Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

On Father’s Day we usually either grill steaks or make a huge Rib Roast.  Both are great choices but this year we’ll be mixing it up a bit.  Instead of grilled steaks or a nice rib roast I’ll be making a nice Rack of Lamb.

I made my very first rack of lamb for my grandson’s birthday last April.  Lamb is one of his favorite meats and he requested it for his birthday dinner.  We used to just throw a couple of racks on the grill during one of our weekly barbecues, but for his birthday I wanted to do something a little fancier.  So I looked up several different recipes and tweaked them here and there until I came up with this delicious Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb.

I’m not a big fan of lamb, in fact I don’t eat it, which is why I don’t make it very often.  But the rest of the family loves it.  Years ago cooking lamb intimidated me, but I’ve since learned how to make it in several dishes.  But never had I done a rack until the other month.  I was happily surprised that it went well.  It came out so well that I’ve served it a couple of times since my grandson’s birthday.

This recipe is very simple but it makes the lamb rack tender and juicy; and yes it looks impressive when served!  The secret to making the perfect rack of lamb is to be sure the meat is at room temperature before roasting; just like making the perfect roast.  Cooking meat at room temperature prevents over and undercooking.  Another secret is to use your handy meat thermometer to ensure that you’ve cooked your meat to the proper temperature; well actually you cook meat until it’s about 5° BELOW your desired temperature.  And lastly you allow your rack to “rest” for about 5 minutes after you take it out of the oven.  (Here’s a tip:  you should remove allow all meats, grilled, broiled, or roasted before it gets to the proper temperature and allow it to rest about 5 minutes)

You may be wondering why meats should be removed from the oven or grill before it hits the desired temperature and “rest” before serving.  The reason is that your meat continues to cook even after you remove it from the heat source so if you take it out when the thermometer hits the correct temperature your meat ends up overdone.  The resting period allows the meat to continue to cook to the desired temperature and seals in the juices.  I learned this from the Chef who caters all our special events.

Before I write down my recipe here’s a couple more tips so that your rack of lamb turns out perfectly.

  1. If you’re roasting more than 1 rack (a rack with 8 ribs feeds about 2-3 people) get racks that are close in size and weight so that they cook evenly.
  2. Be sure the racks are “frenched” – meaning the bone tips are exposed and clean.
  3. Be sure you get lamb not mutton!  Mutton has a very strong gamey scent and is not tender, it comes from adult sheep.
  4. If you can smell some gaminess in the meat rub fresh lemon all around the rack, this helps neutralize the scent.
  5. Invest in a meat thermometer.  You can pick one up from Amazon or any store that sells kitchen supplies.  You don’t need the fanciest most expensive one although one that’s digital is a plus.  They sell for under $20 and is one of the best investments you can make for your kitchen.

I try to use fresh herbs in my recipes and this one is no exception.  It’s a great way to use the herbs I grow in my garden.  But if you don’t have fresh herbs dried ones will work too.

Having said all this here’s my recipe!  Try it out for Father’s Day I’m sure everyone will love it!  I’ll give you the recipe for 1 rack but you can easily double or triple it for more racks.  Just remember to get racks that are close in weight and size!

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

Ingredients:

1 Rack of Lamb –  8 ribs, frenched

1/4 cup Olive Oil

3-4 Cloves fresh garlic, minced

3 Sprigs fresh Rosemary leaves, chopped (or 2 Tbs. dried rosemary)

1 Tbs. fresh Thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 Tbs. dried thyme)

6 Sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rack on top.

Mix all the other ingredients together in a small bowl.

Rub oil mixture all over the rack, be sure you get the sides and the bottom.

Place rack fat side up on the sheet and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 450°.

Insert thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.

Cook lamb in the oven until the thermometer reads 5° BELOW your desired temperature (see chart below)

Remove from oven and cover with foil.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes or until the thermometer reads your desired temperature.

Slice rack between the bones, garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Serve with your favorite sides and starch.  We like it with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

Doneness Chart for Rack of Lamb: (Fahrenheit)

Rare –  115° – 120°

Medium Rare – 120° – 125°

Medium – 130° – 135°

Medium Well – 140° – 145°

Well Done – 150° – 155°

 

 

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
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Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rack on top.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a small bowl.  
  3. Rub oil mixture all over the rack, be sure you get the sides and the bottom.
  4. Place rack fat side up on the sheet and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. 
  5. Pre-heat oven to 450°.
  6. Insert thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. 
  7. Cook lamb in the oven until the thermometer reads 5° BELOW your desired temperature (see chart below)
  8. Remove from oven and cover with foil.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes or until the thermometer reads your desired temperature.  
  9. Slice rack between the bones, garnish with chopped parsley if desired.  
  10. Serve with your favorite sides and starch.  We like it with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus
Recipe Notes

Doneness Chart for Rack of Lamb: (Fahrenheit) Rare -  115° - 120° Medium Rare - 120° - 125° Medium - 130° - 135° Medium Well - 140° - 145° Well Done - 150° - 155°

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Baked Shrimp Scampi

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi is a shrimp dish just about everyone loves.  It’s a simple dish with just 4 ingredients; and it can be made in a matter of minutes.  I mean how hard is it to sauté shrimp in a garlic butter sauce?

