October 15, 2014


A lot has changed since out last blog posting.  Life gets very busy and sometimes some things fall through the cracks.  Enough with the excuses- we are reviving the blog.

Since March 2013 we have managed to sell our house, move to a new one and remodel a kitchen.  Hopefully all of that is enough excuses to warrant the blogging dry spell.  The kitchen in our new house had last been touched sometime in the 1950’s.  there were bright yellow walls, yellow cabinet insides, small tile countertops, no garbage disposal, no dishwasher, a 1950’s GE latch handle fridge (with an in-fridge 12”x12” freezer), and yellow and blue vinyl floor.  It was a spectacle.  Needless to say, it had to go.  There was no way this was going to work for us.

Our home is a traditional 1910 home in NE Portland and we wanted to update the kitchen without making it too contemporary- more of a classic kitchen with modern touches.  After 11 long weeks of construction and chaos, we are finally moving back into the kitchen and getting reacquainted with cooking utensils…enough thai take-out, pizza and delivered dishes!  We are getting back to cooking food we love and teaching our daughter that “out to eat” is not the only way to eat well.




Demo surprises:



New floors and drywall:



Ready for cooking:








Perhaps this blog will have more tasty weekday meals in the future or continue with our many culinary splurges.  Either way, the Culinary Expeditions will continue…         

March 31, 2013

Bananas Foster Croissant Bread Pudding


If you want a decadent dessert, this is the one for you!  I ran across this recipe in one of the many food blogs that I read (I wish I could remember which one…if I find it again, i’ll add the link) and just had to make it.  I first made it for myself and both Margie and I loved it.  It was so good, that we had to share it and made the recipe again with my parents, who also loved it.  The sauce can be very tricky getting the sugar to brown correctly, so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t turn out right the first time.  It will take practice.

On to the recipe…

Bananas Foster Croissant Bread Pudding

Yield: one 9″ x 13″ pan    Prep Time: 10 minutes


for the croissant bread pudding

12-15 small croissants, stale (at least a day old is best; if you can’t find small croissants, you can tear 6 large croissants in half)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups half & half

1/4 cup dark rum

2 tablespoons banana liqueur

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (use pure vanilla extract if you don’t have paste)


for the bananas foster sauce

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cubed

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 tablespoon banana liqueur

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch kosher salt

3-4 bananas, sliced into coins


 for the croissant bread pudding

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that’s at least 2″ tall.  place the mini croissants in the prepared baking dish, making sure they fit in snugly.  you don’t want there to be large gaps or too much room between the croissants, so you can tear a few up to fill some of the holes if you need to.  set aside.

in a medium saucepan, combine the light brown sugar, dark brown sugar and water. place over medium-high heat, and stir frequently with a whisk or wooden spoon.

while the sugars are cooking on the stove, combine the heavy cream and half & half in a large microwave-safe bowl.  microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each heating until the liquid is warm.  add the dark rum and banana liqueur to the warmed cream mixture, and stir to combine. set aside.

in a medium bowl, combine the beaten eggs, salt and vanilla bean paste. whisk to combine, and set aside.

when the brown sugars are dissolved in the water, and the mixture begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat. while whisking constantly, slowly pour in the heated cream mixture. the saucepan will likely bubble and hiss violently, but just continue whisking feverishly and adding the cream until the mixture is smooth and uniform.  very slowly pour the hot liquid from the saucepan into the bowl containing the beaten egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs.  when the custard is smooth and uniform, pour immediately over the croissants in the baking dish.  the croissants will want to float to the top, but press them down to ensure that the tops are soaked through.  carefully transfer the baking dish to the middle rack of the oven.

bake the croissant bread pudding at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the croissants are burnished and brown, and the custard is baked and no longer liquidy.  you can serve this immediately with the bananas foster sauce, or if preparing in advance, allow to cool completely at room temperature. cover the cooled baking dish with aluminum foil, and transfer to the fridge. the croissant bread pudding can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of serving time.

to reheat, simply uncover the baking dish and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes, until heated through. serve immediately.


for the bananas foster sauce

in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides, combine the granulated sugar and water.

