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Cooking with Friends
Early Spring Dinner

Table setting - Cooking with FriendsWe're in that final stretch of winter and firmly entrenched in the daily routines of work, family, friends...The days are still shorter, the air is still cooler. It's a perfect time to make time to be with friends. We come together, once again, for our monthly cooking night--where it's all about setting the daily grind aside and just enjoying the company of friends. While we each prepare a menu item we laugh, catch up on each other's lives, and indulge ourselves in quality girl time. Our menu tonight: Roast Peppercorn Encrusted Lamb, Sweated Leeks, and Pan "Fried" Green Beans. We added a nice zinfandel and some sparkling water. Why don't you gather a few friends of your own and plan an evening together. Bon Appetite!

 

Roast Peppercorn Encrusted Lamb

 The tangy, crisp crust complements the lamb nicely.

 

3-4 TBS mixed crushed peppercorns (white, black, green)

1-2 TBS fresh rosemary (or 1 ½ TSP dried)

½ cup fresh mint leaves

6 garlic cloves, crushed

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce (low sodium, if desired)

½ cup dry red wine

5 lb boned leg of lamb

2-3 TBS Dijon mustard

 

Cooking Time: Approx. 90 minutes

Servings: 6-8

 

Combine 1 TBS peppercorns, rosemary, mint leaves, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and red wine in a rectangular baking dish. Marinate the lamb in the marinade for 8-10 hours, turning throughout the day. (Can be started the night before and placed in the refrigerator, then marinated throughout the following day.)

 

Remove the lamb from the marinade and drain; RESERVE THE MARINADE: do not discard. Roll the roast and tie with kitchen string.

 

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

 

Coat the outside of the roast with mustard and then pat the remaining crushed peppercorns into the mustard.

 

Place the roast into a shallow roasting pan and pour the reserved marinade around (not over) the roast.

 

Bake for 1 ½ hours or 18 minutes per pound, basting occasionally, for medium-rare lamb. Bake another 10-15 minutes for well-done lamb. Remove from oven and let stand for about 20 minutes before slicing. Ladle the pan juices over the lamb after placing on each dinner plate.

 

After the lamb is in the oven, go ahead and sit with your friends and enjoy one another's company and conversation for the next hour. You could even take a nice walk. Then, about 20-30 minutes before the lamb is finished, you can all go into the kitchen and start preparing and cooking the next two dishes and setting the table.

 

Pan Fried Green Beans - Cooking with Friends

Pan Fried Green Beans

A very dear friend, Sue, showed me how to make this recipe. The beauty here is that you can season these beans with anything you want and cannot go wrong.

Fried Green Beans Fresh Green Beans (1-1 ½ lbs)

Pkg of Peppercorn Bacon

4 TBS Olive Oil

Garlic

Pepper

Salt

Lemon

 

In a large frying pan put 6-8 pieces of peppered bacon and turn heat to medium. Cook bacon until almost done. Add olive oil and green beans. Stir. Cover beans with garlic pepper, salt and a pinch of lemon juice. (All seasoning is to taste. I coat the beans with seasoning). Turn heat down to low, cover and cook until desired tenderness, stirring often.

 

Sweated Leeks

 

Serves 4

 

6 medium sized leeks.

2 TBS Stilton cheese

Cracked black pepper

Sea salt

 

1TBS butter

2TBS olive oil

 

Sauté pan with tight fitting lid

Wax or parchment paper

 

 

Notes on leeks: leeks are a member of the onion family and resemble an overgrown green onion. Look for ones with healthy, white bulb and strong green “leaves.”

 

To prepare: cut off the bulb about 2 “ up the green stem. Discard the outer layers of dark “leaves.” Split the leek in half, fan out and rinse the layers under cold running water. Shake dry. Place each half flat on a cutting board and cut into very thin half moon slices. As you work up the stalk, discard tough outer “leaves” but use the bright green inner parts.

 

Spring lamb dinner - Cooking with FriendsOver medium heat combine butter and olive oil in a sauté pan. When blended, add the sliced leeks. Stir to coat with the butter oil mixture, sprinkle with cracked pepper and sea salt. Cut a circle of parchment paper and lay it over the leeks, tucking it in at the sides. Place the lid on the pan and over low/medium heat; sweat the leeks for around 15 minutes. Check part way through cooking process to make sure that they are not frying. This cooking process essentially steams them in their own juices. Check that the leeks are tender and if done, crumble in and then stir gently to mix, the Stilton cheese.

 

This is a side dish that also goes well with salmon. Substitute goat cheese for the Stilton.

 

 

 
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