Friday, March 20, 2015

Irish Lamb Stew

Irish Lamb Stew

Wednesday was my son Patrick's birthday, and he requested Irish Lamb Stew for his birthday dinner.  I was planning on making something Irish Tuesday for St. Patrick's Day, so this will be a belated St. Pat's Dinner too. 

Here's the recipe:

Irish Lamb Stew

2 lbs. lamb stew meat
2 cups peeled rough chopped carrots
2 cups halved baby potatoes
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
3 cups unsalted beef stock
1 tbs of finely minced fresh rosemary
one 12-ounce Irish Ale (I used Smithwick's Premium Irish Ale)
Smithwick's Irish Ale
vegetable oil
all-purpose flour
Generously season the stew meat with salt and pepper on a baking tray and then toss that with all-purpose flour to coat.
Even though we're using a slow cooker, we still need to brown the meat up, in batches, in a large wide heavy bottomed pan on medium to medium high heat in a little vegetable oil and, once it has browned, add it to the slow cooker.
As soon as the meat is out of the pan, add one large rough chopped onion and 1 tbs of finely minced fresh rosemary and, at this point, add one 12-ounce Irish Ale to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to help scrape up the flour that's stuck to the bottom of the pan and let that cook along for a minute to soften the onion.
At that point, add one 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes and 3 cups of unsalted beef stock and bring that up to a simmer.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups of peeled rough chopped carrots and 2 cups of halved baby potatoes to the slow cooker and, once the beef broth is warm, carefully add that to the slow cooker.
Then put the lid on top and cook it on high heat for 4 - 5 hours or low heat for 8 - 10 hours.

Flour the meat.
Brown the meat.
Add ale, onions and tomatoes.
Add browned lamb to crock pot. 

Put veggies on top of meat in crock pot.
Add the broth mixture (onions, tomatoes, Irish ale, beef broth)
Ready to eat.

This was perfect for Patrick's birthday celebration!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Memories Awakened By Old Photos

My first visit to Paris.

Dan and I have been going through old photos and we discovered these from the summer of 1976. We were heading to Africa for a summer of research on Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana with a stop in Paris on the way.  This would be my first trip to Paris.  While in Paris we visited with Hugues and Liliane Faure.  Hugues was the Director of the Laboratory of Quaternary Geology in France, and Dan had known him for a long time through their common research interests.    During our long weekend visit Hugues and Liliane took us to many lovely Parisian sites and to many restaurants where we had delicious French cuisine.  It was a lovely visit and for me a memorable introduction to this lovely couple and to Paris, a city I came to love.
Dan, and wth Hugues holding his son Olivier at Montmartre in Paris. (Photo by Liliane Faure.) 1976

Dan and I with Hugues at the Eiffel Tower. (Photo br Liliane Faure). 1976.
It is so nostalgic to reminisce.

Several years later Dan and I spent a summer of research at The Laboratory of Quaternary Geology in Luminy on the Mediterranean with the Faures.  More about that in another blog.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Had My First Pomelo on Saturday. Have you had one?

A Pomelo.  

My friend Ava brought us some livermush the other day, and in the bag with the livermush was the biggest grapefruit I ever saw.  I declared, "What a big grapefruit!"  She then explained that it was not a grapefruit but a Pomelo.  I had never heard of it.  I learned that Citrus maxima (or Citrus grandis), with the common name Pamelo is a citrus fruit, with the look of a big grapefruit, native to South and Southeast Asia.

Pamelos are the largest of the citrus fruits and are closely related to grapefruits.  The Grapefruit is considered to be a natural occurring hybrid between the Pomelo and the Mandarin orange.
Left to right:  Mandarin , Orange, and Pomelo.  

The Pomelos are quite heavy. (I should have weighed this one.)  The pith (white layer under the outer skin) is very thick and the pulp can be cream colored or pink.  This one was pink, the rarer color, and the sweeter.  Pamelos taste like a very sweet grapefruit without any of the bitterness.  
Very thick white pith of the Polemo.

It is difficult to peel this fruit, especially removing the pith from the pulp.  It is hard to get a whole section of pulp out intact.  
Sections of the pulp, some intact.  
Section of Pomelo and section of Mandarin orange.  

Thanks Ava for introducing me to the Pamelo a new to me citrus fruit.  