place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and allow the sugar to melt and dissolve, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.  the sugar will begin to turn a light amber color once it’s melted and continues to cook.  when the sugar is a light brown color, add the cold cubes of butter, whisking constantly. the sugar will bubble and sizzle violently, but continue whisking until the butter is melted and the sauce is smooth.

remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the heavy cream. again, the sauce will bubble up and hiss, but just whisk the sauce until it is smooth and the heavy cream is incorporated.  add the dark rum, banana liqueur, vanilla extract and salt. whisk to combine.

switch to a silicone spatula, and add the banana coins, folding them into the caramel sauce to ensure they’re coated with sauce.

pour the sauce immediately over slices of warm croissant bread pudding.

ready to be baked

ready to be baked

pudding finished baking and taken out of the oven

pudding finished baking and taken out of the oven

caramelizing the sugar for the sauce

caramelizing the sugar for the sauce

sauce complete!

sauce complete!

Mmmm, mmmm.  Time to dig in!

Mmmm, mmmm. Time to dig in!

November 19, 2012

Steak Au Poivre

About six years ago, I met a steak that I just couldn’t get enough of.  I’m not a huge steak person, so this was remarkable.  I only have a good steak a couple of times a year and while out to dinner on a work junket, I was treated to a nice steak dinner.  Being a fan of cracked pepper and a saucy food guy, I chose a Steak Au Poivre off the menu.  What showed up was nothing short of amazing.  The bite of a thickly crusted cut of beef with pepper corns and topped with a delicious pan sauce was nearly too much for me.  I was in heaven.  Best.  Steak.  Ever.

Years later, during the heart of my addiction to the Food Network, I ran across an Alton Brown show about Steak Au Poivre and was reminded that I REALLY needed to make myself this dish.  Au Poivre is simply a French pepper steak with a creamy pan sauce.  It sounds so simple but the flavor explosion is fantastic.

Below you will find the recipe I used for this.  I decided to truly endulge myself and served it with an equally decadent Goat Cheese Potato Gratin.



Steak Au Poivre

serves 4



4 steaks (approx.1/2 pound to a pound each)

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other high smoke-point oil

3 T. black peppercorns, cracked

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1/4 cup cognac or other brandy

1 cup beef broth or stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley


Sprinkle salt and cracked peppercorns generously over both sides of the steaks and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, take the pan off the heat.  Pat the steaks dry with paper towels (steaks brown better if they are patted dry first) and place in the hot pan. Return the pan to the heat and turn the heat down to medium-high. Sear, without moving the steaks, for at least 4 minutes. Try to pick up a steak with tongs, and if it comes clean, flip it and turn the heat down to medium.

Once the steak is done to your liking remove the meat from the pan and tent with aluminum foil and let the steak rest while you are preparing the sauce.

Make the sauce. Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the brandy and as it boils, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the browned bits. Once the brandy is almost cooked away, add the beef stock and turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce down until there’s a noticeable trail when you drag a wooden spoon through the center of it (4-5 minutes).

Pour in the heavy cream and resume boiling. Turn off the heat and add the parsley and any remaining black pepper (no more than 1 Tbsp, the rest should have already been used to pepper the steaks). Taste for salt and add if needed.

Pour the sauce over the steaks right when you serve.

September 8, 2012

Lemon Olive Cheese Toasts

My mother ‘n law serves as a volunteer caterer for the museum board in Flagstaff, AZ. Her catering job doubles as a test kitchen for us, supplying us with many tasty and fun recipes. When she highly recommended this recipe, I did not hesitate to put it in my pile of “must make soon” recipes. After all, I am a pretty big fan of goat cheese in general, whether it adorns pizza, a cracker, or the inside of a chicken breast.  When a group of us decided to throw a Spanish tapas-themed party in honor of our friends’ engagement, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bust it out. The olive tapenade and goat cheese mixture paired well and the lemon accents gave it that extra boost.

If you don’t have time to make your own tapenade, you might consider enhancing a store bought tapenade by adding lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes and a handful of chunky, chopped olives to make it taste and appear more homemade. And, of course, spoon it on top of a goat cheese laden toast. I have only pondered this shortcut so I can’t speak to how well this “busy man’s shortcut” would actually turn out.

