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Braised Spicy-Spiced Grass-fed Short-ribs

28 Feb

I recently came up with this simple, flavorful way to braise short-ribs — I wanted to give the short-ribs somewhat of an “Asian” flavor profile, involving soy sauce and ginger.  I ended up experimenting with various spices I had on-hand at home, and we were very happy with the results!  The broth cooks down to make a wonderful “sauce”; the carrots were delicious, and David has asked me to make sure to use more carrots next time.  The dish packs a lot of flavor — some heat, lots of spices, and even some sweetness from the cooked-down onions as well as cinnamon and cloves.  A great hearty dish, perfect for winter.  Next time, I’d like to add some star anise into the mix.

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Rock the Party Spicy Ribs

29 Jan

We threw a birthday party for our musical director, Conrad, in our Stockholm apartment.  Conrad has known David since he was 16, and we’ve all worked together on Dirty Dancing since 2004 — he’s family to us, and it was wonderful to celebrate his birthday with him, his wife Penny, Eleanor, Michael, and our set designer Paul.

I wanted to make the dinner a casual affair, and also wanted to cook something that you don’t often find at Stockholm restaurants.  I decided to make spiced ribs, which were a resounding success.  These ribs are easy to make and delicious — although eating can get messy, with good, friendly company, it’s a lot of fun to eat with your hands!  (Just have plenty of paper towels on hand.)  These ribs would be great for Super Bowl parties, too.  (I will be staying up late to watch next weekend!)

“ROCK THE PARTY” SPICY RIBS

**NOTE: The measurements below are for 1 full set of ribs (2 large ribs).  For the party, I made 4 sets of ribs, and so multiplied the ingredients by 4.

DRY-RUB

  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp good quality salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin

Mix the ingredients together.

Because our oven in Stockholm is tiny, I cut each rib in half, to make the refrigerating/baking process easier.  Coat the dry-rub onto the ribs, both sides.

Stack the ribs on top of each other, and cover tightly with cling wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 175C (or 350F).  Lay out the ribs in a baking pan or tray covered with foil.  Cover the ribs with foil, and roast in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Take off the cover, and cook for another 15 minutes.  Let the ribs rest for at least 5 minutes, then cut into pieces.

I served the ribs with some coleslaw and an arugula salad with fig and toasted pine nuts — I will post the recipes for them soon!

Happy party people

Simple Dishes: Seared Duck Breast + Broccoli

22 Jan

Seared duck breasts are surprisingly simple to make.  We love duck —  they make a great departure from chicken, beef, pork, lamb… the usual meats we eat.

Here’s how I usually sear duck breasts:

Rinse and pat-dry the duck breasts.  Score the skin side — I like to make the cross-hatch quite small, so that the fat really renders out and makes the skin crispy.  Salt and pepper both sides, and let it stand at room temperature for half an hour.

Heat a pan/skillet on high.  When hot, place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in the pan/skillet.  Sear the skin for about 7 minutes, until the skin is crispy and a golden brown.  Turn, and sear the meat-side, for about 6 or 7 more minutes for medium-rare (depending on size).  Transfer onto a plate and cover with foil, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.

(**While the duck is resting, I sauteed some broccoli and garlic as a accompaniment for the duck.)

Slice the duck breast thinly.  Enjoy!

Spicy Lemon Paprika Chicken Thighs

18 Jan

These oven-baked chicken thighs are juicy, delicious, and easy-to-make — they are great during the work week, when you want to make a relatively simple dinner at home with a lot of flavor, and also yield plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

SPICY LEMON PAPRIKA CHICKEN THIGHS

  • 2 lbs. organic chicken thighs, skin on
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsps cayenne power
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ¼ cup organic olive oil

In a bowl, mix paprika, garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt and pepper.  Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil, to create the marinade.  Check the taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary (you may want more spiciness here, for instance).

Add the chicken thighs and toss.  If you have the time, let the thighs marinade for a couple of hours –in full-disclosure, I often make this recipe when I don’t have time to marinate the thighs for much longer than 15 minutes, and the chicken still tastes delicious.

Preheat the oven to 215C (about 419F).  Lay out the chicken thighs in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through.

Turn on the broiler and broil until the skin is lightly crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.  Take the roasting pan out of the oven, transfer the thighs onto a platter and let them rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

These chicken thighs are great the next day, even cold!

