Matthew: To use up the lamb leftover from our Easter meal, we decided to make miniature pies. I found this recipe in the same Irish cookbook I used to make Irish soda bread. These are called Dingle Pies, after the Dingle Peninsula in southwest Ireland where the recipe originated. Since we already had cooked lamb with herbs, mom just sauteed some carrots, onions, and celery, added some cornstarch and beef stock to make a gravy, and then added the diced lamb into the mixture. I made the pastry crust and cut out the circles using the top of a beer mug. Next time I would try to make them a tad bit bigger so that the filling to pastry ratio was higher. They browned up very nicely in the oven and made for a great Easter day lunch. I think everyone enjoyed them.
Bill: Matt, Jill and I made a great Easter Holiday meal. Matt purchased a boneless leg of lamb at Knoche’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop in Madison. Matt made Oregano Pesto which used spinach and pistachios as the main ingredients. An excellent combination. Jill prepared the lamb for the oven by spreading the oregano pesto on the meat and then rolling it up and tying it. She followed this recipe which included topping the lamb with more pesto and inserting garlic slivers into the meat. Wow was it good! My contribution was to make Oven Roasted Broccoli which is one of our favorite roasted vegetables. We also had roasted red potatoes. This was a great meal. The lamb was so tender and tasty. I’m looking forward to leftovers tonight for supper.
Katie: I wanted to make a special treat to celebrate the long Easter weekend, but was looking for something unconventional. This recipe for Smoky Margaritas was definitely what I was looking for! I found it on the McCormick website, which actually has several interesting looking recipes, and is where I also found the recipe for my Sweet Potato Winter Vegetable Pot Pie. Since we’ve had warm weather here in Germany lately, these were the perfect was to end a summerly spring evening. If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s how to make them:
Smoky Margaritas (from the McCormick website)
- 3 tablespoons sea salt*
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided*
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (I used 5 small limes)
- 6 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 ounces tequila (1/4 cup)
- Mix sea salt and 1 tablespoon of the smoked paprika on a small plate. Dip glasses in prepared lime juice to wet the outside rims. Dip glasses into the sea salt mixture to coat.
- Fill cocktail shaker with 2 cups of ice. (I don’t have a cocktail shaker, so I used a metal thermos bottle.) Add lime juice, agave nectar, tequila and remaining 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika; shake until well mixed and chilled. Pour into prepared glasses.
* Unless you’ve just run a marathon, I can’t imagine consuming so much salt. Even though it made the glasses look pretty, we ended up whiping it off after the first sip. I would suggest using just a little bit of sea salt or trying large sugar crystals.
Apart from the salt issue, we really enjoyed these cocktails!
Katie: When I saw mangoes featured at the store this week, I grabbed one, but wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. When I came across this recipe for Garbanzo Bean Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing, I was really intrigued. I would have never have thought of blended a mango, mixing it with spices, and using it as a creamy dressing to top a salad. I had to improvise a little, using what I had, but it turned out great! This might be the perfect way to bring a little bit of sunshine into your kitchen, even if the weather outside isn’t very spring-like yet. Here’s my version of the salad:
Chickpea Salad with Mango Dressing (slightly adapted from My New Roots)
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans), drained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 carrots
- other vegetables of your choice (e.g. jicama, bean sprouts, other beans)
- optional: salad greens
- 1 ripe mango
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 large green onions, with tops, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds and roast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Set aside.
- Peel the mango, cut into large chunks, and place in a blender or food processor with all other dressing ingredients. Blend until uniform and creamy. Season with freshly ground black pepper or other spices to taste.
- In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the chickpeas and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad filling.
- Chop the remaining vegetables and add to the salad.
- Serve plain or over salad greens.
- Top with sunflower seeds before serving.
Katie: Along with blooming flowers and budding trees, another sign of spring here in Germany is the scent of grilled meat drifting through the streets. As soon as the temperatures begin to rise, many people are eager to fire up their grills, and Flori was no exception. Since our grocery store now carries ground turkey, I decided to try making turkey burgers. Since I liked the flavors of the meatballs I made, I decided to try to find a burger recipe that also included some good add-ins. I found this recipe for Turkey and Vegetable Burgers from the Recipes for Health column of the New York Times. It was just what I was looking for! I made it as written, which included sautéing onions, bell peppers, grated carrots, and garlic and mixing the vegetable mixture with ground turkey and a little ketchup and barbecue sauce. It was a good combination! Even though I didn’t prepare them enough in advance to chill the patties, they still held together on the grill. I roasted the remaining half of the bell pepper to top some of the burgers. It was a good start to this year’s grilling season!
Matthew: I was perusing the new book section at the library and happened upon a large cookbook called The Country Cooking of Ireland. I didn’t really know much about Irish cooking, so I thought it would be interesting. This cookbook is a serious study of the dishes made throughout Ireland and dispels the idea that Irish cooking is boring or bad. I decided to first try one of the soda bread recipes and although I couldn’t find the Irish flour the recipe called for, the bread turned out great. I’m used to sweet soda breads with raisins, so it was a nice change to try one flavored with thyme. Making the bread was simple too, with just a few ingredients. I’ll probably try a few of the other soda bread recipes in the cookbook soon. Here’s the recipe:
3 1/2 cups/350g flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 to 2 cups/360 to 475 ml buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450F/230C. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. Mix in the thyme. Form a well in middle of flour mixture and pour at least 13oz/385ml of buttermilk into the well. Form your hand into a rigid claw and stir the buttermilk into the flour slowly but steadily in a spiral motion, starting in the middle and working outwards. Add more of the buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be soft but not too wet or sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead lightly; then flour your hands and shape the dough into a flat round about 1 1/2 in thick. Cut a deep cross in the top of the loaf with a wet or floured knife, then put on a lightly floured baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400F/200C and bake for 20 minutes more, or until nicely browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Matthew: I might have picked the worst spring day to make a stew. It was in the low 80’s and humid today and I spent the late afternoon boiling beans on the stove. It was worth it though!
Back in October, I read an article in the NY Times that talked about using dried beans without soaking them. This appealed to me since I don’t like to have to plan ahead for dinner. The article included this recipe for herbed white bean and sausage stew. I finally got around to making it and it turned out fantastic. I followed the recipe closely, only substituting some locally-made bratwurst for the sausage. The resulting stew reminded me of a cassoulet I had recently at Sardine in Madison. The slow cooked beans absorb the flavors from the herbs, seasonings, and meat, making a smooth and decadent dish. And, it made about 10 pounds of stew, so I will get to enjoy this all week!