Tapenade Cheese Toasts – Recipe from Cuisine at Home Magazine


1 c pitted Kalamata olives

1 c pitted green olives (okay to have pimiento)

3 T capers, rinsed and drained

2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel

2 T lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, quartered

1/3 c olive oil

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

6 oz goat cheese (chevre)

~1/3 c cream (or full fat goat milk) to thin goat cheese for spreading

1 8 oz loaf baguette-style French bread, cut into ¼” thick slices

In a food processor, combine kalamata olives, green olives, capers, lemon juice and garlic. Cover and process, intermittently adding 3 T of the olive oil and stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor. The mixture should be finely chopped, but definitely not smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in lemon zest and crushed red pepper. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Shortly before serving, mix goat cheese with enough cream to make the cheese spreadable. The cream is optional, but doing this prevents the goat cheese from crumbling when you spread it on the toasts.

Thirty minutes prior to serving, pull the goat cheese mixture and the tapenade out of the refrigerator.

Tapenade is ready to spread

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of bread slices with the remaining olive oil. Arrange sliced bread in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until browned. To serve, spread bread slices with cheese mixture and top artfully with olive mixture. I have a tendency to smash spreads and dips into a compact, clean look so Mike has to remind me that a looser, less exact arrangement is often more aesthetically pleasing.

June 3, 2012

Goat Cheese Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

Goat Cheese Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

This recipe comes from a local restaurant Lucy’s Table, in Portland, OR.  Unfortunately, the restaurant was a casualty of the economy and closed last year.  It was sad to see a local favorite go, but luckily their wonderful ravioli recipe will live on.  It is amazingly simple to make and utilizes wonton skins in place of the traditional pasta dough.  Before you pass judgement on the nontraditional approach, you have to try it.  It allows this to be made on a weeknight, in no time at all.


  •  2.5 lbs. goat cheese (Chèvre)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. bread crumbs
  • 1 package of fresh wonton skins
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, blend goat cheese, egg, bread crumbs and salt and pepper.  Spoon 1 Tbsp. of stuffing onto wonton wrapper. Brush edges with beaten egg.  Fold over to form triangle. Press with fork to seal edges.

Drop raviolis into boiling water. When ravioli floats, they are done.  Drain and serve with Brown Butter Sauce and toppings.

Brown Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 lb. salted butter
  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter
  • 1.5 qt. heavy cream

Over medium heat, cook butter until light brown. Whisk in heavy cream and 
continue cooking until sauce thickens.


  • 1/2 lb. parmesan reggiano – shredded
  • 1/2 lb. pancetta – diced into 1/4-inch cubes and rendered in olive oil over low heat until crisp
  • 1 small shallot, diced and carmelized
  • Equal parts chopped italian parsley and chives for topping/garnish

ravioli assembly line

cooking the shallots and pancetta

dinner time!

The richness of the dish is amazing.  It’s not at all heart healthy and is truly a splurge. Enjoy!

March 19, 2012

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Spinach

A friend of mine made a pasta recipe for me a few years ago that I thought would work really well as a quinoa dish due to its earthiness. I’ve made this a handful of times and have been really happy with it. It is great as an entrée or as a side to a rotisserie chicken.

Butternut Squash Quinoa as a Side

Butternut Squash Quinoa as a Side

I meant to make this dish and blog it earlier in the cold, rainy season, but time escaped me. So you Portlanders and cooler climate folks may still want to make it this year but our Southern friends may want to earmark this for next fall. After all, this dish really does scream fall.


1/3 cup (2/3 stick) butter, divided

3 cups 1/2-inch cubes butternut squash (from 1-lb squash or short-cut with pre-cut bagged squash)

12-16 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed and stemmed, caps sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 6-ounce package baby spinach

1+ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 c. quinoa (soaked and rinsed or buy pre-rinsed)

3-4 c. chicken broth (you could use water but chicken broth provides a lot more flavor)


Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions or vary a bit like I do. Most boxed quinoa calls for a liquid to quinoa ratio of 2:1 but I learned in a cooking class that this is a little too much liquid. (I think it’s more like 1.5:1.) That could account for why my quinoa sometimes came out a little on the soggy side. I’ve experimented a bit and found that I could start with a little less liquid than the package instructs and just add a little more towards the end of the cooking if necessary. Pour chicken broth into pot with quinoa. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, checking on it occasionally to make sure you are not burning the bottom. (You could simmer at a slightly higher heat and cook for a little less time if you are in a hurry). Once liquid has cooked off and quinoa is tender, remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

After starting the quinoa, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Add butternut squash. Brown and cook until almost tender (6-8 minutes).

