Thursday, February 25, 2010

Could Spring be Around the Corner? (Sheryl & Madison’s Bleu Cheese Coleslaw)

(Note - I wrote this while flying to a conference last Sunday... BEFORE the snow flurries that kept us chilly today...)

What a great day last Saturday was.  The WRAL weather team was true to their word and we enjoyed a sunny day with temps in the 60s and a light breeze to remind us that Spring is just a few weeks away. However, it was not just the balmy (by this winter's standards) temps that spelled late winter for Steve and me.  It was th ping of aluminum bats as we walked up to Boshamer Stadium  for our first Tar Heel baseball game.

While we kept catching ourselves comparing the experience to our many years at Cal State Fullerton Titan's Goodwin Field (which made us miss our Diamond Club Friends even more), we left knowing that we'd be back for more.  College baseball, the season's first bag of seeds, and college kids enjoying the warmth of the sun.  Yup, it was a good day.

Alas, we had to leave before the 9th inning was over to get ready for our nephew Sam's Blue & Gold Dinner.  The event was the culmination of his first five years in Scouts and his efforts were rewarded with the Arrow of Light Award. (Shout out to Sam -- We are so proud of you! And you should be proud of yourself for all your hard work!)

The dinner also celebrated the Scouts centennial year with a 100 Year Ho Down.  I must sa I was impressed by the event.  In addition to amazing fried chicken and probably the best spread of potluck sides I've ever seen (man o' Manachevetz, these Southerners know their sides), e also enjoyed a blue grass band, and a clogging demonstration to boot! (Shout out to my brother Ed and his leadership team -- way to keep an awards ceremony from being boring!)

Never one to want to arrive at such an affair empty handed, I did contribute to the bounty of sides.  Bleu Cheese Coleslaw.  Need I say more?  

Not one to keep these things to myself, I'm passing the recipe along to you. Aside from a handful of scallions, I can't claim credit - this one is a little ditty that my friend Sheryl and her daughter Madison created.  It is a true crowd pleaser and super easy. I literally threw it together in the 10 minutes I had to spare between the game and the dinner.


Sheryl & Madison’s Bleu Cheese Coleslaw

  • 1 bag coleslaw cabbage and carrot mix
  • 6 scallions, chopped fine (my one addition to the recipe - I really can't control myself)
  • 1 cup "premium" chunky bleu cheese dressing (the refrigerated kind you get in the produce department)
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbs prepared (not creamed) horseradish

(I did say this is easy...)
  • Put all the ingredients in a large bowl
  • Stir well to combine
  • Cover and chill; or if your ingredients were all cold, serve right away
  • Sit back and listen for people to say, "Did you taste that coleslaw?"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Walk - Lemon Scented Lamb Shanks with Rosemary

Happy Valentine's Day!

It’s a beautiful, crisp day in Chapel Hill.  The sun is shining from a perfect Carolina blue sky. Birds are devouring seed from the feeder in our backyard while the kids next door play a serious game of basketball. 

I have to laugh -- the highs are in the mid-40s and back in California I would have been bundled up grousing about the weather.  Instead, Steve and I took CurveBall for a quick “once around the neighborhood” (short dog = short walks) and then headed out to investigate a walking trail that is about 5 minutes from our home.

We had a great hour-long walk on one of many trails that wind thru deep green pine trees and leafless hardwoods.  Not a sound to be heard, except for birds and our footsteps. Now and then a small plane would take off from the little airport nearby.  My thoughts soared up with them and I imagined their view of the lake, our nearby creek, and the contrast of the pine trees against the stark white remnants of last week’s snow. 

Back home Steve settled in to watch a bit of golf as I prepared our Valentine’s Dinner.  It’s a bit of a tradition for me to make something “that cooks all day” for holidays like this.  A trip to the meat counter at Whole Foods earlier today determined exactly what that would be:  lamb shanks that were just too perfect to resist. I’m trying something new this time and have added rosemary and sliced lemons.  I’m cooking it early and then will reheat it later (a good trick for braised meats).  The dish will be served atop pappardelle pasta (think fettuccini pasta on steroids) tossed in olive oil, parsley and lemon zest.

The recipe I created for this dish is below.  I hope you give it a try.

Lemon Scented Lamb Shanks with Rosemary
Serves 2 - cooking time 1 3/4 to 2 hours

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lamb shanks – seasoned with salt and pepper and dusted with flour
  • 2 carrots, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly smashed (whack an unpeeled clove with the flat side of a chef’s knife to loosen the skin and crush the clove slightly
  • 1 lemon, sliced into ¼ inch slices and seeded
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can leave whole and pull the stems out later)
  • 3 cups organic beef broth (low sodium, if you can get it)
  • 2 servings of pappardelle pasta
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley (also called Italian Parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat
  • Add olive oil and reduce heat to medium high.
  • Brown the lamb shanks on all sides, remove and keep warm
  • Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and whole garlic cloves; sauté until the onions are soft
  • Add the rosemary and thyme, stir to combine
  • Now place the lamb shanks in the middle of the pot. 
  • Place two lemon slices atop each shank; place the rest amid the sautéed veg
  • Carefully pour the stock into the pot.  It should come up about ½ way up each piece of meat. Do not submerge the meat completely.
  • Raise the heat to “high” and bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Cover and place in oven.  Braise for 1 hour, and then turn the meat.  Cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.
  • After 2 hours remove from the oven.  Remove the meat and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Remove the stems from the thyme, throw away
  • Remove the lemon slices, reserve if you like and serve with the final dish
  • If there is a lot of liquid, Put Dutch oven on the stove over a medium/high heat and cook liquid until reduced by half. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
  • Purée with a hand blender for a smooth sauce. If it seems a bit thick, you can add some broth or some pasta cooking water if you've already boiled the pappadelle
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Add the lamb shanks back into the sauce
  • Serve immediately or cover to keep warm for up to 2 hours and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 30 minutes before serving

Serve with pappadelle pasta cooked al dente in salted water then tossed in olive oil, chopped parsley, and lemon zest