LAMB CHOPS WITH SWEET ONION FENNEL JAM

They say to give the people what they want, and they will come! Well, I asked, you all voted, and the lamb chops won….IN A LANDSLIDE!!

Lamb chops are actually one of my favorite proteins to cook. It used to be what I would cook on a date night with a girl the first time I had her over for dinner. They just seem fancy right? Most people think of entrees when cooking lamb, and while this recipe can certainly be served as such, I actually prefer to use this one as appetizer. Something that can be easily passed, or dressed up nice on a platter. Just my thought, obviously feel free to serve them whenever and however you want.

As you know, we always cook with spirit, and this recipe is no different. Today I am using Rumple Minze peppermint schnapps. Traditionally, lamb is served with a side of mint jelly. For this recipe, as the title states, we are going to be making a sweet onion and fennel jam. I still wanted to keep that tradition of mint, but I needed to be a bit extra and put my own spin on it!

I remember back in my early days of tending the bar, Rumple Minze used to be THE end of the night shot at last call. I’m not sure why it was, because its really not that great on its own. Maybe it was because now the guests were looking for who they were going to make out with, or maybe it was so that after they had been drinking all night at the bar, if they took a shot of this, the cops would have no idea that they were drunk when they got pulled over. Who knows, but both sound pretty logical to me.

Anyway, until the next dish…..enjoy

Ingredients: (Lamb Chops)

  • 1 qt herb oil (see previous post about herb oil)
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 rack of lamb

Directions: Marinate you rack of lamb in 1 quart of herb oil for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat an iron skillet (or cooking pan of choice) on a medium high heat. Because the lamb has been marinating in the herb oil, there is no need to add more oil to your pan. Once the pan is hot, place the rack into the pan and sear for 4-5 minutes. Flip the rack over, and place the entire pan into the oven, and cook to desired temperature (I cook mine to 135 degrees). When the desired temperature has been reached, remove the pan and place it back on the stove top. Add in a few stems of fresh thyme, 2 smashed garlic cloves, and the 2 table spoons of butter. Spoon the melted butter/garlic mixture over the rack for a few minutes.

Ingredients: (Sweet Onion Fennel Jam)

  • 1 bulb of fennel (finely diced, about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion (finely diced, about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 oz Rumple Minze
  • 1.5 cups plain white sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • fresh mint leaves, about 7

Directions: Using a medium sized pot, over high heat, add in the diced fennel and sweet onion ONLY. As you begin to smell the onion and fennel, and can hear it sizzle in the pan, give it a good stir, then add in the 2 oz of Rumple Minze (CAUTION!!! This is alcohol, and high proof at that, it can catch on fire, so pour carefully and slowly!!) Next you will need to add in the 2 cups of sugar, and the 1/2 cup of cider vinegar. Stir to mix thoroughly. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and reduce until a jam consistency. Make sure to stir every few minutes so it does not burn. While the jam is still hot, finely chop up the mint leave and add those in. Allow jam to cool about 15-20 minutes before using. The reduction does take some time, usually about 20 -30 minutes…..but it is so worth it!

SEARED SCALLOPS W/ GRAPEFRUIT GINGER BUTTER SAUCE

If it’s one thing I’m gonna make, it is a BUTTER SAUCE! I had had them several times at restaurants, but it wasn’t until learning how to make them while in culinary school, did I truly understand, and fall in love with them. For one thing, ITS BUTTER, is there any other reason needed? I also, love the versatility and creativity that can be applied to them to create almost any flavor that you want to compliment your dish.

Growing up in the DMV (that’s D.C., Maryland, & Virginia…..NOT the Department of Motor Vehicles), seafood is pretty much a staple. While for most people its crab legs and shrimp (which I also love), for its scallops. They are just so rich, creamy, and delicious. They are light and delicate, and much like the butter sauce, can be paired with just about anything.

This dish was actually one that I had submitted to recipe contest for the spirit/liquor I am using in this recipe. While it never made the cookbook, or won the contest, it is a recipe that I have been working on perfecting ever since. On its own, it can served as a great, full flavored appetizer. If you wanted to do something a little bigger, and wanted to turn this into an entree, I would maybe suggest some black (squid ink) linguini. Pasta is great for scallops, and the sauce has enough body and flavor to stand up to the pasta as well. Check out the recipe below.

