In my last post, I mentioned that we had lamb for New Year’s Eve as well as desserts. I wasn’t sure about posting about them, but decided to anyway. These are double-cut lamb chops (from a Frenched rack) with a cilantro and honey sauce from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Yotam Ottolenghi is the chef “known for being the champion of vegetables at the same time as eating and loving meat”(to quote wikipedia). With his cookbooks and eponymous restaurants, he is also known as “the man who sexed up vegetables.” I do not yet have Plenty, his cookbook dedicated to vegetables and vegetarian cooking, but will probably soon get it as well as Jerusalem. So far, I like the bold, vibrant Middle-Eastern flavors in his recipes. See more of his recipes and food commentary in his Guardian column. Ottolenghi pulled pork recipe? It’s on my cooking to-do list and maybe I’ll report if this recipe is “bringing sexy back” to pulled pork.
On another note, while listening to NPR on my way to work one day back in November, I heard this story about Nana’s sweet potato pie from Chef & farmer Matthew Raiford, a member of Slow Food USA. His nana is known for this pie in his hometown of Brunswick, GA. After trying this recipe, I think it is a world class sweet potato pie. One thing that was appealing to me about this recipe was that the secret was the size of the pie. Petite sweet potato pies taste best, according to nana (and those that love to eat her pies). As published on NPR.org, “‘When you eat sweet potato pie, you’re supposed to have just enough,’ Raiford recalls his Nana saying.” It makes sense as you want a good ratio of sweet potato filling to crust. I’m a fan of small desserts. I can relate to Nana’s perspective of having “just enough.” Small desserts almost always satisfy my sweet cravings. You just want enough, but not enough to make you feel too full or start to feel sick. I decided to go even smaller and made bite-sized sweet potato tassies. Plus, I reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe, as my family and I like our desserts a little less sweet. I don’t know if it’s nana-approved, but my husband and family approved. I loved listening to the story behind the recipe. It left me with a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling. You can hear it on NPR.org, here.
Instead of lazy Sundays, we tend to have lazy Saturdays. I like to catch the cooking shows on KPBS. While eating lunch and watching Martha Bakes, my husband said that he wanted me to make the mocha custards from the show. Again, I decided to make the treats smaller and scaled down the recipe. To take a page from Chef Raiford’s Nana, I call these petite mocha custards. The cup-cake sized serving reminded us of the experience of eating those chocolate pudding cups that often appear in kids lunch-boxes. Did you eat those as a kid? My husband still eats them from time to time.
Let’s start off with the lamb. Here’s a view from the blender. The prep starts a day before serving as the lamb needs to marinate overnight (or 8-12 hours). The marinade/sauce is very easy to make as you just blitz everything in a blender or food processor. Instead of lemon juice, I used lime and also the zest for more of a citrus burst, but not an overwhelming one. I also include cumin, sesame oil, and smoked paprika in my adaptation, which isn’t too far from his recipe. Just a couple of my own touches. Make sure to French (remove fat and membranes, which you can ask the butcher to do) the rack of lamb and cut into double-chops (two rib portions) or you can cut into 3 rib portions.
I love the color of this marinade. Make sure to marinate in a non-metal and non-reactive container. I recommend a ceramic casserole dish, covered. I try to avoid marinating in plastic, for possible chemical leaching.
After the overnight marinate in the fridge, the lamb is browned on all sides and finished the oven. The marinade is reserved and cooked for a delicious sauce. Herbaceous, sweet and sour. Very good not only with lamb chops, but on vegetables or other protein.
Now for more dough. Just a simple cream cheese pastry dough, portioned out to 48 balls.
The dough balls go into a lightly greased mini-muffin tin and shaped to make little shells. I flatten the ball first with my fingers, then use a greased and floured bottle cap (from my glass water bottle) to make the indentation. Then flatten it out more with your fingers, pressing on the sides to cover the surface of the mini-muffin cups. Ta da! Little pastry shells! It may take a bit of practice to go from dough ball to tassie shell.
(Photo credit: amazon.com)
This is similar to the glass water bottle that I have. The bottle cap worked well. You could use any empty screw cap with a diameter that’s smaller than the mini-muffin tin wells, or a tart tamper!
Filled with sweet potato, brushed with the sweet milk-cinnamon-mixture and ready to bake. What I liked about the filling was that you boil the sweet potatoes whole with skin on, then peel afterwards. While peeling after the boil, you eliminate those strings that you often find when mashing them and you keep more of the nutrients in contrast to the method of removing the peel and chopping before boiling. Lesson learned: to avoid the strings, peel after the boil.
Cooling on the wire racks. With that crunchy top part, this little tassie is magical. Golden brown delicious. G.B.D. as Chef Raiford says.
I only had room to eat one that evening, but it was a very satisfying bite. These would be great for a tea party or a special occasion like New Year’s.
Now it looks like we are making chocolate pudding, but this is for the mocha custards. It is essentially panna cotta, which does have a custard-like quality. Here is the chocolate melted with the coffee.
Now it’s looking more mocha-y now that the milk is whisked in.
