Lamb Curry With Spinach

by Anne Maxfield on May 5, 2016

Accidental Locavore Spinach in CurryOkay, by now you might be getting weary of yet another recipe from Made In India, but the Accidental Locavore is telling you, it’s one of the best cookbooks that’s crossed my path since David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. This time it’s a lamb stew/curry with baby spinach—perfect for spring! Serves 4.

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 3/4” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 ¾ pounds lamb shoulder cut into 1 ¼” cubes
  • 1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound baby spinach

Accidental Locavore Lamb for CurryIn a large Dutch oven or casserole (that has a lid) over medium heat add the oil. When it’s hot add the onions and fry for 10-12 minutes until soft, golden and starting to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chili, cumin, coriander and the diced lamb and turn the heat to medium high. When the lamb pieces have browned all over, add the tomatoes, breaking them up, tomato paste and salt. Stir well. Add ¾ cup of water, stir and bring to a boil. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 ¼ hours or until the meat is tender.

Remove the lid and add the spinach in bunches, cook until just wilted. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Lamb and Spinach CurryMy verdict: Another winner! Working my way through the freezer, there was a package of lamb stew meat from our CSA so we were all set. I actually made the stew a day ahead, warmed it up and added the spinach just before we ate. You’ll need a pretty big pot as the spinach takes up a lot of room, but it does cook down. Along with (my now perfect) basmati rice, this was a great meal. When no one was looking, I added some mango chutney to mine and it was even better. Instead of grating the ginger, I just chop it really finely in my mini-chopper – it’s so much faster than grating for 10 minutes…



Nopi Lamb Meatballs

by Anne Maxfield on February 25, 2016

Locavore Meatballs With CouscousEveryone loves a good meatball and while the first dish the Accidental Locavore planned to cook from the new Ottolenghi book Nopi was the Vine Leaf Beef Pie, I haven’t been able to corral enough adventurous eaters to make it worth doing (without leftovers for weeks). These lamb meatballs looked great and I had some really good ground lamb from my Four Legs Farm share. The original recipe was for six but I halved it to feed 3:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Large pinch dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ pound Swiss chard, stems removed and greens shredded
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk) or labne
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a paste
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Locavore Nopi Meatballs and ChardPlace the first six ingredients in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the allspice, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Mix well and form into golf-ball-sized meatballs; you should have about a dozen.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan with the onion and the other garlic clove. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the chile and the Swiss chard and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted. Stir in the other teaspoon of the allspice, chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

Locavore Nopi Meatballs With SauceIn a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, cornstarch paste, egg and ¼ cup of water. Whisk well to form a smooth paste. Gradually spoon in the chard mixture, stirring well after each addition until the two mixtures are combined. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper and set aside.

Pour the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry for 4 minutes, turning so all sides get browned. Do this in batches if you need to.

Locavore Nopi Meatballs CookingWipe down the pan and pour in the yogurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat. It should just barely be bubbling. Stir continuously in one direction to prevent the yogurt sauce from separating. Return the meatballs to the pan, stir to coat and cook on low heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

Locavore Nopi Lamb MeatballsServe garnished with the pomegranate seeds and the cilantro sprinkled on top and enjoy!

My verdict: Maybe the recipes are “restaurant food” because in a restaurant you have someone to wash the dishes! Without sounding too much like The Twelve Days of Christmas, this used four measuring spoons, three frying pans, two cutting boards, and a mixing bowl washed twice. However, if you can con someone else into washing up, this was a delicious dinner! The meatballs were tender and juicy with a nice crunch from the pine nuts. The yogurt sauce was reliable, for once not only not breaking, but adding a rich creamy touch to the lamb. It might have been because I actually used labne instead of yogurt – that’s an experiment I may have to run in the future, and I was very careful to keep the heat low. When I made this, I actually made the meatballs ahead of time, refrigerated them, made the sauce later in the day and added the meatballs until they were warmed and cooked through. Even though there are a lot of steps (and dishes), nothing is terribly difficult and the results are worth it! Next time, I’ll make the full recipe of meatballs, freeze half and do the sauce as needed. That will save a pan or two.

A special shout-out and thank you to Bob & Edesio who hand carried my signed copy of Nopi back from the UK! Come up and I’ll make the Vine Leaf pie!


Stuffed Cabbage With Yogurt Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on October 15, 2015

Back Camera

This morning, the Accidental Locavore pulled out a cabbage from my CSA and it practically begged to be made into stuffed cabbage. It’s a simple dish–a little time consuming, but well worth it. Par-boiling the leaves takes the most time, but it’s easy. Don’t let the lengthy looking directions scare you off.

