Thursday, May 9, 2019

Anna Sultana’s Leg of Lamb, Greek Style and Lamb Barley Soup

Since Mother’s Day is coming I posted the recipe for Anna Sultana’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze.

Got an email, and I agree:
A chocolate cake, no matter how much work you put into it, is not a complete meal.
So I’m posting Ma’s recipe for leg of lamb.
It is simple, yet feels like something special.
Perfect for Mother’s Day.

The recipe also includes potatoes.
It’s your choice for vegetables.
Peas are nice, especially with a bit of mint and lemon.

Of course, Ma being Ma, nothing ever went to waste, or over budget.
Lamb is expensive.
I’ve included her recipe for Lamb Barley Soup.
The soup helps rebalance your week’s food budget.


Coat the meat with the marinade the night before, cover and let sit in the fridge.

If you don’t want your potatoes to have a strong lamb flavour, roast the lamb in a different pan.
Use a roasting rack for the meat so the heat can circulate around it.

Once your roast is within 10º F of being done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes. As the meat rests it will continue to cook, the muscle fibres will relax, and the juices that have come to the surface will settle back. 
A rested roast will be more tender and keep its juices better when you slice it.

About the soup…
Ma usually sliced a bit of meat off a roast before cooking to grind and use in a soup.
After dinner she would remove the meat from the bone, place the bone in a pot, cover it with water, then season and simmer for two hours to make a broth.
If you don’t have time, or don’t want, to make your own broth, use store bought.
Water, with or without bouillon cubes, can also work.

Consommé also adds a bit of flavour and can be used for a part of the liquid.
If you want a thinner or thicker soup, no problem.

If you have leftover roasted lamb, just chop it into small pieces and add after the soup has simmered for 30 minutes.
If you prefer using a vegan substitute, don’t brown it with the onion.
Just add it after the soup has simmered for 30 minutes.

We’re talking soup. It’s not as exacting as baking a cake. 

                        Leg of Lamb, Greek Style

1 5 3/4 pound semi-boneless leg of lamb    

For the marinade combine: 
3 ounces olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon rosemary 
1 teaspoon black pepper

Place the lamb leg in a pan. 
Brush a thick layer of marinade on covering as much of the surface as possible. 
Cover and refrigerate until ready to roast (overnight is best).
Take the lamb out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. A piece of meat at room temperature will roast more evenly.

While the roast is sitting, cut into wedges
5 pounds potatoes
Place the potatoes in the bottom of a large greased roasting pan.

1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Drizzle the potatoes with 
1/4 cup olive oil 
Season with the spice mixture and toss the potatoes well to cover.
Lay the leg of lamb on top of the potatoes.

Heat the oven to 450º F.
Roast for 15 minutes uncovered. 
Lower the temperature to 325º F and continue to roast, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the lamb from the oven when a thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the leg reaches 155º F.
Place the leg of lamb on a platter and allow it to rest 20 minutes before slicing.

While the lamb is resting, you can increase the heat of the oven to a low broil setting and give the potatoes a little extra colour, if needed. 
If they’re brown enough, remove the potatoes to a platter, and give them a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt before serving.

                        Lamb Barley Soup

8 servings

2 medium onions
4 medium carrots
Place in a dutch oven 
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Heat over medium heat and stir in 
1 pound ground lamb
the chopped onion
Cook and stir until the lamb is evenly browned and the onions are translucent. 
Drain and discard any excess grease. 

Stir in 
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 Cups lamb broth
1 can condensed tomato soup 
the chopped carrots
1 Cup barley 
1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Cover and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.

Before serving, taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Anna Sultana’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

The weather here hasn’t been at all Spring-like.
We’ve had hail and snow during the past week.
Well, Spring weather or not, Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday.

This cake always reminds me of my parents.
Ma and I made it when they came up for a visit.
Pop would sit and supervise us as we spread the chocolate filling. 
Every so often he’d say something like 
Do you use that to lay bricks? or 
Can you do stucco work, too?
Ma would give him THE LOOK and he’d wander off until it was time to eat.

As all good things are this cake that is a bit of a project.
You can spread out the work load - bake the cake layers the day or two before.
The layers also freeze well, if you want to lighten the work load this weekend.

Happy Mother's Day!!


If you are using all purpose flour in this recipe remove two tablespoons from each cup of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons from the 1/4 cup.

About the chocolate…
When we made this recipe back in the 90s, a square of baking chocolate was 1 ounce.
For some reason a chocolate company - who couldn’t possible have a baker on staff - has decided to repackage their product so that 4 itty bitty rectangles equal 1 ounce.
I don’t know how your chocolate is packaged, so I’m giving weights.

Use the same bowl for the three meltings without washing after the first two uses.
Just pick a bowl that's large enough for the 4 ounces and coffee.

About the sour cream… use any fat content you prefer.

If you don’t want to use all three layers at one time you can freeze a layer to serve some other time.

About the filling…
If it looks too thick, add a little more cream.
If it’s too thin, add a little more icing sugar.

Don’t have 2 Tablespoons strong coffee? No problem.
Put 2 Tablespoons of water and instant coffee (either regular or decaf) in the bowl. 

Just before serving you can top the cake with raspberries or sliced strawberries if you’re feeding the gang and it will all be eaten at one seating.
If this isn’t going to happen the berries could end up looking a bit sad.
Not to worry. here are other topping ideas: shaved chocolate or chocolate chips, whole or chopped nuts, unwrapped chocolate bonbons, maraschino cherries, cookies, frosting mounds, peaks or flowers… 
Have fun with it. 

Another good cake for special events is

                        Chocolate Cake

Place the rack in the centre of the oven.
grease 3 8 inch round pans
Preheat oven to 350º F          

Sift together into a medium bowl
2 1/4 Cups cake & pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a large mixer bowl
1/2 Cup butter, softened
2 1/4 Cups lightly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
Cream on medium speed of electric mixer for 5 minutes.

While the butter is being creamed, place in a microwaveable bowl 
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
Melt in microwave.

After the butter mixture has been beaten for 5 minutes, beat in
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
the melted chocolate

While you’re adding the dry ingredients and sour cream, heat to boiling
1 Cup water

Add the dry ingredients alternately with
1 Cup sour cream
Mix lightly until smooth.

Stir in the boiling water. The batter will be thin. Don’t worry. It’s okay.
Pour the batter into the greased pans.

Bake until the cake layers are done, about 35 minutes.
A toothpick inserted in the centre of each should come out clean.
Yes, test each one. Trust me.

Let the 3 cake layers cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the pans and place the layers on the racks.
Let them cool completely.

                        Chocolate Filling 

Place in a microwaveable bowl  
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
Melt in microwave.

Place in a large mixer bowl
1/2 Cup butter, softened
1/3 Cup light cream
the melted unsweetened chocolate
Beat until creamy.
Gradually add in
3 to 3 1/2 Cups sifted icing sugar
Beat until light and fluffy.

Cut 2-inch-wide strips of wax paper.
Place a layer upside down on a serving plate.
Arrange the wax paper under the cake to protect the plate.
Spread some filling over the layer with a spatula.
Place the second layer on top and spread some filling over it.
Place the third layer on top. Do not cover it with the filling.
Smooth the remaining filling over the sides.
Chill 30 minutes.
Remove the wax paper strips.

                        Chocolate Glaze

Place in a microwaveable bowl
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons strong coffee
Heat in a microwave until the chocolate is melted.
Remove from microwave.
3 Tablespoons butter, softened  
Stir until smooth.
Spread the glaze over the top layer and let it drizzle down the sides.