Mother’s Day Lunch 2020

This year was a special Mother’s Day for a lot of reasons. This was the first year that Tate’s mom was celebrating being a mother to both a human and a fur child, and due to the pandemic, the first year that Tuck’s parents were home for Mother’s Day. We knew we had to do something really special to celebrate the big day. Tuck’s mom took the lead on menu planning and prep so that all the moms could have a relaxing day without being slaves to the kitchen. Here is how the menu and day played out.  

The Menu 

We tried to create a menu that had a little something for everyone. Our mom loves Israeli food and the restaurant Safta here in Denver in particular. When Safta opened she went to a food event with the head chef, Alon Shaya, which means we are all owners of his cookbook. We wanted to take elements from his book that we all love and create a menu from it. Originally we had planned to have appetizers and lunch as two separate courses, but decided having lunch as one big platter of food would serve the mood of decadence and be easier to prepare. It ended up being very family style, which feels appropriate to the day even if it isn’t the best social distancing practices. 

When planning a menu as extensive as this one, it is important to be strategic in time management and designating specific areas to extend the most energy. The first step to doing this is buying as many items that are pre-made as possible. We bought all of the “snacks” from our favorite Middle Eastern market, Arash. They have better hummus than we could ever make on our own and it is an easy way to eliminate a lot of prep work. Making homemade pitas with a menu this large would be absurd, so we bought those as well and threw them on the grill so that they were hot and crunchy when we sat down to eat. We marinated the chicken kabobs and lamb meat the day before, so that all that was left to do the day of for those dishes was to cook them on the grill. The pound cake is a favorite recipe of ours from the Safta cookbook and easily can be made the day before, which eliminated having to spend a lot of time Sunday morning on dessert. 

The final preparation for lunch was pretty easy with the help of a few extra hands. We had Tate’s dad grill the lamb and chicken in the backyard, Tuck’s dad on roasted cauliflower duty, and the Tuck’s mom assembling the platters. The key to any platter, as you can read from our cheese board assembly posts, is that more is more. We divided the dips into small ramekins so that each platter had a little bit of everything and filled the boards with veggies and pitas once the entrée kabobs were cooked. The visual is stunning and almost overwhelming- they are always a crowd pleaser! 


Lamb Kofta Meatballs

We have been making variations of this Lamb Kofta recipe for years now- it’s one of our go-to recipes for entertaining. Although we aren’t doing much entertaining these days, we found ourselves missing all of these flavors and made a trip to Arash, our local Middle Eastern grocery store. In just about 45 minutes we made this entire Middle East Feast for our little quarantine family! There is nothing better than homemade tzatziki and a fresh cucumber tomato salad to pair with rich, lamb meatballs. We love this kofta recipe because the fresh herbs, hint of jalapeno, and loads of spices brighten up the rich lamb for a dinner we can eat all year round. 

Lamb Kofta Meatballs 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Total Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 lbs ground lamb (can use a mix of ground lamb and beef)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley 
  • 1/2 cup mint 
  • 1/3 cup walnuts 
  • 2 tsp coriander 
  • 1 tsp cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Use a small blender to chop the jalapeno, garlic, parsley, mint, and walnuts. The consistency should be chopped but not paste-like. Put those ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and olive oil. Whisk together.
  3. Add the lamb to the mixing bowl. Get your hands dirty and mix everything well to combine. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. 
  4. Form meatballs with the lamb mix that are roughly the size of large golf balls. Place them into rows on a large cookie sheet. 
  5. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with hummus, pita, tzaziki, and cucumber tomato salad. 

Lamb & Guinness Shepherd’s Pie

For as long as January felt, we blinked and here we are in the middle of March. While March is exciting for those young enough for Spring Break, for us young adults, mid-March means St. Patrick’s Day. There are two easy ways to approach a St. Patrick’s Day menu- green themed or traditional. This year we have gone the traditional route by starting our menu with Lamb & Guinness Shepherd’s Pie. Can you get any better than topping savory stew with creamy mashed potatoes? We don’t think so. 

