Lamb Terrine

Lamb Terrine

Sliced Lamb Terrine

Anyone that knows me, knows that I  favor the  classics in food , fashion, and life. Pates and Terrines have always fascinated me as they are classic, complex, yet easy dishes that conjure up grandeur, elegance  and rusticity at the same time. A terrine is a time honored way to utilize offal and ground meats, usually pork based  and bake into a rich flavored loaf. You can get fancy and layered with them or just really basic. I love them for Holidays, entertaining, and picnics. I had the heart and liver of the lamb we purchased and in true nose to tail fashion, wanted to use them, as opposed to discarding them. I knew they would go into a lovely simplistic terrine. Continue reading “Lamb Terrine”

Pillsbury Crescent Rockefeller

Pillsbury Crescent Rockefeller… Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

Certain Someone and I love Oysters Rockefeller. It’s one our favorite steakhouse appetizers. I love the elegance and refinement of bubbly oysters baked in their shells on a salt bed with spinach, a splash of Pernod, butter, cheese and garlic. The origins of the original dish are clouded in a veil of secrecy. It was created at the famous Antoine’s in New Orleans and named in honor of the richest man in land, John D Rockefeller because the secret ingredients were so rich. Many have tried to replicate it, but no one has, as the original recipe is a secret. Some say there is no spinach, while others say watercress and spinach. All we do know is the sauce is a blend of green  produce and the chefs at Antoine’s insist there is no spinach. Most versions I have sampled have spinach and it works all right for me and is easily attainable for the average home cook. One day I hope to have the real deal.`An anise flavored spirit like Pernod is optional, but I would highly urge you to use , as it pairs wonderfully with shellfish.


Oysters Rockefeller has always been a special treat when dining out, or for a special occasion, like the holidays. Here I take a classic variation of Oysters Rockefeller and take out the fuss of shucking and shells, by using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls as a bed for luscious oysters and tasty stuffing. This will make a wonderful addition to holiday table.







Pillsbury Crescent Rockefeller
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Seafood
A variation of the classic Oysters Rockefeller
  • 1 package Pillsbury® Crescent Butterflake 8ct
  • 4 tablespoons butter salted
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/ 4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh spinach
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seeds
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan plus an additional ¼ for topping
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod
  • 1 small approximately 8 oz jar of fresh shucked pasteurized oysters
  • Non stick spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the minced shallots, garlic and soften for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped parsley, spinach, kosher salt, pepper, fennel seed, and celery seed. Cook and stir until spinach and parsley have just wilted. This will take only about 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. In a glass bowl, add the spinach mixture, ¼ of the parmesan cheese, Pernod, and the Panko bread crumbs.
  6. Pulse until smooth with an immersion blender. You may also use a food processor with this process.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Set aside.
  9. On a clean surface, unroll crescent rolls.
  10. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non stick spray.
  11. Using two serving spoons take a triangle of dough and fold to fit into spoon curve. Add some parmesan on both sides and press spoons together to form.
  12. With each dough shell pressed and molded, lay at an angel in the muffin tin. You can continue to press edges together with fingers. This is your crescent dough shell.
  13. Add a oyster to each “crescent dough shell”.
  14. Add a generous spoonful of spinach mixture to each oyster on crescent dough shell.
  15. Top with more shredded parmesan cheese.
  16. Place in oven and reduce heat to 375 F after 2 minutes.
  17. Bake for 8 minutes until the dough is very golden and the oysters start to bubble.
  18. Remove from oven.
  19. Carefully remove each Crescent Rockefeller from muffin tin and place on a baking sheet with lined with parchment or a silpat.
  20. Place back in oven for an additional few minutes to crisp up the edges and underside of the dough base.
  21. Serve with lemon wedges immediately.
There may be some additional filling or oysters. The recipe can be easily increased
Pernod is traditional is Oysters Rockefeller and works well with oysters. It can be omitted, but will alter the traditional taste. Other anise flavored spirits can used as an substitution.



*I have a received compensation from General Mills and my opinions are my own.


