July 25, 2011
We had a beautiful warm and sunny day in Seattle yesterday, and Michael and I had my good friend, Kenzie, and her new boyfriend, Doug, over for dinner! Kenzie was a huge help the day of my wedding, running around doing absolutely anything I needed, so I wanted to make her a special thank you dinner and also get the chance to know her boyfriend a little better. (he’s great, yay!)
On our honeymoon, Michael and I took a cooking class together, and it was amazing, so I took the recipes we learned, made them low carb, and voila! a delicious low carb dinner party! Yes, we do subject our guests to our diet. Kenzie did warn Doug there wouldn’t be any bread! : )
On the menu:
Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup
Herbed Rack of Lamb and Roasted Asparagus with a Parmesean Cream Sauce
Baked Cinnamon Apples
Michael was nice enough to set the table for me before our guests arrived – he did a great job!
2 hours prior to guest arrival pull lamb out of fridge and get it ready. I based this off of the recipe here.
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (I didn’t have any mint leaves so I used basil instead)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves (pulled from sprigs)
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence*
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1- to 1 1/4-pound frenched racks of lamb (each with 8 bones) – I got mine from Costco and they were amazing!
In a food processor or immersion chopper like mine in picture, blend first 6 ingredients together until garlic is finely chopped. Then add olive oil and blend until a paste is formed. Add more olive oil if needed.
Now you will want to pull your rack of lambs out onto cutting board, and remove just the thin layer of fat that is over the bones, don’t do anything to the meaty portion – see this video for further clarification if needed.
Here it is before doing anything
And here it is with the fat I could cut trim off the bones
Once that is done, generously salt the lamb, and then take your herb paste and rub into onto the meaty part. Put into a baking dish and set aside for the rest of the 2 hours UNREFRIGERATED. You want the lamb to be room temperature when you go to cook it.
Now onto our Cream of Tomato Soup, adapted from Ina Garten
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped (I used some chopped baby carrots)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pint heavy cream (you could start with about a cup, and add more if you want soup creamier)
- 6 mozzerella balls for ganish (I used the same kind we had for the antipasto platter)
In a big soup pot, add olive oil over medium low heat and then sautee onions and carrots until very soft, about 10 minutes or so
Add in garlic and sautee for another minute
Now time to add your chopped tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and basil to the pot
Stir and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes uncovered
Now add your heavy cream to the pot and then take your immersion blender (if you don’t have one, order this!) and blend all the soup until it is nice and creamy – add salt and pepper to taste when you are done blending.
At this point, I put the big pot of soup into the fridge to heat up right before we were ready to eat
Now you will want to get your asparagus onto a baking sheet to go into the oven – you want to get all the prep done before guests arrive so that all you have to do is stick things in the oven when they are there.
Just place about 2 lbs. washed and trimmed asparagus onto a baking sheet, coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the top, then set aside.
Now get your apples for dessert prepped
Using a melon baller, scoop out the core of 4 apples, but don’t go all the way through the bottom (braeburn or granny smith apples recommended)
Add about a half a Tbsp. or butter to the center of each apple, sprinkle over the top with cinnamon, and put into a baking dish – then just refrigerate for later
Now time for guests to arrive!
Pre heat your oven now to 450 degrees
To start the evening, we enjoyed the nice weather on our deck while having a delicious antipasto plate – Salami, olives, Beecher’s cheedar cheese, and some delicious marinated mozzerella balls I picked up from DeLaurenti’s.
Enjoy some wine and snacks with your guests, then time to get dinner ready.
First, put soup back on stove to get reheated
Then you want to heat some olive oil in a stainless steel pan and when it is hot, using tongs sear your rack of lamb in the hot pan, just a few minutes on each side
Now put it back into the baking dish, meat side up (ends of bones will face down) and if you want, you can cover the ends of the bones with foil (I read this made sure the bones didn’t char, but we didn’t do this in our cooking class, and other sites don’t do it, so consider it optional and perhaps only needed for grilling or something)
Now insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of meat and put into the 450 degree oven. Put into the oven for about 20 minutes or so, until thermometer registers 140 for medium rare (how you want lamb to be cooked) - it will raise a little after it rests too.
Call your guests to dinner, and serve them the soup course. Just put soup into bowls and garnish with some basil and a few mozzerella balls.
Pay attention and make sure to remove your lamb when it is done, then while it is resting, drop your oven temp to 400, and then put your asparagus into the oven for about 10 minutes or until tender.
While asparagus is cooking, make your parmesean cream sauce.
Put a pint of heavy cream into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese, starting without a half a cup, whisking it in. Continue adding parmesan cheese until you like the taste – I probably used a little more than a cup, but it depends how strong you want the cheese flavor here so just taste as you slowly add.
Pull out asparagus and time to plate!
Put your parmesan cream sauce into a little bowl or container of some kind – I used crystal shot glasses
Add asparagus to the plate, then cut each of your lamb racks in half, and arrange on plate as well
Now just before you sit down to eat, lower oven to 350 degree and put your apples into bake
Here are Kenzie, Doug, and Michael enjoying the delicious lamb!
Now we are pretty full, but time for dessert! – just let your apples bake about 30 minutes while you are enjoying dinner, then pull them out, put into a bowl, and serve along with some whipped cream (I was going to make my own, but all this cooking made me tired, so out came the can – maybe next time!)
Thank you Kenzie for helping to make our wedding a success! Hope you enjoyed dinner!