Arabic Falafel Balls


"Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. The more you eat the more you....hopefully won't flatulate." Since we had kefta the other night, I thought I'd round out the meal and make falafel balls. I really enjoy the flavor and texture of falafel so I thought it would be a great addition to the meal. I've made falafel before but I wanted to try the real deal and use dried chickpeas, not the canned ones. While I was at it, I thought it would be nice to try a different recipe too. I scoured the Internet and found a recipe called "The best falafel EVER," and they were indeed tasty. I couldn't tell if using fresh chickpeas made that much of a difference but it seemed like every recipe I looked at said you should use fresh, so that's what I'd recommend. I have to warn you though, you must have a heavy hand when adding your seasonings. My first few tester patties were tasteless and bland but after I added A LOT of S&P, I could tell I was liking them more since the patties were strangely getting bigger and bigger. The end result was a tasty falafel - crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I thought it would be nice to serve them with a spicy dip so I made one flavored with sriracha sauce. If you've never tried Sriracha before, it is HOT so beware! It was a nice finishing touch with just the right amount of heat. Enjoy!


Arabic Falafel Balls
Adapted from Hummus 101 Blog
Makes 25 falafel balls

2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 12 hours = 6 cups cooked chickpeas
Crumbs from 2 slices of white bread
5 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 small onion
1 teaspoon cumin spice
1 teaspoon smoky paprika (pimenton)
Salt, pepper, Cavenders Greek Seasoning

Preparation:
1. Pulse garlic, herbs, and onion in food processor to a fine mince.
2. Wash and dry the soaked chickpeas and add half to food processor along with the spices. Pulse a few times until you get a fine mixture, but not pureed. Empty the bowl and add the remaining half of the beans and pulse the same way.
3. Add mixture to bowl with the rest of the pureed mixture. Add baking soda and bread crumbs to mixture and mix thoroughly.
3. Season generously with lots of salt, pepper, and Cavenders. Make tester patty and adjust falafel to your own taste.
4. Once you are content with the taste add a bit of water making one homogenous mixture - batter should be pretty wet (just wet enough for everything to be pretty combined) but not drowning in water. Put mixture aside, covered, for 30-60 minutes or put in fridge for longer.
5. Wet your hands and shape into a disc 1-1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. If moisture seems too wet, squeeze out a little moisture through your hands. Don't be skeptical if the batter seems too wet like I was, it will dry up and the falafel will stay together in the oven.
6. Pre-heat oven to 375F. Spray cookie sheet and put patties on top and cook for 18-20 minutes flipping half way in between. Bottoms should be nice and brown and crispy.

*If you would like to freeze the falafels - bake then freeze and store in individual servings. Remove from freezer and bake in oven.

Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage with Spaghetti Squash


Holy mole, I just prepared the quickest dinner of my life and it was DELICIOUS! I don't know what I'm more excited about. The fact that it was so quick and yummy, OR that I successfully made ground turkey taste like spicy Italian sausage without a recipe. NO RECIPE PEOPLE....this coming from the woman who permanently has recipes and measuring spoons glued to her hip. Either way, LOVE IT...LOVE THIS DISH!!! Again, not to sound like Rainman but I can't believe how fantastic this meal turned out and it was so easy to prepare. I think I appreciate it even more b/c I've slaved away in the kitchen for countless hours on end trying to make an outrageously fancy meal and here this dish literally took me about 15 minutes - minus the time it took me to roast the squash which I practically just threw in the oven. I'd also never cooked with spaghetti squash before but it's the greatest veggie EVER. SO HEALTHY!!! I don't think I'll ever have to eat spaghetti noodles again. Try this...it's YUM-MAY!

*Sorry for the "recipe." I hate it when people don't have exact measurements but I tried to explain how I made it as best I could. But really, if I can do it...anyone can :)


Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage with Spaghetti Squash
A NuM NuM original recipe
2 servings

Spaghetti Squash* (1 to 2 lbs)
Ground Turkey (Jennie O 93/7% lean)
Fennel seeds
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Dried Basil
Dried Oregano
Classico Tomato Basil Sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)

Directions
For the squash:
Pre-heat oven to 400F. Cut squash in half starting from the stem and scoop out seeds and stringy parts, drizzle with olive oil or PAM and sprinkle with S&P. Roast cut side down on oiled baking sheet for 45 minutes or until a knife can easily pierce through the skin (top and sides of squash) Once squash has cooled take a fork and begin to remove flesh from skin. (Be careful not to pierce through the skin since you will be using them as eating vessels for presentation. If not, then you can serve them out of a dish) I find moving the fork from side to side makes prettier strands versus from stem to bottom. They should start to look like "noodles" Reserve shells of squash for later.

