Sunday, February 26, 2012


Lamb and Artichokes a la Greque

Many years ago our friend Hannah decided to write a cookbook.  We eagerly offered ourselves as guinea pigs, were accepted and enjoyed many wonderful dining experiences and a few truly dreadful ones.  The following recipe is our absolute favorite of all the dishes she made for us over the months she worked on the cookbook.  It was fun sharing her many inventive and interesting dishes.  I’ve also always admired her desire to actually write a cookbook given the fact that she had a kitchen which was more on the lines of a walk in closet and was basically designed to make a cup of coffee and that was about it.  This was in a wonderful old apartment building in Hollywood which was built in the 20’s when people who could afford to live in such posh surroundings ate out.  At least that’s the only thing I can figure out.  She had no counter space, one electrical outlet, the tiniest oven I’ve ever seen, a two burner stove, about three small cabinets and a sink in which you could wash your hands but a pot or a dish was a real challenge.  She did it anyway and created the successful but now out of print book THE ONE POT DINNER.   Not only that but she went on to write two additional cookbooks, THE THIRTY MINUTE DINNER and FOILED AGAIN in which all the dishes were cooked in foil.  Both were full of delicious, interesting meals made as simply as possible.  Throughout her entire cookbook research, testing, development and writing we got to eat at her apartment several times a week.  Lucky us.  Yeah! 

Again this recipe is adapted from Hannah Scheel’s out of print book THE ONE POT DINNER, enjoy.  

2 to 3 pounds lamb stew meat
1 large onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 beef bouillon cube
2 10 ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and saute the sliced onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Remove the onions and add the cubed lamb, in batches if necessary, and brown well on all sides. 

Mix lamb and onions together, sprinkle with mint and anise seed, salt and pepper.  Add the bouillon cube and pour the wine and water over all.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Add the thawed artichoke hearts together with the lemon juice and continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Serve with a good crusty bread and a salad of greens with feta and whatever else strikes your fancy.  

4 Generous servings.  Lamb dish freezes beautifully.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Petits  Pois A La Francaise
(A French Classic)
We love peas.  It’s that simple. They were Elizabeth’s Father’s favorite vegetable so they were on the table frequently while she was growing up.  Unfortunately they were cooked by her Mother who believed that food should be thoroughly and completely cooked so Elizabeth was a teenager before she realized that vegetables weren’t meant to be uniformly gray (She’s a little slow on the uptake sometimes).  Once discovered, however, a new world opened up for her, and she learned peas were pretty tasty and they remain a favorite.  But who wants plain old boring peas day in and day out.  Try something a little new and different, or actually quite old and different.  The French have cooked peas with lettuce, pearl onions, and thyme for who knows how long.  This method of cooking turns simple, plain old peas into a dish worthy of guests or even relatives for that matter.  The really nice thing about the recipe is its ease of preparation.  No rare ingredients, no rich sauces, no knife skills.  If you can open a bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen pearl onions, and shred some lettuce you have it made.  Give the Petit Pois a try.  You’ll like them.
2 Tablespoons butter
2 pounds petite frozen peas
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
12 to 16 frozen pearl onions
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (you can use black as well)
Water as needed (or if you have a little bit of leftover stock you can use that) 
Gently heat the butter until melted in a large sauce pan then add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften.  Add the lettuce and when it is wilted add the sugar, peas, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cover and allow to simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until peas are tender, be careful not to overcook;  you want the peas and onions soft and tender but not mushy.  The lettuce should give off enough liquid to cook the peas but check to make sure they aren’t drying out, and add a teaspoon water or stock occasionally if needed.  Stir gently and serve.  Some people like to add a strip of chopped bacon or pancetta to the butter and let it cook until the bacon is cooked through then add the onions and go on from there.   I am personally of the opinion that bacon makes anything better so you might want to give it a try.
The peas are pretty on your plate or platter and are great with a roast chicken or beef or lamb.  We like them with almost anything for that matter.