Tag Archives: Bon Appetit

Medallions of Joy

It had been too long since I spent a full day in the kitchen. I’m not beating up on myself — things like jobs and social goings-on prevent such time allocation, ya dig? But I missed my all day cookingfests: the sort where you put your iPod on shuffle, pour yourself a glass of wine, don your favorite apron, and use every dish you own in the creation of something fabulously non-routine.

Before he left for Maine, Alex made me a gorgeous dinner: pan-seared salmon, succotash, bread (from Josey!), wine. Pie for dessert, natch. I swooned, and I ate a lot of bread. I wanted to repay the favor but was stumped about what to make. I don’t have a go-to dish — not one to serve to guys, anyhow. The dishes I typically make for myself are tasty, yes, but not showy enough for company.* I consulted my cooking magz — finally, these magazine subscriptions are being put to good use! — and found a recipe for herb-crusted rack of lamb. Droooool.

You know how common sense dictates that one should not prepare a wholly new recipe when one is entertaining? Heh. It crossed my mind that maybe I should stick with a known quantity, but the promise of medium-rare lamb encased in buttery, herbacious breadcrumbs was irresistible. That, and the recipe was one paragraph long. I felt certain that I wouldn’t fuck it up.

The biggest challenge in the preparation of the Roast of Awesomeness was securing the rack of lamb. I’m close to a few grocery stores (OK, two Safeways), but neither sells quality meat. Whole Foods is a bit of a trek — an hour ride (RT) on the 71. Fortunately, Guerra Meats is right in my hood. The shop has a pleasingly old-timey awning (and similarly antiquated interior), a passable selection of dry goods, and hella friendly butchers. The dude I spoke with raised his eyebrow when I requested a rack of lamb.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have chops?” he asked. “Chops are also nice.”

“No,” I answered (hesitantly). It had to be the rack.

Looking at me, the butcher knew my plan. HE TOTALLY KNEW. Smiling, he wrapped the meat in lilac paper and sealed the bundle with tape. “Here’s what you do,” he said. “Rub it with whatever herbs you want — oil, herbs, doesn’t matter — and cook it for half an hour. Not too long.”

“Okey doke,” I said. I fairly skipped into the sunlight and walked all the way home.

How was the lamb, then? Better than even I could have hoped for. At the risk of sounding like a True NorCal Hippie (TNH), I think a higher power preordained that this roast would turn out perfectly. When I removed the rack from the oven, it measured exactly (to the degree) 130. Precisely medium rare. It rested for a good ten minutes before we broke it into chops, and then? Oh, yeah: we dug in.

Rack of lamb is my new go-to dish. I half wish I had to host a company dinner or something (bridal shower? Do brides eat meat? DON’T ANSWER THAT.) just so I could prepare it again. Or maybe I don’t need an occasion, the eating of lamb being an occasion itself. Bingo.

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This dish is easy enough to prepare last minute (trust me) and lovely enough for whatever sort of shindig you’re throwing. Allow two chops per diner — more, if you want leftovers — and serve with a green salad.

One other suggestion: I added extra butter to the breadcrumb mixture, and I suggest you do the same. Now is not the time for dietary restrictions.

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb (from Bon Appetit, January 2011)

Ingredients

  • Rack of lamb, well trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1.5 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Method

Preheat oven to 450. Brush lamb with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs. Place lamb, meat side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Mix breadcrumbs, garlic, butter, and mint in medium bowl. Press breadcrumb mixture onto meat side of lamb. Roast until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 130 degrees, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Cut into chops.

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*And I’m blushing a little at my admission that I wanted to make something showy, but, you know, that’s how it is! OKcool.

Already, we’re starting new projects.

The other night, Hook proposed that we start a new project — to cook one recipe per week from one of the food magazines we receive. At present, we get Bon Appetit and Food Network Magazine, both of which subscriptions were gifted to us, but we used to receive Eating Well, too. (I have to remind myself to reorder E.W.) And, who am I kidding? I’m tempted to order Saveur.