Adding Guinness to this recipe adds to the Irish theme and also brings a hearty, almost bitter taste to the stew. This balances out the richness of the lamb and mashed potatoes. We’ve used a standard frozen vegetable mix in this version of the recipe, but if you decide to make this in the summer months, feel free to substitute for fresh veggies of your choosing.

Lamb & Guinness Shepherd’s Pie
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes   Cooking Time: 20 minutes   Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients For the Potatoes:

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 2 tbs butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Filling: 

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 lb ground lamb 
  • 2 tbs tomato paste 
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tbs flour 
  • 1 Guinness beer (16 oz) 
  • 3 cups frozen vegetable medley, thawed in the microwave
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into medium, even sized pieces. Put them in a large pot and cover with cool water by an inch or so. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. . Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
  3. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher and add the butter and milk. Continue to mash until they are creamy and to the texture of your liking. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Start the filling by heating a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, carrots, garlic, rosemary and thyme.. Saute for 3 minutes, or until the onions star to caramelize.
  5. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper. Add the lamb to the pot and brown for roughly 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and flour to the pan and stir well to evenly distribute. Cook another 3 minutes. Add the Guinness and stir with a whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Cook the lamb mixture for 15 minutes, uncovered. Add the vegetable medley to the mix and gently stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Spray each of the four ramekins (or a deep 9 x 9 x 2 baking dish) with cooking spray. Evenly distribute the filling among for four ramekins or into an even layer in a baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes, being sure to completely spread the potatoes to the edges to create a seal over the filling. Bake the shepherd’s pies for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. If they haven’t browned in the 20 minutes, turn your oven onto a high broil and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Let the shepherd’s pie rest for at least 10 minutes out of the oven before serving. 

Dijon Crusted Rack of Lamb With Garlicky Green Beans

We were really excited to brainstorm some new ideas for Hanukkah dinner and try to put a fresh, exciting spin on a traditional menu. If you know Nana, you know that our holiday mains have typically been some type of red meat. Instead of the usual brisket recipe, we present you with these mustardy, Parmesan crusted lamb chops. They. Are. The. Bomb. Two kinds of mustard and fresh herbs give the lamb chops a necessary tang to balance out their rich flavor. Crusty Parmesan coating gives them a salty crunchy crust. Serve over garlicky green beans for a decadent, holiday worthy, (almost) complete meal. 

Dijon Crusted Rack of Lamb 
Makes: 16 lamb chops 
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cooking Time: 20 minutes    Total Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients For the Lamb Chops : 

  • 2 racks of lamb, approximately 8 chops per rack
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tbs salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper 
  • 3 tbs dijon mustard 
  • 3 tbs whole grain dijon mustard 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme, minced 
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, minced 
  • 1 cup bread crumbs 
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

Ingredients for the Garlicky Green Beans: 

  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed better than they are in these photos
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tbs butter
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Make the mustard coating. Combine the dijon, whole grain mustard, garlic, thyme, and rosemary in a mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine and set aside. 
  3. Make the bread crumb coating. Combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a second bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. 
  4. Rub the lamb chops with the 2 tbs olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on high heat. When the pan is hot hot hot, add the lamb chops to the pan. Sear for 6 minutes or so, rotating each rack of lamb so that all sides get seared during the cooking time. Oil will splatter, your microwave vent will need to be turned on. This step is messy but necessary. If your pan is not large enough for both racks, do one rack at a time. When the lamb chops are finished searing, remove them from the pan and place onto a cookie sheet. Let them rest for 5 minutes. 
  5. Thoroughly coat the lamb chops with the mustard mix. Use your hands to coat the breadcrumb mix on top of the mustard. Pat it on there well so that the coating sticks to the chops. Bake the lamb chops in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving. 
  6. While the lamb chops are in the oven, cook the green beans. Heat the skillet the green beans were in to medium-high. Add the butter and garlic to the pan. Melt the butter and add the green beans. Saute for about 8 minutes, or until the green beans are crispy on the outside and softened in the middle. If they are getting too brown but are not cooking, add 1/3 cup water to the pan. This helps steam and saute and will get the insides of the beans cooked to the correct temperature. 
  7. Use a cutting board and a very sharp meat slicing knife to gently separate the chops. Serve with garlicky green beans, if desired.