Browning the Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

Browning the Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

Add shitakes, sage, and another tablespoon butter. Sautee until mushrooms and squash are tender, roughly 8-10 minutes. Add spinach and stir into squash and mushroom mixture until barely wilted (roughly 2 minutes). Mix in 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and salt/pepper to taste. Then add quinoa to veggie mixture until you are satisfied with the ratio. Taste and salt/pepper more if necessary. Quinoa can be bland if you don’t season well enough.

After serving, sprinkle more grated parmesan cheese on top. With the ladies, I often serve this as an entrée, but it paired really well with a rotisserie chicken (ahem, store bought) when I served it for Mike.

Quinoa as a side for Rotisserie Chicken

The original pasta version can be found on epicurious:


January 26, 2012

Restaurant Review – Le Pigeon Portland, OR.

Last week, Margie and I made a reservation to go to one of our most favorite restaurants in Portland; Le Pigeon.  Chef Gabe Rucker has created a uniquely Portland restaurant, with it’s small dining area, open kitchen, reservations made long in advance, communal table, mismatched tableware, and amazing good, simple food.  I have had the pleasure of eating here five or six times over the years and can honestly say I have never had anything I did not like.  I don’t know of many restaurants I can say that about.

On this particular night, we got a seat at the counter overlooking the open kitchen.  This is a great spot to sit and just watch all the work that goes into each creation.  Every order is made to order, one at a time with at least three people checking it over before it goes to the table.  The attention to detail is something to behold.  If you get seated at one of the longer communal tables, I think you will find it a fun experience eating next to strangers.  You never know what you might over hear and you might even make some new friends by the end of the night.

We stared at the small menu for about 10 minutes, not being able to decide just what to have.  I found at least three entrees that I really wanted that night, but between the two of us, we had to formulate our plan to order the top two we liked best.

Once we had the entrée portion figured out, we had to find an hors d’oeuvres to try as well.  We chose the Gnocchi with Pheasant, Pears and Parsnips, as gnocchi is a favorite of both of us.

After a short while, the beautifully plated gnocchi was presented in front of us.  It smelled amazing.  There was a nice earthy aroma that came from it and we dug in.  The mix of the creamy gnocchi with the pulled pheasant meat was delicious and the pear and parsnip added a nice contrast of taste and texture.  If this dish is on the menu, it is a must have.

I usually end up ordering the classic Rucker inspired Beef Cheek Bourguignon, but tonight I promised I would try something new.  Before moving along to what we actually ordered, I thought this dish deserved a little praise.  The Bourguignon is a dish I have had here a couple of times before and it is just hard not to love this dish.  It is a wonderful take on a classic French dish that has the pieces of beef cheek melting in your mouth.  There is a good smoky richness to the meat and vegetables that just feels so comforting.  It’s awesome.  There’s no denying it.

On this particular night the Beef Duo had called my name.  The pairing of a Rib Eye and a Short Rib with Celery Root and Hedgehog Mushrooms was too much to pass over.  The dish came out and I was surprised at the immensity of the portion.  Exactly what I like to see with a good cut of meat!  The mushroom sauce was very earthy and rich and suited the beef very well.  Margie asked me what I thought of it and all I could say was “this is one beefy sauce!”  It’s complexity and depth of flavor really enhanced the cuts of meat and were a perfect fit for a rainy Portland winter night.

Margie decided on a very interesting dish for her entrée; one that I was eyeing as well.  The Chicken with Spätzle, Truffle, and Turnips was also delicious as we both heartily approved.  The dis had a nice rustic flavor and was beautifully plated as are nearly every dish they serve.  The chicken was perfectly cooked and very moist.  Spätzle is a fun little accompaniment that you don’t see often.  I have had it a couple of times and it is a nice change of pace for a starch component to a dish.

