• January 2011

Warm Your Winter Days With This Comfort Food

By Chef Pete Snaith
Executive Vice President
Culinaria Cooking School

Attention all carnivores: Below you’ll find four recipes that are sure to please. The three main dishes come from my cookbook, “The Street Chef,” and I do hope you’ll enjoy preparing this hearty, simple meal!

On the Menu: Comfort Food

  • Rack of Lamb Stuffed With Brandied Apricots
  • Perfect Mashed Potatoes
  • Grilled Asparagus With Butter and Lemon
  • For dessert: Chef Stephen Sands’ Hazelnut Linzer Torte With Fresh Raspberries

Rack of Lamb Stuffed With Brandied Apricots

What you’ll need:
1 rack of lamb, frenched (Ask your butcher to do this.)
6 to 8 dried apricots
1/3 cup of brandy or cognac
1 tsp. thyme
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s how:

1. Finely chop the apricots and place in a bowl. Add the brandy and let the fruit macerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, allow the lamb to come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Prepare the lamb by cleaning any excess meat or fat from between the bones. The rib bones should be as clean as possible. Reserve any meat scraps for use later in your sauce.

Insert a paring knife as far as it will go into the side or the end of the rack of lamb. Turn the rack of lamb and repeat by inserting the paring knife into the other end of the rack of lamb. You are trying to make a cut that goes from one side or end of the rack of lamb to the other. After the cuts have been joined, insert a wooden spoon handle into the slice to make the hole a little larger.

3. Drain the brandy from the fruit and set it aside for use later in the sauce. Place a small amount of the finely chopped apricots into the hole that was just created. Using the wooden spoon, press the chopped apricots into the hole half way through the rack of lamb until tightly packed. Turn over and repeat. Season the rack of lamb with salt, pepper, and thyme.

4. Heat a sauté pan for several minutes over high heat. Add the olive oil and the butter. Once melted, add the rack of lamb and sauté for 2 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned on both sides. Place in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove from oven, place on a plate, lightly cover with aluminum foil and let rest for several minutes.

5. To serve, slice 3 chops per plate, and place on a bed of mashed potatoes. Serve with a Brandy Veal Stock Reduction Sauce.

Brandy Veal Stock Reduction Sauce

2 T. butter
Any leftover scraps of meat from cleaning the bones
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp. thyme
4 to 6 dried apricots, finely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup of brandy or cognac, from macerating the apricots you used to stuff the lamb
1-cup veal demi-glaze

Here’s how:

1. Drain any fat out of the sauté pan in which you cooked the rack of lamb. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of the butter to the pan and cook the butter until it starts to foam and turn slightly brown in color.

2. Season the leftover meat scraps with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook until caramelized. Add the shallots and let cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the reserved brandy. Add the thyme and the chopped apricots.

3. Cook the brandy mixture until the pan is almost dry. Add the veal demi-glaze and reduce by half. Strain the sauce, and add back to the sauté pan off of the heat. Swirl in the remaining butter until incorporated and spoon over the rack of lamb.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

What you’ll need:
3 medium baking or Idaho potatoes, washed
4 T. butter
3/4-cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s how:

1. Fill a 6-quart pan about 2/3 full of water and place it on a burner over high heat. Place the unpeeled potatoes in the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

2. Drain the water and peel the potatoes (if desired). Then add the butter and cream and mash them to a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Potato Cakes: Here’s a great way to use your leftover mashed potatoes. Form them into a patty like a hamburger. Coat the flat sides with flour. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat, place a little butter, bacon grease, or — best of all — a little duck fat in the pan, and add the potato cake when the oil is hot. Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with a couple of slices of crispy bacon and a slice of toast. Potato cakes are also great with steak, fried chicken, or even pan-seared pork chops with caramelized onion gravy.

Grilled Asparagus With Butter and Lemon

What you’ll need:
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
3 to 4 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s how:

1. Place a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook until melted. Add the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper.

2. Wash the asparagus and pat dry. Place the asparagus on a sheet pan and coat with half the sauce, turning to coat.

3. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the asparagus on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until al dente.

4. Remove from the grill, place in a serving bowl, and pour the remaining sauce on top to serve.

Chef Stephen Sands’ Hazelnut Linzer Torte With Fresh Raspberries

What you’ll need:
2/3 cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
6 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3-cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 T. vanilla extract
1-cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds)
12-16 oz. fresh raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle on top

large bowl to mix ingredients
13” x 4” x 1” rectangular tart pan, with a removable bottom
food processor, with a metal blade
heavy-duty electric mixer, with a paddle

Here’s how:

1. To roast the hazelnuts, place them on a sheet pan in a 350F oven in the center of the oven for about 8-12 minutes, shaking the pan two or three times until the nuts are golden brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely.

2. In a food processor, using the metal blade, process the hazelnuts and the flour for 30-45 seconds, pulsing on and off, until the hazelnuts are finely ground. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder, and process for another 25-30 seconds until the mixture is thoroughly blended.

3. In a large bowl, using a heavy-duty electric mixer with the paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the brown sugar slowly and continue beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the egg and vanilla until thoroughly blended. At low speed, add in the flour/nut mixture a third at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

4. With floured hands, press enough of dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 13” x 4” x 1” rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the edge of the dough even with the rim of the pan. Wrap the shell and remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until the dough is firm enough to roll.

5. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F. Remove the torte shell from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and spoon the raspberry preserves into the torte shell and spread evenly over the bottom. Bake the torte 30-35 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly and the crust is nicely browned. Set on a wire rack and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

6. Arrange the raspberries, pointed side up, over the cooled raspberry filling. Garnish/dust with confectioner’s sugar. The excess dough can be used to make cookies, in shapes such as stars or leaves, to garnish the dessert or to serve separately.

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