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”

Spice rubbed roasted leg of lamb

Roasted Leg Of Lamb and The Full Circle Process of Buying Meat

Lamb Illustration

This post about lamb is not only about one of my favorite meats , but how we get it, how it enters a more conscious supply chain. Truly the farm to table way  at home. It shows the whole cycle and industry behind conscious  good food. For a while I’ve wanted to purchase a lamb from a farmer mentioned by our family friends. I’ve only once purchased a whole spring lamb from a Halal Butcher that was very good. But I wanted to go further , and to the farm or Shepherdess herself. Helen Hettinger raises  lamb for eating and sells beautiful fleece. It’s not organic , but farm fresh and humanely raised. She provided  some samples of fleece that I want to start felting with when time permits. Here is an actual link to her blog.I put in an inquiry a few months ago and was told to call back in early March , for  Easter lamb. Helen explained the process and when she would take the lamb to the locker. From there I was instructed to call the Eureka Locker / Bittners for breakdown instruction. The service and Coordination was great. All that was left was for Certain Someone and I to drive the 200 miles or so to Eureka to pick up the lamb. I had to pay the butchering and hanging weight fee to the locker, and separately for the animal from the farm. It was all frozen except for one leg  to marinate and cook for Easter. Each part wrapped and labeled according to my instructions.

Interestingly enough Bittners   In 2005 Bittner’s Meat Company became the only “processing facility” in the state of Illinois to receive its Organic Processing Certificate. In order for a product to be labeled and certified as “organic” the product must have been raised organically and then must be brought to a facility that has been certified to continue the organic label. In such a facility, like Bittner’s, the product comes in live and thus is inspected by the USDA to insure “quality” for human consumption.  Sadly Scott Bittner, the young owner died in a tragic plane crash last year, but in reading , I’m amazed and touched on how the farming communities in Illinois, Chicagoland restaurants  and the local CSAs  lost a vital resource and champion. Luckily the business is continuing in the same great tradition.

Bittners Eureka Locker

butcher paper eureka locker

Now people I know that aren’t as aware or don’t want to know where their food comes are taken aback by this. I cant describe how this whole process feels as opposed to just going to a local market and picking up a cling film wrapped piece of questionably sourced meat.  It makes you aware of the cycle of an animals life. This lamb was humanely treated . In reality this is an one off experience. But there are many ways you can buy an animal for your freezer through your CSAs which the farming community linked ups with. I just wanted the spring drive and to go through the experience.

leg of lamb marinade

For Easter I made a simple leg roast marinated in toasted fragrant spices and lathered with olive oil.

Toasted spices

I roasted it simply in a large cast iron skillet with a bit of water to cover bottom of pan, and more olive oil brushed on top, in my new Thermador Oven on Convection Roast setting at 375 F. I turned it up to 425 for the last 10 minutes. Be sure to let your meat rest a bit before serving. Various cultures like their lamb  in different degrees of doneness. For chops I prefer them on the medium side, seared  nicely on the outside. However for roasted legs , my personal preference is for it to be more well done  like the Greek and Arabic cultures.

Lamb in cast iron.

In our household we love to take leftover lamb and brown it in a skillet , serve with unleavened breads,  cucumber based Tzatziki , tomatoes onions, etc. pickled vegetables, a hot sauce like a Gyro or “kebab” style sandwich.

Toasted Spice Marinade for Lamb
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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  • 1 tbsp. of black Peppercorns ( or ground)
  • 1 tbsp. of fennel seeds ( or ground )
  • 1 tbsp. of coriander seeds ( or ground)
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds ( or ground)
  • 1 tbsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 -2 tsps. fresh or dried thyme. If using fresh, use less.
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  1. In a spice grinder grind all of the spice except the garlic powder and salt.
  2. Take a dry skillet and gently toast on med / hig temp until fragrant. Be sure to stir around so spices don't burn.
  3. Add the garlic powder,thyme and salt and mix.
  4. Slather onto lamb with enough olive oil to form a runny paste. Let marinade overnight.



Old El Paso Chicken and Pineapple Tacos with Cabbage Mango Slaw

It’s been a good bit of time since I last posted. In that time I’ve been traveling, working, catering, celebrating and creating recipes . Unfortunately it just hasn’t made it to the blog. Where to begin?


First Certain Someone spent a lovely week at Half Moon in Montego Bay to celebrate a friends wedding. It was the best experience Ive ever had in Jamaica. Imagine your own luxury villa, butlers, maids, sunshine, private beaches, and just being spoiled. We really  needed it. We will  heading to Portugal and Sweden soon for another destination wedding, and to catch up with family and friends.

I’ve been getting some great catering gigs from consulates, a European airline carrier, and just overall great clients. I’m so happy the word is spreading about Coco Cooks.

And last before we get onto the food. Certain Someone turned 40! We decided to have a belated birthday party at the house in July ( In the fashion of the Queen), as its hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules.

