Table for Four

lamb chops with dried cherries and port

This weekend, we enjoyed a casual dinner at home with two of our dearest friends.  Feeling in need of a cozy late winter meal, I made succulent pan seared lamb chops with dried cherries and port (recipe here), oven roasted Brussels sprouts over toasted pecan and pearl onion studded wild rice, and a lemon tart with fresh whipped cream.  While I do love to go out, nothing beats spending a leisurely evening by the fire with good friends and a great bottle of red.

The lamb could not have been simpler to prepare, and the dried cherry port wine sauce was divine.  If lamb is not your favorite, the sauce would be wonderful with pan seared duck breasts or pork tenderloin.

I’ll post the lemon tart recipe later this week.  It was my first entirely successful gluten-free crust (meaning it rolled out beautifully, held together like a dream, and had the taste and texture of a traditional crust) so I must share it with you.

Cast Iron Cooking

I love cooking in cast iron and have used my Le Creuset dutch oven to make everything from slow-braised osso buco to thick, rich bolognese.  The problem is that my trusty little pot, while still in great shape, is too small to hold dinner for a crowd.  So I was thrilled to find this beauty on sale at Williams-Sonoma yesterday:

Cast iron heats evenly, allows you to create a perfect sear, and it lasts forever.  This enamel coated 7-quart Staub Oval Cocotte is big enough to roast a large chicken or braise a ton of short ribs.  I know what you are thinking.  It’s JUNE!  Who wants all of that heavy cooking in the summer?!  But I have a plan.  This weekend I will make either the Mussels with White Wine and Butter (see first image) or Clams with Jalapeno, Lemon, and Basil (below).  Summery, right?

I know I will not last it until fall without testing this Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs recipe at least once, though:

And these Rosemary Lamb Chops with Swiss Chard and Balsamic Syrup look pretty fabulous too…

Decisions, Decisions!!!

Click each image for sources, links and recipes.