Rosemary/Garlic/Lemon-Crusted Rack of Lamb

4 Jan

For the main course of our Christmas Eve dinner, I roasted rosemary/garlic/lemon-crusted racks of lamb.  I found very nice, trimmed, Frenched racks of lamb at our local supermarket — Swedish lamb — very fresh and lovely.  I bought the equivalent of 2 full racks (each rack I bought were split into two, made smaller than I’m used to in the US).  The marinade itself is very simple yet extremely flavorful.  Personally, I think the most important thing when roasting a rack of lamb is using a good thermometer, so that you could cook it to your desired temperature.  This dish was a smashing success, and felt very suitable for our main course for Christmas Eve (and would be great for dinner parties in general).

ROSEMARY/GARLIC/LEMON-CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB

  • 2 full racks of lamb, trimmed and Frenched

Marinade

  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 handfuls of parsley
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Season the racks with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, make the marinade: blend the rosemary, parsley, garlic cloves, zest and juice of lemons, as well as olive oil.  I only have a small food processor in our Stockholm apartment, so I made the marinade in 2 batches.

Coat the racks with 1/2 of the marinade; set aside the other 1/2 marinade to use later.   Cover the racks and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Take out the lamb 1 hour before cooking to bring back to room temperature.  Scrape off the marinade from the chops as much as you can (but don’t throw the marinade away — you could use it to re-coat the lamb when you roast.)

Preheat the oven to 400F (about 200C).

In a medium skillet/pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.  Add the lamb to the skillet, fat side down, and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the lamb fat side up and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Transfer the lamb racks onto a roasting pan.  Let cool a little bit, and coat the lamb racks with the remaining 1/2 of the marinade.  Place in the oven and roast the racks for about 20 minutes, until the thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125° for medium-rare. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes, then cut into chops.

I served the lamb with a mustard/mint/lemon aioli, which I blended together in our small but very useful mini-food processor.

Entrecôte with Caramelized Red Onions

13 Dec

As much as we like a good steak, sometimes we need a variation.  I am not big on making sauces (feels too involved after work), but I recently caramelized red onions to go with an entrecôte steak for dinner, which turned out nicely.  I added some lemon juice to the red onions, which gave them a kind of bright, chutney-like quality.  If you like onions, the caramelized red onions make a good alternative to a sauce for steak.

Thinly slice 3 red onions and finely mince 3 garlic cloves.  In a saute pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil.  When hot, add the onions.  Salt, stir, and turn down the heat to medium-low.  Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves (take the leaves off the sprig).  Put a lid on the pan and let the onions cook down.

When the onions have cooked down, add the juice of half lemon.  Stir, and serve on top of steak — such as an entrecôte.

David was very excited with the entrecôte with red onions, with a side of roasted cauliflower.

Julskinka (Christmas ham)

9 Dec

With the Christmas season upon us, the meat section in our local Daglivs is stocked full of Julskinka (Christmas ham).  I have never made a Christmas ham from scratch; actually, David and I have never made roast ham for any of our Christmases together.  But as the Julskinka seems like such the typical Swedish meat for the season, we were both curious to try it… now.  And so we bough a lovely organic, fresh, salt-cured harm looked lovely to cook for a Sunday “roast.”

The Julskinka packaging explains the traditional method of roasting the ham.  Sadly, I could only decipher bits and pieces, not enough fill me with confidence to know what I was doing.  So we took a photo of the instructions on the package and sent it to our Swedish colleague, who kindly translated them for us.  The actual cooking of the ham is quite easy, although it takes a couple of hours.  A cooking thermometer is definitely needed, and I picked up an electronic one at a local hardware store.

Preheat the oven to 175C (or 350F).

Rinse the pork under water — the pork is salted-cured, so it’s important to rinse thoroughly.

Pat dry, and cover in foil.

Place in the lower part of the oven with a cooking thermometer in the meat.  Roast until the internal temperature reads 73-75C (or about 165/167 F).

Take the ham out of the oven.  (*Do not turn off the oven, as the ham will go back into it.)  Cut away the netting, and remove the fat.

Make the mustard coating: mix one egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard.

Cover the ham with the mustard mixture.  Typically, breadcrumbs are added all over the mustard coating — I sprinkled fresh thyme instead.

Raise the oven temperature to 200C (or about 390F).  Put the ham back in the oven and roast until it browns, about 15 minutes.

Rest for 5-10 minutes.  Slice thinly and serve!

