rack of lamb

Roast Like a Pro: TheTop 10 Tools You Need

by Anne Maxfield on December 19, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tools for a Roast‘Tis the season…

A roast is considered de rigueur for the holidays.

But, if you suffer from fear of roasting, here are the Accidental Locavore’s top 10 tools to make roasting a snap!

Nest week, the steps to a perfect roast.

Roasts are easy but you will need a few critical pieces of equipment.

Top 10 tools, listed in order of importance:

1. An oven: if you’ve been using this as storage, remove all occupants and see if you can turn on the oven. If not, call for take-out.
2. A roasting pan: or the broiler pan that probably came with your oven, a big Dutch oven or cast iron pan. Size will dictate what you can cook.
3. An instant-read thermometer. This is as essential for a roast as an oven. You can use a simple cheap dial model, or a fancy one like the one Zhu Zhu gave us. Accidental Locavore Thermometer for a Roast
4. A good piece of meat. Rack or leg of lamb, leg of lamb, chicken, duck, turkey, roast beef, pork roast, etc. Chicken, duck or lamb are good to start with. They’re easy to roast and generally forgiving. Because the meat is the star of the meal, buy the best you can afford.Accidental Locavore Roast Duck
5. Spices: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are a good start. Garlic is always good and if you have fresh herbs or a favorite spice mix/rub use it!
6. A rack, preferably a V-shaped rack. This is an option – think of it as roasting 2.0, but it will come in handy.
7. Oven mitts, or pot holders: don’t want to burn your hands pulling the pan out of the oven!
8. A baster and/or a brush: This is also roasting 2.0 but I have faith.
9. Olive oil, butter or melted butter: Gotta have something to do with #8, right?
10. A timer: doesn’t matter if it’s on your stove or smart phone, just make sure it’s loud enough that you can hear it. Obnoxious helps too. Mine keeps making noise until you get up and turn it off.

Ready to roast?




Pete Wells and Restaurant Reviews

by Anne Maxfield on December 12, 2016

  1. Accidental Locavore Restaurant Reviewer

The Accidental Locavore was reading about the restaurant reviewer for The NY Times, Pete Wells, in The New Yorker (check it out if you haven’t seen it).

According to the piece, before he writes a review he goes to a restaurant at least three times.

While it makes sense to give you a broader overview of the restaurant, does it work that way in real life?



It depends.

Here’s why:

Pete Wells or his counterparts can be recognized.

And a chef friend told me that it’s pretty common for a restaurant that gets a good write-up from a prestigious paper to fire the chef and the team that got them the four stars since they think they can now live off that review.

“You only get one shot to make a first impression.”

Accidental Locavore Bad WaitersIf you like a place, you’ll go back even if it’s far away or a big splurge.

You’ll always tell your friends.

In glowing dish-by-dish descriptions.

You might post it on Instagram.

If the restaurant isn’t up to expectations, you’ll go once and cross it off your list forever.

You’ll always tell your friends. You’ll tell anyone who will listen.

In glowering dish-by-dish descriptions.

You won’t post it on Instagram. You might post it on Yelp.

Do any regular diners go back another two times?

Don’t think so.

Hey, our dinners aren’t being paid for by the NY Times, so we’re going to be pickier about how we spend our money.

Even when we’ve spoken to management (or they’ve seen the Yelp review) and been invited back so they can “make it up to us” we have never taken them up on the offer.

Prime example: Frank and I went to celebrate our anniversary. Friends had raved about the Red Onion in Saugerties and we decided to forgo our favorite, Les Baux.


Big mistake.

It started when I got out of the car and stepped in a mud puddle.

The rack of lamb (a house specialty we were told) was overcooked and under seasoned (unlike mine in the photo).

Accidental Locavore Rack of LambPeas straight out of a big plastic bag.

A mountain of mashed potatoes that could have come from a box.

Two hockey pucks that were reputed to be onions.