We managed to get persuaded to try dessert and settled on a Smoked Almond Cake with S’mores, Huckleberry, and Chocolate Mousse.  It was a very tasty dessert to finish the meal with and was just right as I finished up my glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

This is easily one of the best restaurants in Portland, in my opinion and is one you should definitely try if you are ever in town.  If you do live in Portland and haven’t been here, you are really missing out.  The food is beautifully superb.  The atmosphere is bustling and unique.  It’s truly a great culinary experience.



Le Pigeonhttp://lepigeon.com/


also try their sister restaurant, Little Birdhttp://littlebirdbistro.com/

January 16, 2012

Restaurant review – Smokehouse 21, Portland, OR

There’s no denying it. We are spoiled when it comes to the myriad of dining options just outside our front door. One of the few types of cuisine we’ve been needing to round things out magically appeared around the corner (literally) on 21st Street a month or so ago. BBQ. The addition of this tiny neighborhood BBQ joint is the perfect complement to the even tinier establishment next door – M Bar. Mike, who seems to suffer frequent cravings for BBQ (which is odd since he’s mainly a California and Oregon boy) was also eager to try it out. We have now been there twice.

To me, a good sauce is one of the most important things about BBQ. When I was growing up, there was a public service announcement that featured animated foods and warned kids about “not drowning your food.” I never bought into that doctrine and am a proud and frequent food drowner. So I am very happy to report that Smokehouse 21 rated highly with both of us on the sauce front. And all four of their delightful sauces are perched on every table: classic, spicy, vinegar and mustard. According to Mike (since I won’t touch it), the only sauce not to get top marks was their spicy. And it’ll be interesting to see what our Carolina BBQ-lovin’ friend says about their mustard sauce.

Now for the meats. The pulled pork sandwich is the way to go with their menu. The meat is tender and pairs well with the mustard and the vinegar sauces. It is served on a brioche bun from Ken’s Bakery (across the street). Mike tried the pulled pork platter the second time we visited and he was disappointed by the fact that he paid a bit more for it and there didn’t seem to be any more meat than was on the sandwich. However, you do get a second side when you order the platter. Since we tried a combo platter the first time we visited, we can report on the spare ribs and brisket as well. I thought the spare ribs were nicely smoked but could’ve been a little more tender.  The classic bbq sauce tasted wonderful on them though. The brisket looked tough to me and Mike confirmed my assessment more than once. The second time I visited, I ordered the smoked lamb rib special. They were relatively inexpensive for lamb and it had just the right amount of smoky flavor to it, but Mike observed that the meat wasn’t cleaned of its tough silver skin.

As for the sides, we sampled the mac ‘n cheese, baked beans, and fingerling potato salad. The potato salad was decent but we probably won’t feel compelled to order it again. The baked beans are pretty good with big hunks of meat mixed in. Just be careful in case you chomp down on a bone fragment in the beans like Mike did. Both the beans and the mac ‘n cheese are topped with a sweet crumbled corn bread. I liked this addition to both sides. The mac ‘n cheese really hit the spot with a good blend of cheese and bacon pieces mixed in.

Will we be back? Most definitely, but we’ll go mainly for the pulled pork sandwich, the sauces, the convenience factor, and the neighborhood feel. I’m definitely more excited about the place than Mike is. Mike was disappointed with the ratio of meat to cost for the three platters we tried on our 2 visits as well as the tenderness (or lack thereof) of the brisket and ribs.

Link to Smokehouse 21’s website:


December 14, 2011

Proscuitto, Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza


Homemade pizza is just about one of the best things out there to make.  It’s really not that hard to make, but with a little attention to detail and the correct balance of quality and quantity of ingredients, you can really make some spectacular pizzas in the comfort of your own home.  This particular pizza is my most favorite and I always get requests to make it.

The pizza’s origin was from a similar pizza I had three years ago in a restaurant in Sonoma, California that just blew me away.  It was so fresh and so tasty that I had to replicate it.  The recipe that follows is from my many test runs to perfect this pizza.  Go ahead and try it…you won’t be disappointed.