For dinner, we had slices of ham alongside some broccoli and mushrooms.  The ham has a salty quality, so it’s good to pair with non-salty vegetables.  Although we bought a “small-ish” Julskinska, it’s still A LOT of ham for 2 people.   But the ham is great cold — in fact our Swedish colleague explains that it is best the day after on some bread with some mustard.  The bread we don’t do, of course, but the ham has served us well, providing us all week as a quick, ready source of protein at home.  Whether for snacks (on its own or with slices of cucumber or avocado) or with scrambled eggs for breakfast, the Julskinka is a nice, holiday meat to try at home.

P.S. The next time I make this, I think I may add some sweetness to the mustard coating by adding honey…

Simple Dishes: Roast Pork Tenderloin w/Garlic-Ginger Rub

3 Dec

Grocery shopping can lead to impulse purchases.  If something looks fresh and beautiful, I find it hard not to want to take it home to cook it, even if I don’t exactly know what to do with it at the time of purchase.  Pork tenderloin was one such purchase.  I’d never cooked pork tenderloin before, but the butcher in Saluhall had fantastic-looking pork tenderloin and I couldn’t resist.  After work, at home, I Googled various pork tenderloin cooking methods.  Many recipes call for 3 hours or overnight marination — I didn’t have the time, since the pork was meant for dinner that night.  So I decided to just rub some spices I had at home and roast it.  Although I’m sure marinating the tenderloin overnight will infuse it with flavor and tenderize the meat, I think this simple spice rub worked quite nicely.

SPICY ROAST PORK TENDERLOIN WITH GARLIC-GINGER RUB

  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a small bowl, mixed garlic powder, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Stir well with a fork to combine — this will be the rub.  With dry hands, sprinkle the tenderloin with the rub, making sure to cover the entire tenderloin.  Gently pat the rub to ensure that that the seasoning adheres to the tenderloin.

In a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil (about 1 tablespoon).  Add the minced garlic and saute, stirring, for about 1 minute.  Put tenderloin in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, searing each side and turning the meat.

Transfer meat to a roasting pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Rest for 5 minutes.  Slice and serve!

Paleo Lamb Meatballs + Garlic Tomato Sauce

20 Nov

When we first arrived in Stockholm, I came across several online discussion forums in which British, American and Canadian expats lamented about the difficulty of finding organic produce in Stockholm.  Quite a few people complained about the quality of meats relative to pricing.  One British person even shared that s/he brings back lamb every time s/he visits the UK, because s/he can’t stand the taste of lamb available in Stockholm!  (I am not sure how this transportation of lamb meat was achieved…)  Initially, these discussions scared and worried me; thankfully, however, I find our grocery-shopping experience in Stockholm to be just fine so far.  I don’t know how much the quality of  produce varies from one neighborhood to another, but we quite love our local Daglivs.  We can find most everything there.  Although we sometimes opt to indulge in fancier meats from the butcher in the Östermalmsaluhall (we LOVE M Seger Eftr. Kött & Ost) or Taylors & Jones, we are happy with our local supermarket, where we can even find Krav (organic) ground lamb.

Back in New York, I never buy ground lamb — in great part because, when I do see ground lamb, I know it’s not grass-fed or organic.  We opt to roast grass-fed lamb shoulders than to buy ground lamb.  When I found Krav ground lamb at our local supermarket, I knew what we’d have for dinner: lamb meatballs.  I make my paleo-version of meatballs a lot at home, but with ground turkey or, occasionally, veal — never lamb.  For my first lamb meatball attempt, I was inclined to also purchase this jar of marinated tomatoes — it seemed it would go well with lamb.

Normally, I put carrots, onions, and mushrooms in my meatballs.  When we got home, I realized I only had 1 carrot in the fridge — but I had a lot of asparagus, so I decided to add them in the meatballs, too.  The result was fantastic!   The asparagus pairs nicely with lamb, and gives it a fresh vegetable crunch.  I will definitely make this again and again while in Stockholm.

PALEO LAMB MEATBALLS

For lamb meatballs:

  • Ground lamb (about 2 lbs.)
  • Asparagus (1 bunch), chopped
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks scallions, finely chopped
  • 10 cremini mushrooms (approx.), finely diced
  • 7 slices of marinated tomatoes
  • 3 eggs

For the tomato sauce:

  • About a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 can of plain tomato sauce (chunky, no sugar)

Preheat the oven to 375F.

First, to make the meatballs: mince, chop, and dice all the vegetables as indicated above, as well as the marinated tomatoes.  Put them in a large bowl.

