Archive | March, 2009

I’m baking bread today

27 Mar

I often write checks my ass can’t cash later. That’s what happens when you talk before thinking.

I’m going to visit my sister and my husband-in-law tomorrow, so I promised them bread. Now, I’m too tired to make it. But I will, ’cause I loves my sis and her lovely husband. Ill take pictures today and post them tomorrow.

Persnickety Alert:   She will only eat white bread (never mind that raisin bread is sort of brown. Only white bread). You know, that’s like liking American cheese, but only eating the yellow kind.

I love you LadyBass, you finicky girl. But tomorrow, your ass is getting Oatmeal bread!

CC ( with all the love my heart can carry)

4800-Calorie cheeseburger on ballpark menu

25 Mar

Get a look at this baby:


Yes, Yes, Yes!

If you are among the many fans of the West Michigan Whitecaps, you too can enjoy this behemoth. Five burger patties, chili, salsa chips, cheese are all sandwiched in between a 1 lb. bun. The price: $20

AND if you pull a John Candy, all you will get for your solo eating efforts is a t-shirt ( Damn, not even the cost of the burger?)

Or, maybe an EKG and a chance to meet Jesus!

Braised Lamb Shanks with Espagnole Sauce

24 Mar
Braised lamb Shank with Espagnole sauce

Braised lamb Shank with Espagnole sauce

Sunday, I made Lamb Shanks.

And you can too! This isn’t exactly a warm-weather meal, but since spring hasn’t warmed up the planet in the Northeastern U.S., you still have time to make this. And do yourself a favor–make these next year instead of tired, old corned beef and cabbage. Although easy, this treatment requires some advanced preparation ( for you slowpokes), and some time in the old oven.  I imagine this could work in a slow cooker, but I haven’t tried it; so do it at your own risk. I found the lamb shanks in the meat counter at Safeway;  the shanks are packaged two to a container.

For those of you not familiar with braising, it is a method used for cooking tougher cuts of meat. It involves browning the cut of meat first, then simmering in liquid in low heat. Some form of acidity is involved; either wine and/or tomatoes work together with the heat to break down connective tissue and tenderize the meat. Often, the cooking liquid is used in its natural state as au jus, or thickened to make a sauce. We will do the latter here.

Ingredients ( Serves two):

2 to 3 lbs lamb shanks, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups  peeled rough cut carrots

2 cups peeled rough cut onions

1 1/2 cups peeled rough cut celery

1 head fresh garlic, peeled

3 TBL tomato paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2  1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

2  1/2 cups beef stock or broth

2 cups red or white wine ( I used a leftover chardonnay)

2 tsp. coarse grind pepper

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs rosemary

1/2 pkg. fresh thyme

cotton twine ( optional)

Coarse grind black pepper

Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

3 TBL. unsalted butter

5 TBL. flour


Below is an example of how the lamb shanks are packaged for retail sale:

frozen lamb shanks

frozen lamb shanks

Remove the lamb from its package, and wash them thoroughly. Pat dry, and with the tip of a sharp knife, score the shanks in a criss-cross pattern (taking care to cut through the tough, silvery membrane, but not too deep int the meat. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Lamb shanks; washed, dried, scored and seasoned

Lamb shanks; washed, dried, scored and seasoned

Prepare all of the vegetables and herbs, and set aside. Measure out the wine, stock , the  two teaspoons of black pepper and tomato paste and reserve. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and gather all the vegetables, stock, wine, herbs and tomato paste.

Ingredients for braised lamb

Ingredients for braised lamb

If you have cotton twine, tie the thyme and rosemary together  in a bunch and set aside, if not; don’t sweat it.  Over medium heat, and in a 8 qt. heavy-bottomed ovenproof stock pot, heat up the olive oil.  Brown lamb shanks on all sides until evenly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same pan, saute all of the vegetables, cooking until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. If you find the pan is starting to brown too much, add the wine and stir, scraping the bit off the bottom. Add the tomato paste, stock and herbs, then add the shanks. The shanks should be completely submerged into the liquid.

