Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lamb Stew with Apricots and Almonds

In the fall, I purchased a half of a lamb from a person who raises lamb locally.  So, I have a freezer full of various cuts of lamb, and am enjoying making one meal a week from the lamb.  My favorite recipe so far is this lamb stew.

adapted from two recipes in
Claudia Roden, A Book of Middle Eastern Food

2 T. butter
1-2 onions, finely chopped
2 lb. lean lamb, cubed  (a little less is fine)
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. saffron (optional)
salt and black pepper
1/4 c. raisins
8 oz. dried apricots, halved
scant 1/4 c. ground almonds

Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and fry the onion until soft and golden.  Add the meat and fry gently, turning the pieces to brown them all over.  Drain fat.  Season with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, salt, and pepper.  Add raisins and apricots and saute lightly.  Cover with water and simmer gently, covered, for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is very tender.  If the stew is still rather liquid by the end of the cooking time, reduce it by fast boiling.  Stir in ground almonds.

Serve over rice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meatball Soup

This recipe comes from a small booklet I hadn't looked at in years. The recipe gives instructions for making the meatballs, but I usually have a bag of frozen meatballs on hand from Market Day (a public school fund-raising program with high-quality frozen foods), so I use those. Even though I rarely use "convenience" food in recipes, I have to say that this soup is delicious, even though I used frozen green beans as well as the prepared meatballs.  It is easy to make and is great comfort food.  Makes a full meal with some good bread and a salad.

adapted from Cooking Classics, 1, 14 (1994)
serves 8
4 cups beef broth
8 oz cut-up tomatoes (fresh, canned, or stewed)
1 8-oz can pizza sauce
3/4 to 1 lb. prepared meatballs (look in the grocery's freezer case)
1 medium onion, diced
1 15-1/2 oz can kidney beans, drained
2 cups sliced cabbage
2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
10-oz package frozen Italian green beans (French-style also fine)

Heat broth, tomatoes, and pizza sauce in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until boiling. Add meatballs, onion, beans, cabbage, and carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add green beans; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes more.

(The original recipe called for 2 cups of water in the first step. I left it out by mistake. The soup turned out delicious, so I'm not sure I'd add it in, but if it seems too strong to you, this is why!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Another great soup: Kale-Bean

This is a comforting soup.  I first had it in an Italian restaurant a couple of summers ago.  I was in New Jersey for the funeral of the mother of my friend Kay.  After the funeral, I went out for lunch with Kay's family, and I had a bowl of kale-bean soup.  It was not just delicious, but, after the emotion of the funeral, a soothing comfort.  When I came back home, I searched for similar recipes on the web, and I've been very happy with this one.  Everyone I have ever served this soup to has asked for the recipe.

Kale and Bean Soup
6+ servings
adapted from

If cut up the kale, carrots, and celery in advance, the rest takes a little over an hour.

1  T. olive or canola oil
6-8 garlic cloves (minced)
1  large onion, chopped
4  cups kale, chopped if fresh (1 bunch is plenty).
4  cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 (15-1/2 oz.) cans white beans
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (I use canned)
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of chopped parsley
4 chicken sausages (or other meat), cooked--optional

This is a great meatless soup, but you can also add sausage, chicken or stew beef (cook the meat first). I often make this with 4 chicken sausages. If in casing, I remove from casing and sauté the meat; otherwise I cut up in pieces and sauté.

1.     In a large pot, heat olive oil, then add garlic and onion.
2.    Sauté these ingredients until soft.
3.    Add kale and sauté until wilted.
4.    Measure off 3 cups of broth and 2 cups of beans and add to the sautéed vegetables, along with the tomatoes, herbs, about 2/3 of the parsley (saving rest for garnish), salt, and pepper.  (See step 6 for what you do with the rest of the broth and beans.) 
5.    Simmer soup 5 to 10 minutes. Pre-cook the meat that will be added in next step (if using).
6.    Using a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth.  Mix into the soup (makes it thicker).  Add the cooked meat, if you're using it.
7.     Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
8.    Serve it up in bowls and garnish with parsley.