yogurt

My Insta-Pot Experience

by Anne Maxfield on April 17, 2017

Accidental Locavore Insta-PotLike millions of Americans I bought an Insta-Pot.

My excuse?

It was half price on Amazon and my slow cooker had just sprung an irreparable leak.

Sayonara  crock-pot, hello Insta-Pot.

An Insta-Pot (if you haven’t heard of them) is reputed to be the replacement for most of the appliances you have and plenty that you probably don’t.

It’s a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer and it sautés.

After an initial batch of basmati rice that was undercooked and stuck to the container, it was given a time-out for a couple of months.

But I wasn’t going to let an appliance get the best of me (especially since someone I know who is not a great/adventurous cook has been using it like crazy and getting great results).

So, I read the book.

It’s pretty basic, but since everyone online has been touting it, it’s easy to find answers there.

First up, some short ribs with Sean’s booYah! Bali Sweet Heat Glaze (I met Sean at the Restaurant Show and he gave me this to try).

I seared the ribs in the Insta-Pot and it did a great job! Nicely seared and as an added bonus, no fat spattered all over the stove.

Once seared, I added the booYah! sauce and about a cup of beef stock I had from another project that had some soy sauce in it.

Put the cover on and slow-cooked it for the afternoon. Came out great!

Next up, yogurt.

I’ve used the Insta-Pot twice now for yogurt and both times it’s come out perfectly. You just put the mixture in, hit the yogurt button and leave it. The big advantage for me, especially in the winter, is that my oven can be pretty cold, even with the light on so there can be some serious temperature fluctuations.

So far, perfect yogurt. Although it’s an expensive yogurt maker, I’d keep it around just for that!

Accidental Locavore Yogurt in Insta-PotI need to gather up my courage and give it a try with something it’s famous for—as a pressure cooker.

Supposedly the Insta-Pot makes amazing risotto (and could have done my short ribs in minutes rather than hours). So, maybe a risotto with some prosciutto, asparagus and peas (are you paying attention Janet?).

Do you have one? What’s your favorite thing to do with it?

 

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Indian Spiced Lamb Shanks

by Anne Maxfield on March 16, 2017

The Accidental Locavore came across these Indian lamb shanks searching for something else on the Internet.

Has that ever happened to you?

They looked like a nice switch from my usual way of doing lamb shanks and I had some nice ones from a local farm. Serves 2 or more depending on the size of your shanks. The lamb needs to marinate, so plan accordingly.

Indian Spiced Lamb Shanks

For the lamb:

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1” ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • Salt

Spices for lamb shanksFor the sauce:

  • 2” piece of cinnamon
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 green chilies (serrano or jalapeno) slit lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • A small can of tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

Blend garlic, ginger, curry and ground coriander with a bit of water into a paste.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and cover with the spice paste. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

Bring the lamb to room temperature.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and ghee on medium heat.

Coarsely crush the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and add to the oil. Allow to sizzle on low heat for a few seconds before adding the sliced onions.
Sauté the onion till light brown and then add the slit chilies. Stir and continue to sauté till the onions turn dark brown.

Onions for lamb shanksAdd all the spices and the tomato puree. Sauté for another 2 minutes taking care that the spice mixture does not stick to the bottom.
Add the lamb shanks and the marinade to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes turning occasionally, Take care that the spice mixture does not burn.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the yogurt a little at a time to make a thick sauce.

Place the pan back on the heat and add 2 cups of water. Season with salt, mix well and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid, add the grated nutmeg, stir and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes until the meat becomes really tender. The sauce will also thicken and develop a deep rich color.

Stir in the lemon juice, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

My verdict: This was really good! We served it with basmati rice to soak up the sauce. The only issue we both had with it was that you kept biting down on bits of cinnamon, etc. which wasn’t terribly pleasant. Next time, I think I’ll make a little bundle with cheesecloth that I can remove at the end.

If you don’t have ghee floating around your kitchen, microwave some butter until it’s all melted, skim off the white stuff on the top and what’s left is clarified butter.

I just used one large jalapeno and it was a little spicy but probably could have been spicier.

There was lots of sauce left because our shanks were a little small, so I got some lamb for stew, browned it well, added it to the leftover sauce and it made dinner for another night later in the week. If you’re not a fan of lamb shanks (congrats for reading this far), a couple of pounds of lamb or beef stew meat would work well.

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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Chicken Shawarma

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2015

Accidental Locavore Chicken Shawarma With RiceBoth the Accidental Locavore and Frank saw this on the NY Times website and thought it looked great, so it wasn’t long before it became dinner. While you probably want to start it marinating ahead of time, the actual cooking process is pretty quick and easy. Serves 4:

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus about a tablespoon for greasing the pan
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Make a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°. Grease a rimmed sheet pan with the olive oil. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade and place on the pan in a single layer.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice across the grain. Garnish with parsley and serve with your choice of sauces—white, hot etc. and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled Chicken ShawarmaMy verdict (and Frank’s): Great! Now that it’s warmer out, we’ll probably do this on the grill, but it worked fine in the oven. I served it with brown basmati rice (which took about as long as the chicken) and with both white sauce and harissa. For the white sauce, I used about 3/4 cup yogurt (actually labneh since I had some in the fridge), 1/3 cup mayo, juice of half a small lemon, and a garlic clove run through a garlic press. Check the taste and adjust as needed.

I made a small salad to mix up with the shawarma, of shredded lettuce, tomato and feta, so you could eat it on the side or add it to the chicken. Feel free to mix and match what you like to make this a great (and easy) meal!

Update: We did it again and grilled it this time. It was really good, but possibly a bit over-cooked. This time we served it with tabouli and asparagus grilled in a bit of the white sauce. Either way it’s a winner and how you cook it will just depend on whether you want to heat up your kitchen.

 

 

 

 

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