Tag Archives: lamb

Happiness Is… This Month’s Meat CSA

Happiness is…..my beautiful butcher’s bag from 4505 Meats monthly meat CSA.


  • a quart of lamb stock
  • chicharonnes
  • chicken livers
  • bone-in beef rib eye
  • harissa-rubbed sirloin medallions
  • pork rib chop
  • chicken apple Calvados sausages
  • ground beef
  • harissa-rubbed flapskirt

    This month I specifically requested a selection of meat suitable for grilling plus I asked for chicken livers, and it was so nice of them to accommodate me. Other than making my mom’s pate de maison and a steak with macque choux I haven’t really mapped out what I’m going to cook with my meat allotment this month.

    I also scored another amazingly tasty treat.


    Magic Bacon Bombs!!

    Magic Bacon Bombs are the 4505 Meats’ version of crack: queso and chorizo stuffed jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon. Kaboom.

    I bought the last of them last weekend and they haven’t made anymore but when I called today about picking up my meat CSA Nicholas very kindly agreed to make me some more.


    It was fun to chat while they finished assembling them for me and then they wrapped them up for my trip home. The drawing was a hilarious touch!

    Usually one puts them on the grill and cooks them until the bacon is crispy, but since I live so very high above the street with no grilling facilities, I will do them up in the oven and in my humble opinion they’re even more delicious.



    It will be fun to plan out my my menus. I have friends coming over this month and plan to put my broiler to good use.

    Please remember to support your local butcher, particularly if they are like 4505 Meats and purchase pasture-raised whole animals and butcher them nose-to-tail.

    Get your own meat CSA!


    Weekend Fun and This Includes Brunch

    This weekend we had warm weather. This time of year in San Francisco is like the rest of the world’s summer, one can go to work without a warm jacket and suddenly ladies wearing skirts with bare legs looks like a good idea instead of scoffing at all their goosebumps. I dusted off my linen skirt, said hello to my pasty legs and took them out for a spin.

    My dear friend C___ invited me to join him to a trek to the Livermore Valley. He had been gifted a wonderful bottle of wine from Murrieta’s Well Winery and wanted more. The winery is built on the site of the spring where Joachin Murrieta, the famed outlaw and bandit, used to water his horses. There is a nice little fountain built using the spring water and no more wild horses. The wine, however, was fantastic and well worth the drive.

    At the vineyard
    (me standing on actual dirt! It feels as if I haven’t been outside in years. Oh wait!)

    Chris at the vineyard
    (my dear friend C___ whom I’ve known since I was a sweet young thang of 18.)

    Murietta's Well is where he camped, fascinating
    (If there is a historical plaque I am compelled to read it, thanks to parental training.)

    Chris at Murietta's Well
    (THE spring, please note the horses and Senor Murietta depicted on the tile)

    It is a beautiful spot, very hot and arid and this seems to suit the vines. Surprisingly to a few folks wine grapes, like good tomatoes, like to be stressed.

    (detail of the steps leading up to the wine tasting room)

    (peeking out the window to the vines and patio)

    Their winemaker is Chilean and has been planting Portuguese grape varietals but making them in a Rhone style. I learned a lot about varietals I had never heard of previously. The tasting room was busy but we got the full treatment and ended up having a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the vines while they pulled our wine from the “library” since we were allowed to buy some things not usually available. I like my wine friends and their superpowers!

    Not enough of a recommendation for me.
    (one of their award-winning whites, but who knew Houston had a wine competition / rodeo?)

    View from the balcony
    (a fine view with a glass of wine)

    Me and Chris at Murietta's Well
    (happy happy)

    We ran into some traffic in Livermore, some of the side streets were really cute but overall the place is reminiscent of Los Angeles sprawl with housing tracts popping up on the hills. Some vines were being planted too, I would rather see the wineries expand myself.

    Traffic in Livermore

    I came home from winetasting and made myself some of my homemade bacon! Wow! Then I took a nap! Then, I had more wine.

    Delicious! Murietta's Well 2010 Cabernet Franc
    (a post-wine-tasting glass of wine)

    Sunday morning I went to brunch. Please note this is the most social weekend I have had where I just did things for fun and it felt great to be “normal” and to make plans with friends and be able to actually attend them. Brunch was a popup for a local bakery, Marla Bakery, at the State Bird Provisions restaurant. If you are going to be in SF this Sunday I would recommend having their brunch, email them for a reservation or go early at sit at the counter like we did.

