Saturday, June 20, 2015

Off to a Lavender Farm



   This afternoon we went out to a lavender farm called Blooming Hill.  I have been wanting to go to a lavender farm for a long, long time.  This is a beautiful little farmlet in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in western Loudoun County in Northern Virginia.  We happened to visit during their Lavender Festival!  That means, they had other interesting vendors, and served a cream tea with lavender flavored scones, shortbread, and ice cream!  I could not help but take a few pictures while we were there.  You can visit their website at http://www.bloominghillva.com

     Blooming Hill has several varieties of lavender plants and lavender products.  They also have a lovely gift shop of all things lavender.  It was a relaxing and fun afternoon!


This space looks like a Celtic knot with lavender in the spaces.

Edging the garden with china Plates!

Another view of the Celtic knot.


Watering cans outside the green house.

More gardens to explore.

Cute little green house.


I think wrought iron benches are so pretty.

Table set beautifully for tea.

Stunning presentation for scones and shortbread flavored with lavender.

Hello

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Beer Brined Chicken - Recipe

     This roast chicken is hands down the best ever.  When I sat down and took a bite I wanted to get up and do a little happy dance, it was that good.  The meat is juicy from the brine spiked with dark beer, herbs, and molasses -turned into heaven on earth.  Yes, I am excited about this one.  I roasted the ones below on the Big Green Egg on two vertical roasters.  The Egg added just the right touch of smoky flavor.

Beer Brined Chicken

(Serves 8-10)

Brine
1 Gallon Water
3 T. Molasses
1 c. Kosher Salt
48 oz. Dark Beer
1 Lemon sliced
2 Bay Leaves
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
1 Onion peeled and sliced
1 Head Garlic peeled and roughly chopped

2 (3-lb.) Whole Chickens
4 T. Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Combine all brine ingredients in a large stock pot.  Stir until the salt is dissolved.  Add the chickens breast side facing down.  Make sure the chickens are covered with liquid.  If you need to add water, do so.  Cover the pot and place in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, when you are ready to roast,  preheat the oven or outdoor oven (Big Green Egg with the plate setter in place legs up), to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove the chickens from the brine and rinse them off.  Pat the chickens dry, place in a roaster breast side up, rub with olive oil, then kosher salt.  If you are using the Big Green Egg, try using vertical poultry roasters and place them in 2 disposable aluminum foil pans (doubled up for strength).  Position the chickens on the vertical roasters as though they were standing up.  Roast for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast and near where the breast meets the thigh reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the oven or Egg and rest for fifteen minutes before carving.  Serve warm.







Lamb Curry Burgers - Recipe

These burgers are one of my family's favorites.  They are so easy, and are fabulous in the oven or on the grill.  I serve them on potato buns with a little ketchup and bread and butter pickles.




Lamb Curry Burgers


(Makes 8 1/4 lb. Burgers)

The Rub

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
2 tsp. Turmeric

The Burgers

2 lb. Ground Lamb
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
3 Turns of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a small bowl, mix the rub spices together.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the lamb, salt, and black pepper together with your hands until evenly distributed.  Divide the meat into eight balls and press into patties.  Dip each patty gently into the rub on both sides, then place onto a cookie sheet.  Do not press the rub too heavily.  If you have a little rub left over, discard it.  Do not sprinkle any more on the burgers.  It will be too salty if you do.  Make a small indentation in the center of each patty with your thumb.  Cook them for 20 minutes to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have also grilled them on our Big Green Egg (550 degrees Fahrenheit) on the grate with the lid closed, 3 minutes on each side.  Check internal temperature for 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Serve warm.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Ginger Brisket With Sweet Cherry Wine Sauce - Recipe

     This is a great brisket for a party.  It is easy to prepare, and it comes out deliciously fork tender.   I developed this recipe awhile ago, but last weekend I added a sweet cherry wine to the sauce at the end which makes it really, really good.  The ginger spice and cherry are excellent together.  I use a great Sweet Cherry wine from Hiddencroft Vineyards in Lovettsville, VA, a beautiful winery Loudoun County http://www.hiddencroftvineyards.com.