Even if it wasn’t a 45-minute drive (in each direction), we won’t be back.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog where you can vent.

What’s been your most disappointing meal?

And no, that’s not a photo of Pete Wells, but who knows?





Rack of Lamb With Yogurt and Persian Spices

by Anne Maxfield on September 26, 2013

Accidental Locavore Rack of Lamb RecipeRack of lamb is always easy and tastes great!

The Accidental Locavore was dying to try a new spice mix from Food 52’s new Provisions site, I remembered a rack of lamb taking up space in the freezer.

The idea for this rack of lamb recipe would be to make a marinade with the spice mix, some yogurt etc, grill it and serve it with couscous and some squash or eggplant, also done on the grill.

Here’s how it turned out.

Grilled Rack of Lamb With Yogurt and Persian Spices

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 generous teaspoons Persian Lime Spice Rub
  • 1 large clove of garlic, run through a garlic press or finely minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 rack of lamb with about 8 ribs

Generously salt and pepper the rack of lamb.

In a small bowl, mix together the spice mix, yogurt and garlic.

Put the lamb in a large Ziploc bag, add the yogurt mix, making sure the lamb is well coated. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

An hour before you’re going to cook it, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a grill, or grill pan, to high heat. When the grill is hot, add the lamb, bone side up.

Allow to sear for a minute or two, then reduce the heat to medium.

Cook for about 4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 5 minutes until it reaches your desired doneness.

Remove from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Carve, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Grilled rack of lamb is always great.

This was inspired by and topped with my friend Jeff’s feta aïoli (scroll down his page for the recipe).

It made a great sauce for the lamb and was easily put together at the same time as the marinade.

I also thinly sliced some summer squash, tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them with the lamb.

While the lamb was resting, it gave me the time to make a batch of couscous.

Because it was a rack of lamb, and was very tender, I’m not sure that it needed the yogurt marinade. Next time, I’ll just do a rub of some salt and pepper and the spice blend and grill some limes cut in half to go with it.





Accidental Locavore Potato GratinPotato gratin to go with rack of lamb for Valentine’s Day, what’s a better combination? So the Accidental Locavore went straight to the source for this week’s cook-along recipe, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wanted a recipe for a classic French potato gratin and found it with the Gratin Dauphinois. The only major change I made with it was to omit the cooking on top of the stove as I’m sure the gratin pan I have wasn’t flameproof, so I just cooked it in oven a little longer. The book says for 6 people, maybe my guests were just hungry, it fed 4. Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

  • 2 pounds potatoes (I used Yukon Golds)
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Swiss cheese, grated (I used a Gruyere from Murray’s Cheese)
  • 1 cup boiling milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8″ thick. Place them in a bowl of cold water, and drain when ready to use.

Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. Grease the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Drain the potatoes and dry them with a towel. Spread half of them in the dish. Sprinkle half the salt, pepper,cheese and butter over them. Add the rest of the potatoes, and cover with the rest of the cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Pour the boiling milk over the potatoes.

Julia says to set the baking dish over heat and when simmering move to the upper third of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, the milk is absorbed, and the top is browned. I just popped them in the oven and cooked them until they were browned, about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

My rating: 3 stars. The potatoes were a little overcooked, and there was no sign of the cheese. Next time, I would use more cheese, and maybe substitute cream for the milk. A little fresh thyme and/or nutmeg might help. It may have been the potatoes I used, but the dish was kind of watery. However, potatoes with cheese, milk and butter, how bad can it be? I’ll definitely keep rubbing the cut garlic on the baking dish.

Frank’s rating: 5 stars

Robin’s rating: 4.5 stars…”the potatoes were PERFECT, and seasoned perfectly to let the flavor of the potato shine…the only reason it’s not higher for me is because I would have probably put a little more cheese in it, but I love cheese!”

Schecky’s rating: 4 stars,” and say it was simple and delicious – a perfect compliment for the rest of the meal.”