Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

My love of leftovers has been well documented here — you get all of the cooking fun without a lot of drudgery because at least some of the meal is already prepped in advance. And when you’re dealing with leftovers from a holiday meal, well, that’s the best situation ever. For Easter, I prepared a semi-boneless leg of lamb for dinner with our neighbor’s family. The night before, I scored the fat and rubbed a paste of anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper and minced rosemary and thyme all over it, then set it on a rack in a large roasting pan, covered it with foil and refrigerated it overnight.

Always a mistake if you don’t like smelling garlic before your morning coffee.

But it turned out great. I roasted it at 325°F for about 20 minutes per pound until the thermometer read 130°F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat. I tented it with foil and brought it next door and it was perfectly done and ridiculously savory when we sat down to eat a few hours later. But there was also a rib roast on the menu, so we came home with quite a bit of lamb. And when I have a lot of leftover lamb, we have shepherd’s pie a few days later.

This time around, I also had about half of a medium spaghetti squash in the refrigerator, so I thought I’d give a paleo version a go. I’ve made shepherd’s pie with sweet potatoes, which are lovely, but still pretty high in carbs, so spaghetti squash didn’t seem too “out there” to consider. And it was a lovely dish. I seasoned the spaghetti squash with garlic butter and quite a bit of salt, but forgot to account for the water the spaghetti squash would give off in the oven even though it was already cooked. The dish was more soupy than stew-like, but still tasted great. Next time I’ll either add extra flour to the lamb or will toss the squash with some flour before layering it on.

Paleo Shepherd's Pie Detail | Minimally Invasive
Mmm, tasty, tasty lamb soup.

So it might have been more work than simply reheating the lamb, but now we have an entirely new dish to nibble on for a couple of meals. And it isn’t carb-heavy, so I’m not feeling the need to nap, even an hour after lunch.

One Meatball (and No Spaghetti)

gluten-free recipe

Yes, it’s cold and snowy out there and I already only want to eat meat until spring, but I also work in New York, where it’s impossible to spend any time at all without having meatballs thrust upon you. (Er, “without encountering meatballs”? “Without reading about them” or “passing a restaurant that has them on the menu”?) Just off the top of my head, there’s The Meatball Shop, a recent meatball feature in The New York Times, Eataly‘s braised brisket meatballs (Woe is me, they’re across the street from my office!) and Deb at Smitten Kitchen happened to run a beautiful post a few weeks ago about Canal House Cooking‘s Scallion Meatballs. So who can blame me for having balls of meat on the brain?

gluten-free recipe

Naturally, I wanted something a little bit different (not Italian, not Asian-inspired), so I searched for lamb meatballs recipe with a middle-eastern riff, which I found from Nigella Lawson/Food Network. Shall we all take a minute here to breathe a contented sigh as we picture the lovely Ms. Lawson? (aaaahhhh)

gluten-free recipe

Her recipes have always worked for me, so tinkering was minimal, limited to replacing the semolina with quinoa flour to make these gluten-free. (Get the recipe here.)

gluten-free recipe
Please ignore the Eddie Murphy welfare burger appearance of this meatball.

I decided to add a pomegranate glaze just because I wanted a bright contrast to the earthiness of the lamb. It worked so well, it’ll become a permanent part of the rotation, I believe. If it’s not too frou-frou, maybe I’ll even make it for a Super Bowl appetizer (though it won’t go well with the inevitable cheese dip).

gluten-free recipe

But it was a late lunch for us today, so I served it with apricot and caramelized onion brown rice to make a meal of it. The rice was superfluous; we could’ve made an entire meal of the meatballs and lived happily to tell the tale.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “One Meatball (and No Spaghetti)”

Ready, Set, Grill!

It’s been too long since I last posted — a heady combination of travel, an insane work schedule and a cold that wouldn’t quit conspired to keep me from updating — but I had to kick off the Memorial! Day! Weekend! with something grilled, so here you go: Lamb burgers with gluten-free buns.

Atypically, I tried a new recipe for the burgers instead of going with the tried-and-true kofta concoction. It was as essentially burgery as you’d expect but I missed that depth and balance of flavor from spices thrown in by the handful, so I’ll likely stick with it next time. But I did love the toppings enough to keep them on future burgers — sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured black olives and arugula.

Normally, when we go out for burgers, I’ll order mine without the bun and be perfectly happy, but I wanted to give gluten-free buns a try this time around since I was doing the burgerizing myownself. As always, I turned to Gluten-Free Girl for the recipe and think it’ll be my go-to for the rest of the summer. That’s assuming the buns freeze well, anyway — they took forever and a day to prepare, but were so worth it (and most of the time was resting time for the dough). I was out of potato flour, so I substituted equal parts rice flour and sorghum flour, which might’ve made the buns a little heavy, but the buns were so yeasty and, dare I say, bread-like I ate one on its own.

But you can’t have a burger without fronsh fries (why, that’s un-American!), so I dug deep into the archives for my standard oven-baked garlic fries that I see no need to depart from.

So Happy Memorial Day Weekend and unofficial start to summer! Hope the weather’s as nice where you are as it (finally) is here, and you can take advantage of it with a little grilling.

Oh, and our weekly Ringwood Farmers’ Market starts again this weekend! So much to look forward to . . . fresh vegetables, organic fruits, and quality meats and eggs that only traveled a few miles to get here. Can’t get better than that.

From the Market: Week 1

Kofta with Spinach & Arugula Salad

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened this weekend, and not one minute too soon! I’ve been craving their fresh produce since the weekly market closed last November; winter market (new this year) only took place once a month, and the pickings were slim. It was winter, after all.

