Friday, May 13, 2016

Mini Raspberry Muffins for my Toddler

My toddler - he has a thing for fresh fruit. Mangoes, oranges, and bananas are some his favorite but, because we live in Minnesota, fresh, tropical fruit are not always easy to come by. Luckily, he also can't get enough of raspberries. I can get him to eat almost anything if I put chucks of fresh raspberries on it. As you can imagine, meal times often include very adventurous (for a toddler at least) food combinations. Scrambled eggs with raspberries. Chicken with raspberries. Avocado, sausage and raspberries - we've done that too.

While on the less adventurous side, mini muffins are a go-to for breakfast around here. I make a different batch every two weeks and pop a few in the freezer. It about 10 seconds to warm up in the microwave. I've added raspberries to this batch but have made them in the past with blueberries. That's how we shake things up around here these days.

Raspberry Cinnamon Muffins 
Makes approx. 24 mini or 12 average-sized muffins

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffins tins and set aside.
2. Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition, then whisk in the vanilla extract.
3. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a separate bowl.
4. Fold in half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat.
5. Dust the raspberries with the remaining flour. This can be easily done by placing the raspberries and flour in a sieve and gently sifting the flour through.
6. Scoop into greased muffins tins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (longer if you are making average-sized muffins) until a toothpick test comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and cool before serving.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Fig and Red Wine Sauce

Some dishes are almost treasured in our house. The ones that are not prepared on a daily basis but once a year, at special occasions. They require specific preparations far in advance, such as ordering the meats from the farmers market or ritualistically making  parts of the recipe weeks or days ahead, and they help to define a season or occasion.  One of those is this rack of lamb. I make this only during the spring (usually at Easter) so understandably it's also a favorite. However, this is the first time that I have served it with this delicious (emphasis on delicious) fig and red wine sauce.  Like most special recipes, this one take a bit of time and effort but is absolutely worth it. 

For the rack of lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped

For the sauce
1 shallot, minced
1 cup dried mission figs, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix the chopped herbs together; set aside.
3. Rub the rack of lamb with one tablespoon of olive oil and season evenly with salt and pepper.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Sear the rack of lamb, beginning with the fatty side, on all sides for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking dish and paste with dijon mustard. (Save any leftoever oil and drippings to make the fig sauce). Then, gently coat the top of the rack with the herb mixture. Place in the oven, and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees F.
5. Let the lamb rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it into individual chops. Serve with fig and red wine sauce.

Fig and Red wine sauce:
1. Heat the leftover oil (used to sear the lamb) over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened.
2. Add the chopped figs to the pot and cook an additional two minutes. Pour in the red wine, stirring well. Once the wine has stopped sizzling, add the stock, fresh herbs and honey. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the figs have softened significantly. Remove from the heat.
3. Discard the sprigs of rosemary and thyme.  Pour the sauce into a blender and carefully blend until smooth.