Ginger Brisket

(Serves 6-8)

4-5 lb. Beef Brisket
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Onion Powder
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Mustard Powder
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 c. Water
2 T. plus 1 T.  Robust Molasses
1 c. Sweet Cherry Wine

Preheat the oven (I like to use our Big Green Egg outdoor grill with the plate setter legs facing down) to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the brisket in a large enamel-lined Dutch oven fat side up.  (I use a special Dutch oven just for the grill that I don't mind if it gets dark from the coal.)  Mix the ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder together in a small bowl.   Rub the spice mixture all over the brisket.  Stir the vinegar and water together and pour into the side of the Dutch oven, taking care not to rinse the spices off of the meat.  Stop pouring when the liquid comes half way up the thick side of the meat.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of molasses over the top of the meat and spread it across the top with the back of a spoon.  Cover the Dutch oven and braise in the oven for 3 hours.  Test for tenderness with a fork. When tender, remove from the oven and let the meat sit in the covered Dutch oven for 30 minutes.  Then place the meat on a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Slice thinly against the grain and place in a serving dish with sides a few inches high.  Degrease the pan juices in a degreaser and return to the pot.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of molasses.  Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes to concentrate the juices, stirring occasionally.  Begin adding the wine a little at a time, tasting as you go, stopping at your preference of cherry flavor.  Simmer, uncovered, another 5 minutes.  Pour the wine sauce over the meat and serve.





Sunday, March 22, 2015

Favorite Quote #1

In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.

Quote by:  John Pentland Mahaffy

     This is the quote that greeted us as we were about the enter The Auld Shebeen, Irish Pub and Tavern in Fairfax, VA.  It seemed as if the light hearted energy of this pub begins before you even enter.  On Saturday evening my husband and I took my son and his college roommate out for dinner to this very busy happy little pub.  We had a grand time.  Over the last four years, we had many lovely lunches and dinners with these fine young men.  Now that they are seniors and going on their separate ways to the next phases of their lives, these moments are even more precious to me.  How lucky we are to have family, friends, and music to celebrate life with!

Carrot Salad (Russian/Korean Style) - Recipe

Russian/Korean Carrot Salad

This is one of my favorite ways to eat carrots.  This is originally a Korean dish, yet is very popular in Russia.  Upon more research I also discovered that there are many variations to this simple salad.  Here is my take on this delicious Russian/Korean salad.  I use a food processor attachment with large grating holes to save time instead of using  a mandoline.  Also, it is crucial to use whole coriander seeds and crush them yourself with a mortar and pestle.  Don't crush them completely to dust, leave some texture and larger pieces.  If I don't have whole coriander on hand I don't bother to make the salad.  It is that important.  I also use kosher salt.  If you choose a finer grained salt, you will have to reduce the amount or it may be too salty to your liking.




Russian/Korean Carrot Salad


12 Carrots grated with a food processor (about 6 cups grated)
1 T. Kosher Salt
2 T.  Coriander Seeds crushed with a mortar and pestle
1/2 c. Currents or Raisins
2 T. Red Wine Vinegar
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Honey (Raw)
1/4 c. Olive Oil
Black Pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl combine the carrots and salt.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Scoop a handful of carrots at a time and gently squeeze out the water into the sink.  Place the carrots back into the bowl and continue until all the carrots are squeezed.  This is where the art comes into play.  Be careful not to squeeze too hard or the carrots will be too dry.  On the other hand, you want to squeeze enough to avoid making the salad too soupy.  After you make this once, you will know how to adjust your squeezing strength.  Now add the coriander and currents to the carrots.  In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil.  Pour over the carrots and mix.  Taste and adjust salt, then add pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results.  I confess I have eaten it right away, but try to refrigerate at least a few hours.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pumpkin Ginger Oatmeal - Recipe






Pumpkin Ginger Oatmeal

Serves 4

1 c. Steel Cut Oats
4 c. Water
1 heaping T. Plain Goat Yogurt
1/2 c. Cooked Pumpkin
1/2 inch Fresh Ginger peeled and sliced with a vegetable peeler
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 c. Maple Syrup

The night before, combine the oats, 2 cups water, and yogurt in a sauce pan.  Cover and sit overnight.  In the morning add the remaining two cups water to the oatmeal and bring to a simmer, stirring until thick and the oatmeal is soft and chewy.  Divide the pumpkin, ginger, and cinnamon between four bowls.  Stir slightly and add the maple syrup.