April Dinner Club

Given the fact that today is the last day in May, I think its time I fill you all in on April’s Dinner club. April was a difficult theme to choose. We wanted something that was seasonal and reflective of Spring. Early Spring can be a weird time seasonally because all the Winter produce is no longer as good and no one wants to eat heavy meals anymore yet the Summer produce isn’t ready to be eaten yet. Perhaps that’s why Easter candy  is one of the first things I think of when trying to come up with a Spring theme ingredient! We did all finally agree on the theme ingredient mint.

We were chosen to cook the main course this month and mint is not an herb that I find myself using very often; I loved being forced to use it in a recipe that  was not a salad or a dessert. Immediately, lamb came to mind as a good protein to go with mint however I’ll admit lamb intimidates me. I made braised lamb for Christmas this year and I killed it; it was so dry that I think it resembled jerky more than the braised lamb I was going for. After that incident, I haven’t attempted lamb again. I tried to look up other recipes involving mint but kept coming back to lamb.

After finally giving in to the lamb I needed to find a recipe that cooked the lamb in a relatively short period of time, due to the fact that dinner club in progressive, I’d only have about 30 minutes to get everything together. I came upon a recipe for lamb that was marinated and grilled. It got excellent reviews online and seemed very simple, sold. The bonus was that dinner club was scheduled for the week following Easter and I scored a nice cut of lamb on super sale!

This recipe turned out better than I ever could have imagined. Not only was the lamb perfectly medium rare but the marinade had made the meat incredibly tender and flavorful. We devoured the entire thing and all agreed that, it had been the best dinner club to date. The marinade contained some Asian flavors which I’m convinced made the dish especially good. This is the first recipe I made from my new Jacques Pepin cookbook that Eric bought me for Christmas and it was the perfect choice.

Like I said, this dish was beyond easy but be sure to marinate it the day before. Prep all the ingredients including cutting the string mesh from the lamb roast. I had double the amount of meat so I doubled the marinade. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and then pour it over the lamb in a large freezer bag.

Turn the bag a few times in the fridge.

The following day, sear the lamb on a hot grill for about 7 minutes per side and then bring it inside to finish in the oven. The recipe calls for the oven to be 170 degrees. I was skeptical at first thinking it was not hot enough, but as I do with all first time recipes, I followed it. I was right, 170 is not hot enough to get the meat cooking more and I ended up turning the oven up to 250 degrees and cooking it another 15 minutes. By then, the lamb was perfectly medium rare.

**Do not cook lamb more than medium, ideally you want it rare to medium rare otherwise the flavor gets weird and its incredibly dry. The exception to this is of course when braising lamb, that can be cooked longer and is delicious but grilling the lamb or lamb chops you want to cook rare-medium rare.**

Here it is in its glory:

While the lamb was cooking, I cooked down the marinade in a small saucepan and poured it over the lamb when it went into the oven. It was SO GOOD!

We all wanted to lick our plates. I served two sides, green beans with crispy shallots and fresh mint.

I also braised carrots and brussel sprouts and tossed them with balsamic vinegar.

These were also a hit. The only thing I had leftovers of was the green beans. The mint was fresh and light in all the dishes, a great theme ingredient.

I won’t leave out the other courses! However, we forgot to take any pictures of those at all this month, sorry! The first course was an amazing Asian spring roll with shrimp and stuffed with rice noodles and mint. They were beautiful, fresh and light; a perfect starter. They were accompanied by strawberry mojitos.

The third course was a chocolate and mint trifle with chocolate shavings on top. It was cool and sweet, not to mention pretty. Chocolate is always a great way to end a meal.

So there you have it, the quick overview of April’s Dinner Club! Now, on to May and hopefully some warmer weather again.

Prepping for Valentine’s Day

 

In case you didn’t realize it, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so stop off for a card for your special someone or a box of chocolates that will keep you out of the dog house and score a few extra points with your sweetheart.

Eric and I are not big celebrators of the day of love but we like to do something small to acknowledge it. Typically, I make a nicer dinner at home and I try to have a little something special for Eric. One year it was a pink tie, another year it was a CD he wanted; something small but fun. This year…well you’ll just have to wait to find out!

