You can pretty much get everything on this plate at your local farmer's market. After all, there are only 9 ingredients that make up this eternally spring meal. Although it's a bit gray and rainy today, I am off to the Union Square Market, the heart and soul of the city, to get the ingredients for tonight's dinner. This image, from one of my earlier books, Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook (published in 1998), is attention-getting as it is stunning in its simplicity and restraint. The three simple recipes include tender lamb chops under a "crust" of goat cheese and rosemary; a slow-cooked tomato layered with red onion "napoleon-style," and stir-fried watercress with garlic chips. Only today, 14 years later when pea shoots are now the veg du jour, I may substitute them for the watercress in this recipe. I may also, instead of the rosemary, use fresh lavender -- just a bit -- as my husband really likes it. It is an unforgiving herb, however, as a little too much is...a little too much. Goat cheese and lavender have great affinity and my husband often stuffs it under the skin of a large chicken and roasts it to perfection. This menu brings great rewards for modest amounts of effort. Open an unexpected bottle of Domaine Clavel's Les Garrigues, a blend of syrah and grenache noir from the Languedoc, or choose a flowery Beaujolais like Chiroubles. Check in later for dessert. I will see what's new and exciting at the market this morning! One of life's simple pleasures is checking out what's on nature's agenda each week. Enjoy!
Lamb Chops with Goat Cheese & Rosemary 8 thick rib lamb chops 6 ounces fresh goat cheese 3 tablespoons finely snipped fresh rosemary or lavender
"French" the chops, cutting all meat from the bones to the "eye" of the chops; or leave them as they are. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix goat cheese with 2 tablespoons rosemary or lavender. Season chops with salt and pepper and steak in a large nonstick skillet until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Pack approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on one side of each chop to cover completely. Place chops in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until desired doneness, but still rare in the center. You may brown the cheese for 30 seconds under the broiler. Scatter remaining herbs on top. Serves 4 "Short-Stack" Tomatoes and Onions These can be made ahead of time and reheated for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
4 medium-large ripe tomatoes, about 1-1/2 pounds 2 large red onions 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Slice 1/4-inch from top and bottom of each tomato. Cut each tomato into 3 thick slices. Re-assemble each to look like whole tomato. Peel onions and slice 1/4-inch thick. Layer thicker onions between tomato slices, ending on top with a thin slice of onion. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over each and season with salt and pepper. Place a short skewer in center of each stack to help hold together. Place in shallow baking pan and bake 1-1/4 hours. Baste with pan juice twice. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to plates and spoon pan juices on top. Drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serves 4
Watercress (or Pea Shoots) Saute with Garlic Chips
3 large bunches watercress or 12 ounces pea shoots 4 large garlic cloves 3 tablespoons olive oil
Remove woody stems from watercress. Peel garlic and slice paper thin, lengthwise. Heat oil in a large skillet until hot. Add garlic, cook 15 seconds until crisp, then immediately remove. Add watercress or pea shoots. Cook over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until just wilted. Stir in garlic chips and salt to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4