For the turkey sausage:
Turn burner on to medium high heat. Drizzle olive oil and toast fennel seeds (I think I eyeballed how much would cover 1/2 the surface of the ground turkey) and red pepper flakes (I would put however spicy you like it since you can always add more in the end) until fragrant with a little bit of olive oil. Once fragrant add turkey on top of spices and do not move it until nice and caramelized on the bottom. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion over the entire surface of turkey. Sprinkle basil (I would say add about half the amount of basil as you did of the garlic powder) then add oregano (add half amount of oregano as you did of the basil) Once turkey is nice and brown on the bottom flip it over then break into chunks with spatula. Soon as it is almost done cooking taste and adjust seasonings. Turkey must be cooked all the way through. Remove from pan and set aside.

Using the same pan you used to cook the turkey, place the spaghetti squash strands and however much tomato sauce you think you need to just coat the "noodles" and cook until everything is heated through. You don't want to drown the noodles in the sauce. Remove pan from stove and place noodles inside the now empty spaghetti squash halves and top with turkey. Garnish with parmesan cheese if you like. ENJOY. NUM!

*Larger spaghetti squash are more flavorful then smaller ones and you want to pick ones that are more yellow then white colored. Available year around but their peak season is fall through winter.

Ground Turkey Kefta Kebabs with Pomegranate Glaze and Oven Roasted Okra


If you're lookin' for a change to your boring weeknight meal then this is a wonderful dish to try - especially if you're a fan of Indian food. Pomegranate molasses is a new ingredient I've been cooking with recently and I find it gives a tremendous boost of flavor to any dish. In my latest creation I drizzled it over sweet vanilla ice cream and it was divine!! If you like the taste of POM juice then you'll enjoy using this ingredient.

The pomegranate molasses was an innovative addition to tonight's meal and made the kebabs very unique from the other kefta/kebabs on this site, which can be found here and here. The glaze smelled sooooo good the second it hit the grilled meat. The aroma was coming through the window and perfumed the entire house. The pomegranate added an interesting tartness to the savory meat and made for a wild sensation of flavors. In fact, the flavor of the pomegranate was so intense against the savory meat that it was a taste I'd never experienced before. Are you intrigued? Makes ya wanna go out and buy some doesn't it?! If you're skeptical to try it with savory foods, buy it for the mere fact of using it as an ice cream topping alone. YUM!

I served this with roasted okra (I am a new believer in okra), baked falafel (which I will post about soon) and store bought tzatziki sauce. I would first try the meat with the yogurt sauce just in case it's too "funky" for your liking. The cool yogurt balances out the tartness of the pomegranate and adds a great contrast against the hot meat. This was a welcomed change for a weeknight meal and a yummy new recipe to try.


Ground Turkey Kefta Kebabs with Pomegranate Glaze
Recipe from Food Network
Serves three

* 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves picked (about 2 cups)
* 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked (about 1 cup)
* 1 shallot, roughly chopped
* Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon**
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1 pound ground lamb
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 tsp garam masala
* 1 egg white, lightly beaten
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
* 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
* 1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
* Can be found at specialty Asian and Indian markets
* Special Equipment: 12 (10-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

In a food processor, combine the parsley, mint, shallot, and garlic and pulse until finely minced. Add the mixture to a bowl with the ground turkey, (I only added 3/4 amount of the herb mixture to the turkey) baking soda, lemon zest, egg, garam masala and lots of salt and pepper, to taste. Knead until just combined. Make a tester patty in a pan and adjust with salt and pepper. Pull off a small ball of meat and shape into a fat cylinder. Thread a skewer through the middle lengthwise, and smooth the meat down the skewer until it's even all the way down. Repeat with rest of the meat mixture. Put the kebabs on an oiled baking sheet and drizzle with a little more oil. Combine the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

Light a grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Arrange the kebabs on the hot grill, turning once and generously brushing with the pomegranate mixture in the last few minutes of cooking. Cook the kebabs until browned and cooked through.

**If you are using a regular lemon that you find at the store, add a pinch of sugar to balance out a bit of the tartness from the pomegranate molasses.




Oven Roasted Okra
Adapted from Yamuna Devi's Yamuna's Table
Serves 2

20 Okra (the smaller the size the better)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt or herb salt (Lawry’s Seasoned Salt)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Lime, cut into wedges

Oven preheated to 500F. Rinse and pat okra dry. Combine all of the ingredients except the okra and lime in a bowl. Mix to form a grainy paste. Toss the okra in the mixture, then spread out on a baking sheet. Lightly spray the okra with cooking spray, and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Turn okra over every 5 minutes to brown evenly. The Okra is done when it's nice and tender and you can easily pierce it with a fork. Serve with lime wedges (I just mixed the spices together minus the olive oil and water and sprinkled over the okra and drizzled with EVOO)

**Roasting the okra at high temperature gets rid of most of the "slime" factor.

Grilled Rack of Lamb


Soooooo...I've decided to make a new "label" on my blog for family and friends who like to make guest appearances on the NuM NuM. I'll file their recipes under "Guests of the Num Num" so they can feel like they have their own mini blog. Secretly, I know they really wish they had their own, but I don't mind sharing :) I've created a Num Num phenomenon and it's sweeping across the nation. Okay maybe not the nation, but a small microscopic pocket of Los Angeles.

