“We’ve never been so spoiled..!” This guest’s comment is the whole reason I love to cook…

Lamb / August 14, 2014

With a business to run, a home to take care of, a husband with whom private time is hard to come by, and a mother in law with dementia who lives with us, I don’t have a lot of room in my day for meaningful cooking. The inspiration for the blog was because my husband, ever trying to pamper and take care of me, would, after a long day, suggest  that we go OUT to eat. “Nah, I feel like cooking. It will relax me!” And we would, at my request, stay home.

As my craft improves, my kitchen confidence soars, and my blog lengthens, I am still, at heart, a pleaser. And nothing makes it all worthwhile more than having a dinner guest proclaim what I stated in the title of this entry: “We’ve never been so spoiled!” Uttered as she and her husband swooned over the entree and the dessert and intoned with a bit of shyness as she proclaimed she might be too intimidated to cook for me, I hoped my next statement would convince her that friendship transcends all. With understanding, I looked at her and said, “You know, it’s more important to us who is AT the table than what is ON it.” And that is the TRUTH.

I’m not one to spend days planning a menu. I do better off the cuff, as I did with this meal, grabbing what’s fresh in the market that day, using magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram as muse, and always including something I’ve never done before. They say to never try something new with guests. I say you only live once and I ALWAYS do something I’ve never done when guests come over. I can count on one hand the times it didn’t turn out just as I had hoped it would be. So poo-poo to the naysayers. Pressure makes you BETTER.

Take this meal. I took ground lamb, added pine nuts, mint, raisins, garlic, and rosemary and stuffed it into these adorable and sweet mini red peppers and baked it until soft and fragrant. Alongside these ruby gems I served a jasmine rice braised with dried apricots, onion, jalapeno, garlic and of course cumin, coriander, tumeric and thyme. The salad was a simple butter lettuce with yellow tomatoes, and a lemon vinaigrette, and it all sat on a bed of cucumber, cilantro, mint yogurt sauce. Holy spices, Batman, this was sooooo good.

Dessert didn’t disappoint either. I caramelized some bananas in butter, brown sugar and a little Southern Comfort Bourbon and placed it over a shortcake and bathed it in whipped cream. Uh, yes. We were still conscious afterwards, but just barely.

Really, spoiling guests is my passion. Especially when it works out. And the more I cook, the MORE everything in life seems works out.


Mini Red Peppers Stuffed with Lamb

Herbed Apricot Coriander Rice, and Cilantro Mint Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

serves 4
(There is enough meat for service for 8.You can save the meat and serve at another time, or just double the rice recipe and you will have enough food for 8)


Stuffed Peppers:

1 lb. organic ground lamb
8 mini red peppers, about 2.5 inches in diameter by 4 inches high, washed, the bottoms cut off slightly to make flat, and the insides cored out.
¼ C pine nuts
¼ C golden raisins
1 large egg
2 T 2% milk
1 t fresh chiffonade cut rosemary
1 T fresh chiffonade cut mint
Salt and pepper
2 large cloves garlic chopped finely
4-5 T good olive oil


Direction:

  • Mix all ingredients except peppers and oil, mixing thoroughly by hand. Take the meat mixture by spoonful sand pack inside the pepper, packing firmly, and filling all the way to the top. Even a little more to rise a small bit above the top of the pepper.
  • Place them all in a shallow casserole dish with 2 T of the olive oil on the bottom, and arrange them with at least½inch space between them. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for about 50-55 minutes. Take out of oven and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Rice:

1 ½ C cooked Jasmine rice.
1/3 small white sweet onion, rough chopped
1 T finely chopped jalapeno pepper
10-12 dried apricots cut into fourths
1 ¼ chicken stock
½ t coriander
½ t turmeric
¼ t curry powder
¼ t thyme powder
3 T olive oil
Fresh mint to garnish



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