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First course with lamb burgers and fries?

e
escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 11:03 AM

I could use some ideas for a first course. This is a casual, in-the-kitchen dinner for 5. I'm making lamb burgers with pistachios which will be served on chickpea pancakes with a greens/onion/mint salad and tahini yogurt sauce. I don't want to repeat those flavors by serving hummus or the like, but don't want to go off into the Italian tastes that are my default. Any ideas? It can be somewhat complicated but please no really obscure ingredients. Thanks in advance.

  1. DonShirer Mar 23, 2011 03:25 PM

    Tabouleh salad and/or cucumbers.

    1. r
      rjbh20 Mar 21, 2011 01:39 PM

      Cream of asparagus soup with parmesan custards

      Oops -- just saw that i'm too late. Well, think about it for next time. Also makes an excellent first course for Easter lamb dinner.

      7 Replies
      1. re: rjbh20
        e
        escondido123 Mar 21, 2011 03:58 PM

        I know how to make that soup, but parmesan custards? Please do tell--and how you combine the two.

        1. re: escondido123
          r
          rjbh20 Mar 22, 2011 10:20 AM

          Its a basic custard recipe (eggs & whole milk) except that you heat the milk first, add parmigiano and let it steep for half an hour. Add the eggs, beat until incorporated, then season with salt & pepper and, if you like, a grating of nutmeg. Strain and ladle into small well buttered ramekins, preferably ones that are taller than they are wide. Think of the dimensions of the cups in a popover pan.

          Put the ramekins in a roasting pan, add boiling water to halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake at 325 for about 40 minutes or until firm. Take out of the water & let sit for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert into a soup plate (preferably white). Ladle the soup around it so it looks like a floating island. Garnish the top with a small blanched asparagus tip.

          The same savory custard concept is useful as a side dish -- 86 the parmigiano and add caramalized shallots and you have a good go-with for seared duck breast. Add feta cheese and a touch of garlic & use with lamb. Etc., etc., etc.

          1. re: rjbh20
            e
            escondido123 Mar 22, 2011 10:33 AM

            When you say "steep" the parmigiano, I read that as saying you would then remove the cheese as you would a tea bag when steeping tea. I'm pretty sure I'm misunderstanding, but it would certainly be a good way to use some of my parmigiano rinds.

            1. re: escondido123
              r
              rjbh20 Mar 22, 2011 11:14 AM

              Just let the grated parmigiano (rinds might not diffuse enough flavor, but its worth a try) sit in the hot/warm milk off the stove until the milk is tepid. Then add the eggs, beat and strain. The straining removes the milk solids that can be a little grainy -- not essential, but makes for a better texture. Don't leave it too long or the milk can curdle.

              Now that I think of it, this may also have some cream in it. Can't hurt, right?

              BTW: To keep the soup nice and bright green, blanch the asparagus in a big pot of very salty water (like seawater) until just tender, then shock in an icewater bath until cold. Good luck

              1. re: rjbh20
                hotoynoodle Mar 22, 2011 01:01 PM

                i make various savory custards, and always use cream rather than milk. no need to strain. i use room temp cream and eggs and beat with a mixer til the mixture has some texture. this makes for a lush velvety texture. i also make them in muffin tins since i don't have that many ramekins.

                1. re: hotoynoodle
                  r
                  rjbh20 Mar 22, 2011 02:55 PM

                  How do you get them out of muffin tins one at a time without mashing them to pieces?

                  1. re: rjbh20
                    hotoynoodle Mar 24, 2011 08:21 AM

                    i cook them in a water bath, and grease the cups before adding the custard. if a pick pulls out dry, they're finished. i let them set a bit and then they slip right out when i turn over the tins. sometimes i need to draw a line around with a slim line, but have never had a problem.

      2. BobB Mar 21, 2011 11:38 AM

        I don't know if you can get these where you live, but I had a great lamb burger in my local bistro last week, and to start I had a half-dozen plump, briny oysters on the half shell, with nothing but a squeeze of lemon on top. Very nice segue of flavors.

        5 Replies
        1. re: BobB
          e
          escondido123 Mar 21, 2011 11:52 AM

          Thanks Bob, That sounds great but the dinner is over. Started with olives, feta home roasted peppers and homemade foccacio. Small bowls of butternut squash and pear soup--it started pouring rain outside about then. Lamb burgers with chickpea pancake buns....they worked very well but the burgers were too solid because of the low fat lamb. Took the leftover meat just now and mixed with some pureed canned chickpeas and roast pistachios which cooked up into a perfect, juicy, tender meatball burger. Everyone was so full that we skipped dessert....blueberry crostata just for the two of us!

          1. re: escondido123
            GretchenS Mar 21, 2011 12:09 PM

            Sounds delicious! I learned, I think from Ana Sortun in her cookbook Spice, to add a glug of olive oil to ground lamb if it seems low fat. That really helps!

            1. re: GretchenS
              e
              escondido123 Mar 21, 2011 12:11 PM

              Great idea!

            2. re: escondido123
              c oliver Mar 21, 2011 01:12 PM

              What cut of lamb did you use? I grind pork and beef and keep meaning to do lamb. I'd probably do shoulder.

              1. re: c oliver
                e
                escondido123 Mar 21, 2011 01:24 PM

                Whatever organic lamb they had already ground at the healthy market--$6.99 a pound.

          2. c
            CookieLee Mar 19, 2011 01:58 PM

            I had a gorgeous butternut squash soup at a restaurant, with crumbled bleu cheese and pistachios (very little of them) on top. I might never get over it! I was going to suggest tabouleh, but you do mention that you have a salad planned.