Recently Updated11

I made the whiskey bottle cake, and commissioned the label and cigar from a great friend who has amazing talent. Check her out if you need customized toppers for your cakes.




Now onto the recipe! Yes it another Old El Paso post. I was commissioned to do a total of 12 recipes for them, which are figured on their new website. While I don’t normally use prepared ingredients, I’m not naive enough as chef and career woman, that sometimes shortcuts and convenience are OK, especially when paired with fresh ingredients and creativity. Not everyone has the time nor inclination to make there own spice blends, salsa, tortillas, etc. So accepting the assignment and the challenge , where what motivated me. I love a challenge to think out the box. It’s grilling season and one can create all sorts of good things on the grill, or on an indoors grill, it you don’t have a gas or charcoal grill. I love the sight of grill marks . Check out the recipe and other great ones on the site.

Old El Paso Chicken and Pineapple Tacos with Cabbage Mango Slaw
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • For Cabbage Mango Slaw
  • ½ head of small green cabbage sliced thinly or grated.
  • 1 carrot skinned and grated
  • 1 mango chopped into small pieces( no skin)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ⅛ cup brown sugar
  • ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pineapple sliced
  • 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs.
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Old El Paso Hard and Soft Taco Kit.( Contains taco shells, soft tortillas, Taco Seasoning, and Taco Sauce)
  1. Preheat oven to 320°.
  2. In a glass dish or bowl marinate chicken with 1 packet of the Old El Paso Seasoning and 2 tablespoons olive oil contained in kit.
  3. In a small bowl add grated cabbage, carrot, chopped mango, cilantro, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Mix thoroughly and set aside while grilling chicken.
  4. Using an indoor or outdoor grill, preheat to higher setting to obtain a good sear.
  5. Wrap the soft tortillas in the kit in foil and place in oven. Heat for 10 minutes.
  6. Add chicken to grill and cook several minutes on each side until done.
  7. While chicken is grilling, place hard tacos shells on a placing sheet and add to the oven with soft tortillas. Don’t overcook. Turn off oven after 5 more minutes and keep warm till serving.
  8. Remove chicken from the grill and let reat a few minutes.
  9. Add pineapple slices to hot grill and sear on both sides for a few minutes. Remove from grill.
  10. Slice chicken on the diagonal and serve on platter with chopped grilled pineapple slices.
  11. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  12. Serve with cabbage mango slaw, soft and crunchy tortillas, and sauce contained in the kit.




Miso Glazed Sea Bass Wrapped in Seaweed and Rice Paper & Fillet with Wasabi Butter from Certified Steak and Seafood

I think this meal of Miso Glazed Sea Bass Wrapped in Seaweed and Rice Paper & Filet with Wasabi Butter from Certified Steak and Seafood, would be awesome for a special New Years Eve Dinner or Réveillon. Certified Steak and Seafood, via my partnership with Foodie Blogroll, were kind enough to send me two Prime Certified Angus Beef Fillets and two Chilean Sea Bass pieces, to create with. Knowing me, I decided to get creative. For a few weeks in the Restaurant Depot, while shopping for clients, I’ve been seeing these curious sea vegetables from Asia called Salty Fingers. They are crunchy, salty, and slightly bitter. I knew they would pair well with my sea bass.

Taking even further cues from the diversity of Asia, I started piecing together more ingredients that are staples in my pantry. Miso , Seaweed, Sesame Oil, etc. I know it’s a cliche, but who doesn’t like some sort of surf and turf? I pan roasted my Sea Bass with a Miso Glaze, and then wrapped in super thin rice paper with a strip of Seaweed. The Fillet I just seared for a few minutes on each side and topped with salted butter blended with wasabi powder.Fresh grated Wasabi would be even better if you can find it. The salad is lightly sauteed oyster mushrooms tossed with Pea Shots, salty fingers, diced pickled garlic, shaved shallots, and dressing of Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, Ponzu Soy Sauce ,minced garlic ,salt and pepper. This served as a nice medium with steamed white rice between the fish and beef. This meal may seem complicated , but it’s not . If you set it all up, it should be ready in approximately  thirty minutes cooking/ grilling time.


Certified Steak and Seafood is offering you a coupon code (FBR125D) to get a $25 discount off their order.

