It didn’t take too much encouragement from readers for me to try the Coca-cola-stoked corned beef dinner in the slow cooker. I couldn’t find a full recipe for this cola concoction on the web, so I adapted this one.
With potatoes, carrots and onions, along with the brisket, can of Coke (real, not diet, not Pepsi) and a cup of brown sugary liquid, the slow cooker was full to the brim. No room for cabbage. That turned out to be a very good turn of events. It was the perfect time to try Molly Wizenberg’s version of green cabbage braised in cream with lemon. I’ve tried this approach before, but Molly advised a gentle browning to caramelize the cabbage wedges in butter, before adding the cream to simmer. Delicious.
I found the cabbage recipe in a review of Molly’s book here. I’m editing my old recipe to make sure these techniques never go away. As for the rest of our traditional St Paddy’s day dinner (delivered a few days early), the guys gave the corned beef a big thumbs up. It was tender, just like the Trader Joe’s lady promised. I personally was far more enthralled with the cabbage. And my pint of Guinness. But I’ll keep the recipe filed away except next year I’ll try hard cider instead of coke.
I have a small collection of roast chicken recipes. It seems one would suffice but I’m always on the lookout for a slightly better rendition. I decided to give Jamie Oliver’s version a spin this weekend: Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Roast Potatoes. I just may have to give up the rest of the chicken collection. Jamie’s idea of parboiling the potatoes with garlic and a whole lemon, and then stuffing the lemon and garlic into the chicken cavity before roasting made the bird fragrant and juicy.
Jamie's Roast Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary Roast Potatoes
I also borrowed an idea from Mark Bittman’s roast chicken recipe and roasted turnip slices with the chicken, before adding the potatoes, to provide a little twist to the usual side. Along with a salad of spring lettuces, cucumber and radishes, our chicken dinner was complete. And chicken leftovers inspired Sunday’s dinner of Rice Noodles with Chicken, a dish that hints of Pad Thai with slivered snow peas, scallions and bean sprouts. My husband took over in the kitchen while I enjoyed watching the Oscars for a bit with friends. Perfect end to the weekend!
French-style yogurt cake with lemon
I was all ready to throw together an “instant” cake for son #1’s 14th birthday. But then A Homemade Life is still sitting by my stove. Molly loves to bake so I knew she’d offer a preferable alternative to a box mix. Sure enough – French-style yogurt cake with lemon. I debated if I had enough time to make it or if several pieces of cut-up lemons in the fridge would provide sufficient juice. Son #1 overheard my out-loud thinking and jumped right in. “Yeah, it will work,” holding up a quarter cup measure and eyeing the lemon segments.
Jon loves lemon anything. Just like his mom. While zesting the lemons for the cake batter, I remembered that my son has me bested in this category. Suddenly I had a clear recollection of pushing Jon around in a stroller at an arts fair when he was 4 years old. After drinking the fresh lemonade, he sucked on the lemon rinds. And then he wanted more rinds, not lemonade.
Molly’s cake did the trick. “This is really lemony,” he noted. No one missed the traditional frosting. I drizzled lemon syrup over the warm cake and then topped it with a lemon icing that’s more like a glaze. Topped each slice with freshly whipped cream and added a few sliced strawberries. Divine. And even more dangerous than the evil banana bread. I’m going cold turkey on white flour for the next week.
Oh, the ribs. The trusty pressure cooker came though again for BBQ country pork ribs with sweet and spicy sauce. My husband declared, “This is it. This is the only way we should ever eat ribs again.” The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender after 25 minutes under pressure, then crisped by a quick run under the broiler. With coleslaw and a sliced baguette, dinner was done. A happy high calorie birthday dinner – just what a growing boy needs, right?
Sheila Lukins’s All Around the Word cookbook is one of my faves. Her passion for travel experienced through food has always satisfied my explorer-self. It seems she recreated most of the recipes in the book from memory, deconstructing exotic flavors into detailed stories over and over for her readers.
The book was published in 1994, back when I had time to sift through its pages and fantasize about a trip to Thailand or Spain to experience Sheila’s dishes first-hand. Now I reach for the book when I’m feeling a little adventurous, ready to escape to a faraway place through a new sensation to the palate.
Tonight’s dinner was reportedly Sheila’s favorite recipe from this book: Spiced Peloponnesian Lamb Shanks. I’m a late-comer to lamb. My mother never served it because my parents didn’t care for it. I didn’t taste lamb until I worked in a restaurant in Dublin the summer after college (a story for another time). In the years since I’ve made roast leg of lamb, lamb stew and lamb burgers, even lamb chops once or twice. Lamb shanks were a whole new game.
I had planned this long-cooking menu for Sunday, but the Super Bowl got in the way. A busy afternoon didn’t leave time to plan ahead, 2.25 hours, for browning the shanks, braising in the oven, and prepping the sides. Yet again, deli chicken came in handy as we watched a bit of the game. I was home in time to start dinner early so tonight was our treat.
Natural lamb shanks from PCC in a spiced sauce of cinnamon sticks, honey, sage, onions and garlic, loaded with prunes and tomatos. Served atop Sheila’s lemon orzo with a side of green beans. Sheila was right. It was worth the wait.