Tonight's post is about the Genius White Man's slammin' Grilled Rack of Lamb. He coated the lamb with fresh herbs which consisted of oregano, thyme, and rosemary, then finished them off with his homemade sop. We cut them off the rack, ate them like lollipops, and they were finger-lickin' good! We rounded out the meal with sister-in-law's tasty Caesar Salad and scalloped potatoes gratin. Such a fancy meal they threw together for little old us.

After dinner however it was SHOW TIME! C.G.W.M and I had an "Ice Cream Throwdown!" In one corner we had his "Chocolate Mint" versus my "Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream" in the other corner. I learned after this throwdown that ice cream is very subjective. I'm not a fan of mint chip or any chocolate flavored ice cream so obviously I was biased. We designated the rug rats as the judges and by default they chose C.G.W.M.'s as the winner. I think it was rigged! In my defense I must say: 1. they are two and three years old. 2. They are his offspring, and 3. They are under three feet tall so they're taste buds are not refined enough to enjoy my sophisticated salty, sweet ice cream :) It's okay - they'll learn. However sister-in-law did say my ice cream was phenomenal and the MIL enjoyed it as well. Therefore...we'll call it a tie - I guess :\ And since this is my blog and I'm the person writing this post, we'll just say, "I WON!" :D


Grilled Rack of Lamb
Recipe and photo from The Firepit and Grilling Guru

* Rack of lamb - Cut off any excess fat, leaving a fairly lean rack. One rack will serve only about two as a main course (or less if you are really hungry!) so make more if you are serving more.

* Dry white wine - You only need a cup or so.

* Mixed fresh Proven├žal herbs - You can use whichever combo you want but I used a roughly equal mix of rosemary, thyme and oregano. Chop them finely together. You will need a few tablespoons for each rack of lamb you make.

* Garlic - About 3 or 4 cloves, finely minced, per rack of lamb.

* Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make the grilled rack of lamb recipe:

1. After trimming your rack of lamb and chopping the herbs and garlic, rub coarse salt and black pepper into all the surfaces of the meat. You can season to taste but this rack of lamb recipe is quite good with ample salt, if you like that kind of thing.

2. Next, put the herbs and garlic in a small bowl and add enough dry white wine to make a slurry or paste. Rub this garlic/herb mixture thickly over all the exposed surfaces of meat on the rack of lamb. Place it in a shallow dish or bowl, pour over the remaining bit of wine and cover. Marinate about 2 to 4 hours.

3. After building a fire in your grill, push the embers to one side or to two sides so that you can cook with indirect heat.

4. Allow the meat to come up to room temperature prior to cooking. Season the meat additionally if you prefer and lightly brush off any excess herb mixture from the surface. However, it should stay well coated with herbs and garlic.

5. Throw the rack on your grill over the coals with high direct heat. You want to sear the surface briefly, just enough to get a bit of a dark brown crust forming but not to burn it. When one side is seared, flip it and allow the other side to sear as well.

6. Once seared on all sides, move the rack of lamb away from direct heat so that it is not over hot coals. You can baste a bit with additional wine and/or olive oil to help keep it moist and to help it develop a nice crusty surface.

7. Cover with your grill lid and let cook on indirect heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done to your desired doneness. It should be a bit pink in the middle still when finished.

8. Remove from the grill and let rest in a warm place under foil for at least 10 minutes. Then slice into either individual ribs or double servings, two ribs per piece.

9. Serve and enjoy! I have served this with either mint or rosemary jelly and both are excellent accompaniments to this grilled rack of lamb recipe, although the rack is great on its own as well.


Rack of Lamb Sop
Recipe by Genius W.M.

- Butter
- White wine
- Porterhouse Seasoning
- A bit of honey
- Olive Oil
- Leftover herb mixture from the lamb
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Clearly he is one of those cooks that eyeballs everything. When you ask him for the recipe he says things like, "a little bit of this, with a dash of that," so this is more of a method then an actual recipe. Sorry.

Banana Crunch Muffins


Token's wife brought these muffins for us the other night and they were muy delicioso. It was so cute, she brought them over in a decorated basket like she was Little Red Riding Hood. The muffins had the perfect amount of sweetness and crunch and smelled so good. The recipe is from Ina Garten and has about three hundred reviews so you know these are NUM! They're a cross between cereal and granola so you can have the best of both worlds. They were great for breakfast and as a midnight snack :)


Banana Crunch Muffins
Makes 18 large muffins
Adapted from Ina Garten

* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 2 extra-large eggs
* 3/4 cup whole milk
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
* 1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
* 1 cup small-diced walnuts
* 1 cup granola
* 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
* Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut, optional

