Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’


Usually on weekends we have one fancy egg breakfast. This morning I wanted something special and red, on account of the Hallmark-manufactured holiday happening on Monday. So I made poached eggs on whole-wheat biscuits, with creamy red pepper sauce and some garlic-sauteed spinach on the side.

The biscuits were cribbed from a King Arthur Flour recipe, but I haven’t yet tweaked it to my liking so I won’t include it here yet. However, the sauce is an old favourite. This recipe makes way too much for a few poached eggs, but then it also tastes divine as a pasta sauce, or as a drizzle over baked chicken, turkey or fish. It also freezes well for a later time, so that in a month or so you can randomly have fancy poached eggs again without having to do as much work.

Red Pepper Cream Sauce

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sriracha hot sauce
pinch salt

Equipment: immersion blender

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine, and let cook for a few minutes until it turns from yellow to a whiter shade of yellow. [Cooking Fact! This is called a white roux. It’s used as a thickener for bechamel, or white sauce. A brown roux, cooked a few steps further till it’s a nutty golden brown, is used to thicken brown sauces.]

2. With a whisk in one hand and the cup of milk in the other, pour in the milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Let cook until thickened until it coats the back of a spoon. If you draw a line with your finger on the back of said spoon, the line should its shape. It’s okay if you end up with a few lumps, because you’re just going to puree the whole thing soon. 

3. Pour the sauce into a large glass measuring cup or other vessel you like to puree stuff in. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

4. Adjust the seasonings to taste.


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Spice-crusted rack of lamb

Let’s face it: I am a cooking addict. One of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is in the kitchen tending several pots that will not only make dinner and a few weekday lunches, but a pot of stock or a hearty soup that can live in my freezer and serve as an emergency weeknight supper. But since I got pregnant (and made it through the first trimester), my addiction has gotten a little out of control.

Behold,  the freezer of a mad pregnant lady:

Which brings me to Valentine’s Day, when I feel called upon to make something especially tasty for my lovely husband. Enter, the rack of lamb bought on sale at Loblaws just before Christmas. We bought tons of it at the time, planning to have it as an unorthodox Christmas dinner, and even then we had some left over. Now I’m all for using less expensive cuts of meat as a rule, but as a quick-cooking, delicate, delicious dish, something that’s sophisticated and elegant and downright special, you simply cannot beat a rack of lamb.

And although one might feel some pressure not to mess up an expensive ingredient, the method for cooking it is easy. Put a tasty coating on it, sear it, then finish cooking it in the oven at high heat.

In this case, the coating is an unorthodox mix of cumin, coffee and cocoa. I worried at first about how these might taste together, especially when I first caught the combined aroma. But the application of heat works wonders, and the result is a gentle, rich and dark flavour that doesn’t overwhelm the taste of lamb.

This is adapted from a recipe at Epicurious.com.

Spice-crusted rack of lamb

Serves two

1 Frenched rack of lamb

pinch kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 tbsp. each: cumin seeds, coffee and cocoa powder 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a coffee grinder, grind the cumin seeds and coffee together until very fine. Mix in the cocoa, and spread the mixture onto a plate.  On the stovetop, heat a cast-iron frying pan until smoking hot. This will take a while to heat, so let it sit on the stove while you get the meat ready.

To get the meat ready, wrap the bones in a piece of tin foil to prevent burning. Sprinkle the meat with a pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Then, coat the meat in the spice mixture – I like to do this by picking it up by the bones and rolling it around in the mix. 

When the pan is smoking hot, sear the rack meat side down, moving occasionally it to prevent sticking, until the crust is a deep brown –  about 2 minutes. Flip to sear underside in the same way, about 2 minutes more.

 Transfer the meat to a small roasting pan, then stick it in the oven and roast approximately 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers about 130F for medium-rare. Remove it from the oven, and let it rest about 15 minutes before slicing.

The end result, accompanied by some mashed sweet potato and a simple spinach and orange salad:

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