Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Let’s talk about lamb. In general, I find that people either love lamb, or they really, really hate lamb. It’s pretty rare to find someone who feels neutral about lamb, in my experience. And I will be honest with you – I hated lamb. I hated it A LOT. Every time I tried it, it was just SO gamey and overly intense with its flavor of ANIMAL. I am in no way squeamish about the fact that eating meat = eating an animal, but lamb was just too much for me.

As with most experiences in my life in which I discovered I actually liked a food I thought I hated (my mom would love to tell you about the time I discovered that ravioli was actually delicious), I was being polite. We were enjoying a little family weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Illinois, and they had decided to make a big, beautiful dinner… with lamb being the star of the show. Now, my family knows I’m not a huge meat eater, and that I have zero problem making my meal out of all the sides, and avoiding the meat. So, of course, I encouraged them to make their lamb dish, and I would just opt out if I needed to. When the meal was ready, the lamb smelled INCREDIBLE – so, I figured I’d try one little lamb chop, hate it, and pass the remainder on to my husband. I took one little bite of the lamb (smothered in the delicious greek yogurt and herb sauce), and I LOVED it. I proceeded to eat something like 4 lamb chops, to the amazement of myself, and my entire family. And this recipe shall remain on our “special dinners” list from now on. (I won’t lie to you, lamb ain’t cheap. That’s why this isn’t on our “regular old Tuesday night dinners” list – this bad boy is special occasions only.)

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce
recipe modified slightly from here
serves 4 generously

For the lamb:
two racks of lamb, frenched, and cut into 8 chops each
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
juice of 4 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

For the yogurt mint sauce:
generous 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
6 green onions, white and light green parts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice and zest of one lemon
one cup of plain greek yogurt (please do not use fat free – use 2% or full fat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.) Start by making the marinade for your lamb. In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper, and pulse until everything is finely minced. Remove the herb mixture to another bowl, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and wine; stir until everything is well-combined.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

2.) Place your lamb chops in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish, and pour the marinade over them, turning them to make sure all the meat gets coated. Cover the dish tightly, and refrigerate overnight. Late the next morning, turn the chops over, and allow them to keep marinating until just before you’re going to cook them.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

3.) At the same time you turn the chops, make your yogurt mint sauce. Add the mint, dill, green onions, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Then, add the greek yogurt, salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times, until everything is well combined. Cover the sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, so all the flavors have a chance to marry.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

4.) Remove the lamb from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it. Heat a large grill pan (or your grill) to medium-high heat, and brush it with a little bit of olive oil. Remove the chops from the marinade, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and grill for about 4 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the second side. If you prefer your lamb more toward well-done, grill them for about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a large platter, and cover them tightly with foil. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Serve the warm chops with the cold yogurt sauce, and enjoy! I served our chops with a side of roasted chickpeas, and some cauliflower steaks, and it was one of the best meals we’ve had at home in a long, long time. The lamb has an insane amount of flavor, and is unbelievably tender and juicy – combined with the cold, herby yogurt mint sauce? Heaven.

This meal is PERFECT for company – it’s quite impressive, and the bulk of the work can be done ahead of time! Once the meat is marinated, and the sauce is made, you’re ready to throw the chops on the grill when company arrives (and your oven is totally open for whatever sides you decide to serve it with). For all those reasons, it would also make a lovely holiday meal, if you’re okay with non-traditional foods. These chops would even be great for a cocktail party – lamb chops are fairly small, and that bone makes a great handle for eating them without a fork and knife. A platter of lamb chops with a side of sauce for dipping would make a great, slightly heartier appetizer.

Side note: the leftover yogurt mint sauce is amazing on everything! We put it on some chicken sandwiches, used it to dip vegetables, and basically ate it straight from the bowl. Do not discard the extra sauce, whatever you do!

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

I was essentially gnawing on the chop bones like a cave woman,
Tina

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ina’s blueberry crumb cake.

A couple weekends ago, I got the baking bug. I don’t know what got into me! Matt was off hunting something and I had the house to myself with a pantry full of ingredients.  I pulled out some of my BFF Ina’s cookbooks and got to work. I love when berries are in season and you can pick up a couple packs for $5. Gone are the flavorless $5 pints that you have to be crazy to buy… hello, sweet, delicious, inexpensive berries! Welcome back into my kitchen.

Anyway, I deemed this crumb cake the greatest thing I’d ever made. Seriously. And it was easy to boot. Win!

you'd think i'd managed to get a better photo. but you'd be wrong.

you’d think i’d managed to get a better photo. but you’d be wrong.

Ina’s Blueberry Crumb Cake.
via Barefoot Contessa At Home (also on Food Network

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350, and butter and flour a 9-in baking dish.

Combine streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. (this makes almost too much streusel in my opinion. you’ll see.)

Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, sour cream and lemon zest, and mix until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (sift if you feel the urge. I never do.) Gradually add the flour to the bowl of the mixer, mixing until just combined. Remove mixing bowl from the mixer and fold in blueberries.

Spread batter in prepared baking dish, and top with streusel. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

This is wonderful. Make it this weekend… I just might make it again.

BEAT CLEMSONGO COCKS,
jcristg

roasted shrimp.

