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Rosemary roasted lamb

As promised, I wanted to share with you the recipes from yesterday’s post, starting with the most amazing lamb roast ever. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe so I’m not going to completely repost it from his site, but just walk you through the steps to show you how incredibly easy it is.

His recipe calls for a lamb shoulder but I haven’t been able to find that cut anywhere so I ended up going with a portion from the upper leg. If you can’t find lamb, a large cut of beef or pork would work just fine.

Prepping lamb roast

Start by patting the roast dry with some paper towels and trimming most of the excess fat, but leaving a little here and there to keep it moist while it roasts. Cut long deep slices across the meat horizontally and then vertically, making a grid in the flesh. Salt and pepper the crap out of it, making sure to get the seasonings into the grooves you’ve just cut, and then rub it all over with a thin coating of olive oil. Lay over about 8 to 10 whole sprigs of rosemary.

Next up, peel and entire head of garlic. No, for real.

A whole head of garlic

I find it’s easiest to break it into cloves with my hands and then bash each clove with the butt of my knife to loosen them from the peels. They slip out pretty effortlessly if you’ve done a good job of beating them into submission.

Next, tuck the cloves into the slices all over the lamb and just chuck any extras into the roasting pan.

Stuff garlic into sliced lambNestled garlic

At this point, Jamie would instruct you to turn your oven on “full whack,” which I think is a very charming thing to say and which for me means to turn my oven up to 500 degrees.

Cover your roasting dish with a sheet or two of aluminum foil and poke holes all over. When the oven has finished heating up to a fiery inferno, put in the roast and immediately turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. Let him bake for at least 3 hours and up to 4 if your roast is bigger than mine. Your house is going to smell amazing.

When it’s ready to come out, it’ll look like this…

Finished lamb roast

It’ll be swimming in delicious lamb fat and juices and the meat will be pulling away from the bone. Discard the rosemary and get ready to shred it.

Finished lamb with soft garlic

You can either pick out all the cloves of garlic and use them separately, or you can shred them right into the meat. They are so soft that they’re barely holding together at this point. I love roasted garlic with an intense passion so I like to eat them whole as if they were a side dish. :)

Just transfer the roast to a cutting board and, using a fork to hold it still, pull off chunks of meat with a pair of sturdy tongs. It should come off pretty easily though you may have to pick at it a bit around the bone.

This roast is excellent by itself, but it was even more special with the miso shiitake gravy that I’ll be sharing with you tomorrow.

My plate of lamb roast

It’s a real show stopper of a recipe and it really only takes 10 minutes or so to put together before the oven does all the rest. You can even prep it a day ahead of time and stash it in the fridge until it’s time to start cooking.

I hope you try it next time you need to impress a guest!

What is your favorite roasted dish?


A successful dinner party

Hello all.

Not too many interesting things have been going on around here lately. We’ve been busy finishing up the very last of our Christmas shopping and just enjoying some time off of work together. Jeff is cashing in his remaining vacation time so he doesn’t go back to work until January!

We did manage to squeeze in one more social event before the holiday. This past weekend we had our friends John and Emily over for a little dinner party. I love to cook fancy elaborate food but rarely have an occasion to, so it was nice to be able to cook something special for a change.

On the menu:

  • Roasted lamb leg with rosemary and whole garlic
  • Buttermilk mashed potatoes
  • Miso shiitake gravy
  • Honey soy glazed carrots
  • Apple butter cake with cinnamon cider buttercream

Yeah, it was as good as it sounds.

The lamb roast is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I’ve made several times before, and it’s been a hit every time.

Finished lamb roast

I used an entire head of garlic and a ton of rosemary. I’ll share the recipe tomorrow!

I used some of the pan drippings and a few of those cloves of garlic to make the most amazing shiitake mushroom gravy ever.

Miso shiitake gravy

Again, I’ll give you this recipe soon because it’s just insane, and you don’t need to use lamb drippings either when butter will work just fine.

The honey soy glazed carrots were soft and and lightly salty-sweet.

Honey soy roasted carrots

This recipe is super easy. Just 2 lbs. of carrots with a generous swish of soy sauce and a squirt or two of honey. They bake at 400 degrees for an hour covered in aluminum foil to hold in the moisture and keep the honey from burning.