Add ground lamb into the bowl.  Mix the lamb and all the vegetables (I use my hands) evenly.  Crack 3 eggs into the bowl (I have David crack them for me, so I don’t have to wash my hands), and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking dish.  Roll the lamb/veg mixture into a ball — I make them a little smaller than the size of a tennis ball.  Place them in the baking dish.  Put them in the oven for about 25 minutes.

While the meatballs bake in the oven, you can make the tomato sauce.  Heat a saute pan with some olive oil in it.  When the pan is hot, add the sliced garlic.  Let the garlic sizzle for about a minute or two, and then add the cherry tomatoes.  Bring the heat down to a simmer.

The cherry tomatoes will release a lot of juice.  When the tomatoes have softened, add the can of tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

After baking for about 25 minutes, the meatballs should be cooked through.  A lot of fat will have rendered out.  Let it rest for about 5 minutes.

When rested, put the meatballs in a bowl and top with the tomato sauce.  Enjoy!

P.S. I served the meatballs with a side of roasted beets, a combination that proved a major hit with David! x

Sunday Green Curry with Chicken

19 Nov

David and I discovered this great organic green curry powder while living in Germany.  We loved it so much, we bought 2 cans of it and took them back to New York with us, just so that we could bring them with us to Stockholm.  The cans weigh nothing and take up little room in the luggage — SO worth it.

Green curry makes a great Sunday meal.  I have made green curry the last couple of Sundays in Stockholm, in part because Sunday is our day off and I have more time to make dinner.  Although green curry is easy (especially equipped with a fabulous-and-easy-to-use curry powder), there is a lot of chopping and prepping required.  I like to lay out everything I’m going to use, so that I don’t forget anything I’d planned to put in the curry.  The wonderful thing about curry is that you could put almost any kind of vegetable in it — it’s a great way to use up that half a cauliflower you need to eat, for instance.  My basic go-to vegetables for green curry are onions (about 3), eggplant (1 large), cauliflower (half a head), carrots (about 3), zucchini (1 large), and mushrooms (a good amount — we love mushrooms!); I always use a few cloves of garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger, too (both garlic and ginger finely minced).  For chicken curry, I use skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs).

I like to prep the ingredients in groups of items that should be cooked together.  Here, onions, garlic and ginger are on one plate together, as they will cook first.  Then, I have a plate of chicken thighs, cut into about 1.5 inch pieces.  And then in the back (left), I have a bowl of vegetables that take a little longer to cook — chopped carrots and eggplant.  In the final bowl (back-right), I have vegetables that cook a little quicker — sliced mushrooms, chopped cauliflower, and chopped zucchini.

In a large pot, heat some coconut oil on medium-high heat.  When heated, add onions, garlic and ginger.  Add a pinch or two of salt, and stir with a wooden spoon.

When the onions are tender, bring the heat down to medium and add the chicken pieces.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, stir them around, and then put the lid on the pot.

After about 10 minutes when the outer part of the chicken pieces appear cooked (although not fully cooked through), I add more the chopped eggplant and carrots.  Cover; if your burner is really hot even on medium, bring the heat down some more.  Our stove in Stockholm is not very complex, so I just try to keep it on a little higher than a “low” setting.  After about 10 to 15 minutes, or when the eggplants seem to have softened, add the rest of the vegetables — mushrooms, zucchini, and cauliflower.  Again, put the lid on.   As the vegetables cook down, they will release a lot of water, which is just fine — I think of it as “vegetable broth” that will add flavor to the curry.

After about another 10 minutes, add coconut milk.  I use 2 cans for a large pot.  If you can, I highly recommend buying good quality, organic coconut milk.  I find coconut milk vary greatly in quality, and will very much alter the flavor of the curry.  We found this Blue Dragon brand in Stockholm, which is delicious.

Add green powder to the curry.  I use 3 generous tablespoons for a pot of this size.

With a spatula, give the pot a nice, gentle stir.  Bring the heat down to a simmer, and keep cooking until all the vegetables are cooked.  I like to keep the zucchini on the side of al dente, so that they don’t totally disintegrate and disappear into the curry.

And here is a nice, hearty bowl of green curry with chicken!   Green curry packed with fresh vegetables and protein makes a fabulously comforting dish for the winter.  We are so happy that we have our favorite green curry powder with us as we experience our first Scandinavian winter.

P.S. Green curry makes fabulous leftovers — maybe even tastier the next day!