves and some fresh thyme. 

Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
The next day remove the plastic wrap put on the lid and place in a large casserole dish. Fill the casserole dish with water until it is halfway up the sides of the pate pan.  
Place in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300 and  cook for one more hour. Remove from water bath. 
Once cooled, refrigerate overnight and now it's ready to serve! 

Slice into half inch slices and serve with homemade mustard and pickled condiments! 

Cheers and enjoy! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Quick Pickles


We love pickles! This recipe is designed to be ready to eat in a minimum of eight hours, twelve is better! 
These pickles are at their best when eaten within two days of canning. 
Just follow the recipe which is set up for each pint jar. I use seedless English cucumbers in this recipe because the best pickling cucumbers are coming out of season. 

Sterilize your jars and add all your spices! 

1-tablespoon canning salt
1/4-teaspoon black peppercorns 
1/8- teaspoon coriander seed
1/8-teaspoon caraway seed
1/4-teaspoon red chili flake
1-clove garlic
1/4-slice jalapeño 
1-dried red chili 
3-sprigs dill
1/2-teaspoon pickle crisp
3/4-white vinegar

Put all dry ingredients garlic and jalapeño slice in each jar. 

So now all you have to do is thinly slice you cucumber and fill the jars with them. I like to use a vegetable peeler to make stripes down the length of the cubumber. It adds a nice visual appeal, and takes away some of the bitterness that the skin adds. 

Fill your jars 3/4 way with white vinegar and 1/4 with water after you have filled them with slices. Seal and shake until the salt is dissolved. Let sit at room temperature for two hours then refrigerate overnight. Then the next day they are ready eat!  

You can use the same basic recipe for all your picking needs. I made some green beans by boiling the vinegar-water   mixture before adding it to the jar. Just let it refrigerate for at least ten days! 
We have let the pickles go up to weeks, those are our favorite! 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Corn Chowder with Shrimp

I had a bunch of corn on the cob leftover from our Fourth of July cookout so I decided to make a chowder with them. It's very easy to make. I added some shrimp for some protein but you can substitute anything you like or leave it out. 

4-6 cups corn
1/4 onion finely chopped 
3 cloves garlic minced
1 chili pepper minced 
4 small potatoes diced
2 cups chicken stock 
4 cups water
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 heavy cream 
1/2 pound shrimp
Salt and pepper to taste

First cut the corn off the cob. I used corn that had already been cooked. If you use fresh corn you will need to cook the dish an additional 30 minutes. 
Sauté the onion, garlic and chili in the oil until soft. I usually add a little white wine or the beer at this point to keep them from burning. 
Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the corn and potatoes and cook until the potatoes are done or at least 30 minutes. 
Use an emulsion blender and blend until about half of the corn is creamed. 
Add butter and heavy cream and simmer for 30 minutes. 
Add the shrimp and cook until done, about 10 minutes. 
Serve and enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hummus with Roasted Red Bell Pepper

Hummus is one of our favorite snacks. It's very healthy and also versatile as far as different flavor profiles you can achieve with various ingredients. I usually buy the canned garbanzo beans, but I recently picked up some dried ones at the Mediterranean market. These produced a far superior product compared to the canned beans. Also a 32 ounce bag produced almost 10 cups of finished hummus! One of the best parts is that the bag cost $1.69! Tahini sauce, sesame seed paste, is also an intricate part of hummus. In the supermarket they usually charge way to much for a mediocre sauce at best. I found a jar of great sauce that was twice the size and half the price at the same market. One thing to remember is that you have to soak the beans overnight in water. You can roast your own bell pepper, which is really easy, but you can also buy them already roasted. I prefer to do it myself simply because I don't know how long ago the store bought was roasted. 

2 cups dried garbanzo beans
6 tablespoons tahini sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking soda 
1 red bell pepper, roasted 
3 cloves garlic 
The juice of 1 lemon 
Dried or fresh herbs 
Olive oil 

Place the beans in a bowl big enough to hold them and enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Don't be surprised by how much the beans fluff up overnight, so cover them loosely. 

The next day drain the beans and place them in a large pot with the salt and baking soda. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for one hour or until the beans are very mushy. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. 
In a food processor or blender place the garlic, lemon juice, roasted red pepper, tahini sauce and beans. Process together while slowly adding the water. Once the texture is smooth and firm it's ready to plate.  
Place the hummus in a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and your favorite spices. I used a little cumin and some dried herbs! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Roasted Spicy Pumpkin Seeds with Herbs

Pumpkin seeds are very healthy and fairly inexpensive. I got an eight ounce bag for $2.50 at the Mediterranean market. It makes a great party snack and you can serve several versions at one time. You can season them with just about anything. I chose to use to make this batch with rosemary, parsley, sea salt and jalapeño powder. There is a recipe a few posts back for the jalapeño powder. 

4 ounces raw pumpkin seeds 
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary 
1 teaspoon fresh parsley 
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil 

Pre heat your oven to 350. Place the seeds on a an oven sheet and spread out evenly. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they start to crackle. Remove and let cool. Add the oil to a pan over medium high heat and put in the seeds while moving the seeds in the pan add the rest of the ingredients. Keep moving until you can no longer see the grains of salt and you can smell the Rosemary. Remove from the heat and serve! Enjoy! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dijon Style Mustard

Dijon mustard is my all time favorite mustard. It's actually super easy to make, you just have to be patient. I got the mustard seeds at the Mediterranean market. They came in a large container for only $2! This recipe makes about a cup and I used less than half of the container, so do the math on that! This is a basic recipe and you can make many versions of it. I made one jar plain then I added tarragon to the rest and gave it a couple spins in the food processor until it was well incorporated. It's also really good with pickeled jalapeños blended in! 

1/2 cup mustard seeds
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 champagne vinegar 
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Mix the mustard seeds, wine, and vinegar in bowl. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours. I used a sparkling wine but any white wine with high acidity will work. 
After a couple of days put the mixture          in food processor or a blender add the salt and sugar and process. Get it as smooth as possible. You will not get it as smooth as store bought. So don't freak out when it is a little grainy. Now is the time to put any other flavors in. Place your mustard in air tight containers and place in the fridge for at least 2 more days. This time in fridge will mellow out the bitter taste. This will keep for about a month. Enjoy!!