Braise is ready for the oven

Braise is ready for the oven

( The red things in the broth are some leftover cherry tomatoes I had in the fridge, so I threw them in the braise)

Cover pot with oven proof lid and place into the oven. Cook for three hours.  Remove from oven and check for doneness by inserting the tip of the knife into a shank. If  the knife slides easily into the shank, it is done. If shank offers any resistance at all, place shanks back in oven and cook for an additional 30-45 minutes, and test again for doneness.

Remove shanks from oven and braising liquid with a slotted spoon, then strain the braising liquid of all vegetables using a mesh strainer, discarding the vegetables, but keeping the liquid.

Shanks and reserved stock

Shanks and reserved stock

Wash out stock pot and set aside.  Using a spoon, skim off any fat that accumulated on top of the stock.

skimming fat off the reserved stock

skimming fat off the reserved stock

Return stock pot to stove and over medium heat, add the butter and heat until melted. Add flour all at once and with a wire whisk, whisk vigorously.

Flour and butter

Flour and butter

Cook flour and butter over medium heat until flour turns tan, about 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock and continue to whisk until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

A sauce is born!

A sauce is born!

Turn heat down to low and cook sauce for 10-15 minutes. The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.

coating the back of a spoon

coating the back of a spoon

Restrain sauce with a mesh strainer, and hold for service.  Serve lamb shanks on a bed of mashed potatoes ( I have Yukon gold horseradish scented mash here).

Damn Skippy!!

Damn Skippy!!

Side note– I would appreciate some feedback on the photo tutorial.  If I need to be a bit more detailed, please let me know!

New Posting Tomorrow

23 Mar

Hey guys, I’ve had a busy week. A dear friend died this week, so I had a memorial to attend. But, I’ve joined Facebook and will post a recipe tomorrow complete with pictures I took myself!


2009 Shamrock Shake DC/MD Locations

17 Mar

According to the readers of Shamrock (, Shamrock Shakes are being served in the following jurisdictions:
Gaithersburg, Frederick ( jefferson st. location), Bethesda, Laurel (route 1 near eastern motors), and in Reisterstown, MD.

As soon as someone posts further details, I’ll post them!

Where is the Shamrock Shake?

16 Mar

On the minds of tens of thousands of gourmet officianados, where can they find the ever-elusive Shamrock Shake?

Courtesy of

This minty libation appeared in the 1970’s and for awhile became a traditional St. Patrick’s Day drink for kids my age at the time. I tried it, and did’nt like it for various reasons ( I was a rather persnikety kid when it came to weird-colored food, much less detesting  all things mint flavored other than chewing gum and iced tea).

Then the super-smart brainiacs at McHeadquarters decided, Hey, let’s take this ever-so-popular flavor, and stop making it. Every year. I would overhear someone say, “I had a Shamrock Shake and it was sooo good!” Then, rumors swirled around that the shake’s flavor wasn’t the same. McDonald’s denied any changes to the recipe but now it was too late: If you were a fan of the shake, you could’t find it. Last year, the kind folks at McDonald’s re-released the Shamrock Shake for a limited time.

Here is the dilema, if you will.  Why on earth would McDonalds discontinue this shake, or have they? If you have enjoyed a Shamrock Shake in the last few days, please post the location of the MickeyD’s where you purchased the shake here so that others can find the drink. Don’t be shy, you’ll help a fellow lover of the green shake!

Adventures in Breadmaking 2: Success!!!

15 Mar
At last: Success!!!

At last: Success!!!

Oh. My. God!!!

It turned out sooo well this time!! I cut the recipe in half, used more yeast and added more liquid to make the dough softer. It is PERFECT for sandwiches this go around. I think I have a winner, folks. Also, I’ve managed to figure out how to use the camcorder I aquired last year to take these pictures. So without further delay, here is a photo of the Sous-Chef!

Sixty-five pounds of wiggling love!

Sixty-five pounds of wiggling love!

I am very lucky to have Lucky, the Sous-Chef! She didn’t have any bread with me, as I try to avoid giving her table scraps!

Have a good weekend!