Leg of Lamb with Anchovies (Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois)

When I was preparing for my first time to serve at Mount Tabor Center for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy, I knew that I needed to immerse myself in learning all I could about Tuscan cooking. Cooking “Italian” had always been one of my favorite methods, but come to find out, there are many different regions in Italy with vastly different cooking styles. I searched the internet for articles, recipes and cookbooks and came up with a real gem – The Twelve by Tessa Kiros, which is twelve months of Tuscan cooking. She organizes the book according to the months and the fruits, vegetables and meats that are available and in season. This is the great thing about Tuscany – there is what there is – you cook what is in season. You learn to appreciate and savor the flavors.

So, this cookbook became my bible of sorts and I cooked my way through it in the three months I was there, and then again, when I went back for another three months. Every recipe was unique, simple and thoughtful, not to mention the beautiful photography and lessons she taught about seasonal cooking.

So, as we were looking towards our grand opening, I knew that I needed a little help to put together truly Tuscan meals for such a special event. That’s when I started my correspondence with Tessa. She was happy to give me input, suggestions, and even serving ideas. It was a joy to learn from such a great master.

Her travels have taken her all over the world. She was born in London to a Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father. She has worked in restaurants and with families in London, Sydney, Mexico and Athens – and chose to work with people who really inspired her. They were mentors in her journey through the world of food. On a trip to Italy to study the language and food, she met her husband, and together they have two beautiful daughters.
In 2016 she won the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Book of the Year in food and travel.

Tessa is delighted to be sharing this recipe for Easter with us from her new cookbook ‘Provence to Pondicherry‘ published by Quadrille, Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois (Leg of Lamb with Anchovies). Photo courtesy of Manos Chadzikonstantis.

“I have such a lovely memory of eating this deep in the countryside one sunny day, under a huge tree that provided shade for the masses…It is good served with a potato gratin or a vegetable tian. Braised artichokes are also very good served either as as starter to this or one side.”

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Leg of Lamb with Anchovies
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
75minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, anchovies, rosemary and thyme leaves with 2 T. of the oil. Drizzle 3 T. of the oil into the base of a not too large roasting pan that will fit the lamb and tomatoes.
  2. Make 3 incisions, about 3/4 in. deep, on each side of the lamb. Stuff the herb mixture into the incisions and rub all over the lamb. Rub the surface with a little salt (not too much as the anchovies are salty) and a generous grinding of pepper, then put the lamb in the baking dish, presentation side down.
  3. Surround the lamb with the tomatoes. Lightly sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle with the last tablespoon of oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the lamb is golden and the tomatoes are starting to look gooey.
  4. Turn the lamb over, move the tomatoes around if necessary and check that nothing is burning. Add 1/2 c. of the wine, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast for a further 30 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining wine to ensure that the sauce around the lamb is jammy and tomatoes are not blackening and roast for a final 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how well done you want the lamb, and on the size of the leg of lamb. I like this dish with the meat cooked through, and with a jammy, gooey sauce.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb and tomatoes to a platter and serve warm.

Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Yams and Apples

Cider, apples, yams, and pork chops. What could better express Autumn in the form of a meal? With a daily collection of apple drops from our trees in the orchard we have been having them in many ways each day: homemade cider, spicy apple butter on crispy warm toast, and tangy applesauce as an accompaniment to most anything, but tonight they made their appearance for the first time in a main meal, and what a successful debut this was! One would hardly expect something so simple to be so successful in pleasing so many.

The yams and apples were simply quartered and roasted on a sheet pan while the chops were seared and simmered in cider — which was reduced to a surprisingly flavorful sauce, tying everything into a perfect expression of the Fall season.

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Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Yams and Apples
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
42 minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Mix yams, apples, rosemary, 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Spread yam mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are browned and tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.
  2. Season pork with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add pork, and cook until golden brown and center is barely pink, about 5 minutes per side. Place 1 chop each on 4 individual dinner plates, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in skillet.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and add cider. Bring to a simmer, stirring to loosen browned bits from skillet. Whisk in mustard, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter until melted and incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over chops. Divide yam mixture among plates, and serve immediately.

Lamb Shanks Ossobuco

As we head into the cold, long days of winter, I find myself craving comfort food that warms every part of you. A bowl of steaming stew, perfect buttery mashed potatoes or even a simple bowl of spaghetti Bolognese can fill the bill on any particular day.

I found lamb shanks on sale at the store this week and was delighted to pair them with this ossobuco style recipe for the ultimate comfort food. Usually made with veal, lamb is a nice change and the succulent meat falls off the bone when made overnight in your slow cooker. The word literally means hollow-bone and refers to the middle part of the hind shank, which has tender meat around the marrowbone. Served with risotto or polenta, ossobuco makes a delicious and satisfying meal.

