Blood Orange Lamb

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While we like a lot of the same dishes and flavors, Selim and I approach cooking in completely different ways. He likes to combine flavors and add a pinch of this and a dash of that, until he ends up with a delicious end result. Frequently (and unfortunately) this doesn’t lend itself to sharing on our blog, because by the time he reaches his final dish, he’s forgotten or can’t figure out exactly the amount of different ingredients that he’s used. Now me on the other hand, I’m way less creative. I like to find intriguing recipes and use them as a guide, makes tweaks here and there for our personal tastes. But tonight I pulled a Selim! I completely winged it for this dish and am pretty proud of myself. I think next time I would do do it with a lamb shoulder instead to have a little less fat.

In terms of flavor, the meat, carrots, and broth have a very meaty flavor, but the blood orange “gremichurri” as we called it (halfway between a gremolata and a chimichurri) really is the fun and bright flavor counterpoint here! It’s a great option for winter – heavy, hearty meat dish to stick to your bones and warm you up, topped with some brightness of winter citrus.

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Blood Orange Lamb

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 4 cups beef (or lamb if you so happened to have it!) stock
  • ~20 baby carrots
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 blood orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions: 
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks liberally with salt & pepper. Sear on all sides for just a minute or two (may have to do in batches). Then remove the lamb to the side.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Follow with 6 cloveds of minced garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the bay leaves and all of the spices and bring the liquid to a simmer.
  4. Return the lamb to the pot. Pour in the beef stock and the carrot. Nestle everything under the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  5. Lower back to a light simmer and cover. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, chop up the the leaves and tender stems of the parsley. Combine this in a small bowl with the remaining clove of minced garlic , the zest and juice of the blood orange, and the olive oil to taste.
  7. At this point, the meat should be very tender and falling off the bones. Remove the lamb and carrots to the side. Increase heat to a vigorous simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Pull the meat off the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Serve over rice or couscous, topping the starch with lamb, carrots, and then the reduced sauce.
Serves 4

Sour Beets

Since having our baby girl, we realized that having friends and family over for dinner is a little more difficult than it once was. We love cooking and hosting, but given that she goes to bed in the 6 o’clock hour and lets be honest, most people are coming over to see her and not us anyway, dinners just weren’t that convenient. Instead of giving up, we decided to start having people over for brunch! Everyone loves brunch ,and the baby is super friendly and cute in the mornings! We call our brunches “Hedgehog Brunch,” because the baby’s nickname is Hedgehog. (Side note, I think that’s how we’ll start referring to her on here, since “the baby” is a little generic. We’re not comfortable sharing her name and face with the wild, wild west of the whole internet.)

And no, these Sour Beets are not on our brunch menu. That usually consists of Selim’s biscuits (recipe forthcoming…), fruit, sausage and/or bacon, and eggs. But because we eat such a big brunch in the late morning, we’re frequently not that hungry at dinnertime on those nights. We usually just want something lighter and frequently just eat some vegetables for dinner. Hence our dinner tonight of this beet dish! This recipe comes from February’s Cookbook Club selection – Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, by Toni Tipton-Martin. This book is beautiful and educates the reader about African American culinary influence, a legacy that is often overlooked. I thought this particular recipe would be a great place to start because Selim loves beets, but only tolerates vinegar, while I love vinegar and only tolerate beets! Perfect right? As we were eating, Selim deemed this “hot beet slaw,” which is exactly what it is! He didn’t love it (too vinegary), but I really enjoyed it! We also thought next time we might add some carrots too.