    Marla cherry tart
    (cherry and frangipane tart)

    Anticipation is building for @marlabakery brunch

    Marla’s pastries are incredibly beautiful. This the Marla bun which is like a palmier but made into a larger roll.

    Lovely cherry & tarragon scones @marlabakery

    I had dried cherry and tarragon scones with a little jar of marscapone and rhubarb compote piped in. All of these years searching for decent clotted cream in the city and I realize, stupidly, that I should have been using marscapone. It was truly brilliant. I didn’t get much of the tarragon but it is allergy season after all and my nose proved shamefully incapable of detecting aromas this weekend.  These sold out before Noon and I am very glad I had the foresight to order one to go.

    Keep thinking about this lamb & fattoush @marlabakery brunch

    For the brunch “entree” I had roasted rare lamb that took three days to prepare. It was rubbed in yogurt and barahat and was roasted perfectly.  Tender, thin slides were drizzled with harissa spiced yogurt. The flatbread had been brushed with spices too and was enormous and warm like a hug. The fattoush salad was herby and tart and included pickled onions and crispy flatbread crackers.

    Darling coffee service @marlabakery brunch

    I washed this down with a glass of cava and coffee service by Wrecking Ball. Ethopian coffee in a tiny carafe really hit the spot. The little biscotti were a nice touch too, I gifted them to my friend as they contain almonds and I can’t eat them right now.

    I wish I could go back this Sunday but I will be off on another adventure!

    Where to Go

    Murrieta’s Well
    3005 Mines Road
    Livermore, CA 94550

    Marla’s Bakery
    Every Thursday between 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Mission Community Market at 22nd & Bartlett in San Francisco
    Watch their Facebook page for pop up brunch locations

    State Bird Provisions
    1529 Fillmore Street
    San Francisco, CA 94115

    Morocco In My Kitchen: Lamb Tagine

    Fickle Spring is here, some days it feels like pure summer, some days it feels like the wind has icy teeth. With the fog bank lurking out of sight behind the horizon despite the mild days as soon as the sun sets it is chilly and I have been indulging myself with rich flavors that are yet lean in calories. My latest kitchen gadget, the beautiful tagine from one of my bosses, fit the bill perfectly for the night I decided to make a Moroccan lamb tagine.

    The recipe is inspired by a fellow cook on a Facebook recipe swap forum. Debbie Maizel used apricots and nuts in her dish, which I omitted for annoying allergy reasons, but I used what I had in my kitchen and it was quite versatile. As I am trying to be budget conscious and use what is in my pantry and freezer, such as this generous lamb chop from 4505 Meat’s monthly butcher bag, I like recipes that are more method than a strict requirement of ingredients.

    What made this tagine special is the spicing of the meat. Exotic and yet familiar, the use of ras al hanout and harissa gave the dish great flavor and some spiciness and elevated the lean lamb to a richness that made a small portion feel quite grand. In hindsight I will leave out the chile as the harissa was spicy enough for my wimpy tolerance.


    Lamb Tagine
    1 lamb shoulder chop, bone in, ~ 1.5 pounds
    2 T olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    1 preserved lemon, pulp removed, rind chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 pound of carrots, cut into small pieces
    1/2 a cauliflower, cut into small pieces
    1 cup frozen petite peas
    3 T ras al hanout*
    1 tsp Harissa paste*
    1 Seranno chile, seeded and minced (this chile was in the jar with the preserved lemons and was moderately spicy with a nice vinegar kick)
    1 tsp turmeric powder
    1 3/4 cups of beef broth
    1/4 c dry white wine
    1/4 c chopped parsley

    cooked couscous, tossed with chopped green onion

    * I obtained these spices from a new organic spice store in San Francisco, Spicely.

    In the base of my tagine I heated the olive oil and while it was heating, I generously seasoned the lamb chop with salt and pepper and then browned it to a dark golden brown on all sides of the chop. I set the chop aside and added the onion, garlic and ginger to the tagine and stirred the fragrant mixture over medium heat until the onion was soft and tender. Then, I added the spice mixtures, the preserved lemon, bell pepper, chile pepper, and the vegetables and cooked this for 5-8 minutes. Then, I added in the broth and the white wine and stirred to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the tagine, tasted for salt and then snuggled in the browned lamb chop into the mixture. On went the tagine lid and I turned down the heat to low and simmered it for 45 minutes, then turned the lamb and simmered for another 40 minutes until the lamb was tender and falling off the bone. About 10 minutes before the end I strewed over the top of the stew a few handfuls of frozen peas that I had thawed in a strainer in the sink.