For the cabbage:

  • 1 cabbage
  • 1/2 pound of ground lamb
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup each dill, parsley and mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A dash of allspice

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup of whole milk yogurt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Accidental Locavore Cabbage for StuffingCore the cabbage and carefully remove the leaves until they get too small to work with. Cut the spines out of the cabbage.

Fill your biggest, flattest pan with water and put it on to simmer. Place a few of the cabbage leaves in pan. You need to cover them with water, so do them in batches. Cook until just tender and pliable. Repeat with the rest of the leaves. Put them on a plate, or clean dishtowel to drain and cool.

While the leaves are cooling, mix the rest of the cabbage ingredients until well combined.

Take all the leftover small pieces of cabbage, and the spines, and line the bottom of a large flat pan with them (I use the same pan as for prepping the leaves).

If the cabbage leaves are large, cut them in half the long way (along the spine).

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling about an inch above the bottom of the base of the leaf. Fold up the bottom to cover the filling. Fold in the sides, and roll up. As you work, place the rolls in the pan so they’re resting on the seam (the end of the leaf).

Accidental Locavore Stuffed Cabbage in the PotDot with butter, about 2 TBSP, and fill the pan with water to cover the rolls. Place a large plate on top to hold them down.

Heat on medium-high until boiling, then turn down to a strong simmer for 30-35 minutes until tender.

To make the sauce, mix the yogurt with the egg yolks. Add to a small saucepan with the tomato sauce, garlic and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and heat slowly until warm. Pour over the stuffed cabbage, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: When we lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there was a Turkish place nearby that made great stuffed cabbage. Since we’re far away now, I’ve had to try to duplicate it and this is pretty close. It’s become a favorite and I make it fairly often. Try to choose a cabbage that has big, smooth leaves, it will be much easier to take apart them. Do not do what I did the first time and try to use a red cabbage! It’s just too gnarly. I don’t know what the one I had from my CSA was, but it was round and flat and super easy to separate. The other thing is that you must use whole milk yogurt and mix the egg yolks into it. Otherwise it will break and while it will taste ok, it won’t look very appetizing.



A Visit to Four Legs Farm

by Anne Maxfield on August 31, 2015

Accidental Locavore LeannaWhile most people are familiar with the CSA (community sponsored agriculture) model for vegetables, where you essentially pre-pay for your summer’s produce, the same idea for meat is just starting to catch on. Leanna Mulvihill of Four Legs Farm is betting the farm that you’ll soon be looking to buy your rack of lamb or pork chops the same way.

Accidental Locavore Four Legs FarmThe Accidental Locavore had a chance to tour the farm recently. You drive through the hustle of New Paltz and suddenly find yourself in the middle of fields of sunflowers with mountains and rock formations in the background. The farm is part of an interesting and much needed incubator program for Hudson Valley Farm Businesses sponsored by Glynwood, whose mission is to “ensure that farming thrives in the Hudson Valley”. There are 330 acres available to the participants, of which Leanna has about 63 of them.

Accidental Locavore PigsThe 23 pigs, “mutts” according to Leanna, are on a hill behind one of the barns. They’re a mix of breeds but, covered in their favorite mud, it was a bit hard to distinguish one from another. They were very happy to see us, bearing food, having eaten most of the weeds and brush on their hill and even happier when she turned on the water so they could really splash around in the mud! What was interesting was that it’s not quite as easy as ordering a few piglets; “buying piglets is really hard, you have to have connections.” And before you even work your piglet connections, you have to book a slaughterhouse. Because there are so few in the area that work humanely, they get booked up six months to a year ahead of time. She “was booking dates for animals that hadn’t been born yet.”

Accidental Locavore Four PigsWe left the pigs, fatter and muddier, and went down to the sheep pastures. She’s got them segregated by sex so that there’s no distraction from the business of grazing in the flower-strewn pastures. Accidental Locavore Guard CowEach flock is watched over by a large cow (or two) and these ladies take their duties seriously! They’re there to protect the sheep from coyotes and on occasion, from Leanna. She told me that one day when she was trimming the hooves of one of the sheep, something happened and the hoof was bleeding. Sylvia, the 18 year old watch-cow, came over to see what was up and ended up licking the sheep’s bleeding hoof clean!

Accidental Locavore Sheep EatingIf you had a chance to see her operation, you’d be cleaning out your freezer and sending a check for your share of lamb or pork or even an “Adventure” share (odd bits for sausages and stocks etc.), but do it quickly or you’ll miss out on this great opportunity. If there’s enough response from people in Manhattan, she’ll arrange a group drop-off point in the fall. And, while this is still in the planning stages, Leanna might be doing a special offering for the holidays with roasts and racks and all that fancy stuff to impress your friends and family. In the meantime, do it because we need to support local farms and especially women like Leanna who are striving to be the “best stewards of the land and animals possible.”Accidental Locavore Flock of Sheep