Archive for April, 2010

Ground lamb continues to be one of my favorite ingredients.  It’s fatty, versatile, delicious, available from local farms, and a compliment to great spices or a comforting flavor on its own.

These breakfast patties are full of Persian-influenced flavors: cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, saffron, and parsley.  They’re great with yogurt or fresh sheep-milk cheese, with eggs, and with greens.  I made a refreshing green cabbage salad to go with them, tossed with yogurt, lemon juice and cumin.  Add a couple of fried eggs and you have a breakfast to sustain you for hours.

Play around a bit with this recipe — add other flavors you think would go well, add garlic if you like, try other herbs.  Ground walnuts or pistachios would be a delicious addition, as would a bit of finely-chopped dried fruit.  The egg is a nice binding agent and helps incorporate the spices, but the meat tastes good, and is firmer, without it.  Let me know if you find something else delicious; it’s hard to go wrong with ground lamb, at breakfast or any meal.

Persian-Spiced Lamb Breakfast Patties w/ Fried Eggs & Cabbage Salad


  • 1/2 pound ground lamb (PCC has Oregon grass-fed ground lamb.  Sea Breeze sometimes sells ground lamb.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 onion, grated
  • a few pinches to taste of the following spices: ground cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, pepper
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • a few threads of saffron
  • 2 eggs per person, to fry
  • clarified butter, olive oil or beef tallow for frying
  • (see post above for other ingredients you might add)

(makes about eight small patties)

1. Beat one egg in a bowl.  Crush in threads of saffron, and add all spices, grated onion and chopped parsley.  Stir again until well mixed.

2. Mix in meet well, crushing with a fork to make sure it gets fully coated with egg mixture.

3. Ideally marinate at this point for a few hours or overnight, but you can skip this step if you want to make this at the last minute.

4. Heat butter or oil until hot but not smoking.  Make patties of the meat mixture a bit smaller than golf balls, and flat.  Fry on one side.  When brown, flip to the other side.

5. At this point, if there’s room in the pan, crack your eggs into the same pan and cover the whole thing with a lid.  The extra fat and liquid seeping out of the patties will cook and flavor the eggs nicely.  If there’s not room in the pan, don’t worry; just fry your eggs when you’re done.

6. Serve with cabbage salad or yogurt or tahini or sheep milk cheese.


Simple cabbage salad

  • 1/8 head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of plain yogurt
  • a few squirts of lemon juice to taste
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch or two of cumin
  • a bit of finely chopped parsley

1. Mix all ingredients other than cabbage.  Taste and adjust flavors.

2. Chop the cabbage finely and add to the dressing.  Can be eaten right away or allowed to sit for the flavors to mix.

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A few weeks ago, I made an enormous batch of nettle pesto, using probably two and a half pounds of fresh nettles. My freezer is well stocked with containers of green deliciousness. I spread some of the pesto on some broiled salmon for Passover this year, and await many future uses.

But when I was done cooking the nettles to use in the pesto, running so many batches of leaves through the same pot of boiling water, I noticed the water was a deep green-yellow-brown color from the plants. I tasted it and immediately decided to put it in the freezer to save, it was so good. A concentrated version of the earthy, green springy flavor of nettles.

For Passover, to go along with my salmon, I hauled out a few quarts worth of the nettle broth to make a soup. I combined it with a simple vegetable stock — carrots, onions, leek greens, mushroom pieces, salt, pepper, and a parmesan rind. Together, the veggie stock and the nettle stock had a complex and well balanced flavor.

I added chopped carrots and lacinato kale to the soup, and made some Passover-friendly dumplings that, unlike matzah balls, were gluten free. Building off a delicious recipe for fennel dumplings in Deborah Madison’s great cookbook Local Flavors, I planned some parmesan/egg/saffron/quinoa-flour dumplings with chopped greens mixed in. They came out beautifully and balanced the soup. Here’s a general sense of what I did:

Nettle-Vegetable Broth with Saffron-Parmesan-Egg Dumplings (Passover-friendly)

  • 2 quarts nettle broth (blanch/quickly boil a lot of stinging nettles, then strain and save the water)
  • 2 quarts veggie stock or meat stock (include a parmesan rind if you’re making veggie stock)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 head lacinato kale or your favorite green
  • any other vegetables you’d like in your soup
  • 1/3 cup almond flour, quinoa flour (if during Passover – Bob’s Red Mill carries this), rice flour or other
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 3 pinches saffron, crushed
  • 1/4 cup minced greens of any sort — Deborah Madison’s original fennel is too strong for this version, because it overpowers the nettles, although it is absolutely delicious otherwise. i used scallion tops, dandelion greens and kale, because that’s what I had around
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep: Heat up your veggie/meat broth and nettle broth in the same pot.

1. Heat milk and butter in pan.  Crush and stir in saffron threads, and add the salt and pepper.

2. When milk is simmering and butter is melted, add the minced greens, stir.

3. Add the flour, turn of the heat, and stir in quickly.

4. Add the eggs one at a time and stir well.

5. Add the parmesan and stir gently.

6. You should have a sticky batter.  Now, time to make the dumplings.  You can cook them right into your boiling soup, or into a pot of boiling water and then transfer them.  Drop in the batter, about a tablespoon or two per dumpling.  When a dumpling floats to the surface, flip it.  Let it cook about another 30 seconds, and then take it out and reserve on a plate.  When all dumplings are cooked, pour them (back) into the soup, and let it sit with the heat off until ready to serve.

Optional: Grate a little parmesan on the bowl of soup, or stir in a little nettle pesto.

Photo (c) Jessica Levine

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Locavores in Seattle will soon be able to get yet another staple of the day produced 100% locally:

Their coffee.

A partnership originally between Starbucks, Tully’s, Vivace and Puget Sound Fresh gained support from surprise partners Microsoft and Monsanto, meaning coffee beans will soon be growing right here in King County, both on the Redmond campus and on a farm in Carnation.

The key is the development of a coffee bean that thrives in a temperate, damp climate.  Monsanto led the research on this project, using serotonin from coffee drinkers in the rainy Northwest to modify the gene of a coffee bean indigenous to Aliwkut, a remote region of Bolivia.

The coffee grown on the Microsoft campus will be used for that company’s corporate cafeteria, a move many see as countering the attention Google and Facebook’s workplaces have received for offering free lunches.  Additional grounds will be packaged and included in a limited edition bundle with shipments of Microsoft Office software.  The brew will be called Microsoft Poured.

The innovation is largely being hailed by espresso lovers and local foods supporters in the Puget Sound region.  Capitol Hill resident Solomon Douglas sipped his octuple latte and commented, “I’m all in favor of it, if it guarantees the availability of espresso for the foreseeable future.” University of Washington student Juan Valdez looked confused and said, “Wait, I thought it was already grown here. Isn’t that why Seattle has so many coffee shops? I’m so confused; I haven’t had my espresso yet today.”

The coffee will be available at local co-ops and farmers’ markets, the Microsoft website, and a new CSA (Caffeine-Sustained Agriculture) delivery system.  There are plans to open a few coffee shops in the beginning of April of 2012, using locally produced milk and foam from the Friendly Foam Shop in the U-District.

Yet, there were critiques.  A representative of the Community Alliance for Global Justice hesitated and then said, “I don’t know.  I’m all for local foods.  But Monsanto?  A Carnation plantation?  Will the workers be treated well?  Can I have another mocha?”

Whether locally-grown coffee is a passing trend or here to stay, the excitement of the announcement is enough — almost — to keep us awake for now.

Tomorrow’s post: How to render your own squirrel fat!

(For more information on the topics in this post, please go here.)

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