    Again I was out of parsley, but I did have a bit of cilantro that was about to go off, so I added a few leaves of what was viable to the stew.

    I scooped out a cup of cooked couscous and ladled on a good dollop of stew, and sat down at my little table to watch the sunset and savor spoonfuls of this rich and spicy stew. I sipped red wine until the light grew purple and felt quite content with life.
    Urban heure de violette


    (printer-friendly recipe)

    Lamb CSA Night


    Last month I picked up my fabulous Spring meat CSA box from 4505 Meats right before my shoulder surgery, sadly necessitating a postponement of eating the beautiful Spring lamb.

    But last Wednesday was The Night.

    With a little help from my friends I (almost) one-handedly prepared the lamb loin wrapped in lardo. Lardo. One of the most wonderful words to say and to eat.

    The directions thoughtfully provided with the CSA box were perfect, simply sear the lamb loin on all sides then roast at 250 F for 15 minutes. Delicious. This I could totally do with just my left hand and I used my 8″ omlette pan which was just the right size.


    The trick for tender lamb is to not overcook it and to let it rest.

    (rest, little lamb, rest.)

    I actually tented it in a little foil while I quickly cooked some asparagus.


    (after, drizzled with olive oil, S&P)

    To accompany the lamb loin I had planned to roast sweet potatoes but sadly the fridge turned them into nasty goo so out they went into the compost bin.

    I looked in my pantry and found a package of Umbrian farro. I have never tried cooking it before and it was pretty hysterical, the directions on the package were so tiny that neither my friend L___ or I could read them! After resorting to magnifying glasses from my knitting bag we cobbled together a farro pilaf.

    L___ did all the knife work and lifting of pots while I stirred and hovered. Working together in my tiny kitchen is fun, cozy work. The pilaf turned out to be easy and very satisfying. I see myself making lots of farro in the future.


    The lamb was carved into six little medallions by L___ and perfectly arranged on my beautiful platter from Turkey.

    A side note, I met the artist who made my plate in Turkey and I had a great day playing in his studio and ended up having dinner with a bunch of his artist friends. Using his plate gives me a smile.


    Eating the lamb and farro really gave me a smile too. The farro was rich and slightly chewy, the peppers lent a brightness to each mouthful. Succulent, stuffed with herbs, butter tender and so flavorful, lamb loin like this is such a delight. So is dining with friends, and eating a great meal in my own home is really wonderful.

    Easy Farro Pilaf

    1c farro
    4 c cold water
    1T salt
    1 bay leaf
    1 T butter
    1/2 a yellow onion, chopped fine
    1/2 red bell pepper*, chopped fine
    2 c chicken broth
    2 T Champagne vinegar
    A handful of parsley, roughly chopped

    Pour the farro, cold water, bay leaf and salt in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to very low and let the farro simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let it hold in the strainer while you prepare the pilaf part.

    In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onion and bell pepper with a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender and translucent.

    Pop the partially cooked farro back into the pan and stir around for a few minutes until the farro is a tiny bit browned in the buttery onions.

    Pour in the chicken stock, just until the farro is almost covered in the broth. You might not need the full 2 cups. Taste for salt and add a few grinds of pepper. Put the lid back on the pot and turn the heat down again to very low. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

    The farro should be tender but toothsome, not mushy, and should have absorbed all the broth. Pour in the vinegar and the parsley, stir well, and serve hot.

    Serves 4

    Note: for the peppers in my pilaf I used a handful of those sweet miniature peppers that you often see in the market in a little plastic clamshell.

    If you don’t have a nice light vinegar like the Champagne vinegar I had in the pantry, lemon juice would also be wonderful in the pilaf.


    For a vegetarian entree, add 2 cups of chopped butternut squash to the sauté pan with the onions and peppers. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

    The farro pilaf is also a great base for a cold farro salad, just chill, add more vinegar, a few tablespoons of olive oil and some fresh minced vegetables such as green onion, carrot, celery, radish, fennel, etc.