Let’s talk about a beverage pairing. Obviously wine, white wine is the easy choice here. Most would say probably a sauvignon blanc, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. My choice however is a viognier. Most are not familiar with this varietal, but it is a pleasant surprise for those who have never tried it. Upon first taste, you get some acidic notes, which work great for seafood, and well help balance out/cut the richness of the butter sauce. It then finishes with a roundness of a chardonnay to really compliment the scallops and the sauce…..and if you add the pasta, well that works too!

Until the next dish…………

For the Scallops (serves 2):

  • 6 U15/U20 scallops
  • 1 TBL cooking oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • smoked paprika

Directions: Make sure your scallops are room temperature and completely dry. Next season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add in the scallops and sear for 2-3 minutes, flip, and then sear the other side.

For the Grapefruit Ginger Butter Sauce:

  • 2 sticks of butter cubed
  • 2 oz white wine ( I used chardonnay for this recipe)
  • .5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppers corn
  • 1/2 shallot sliced
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • juice from 1/2 of a grapefruit
  • salt

Directions: Using a medium sized sauce pot on high heat, add the following ingredients ONLY; black peppercorns, shallots, ginger, bay leaves. Once you can begin to smell the peppercorns and ginger, deglaze/add in the white wine and ginger liqueur. Using your whisk, scrape up anything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is FLAVOR). Reduce the liquid until there is about 2 table spoons remaining. Remove the pot from the stove and begin to add in the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, making sure to CONSTANTLY whisk the mixture until ALL of the butter has melted. If you find that the butter is not melting as quickly, put the pot back on a high heat for a few seconds, and ten remove, continuing the process. Next, add in the juice from 1/2 of a grapefruit, and finally season to your liking with salt. Once you have finished seasoning the sauce, strain it into a serving vessel.

“She Came From Jesus”

For those of you that are fans of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Potomac, you may remember this cocktail from Season 3. If you are not a fan of the show, or are new to my page, here’s a little back story.

I’ve been a part of the food & beverage industry for longer than I care to mention. That being said, curating food and cocktail menus has always been a passion project for me. When I met my wife back in 2012 or 2013, I was serving as the Beverage Director, for a now defunct dim sum restaurant, I was just getting into my cocktail creation groove. At the time, she (my wife) only really drank red wine, on Thursdays, while watching Scandal, in her aptly named “Olivia Pope” balloon wine glasses….enter me!

Curating and creating cocktails can be a tedious task of trial and error, all while attempting to achieve optimal balance and great taste. It also usually results in several missteps and plenty of drunken afternoons and nights! While we were dating and living together, Candiace quickly started to expand her horizons and take on more than a glass of wine, and was clearly benefiting from all of the tasting she got to take part in on a nightly basis. After months of tasting cocktails for everyone else, Candiace wanted me to create a cocktail for her. Not just any cocktail, but one that represented her. Beauty, style, grace, all rolled into one sexy cocktail.

When creating a cocktail, I usually start with the spirit/liquor that I want to showcase. I knew that this cocktail was ALWAYS going to be brown, to represent that smooth sexy skin tone. Initially I thought bourbon, but landed on rum, a spiced rum at that, since, well you know, shes a little spicy! At the time I was creating this “special” cocktail, bitter-esque cocktails using amaros and other similar style spirits were having a moment, and being used a lot. I thought a slight bitterness was the perfect fit to go with spiced rum. It took me quite some time to find the perfect one that wasn’t too bitter, and still was able to add depth. Now, despite what you may see on your tv screen, Candiace is actually a very sweet person, so I needed a sweet component to this beverage. Orange is a great flavor that works with rums. Initially I was looking at a fresh made orange simple syrup, then just orange juice, but it just wasn’t giving what i needed it to. I also wanted this cocktail to be stirred, to keep that sexy, smooth look to it. A shaken cocktail, especially with orange juice, would leave the drink with cloudy look, and just not the look I wanted. So, keeping it a stirred cocktail, looking for an orange element, I began looking at things like Cointreau, Gran Marnier, even Gran Gala. I finally settled on Mandarine Napoleon and it gave what needed to be gave! To finish off the drink and bring it all together, we added a few dashes (3 of them to be exact, because that is my favorite number) of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters, and a flamed orange peel for garnish to drive home that orange aroma.

Naming cocktails has never really been my strong suit, my creativity only goes so far. For the longest time this drink was simply called “Candiace’s Cocktail”. After we wrapped filming of our first season on #RHOP, and Candiace delivered her iconic clap back; “I came from Jesus!”

I figured now was as good a time as any to #driveback and revisit one of my favorite drinks and share those #benefits with you all. Check out the full recipe below, and don’t forget to tag me in your pictures of you enjoying “She Came From Jesus”!!

Cheers!