I used my gravy separator as it has a strainer on top and a spout to help me pour out the liquid custard more easily.T
I also used these silicone cupcake cups as I did with my avocado-coconut panna cotta recipe. Since I drastically scaled down the original recipe, some of the quantities may be hard to measure without a scale that measures to 0.1 grams, or even better to 0.01 grams.
Serve as is or with some whipped cream or a sprinkle of cocoa, cinnamon, chopped nuts, fudge sauce, or anything you can think of! I like the flavor of coffee with some cinnamon so that’s what I went with for mine. Cinnamon, in particular Saigon cinnamon, has to be one of my favorite spices. I have it almost daily.
Below are the recipes!
Ottolenghi’s Marinated Rack of Lamb with Coriander and Honey
Minimally adapted from Ottolenghi, recipe also on BBC GoodFood
- 2.25 lb rack of lamb, French trimmed, and cut into double-chops (2 chop portions)
- 20 g flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
- 30 g mint, leaves and stalks
- 30 g coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 15 g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 3 chillies, seeded (I left this out because my husband doesn’t eat spicy foods)
- pinch of cumin
- pinch of smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan salt…yum!)
- 3.5 tablespoons lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons water
- More cooking oil for browning the lamb
- Place the lamb chops in a non-metal container.
- Using a blender or food processor, blitz together the parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic, ginger, chiles, cumin, paprika, salt, lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce, oil, honey, vinegar, and water.
- Pour over the lamb chops, making sure that the whole surface of each lamb chop is submerged in the marinade. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight or 8-12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Heat up a large cast iron skillet (can also use one that is a grill pan). Add a dash of oil, swirl to coat the surface of the pan, then add the lamb chops, making sure to shake off as much marinade as you can. Sear the chops on all sides, around 5 minutes total.
- Transfer the seared chops to a baking sheet lined with parchment (or pan lining paper). Finish cooking in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the chops and at what temperature you want it at. (I typically like lamb medium to medium-well).
- While the lamb is finishing in the oven, heat the marinade in a saucepan, simmering for about 5 minutes. Serve the sauce alongside the chops and with some veggies!
Sweet Potato Tassies
Makes ~48 tassies
Pastry (minimally adapted from Joy of Baking)
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
- 2 cups (8.8 ounces or 250 grams) all-purpose flour (for gluten-free option, use 280 grams of your favorite gluten-free baking mix–for more on converting baking recipes to gluten-free, visit gluten-free-girl and the chef)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- * for gluten free option: add also 1 teaspoon ground chia or ground flax mixed in 2 teaspoons hot water–will get thick and gooey
- In a mixer or by hand, cream the butter, cream cheese, and evaporated cane juice until light and fluffy.
- While mixing on low, add the salt, ground chia/flax-water mix for gluten-free, then gradually add the flour.
- Mix just until combined. Divide dough in half, shape into disks and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour, or a day in advanced.
Filling – adapted from Nana Ophelia’s recipe on NPR.org
- 3 large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup evaporated cane juice or coconut sugar (divided into two portions: one 1/2 cup portion separated from one 1/4 cup portion)
- 1 stick unsalted sweet butter, at room temperature
- 12 ounces (1.5 cups) organic whole milk
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided into two portions: one 1 teaspoon portion separated from one 1/2 teaspoon portion)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- With skins still on, boil the whole sweet potatoes until fork tender. Set the potatoes on a plate and let cool. Peel and discard the skin, making sure to peel off the layer of string attached to the skin.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In a mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes and whisk in the eggs, butter, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup of the evaporated cane juice. Whip until the mixture is fully incorporated.
- Gradually add enough milk until the mixture is loose. Save the rest of the milk for the topping.
- Take the tassie pastry dough from the refrigerator and divide into 48 balls. Lightly grease two 24 well mini-muffin tins. Press the dough balls in the mini-muffin wells, making a mini pie crust shape.
- Pour the filling into the crusts.
- For the topping, mix together the rest of the milk, the remaining 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Brush this topping mixture on top of the filling.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until crust is golden brown and sweet potato filling is firm to the touch. Cool completely on a wire rack and gently remove from the mini-muffin tins. Serve right away if you want to keep those crunchy edges from the topping.
recipe scaled down from MarthaStewart.com
Makes ~5 cupcake-sized custards
- 0.083 ounces unflavored gelatin powder (or agar-agar powder)
- 20.83 grams (0.735 ounces) cold water
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 34 grams evaporated cane juice (or coconut sugar)
- 1.333 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2/3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- scant 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cups milk
- Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- Bloom the gelatin: dissolve gelatin or agar-agar in the cold water. Mix, set aside and let thicken for a few minutes.
- On medium-low heat in a small saucepan, whisk the heavy cream, evaporated cane juice, chocolate, espresso powder, salt, and salt. Heat this mixture, whisking frequently, until the chocolate is melted and everything is thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add the gelatin mixture and the milk. Whisk until combined. Remove from heat and strain mixture into a large measuring cup or gravy separator.
- Pour into 5 silicone cupcake molds. Wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Un-mold or serve in the molds with whipped cream and toppings.