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

Curried Chicken Salad with Jicama and Pear


When I see Chicken Salad on a menu I usually shy away from ordering it because it's always drowning in globs of mayo. Usually when it arrives at the table I'm always thinking, "hmmmm, would you like some chicken with your mayo?" This Curried Chicken Salad however is light, healthy and delish. The mayo is strategically substituted with Greek yogurt which makes this dish surprisingly light. It's also a little different then your traditional Chicken Salad due to the addition of pears, jicama and some smoky curry which will tantalize your taste buds. I love it when a dish is not just one dimensional and hits all the different senses on your taste buds. You get a hint of sweetness from the honey and pear, sourness from the lemon and tangyness from the yogurt...am I making you hungry yet? Well if you are, I highly suggest making this salad - I think you will likey :)


Curried Chicken Salad with Jicama and Pear
Serves 2
Adapted from Green Lite Bites

• 1/2 cup of jicama, small dice (can substitute apple)
• 1 medium bartlett pear
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1/2 tbsp honey
• 1/2 cup non fat greek yogurt
• 1 tbsp light mayo (I would omit next time)
• 1 tsp curry
• Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste
• 8 oz leftover cooked chicken
• Parsley, finely chopped to taste
• Toppings: lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes

Cut the jicama and pear into small cubes. Toss with the lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and let sit a few minutes. (I added more honey and lemon juice to taste)
Stuff in a pita, add to a wrap or slap on some whole wheat bread. You could also be extra healthy and serve this on top of a bed of greens or eat as lettuce wraps.

Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream


Happy dance alert! Happy dance alert! Now, you must imagine me saying it like the Weinerschnitzel commercial, "weiner dude alert, weiner dude alert!" But no weiners involved here - just yummy ice cream. This dish will definitely make you do the happy dance! Ever heard of Butter Pecan Ice Cream? Well, say HELLO to his little friend Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream. This is a new and improved "grown-up" version since it's rich, sweet, and dreamy...oops, I meant creamy and kicked up a notch with some Fleur De Sel sea salt. Butter Pecan is one of my favorite ice creams but since I get to control what goes into my homemade version, I knew I wanted to turn it into a sweet and salty combo. The Fleur de Sel enhances all those sweet flavors and takes you into OMG Ice Cream HEAVEN! If you've never heard of Fleur de Sel, it's a salt you use to finish a dish and it adds a fresh, smooth, salty bite that is quite palatable on the tongue. Since it's not as harsh as table salt it's a nice compliment to any dish - especially sweet desserts. I highly recommend splurging and buying some.

I made this ice cream in celebration of our country's National Ice Cream Month. Who knew there was such a thing? If only we could celebrate National Ice Cream month everyday. Well, maybe we'll just have to start a new tradition in the house of the NuM NuM! I know others will be pleased since it means I'm one step closer to calling myself an AMERICAN! (That's a shout out to my lobster and C.G.W.M.)

NOTE: This ice cream was quite cumbersome to make and I did run into a few hiccups along the way but the end product was SUPERB! The recipe below is my adapted version and I put my notes in parenthesis, but if you want the original recipe just click on the link.


Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes two quarts
1/2 cup = 210 calories

• 3/4 cup whole almonds
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed down*
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 1 1/2 cups fat free milk
• 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. In a medium sized heat-safe bowl (metal, ceramic, or glass), whisk together the eggs until well blended. Set aside.
2. Pour the heavy cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top. Set aside.
3. In a medium thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter cook it, stirring constantly, until it just begins to brown. Add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar completely melts.
4. Slowly add the milk and half an half, stirring to incorporate. It will foam up initially, so make sure you are using a pan with high enough sides. Heat until all of the sugar is completely dissolved. (I don't think my sugar completely melted so it got hard once I poured in the half an half and milk. If this happens to you, just be patient and the sugar will automatically release from the bottom and dissolve into the liquid) Do not let boil or the mixture may curdle. (mine ended up curdling but I continued with the recipe)
5. Whisk in hand, slowly pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to incorporate. Then add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk sugar mixture.
6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes (my entire liquid ended up curdling and almost ended up looking like scrambled eggs and never thickened but I continued onward)
7. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. (since my liquid curdled I pushed most of the liquid through the sieve and left a lot of the curdled bits in the sieve and threw it away - the cream/custard mixture was very liquidy before I put it into the machine but once it churned it was fine) Add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
8. While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay out the almonds on a roasting pan in a single layer coat with some melted butter or butter PAM spray and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Let cool. Once cool, roughly chop the almonds and set aside.
9. Pour chilled cream mixture into ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes or to desired consistency. Add chopped almonds and churn for another 5 minutes. Eat right away or put into air tight container with plastic wrap touching the ice cream so crystals do not form on it.

*You could probably get away with using 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar I imagine - but I didn't try it

Happy Birthday - My 1 year Blogiversary


HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the NuM NuM. My baby turned one today - such a proud parent I am! Wow, I can't believe I've been blogging for a full year now. That's a whole lotta recipes if you think about it. Lots of nums :) and lots of horizontal expansion in the waist area :( My love for cooking which I thought was a blessing has now become my curse. But of course I had to make something sweet to celebrate. Hell, you can't have a birthday without cake - that would just be sacrilegious.

