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Only use the very freshest ground lamb

I took a charcuterie class a few months back, and have been obsessed with making sausages ever since. I've pored over Ruhlman's Charcuterie, Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating, and a zillion blogs to feed my obsession. Of all the sausages I've made, the merguez is the one I reach for first. It's quick to cook and pairs with so many side dishes. The secret to great merguez is in the harissa. There are many recipes on the web, and many varieties on the shelf. I'm partial to the harissa at Whole Foods - full of hot chilis and not too tomato-y, but that's my taste. Only use the very freshest ground lamb. Grind your own if you can. I use a KA meat grinding attachment and sausage stuffer. Some report good results with the food processor.

Leave it to MrsWheelbarrow, one of the masterminds behind Charcutepalooza, to remind us how simple making your own sausage can be -- you don't even need to fuss with casings. And this one is so good: perfectly spiced and perfumed with MrsW's custom spice blend (we halved it and had plenty) and ready to join poached eggs and toast or get stuffed in a pita with tzatziki and fresh veggies. Since harissa brands can vary, we recommend starting with the minimum amount of cayenne and salt and searing off a patty to taste test (lucky you!).

Serves 1 lb. of bulk merguez sausage, or a coil to feed four

Spice Mixture - will make plenty

1 tablespoon coriander seed, dry toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seed, dry toasted
1 tablespoon anise seed, or fennel seed, in a pinch, dry toasted
1 tablespoon cinnamon, I like Ceylon
1/2-1 teaspoons cayenne, depending on your harissa
2 teaspoons turmeric

Sausage

1 pound fresh ground lamb shoulder
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon spice mix
2 tablespoons harissa
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4-1/2 teaspoons Salt, to taste
iced water, as needed

Combine the spice mix ingredients and grind fine using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. The extra can be stored in a glass jar.

Using a mixer, combine all the sausage ingredients. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is well combined. If you have ground the meat yourself, you probably won't need much ice water.

Form a little patty and cook it off, taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.

Cover and chill this mixture overnight if you can. This will help the flavors develop. If overnight is impossible, chill at least an hour.

Dip your hands in ice water as you form the sausage patties. Chill the patties again if you are not going to cook them right away. Grill the merguez coils for 10-12 minutes, total, turning once.

I make large coils to serve four. They make a spectacular dinner party offering with lentils du puy, crusty bread, and a green salad with figs and marcona almonds.
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Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce


Author Notes: I started making this rub after reading about cowboy food, they carried with them coffee, salt, pepper and sugar Dream beauty pro...and they grilled their steaks in cast iron pans...since I do not often find myself on the open range I have to make due with either my grill or during wet yucky weather, my oven. I've added a couple of spices and few non cowboy type extras.. though I'm pretty sure if the cowboys had chocolate stout they would've enjoyed it too. ... on the rare occasions when I have been forced to camp outdoors I've brought pre rubbed steaks with me to get a taste of the old west... If you have no chocolate stout available any dark beer will do, you can also sub red wine, but it will be very different. I like to use a pre heated cast iron pan because in conducts the heat well...and you don't have to turn the meat over.

Ground coffee, smoked paprika, cumin, ancho chile and brown sugar form an earthy, flinty rub that smells appealingly of wood smoke. Aliwaks borrows a smart technique from Indian cooking and has you toast the spices over low heat before rubbing them on the steak. Then it's just a matter of searing it in a very hot iron pan and finishing the sauce with some chocolate brown stout, beef stock and a lump of butter Dream beauty pro hard sell. We recommend some corn pudding on the side.

Serves 2

1 Nice, thick rib eye, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, big enough for two
1 tablespoon ground coffee
2 tablespoons kosher salt (we used Diamond Crystal -- you may want to reduce the salt to taste, especially if using Morton's Kosher or other finer salt, see comments)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (preferably Ancho chile)
1 cup chocolate stout (you'll have to drink the rest)
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sprig thyme
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if you are the type to save bacon fat, by all means use it!)

Mix the coffee, salt, paprika, peppers & cumin together and toast lightly in pan until fragrant (alternatively you can toast whole spices then grind). Mix the spices with the sugar to make the rub.

Spread the rub all over the steak and let sit for awhile, if you do it the night before you'll have stronger flavor but if you do it right before serving it'll be good, too. (If you pre-rub and set it in the fridge, be sure to bring it up to room temperature before searing, so you do not shock the meat.)

Heat a cast iron pan until it's really really hot -- a drop of water flicked into the pan should sizzle and bounce. Add vegetable oil, wait a few seconds until the oil heats up, then place the steak in the pan. It should sizzle; leave it there Dream beauty pro hard sell, do not touch it at all for 3-4 minutes. It should be browning on the bottom. Then place it under a hot broiler and broil to medium rare or desired doneness.

Remove the steak and let rest on a warm plate, cover with aluminum foil.

Add the thyme sprig to the pan and let it saute a bit till it gets nice and fragrant. Pour in the chocolate stout and deglaze the pan. Add the beef broth, whisk together and reduce by half over medium heat.

Remove the thyme sprig and whisk in the butter. Season to taste.

Slice the steak on the bias and drizzle the sauce over top. This is YUMMY with creamed spinach and hash browns or baked potato and a nice big salad.