Proscuitto, Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza


  • Homemade or store bought pizza dough (enough for two pizzas)
  • 8 oz.    Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz.    Goat cheese, crumbled
  • 18oz.   Italian cheese blend, grated (Trader Joe’s makes a great blend with Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina, and Provolone called Quattro Formagi)
  • 6-8oz.  Arugula leaves
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll dough out to a nice, round pizza shape and place on pan.  The aerated pizza pans work great for this to give the pizza a nice, crisp crust.   Place pizza crusts in oven and allow to cook, until just barely starting to brown, about 8 minutes.  This is an important step to ensure that the pizza crust is nice and crisp and not flimsy in the end. Remove from oven and set aside.

Sprinkle grated Italian cheeses evenly over the slightly cooked crust, not piling to thickly; just enough to cover.  (Note: I have experimented with brushing the cooked crusts lightly with olive oil, and although it adds a nice flavor, it makes the pizza a bit to greasy)  Next, place torn pieces of sliced prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese on the pizzas.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Place pizzas in hot oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown on the edges.

Remove pizza and cut into slices.  Top with arugula and serve.

November 27, 2011

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Braising season has definitely arrived in the Pacific NW so we decided to dust off one of our favorite braising recipes. I love lamb in general so I was immediately smitten with this dish when Mike served it to me on one of our earliest dates. I was so taken with the dish that Mike claims I didn’t speak for 10 minutes and he feared that something was wrong (alas, he couldn’t have been more wrong). That night, he actually served it over parmesan mashed potatoes but we now sometimes alternate preparing it with the white bean dish as it was originally intended. The mashed potatoes are amazing with it but the white beans give it a healthier edge.

Braised Lamb Shanks over White Beans

The recipe is originally from Gourmet Magazine. We used 2 mammoth-sized lamb shanks and otherwise scaled the proportions of the recipe in half.

Lamb Shanks:

6 lamb shanks

2-4 T. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped coarse

4-5 carrots, chopped coarse

3 ribs celery, chopped coarse

8 garlic cloves, chopped coarse

1 bottle (3 1/3 cups) Bordeaux or Cabernet wine

4 cups chicken stock

3 T. tomato paste

2 sprigs (or more) fresh thyme


3 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, minced


2 T. olive oil

2 small onions, chopped fine

2 carrots, chopped fine

2 celery, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans cooked white beans (Great Northern or Navy were recommended but we typically use and enjoy Butter Beans)

2-2 ½ cups chicken stock

2 T. unsalted butter

1 bay leaf

To FINISH:   (we’ve never done this part)

1 T. unsalted butter

1 T. chopped tarragon leaves


First things first. The recipe didn’t mention this part but I guess it’s assumed for the experienced chef. I took on the task of meat preparation that Mike normally does. After he demonstrated the process for me, I worked on removing both the fat and the “silver skin” (which lends a gristly quality to meat). The key is to remove both while removing as little meat as possible. I have to admit it took me quite a while, but these were also enormous shanks. It definitely made me appreciate Mike’s meat-cleaning skills.

Next, pat lamb shanks dry and season well with salt and pepper. In heavy Dutch oven (we use our Le Creuset) over moderately high heat, brown shanks well in batches, transferring to a plate as browned. Then add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened. Add wine and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Return lamb shanks to pot and stir in broth, tomato paste, and thyme. Bring liquid to a boil and simmer, covered, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally for 1 hour. Uncover the pot and simmer the shanks another 1.5-2 hours, until shanks are tender.

Lamb Shanks Braising

TO MAKE THE GREMOLATA (while lamb is cooking): In a small bowl, stir together ingredients and set aside.

TO MAKE THE BEANS while lamb is cooking. In a saucepan, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add beans, 2 cups broth, butter, and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding enough broth to keep beans moist and to reach a creamy consistency, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf and add half of gremolata and salt and pepper to taste.

White Beans Simmering with Veggies

TO SERVE: Place serving of beans in a shallow bowl, top with shanks and vegetables, then sauce from shanks. Finally, sprinkle with gremolata.

Lamb is Served!