    Final note: Although this meal sounds rich and decadent, it really was very healthy. Lamb is very lean and most of the lardo melted away after protecting the lamb from drying out. The farro is a whole grain and we have all been reading how important it is to add more whole grains to our diet. The butter in the farro is really more for flavoring and although I feel it is essential it is fine to substitute olive oil.

    I have a lot of lamb left to cook up from my CSA box, it’s going to be a great spring!


    Overnight Osso Bucco

    I haven’t written in a while because it’s been a challenge getting accustomed to working full time. I had forgotten the hustle of fitting in time to do all the household chores, e.g., shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, eating breakfast, doing laundry and the myriad other things that keep things going smoothly. Oh, and sleeping, did I mention that?

    Most nights I come home, change into lounge clothes and stretch out my back on the floor or bed, and wake up at 2 am, lights on and the iPod or tv still playing, a glass of wine forgotten at my elbow. I would eat a cracker or two and go to bed after ungluing my contacts from my eyeballs.

    On Sunday last weekend I decided enough was enough, I needed a good meal to enjoy during the week and one with leftovers that I could take to work for lunch. Meals downtown have doubled in price since when I last worked down there. It’s difficult to find something decent for under $10 or to justify this expense daily so most often I would forgo dining out in favor of a granola bar from the snack jar at work and a brisk walk through the canyons of buildings, looking for elusive sunshine. In my freezer has been a lamb neck, a large hunk of meat from the butchering demonstration by Hank Shaw this past spring. He suggested a slow braise, and Guy Arnone suggested to me on Twitter to try it osso bucco style, so I pulled the neck out to thaw and ascertained I had all necessary vegetables for my long-adored osso bucco recipe.

    By Tuesday the lamb neck had finally thawed and it weighed out over five pounds. I got home at 6:30 pm and by 7 pm the neck was in the oven in my giant Staub pot, surrounded by the osso bucco sauce base of mirepoix, tomato concasse, wine, herbs and broth.

    By 11 pm I was struggling to stay awake. Every 45 minutes I would hoist the hot, heavy pot from the oven, open the lid to a cloud of rich, fragrant steam, and turn the lamb neck over and stir the sauce. It was nowhere near done, it should have been tender, falling-off-the-bone level succulent, but it was stubbornly not tender enough.

    Again, I turned to Twitter and Becky Selengut said “put it (the oven) on 200 degrees – make sure there is ample liquid, cover, sleep like a baby.” What excellent advice! Thank you, Becky!

    I did exactly that and woke six hours later to The Roost smelling fantastically of meaty, stewy aromas. The meat was perfectly tender and just the rich texture for which I had been aiming. After cooling a bit while I got ready for work, I stored the neck in my favorite soufflé dish with a ladleful of sauce to keep it company, and the sauce in another bowl and stashed both in the fridge. A surreptitious spoonful of sauce slurped while dashing out the door was a great preview of my meal to come that night.

    I could hardly wait.

    Home again by 6:30 pm after dropping $60 at Whole Paycheck (never shop when you are hungry, I ended up buying four different kinds of cheeses and I only went there for lemons and parsley!), I washed my Staub pot and removed the lamb and sauce from the fridge. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of fat congealed on the broth. I was expecting a thick layer but realized the rich, unctuous flavors I tasted in the sauce came from the marrow and collagens released by the slow braise. I reduced the sauce by about half and snuggled in the lamb neck, intact but supremely tender, into its deep brown depths and popped on the lid to warm slowly.

    Meanwhile, A___ arrived for our standing Wednesday night girl’s night and I surprised her with a slim pink can of Sofia sparkling wine for Wine Wednesday. We caught up on the week past and the weekend while sipping our bubbly from a straw and devouring a slab of Truffle Tremor. For our pre-dinner entertainment, we giggled at the vulturous cat, desperate for us to drop some cheese “accidentally”.

    Eventually we bestirred ourselves from our perches on Vicky and Martha (my new acquisitions of a Victorian settee and a Martha Washington chair donated to The Roost by very dear friends) and headed to the kitchen.

    While water was boiling for handmade egg noodles, I heaped a shallow bowl with herb salad mix and tiny, sweet as sunshine yellow cherry tomatoes, a shower of salt and pepper and dashes of walnut oil and fig vinegar. The noodles cooked for a minute and were dressed with Danish butter and lavender infused pepper. The neck was carefully hoisted into a serving bowl and was enrobed with that wonderful sauce and topped with bright, aromatic gremolata. Almost anything can be improved by a handful of gremolata, which is a magical concoction of grated lemon zest, minced garlic and parsley.