Lamb Tongue Terrine in Aspic

First off, don’t worry, there are no shocking  gruesome pictures of whole raw lamb tongues on this post…

OK, if you are new to this blog , then you are finding out I’m adventurous and pretty fearless in the kitchen. Here is a little back-story on how I came to the post. A few months ago Certain Someone and I were at  Russian Banquet and we were served the most exquisite thinly sliced pieces of beef tongue.  I asked what it was, and the waiter announced tongue with a smirk that assumed the non Russians would be disgusted . Au Contraire.While I haven’t had tongue in ages I do remember my mother going through a phase and feeding me it as a kid. I loved it! Then suddenly it stopped (I have no idea why). Perhaps I finally realized what I was eating? Who knows. She used to serve me chitterlings too, until I formed my own mind and remember declaring I wouldn’t eat those any more. Certain Someone blanched a bit at the thought he just ate tongue but admitted it was good,but the thought of what it was disturbed him. Anyway flash forward to this past week. I don’t know how, but my Iraqi co-worker and I on the discussion of Halal meat and that segued into lamb tongues. I was curious. I loved lamb , so why not revisit the tongue? Adventurous culinary types are dining on it in some very popular eateries. So I hightailed it to the Indo Pak corridor of Devon  where Halal butchers are everywhere you look. For $3.99 a lb I racked up about 6-7  lamb tongues. I do admit the site of them raw made a bit queasy. But I persevered on my mission. I decided to go French style with a aspic based a terrine, I’m fascinated by pates and terrines and have always had the perfect aspic on my culinary to do list.

So how was it you ask ? The tongue was very good, tender and flavored as I braised it for hours in a stock consisting of beer, carrots, herbs , and beef marrow bones. What I loved most was the flavor of my stock which later turned into a prefect aspic. So what was I disappointed with? I wasn’t happy with the final presentation on my terrine. The aspic seeped through the cling wrap layers and I didn’t get the smooth surfaces I envisioned. But that’s easily remedied. What I’m most proud of is my crystal clear aspic. I used one of my favorite bargain basement cookbooks as a guide for the aspic Brockhampton Terrines and Pates . My next terrine will have more meat . I really do feel aspic is underrated these days and can envision a lot of great uses for it . Plus it makes a gorgeous presentation.

Lamb Tongue Terrine in Aspic
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
beer braised lamb tongues in aspic
  • 2 lbs lamb tongue
  • 3 beef marrow bones
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 carrots , chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1½ oz powdered gelatin
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 washed shells of eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  1. In a large stock pot add the lamb tongues and cover with water only.
  2. Bring to a boil until a foam appears, and drain and change water.Adding another 8 cups cold water.
  3. Add beef marrow bones, water, beer, bay leafs, carrots, celery seeds,garlic, salt and peppercorns to the pot with the lamb tongues.
  4. Bring to a boil again.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. Remove the lamb tongues and bones.
  7. Discard the bones and let the tongues cool down. Store in fridge for overnight or several hours.
  8. With the stock strain off the vegetables and stock with a wire sieve. Refrigerate the stock as well overnight. You want the stock to chill and the fats to rise to the top and congeal.
  9. Remove the fat from the stock and gently reheat if needed ( if not congealed) and strain the stock through a fine doubled cheese cloth to catch any particles. etc
  10. Set aside.
  11. Peel the thick outer layer of skin off the cold tongues with a paring knives. You should have a fine tender meat. Slice into pieces and set aside.
  12. For the aspic...
  13. In a large stock pan, boil and scald cheese cloth, whisk, and metal sieve.
  14. Drain hot water and keep equipment ready.
  15. Soften gelatin for several minutes.
  16. Using a double boiler add the softened gelatin and gently dissolve some more liquified but not boiling. Remove from heat.
  17. Place the cold stock in the stock pan .
  18. Add the egg whites, shells, vinegar and gelatin ( the clarification ingredients).
  19. Whisk together and bring to a boil.
  20. The egg whites will rise to the top of the stock as the ingredients boil forming a raft. Stop whisking and let continue to boil for a minute.
  21. Remove from heat and let the raft and stock sit undisturbed.
  22. Bring to a boil again, remove from heat and let settle for a few minutes again.
  23. All the impurities will cling to the raft and a crystal clear stock will be formed.
  24. Gently strain the stock with the raft in a double cheesecloth lined sieve without disturbing the raft much.
  25. Line a terrine loaf pan with plastic wrap.
  26. Layer the cooked lambs tongue.
  27. Gently pour the aspic into the terrine.
  28. Cover and let set for several hours.
  29. Remove and unwrap from terrine.
  30. Slice with a serrated knife and serve cold.
You will need fine cheese cloth, a metal sieve, loaf pan, or terrine pan.


