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Lamb Chops with Ham, Garlic and Basil

lamb chops with ham, garlic and basil

Lamb chops are one of those dishes you can go to with very little trouble and yet produce a spectacular dish — one that will keep company coming back time after time or just satisfy a family. First of all, good loin or center ribs are probably the best a lamb has to offer and yet, served on a plate or on a center dish, they look just delicious.

This lamb dish has a great deal going for it. It can be done in a frying pan. It  doesn’t require much except a little ham (this time from a Honey-Baked ham) but you could also use pancetta to make it just a bit more Italian. The rest is just some olive oil, plenty of garlic and a little basil. The result is unpredictably good, maybe one of the best lamb chop meals I’ve ever made, and with so little effort.

Just make sure you’ve got the pan really hot at the end and that’s all that’s needed.

Add these on a plate of roasted Brussels sprouts and you’ve got a great meal.

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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Alfredo

lemon garlic shrimp alfredo

This lemon and garlic shrimp Alfredo is, believe it or not, a great Christmas dish around our house, in part because you can still get some very good shrimp this late in the year. And there really isn’t any reason I can think of to have a nice lemon garlic and cheesy Alfredo sauce just about any time of the year. Period.

The dish starts with a garlic lemony Alfredo sauce, which is nothing but butter, garlic, cream, a little lemon juice and zest, and cheese. And apart from waiting for the cream to reduce a good bit, there really isn’t much to make it. The shrimp I like to fry in some pancetta and (a little more) garlic, which takes only a little time, as well. (You can serve the pancetta with the shrimp or not — your call.)

Add a little fettuccine and your done. It’s a very nice, quick fix dinner or as a small plate for lunch.

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Chicken Donbori with Coriander and Pomegranate

chicken donbori

Donbori, in a nutshell, is a Japanese word for what amounts to a rice bowl — a steaming bowl of rice topped with whatever you happen to have on hand (within reason). And in most senses, this bowl from Chef Jordan Sclare is just that, but sometimes calling this a chicken donbori tends to disguise the amazing flavors and textures in this dish.

In this case, the rice is topped with zucchini flavored in a tangy miso and kim chi base, then sliced raw onions and pomegranate seeds, then lavished with chicken flavored in a cilantro (coriander) marinade that’s like, why didn’t I think of that before? I can sincerely promise you, you’ve never had anything quite like this dish, ever before in your life. 

I picked this recipe up somewhere. I don’t remember why or how, but dig in, guys. This one gives chicken a whole new flavor.

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A Little Vegetarian Minestrone

Minestrone

Minestrone is a staple throughout Italy, and while we will from time to time feature others of this soup, this particular vegetarian version is actually one of our favorites, for a lot of reasons. Unlike a lot of this soup, this minestrone has plenty of good bean broth for starters and lots and lots of fall roast vegetables. 

If you’re not as well-versed in minestrone (like most people aren’t) it is actually a very ancient soup made mainly from whatever veggies you happened to have around the kitchen. This version, like most these days in Italy, has tomatoes and beans and broth from the beans as the main ingredient, which gives it a very vegetable taste that we happen to like a lot. And fortunately, the broth itself really doesn’t take so very long to make. And this one has leeks, turnips, carrots, onions, celery and a little basil and oregano to spice up the flavor. 

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Addictive Marshmallow Fudge

Marshmallow Fudge

There is something addictive about a really good fudge. And no, I’m not talking about something you picked up at the store, but something you’ve put a little of your soul into. OK, not a lot, but something, right? That’s where this marshmallow fudge shows up on my list. 

First, it’s something my mother used to make for my brother and me many moons ago, using a recipe that was printed on the side of the marshmallow package. And while I’ve updated it just a little, adding a little dark fudge to the semi-sweet version and skipping the nuts, otherwise, it’s the same, good ol’ fudge I remember from those days.

It’s rich and creamy, and just sort of melts in your mouth. And with a cover over the top, it tends to last awhile (though to be honest, it usually doesn’t last that long). And no, it’s not anywhere near healthy, but that’s one of those things you have to put up with here. It’s a real treat, after all. Give it a try anyway.

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A Lovely Tuna Risotto

tuna risotto

There are a whole lot of great reasons to do almost any kind of risotto, but this one conjures up a kind of Mediterranean seafood risotto that really wins, big time. It’s dubbed a tuna risotto, but that really doesn’t even begin to understand this dish. It’s full of tomatoes, wine, some peas and of course tuna. It’s a kind of Italian seafood fest and then some.

I found this in an old New York Times article I think all the way back to 2008, kept it around for a year or more, and then finally tried it out one day. I’m sorry I didn’t try it much sooner. It’s that good. I half expected the tuna would kind of wash out everything else, but in fact it really brought out the other flavors. Made them better. And other than a bit more garlic than originally called for, I really didn’t change the dish all that much.

It’s a gem.

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Shanghai Red-Cooked Short Ribs

shanghai short ribs

Shanghai Red-Cooked Short Ribs are the result of a happy accident. But before I explain how, a little background is in order.

In another incarnation, circa 1991-1995, the lovely Carol and I spent a good bit of time in China, mostly in Shanghai. The food there was amazing, whether at an official business banquet or in one of the small back-alley places my expatriate colleagues would take us to.

As is the case here in the US and in most countries, food styles are very regional in China. Shanghai is known for a red cooking, which involves braising food in a rich flavorful dark sauce that’s been described as  mahogany-colored. It’s based on soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and various spices and herbs. It’s unique.

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