For my blogiversary I made Julia Child's Reine de Saba cake from the movie "Julie and Julia." I didn't know what the name of the cake was but basically if you've seen the movie, it's the cake Julie and her husband are shoveling into their mouths with their bare hands. They made it look amazingly delicious and I was so excited to make it. However, I was rather disappointed with the cake and was extremely bummed since I made it for my one year celebration. There was nothing specifically wrong with the cake per se, it had a nice richness and texture, but it tasted like marzipan and I hate marzipan. Oh well, what can you do?!

Anyway, I'd like to thank my peeps (I have a whopping twelve "followers" ya know - I'm officially in the double digits...woo hoo - but who's counting) for following me through my journey of Num's and putting up with my ooh's and ahhh's over all the meals I've gotten excited about that made me want to do my "happy dance." Therefore to commemorate this momentous occasion, I've made a list of my Top 10 recipes from the past year that I'd make over and over again - which says a lot coming from me since I usually don't like making the same thing twice. So I hope you'll be inspired and continue to enjoy the recipes from this blog and hopefully you too will be doing the "happy dance" more often and staying cute in the face but not thick in the waist. NuM NuM ^_^

TOP 10 RECIPES
- "Burger Throwdown" Winning Recipe
- Blackened Fish Tacos with Mango Jicama Salad
- Salmon Burgers with Soy Mayo and Sesame Slaw
- Hazelnut Chocolate Coffee Chip Ice Cream
- Fancy Shmancy "Piggy in a Blanket"
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Almond Toffee Chocolate Brittle CRACK
- Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding
- Butterflied Cuban Style Pork Chops

Um...I couldn't pick just 10 and had to add three more
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheescake Brownies
- Pear Crostata with Honey, Blue Cheese, and Almonds
- Zuni Cafe's Roast Chicken

Reine de Saba (The Queen of Sheeba cake)
Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

FOR THE CAKE

3 ounces sweet baking chocolate, chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons strong coffee

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup blanched almonds pulverized with 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour, in a sifter set on wax paper

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Set the rack in the lower middle level. Butter and flour an 8- by 1 1/2-inch round cake pan.

2. In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of 2 or 3 inches of water, combine the sweet and unsweetened chocolates with the coffee. Bring water to a simmer,cover, and let chocolate melt,stirring until smooth. Turn off the heat.

3. In a 3-quart mixing bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to cream the butter until soft and fluffy, then add the 1/2 cup sugar. Beat 1 minute, then beat in the yolks.

4. In another mixing bowl, beat the whites until foaming, beat in the cream of tartar and salt, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until stiff, shining peaks form.

5. Blend the warm melted chocolate into the yolk mixture, then blend in the almonds and almond extract. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten it. Scoop the rest of the whites over the chocolate and, alternating with sprinkles of the flour, rapidly and delicately fold in the whites.

6. Immediately turn the batter into the prepared pan, tilting it in all directions to run it up to the rim, and set it in the oven.

7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake has puffed to the top of the pan and a toothpick plunged into it 2 and 3 inches from the edges comes out clean. (The center should move slightly when the pan is gently shaken.

8. Remove the pan to a rack and let it cool for 15 minutes, then unmold onto the rack. Let it cool completely, at least 2 hours, before storing or icing.

FOR THE SOFT CHOCOLATE ICING

2 ounces sweet chocolate, chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons rum or strong coffee

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


1. In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of 2 or 3 inches of water, combine both chocolates with the rum or coffee, bring water to a simmer, cover, and let chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Turn off the heat.

2. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the salt into the melted chocolate, then beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating over cold water until icing is firm enough to spread. Turn the icing onto the top of the cake and spread it evenly over the top and sides.

A Burger Throwdown, Flourless Chocolate Cake and Creme Brulee

Tonight lobster and I had a few friends over for a "Burger Throwdown!" When you have two competitive cooks in the kitchen, things can get a bit ugly. I had to keep an eye on my burgers just in case the Fisherman tried to sabotage them. He came with his game face and tried to win everyone over by putting bacon, balsamic glazed onions, guacamole and melted cheddar cheese on his burgers. Homeboy even brought his own buns - he was that serious! Clearly he was in it to win it! Alas, sadly there could only be one winner. We tallied up the votes and by unanimous decision, the winner was: guess whooooooooooooo........ME! Haha (applause, applause) "thank you, thank you!" Well, to be fair the Fisherman did receive one vote - does it count if you vote for yourself? ^_^ Even the fisherman's wife voted for my burger...so kind she is. I was excited to be crowned the coveted title of: "the queen of burgers" since his was delicious too. It was a great night full of laughs, glutinous eating and some bomb-ass food.