Salad Nicoise in Belgian Endive Cups

In Chicago these days, it feel as if summer is here. My favorite things in summer are the lake, a chilled rose, gelato ,cold beer,and amazing salads. One of my favorite salads when I lived in Paris was a Salad Nicoise. I remember on sunny days, I would order one with friends at a sidewalk cafe near school and  watch the world go by, as I munched on crisp vegetables and salty briny anchovies, olives, and capers. Lately I’ve been toying with an idea in my head. Making a micro Salad Nicoise as a small plate starter or appetizer. Rather than using lettuce, I made” boats” of Belgian Endive.  The purists would say that’s not Salad Nicoise. Well Salad Nicoise  is open to interpretation. Usually one things of lettuce greens,boiled eggs, tuna, tomato, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, capers,and black olives. There may be onion, garlic, shallots as well. Some people use artichokes, red peppers, and never add cooked vegetables. Some people omit the tuna. It’s really up to taste how you want to compose this rustic country salad based on seasons. I thought the use of endive leaves and small quail eggs would be elegant. A guest can pop these in their mouth with two or more bites, or they can eat it with a knife and fork as a small amuse bouche or starter for summer brunch. It’s all about presentation.

Salad Nicoise as a Small Appetizer
Recipe type: salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: approx 24
A small plate version of Salad Nicoise
  • 1 small potato, peeled and boiled
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons shallots minced
  • 6 quail eggs boiled
  • ½ cup green beans blanched
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can of oil packed tuna of good quality
  • 1 small jar anchovy fillets
  • 7 oil cured olives pitted and sliced into small quarters
  • salt packed capers
  • 2-3 heads Belgian Endive
  • For the dressing...
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and Boil a small potato. Remove from hot water and carefully slice and cube.
  2. Add to a small bowl with the minced shallots, Italian Seasoning, Sherry Vinegar, and Olive Oil,salt and pepper. Set aside and chill.
  3. Boil Quails Eggs for approx 5 minutes and remove from heat. Peel and set aside and chill.
  4. Prep green beans by cutting trimming ends and cutting in half, then slicing lengthwise.
  5. Place green beans in rapidly boiling salted water for 1 minute . Drain and run cold water over them. Set aside and chill.
  6. Quarter the small cherry or grape tomatoes in bite size pieces. Set aside and chill.
  7. Pit and prep your olives.
  8. Wash the Belgian Endive. Cut off the flat ends. Gently pull each leave from top , and out to break away from the head. 2 heads makes approx 15 nice size "boats"
  9. Arrange your Mise en place with all the components ( potato shallot mixture, boiled quail eggs,tomatoes, olives, tuna, anchovies, capers)
  10. Make a vinaigrette emulsion with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. (Use a whisk or immersion blender).
  11. Carefully take a endive leaf.
  12. Add a small spoon full of the potato shallot mixture in oil. Spread evenly
  13. Add a few flakes of tuna.
  14. Carefully slice a quail egg and place a few slices on top
  15. Arrange 2 tomato quarters.
  16. Add 2 pieces of green bean.
  17. Cut an anchovy fillet in half and place a piece on top.
  18. Add a few slices of olive,
  19. Finish with a few capers.
  20. Drizzle with a bit of the dressing and serve cold.
All the components can be prepped ahead and chilled.



Individual Apple Tarte Tatin

Last week on a rare day off I was watching the BBC America station. Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word was on and I perked up as he made these easy gorgeous individual Pear Tatins studded with Star Anise. I had a bunch of commercial supply puff pastry in my freezer, left over from a event and a few apples left from my solitary apple picking adventure the week before. I was determined to try this stunning simple dessert with what I had and it didn’t disappoint.

The recipe is simple and you just need some fresh hard fruit , peeled and cored, sugar, butter, cinnamon or star anise, and maybe a splash or rum or brandy. Be creative. And of course serve with ice cream or whipped cream to up the indulgence factor. Your guests will be amazed and it saves the terror of flipping over a whole Tarte Tatin.

Here is Gordon’s version

And here is my breakdown

Individual Apple Tarte Tatin
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Individual Apple Tarte Tatins
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2-3 large apples peeled, halved and cored
  • 4-6 squares of puff pastry
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons Brandy or rum
  • 4-6 whole pods of Star Anise
  1. Prep your apples by peeling, halving, and removing the inner core and stem. Squeeze with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. In a heavy stainless steel skillet melt butter and sugar carefully and slowly until its starts to caramelize and brown. Be careful not to burn from sugar. You can add a splash or rum or brandy to the caramel.
  4. Quickly stud each apple halve with star anise . Wrap each piece individually with puff pastry leaving the flat half free and exposed.
  5. Place each pastry wrapped halve in the skillet with the caramelized sugar face down.
  6. Sprinkle with additional sugar is optional.
  7. Arrange in pan, and place in oven. Bake until golden .
  8. Serve face up and with ice cream or whipped cream.