Miso Glazed Sea Bass Wrapped in Seaweed and Rice Paper & Fillet with Wasabi Butter and Pea Shot and Salty Finger Salad
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 Chilean Sea Bass Steaks
  • 2 Angus Beef Filet Mignon
  • Miso Glaze
  • 3 tablespoons White Miso
  • 2 Tablespoons Ponzu Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 Tablespoons vegetable oil ( any light neutral tasting oil)
  • Super Thin Rice Paper
  • 1 sheet seaweed
  • Wasabi Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Wasabi Powder
  • 2 tablespoons softened Salted Butter
  • Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Pea Shot Salad
  • 3 cups Washed Pea Shots
  • ½ cup Salty Fingers ( Specialty Produce Stores)
  • Several Cloves Pickled garlic ( Available in Korean Stores)
  • 1 shallot shaved thin
  • ⅓ cup sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive or pomace oil
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Ponzu Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Oyster Mushrooms
  • Oil
  1. In a small bowl whisk together, Miso,brown sugar, Ponzu soy, oil, and Mirin.
  2. Add Sea Bass to Miso Glaze and let marinate.
  3. Line a roasting pan with parchment and preheat oven to 525.
  4. In a skillet lightly saute the oyster mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Wash and Prep your pea shots and salty fingers.Add pickled garlic and shallots to mix.
  6. Mix your dressing of sesame oil, ponzu soy, rice vinegar, oil, , garlic,etc and whisk until emulsified.
  7. Mix Wasabi powder and softened butter and keep cool.
  8. Heat your grill pan or indoor grilling device to searing temp ( over 425 F).
  9. Place Sea Bass on pan lined with parchment with Miso Glaze and roast for 10 -15 minutes until glaze starts to caramelize. Check temp and lower if necessary so glaze doesn't burn.
  10. Once done, carefully remove sea bass and place on a sheet of dampened rice paper with a seaweed strip. Roll sea bass and tuck in ends of paper so fish is encased.
  11. Season Beef Fillets with salt and pepper and grill for a minutes on each side to desired doneness. Approximately 5 minuted each side for rare to med rare.
  12. Remove from grill and top with a pat of Wasbi Butter.
  13. Toss Pea Shot Salad with dressing and sauteed warm mushrooms and serve with steamed white rice and the sea bass and fillet.

After a rough week for Certain Someone and I , this was a great dinner for the end of the work week. He was both impressed with the quality of meat and fish , in addition to my creative spin. I wont mention where he orders his frozen fillets from, but I definitely think this was a more superior product  from Certified Steak and Seafood.




I wish all of you safe , happy , and warm holidays filled with warmth and cheer. Thanks for following me on my journey with Coco Cooks.


This is a sponsored  post , but the opinions remain my own. This sponsorship is brought to you by Certified Steak & Seafood Company who we have partnered with for this promotion.

Our commitment to our customers is simple: Offer the highest quality products at the best price and back it with a 100% guarantee. We source directly with no ‘middle man’ making our supply chain the shortest in the industry. This allows us to maintain the highest quality standards all the way to your plate. On top of this, we sample all products at the moment of final packaging and have a world-renowned laboratory test for various types of adulteration or contamination. This ensures that the food you purchase from us is pure and safe.

Certified Steak and Seafood Company was formed by the three Frisch boys, Mark, Adam, and Steven; all of whom thought that everyone should be able to buy the highest quality steaks and seafood direct. The brothers experience comes from a three generation family owned wholesale company that is one of the largest seafood importers in America.

They have vast experience in sourcing and selling high quality seafood and meat products to the commercial trade — and bring you the same grade of products fine restaurants, resorts, hotels, and high-end retail stores demand – and at a direct price that gives you tremendous value for every purchase.



Green and Black’s Spiced Chili Pot Roast…Chocolate as Savory

A  few weeks back, I was invited to a fun local event hosted by Green and Black’s to launch their latest bar, Spiced Chili. What I took away from the evening was lots of creative ideas and inspiration to incorporate chocolate into intriguing savory dishes. Not only were delicious desserts on hand, and information on pairing chocolates with alcohol, but Chef Jill Houk challenged and inspired us to think out of the box when cooking.

Believe it or not with the holidays approaching, I’m not really feeling tons of desserts now. I’m coming down off a very hectic two months of catering and work commitments, and all I seek is savory comfort in my kitchen.  So what did I decide to do? I took my inspiration from Mexico and used a grated  bar of Green and Black’s Spiced Chili  , which is seasoned with star anise,pink peppercorn, cloves,juniper and ginger , to make a mole like braise for an inexpensive cut of beef. All you need is a good grater or micro plane, a cast iron pan or dutch oven, and time to make this fantastic meal, which will leave you saying Holy Mole ( pardon the pun).

Green and Blacks Spiced Chili Pot Roast...Chocolate as Savory
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
A braised pot roast using Green and Blacks Spiced Chocolate as a savory ingredient.
  • 3.5-4 lb pot roast
  • ½ bar Green and Blacks Spiced Chili Bar ( approx 50 grams)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt.
  • 1 lime juiced
  • ½ cup Tequila Reposado
  • 1½ large onion sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped into slices.
  • 2 cups water.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using a grater grate the chocolate and garlic into a small bowl.
  3. Add the dry spices and minced jalapeno.
  4. Mix well and rub onto the pot roast. Place in a cast iron pan or dutch oven.
  5. Add lime juice, tequila, and water to pan.
  6. Add carrots and onion slices.
  7. Cover with foil or lid, and roast for 3 hours until tender.
  8. Remove the foil or lid and roast for another ½ hour until tender and liquid reduces some more.