Token and his wife made a few treats as well and they were NUM! Wifey made a flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee, and some delicious breakfast muffins for us to eat the next morning on top of all the glutinous food we took in from the night before. Who couldn't use more butter and sugar in their diet? For the creme brulee she even brought her own torch and made the crispy, crunchy caramelized top. That's the best part in my opinion - when you stick your fork into the top and you here that CRACK from the burnt sugar...mmmmm. I love guests who bring a plethora of food, especially when it involves a light as a cloud chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was sinfully delicious and the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. What a great group of friends to have for a fabulous dinner...LOVE IT!!!



Chocolate Cracked Earth (Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from Tyler Florence

* 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
* 1 stick unsalted butter*
* 9 large eggs, separated
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
* 2 cups heavy cream, cold
* Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1-inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.

(She had to bake it an extra 10 minutes)

While the cake is cooking, make the whipped cream. Whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy.

Serve at room temperature dusted with confectioners' and the whipped cream.



Creme Brulee

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Makes 5 to 6 servings

* 1 extra-large egg
* 4 extra-large egg yolks
* 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Caramelized Onion Dip


As an appetizer for our "burger throwdown" I made a caramelized onion dip. This is an onion dip remake b/c it's the tiniest bit healthier then the traditional dip. Thick, creamy, greek yogurt is substituted for the mayo and you use onion powder instead of dried onion soup mix to make a healthful snack. This was quite addicting dipped with Ruffles potato chips which were the perfect counterpart. The only pain about this recipe is caramelizing the onions which literally took me about an hour and a half but it was well worth the extra effort. This dip is served best when made 24-hours in advance so all the flavors can meld together.

UPDATE: This dip tastes best the second day but the flavors become stronger and stronger everyday after and becomes a bit over powering. Basically, your breath will be kickin!

...this is how brown you want your onions

Caramelized onion dip
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Originally posted by Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
3 teaspoons onion powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
In a large frypan, gently heat the oil and cook the onions over low heat with a pinch of salt. Stir them occasionally, cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown - this will take at least 40 minutes. Stir them more often as they darken to prevent burning. Take the onions off the heat and allow them to cool

Whisk together the sour cream and yoghurt. Add the onion powder and salt gradually, to taste. Stir through two thirds of the caramelised onions, then sprinkle the rest over the top to serve. Serve the dip at room temperature. (I also seasoned mine with cayenne powder and cajun seasoning spice mix)

*If you are making this dip in advance, set it out about 45 minutes before guests arrive to bring to room temperature.

Pita Pizzas


When you don't feel like making your own pizza dough, pita pockets are a great alternative and one that I'll be using more often. Pita bread makes the perfect pizza for a thin crust lover like myself. If you're not a fan of thin crust pizzas then I would not try this recipe. I guess that kinda falls into the Chicago deep dish vs New York thin crust argument. I personally prefer a thin crust so these little guys were perfect for me - nice and crispy - the perfect balance between crust and filling. As an added bonus, they're healthier then a regular pizza too and cook in half the time. Try them for a light dinner with a salad or as appetizers. Enjoy!


Pita pizzas
A NuM NuM original recipe

Whole wheat pitas
Pesto
sauce
Red bell peppers, small dice
Cremini mushrooms
Prosciutto, thinly sliced

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Move racks to bottom third part of the oven and lowest possible part of the oven. Cover baking sheet with foil. Thinly slice mushrooms and sautee in pan with salt and pepper. Spread pesto over pita and top with bell peppers, cooked mushrooms and thin slices of prosciutto. Bake on lower third rack for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes move pizzas to lowest rack of oven and cook for an additional 2
minutes.

Pizza variations:
- Top pita with goat cheese and gorgonzola topped with thin slices of pear, peaches or figs. Bake then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with proscioutto.
- Mash slow cooked tomatoes into a sauce and spread over pita and top with mozzarella cheese and thin slices of tomato. Finish with fresh basil.
- Pesto or mozzarella with sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers
- Sausage, caramelized onion and top with gorgonzola cheese

Strawberry Basil Frozen Yogurt


Hey yoooo...it's fro-yo!! Oh my, I am just getting cheesier and cheesier the more I blog. Anyway, who knew basil and strawberries could be such a good combo. This fro-yo is not only tasty but it is good for you! This is the one time it is indeed pleasure on the lips and NOT forever on the hips. The entire recipe is only 505 calories. That means you could eat the whole thing in one sitting and not get fat. But don't do that - that would just be disgusting...or would it?! Don't worry I won't judge. Go ahead pick up the bowl and lick it clean.


Strawberry Basil Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from My Gourmet Connection
Makes about 3 quartz

3 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup sugar (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbs high quality balsamic vinegar
1 lb strawberries, washed and roughly chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

In a large bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and balsamic until well combined.

In a small food processor, pulse the strawberries until pureed. Add the basil and pulse until chopped, but you can still see pieces of the green. Add the strawberries to the yogurt mixture and refrigerate for at least an hour until chilled.