Thursday, February 26, 2015

If Life Gives You Snow, Make Snow Cream

Chocolate snow cream. *

The Weather Forecasters were predicting a rather substantial snow fall last night, so I set out a large bowl on our patio table out back to catch some snow for making snow cream.  When I was a kid my Mama made snow cream for us every time there was snowfall.  As I recall she would mix a beaten egg, milk, sugar and vanilla in with the snow.  Nowadays it isn't safe to eat raw eggs so I omitted that in my recipe.  Actually I didn't have a recipe, I just mixed the snow with chocolate milk, a bit of heavy cream and sugar to taste.  Dan had requested chocolate snow cream, and we happened to have chocolate milk on hand.
Bowl full of fresh snow.

The bowl was full of snow when I got up this morning, and I thought I would put it in the freezer until I was ready to make the snow cream.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  After about an hour I began to wonder if the snow would freeze solid, so I went out to check it and sure enough the top was a layer of frozen snow, so I brought it in.  I could dig down into the bowl where the snow was still not frozen though and that is where I made the snow cream.

Top frozen.  Dug down into middle where the snow was not frozen.

I just gradually added chocolate milk, a bit of sugar, and some heavy cream into the middle of the bowl and stirred until it was incorporated with the snow.
Mixing ingredients into snow.

Ready to eat.  
It was more like a chocolate slushie.  Dan and I each had a small bowl, and it was okay.  It had to be eaten immediately because it melted quickly.

But one member of our family found it absolutely delicious.
Maggie eating a bit of the slushie.  There wasn't much chocolate milk left. (I know dogs should not eat chocolate.)
Here's a recipe I found on line, but as I said, I think you can just add the milk, and sugar to taste and to consistency.  Next time I won't put the snow in the freezer.

  • 1 gallon snow
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.

* Dan is an environmental biologist, and he said it won't hurt you to eat snow cream occasionally.  This is for those of you who are worried about pollutants in the air.  Dan is very cautious about things like that, so I thought if he said it was okay it would not be harmful.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TAZZA KITCHEN replaces Cafe Caturra in Cameron Village

TAZZA in Cameron Village

After five days being stuck inside because of the snow and ice, I was able to take Dan out on Sunday afternoon for an early dinner.  Cafe Caturra in Cameron Village was one of our favorite places to eat in the Village, but it has been replaced by TAZZA.  We read some reviews of this new restaurant online and decided to give it a try.  We had no regrets.  The ambiance, the staff, and most of all the food were superb.
A list of some of their farms on the menu.

They specialize in fresh, know your farmers food and use only antibiotic-free, hormone-free, humanely-raised pork, poultry, lamb and beef, and sustainably-harvested, chemical-free seafood. There menu offers Mexican cuisine and Italian cuisine, an unusual combination of choices. And of course pizza.  Our waiter suggested that the name TAZZA is a combination of Tacos and Pizza, but I think he may have been joking.
Dan is perusing the menu.

We shared a starter of Cast Iron Goat Cheese.  The cheese was melted in a marinara sauce and parsley and served with brick oven bread. The texture and flavor were perfect.
Cast Iron Goat Cheese with Brick Oven Bread.

Dan's entree choice was the Brick Oven Crab Cakes served with pequin chili slaw, micro greens and lemon dressing.  The slaw was a bit on the hot spicy side, but the crab cakes were quite good with lots of crab meat. The spicy slaw was because of pequin peppers, so now we know what that is.
Crab Cakes. 

I chose the Scallops with sweet potato risotto, fried sage, and brown butter.  The scallops were large, fresh and perfectly cooked and I would love to have the recipe of the sweet potato risotto.  The risotto was rich and creamy.  Yum!!!!
Scallops with sweet potato risotto. 

I had been avoiding sugar all week, so I thought I deserved a bit of something sweet.    We shared the Gelato & Cake. Two scoops of salted caramel gelato with a slice of almond and orange flourless cake, garnished with a basil leaf provided a perfect ending for a delicious dinner.
Salted caramel gelato with almond-orange flourless cake.  

We've decided we like TAZZA even better than Cafe Caturra, and I am ready to go again as soon as the now snowy weather permits.

Check out their link here.
The gelato came from gelati celesti in Richmond.  It rivals the gelato we've had in Italy.