But now we’re back to greens, berries, honey and meats from small local farms, so let’s dive in.

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What I missed most about the early markets was the amazing spinach and arugula from Bialas Farms, not to mention the rest of the veggies and fresh herbs that always make up the bulk of my shopping experience on weekends. Because I was impatient to try the first haul, I made brunch as soon as we got home — a quick pesto with the spinach and arugula, some walnuts and grated locatelli, all smoothed out with a Ligurian olive oil. The pasta was a gluten-free selection from Fontanarosa’s, which I only visited for the first time this weekend. I now plan to shop there all summer long.

[About the gluten-free thing: I cut out the major sources of gluten about a month ago after reading The GenoType Diet. I’m highly suspicious of any diet at all (and definitely didn’t try this to lose weight — so don’t worry, those of you who know me), but thought I’d give this one a try since a lot of what the author said about my type rang true, given my experience. Anyway, I can honestly say that the mild-to-moderate joint pain I’ve had for the past few years has completely disappeared since I cut the out the gluten. (Other things I won’t go into here have cleared up as well.) Maybe it’s all unrelated, and I hope it is, but we’ll see how I feel when I re-introduce regular pastas and whole-grain bread into my meals.]

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Even though we were invited to a BBQ Sunday afternoon, I had to get in a little grilling of my own this weekend, so I threw together a quick-ish lunch. The appetizers were inspired by this post at Smitten Kitchen and I was thrilled with the way they turned out:

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into a couple of bites, and it came together with almost no effort on my part. I just grilled 1/2-inch-thick slices of homemade bread till they were toasted, smeared them with loads of truffle butter, some room-temperature robiola (one of my favorites, but you could try whatever you like here), and topped them off with ribbons of asparagus, crunchy fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

To make the ribbons, just grasp the tip of the spear and use a vegetable peeler to shave down the length of the asparagus.

Our main course was a kofta salad. The spinach and arugula made another appearance here, tossed with tzaziki sauce for the salad base. I had a few extra asparagus ribbons from the appetizers, so I threw them on as a garnish. But the real draw was the kofta made with ground lamb from Snoep Winkel Farm. I used the recipe that’s become my standard, substituting walnuts for pistachios since those were, um, about 18 months out of date. Oops.

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And then we went to a BBQ where I consumed lots of steak and delicious veggie skewers, so I was pretty meated- and veggied-out by Sunday morning and took it easy with a little goat’s milk yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and honey. (Sadly, the blueberries were store-bought since they aren’t quite in season here, but the The Orchards of Concklin‘s strawberries are as perfect as ever, and their peonies aren’t half-bad either. I’ll bring my camera next time we go so I can show you just how popular Rufus and Otis are with the proprietor. The honey is local, too — from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, where we buy our fresh eggs and where I’m evidently known as Rufus’s mom.)


Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.

Something on a stick


I don’t mess around when it comes to national food holidays. Maybe it comes from growing up in a town that hosts an annual Catfish Festival at the height of summer — I figure if a bunch of sweaty coonasses can come together for a weekend to partake of the flesh of a lowly bottom feeder, I can do a lot better for National Something on a Stick Day than serve up corndogs. And so Gil and I feasted on kofta kebabs over the weekend in observance of this celebration of finger food.

After a bit of web research, I decided to adapt two recipes from Food Network into my own. (I know, I know, really keeping it traditional, there.) It had a pretty formidable list of ingredients, but I’m lucky to work near Kalustyan’s, so picking up the few extra spices not already in my cupboard was easy enough. And let me tell you, if you’re going to make these, definitely do what it takes to find sumac. I had a taste before adding it to the lamb and instantly realized that it’s the spice I’ve been missing all this time. It’s delicious and zingy and really boosts the flavor, but I suppose substituting lemon zest might be ok per Jamie Oliver’s recommendation. Dude knows more about this stuff than I do.

(And allow me to take a moment to apologize for the above photo. If I were a better photographer, you’d have something more beautiful to look at than Mr. Hankey in a yogurt bath, but I suck and really, it’s a brown log and not photogenic at all.)

We had tzatziki, mache, and whole wheat pitas to complete the sandwich portion of our meal, as well as foul moudammas, olive oil, and Syrian za’atar on the side. Overall, the meal was a little brown, but seriously delicious and pretty easy to make. These will be on the menu again just as soon as it warms up enough to take the grilling outdoors. I can’t wait.


recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Something on a stick”

Still need that cumin intervention


When I got home a few nights ago, Gil was still out helping his dad prepare/clean his computer room for the painters who were coming the following day. I thought it’d be nice to surprise him with a decent dinner for a change, but needed something that could be ready by the time he returned in 30 minutes or so. As quick meals go, this one really can’t be beat.

I’ve been on a bit of a meat kick lately, so I picked up four lamb loin chops at the grocery along with a couple of sweet potatoes and set out to prepare our meal. (The chops in the picture aren’t really burned, no matter what your eyes tell you — I coated them with a dark Singapore Curry rub bought on our visit to Seattle in February.) We still had a beautiful bunch of tender kale bought at our farmers’ market over the weekend, and I wanted to do something more exciting than my usual olive oil/garlic/red pepper preparation, so I used Indian spices to complement the chops and added cubes of boiled sweet potato for a nice contrast (visually and spicically). I also tossed in some garlic scapes left from the weekend, but if they’re out of season or if you don’t have access, you really don’t need them.

The lamb was quite good, but lamb always is. What surprised me was how well the veggies came off — the flavors married beautifully and the kale would’ve sorely missed the potatoes had they not been there. And it was so easy, so quick! Not bad for a weeknight.

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Still need that cumin intervention”