“SHE CAME FROM JESUS” Recipe:

  • 2oz of Thrashers Spiced Rum
  • 1oz of Cardamaro
  • .75oz of Mandarine Napolean
  • 3 dashes of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

Directions: In a mixing glass, add all of the above. Add in a fair amount of ice. Stir for 15-20 seconds. Strain mixing glass into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel. Enjoy!

WHO NEEDS A COOKING/COCKTAIL CLASS?

If you watch Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Potomac, or follow my social media, you have all heard by now that I do a ton of cooking/cocktail classes these days. I have been flooded with questions about how and where to sign up for them, so I decided to give you all the “deets” right here.

Hungry is an amazing digital platform that can connect you with amazing chefs like myself to provide great food, events, and classes for your family, friends, and co-workers alike. When you purchase a virtual chef experience, each person that will be attending the class will receive their own personal kit with the majority of the ingredients needed (some proteins, dairy, fresh herbs may need to be purchased separately by the individual) as well as recipe card to follow along with, and keep for making the dish again in the future on your own.

The types of classes are endless! Aside from cooking classes, they also offer cocktail classes, wine tastings with amazing sommeliers, yoga classes and more. One of the great things about Hungry is that for every kit purchased, two meals are donated to Feeding America.

Here is a peek of some of the food/cooking classes I currently have available on the platform. Make sure to click on the title to get a full description of what each class entails!

Smoke & Spice

South of the Border

Spanish Paella

Bananas Foster Pancakes

As I mentioned earlier, there are also a multitude of cocktail classes (which you can book me for as well), yoga classes, coffee and tea, boxing and even magic to help make your next event one of a kind.

Now head on over to www.tryhungry.com and book an experience today!!

PERFECT SUMMER HERB OIL MARINADE

Now that summer time is officially here, it’s time to get those grills and smokers fired up! I am often asked what do I “marinate” my steaks in. The truth of the matter is that rarely do I ever use a marinade. I honestly feel that salt & pepper is all you really need for great steak on the grill.

How many times have you gone to the cookout and heard the “grill master” say something to the effect of, “I have been marinating these steaks for 2 days!” Well let me let you in on a little secret. If there is any vinegar, or lots of citrus juices, or any acid in that marinade, chances are he or she has already overcooked those steaks! Think about the classic dish of ceviche. Fish “cooked” in citrus juices. This has the same effect on chicken, steaks, and pork chops as well. Because meat is made up mostly of water, your marinade really is not getting THAT deep into the meat to “flavor” and “tenderize” it. It really is mostly surface flavor. Now I am not saying to NEVER use any acid in a marinade, but if you chose to do so, I recommend that you do not let it sit for more than an hour. This will prevent the outer part of your meat from becoming mushy and mealy.

Check out this video to see how I make my “Herb Oil Marinade” that works great on steaks, chicken, lamb, or pork chops. It adds a great flavor to whatever you re cooking, especially on the grill. It not only works as a marinade, but with all of the olive oil in it, it helps prevent your meat from sticking to the grill as well.

Herb Oil Recipe:

1 bunch of parsley, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1/2 bunch of rosemary, 1 bunch of thyme, 2 qts of olive oil, salt & pepper to taste. Using a large, deep storage container, trim the leaves from the parsley and cilantro using your chef knife, and add them to the container. Next, remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme stems, and add those to the container. Season with salt and pepper. Next add in the 2 qts. of olive oil. Finally, using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. I like to use ziploc bags as opposed to containers with lids when marinating anything, I feel I can get more coverage by removing the air from the bag, and everything is submerged.

Let me know your thoughts, and any other cooking questions/videos/recipe ideas you want to see! Enjoy

CbasswithDill

Welcome to my catering company, CbasswithDill.  While I have been doing catering on and off for many years, I decided that this is the year to make it a true business, and focus my energies on making it as successful as the many other endeavors I have taken on throughout my restaurant/hospitality career.

Here at CbasswithDill, we want to help you see your vision through to the very end of your event, working directly with Chef Chris on creating a custom menu just for you and your guests.  Whether it is a dinner party, corporate event, luncheon, or happy hour, we are here for your CbasswithDill is here for your culinary needs, and put on the event you desire to wow your friends or co-workers.

CbasswithDill currently services the DMV (D.C., Maryland, & Virginia), but we are open to travel as well.  You have already seen the food on Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Potomac, and the reactions that came along with it, so what are you waiting for?  CbasswithDill currently provides the following services: food, event planning, staffing, entertainment, and more.  Contact us today to request a quote!