It is always a treat to go home to Milwaukee and spend the holidays with my family. Because Christmas fell on a monday/Tuesday this year, I got a nice long weekend with the entire Family. Ever since my siblings and I went off to college and “grew up,” it is hard to get all of us in one place at one time. This time was extra special because both of my siblings (an older brother and a younger sister) brought home their significant others to meet the family. I will reserve any judgement on this blog in case either of them read it, but lets just say that I very much approve and am not going to be crossing my fingers for a near future break-up.
On sunday night it was up to me to impress everyone with my culinary prowess. Now this is nothing out of the ordinary because I always cook at least one meal while I’m home…I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. I also really enjoy it because my parents are always the ones who foot the bill for the food, so I can go a little crazy. This year however, had the added pressure of wooing two new comers with an awe inspiringly delicious menu that surprises and excites the palate. So my mother and I emailed back and forth for a week or so as I sent her different ideas for dishes. She would run them by my father and after his final approval, we eventually decided on the menu.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Champaign Vinaigrette
6 Beets (red & Golden) (Including the green tops)
1 Large Log of Chevre Goat Cheese (crumbled)
1 large bag of mixed baby greens
1/4 Cup of Champaign Vinegar
1 Medium Shallot finely chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the Greet tops off the beets and set aside (for the Braised green recipe that follows). With a fork, poke holes in the beets. Set on a baking sheet and roast until they are soft, about 45-60 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool, use a paring knife to peel the beets and cut into bite sized cubes.
To make Vinaigrette whisk Vinegar, Honey, Shallot, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Once combined slowly drizzle the olive oil while continually whisking to emulsify.
In a large salad bowl mix the Baby Greens, Beet Cubes, and Goat Cheese. The dressing recipe makes more than is needed for the salad so dress the salad to taste. Toss and Serve.
Braised Kale, Chard and Beet Greens
1 bunch of Kale
1 Bunch of Chard (I used Rainbow Chard)
Remaining Beet Greens from the Previous Recipe (can be omitted if making separate from salad)
1/2 cup Sliced almonds
3 Tbsp Champaign Vinegar
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
Salt and Pepper
Remove Ribs from the greens. Cut the greens lengthwise into about 1 inch by 2 inch pieces. in a small dry pan toast the almonds over med-low heat until they are just light golden brown. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put garlic into warm olive oil and immediately add the greens. Add vinegar, salt and pepper. continuously stir by bringing the greens on the bottom to the top. It will begin to wilt down but you do not want the greens to turn brown. As soon as the greens have wilted down remove from the pot and place in the serving dish. Toss with the almonds and serve.
Pistachio and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
4 Racks of Lamb
2 Cups Pistachio Nuts
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Oregano
1/4 Cup Chopped Rosemary
1 Cup Dijon Mustard
4 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Liberally season both sides of the racks with salt and pepper and set aside
In a food processor place the Oregano, Rosemary and garlic and grind until blended. Add the 2 cups of Pistachios and pulse until ground (do not over grind the pistachios, you want them to be chunky). Put out onto a platter.
Brush all sides of one of the lamb racks with the Dijon mustard and roll in the pistachio-herb mixture until coated. Repeat with the remaining 3 racks and place into 2 roasting pans with the bones hanging over the edge. Place in oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature is right. For medium rare the temperature of the meat in the center should be 130 degrees. If while roasting the pistachios start to burn, cover with foil and continue cooking. After 130 degrees is reached let stand for 10 minutes.
Place on a meat board and cut between each rib to create lamb lollipops. ENJOY!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!