I’m on board with Hook’s plan. I agree that, as long as we’re getting these magazines, we might as well make [token] use of them. That, and we’ve backslid into a serious Comfort Food Consumption Pattern (CFCP) in recent days — think buffalo Boca nuggets, Quadratini wafer cookies, mostly unadorned pasta eaten by the light of the TV. College kid cooking (if you can call it cooking). To our credit, Hook has been busy at work and I’ve been sick. Also to our credit was the nostalgathon dinner we prepared Thursday night: oven fries from Idaho potatoes and grilled cheese (sourdough + pepper jack + sliced tomato). Hook had never before prepared his own grilled cheese: can you believe this? He has now, at least.

The beauty of butter? Um, yes plz.

Anyway. H. and I will be scanning for recipes this afternoon, trying to decide which one will become this week’s experimental dinner. Hint: we probably won’t choose anything from Food Network — a goodly portion of their “recipes” consist of nothing more than tossing cooked green beans with pesto, or adding sautéed veggies to pasta. Hrmmm…

Exciting news! I’m now part of Kath’s blogroll. For those of you who don’t know, Kath Younger is an RD, baker, recipe creator, and oatmeal aficionado who began blogging way back in 2006 to document her journey toward a healthier lifestyle. I began reading Kath Eats Real Food about two and a half years ago at the outset of my own program to eat cleaner, quit smoking, and get to the gym more than once every six months; I’m still an avid reader. It was through reading Kath’s blog that I learned how to cook wheatberries and that I familiarized myself with overnight oats. (Note: though I prefer cold cereal in the morning, I may return to OO to enliven my stale brekkie routine.)

When, a few days ago, Kath posted that she’d be updating her blogroll and that those wishing to be included could send along their info, I was stoked! I emailed Kath right away and I’m glad that she saw fit to include me in her roster. Thank you, Kath, for the inclusion.

That’s all the news for now. If I were into football, I might have planned some excellent Superbowl-attuned cooking project, but no dice. Well, some dice: I might still find occasion to eat nachos (or chug a few beers), but football will be the farthest thing from my mind.

Shout out to Sys!

I’m a magazine fan. Throughout high school, I subscribed to Vogue and was able, with confidence, to Talk About Fashion (an ability that has since withered). In college, needing a pick me up, I’d secure a ride to Wal-Mart and pick up a pack of Parliaments and a few magazines: Cosmo, Shape, Health — whatever. If I were lucky enough to be going to a bookstore, I’d get Bust, Adbusters, or Artforum. My taste in mags wasn’t really as schizophrenic as I make it out to be, but in small-town Illinois, shopping locale dictates periodical selection even more than it does anywhere else, so I’d exit whatever store I was in with an armload of at-odds publications (and probably a big bag of Sour Patch Kids).

I currently receive a few magazines, but my subscription level was raised by one when my sis gifted me a year of Bon Appetit. Thanks, sys!

I’ve never actually read Bon Appetit (embarrassing confession), but I read the current issue yesterday morning on the bus rides to and from work. My verdict? I think I’ll need to read a few more issues before feeling comfortable making any sweeping statements about the magazine as a whole. A few of the recipes caught my eye — the honey lavender ice cream, for example, which I may yet try to make this weekend, and the salads* — and the photos are gorgeous. Overall, I wished for more narrative, more lushly constructed food fables. But, food lit is not Bon Appetit’s editorial focus, as Hook kindly pointed out — recipes are. In that regard, the magazine is successful: it’s crammed with recipes (some with no words of introduction!), more recipes than I will try before the next issue arrives.

GOOD NEWS: The Whole Foods that’s being built at the intersection of Haight and Stanyan is going to open on February 16th. That’s 18 days away! In 18 days, I’ll have only to walk a scant three blocks to get my produce (local, organic), my wine, my expertly arranged and carefully tied bouquets and my vegan scones. I’ve been watching the store’s construction over the course of a year, and opening day is so close I can smell it. Maybe that’s bum urine on the adjacent sidewalk, but whatever: my bobo fantasy shall soon be realized. (!).

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*Though many of the featured salads are similar to ones I make already for lunch. Reading the feature, I was like, “Really? This gets to be published? Why are my salad creations not featured recipes, huh?”