A few months ago I had the opportunity to meet a celebrity. No, not Justin Bieber. Way more exciting. Dorie Greenspan. Dorie’s a baking star, the author of many amazing cookbooks, especially devoted to desserts and Paris. I first remember learning about Dorie from my mom’s copy of Baking with Julia. Her recipes feel like home, her warm personality shines through making you feel like you are beside her in the kitchen. In honor of the occasion, I bought her new cookbook, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. Meeting Dorie was a true pleasure, she’s as delightful in person as you would imagine from reading her cookbooks. She took the time to introduce herself to all of us attending the potluck arranged by my friend Myra (Seattle Bon Vivant). Each of us contributed something to the table, both sweet and savory from Dorie’s various books, all of which equally delicious.
Recently I’ve been cooking more in my tiny kitchen, finding new recipes from my favorite blogs, magazines and re-visiting cookbooks collecting dust on my bookshelf. However this week, I knew exactly the book I wanted to use, my newly signed copy of Around My French Table. Skimming through the book there were plenty of mouth watering recipes each with serving suggestions and variations or as Dorie coins “Bonne Idée.” What I love about these classic recipes are that they are meant to be cooked in the home. Most ingredients are simple, found in your local supermarket or farmers market; easily attainable for the average cook.
The first recipe I made was a take on a classic roast chicken, except with cognac. I’ve made my fair share of roast chickens and I can say without a doubt this variation was one of the most flavorful renditions yet. It reheated beautifully throughout the week. I literally scooped the sauce out in spoonfuls relishing the exquisite flavor. You can find the recipe here for M. Jacque’s Armagnac Chicken
But you want to know what really made me smitten for Dorie’s book. A lamb dish. Ironically I don’t like lamb. However her description of the aromatic spices infiltrating your house on a cold winters day made me want to branch out and try something new. As Dorie explains, French cuisine has many Middle Eastern influences especially Moroccan thus the combination of cardamom, curry, figs, honey and apples in the braised lamb dish. This dish converted me. I couldn’t get enough of the tender lamb. For that I owe Dorie. Braised-Cardamom-Curry Lamb is the sort of dish that you’ll want to make on a Sunday afternoon, slowly simmering on the stove and one you’ll make not only for yourself, family but also guests. Also note, it freezes impeccably, re-heating just fine including in the microwave.
Braised Cardamon-Curry Lamb from Around My French Table
Yields 6 servings. Can also be served with rustic bread, wide egg noodles or a rice, but I found the dish perfectly filling on it’s own.
1 Small Mint Bunch (6 sprigs)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Large Onions Finely Chopped
6 Garlic Cloves (Peeled & Crushed)
2½ Tablespoons Madras Curry Powder
½ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
4 Crushed Cardamom Pods
3 Pounds Boneless Lamb Shoulder
(Cut into 1″ chunks, excess fat removed & patted dry)
¾ Cup Water
1½ Teaspoons Honey
3 Dried Figs (Quartered)
3 Tablespoons Golden Raisins
9 Small Potatoes (I used Yukon Gold) Peeled & Halved
3 Tart/Sweet Apples (Such as Gala or Fuji, Peeled, Quartered & Cored)
1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed casserole or Dutch Oven (this is what I used) over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, when the oil is hot add the onions, garlic, curry powder, cardamom powder & pods. Heat, stirring often til the onions are translucent and soft for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add the cubed lamb (which has been patted dry) and increase the heat to medium. If the mixtures seems dry you can add a bit more olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the water. Tie the mint with kitchen twine, remove the mint leaves & chop. Add the mint stems and half of the chopped mint. Also add the honey, figs and raisins. Scatter the potatoes and apples over the meat. Season with more salt and pepper; bring the mixture to boil.
3. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pot with aluminum foil and cover with the lid. Braise for approximately 1 hour and 15-30 minutes. The meat and potatoes should be tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.
4. Taste the juice, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining chopped mint on top and ladle into shallow soup bowls.
Enjoy! Bon Appetit!
Source: Recipe from “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).