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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Graduation and Easter Dinner

It is OFFICIAL. After almost two years of hard work and countless practice hours, I have graduated from Culinary School. For some reason, I feel a more sense of accomplishment from this school then I did from TCU. I know it is strange, but this was not an easy undertaking.

I just want to take the time to say thank you to the Chefs (Loy, Kurima and Waier) who made everything fun and exciting. Congratulations to the rest of the graduating class. I look forward to staying in touch with you all and hearing about your culinary careers.

Now that I have gotten all the fluff and tear jerking items out of the way...on to some cooking!!

This Easter, my wife and I decided it was time to start hosting holiday dinners at our house. This was more of an undertaking than we realized. I thank by the time the day was through, we both have a new found respect for our parents. Yes, yes, I know...our parents were right all along.

So the meal was split into four courses: appetizers (which my in-laws prepared), soup (mine), main (mine) and desserts (sister-in-law, sister and my parents). Believe me when I saw that I searched for about two or three full days for the proper recipes for this special occasion. Not only was I preparing the majority of the meal, but I felt this was the perfect time to show everyone what I have learned.

Here is the menu. It would take to long to go through all the recipes for that day, so I will give the main dish.

Soup
Roasted Beet, Orange and Dill Soup
I DO NOT LIKE BEETS!!! So why prepare this? The color and the context of the dish made this a must. I must say, this was very good. I actually enjoyed this soup. It was served cold and in coffee mugs, so most just drank it. Compliments were coming in swiftly. Success. I would actually make this again.

Main
Roast Rack of Lamb with New Potatoes and Mint Pesto
This was AMAZING! Cooked to the perfect temp and nicely seasoned. The Mint Pesto was the perfect compliment to the dish.

Sides
Asparagus with Vin Santo Vinaigrette (substituted Muscat for the expensive Vin Santo)
Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey Vanilla Yogurt
Orange Scented Green Beans
Spring Green Risotto
FAVORITE SIDE: The Risotto. This is quickly becoming my favorite dish to make. Now, understand, I had not made risotto until school brunch about 4 weeks ago. I have since prepared it 5 more times. It is so delicious and creamy. Yes, it does take a lot of time, but it is GOOD!

Recipe for Roast Rack of Lamb
Lamb:
  • 1 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 18 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 T Dijon mustard
  • 5 lbs new red potatoes (quartered)
  • 4 racks of lamb

Whisk 1/2 cup oil, garlic and mustard in small bowl to blend. Transfer about 1/3 cup of mustard mix to large bowl and toss potatoes to coat. Brush remaining mixture over lamb. Sear racks in large saute pan until nice and brown on one side. Place racks in roasting pan and surround with potatoes. Preheat oven to 425. Roast until internal temp is 130 for medium rare, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Pesto:
  • 6 cups fresh mint
  • 2 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 3 t salt
  • 3 t ancho powder

Add all ingredients to food processor. Hold for service.

That is all there was to it. It was a simple recipe but the flavors just popped.

After 15 bottles of wine, some Irish Whiskey and some spiked coffee, the family left with full stomachs and a smile on their face. I think we might have to do this again!

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