Transfer the mixture to the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Mine took 20 minutes) Transfer to a container and freeze for another 2-4 hours before serving.


Note: I only used one tablespoon plus one tsp of Splenda and it was sweet enough. I think I only needed to use a small amount of sugar b/c I used a really good quality balsamic vinegar that added sweetness and tartness to the mixture.

Pear Crisp


Lobster and I had dinner with my two favorite peeps and I made this pear crisp for dessert. Since I'm on a healthy eating kick, this recipe comes from the Cooking Light website and is lower in calories then most crisp recipes. Trust me, if no one told you this recipe was "light" you would never know. All the extra butter and sugar was not missed and it just makes me realize how much more added fat all the other recipes have. From now on I'll definitely be using this recipe and substituting it with different fruit. The crisp topping had the perfect balance of crunch and sweetness and was the perfect contrast to the soft pears. This combo was great eaten with vanilla ice cream. The piping hot pear crisp and the cold slightly melted ice cream made for the perfect ending to a fabulous meal. Light dessert or not, everyone cleaned their bowls.


Pear Crisp

Recipe and photo from Cooking Light
8 servings = 285 calories per servings


Ingredients

* 6 cups Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 3 pounds)
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
* 1/3 cup regular oats
* 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine pears and lemon juice in a 2-quart baking dish; toss gently to coat. Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; stir with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pear mixture; toss well to coat.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until combined. Add chilled butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. (I did not use a food processor and and broke up the butter with my hands and mixed it with the sugar) Add oats and walnuts; pulse 2 times. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over pear mixture.

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until pears are tender and topping is golden brown. Cool 20 minutes on a wire rack; serve warm or at room temperature.

Food coma and Asian-Style Steamed Snapper with Baby Bok Choy


For 4th of July lobster and I celebrated with a glutinous weekend full of eating. We celebrated with C.G.W.M. and the rug rats fam. C.G.W.M., formerly known as G.W.M. has now been re-named since he fed us a fabulous chili. So now it stands for Chili, Gumbo, White Man :) He made some good Texas grub with all the fixins and we ate like piggies. We had a "healthy" turkey chili, fall off the bone ribs, a delicious no stir cobbler (I'll be stealing the recipe and post about it soon) and sister-in-law made a yummy queso dip. I made some cornbread that I was less then pleased with but it was great when eaten the following way. Warning: this combination is highly addictive and not for the faint hearted. You take the sweet cornbread, smother it with the spicy chili, then dip it in the cool queso to balance out the heat and it is just.....YUMMMM-MAY!! That can't be bad for you, could it? Who knew how good that combo was! I'm surprised none of us bust a gut.

But now starts a new day of eating and it's time to bust out the healthy recipes. This was a quick 30-minute meal that was easy, low in calories and best of all you don't feel heavy in the belly after eating it. All the ingredients are probably things you already have in your pantry so it's relatively inexpensive as well. This is my kind of recipe - light, healthy, fast and full of flavor. From now on I promise, only healthy recipes on the blog.......maybe :P hopefully? :\


Asian-Style Steamed Snapper with Baby Bok Choy
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
2 servings

Steaming liquid:

* 1 quart water
* 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, sliced
* 1 (1 by 3-inch) piece lime peel
* 1 (1 by 3-inch) piece lemon peel
* 4 sprigs cilantro, plus more for garnish
* 3 scallions
* 1 cup white wine
* 1 jalapeno, cut into large pieces
* 2 tablespoons peanut oil
* Salt
* 4 (4-ounce) pieces red snapper fillet
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 baby bok choy, slice in half, then slice each half in half

Sauce:

* 1 tablespoons peanut oil
* 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
* 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced or substitute pinch of red pepper flakes
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias, white and green parts kept separate
* Cooked jasmine rice, accompaniment
* Special Equipment: 2-layer bamboo or regular steamer

Directions

In a shallow pot that a bamboo steamer fits over or in a wok, add the water and bring to a boil. You can also use a traditional steamer that has 2 layers. Add the ginger, citrus zest, cilantro, scallions, white wine, jalapeno, and peanut oil. Season well with salt. Bring back to a boil and cook for 10 minutes for the flavors to combine.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place the first layer of the bamboo steamer over the pot. Lay the fish, on the steamer. Cover and steam for 1 minute.

Uncover the steamer and place the bok choy layer on top of the fish. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through and the bok choy is tender, but still has some crispness. Check the fish for doneness by gently inserting a fork into it. If the fork slides easily in, the fish is done. If the fork resists sliding in, it is not quite done. Remove the fish and bok choy and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno or red pepper flakes and saute until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Add 1/2 cup of the steaming liquid and the soy sauce and boil for 2 minutes. Do not season with salt as the soy sauce is salty. Add the sugar to taste and boil for 1 minute, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the scallion whites, stir, and remove from the heat.

Place some jasmine rice on a platter. Top with the steamed bok choy. Top the bok choy with the snapper. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Garnish with the scallion greens and cilantro sprigs.

