Tips for Preparing Lamb

Prefer lamb for your Easter dinner but nervous about preparing it? We can help! We sat down with our in-house recipe developer to get her best tips for preparing lamb.

  • Find a good butcher. Lamb can be expensive and it’s best to buy good quality meat for best flavor and results.
  • Let your butcher do the work. Have them remove the bone for a boneless leg of lamb or butterfly the meat if necessary. They can also help with trimming any excess fat.
  • No matter what cut of lamb you are preparing, remove the meat from the refrigerator about an hour ahead of time so it comes to room temperature before cooking. This will assure your meat cooks more evenly.
  • Grilling a leg of lamb? Not only should it have the bone removed, but be butterflied so the thickness is uniform. The meat will cook more evenly that way. A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, a few minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper will help keep the meat moist.
  • Roasting your lamb? If the bone is left in the cut of meat, it will have more flavor, but it is harder to carve. For a 5-7 pound bone-in leg of lamb, combine several minced garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 2 tablespoons good olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub this all over the lamb. Roast in a 350°F oven in a roasting pan placed on the middle rack in the oven for about 1-1½ hours or until an instant read thermometer inserted a few inches into the meat reads the desired temperature (see below). Do not allow the thermometer to touch the bone and let rest 20 minutes before carving.
  • Prefer a rack of lamb? While a more expensive option, it is much easier and quicker to cook lamb this way. The rack of lamb is the lamb loin with the rips attached. Have your butcher remove excess fat for you. Simple is best with your preparation! Brush the rack with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in an oven proof sauté pan and brown the rack on all sides. Sprinkle chopped rosemary over rack and finish off in a 400°F oven to desired temperature (see below). Some like to add seasoned bread crumbs before finishing off the lamb. It’s a good idea to cover the exposed rib bones with foil to prevent burning just before putting in the oven.

Cook it just the way you like it!

  • Rare: Internal temperature of 115-120°F (125°F after resting, about 15 minutes per pound).
  • Medium-rare: Internal temperature of 120-125°F (130-135°F after resting, about 20 minutes per pound).
  • Medium: Internal temperature of 130-135ºF (135-140°F after resting, about 25 minutes per pound).
  • Well done: Internal temperature of 150-155°F (155-160°F after resting, about 30 minutes per pound).

For the perfect condiment to enjoy alongside your lamb, try our Mint Jelly. It’s a great addition no matter what cut of lamb you choose to prepare.


All-In-One Sheet Pan Dinner

We understand how hectic weeknights can be. Errands, picking up the kids, a quick run to the grocery store because you’re out of milk… all that time spent out and about after work means dinner needs to be fast. And easy! We have just the solution.

One of our favorite weeknight dinners to make involves one pan to wash and little to no hands-on cooking time. That way you can kick back, relax with a glass of wine and flip through a magazine while your oven does all the work. You can serve a protein, starch and vegetable meal that is not only flavorful, but an easy to clean up, too! You really can have the best of both worlds.

Lemon Dijon Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Ingredients:

  • 3½ lb chicken, quartered
  • ½ cup Stonewall Kitchen Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb small fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3/4 lb asparagus, trimmed

Directions:

  1. Pour Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette over chicken coating all sides. Refrigerate for at least two hours. (You could also refrigerate overnight if you want to prep ahead!)
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Throw away excess dressing. Place chicken on a greased sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss potatoes with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet between pieces of chicken. Bake 40-50 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 165°F and the potatoes are tender and slightly crisp (these may be turned over half way through the cook time).
  5. In the meantime, toss asparagus with enough oil to lightly coat and season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet with chicken and potatoes for the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.


The Basics for Cooking & Serving Ham

Easter Sunday comes with all sorts of traditions, from egg hunts to Easter baskets and a nice, big family meal. Ham is a popular main course here in the United States and because it is a meal many families only find themselves cooking once or twice a year, people find themselves intimidated by cooking and serving a ham that is just right. Here are our tips purchasing, cooking and serving a top-notch ham this Easter!

To make things even tastier, we’ve brought back our Classic Ham Glaze this season. It’s a delicious combination of flavors from pineapple, honey, spices and a hint of clove. Our moms really got this one right! It’s so good and reminds us of fond family dinner memories. We even enjoy it equally on pork or chicken!

But, back to the ham!

How much do I buy?

You should count on buying about ¾ lb per person if the ham is bone-in. If you choose a boneless ham, choose one that would allow for 1/3 lb per person. Of course, we love the leftovers, so be sure to account for that too if you do as well!

