Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas with the Movies and the Bible

Yesterday we had a delicious Christmas feast that included recipes from both of our cookbooks, Cooking with the Movies and Cooking with the Bible (as well as some recipes by other chefs).

We started off with a cheese and fruit platter and cold cooked shrimp--pretty standard appetizers--with a loaf of oregano bread that we made in the bread machine. Various wines, of course, added to the festivities!
Our first course was a Greek lemon soup--served chilled, with strawberries and mint garnish--absolutely delicious.

Then we had the salad: Spinach Salad with Bitter Herbs (from Cooking with the Bible's Passover meal).

Spinach Salad with Bitter Herbs

1 package fresh spinach
2 endive (leaves only)
1 head Boston lettuce
1 head red cabbage, shredded
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch radicchio
1 handful watercress, chopped
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh oregano
4 eggs, hard-boiled
2 cups walnut oil/berry vinaigrette

Wash all the greens and toss into a large salad bowl. Crumble the hard-boiled eggs over the salad, and serve with a walnut oil/berry vinaigrette. Yield: 8–12 servings

The main course was a combination: Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Gleaner's Artichoke and Cheese Casserole (from Cooking with the Bible) and Pea Timbales and Fried Parsnips and Apples (from Cooking with the Movies).

Roast Lamb with Rosemary

1 leg of lamb, 5–7 lb.
3 cloves garlic, mashed
salt and pepper
½ cup butter
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
½ cup celery leaves, shredded
¾ cup green pepper, cubed
4 small sprigs rosemary
1 cup mint jelly
¼ cup orange juice
fresh mint leaves (optional)

To get the most flavor out of a good leg of lamb, start the process with the lamb at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub the meat all over with the mashed garlic; sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the butter over the lamb and drizzle with fresh rosemary leaves; surround with celery leaves and green peppers. Place entire sprigs of rosemary on top of the other greenery. Cook for about 1–1½ hours, until tender. (At this temperature, the meat would most likely be rare. One can use a meat thermometer: 145°F for rare, 160°F-170°F for medium. Do not overcook.) Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Mix the mint jelly and the orange juice in a small pitcher and pour over lamb while cooling. Cover with fresh mint when serving, if desired. Yield: 8–12 servings

Gleaner's Artichoke and Cheese Casserole (the photo is an adaptation of the following)

8 fresh artichokes
2 cups tap water
¾ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup fresh tarragon
lemon water
½ cup Spanish onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 eggs
3 cups firm goat's milk cheese
cayenne pepper
4 cherry tomatoes
¼ cup lemon juice

Wash the artichokes and cut them off at the base of the stem. In a large pot, combine water, cider vinegar, and tarragon. Place artichokes in a steamer or colander basket above the liquid and steam for about ½ hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove the leaves from the chokes and scoop out the “meat” at the bottom of each leaf with a sharp knife, placing it in some lemon water to keep it fresh. When all the leaves have been removed, slice off the membrane, making sure to scoop out any remaining fibers (they're a nuisance!). With a sharp knife, hollow out the artichoke shell, place the heart in a large bowl, and mash. When all the hearts of the chokes have been removed and mashed, add the onions, pine nuts, and garlic, and stir well. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs and the cheese; then add the meat of the leaves as well. Stuff each shell with the artichoke/egg/cheese mixture to the brim; sprinkle with a bit of cayenne pepper, and place a halved cherry tomato, cut-side down, on top of each choke.

Arrange in a large baking dish with just a small amount of water mixed with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Bake for about 30 minutes. Serve piping hot. Yield: 8 servings
Pea Timbales
3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
4 c. peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 sm. pearl onions, finely chopped
¼ c. very fine plain breadcrumbs
2½ tsp. fresh mint, chopped
¼ tsp. Cayenne
2 eggs
¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
½ c. whipping cream
sour cream
mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small pot; add the peas and cook for only 2 minutes or so. Drain and run under cold water until cool.

Place the peas, onions, breadcrumbs, mint, and Cayenne in a blender and whir for 1–2 minutes; with the motor running, add the eggs, then slowly pour in the Parmesan cheese and the whipping cream. Blend well.

Lightly grease a large muffin pan with Crisco®, making sure the surface and sides of every well are oiled to prevent sticking. Pour the pea mixture into each well, filling it about two-thirds full. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes; using a rubber spatula, go around the edges and carefully spoon the pea muffins onto a large platter. If desired, decorate each with a dollop of sour cream and a mint leaf. Yield: 12 servings

Fried Parsnips and Apples

½ c. butter
4 parsnips, peeled and julienned
2 Red Delicious apples, skin on, diced
½ tsp. allspice
fresh rosemary sprigs

In a large frying pan, melt the butter, then add the parsnips, apples, and allspice. Cook over a medium heat until well-browned, the parsnips bordering on crispy. Drain on a paper towel, then transfer to a large platter, making a wide and thin layer. Arrange the lamb on it, surrounded by sprigs of fresh rosemary for decoration. Yield: 6–8 servings

For dessert, Rusty made a hot milk cake, and our guests brought additional confections, such as hot butter rum cake, cheesecake, fruit cake, cranberry cake, and brownies.

At the end, everyone was quite satisfied and ready for a long winter's nap!

Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review of Cooking with the Movies

This is nice: we just received word of a nice review from Midwest Book Review:

The review reads, in part:
...a film enthusiast's delight and thoroughly kitchen cook friendly, "Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels" is especially recommended for film buff culinary shelves and community library cookbook collections.

Scroll down to The Cookbook Shelf for the full listing/review.