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting


To celebrate my dad's birthday I made this double decker chocolate cake. It's because of him I have this ridiculous sweet tooth I battle with everyday. I wonder if anyone else wishes they could have dessert for dinner? Or, is that just me? Okay, enough about my life long dreams of eating desserts for dinner, let's talk about this nummy cake. It was rich, moist, and decadent - everything a chocolate cake should be. I couldn't believe how moist the cake turned out. The recipe for the cake actually comes from the back of the Hershey's Cocoa box. You know if a recipe's been around for more then twenty some odd years it has to be good - and that it was! The raspberry layers are purely optional but I thought it added a nice tartness to the cake and cut a bit of the richness from the chocolate. Although I did find myself eating around the edges of the cake so each and every bite had a bit of chocolate ganache...num! This recipe would be just as delicious turned into cupcakes with a chocolate or buttercream frosting...ooh a buttercream frosting would be divine. Must try that next! Nummers :)


Black Magic Cake
Makes 2 9-inch cakes
Adapted from Hershey's

Ingredients
• 2 cups sugar
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
• 1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus one cup of milk. Let sit for 10 minutes, stir then add to cake mix.


Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Adapted from Picky Cook

2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed or fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken. Stir in lemon zest at the end. Let it cool complete before spreading it thinly over three layers.


For ganache frosting
1/2 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan bring cream and sugar to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). I found that stirring this over a bowl of ice water did a great job of cooling it off quickly and evenly.
Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

I scream you scream we all scream for homemade ice cream


Hazelnut Chocolate Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream!!! Wow, say that five times fast. This ice cream is heaven in a bowl!!! OMG...it's soooooo goooooood. What does it mean when you're licking the bowl?

So I finally caved and bought an ice cream maker. After making this, I don't know how I've gone this long without one. It's so fun making your own ice cream!!! I was literally jumping and prancing around the kitchen while the ice cream was churning - I was THAT excited. I really was a little kid in an ice cream store.....my own ice cream store as a matter of fact :) I cannot wait to see what other creations I can make with this contraption. Stay tuned!


Hazelnut Chocolate Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes one quart

Ingredients
• 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (Decaffeinated Hazelnut Hawaiian coffee beans from Henry's Market)
• Pinch of salt
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 5 large egg yolks
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (press grinds through a fine mesh sieve)
• 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

Method
1. Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.
3. Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 5-10 minutes.
5. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.
6. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. In my ice cream maker I churned it for 25 minutes then added the chocolate chunks and churned for an additional 5 minutes. Eat right away or transfer ice cream to an air tight container and cover ice cream with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming.

*Home made ice cream becomes very hard when frozen so leave it out at room temperature for a bit before serving
**Sprinkle Fleur De Sel over your scoop of ice cream and it takes it to a whole new level!

Opa Burgers


This burger was the winning "alternative" burger from the same competition as my other insanely good burgers I blogged about the other day. These were super juicy and moist from the lamb, and had a salty an tangy bite from the olives and feta. Although I'm usually not a huge fan of olives, they balanced out the overall flavor of the burger and I don't think the taste would've been the same without it. So, if you plan on making the burger, I wouldn't skip the olives. Try them for your next burger night. Opa!


Opa Burgers
Adapted from Food Network
2 servings

For the mayonnaise/cheese mixture:
• 2 tbs mayonnaise
• 1 tbs roasted red peppers, chopped
• 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
• 2 tbs chopped kalamata olives
For the patties:
• 1/4 cup Shiraz (recommended: Sutter Home )
• 1/8-ounce dried porcini mushrooms = to 0.01 oz
• 1/2 pound ground lamb*
• 1 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing grill rack (recommended: Colavita)
• 2 Italian-style bolo rolls or ciabatta rolls or other rustic buns, split
• 4 thin slices sopressata, Italian salami variety
• 1/4 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
• 2 large tomato slices

Directions
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
For the mayonnaise-cheese mixture:
Combine the mayonnaise and roasted peppers in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to use.
In a separate small bowl, mash the cheese with a fork. Stir in the olives; set aside.
For the patties:
Pour the wine into a small, heavy fire-proof saucepan and heat on the grill until the wine begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the dried mushrooms, stirring with a fork to ensure that all the mushrooms are moistened. Set the mushrooms aside to reconstitute for at least 30 minutes.
Gently squeeze the excess liquid from the reconstituted mushrooms and chop, using a chef's knife. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the lamb, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Form into 2 equal patties in the shape of the rolls.
When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the grill, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. With a spatula, turn the patties over, and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until done to preference. During the last few minutes of grilling, place the rolls, cut side down, on outer edges of grill to lightly toast.
To assemble the burgers, spread the mayonnaise mixture over the bottom roll halves and the cheese mixture over the top halves. Layer the bottom rolls with the patties, sopressata, spinach leaves, tomato slices, and roll tops.

*If you cannot find ground lamb, ask your butcher to ground lamb shoulder