Sautéing in garlic butter is very easy, specially if you’re making scampi for just 2 or 3 people.  But how about making it for a crowd?  If you’re making scampi for a crowd you’ll probably want to make it in batches, you really can’t expect perfectly cooked shrimp when you’re pan is heaped with raw shrimp.  It’s not always easy to get a frying pan of shrimp to cook evenly.  So what’s the solution?

Baked scampi!  Yes instead of sautéing a huge pan of shrimp or making several smaller batches it’s  easier to bake them.  This is seriously the easiest way to make Shrimp scampi for a crowd!  It takes just minutes to put together then baked for about 15 minutes.  This impressive looking dish can be made in about half an hour leaving you plenty of time to spend with guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen!

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients:

1 Lb. Medium Shrimp, peeled but leave tail on

1/4 Cup White Wine

1 Stick butter, melted and divided in halves

1 Lemon, juiced and zested

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 Cup parsley, chopped, divided into thirds

Dash of Cayenne Red Pepper

1/2 Cup Panko bread crumbs

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Pasta, cooked and ready to serve

Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425º

Combine wine, 1/2 of melted butter, lemon juice and zest, garlic, 1/3 of chopped parsley, Cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Toss raw shrimp in this mixture and let sit about 5 minutes.

Arrange shrimp on baking dish and drizzle marinade over it.

Toss Panko in olive oil and 1/3 of the chopped parsley

Sprinkle over shrimp.

Drizzle remaining butter over all.

Bake in hot oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the shrimp has turned pink.

Serve over pasta, sprinkle remaining parsley over all and serve with a wedge of lemon.

 

 

Baked Shrimp Scampi
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Baked Shrimp Scampi
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425º
  2. Combine wine, 1/2 of melted butter, lemon juice and zest, garlic, 1/3 of chopped parsley, Cayenne pepper in a bowl. 
  3. Toss raw shrimp in this mixture and let sit about 5 minutes.
  4. Arrange shrimp on baking dish and drizzle marinade over it.
  5. Toss Panko in olive oil and 1/3 of the chopped parsley
  6. Sprinkle over shrimp.
  7. Drizzle remaining butter over all.
  8. Bake in hot oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the shrimp has turned pink.
  9. Serve over pasta, sprinkle remaining parsley over all and serve with a wedge of lemon.
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Tortang Talong  – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Tortang Talong – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Italy may have their Eggplant Parmesan but the Philippines has their Tortang Talong or Eggplant Omelette.  The word “torta” has many meanings in the Latin based language.  In Italy and other countries whose language is rooted in latin it usually means cake or pie.  In Mexico it refers to a sandwhich.  In Spain it can mean either a cake or an omelette.

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for about 500 years.  Much of its language, customs, and cuisine is adapted from the Spanish culture.  Hence many favorite Filipino dishes include Arroz Valenciana or Paella,  Arroz Caldo, Pastel de Lengua, Menudo, Chorizo, and Torta, just to name a few.

The word “tortang” is derived from the Spanish word “Torta”.  In the Philippines when they refer to something as “tortang” it means that it is made like a torta, which in this case mean omelette.  So Tortang Talong means Eggplant Omelette since Talong is the Filipino name for Eggplant.

Tortang Talong is a simple yet tasty way to eat eggplant.  It uses the long Asian eggplant instead of the large round eggplant normally used in the Italian Eggplant Parmesan.  The eggplant is cooked, usually over an open fire or grill, flattened, dipped in beaten eggs, then fried.  There are many versions of this Filipino dish, some of which include ground meat.  In my family we usually make it without as it’s pretty filling without meat.  I make it at home for our meatless dinner nights.  Served with a tossed salad and some olives and pickles on the side it’s simply delicious!

You can roast the eggplant up to a day in advance.  Leave the skin on and store in the fridge until ready to use.  Depending on the size of the eggplant you can either make one to share or smaller individual ones.  I usually make 2 and that feeds around 4 people.

Tortang Talong

Ingredients:

1 Asian Long Eggplant

2 Eggs

1/2 Tsp. Minced Garlic

Salt & Pepper to taste

Oil for frying

Directions:

Roast or broil the eggplant with the skin on.  You will know the eggplant is cooked when it is soft and the skin is a bit wrinkled and has turned brownish in color.