How long do I cook it?

Fully cooked hams can technically be served cold, but a glazed ham is delicious. Preheat your oven to 300°F. Place the ham in a large roasting pan and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Cook approximately 15 minutes per pound. Remove from oven 30 minutes before the end of the cook time and brush Classic Ham Glaze on the surface of the ham. Return to the oven, uncovered, and continue to brush with additional glaze one or two more times for the remainder of the cook time. The internal temperature of the ham should be 160°F. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Any ideas for what to do with leftovers?

If you love leftovers as much as we do, be sure to wrap them up and store in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use it in your recipe.

Slice thinly and layer with pineapple rounds, Monterey Jack cheese and Spicy Honey Mustard for a Hawaiian Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Dice and whisk with herbs, vegetables and eggs for easy Baked Herb Eggs.

Replace the bacon with diced ham in this savory Breakfast Strata for an all-in-one breakfast casserole.


Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Looking for an alternative way to dye Easter eggs without using artificial colorings? Look no further than some common ingredients you likely already have in your pantry and produce drawer for beautifully colored eggs! There are two methods that are typically used when dyeing eggs – cold dipping and hot boiling. Cold dipping produces subtler, more translucent shades which is ideal if you’re using multiple colors on the same egg. Hot boiling produces a much more intense shade, but these eggs should be used for decoration only and not for eating. Our preference is to cold dip eggs so that we can transform them into delicious deviled eggs and enjoy hard-boiled egg snacks throughout the week.

To start, wash your white, uncooked eggs in mild, soapy water to remove any dirt or oil that might adversely affect the dye. But before we get to talking about natural sources of dye, let’s talk about perfectly boiling an egg.

Nearly every basic cookbook offers conflicting techniques on how it should be done – start the egg in cold water, or gently lower it into boiling water; add vinegar to the water to lower its pH, or add baking soda to the water to raise it; cover the pot, don’t cover the pot; use old eggs, or use new eggs, and on and on – but very few offer evidence as to why any one of these techniques should work any better than your average old wives’ tale. Apparently, boiling eggs is not an eggs-act science.

Our preferred method is just five easy steps…

  1. Make sure that the eggs are room temperature. Speed this process up by placing the eggs in hot tap water.
  2. Place eggs in a saucepan that can hold them in a single layer. Add enough water to cover by 1-inch.
  3. Bring water to a boil, remove pan from heat and cover. Let sit 10 minutes. Drain.
  4. Place eggs in a bowl of ice water and cool completely.
  5. Crack the shells by rolling the egg on the counter and peel under cold water.

There you have it!  An egg that has a yolk that is set, but not tinged with green (indicating your eggs are over cooked).  These will make the perfect deviled eggs, egg salad or eggs for decorating! This step can also be done the day before you’re ready to dye your eggs. Just keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them.

Now, let’s talk dye. Like we said, you’d be surprised at how many common produce and pantry ingredients that can be used to transform white eggs into beautiful Easter eggs. Peeling an onion for dinner? Save the skin! Have some lemon or orange peels? You can use those, too! Select your dying agent and place in a small pot, using the amounts listed below. Add one quart of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar to your pot. If that amount of water doesn’t cover your ingredients, double your water and vinegar. Bring your pot to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain the dye into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

  • Two tablespoons ground (or 1-2 knobs of fresh!) turmeric – This creates a pale yellow color that can intensify the longer you let your egg sit. Try letting your eggs soak for 30 minutes and then check the color to see if you prefer a darker shade.
  • Three whole yellow onion skins – We were skeptical of these paper thin skins, but pleasantly surprised at how vivid the color of our eggs were after soaking in the onion solution for 30 minutes.
  • Three large, chopped beets – Similar to how easily beets dye your hands when you prepare them, they’ll also dye your eggs a pretty, light pink color.
  • Half head of red cabbage – While you might assume the purple colored vegetable might leave you with lavender colored eggs, eggs soaked in a red cabbage solution will come out light blue. Try letting them soak overnight in the fridge for a deeper blue color.

You can also dip your eggs into multiple colors to create even more shades. For lavender, soak eggs in room temperature beet solution for 30 minutes and then follow with room temperature cabbage solution for five seconds. Looking for a green color? Soak eggs in room temperature turmeric solution for 30 minutes and follow with room temperature cabbage solution for five seconds. The important thing to remember is that all of the above solutions are fairly forgiving. You can achieve lighter and darker colors just by adjusting the amount of time your eggs sit. Also remember to watch how long your eggs sit at room temperature. They should be out for no longer than two hours before they need to return to the fridge in order to stay safe to eat.

