Ina's Rack of Lamb

There are slews of recipes for rack of lamb everywhere and Ina Garten has made several versions over the years. As she is one of our favorite chefs, I invariably turn to her for ideas.
I make her Rack of Lamb Persillade which we love, but the last time my daughter was home, we tried this recipe for the first time. Daughter Tracy loves lamb....orders it often when we go out to dinner (although it's gotten sooooo pricey), so I knew she'd love this version. So simple to make and really, if you follow her guidelines, it's a no-fail recipe. I served a salad and some delicious roasted sweet potatoes with it.

Ina Garten's Mustard Rack of Lamb

From Barefoot Contessa, Episode: Anniversary Dinner 

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 racks of lamb, "frenched" (see note)

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary, and garlic until they're as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute. Place the lamb in a roasting or sheet pan with the ribs curving down, and coat the tops with the mustard mixture. Allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve.

Note: "Frenching" refers to scraping the meat off the tips of the bones. Ask your butcher to leave 1/8 inch of fat on the meat.


Ottolenghi's Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad

Wonderful colors and flavors in this salad, exactly what we expect from Ottolenghi. What I think you'll really appreciate is this is a super alternative to potato salad or even a tossed salad for a picnic or pot luck. Easy to make for a crowd. The recipe says it serves 4, but I thought it went farther than that. Especially for a side salad.

Note: the chickpeas need to soak overnight.

Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad
From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi

1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 small cucumbers
2 large tomatoes
8 ounces radishes
1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 small red onion, peeled
2/3 ounce cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 ounce flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (I used curly because I had some left)
6 tablespoons olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Greek yogurt (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl of water with the baking soda. The next day, drain cover with water twice the volume of the chickpeas and simmer for an hour or until tender. Drain.

Dice the tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, radishes and onion. Mix in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

Make the vinaigrette:

Mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil with the lemon juice, zest, vinegar, garlic and sugar and mix well to form a dressing. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad, tossing lightly.

Make the chickpeas:
Mix together the cardamom, cumin, allspice, some salt and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in a bowl and toss in the chickpeas. Shake to cover well.
In a frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil and fry the chickpeas for 2-4 minutes , gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly.

Divide the salad among 4 plates, spoon the chickpeas on top, keeping the edges of the salad clear. Optional: add some Greek yogurt, stir it in to make the salad creamy.


Grilled Fennel Tarts

Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables....love it roasted and make it frequently. One thing I don't like much is raw fennel in salads...the anise flavor is more pronounced, which I don't particularly care for. But caramelized, it's divine. We all have our little quirks.

When I saw this tart, I knew I'd love it and, cut into smaller pieces, it would also make a nice appetizer. I made it for lunch, left the puff pastry whole and placed whole fennel slices on it, then sliced it afterwards. You can do it my way or follow the instructions below.

Grilled Fennel Tarts
From Spoon Fork Bacon

2 medium fennel bulbs (with fronds intact)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
1 ounce mascarpone, softened
2 teaspoons oregano, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lemon, zested
2 sheets puff pastry, cut into 2 x 5” rectangles
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Thinly slice fennel heads into 1/2 inch slices (lengthwise) and cut each piece in half. (I left them whole.) Brush each piece of fennel with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat and lightly grease. Grill fennel for about 3 minutes on each side or until nicely charred and softened. Remove from heat and allow fennel pieces to cool.
In a small bowl combine Gruyere, mascarpone, oregano, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and mash together with the back of a fork until fully combined. Cut your puff pastry into rectangles. (I left my puff pastry whole.) Spread a small amount of the cheese mixture over each piece of puff pastry, leaving the outer 1/4 inch perimeter bare.
Top each rectangle of cheese spread puff pastry with a piece of grilled fennel and gently press down. Place each tart onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fennel begins to caramelize and the puff pastry turns golden brown.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.


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