Peel cooked eggplant.  You can do this by holding the stem and gently pulling off the skin with your fingers.  The meat may stick to the skin so be careful peeling it so that you don’t take the eggplant meat with the skin.  Do not remove the stem.

Place peeled eggplant on a flat plate and gently flatten with a fork.  You should end up with eggplant meat fanning out from the top stem.

Beat eggs, garlic, salt & pepper together in  a shallow dish.

Place about 1/2 tsp. oil in a large frying pan and heat.

Place eggplant in egg mixture.  Use the fork to gently immerse eggplant (but not the stem) in the egg mixture.  Allow the eggplant to absorb as much of the egg mixture as possible.

Holding the eggplant by the stem gently place it in the hot oil.  You can pour some more egg mixture over the eggplant in the pan so that the eggplant is completely covered.

Cook until the bottom starts to turn golden brown and the egg mixture on the top starts to get a bit dry.

Gently flip the eggplant over and cook until that side turns golden brown.

Slide finished omelette onto a serving dish and serve.

Tortang Talong - Filipino Eggplant Omelette
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Tortang Talong - Filipino Eggplant Omelette
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Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I think one of the prettiest salads you can have is the Caprese Salad.  It’s vibrant colors are so inviting, promising something creamy, fresh and delicious.

What you may ask is a Caprese Salad.  It’s an Italian salad of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil with a light vinaigrette dressing.  It’s said that Caprese Salad was originally made to honor the Italian flag which is Red, White, and Green; the same colors of the salad.

Caprese Salad is definitely a family favorite.  It’s not only delicious but it’s so easy to make.  We have it for lunch, as a panino or sandwich.  You can place the ingredients between 2 slices of bread or better yet a ciabatta roll, grill it just until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, and you have a wonderfully simple meal!

The most important thing to remember when making Caprese Salad at home is to use the freshest ingredients you can find.  This mean unless absolutely necessary the prepacked balls of mozzarella in the supermarket’s dairy case just won’t do!

Short of bringing home fresh mozzarella from Italy (which I’ve actually done) I usually find fresh mozzarella at Costco or the deli counter.  It’s the balls of cheese that’s usually floating in the tub it’s packaged in.  You’ll know it’s fresh because it’s softer than those hard balls packed in plastic wrap.

Tomatoes of course are fresh, pick nice ripe ones.  I get mine from my garden along with the fresh basil.  If you don’t have a basil plant (and you should! it’s so easy to keep even a small one in the kitchen window) you can buy fresh basil leaves at the grocery store.

Once you have all the fresh ingredients all  you really need is some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of Italian seasoning if  you have it, and some salt.  If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can use dried oregano, parsley, or basil or you can just use black pepper.

Caprese Salad is great for a light lunch or as a fresh addition to any meal.  It’s tasty and refreshing, the perfect summer salad!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

5-6 slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (slices should be about 1/2″ thick)

1 Firm Ripe Tomato – sliced in about 1/2″ thick rounds

3-6 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp. Italian Dressing

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/2″ rounds and arrange on a plate.  Alternate tomato and cheese to make it look nice.

You can also add a basil leaf between the cheese and tomato or you can place the leaves in the center.  Place the three ingredients on the plate any way you find pleasing.

Mix together oil and vinegar.

Add 1/2 Tsp. of Italian seasoning to the oil mixture and stir well.

Drizzle over the fresh ingredients just before serving.

Sprinkle remaining Italian Seasoning over all and season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

Caprese Salad
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Caprese Salad
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Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

I love roast chicken but many times we can’t finish a whole one and end up with chicken that won’t quite be enough for another meal but a shame to waste.  That’s when I make Chicken Salad.

I use the left over chicken meat from my Roasted Garlic Butter Chicken to make this delicious Chicken Salad. It’s very tasty because the left over chicken is very tasty, and it’s a great way to avoid waste and make use of leftovers.  You can make Chicken salad with any type of roast chicken including the rotisserie chicken you buy at Costco and Sam’s Club.

Chicken Salad is a great idea for lunch or tea.  You can serve it with greens for a light lunch, use it to fill your favorite bread or tortilla to make a sandwich or wrap, or use it to make those cute tea sandwiches for a tea party.  I adore tea parties!

Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

Left over roast chicken – diced

1/2 to 1 Cup Mayonaise depending on how much chicken you have – remember the more mayo you use the creamier your salad will be.

1/4 Cup Fresh Dill chopped

1 Tbs. Dried Dill

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix very well.

Make sure the herbs and spices are evenly distributed and the chicken and mayo are mixed together well.

Use a scoop over salad greens for a light lunch salad; or as a sandwich or wrap filling.

Store in airtight container in the fridge.  It will store for about 2-3 days.

Chicken Salad
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Chicken Salad
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