I was online this morning searching for dinner inspiration for tomorrow and came upon this cute and fun quiz on Epicurious.com. Click on the link or on the image below and it will take you to the quiz.

It’s a few simple questions about you as a couple and then suggests a menu for you to make, including all the recipes for Valentines Day! I took it a few different times using different answers to see the results, all good menu ideas!

How about you guys? Any Valentine’s Day traditions or suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’re planning!

New Year, New Content

Red Velvet is evolving every day and I plan to develop content alot more in 2012 as discussed in my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been blogging for a while now and have been in a little bubble, cranking out posts and doing my own thing. I read that the blogosphere is a great community to be a part of but have not connected with many other bloggers yet, until a few weeks ago.

An old friend of mine started her own blog that also shares lots of cooking tips and recipes and she reached out to me. We were high school friends and had lost touch through the years, but not intentionally, life just sort of happened. After a few emails and checking out one another’s blogs we decided we’d like to take this whole thing a little further and start sharing some content on each other’s blogs.

Dana’s blog is called Let’s Meet for Lunch and she’s got some great recipes and food tips not to mention a few household topics and DIY crafts that I think you all will enjoy! From time to time we will post on each other’s blogs and combine our efforts on different cooking topics to provide both of our readers with even more content. You will also notice that I’ve added Let’s Meet for Lunch to my blogroll so it’s easy for you to click on over and check out what she’s got going on. Also, do yourself a favor and “like” her blog on Facebook so you can get updates when she posts new info. Oh, and if you haven’t “liked” Red Velvet yet,(shame on you!) click on the icon on here and just do it already!

The best way for you to get a taste of life over at Let’s Meet for Lunch is not for me to tell you about it but to hear from Dana herself. Without further ado, here’s Dana!

                        Hi Red Velvet Blog readers!

My Photo

My name is Dana, and I have known Marah since high school. She does a wonderful job with her blog, wouldn’t you agree? Browsing different blogs is something I really enjoy, and I just began writing my own a little over a month ago, called Let’s Meet For Lunch. I would like to invite you to stop by and see what I have going on! I feature mostly recipes, but will occasionally share a cleaning tip, or DIY ideas. Here are a few links to some of my more popular posts:

 

Pumpkin Pie Monkey Bread

Pierogie Bake!

DIY: Sugar Scrub

It always helps to know who is writing the blog you’re reading, so I’ll share a bit about myself. I am 20-something living in the Charlotte, NC area. At my “real” job, I am a school counselor at a middle school… which always brings something fun and interesting. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half, and we are in the midst of trying to put our house on the market. Wish us luck!

I look forward to having you stop by my blog! Click here to check it out!

Dana and I are excited about working together and coming up with some great stuff for you guys in the kitchen. Here’s to great new things in this brand new year!

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy 2012! 

I wish you all a safe, healthy and happy year! I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions, maybe because they are made so lightly and so easily broken. There is some statistic somewhere that states that most new year’s resolutions are broken within an hour of making them or something. But this year, I thought I’d make a few goals for the blog, call them resolutions if you want.

These are a few things I’d like to see this year:

  1. Blog more/blog better – I’d like to get some more stuff on here. More posts, more of the ideas that I’ve had floating in my mind for the last year. I want to see them here.
  2. Make it personal – I’d like to share more stuff about me, my life, my thoughts, on here. Don’t worry, the recipes won’t go away I just want to have more of myself in those posts.
  3. Make movies – Well, not really movies but I’d like to get some video footage up on this little blog.
  4. Restaurant Reviews – More local restaurant reviews and info. I’ll just have to suck it up and start eating out more often at some great places, darn.

I hope that by 2013 I’ll have done some work on all of these areas.

What about you guys? What kind of resolutions or goals are you hoping to accomplish this year? OR what would you like to see here on the ol’ blog? Any requests?

PS- Anyone else sad that Christmas is over? I hated turning on the radio this morning in the car and not hearing Christmas music and Eric asked yesterday when  I want to take down the tree. I told him, never!