Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Turning The Mundane Into A Feast Of Beauty

Every now and then, I get nostalgic for when I was a chef for a living. It's no secret that I cook constantly, but once in a while I go all out and actually plate my food as I would in a restaurant and give the two of us a truly beautiful dining experience. This time around I decided on a fresh herb bathed rack of lamb accompanied by toasted pine nut and proscuitto green beans, crusty sourdough and Plugra butter, and roasted new fingerling potatoes with rosemary and garlic, all served with chilled fresh home made Tahini sauce. It was a hot day and night, so the bright crispness of the green beans together with the cold, tart Tahini really capped it all off nicely. 
Besides the obvious and not terribly photo worthy knifework prep, I started with toasting the pine nuts and crisping up the Proscuitto with a little garlic and EVOO, but the secret ingredient to brightening that side dish up is my own addition of fresh Meyer lemon juice to the mix. The acidity of the lemon juice soaks into the rich Proscuitto and just enhances all the other flavors, including those of the green beans, which I always add very last so they retain a nice fresh texture. I'm very lucky, as I grow all my own herbs in my front and rear gardens, so the Tahini was super easy and super cheap for me. I added fresh dill, rosemary, and a touch (about a leaf) of basil to Meyer lemon juice, Greek yogurt, black pepper and pink Australian salt (which by the way I'm more than a little obsessed with) and sour cream, then let the whole concoction chill while I prepared the rest of the dishes, taking it out at the last moment to really satisfy temperature wise. The potatoes I quartered and threw in a baking dish with more fresh garlic and rosemary, together with salt and black pepper and a liberal amount of olive oil. Tossed the whole dish in the oven at 475 degrees and let it do it's thing until I started plating, at which point I put in under the broiler to crisp up the skins. The lamb I prepared by allowing the meat to rest for a few minutes, then patting down with salt and pepper, and I created a fresh herb bath with some greek yogurt and lemon juice which I then coated the rack with. I popped that in to bake for about 20 minutes, as I like to prepare lamb on the traditional rare side. I sliced up the baguette of crusty sourdough and let the Plugra warm to room temperature, then plated everything on a bed of olive oil, tahini, and salt. Rod had a nice Shiraz from Australia, and I had traditional French berry soda. I have to say that I'm very, very pleased with the way this dinner turned out, and Rod pronounced it the best lamb he has ever had! Success! Email me if you need more instructions. Let me know if you try it out!

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