Friday, October 19, 2012

Roast Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate Cucumber Relish

I'm seeing these beautiful red globes all over the markets these days--pomegranates are so pretty and even though they take a little work I eat them once a week during their season. I actually picked mine up a little earler in the season from Twin Girls a couple of weeks ago and they had these beautiful red seeds.  Right now, though, you can get great ones from Full Belly, Feather River and Balakian Farms at the San Rafael farmer's markets.  The leg of lamb I used for this was boneless and tied from Marin Sun Farms but you can use any cut of lamb, it's the relish that really makes this dish shine. In fact, I made a pretty big serving of it and ended up polishing it all off that night. 

This recipe was hacked from Epicurious, they are calling the relish a salsa, maybe because of the mint jelly (that I omitted), but when I put it on the table Sophia asked, "Is this some kind of relish?  It looks so good!"  And I said, "Why yes, it is, that's exactly what it is."  So there you have it.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate Cucumber Relish
original recipe here

5 garlic cloves
a half leg of lamb (butt end; about 4 pounds)
tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

For relish

1/2 cup pine nuts (about 4 ounces) I got some really nice organic ones from the bulk bins at Whole Foods
1 English cucumber or one of those lemon cucumbers at the markets now
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
seeds from 1 large pomegranate (here's a handy technique)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Mince garlic. Put lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and in small bowl stir together garlic, rosemary, mint, and oil. Rub mixture onto lamb and season with salt and pepper. Roast lamb in middle of oven 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer registers 145°F for medium-rare, 150-155 for medium. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand, covered loosely with foil, 10 minutes.

Make relish while lamb is standing:
Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over moderate heat until golden. Watch this, they go from browned to burned in a snap.  Seed cucumber and cut into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl whisk together vinegar and oil and add remaining salsa ingredients, tossing. Season salsa with salt and pepper. (Do not make relish too far ahead or it will become watery.)

Thinly slice lamb across grain and arrange on a platter. Top lamb with some relish and serve remaining relish on the side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Ceviche is one of my favorite things to eat.  I got hooked on it when I worked at Cafe Marimba, a Oaxacan restaurant in San Francisco.  Sadly, the restaurant is no longer around but I remember very clearly the ceviche and the little bump of an ingredient that was used to make it unique to the restaurant--it was the addition of "el topil"-- the chipotle salsa that was new to the culinary scene back then (yes, this was that long ago.)  Now is a fantastic time to make a ceviche of your own, you can get all the ingredients locally and they are at their peak of ripeness.  I got my fish from Mission Fresh Fish at the Thursday Farmer's Market in San Rafael.  I used a combination of snapper, halibut, and bay shrimp all retrieved from local waters, even the shrimp.  Do not bother to make this unless the fish is really fresh, do not use previously frozen or thawed ingredients (with the exception of shrimp) it just will not be all it's meant to be.  It seems that almost all the farm stands have tomatoes right now--mine were from Tomatero, peppers and cilantro from Triple T Ranch and Farms, onion from Full Belly Farm, avocado from Williamson Farm and limes from De Santis Farm.

1 lb halibut fillets or 1 lb sea bass fillets or 1 lb red snapper fillet (or use a mixture of fish and shrimp)
5 -6 limes (enough juice to cover fish)
1 cup diced fresh tomato
1 green pepper, sweet, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley or 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I used cilantro)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 -2 TBSP. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce chopped. 
lettuce leaf (to line serving bowls)

Dice the fish (approximately 1/2-inch dice if using shrimp use cleaned shrimp).
Marinate fish in the lime juice in the fridge overnight (this step cooks the fish).

Stir often.

Pour off most of the lime juice (just leave it moist).

Add remaining ingredients except lettuce and avocado. Do this preferably a few hours before serving & refrigerate.

Add some extra lime juice, toss well, taste for salt or more lime, and arrange in individual serving bowls that are lined with the lettuce leaves.  Garnish with avocado.

This will serve 4 people for lunch, or 6 as an appetizer.