Sour Beets

(Adapted from Jubilee, by Toni Tipton-Martin)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large beet or 2 medium beets, cut into matchsticks (~3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, sliced to similar thickness as the beets
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Season with a few turns of black pepper.
  2. Add the beets to the pan, stirring to combine with other ingredients. Cook for just another 1 minute.
  3. Then add the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to so the liquid is simmering. Cook like this for 15 minutes. (If you like your beets a little softer, go for 20 minutes.)
  4. Remove the lid, add the apples, and cook at a vigorous simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until a lot of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are your desired texture!
  5. Stir in the lemon zest and juice prior to serving. Adjust salt and pepper if need be.
Serves 4 as a side

Turkish Manti

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I distinctly remember the first time I had manti. It was on my first visit to Istanbul. Selim’s cousins took us out to dinner one night at a restaurant I wish I could remember 🤷‍♀️ I was eyeing the mantı, that was described in English as “lamb dumplings in yogurt sauce.” One of Selim’s cousins saw me considering it and explained that is a traditional Turkish favorite. It is such a unique combination… The manti are hot, but then the yogurt sauce is cool, followed by the oil drizzle that’s hot! It seems like the pieces shouldn’t come together, but they do perfectly. The whole table ended up ordering mantı! I was hooked!

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Now I seek manti out whenever we go to a Turkish restaurant. (Probably to the detriment of trying other delicious dishes, but I just can’t NOT order it.) For awhile there, we felt like we were in the secret cool kids club at Sultan Kebab in Charlottesville, because while there wasn’t any manti on the menu, if you knew to ask for it, they almost always had some for you! That quickly became the worst kept secret in town (thanks to chefs exposing the secret via Charlottesville 29 I think…), and now it shows up on the menu. We’ve also learned from experience that if you have a group of people for dinner who can’t decide whether they want a delicious kebab or to try the manti, manti makes a perfect shared appetizer too!

This is one of the dishes that we love so much are were afraid to try at home for fear of messing it up. Not to mention, it is fairly time-consuming as well. But we were SUPER excited at how well this came out. Also, it’s gorgeous! The dough for the dumplings came together easier than other doughs I’ve tried before for similar projects. We had two failings that are quite easy to correct for next time. One, we forgot the dried mint at the store. By which I mean, we picked it up, had it with all our other stuff, and somehow didn’t come home with it 🤷‍♀️ The dish is delicious without it, but don’t skip it if you can. It adds another layer of flavor. And two, we didn’t quite have the dumplings all the way submerged when they were cooking, which made the tops a little dry on some of them. Learn from our mistakes! Another side note – you should be able to find Turkish pepper at a Middle Eastern grocery. If not, substitute Aleppo pepper.

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Turkish Manti

(Minimally adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan)
Ingredients: 
  • Dumplings
    • 2+ cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1+ tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup cold milk
    • 1/2 lb ground lamb
    • 1/2 cup onion, grated
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
    • 4 grinds fresh black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 cups beef stock
  • Yogurt Sauce
    • 1 2/3 cups “Greek” yogurt
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Spiced Butter
    • 5 1/2 tbsp clarified butter
    • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
    • 1 tsp dried mint
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the dough in a large bowl. Sift together the flour and salt, then create a well in the center. Lightly beat the eggs and pour these, along with the olive oil and milk into the well. Stir together with a fork until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Then turn it out onto a floured counter-top and use your hands to form into a dough ball. Knead for ~8 minutes. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth to rest for 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling and yogurt sauce.
  4. For the filling, combine the lamb, onion, parsley, peppers, and salt in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. For the yogurt sauce, stir together the yogurt, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. After the dough has rested, roll it out to 1/16th inch thick. (We used our pasta roller attachment for the stand mixer.) Then cut the dough into 2 x 2 inch squares.
  8. To make the dumplings, place ~ 1/2 tsp of meat filling in the center of each square. Bring the four corners together and then twist to seal. Press down to flatten slightly.
  9. Place the dumplings in a greased deep baking dish (or two, depending on the size you use).
  10. Bake them for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the dumplings from the oven and pour stock over until all of the dumplings are just submerged in the liquid. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and return to the oven. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, heat the clarified butter in a small saucepan. Add the spices and swirl together. Keep on very low heat until ready to serve.
  12. Once the dumplings are cooked, place some on each plate. Pour the yogurt sauce over top and then drizzle with the butter.
Serves 4