            1. 4
              4Snisl Mar 19, 2011 12:27 PM

              How about some roasted chickpeas? More special than a typical bowl o' nuts nuts if you make your own spice mix on them, and very different than chickpeas in your pancakes, I suspect?

              To rounds things out, I like the idea of olives and feta....maybe an oven-roasted tomato relish and some crostini or crackers as well?

              7 Replies
              1. re: 4Snisl
                e
                escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 12:30 PM

                I'm already making chickpea pancakes for the burgers, but the olives and feta seems like a winner.

                1. re: escondido123
                  c oliver Mar 19, 2011 12:47 PM

                  We were in DC several months ago and went to a local farmers market. A cheese vendor was selling cubed feta with some sort of seasoning (maybe peppercorns; can't remember now) in olive oil, in a jar. I brought one home with me :)

                2. re: 4Snisl
                  c oliver Mar 19, 2011 12:46 PM

                  Could you elaborate on roasted chickpeas please?

                  1. re: c oliver
                    4
                    4Snisl Mar 19, 2011 01:47 PM

                    Certainly, c oliver! Like peanuts, the roasted and (only) boiled counterparts of chickpeas are so very different from each other.

                    You basically toss cooked, well-drained/dried chickpeas(either from a can or soaked/cooked from dry) in a little olive oil and roast them in a hot oven (about 400'F) for about 45 minutes till they are well-browned and completely crisp. Stir/shake the pan every once in a while for even cooking. Then remove from the oven, and while hot, toss with seasonings. (I particularly like smoked paprika, granulated garlic, salt , cayenne and fresh lemon zest.)

                    I want to hear more about the chickpea pancakes, escondido! Do they start with cooked chickpeas? Raw, soaked chickpeas? Roasted chickpeas? ;)

                    1. re: 4Snisl
                      e
                      escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 02:01 PM

                      As I said, this is from Mark Bittman's newest cookbook--which I heartily recomend--though I changed it a bit for what I had on hand. Canned chickpeas(though you could certainly cook your own), tahini sauce or tahini/lemon/olive oil all in the food processor. Egg and then some flour, along with cumin and some chili powder, beaten in by hand. When I started out they were too dry and would crack easily, so I added in the liquid from the chickpeas and another egg until I got more of a heavy crepe batter and they fried beautifully on the griddle with a little olive oil. First time served them with an agrodolce browned zucchini with pistachios and feta on top, tomorrow I will make them a little thicker for the burger "buns." The leftovers from the first time around became a wonderful snack when lightly heated and spread with a tahini yogurt mix. Now my mouth is watering. PS Onine I've seen the recipe for the same basic idea made with besan--chickpea flour.

                      1. re: escondido123
                        4
                        4Snisl Mar 19, 2011 08:10 PM

                        Thanks for the details! I must have missed your earlier reference to the recipe source in this thread.

                        It's especially nice to know that they are also good leftover.....hope you have a wonderful party!

                        1. re: 4Snisl
                          e
                          escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 09:06 PM

                          Thanks, will report back.

                3. hotoynoodle Mar 19, 2011 12:27 PM

                  roast some red and yellow peppers, slice and dress with evoo, chopped black olives, fried lemon peel and chopped parsley. great do-ahead and delicious room temp.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                    c oliver Mar 19, 2011 12:45 PM

                    Fried lemon peel sounds great. Never heard of that before.

                  2. mariacarmen Mar 19, 2011 11:58 AM

                    cucumber salad? little mint, shallots maybe, feta, black olives....

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: mariacarmen
                      e
                      escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 12:09 PM

                      Sounds good, but I'm already doing a salad with the burgers so would not want to do another. I like the soup idea since it is supposed to be rainy, but that still leaves me without that something you give people to much on when they arrive. I'd like that to be something more than a bowl of nuts or such...maybe something that picks up on mariacarmen's mention of feta.

                      1. re: escondido123
                        c oliver Mar 19, 2011 12:15 PM

                        Ah, so you're really talking about an app or an hors d' ? What about a mixture of olive and feta cubes in olive oil? Simple but I sure love that :)

                        ETA: BTW that sounds crazy good!

                        1. re: c oliver
                          e
                          escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 12:30 PM

                          Well the soup sounded so good, I decided to add that to the menu. Love the easy idea of olives and feta, if I added to that some roasted peppers I've got an app! Thanks so much all.

                          1. re: escondido123
                            b
                            Breezychow Mar 21, 2011 04:03 PM

                            Something else to add to that Greek appetizer platter besides roasted peppers, feta, & olives - some tinned stuffed grape leaves. They're quite good - in fact, I ALWAYS have some in the pantry for impromptu app platters or salads or snacking. Just chill them & serve with a few squeezes of lemon on top. Can be found in either the pickle area or the gourmet food area of most supermarkets.

                            1. re: Breezychow
                              e
                              escondido123 Mar 21, 2011 04:57 PM

                              We can get fairly fresh ones that are in the deli section which are not canned and quite fresh. For this particular dinner, I wanted little for the app since there was so much food. As it turned out, no one had room for dessert as it was!

                          2. re: c oliver
                            mariacarmen Mar 19, 2011 12:38 PM

                            that sounds crazy good too! with some good crusty bread to sop up....

                            yep,escondido, missed that about your salad.

                            1. re: mariacarmen
                              e
                              escondido123 Mar 19, 2011 12:39 PM

                              My husband makes a great loaf of bread every other day, and Sunday he'll make a new one so perfect.

                      2. Jenni899 Mar 19, 2011 11:33 AM

                        How about a simple squash soup? The curry flavour is quite mild, or you could use a hint of fresh ginger instead.

                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jenni899
                          todao Mar 19, 2011 11:42 AM

                          I agree. A squash or a currried sweet potato soup would go well with your meal plan.

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