Ready to enjoy your eggs? Try these delicious Deviled Eggs! Just peel, cut eggs in half lengthwise, remove egg yolks and mash with your favorite aioli, salt and pepper. Try a classic aioli like Roasted Garlic or heat things up with Habanero Mango. We love them all in this recipe. Spoon or pipe the egg yolk filling into each white and garnish with crumbled bacon, cilantro leaf, parsley leaf, paprika or dill.

Deviled eggs not your favorite? When we have leftover hard-boiled eggs, we love the excuse to enjoy a classic Cobb Salad.

What is your favorite way to use up your Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments below!


Braising 101

For a technique that requires such little effort and provides so much reward with each and every bite, you can’t go wrong with braising a cut of meat for a satisfying winter meal. Best of all? Braising is a great cooking method to apply to many cuts of meat and actually works better with a less expensive and less tender cuts! For restaurant quality results right down to a delicious sauce that builds with every hour of cook time (low and slow is key!) we can’t speak highly enough about this technique and encourage you to try it out for yourself. Braise [pronounced BRAYZ] means to cook foods (meat or vegetables) by searing in fat to brown and develop flavor then simmering in liquid in a covered pot at a low temperature for a long time until tender. The covered pot can be used on a stove top or in the oven – the oven is preferred because the heat is evenly distributed with fewer hot spots. A common misconception is the difference between braising and stewing. To braise is to cook a large cut of meat with just enough liquid to partially cover it. Stewing, on the other hand, uses small, uniformly cut pieces of meat that are totally immersed in the cooking liquid.

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The science behind this cooking method? Slow cooking tenderizes the food by breaking down their fibers. The heat time and moisture breaks down the connective tissue (collagen) that binds together the muscle. The result is a fall apart, tender piece of meat. Necessary to braising are a couple of our favorite tools of the trade: an enameled cast iron dutch oven with a lid and a wooden turner or spatula for scraping up browned bits at the bottom of the pot. A wooden utensil is key so that it won’t scratch the delicate enamel surface of the dutch oven.

Here are four simple, universal steps to get you started. You’ll have a hearty meal, with little hands-on cooking time, in no time!

  • Sear your meat. Season the cut of chosen meat on all sides as you heat vegetable oil in a heavy duty, dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Wait until it’s nice and hot, then add the meat. Don’t over crowd the pot if you’re cooking more than one piece at a time as they won’t brown properly. Let the meat brown on each side until it is dark brown on all sides and has a nice crust. Remove and set aside.
  • Mirepoix (or at the very least, onions and garlic) is essential. When they’re cooked until just browned in the drippings from the meat, they help to develop the flavor of the dish and make for a more flavorful sauce.
  • Deglaze that pot! Wine, broth, cider – whatever you liquid of choice is, this is a crucial step. While adding the braising liquid, scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with your wooden utensils. Those are flavor bombs, also known as “fond.”  When they dissolve into the cooking liquid, they enrich the whole dish.
  • Braise! Return the meat to the pot with any accumulated juices. It shouldn’t be submerged – the braising liquid should just come halfway up the cut of meat. Bring it to a simmer, slide it into the oven and let the magic happen.

To make things even easier for you, we’ve developed a delicious braising sauce featuring two of our favorite flavors – Maple and Bourbon! Our new Maple Bourbon Braising Sauce will take your traditional braised beef to new heights!

Maple Bourbon Braised Beef

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Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds top blade or brisket beef roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock or apple cider
  • 1 Vidalia onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 jar Maple Bourbon Braising Sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Pat roast dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a large, heavy bottom pot that has a lid over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, brown the roast on all sides. Remove meat and set aside.
  4. Drain off all but 1 Tablespoon of the fat. Deglaze pan with chicken stock or apple cider. Place sliced onion over the bottom of the pot. Place beef on top of the onion. Pour jar of Maple Bourbon Braising Sauce over meat. Cover pot with the lid and roast in preheated oven for 2 to 2½ hours, or until the meat is tender. Spoon sauce over meat several times while roasting.
  5. Slice roast and serve with sauce.


