Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jungle theme baby shower cake

I know this doesn't tie much at all to the general topic of my blog (although I did use eggs from my chickens!), but I just had to post this picture. I made this cake for a friend's baby shower and am really proud of how it turned out. A few people at the shower asked if I do cakes professionally and while I haven't done that up to this point, I decided that I might start looking into it. I will keep you all posted on my progress - from my initial research it looks like there are a lot of licenses and permits I need so it may take awhile but I'm going to plug away at it and see if I can't get set up to go into business (on the side of course - I definitely can't quit my day job!).

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Greek Lamb Shanks

I know it has been ages since I posted anything - and I definitely need to get you all some garden and chicken updates - but I made a great dinner last night and thought I should share the recipe. I modified a recipe from my mom with some ideas I got from a lamb shank recipe by Anne Burrell on Food Network - and viola!

This recipe can be made with beef stew meat, lamb stew meat or lamb shanks – all work well.

  • 2 lbs stew meat OR 2 large lamb shanks
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 whole cloves crushed
  • ½ tsp cinnamon & fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg & allspice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ large sweet onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 5-6 baby carrots
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 14 ½ oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. dry red wine
  • ½ pkg whole frozen pearl onions
  • 10-20 pitted kalamata olives

In a food processor – purée the sweet onion, carrots, celery and garlic to a paste-like consistency.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Salt the meat well using the tsp of salt. In a large dutch oven heat 2 Tbsp of the oil and brown the meat thoroughly – do not skimp on this – the browning is essential to the flavor. Remove the meat from the pan, dump out the oil and add 2 Tbsp fresh oil to the pan. Add the puréed vegetables to the pan and cook until the vegetables purée starts to brown – do not let it burn – stir it frequently to ensure it does not burn. When it is golden in color add the spices (cloves – allspice) and cook a few minutes more. Then add tomato paste and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the can of diced tomatoes, red wine, frozen onions and olives to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Add the meat back into the pan. The liquid should come just to the top of the meat or cover it slightly – if it does not – add water to bring the level of liquid up.

Cover the dutch oven and put it in the oven. For shanks – you will need to cook it about 3 – 3 ½ hours. Stew meat should go at least 2 hours to be tender. Check every 45 minutes during the cooking process and add more liquid if the sauce starts to get too thick or brown. If making shanks – turn the shanks over half way through the cooking process to ensure even cooking as the level of the liquid reduces. Be careful not to add too much water near the end of the cooking process, in the end you want a thick luscious sauce.

Either stew or shanks can be made up to a day in advance and warmed up – this stew is even better if it gets to sit for a half a day or overnight.

I like to serve this with a nice crusty bread to mop up the sauce!

Sorry no pictures - I was so anxious to dig in I forgot to take any :)