And here’s a plate of everything…

My plate of lamb roast

I ended up pureeing the miso shiitake gravy for a better consistency. It was so good paired with the creamy potatoes and fragrant roasted lamb. I ate a few of those roasted garlic cloves by themselves too. I could seriously make a meal out of just roasted garlic and a good loaf of bread.

Dinner was served with a glass of Cardhu 12 year, a sweet and honey-like Scotch that suited the flavors of the dinner perfectly. Never mind that it’s in a Jack glass. I can’t even drink that stuff anymore, too sweet!

Cardhu in a Jack glass

And the jewel of the evening…cake!

Apple cake frosting

Apple cake edge

I have so many cake recipes bookmarked and I never have an occasion to make one. I modified this recipe to create this apple butter cake with cinnamon cider frosting. It had a damp banana bread texture and the frosting was smooth and not-too-sweet.

I’ll share my changes to the original recipe with you soon!

Slice of apple cake

I know for a fact that John and Emily loved the food, and I really enjoyed getting to make it for them. We were all feeling sleepy afterwards from stuffing ourselves and having a few too many whiskeys.

I had so much fun preparing this meal that I’m already scheming for future dinner parties. Recipes to come……!


Cafe 101

After all the homey comfort food we’ve been eating for the last week, Jeff and I were both craving a totally different sort of comfort food – Chinese.

If you’re familiar with Atlanta, then you know that Buford highway is the place to go for “ethnic” restaurants. There’s tons of great Korean barbecue, Vietnamese pho and bahn mi, slow-roasted Mexican pork in hand made corn tortillas, and of course some awesome Chinese offerings that go far beyond the general take out fare.

Cafe 101 is easily our favorite Chinese place. It’s a quirky little round building with sort of a clamshell roof, you can’t miss it.

Cafe 101

The walls are absolutely covered in magazine clippings and ceiling is a bit like a cathedral.

Cafe 101 inside Cafe 101 ceiling

We started with some hot jasmine tea to warm up from the cold weather we’ve gotten hit with this week. Floral and soothing like chamomile.

Cafe 101 jasmine tea

And we’re always given these little starter dishes of spicy cucumbers that have been only lightly pickled and a type of seaweed that I’m completely unsure of the name of.

Cafe 101 spicy cucumbersCafe 101 weird seaweed

And here’s where we proceeded to order entirely too much food, starting with some pork dumplings and some hot and sour soup.

Cafe 101 pork dumplings

Cafe 101 hot and sour soup

The dumplings were so soft and flavorful and the soup was full of tingly pepper that clings to the back of your throat.

We were both dying for mapo dofu, a crazy-spicy dish of tofu in a chili-heavy sauce. It was so good! The tofu actually had a distinct bean flavor that is sometimes missing from commercially-made tofus, and the sauce was the kind of spicy that makes you sweat and pant like a puppy.

Cafe 101 mapo dofu

We also got the duck buns, crispy-skinned duck on hot steamed buns with sour plum sauce and green onion. They actually brought all the fixins to the table and assembled the duck buns right in front of us.

Cafe 101 duck buns being prepared

I love this type of Chinese steamed bread, it’s so pillowy like a marshmallow. The duck was pretty fatty and I ended up picking off the larger hunks of fat, but it was still amazing.

Cafe 101 duck buns

As if we weren’t about to explode already, the server brought us a few slices of fragrant Chinese melon for a dessert and palate cleanser. Cool and crisp.

Cafe 101 melon dessert

We took a ton of food home and had it for lunch the next day. Mmmm, mapo dofu for lunch.

Cafe 101 is kind of a special place for me. I remember the day we got our wedding rings in the mail. Jeff and I agreed to meet at Cafe 101 for lunch and to see our rings for the first time, but they were closed when we got there. We ended up going to another Chinese place in the area yet for the longest time I completely forgot that that happened and was convinced that we’d saw them at Cafe 101 for the first time. So now that place is kind of tangled up in that memory and for some reason means more to me than the restaurant we actually ended up at.

Do you have a restaurant that is special to you for no real reason?