    We dug in like wolves, using forks and fingers to shred off moist hunks of meat from the lamb neck, spooning sauce onto the noodles and filching a tomato now and again from the salad bowl. A bottle of bootleg Napa wine evaporated quickly, a bottle of a Cabernet Zinfandel blend acquired by Sneaky’s Underground BBQ, and over desultory conversation, phone calls and texts, everything else on the table slowly vanished.

    While we were digesting I broke out my new art supplies and sketched a lobster while we planned my birthday dinner, which includes lobster mashed potatoes. Outside, over the traffic noises the foghorns tooted and Nob Hill vanished behind a thick blanket of fog. Inside, my pad was warm and steamy and we were swathed in woolens and down. One would never guess this was early August, except to San Franciscans like us.

    Later, much later, I pulled out enormous cupcakes obtained at the bakery: a massive vanilla glazed cupcake heaped with lemon buttercream and a devils food cupcake glazed with ganache and a pretty pink mound of cherry buttercream and topped with a bing cherry. Despite our rich meal we did manage to do the cupcakes justice and then realized with a shock that it was 11:30 pm. We bid each other adieu and I dove into bed like Greg Louganis into the deep end, and did not move until the alarm quacked at me at 6:30 am.

    Overnight Osso Bucco

    4 large veal shanks or 8 small ones (or a 5# unsliced lamb neck or 5# sliced lamb neck pieces)
    Enough flour to lightly coat the meat
    1 T grapeseed or vegetable oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    3 carrots, peeked and chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, sliced
    2 cups of red wine, divided
    2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
    2 cups light meat broth or chicken broth
    1/2 tsp fresh thyme
    1/2 tsp fresh oregano
    3 T fresh parsley
    A Bay leaf
    Salt and pepper
    1/2 a lemon, juiced (reserved from gremolata)

    Cooked and buttered egg noodles

    Gremolata (equal parts grated lemon rind, minced garlic and minced parsley. I used 2 large lemons, 3 very fat cloves of garlic and a handful of parsley in the minichop)

    The day before you plan to serve this meal, preheat oven to 300 F.

    Season the meat with salt and pepper and pat lightly with flour. In a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat a little oil and brown the meat on all sides and remove. Pour off the fat and add the onions, celery and carrots and a sprinkling of salt. Sauté until softened and add the garlic and half of the wine. Allow to reduce almost to nothing and add the herbs, tomatoes, broth, the rest of the wine and the browned meat. Cover tightly and place in the oven. Braise, turning every 45 minutes, for 3 hours, then reduce the oven to 200 F and allow to slow cook overnight or for 6 hours. (if you are using veal shanks, you can either just cook it at 200 F for 6 hours or longer, or only cook them at 300 F for 3 hours, turning the meat every 45 minutes. You can also adapt this for the crockpot, adding the meat to the crockpot on high, then adding the sauteed vegetables with the reduced wine and cooking on high for 3 hours, then reduce to low and cook for 6 hours +.)

    Remove meat and sauce and store separately and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

    Remove all congealed fat from the surface of the sauce, place in a pot large enough to hold the meat in a single layer and heat the sauce over medium high heat. Reduce until sauce is thickened, then add the meat and the lemon juice. Cover and heat gently until thoroughly heated through.

    Arrange on a large shallow dish for serving, spoon over sauce and sprinkle generously with the gremolata. (Note, do not make the gremolata in advance.). Serve over buttered noodles.

    Serves 4

    A Sad Closing:
    Nine years ago almost to the day, I prepared my osso bucco for my beau, Marc. He was Sicilian and appreciated good food. We were just starting our relationship and he often told people my osso bucco sealed the deal in his mind that I was “a great catch”. We were together for seven years, cooking for our friends, family and each other, and teaching his darling little girl to try new foods and how to cook. She’s quite a good cook now and we had great times. Sadly, the relationship ended suddenly and badly, and even more sadly, I learned yesterday that same night I was serving this dish he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. We hadn’t spoken since we parted ways but I had wished him well and this was hard news to hear. I find it strangely ironic the timing of my making osso bucco and his passing, since upon reflection I haven’t made it since I prepared it for him all those years ago. Marc would have loved this version of my osso bucco. My heart goes out to his family and our friends.


    Recipe:  Overnight Osso Bucco