Christmas Morning Dutch Babies

If you’re looking for a magical treat to add to your Christmas morning spread, we’ve got two words for you. Dutch. Babies. Apple Sugar Plum Dutch Babies, to be precise! A hybrid type breakfast treat that is a little like a pancake, a little like a crepe and a little like a popover, it brings the ‘wow’ factor to the table and is sure to delight all ages! We’ve never met a Dutch baby we haven’t loved, sweet or savory, and with the addition of Sugar Plum Jam this one is extra special for Christmas morning.

A Dutch baby batter is very similar to a pancake batter, just a little bit more thin in consistency. When added to a hot, buttered skillet, the batter puffs up around the edges and will rise higher and higher until it looks like a giant pancake pillow. The edges will turn golden, crispy and delicious as the center stays soft and pillowy.

Once you take your Dutch baby out of the oven, it will collapse quickly. Don’t panic! This is supposed to happen. It creates a perfect center for adding toppings! Berries, whipped cream, jam, syrup, avocado and a poached egg (on a savory Dutch baby)… the possibilities are endless! We like to serve ours right out of the cast iron skillet at the table. This recipe will yield four (smaller) servings that pair perfectly with a savory breakfast element. If this is your main breakfast item, this recipe makes enough for two adults to split.

Apple Sugar Plum Dutch Baby

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Ingredients:

For the batter –

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour

For the Dutch Baby –

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Adjust oven rack to the center of the oven.
  2. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk until mixture is free of lumps. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. While the batter is resting, add butter to a 10-inch cast iron skillet and put skillet in preheated oven for several minutes until butter is melted and the pan gets hot. Add apples and Cinnamon Apple Syrup to the pan and return to over for 5-10 minutes, until the apples are tender.
  4. Add batter to the pan slowly and evenly. Cook 20-22 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool several minutes. Spoon Sugar Plum Jam over the top and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Slice and serve immediately.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Stonewall Kitchen!


Warm Up with Hot Cocoa, Homemade Flavored Marshmallows & Tervis!

When cold weather hits, there is nothing more comforting than a warm mug of hot cocoa. And what makes a warm mug of hot cocoa even better? Homemade marshmallows, of course! If you’ve never enjoyed a homemade marshmallow, add this to your to-do list. You won’t regret it! They’re perfectly puffed, lightweight and melt in your mouth. We even took ours up a notch by adding some jam and chocolate sauce for flavored marshmallows.

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Depending on your choice of hot cocoa, we recommend adding a fruit jam to the mixture (we used Seedless Red Raspberry!) or chocolate sauce (we used Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, but the possibilities are endless!) swirled into the pan before setting. We loved the raspberry and chocolate and double chocolate combinations of these two products. Best of all, these will keep in an airtight container for up to a week so you can enjoy multiple mugs of hot cocoa!

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If you’re short on time, try our Snowflake Marshmallow Toppers for a festive hot cocoa topper! Gingerbread Rim Cookie optional.

We’ve partnered with our friends at Tervis who supplied our adorable, Confetti Snowman mugs for our post! The double walled tumbler keeps drinks either hot or cold longer and is microwave and dishwasher safe. We even have two mugs to give away to one lucky winner, along a canister of our Decadent Dutch Cocoa! Perfect for pairing with your freshly made marshmallows. Enter at the end of this post for your chance to win! Winner will be drawn on 12/19.

Homemade Flavored Marshmallows

  • Servings: 16, 2-inch marshmallows
  • Print

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Prepare an 8-inch square pan by greasing it with vegetable shortening and dusting liberally with confectioner’s sugar.
  2. Combine gelatin and ¼ cup cold water in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  3. Combine ¼ cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture is dissolved. Continue to heat until the sugar syrup reaches 240° on a candy thermometer (softball stage).
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar syrup. Be very careful not to splatter, the syrup is very hot. Once added, increase the speed to high. Continue to mix until mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. If using Seedless Raspberry Jam, add while mixer is going one tablespoon at a time along with the vanilla. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.
  6. If making the chocolate flavored marshmallows, spread the mixture in the prepared pan. Drizzle the Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce over the marshmallow mixture. Using a knife, fold and swirl the sauce into the marshmallow making a swirl design.
  7. Dust the top of the pan with confectioner’s sugar. Allow to stand uncovered on the counter overnight.
  8. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares. Dust with additional confectioner’s sugar.

Now, click here to enter to win your own set of mugs and canister of hot cocoa! Good luck! Winner will be drawn on 12/19.