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Lamb Shanks Ossobuco
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
6hours in slow cooker
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
7hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut through the tendon that connects the meat to the bone at the bottom of the shank -this will allow the meat to bunch up nicely. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large frying cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and brown the shanks a couple at a time, turning until dark brown all over (browning creates a great depth of flavor you get once they’re cooked). Set the shanks aside in a slow cooker.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the 3 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, onions, carrot, celery and garlic to the same frying pan. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until the vegetables are golden and soft.
  4. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine, bring to a rapid simmer and let it bubble for 30 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol.
  5. Add the tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Pour or spoon carefully over the shanks. Cover with the lid and cook in the slow cooker on low for 6 hrs., spooning liquid over the shanks every now and then. The meat should be almost falling off the bone by the end.
  6. Gently remove the shanks using tongs or a large spoon (careful as they will be very delicate) and set aside in a dish covered in foil.
  7. Put the cooking into a large saucepan, add the butter to the sauce and boil for about 10 minutes to reduce slightly, or until it’ a nice pouring sauce. You may need to add 2-3 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water to thicken it up. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper.
  8. Serve the shanks over creamy mashed potatoes, polenta or risotto alongside steamed green vegetables. Pour the sauce generously over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest if you like. Andiamo mangiare!

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Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup Shot

In the Benedictine charism, true hospitality is a “holy event”, not just a social happening where only people’s bodies are nourished. No, Benedictine hospitality requires much more than feeding people and sending them on their way. Chapter 53 of The Rule of Saint Benedict makes it very clear just what is asked: in true Benedictine hospitality, “All guests who arrive should be received as Christ.”  – Cynthia Bertelson

Entertaining has long been an important part of the outreach of our community.  At this time of year, we have about four events happening simultaneously, so we are always searching for creative ways to do things without adding a lot of extra stress and work, but still maintaining the level of excellence we need to do all things to the glory of God.  This recipe can be used as an appetizer or first course, for your next holiday gathering.  A simple two toned soup shot, hearkening back to the flavors of summer.  The soup can be easily made ahead and then assembled at the last minute so you can enjoy more time with your guests.

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Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup Shot
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
90minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
2hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degree farenheit
  2. Toss the tomatoes, onion, garlic and one sprig of rosemary in a non-stick roasting pan with the olive oil and season with salt
  3. Roast for 90 minutes, or until tender (covering the pan with foil if it starts to get too dark); discard the rosemary
  4. Transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a saucepan, discarding the solids.
  5. Pour in the stock and hot pepper sauce (optional*).
  6. Check the seasoning and chill until ready to serve or leave at room temperature.
  7. To make the basil cream, whisk together the basil and cream until slightly thickened.
  8. To serve, moisten 6 shot glass rims with a lemon wedge. Turn the moistened rim into a plate lined with sea salt to coat the rim. Fill each glass ½ to ¾ with soup and top with a dollop of the basil cream. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig and serve immediately.
Cooks Note *
  1. For a milder version, simply omit the smoky pepper sauce and add an extra ½ cup of heavy cream instead.
  2. Chiffonade is a chopping technique in which herbs are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking the basil on top of each other, rolling them tightly lengthwise, then slicing the leaves thinly and perpendicular to the roll.
  3. You can make this soup the day before and chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Braised Short Ribs

Some meals can be almost as enjoyable to prepare as to eat.  Short ribs are an example of this, especially in cold blustery weather as we have been having this winter. Cooking them is a most pleasurable culinary experience, engaging all the senses from start to finish.

Thick well cut ribs are a joy to handle while rubbing in the seasonings.  Then there is the visual thrill of watching them beautifully brown before your eyes in the sizzling hot skillet. This begins to produce a mouthwatering aroma to savor,  while slowly nursing them along to desired tenderness.

As a final treat to the senses, I hear the sound of delighted exclamations from those coming to dinner whose appetites are peaked from shoveling snow out in the cold. Could anything be more heartwarming and rewarding than that?  Well yes….sitting down and eating one of my most favorite meals with them!

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Braised Short Ribs
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
2 1/2-3hours
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch.
  5. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of drippings from pot.
  6. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes.
  8. Stir in wine, Worcestershire and then add short ribs with any accumulated juices.
  9. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
  10. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
  11. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours.
  12. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup.
  13. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with onion salt and pepper.

These short ribs are even better when they are cooked the day before.

Skewered Lamb Kebabs

Last week lamb was on sale (something that does not occur too often), so I happily took advantage of it and bought a nice leg. In general, most people either really like this meat or do not like it at all. Few seem to be neutral about it, mainly, I think, because of its distinctive flavor, which is precisely what makes it appeal to lamb lovers.

I myself prefer it simply roasted or broiled, but for the sake of those whom I knew would like it a little more dressed up I decided to make colorful kabobs with a few favorite vegetables and serve it with Greek rice, the way my father always prepared it.

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Skewered Lamb Kebabs
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
1 1/4hours
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. The first step is to marinate the lamb preferably overnight, if possible, then cube the vegetables and add to the marinade for whatever length of time is convenient.
  2. Arrange both meat and vegetables on skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 1 hour.
  3. Broil for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned and to desired doneness, turning frequently.
  4. Prepare rice well in advance.
  5. Saute rice in oil and butter. Add salt, parsley, mint, garlic and water.
  6. Cover and simmer on low heat untill all liquid is absorbed and rice is thoroughly cooked, adding additional water if needed. The earlier the rice is cooked, the more flavorful it will be when served.