Quick Strawberry Sherbet


Author Notes: I learned this technique with the food processor years ago when I taught consumers how to get the most out of their Cuisinart food processors. This works with all fresh fruit in season, and is best with lusciously ripe fruit like the Tristars in this sherbet.

All we can say is: thank goodness ChefJune was given an assignment to teach people about the wonders of their Cuisinarts. Not only is this simple dessert packed with intense strawberry flavor, but it takes all of five minutes to make. We'll admit we were a bit skeptical about the technique, but it works perfectly: you purée frozen berries in the food processor with sugar and lemon, leave the motor running while you pour in a little cold milk, and voila -- you have a lovely, loose sherbet. Since strawberry season is over, we used store-bought frozen berries. You can make this sherbet with pretty much any type of frozen fruit, but if you buy it ready-frozen, we recommend that you be judicious with the sugar.


Serves 4

1 pint strawberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cups superfine cane sugar
1 cup whole milk
fresh mint for garnish (optional)

wash and hull the berries and freeze for 40 minutes to 1 hour
Chill the work bowl and blade of your food processor.

Put the frozen strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to chop berries coarsely, then run machine continuously to create almost a purée.

With the machine still running, pour the very cold milk through the feed tube into the strawberry mixture until the mixture is JUST blended.

Spoon into dessert dishes, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint, and serve at once!

The Procrastinator's Guide to Thanksgiving

  
K now what you're making for Thanksgiving yet? If the answer is "no earthly idea," do not panic. Panic only wastes time, and that's precisely the commodity that's in short supply. It's also completely unnecessary: Armed with this gameplan, it's completely doable (really!) to make a company-worthy Thanksgiving meal in two hours.

This menu stays true to Thanksgiving's most iconic flavors while shaving off prep time whenever possible. Each of these dishes incorporates time-saving strategies. Now is probably not the time to invite 20 friends over to dinner. Instead, shoot for a more manageable number of guest list — six to eight people is a good bet. Follow the gameplan, and you'll multitask effortlessly, creating an impressive feast in record time.

Here's how we did it—and how you can, too:
Spatchcock your turkey to cut cooking time.

Remember, Rockwell-idealism aside, you do not need a massive roasted turkey in the center of the table to call your meal complete. Cutting up the turkey before roasting it drastically reduces cooking time.



Keep your vegetable sides simple.

Why bother with elaborate winter squash recipes when a simple combination of roasted Delicata squash and roasted onion tastes so good? Roast them on two sheet pans, and you'll maximize the delicious caramelization.

Bake your stuffing right in a skillet.

Prepping your stuffing in one pan saves time, and if you cook it in a cast-iron skillet, you can even bring it straight to the table. Just sauté your aromatics in an oven-safe pan, then add the bread and remaining ingredients, stir, and bake.

Skip the green bean casserole.

Instead, keep your green beans simple and fresh—steam them right in the pan, then toss with butter, za'atar, and lemon zest. Done.

Serve a DIY dessert.

Why fuss over pie when you can set out bowls of vanilla ice cream, cranberry-pear sauce, and crushed gingersnaps so that folks can build their own Thanksgiving-inspired sundaes? That's a sweet sprint to the finish line.

Eco Friendly Shopping Tips + Contest + Giveaway

Shopping eco friendly is easier than you might think, even at a bargain focused store like Grocery Outlet. Recently Grocery Outlet gave me a $30 gift card to see what great eco friendly bargains I could find for Earth Day. Here are my top picks:

Eco Friendly Shopping Tips

1. Buy fresh produce

The less processed and less packaged, the better. Grocery Outlet sells some beautiful greens, I found these greens for just 99 cents a bunch glass teapot set.

2. Choose recycled chlorine free paper products

Recycled paper products are better quality than you might think these days and using them is an easy way to go green.

3. Invest in stoneware and ceramic baking dishes

Made from silica or clay and water, not noxious chemicals, they will last a lifetime if cared for properly with no warping or flaking of non-stick coatings. These beautiful pieces were only $4.99 each.

4. Pick reusable products

I found coffee "pods" for use in Keurig coffee makers and water bottles with water filters.


5. Look for products with minimal packaging

Choose staple items that are packaged in recyclable cardboard, rather than plastic.


One of the easiest things you can do to be eco friendly when it comes to shopping is to use your own bag, rather than choosing "paper or plastic baby bed."

Design Contest
Grocery Outlet is hosting a contest via Instagram where anyone can design their next eco-frugal reusable grocery bag. Imagine how cool it would be to see people shopping with a bag you designed! So design something amazing! Take a picture and post it to Instagram with the tag @grocery_outlet and the hashtag #GOGreenBag

The deadline to enter is April 17 and the winner will be announced on Earth Day (April 22) The prize is a $100 Grocery Outlet gift certificate, and there are runner up prizes as well.

Gift Card Giveaway
Want to try eco friendly shopping at Grocery Outlet? Share your best tip eco friendly tip in the comments and one winner will receive a $30 Grocery Outlet gift card, courtesy of Grocery Outlet.

This giveaway ends at midnight PST on April 21, 2013. I will draw a winner at random on April 22. Open to US residents only. If you register your comment with your email, only I will see it. Grocery Outlet has stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania. To see if there is Grocery Outlet near you amway, use the Grocery Outlet store locator.

Joshua you are the winner! I have emailed you, please send me your mailing address so I can send you the gift certificate.

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