A tiring day. Cooked brunch for 25 at an event that combined yoga class with vegetarian appetizers – a sort of class/sit down brunch for which I made a lot of things, one of them veggie samosas. A wonderful Indian cook – Tahera Rawji – taught me the easy, cheater’s way to make samosas – using frozen hash browns. If it’s good enough for a real Indian cook and cooking teacher - a cookbook author even - it’s good enough for me. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo – since it was during the day I didn’t think to bring my camera. (So it wasn’t really dinner, either. Although it was the most substantial thing I ate closest to dinnertime.)
Then at 5 I made dinner for 12 at the home of the guy who was the highest bidder on a private in-home cooking class/dinner I had contributed to a silent auction - you may have read about our fundraiser earlier this year for Nicole Pageau, an Edmonton woman in her 60s who was so moved by the plight of widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide that she up and moved to Rwanda and built a village. (If you’re ever looking for a charitable cause, her organization is doing a stellar job over there.) He paid big bucks for it, so I was happy to go make mushroom crostini with rosemary and asiago, curried roasted butternut squash soup with apples, braised lamb shanks, lemon-Parmesan risotto, roasted asparagus, creme brulee and espresso truffles.
Am very tired. Not much looking forward to getting up in less than six hours, although I learned there will be some strapping young Stampeders to feed in the studio tomorrow morning. Did I say I didn’t like football?
Braised Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks are one of the most richly flavored cuts of meat you can buy. Choose the largest shanks you can find – about a pound or so each – because the smaller ones are mostly bone. Lamb shanks have a lot of connective tissue, so braising is the best cooking method.
salt and pepper
6 lamb shanks, trimmed of any excess fat
canola or olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped or thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed or left whole
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
3 cups chicken or beef stock, or half and half
Season the flour with salt and pepper, and toss the lamb shanks in it to coat them well. Heat half the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat and brown the lamb on all sides, working in batches so the pan isn’t crowded. As you brown the shanks, place them in a roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste, rosemary, bay leaf, and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the wine, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Pour over the lamb shanks in the roasting pan and cover tightly with a lid or with foil.
Bake for an hour, then remove the lid and cook for another 2-2 1/2 hours, turning the lamb shanks every half hour or so, until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
Remove the lamb from the sauce and strain as much fat from it as you can. If you like, strain out the vegetables and purée them in a blender or food processor, then return the purée to the pot to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the lamb shanks topped with the sauce, with mashed potatoes or creamy risotto.
Samosas are little packages, and as such can be made with a variety of wrappers – you can buy low fat samosa wrappers fresh or frozen in ethnic grocery stores, make your own empanada dough, or use phyllo pastry. Some people like to add a finely chopped jalapeño pepper to the filling too.
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. chili powder
3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 pkg. phyllo pastry, thawed (you’ll need 12-16 sheets)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili powder; cook for a minute, then add the hash browns, peas, salt and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and garam masala. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Take two sheets of phyllo and stack them on a clean work surface; cover the rest with a tea towel so it doesn’t dry out. Combine the butter and oil in a small dish and brush the phyllo very lightly with it.
Cut the sheet in half lengthwise and then again into quarters so you have 4 long strips. Place a spoonful of filling at one end of each strip and fold the corner over it diagonally. Continue folding the strip as if you were folding a flag, maintaining the triangle shape.
Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling, placing the packets seam side down on a baking sheet. (They can be prepared up to this point and frozen in a single layer and then transferred to a plastic bag. Pop them out of the freezer and bake them frozen.) If there is any butter and oil left, use it to brush the tops of the triangles, or spray them with some nonstick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
Serve warm with mango chutney. Makes about 2 dozen samosas.
Per samosa: 84 calories, 3.9 g total fat (0.9 g saturated fat, 1.7 g monounsaturated fat, 1.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 1.6 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 2.6 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g fiber. 41% calories from fat
Spinach & Potato Samosas: replace the frozen peas with a few handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped. Sauté a minced jalapeño pepper along with the garlic and other spices as well.