Has anyone checked the weather for Michigan for the upcoming weekend? Bueller? Bueller? You may recall my January visit last year, which apparently fooled me into thinking that people exaggerated about the weather up there. It was mild and quite lovely, other than the one night of snow we got – more than enough to shut down Columbia for a few days, but a mere “dusting” to those Michiganders. It was pouring snow, and Christina was trying to get me out of the house to drive 30 miles to dinner and all I could think was that I didn’t want to die in a snowstorm. We persevered and I made it back to South Carolina in one piece. And then I was dumb enough to book another January trip — this time, apparently managing to hit a “real Michigan winter.” Excellent. All I’m saying is that I hope we all enjoy my second and last January trip to the Mitten because I’m sticking to the spring, summer and fall after this folks.

michigan winter

Anyway, my dear Rhiannon and I have been on the hunt for what we like to call “DUH suppers.” You know, the things you throw together randomly that turn out to be kind of really delicious. Things you see friends post on Instagram or blogs and say, duh why didn’t I think of that? Some nights you just don’t feel up to making a big production in the kitchen and just want something that satisfies without making a dishwasher full of dirty dishes. This is one of those recipes. Actually, when I told Tina I was posting this today, she couldn’t believe it had never hit the blog before – because I absolutely love to make these roasted shrimp. They’re good on salads, by themselves; as an appetizer or a main course. They work with fresh or – if you must – frozen shrimp.

ina's roasted shrimp cocktail.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
via Ina Garten

2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
olive oil
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a sheet pan with foil. In a small bowl, toss shrimp with enough oil to coat, and salt and pepper. Lay shrimp in one layer on the pan and roast 8-10 minutes, or until pink.

Now, that recipe I linked to has an Ina cocktail sauce that I’ve never made. But if her other sauces are any indication, it’s bound to be good.
Do you have any good DUH suppers? I need to hear them, if so.

Would it be too much to pack my electric blanket and then carry it with me everywhere we went?
jcristg

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

First of all, I’d like to offer a huge congratulations to the winner of Crist’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook giveaway: Suzannah! Suzannah, we hope you enjoy your fabulous new cookbook, and make all kinds of delicious things from it. Additionally, I would like to thank Suzannah for providing one of the most hilarious comments ever for MY giveaway, as I laughed about it for a solid 20 minutes:

suz

So, thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoy your new cookbook!

Moving on… Speaking of our girl Ina, I found this recipe of hers several years ago, when I was JUST starting to realize that cauliflower was not awful. If ever there was a way to convince me that a vegetable is delicious, just smother it in some cheese, top it with crispy breadcrumbs, and I’m sold!

I try to make this dish at least one each year during the holidays, because I love it so much. It’s pretty easy to make ahead, if you’re so inclined, but it’s not too bad to make the day of your big meal, either.

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan
adapted from here
serves 6-8 as a side

cauliflower (one large head, or two small), cut into florets
2 T butter
3 T all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated gruyere
2/3 cup grated parmesan, divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, and then add your cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower for 4-6 minutes, until just tender (but still pretty firm). Remove the cauliflower to a prepared ice bath; leave in the ice bath for about 2 minutes, then drain and pat the cauliflower dry.

(If your cooking schedule is tight the day of your holiday meal, you can blanch the cauliflower the day before; once it’s been through the ice bath and patted dry, just put it all into a large ziploc bag, and throw that in the fridge until you’re ready for it.)

2.) Preheat your oven to 375°. In a small sauce pan, heat your milk over medium-low heat until it’s warm. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, heat your butter over medium-low heat until melted; add the flour, and whisk until the flour and butter are totally combined and bubbling, and the raw flour taste is cooked out, about 2 minutes.

3.) Gently pour your warmed milk into the flour/butter mixture, whisking continuously. Keep whisking until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly (this should only take a couple minutes).

4.) Turn your burner off, and stir in the salt, pepper, gruyere, and 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Gently stir until all the cheese is melted.

5.) Ladle 1/3 of your cheese sauce into the bottom of a baking dish (8×10-ish should be good). Spread the sauce out so it covers the bottom of the dish, then add your cauliflower. Ladle the rest of the sauce over the cauliflower evenly, and then evenly sprinkle the top of the dish with the panko, and remaining parmesan.

6.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are brown and bubbly. Serve hot!

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

If you are still feeling ambivalent about cauliflower, this is a good recipe to start with. Lot of cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs to ease the pain of taking in all those awful nutrients and vitamins! I’d be willing to bet that you’ll end up fighting over who gets to take home the leftovers.

Oh! Speaking of leftovers! I fully realize that this will make you think I’m weird, but I am willing to risk that for the one or two people who read this blog that will actually try this out and love it: chop up the leftover cauliflower gratin and put it on a pizza (alone with some chopped up ham). Don’t THINK about it, just DO IT. Make your dough, drizzle it with a touch of olive oil, add the chopped up cauliflower gratin and ham, top with (freshly) grated mozzarella and (freshly) grated parmesan. (I know that grating your cheese by hand is a pain, but no one said cooking delicious food was easy. Just do it.) Bake until the cheese is golden brown and delicious, devour, and thank me later.

Cauliflower and Ham Leftover Pizza

Is your holiday menu complete yet??
Tina