Easy Lamb Kofta (and a Giveaway!!!)
Huge thank you to Artisan Books, who partnered with me to bring you this badass giveaway!
Truth: I don’t miss culinary school all that often.
Just to state the obvious, I owe my career and possibly my relationship (would I have met my roommate if I hadn’t become a sassy Parisian??) to Le Cordon Bleu, so I’m all kinds of grateful for the experience/it will always hold a special place in my heart. But would I want to do that shiz all over again?
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here, but it’s hard to stop myself from laughing when people say it’s their dream to go to Le Cordon Bleu Paris one day “just for fun.” And that’s because I know they’re likely imagining it like I did before I arrived—days spent roasting chickens, drinking wine, and chopping onions à la Meryl in that Julie and Julia scene. Unfortunately, the reality is slightly more traumatic less romantic.
(And no, I can’t chop onions like that. Yes, the inability still irks me.)
Culinary school is most definitely NOT a vacation. (Would you wear a hairnet and orthopedic clogs on vacation??) It’s rigorous, sweaty, and at times downright SCARY. There are a lot of live sea creatures involved, and you actually use a blow torch and a meat cleaver on the daily. Every ingredient is provided in its whole form for you to break down, which is 100% necessary from a learning perspective, but not so fun when you perpetually smell like fish guts and have nightmares about deboning a rabbit in under 20 minutes. There’s a lot of yelling. (So much yelling!!) Mostly in French. Once, I had to buy eight pigeons to practice various cooking techniques on before a practical exam. My tiny Parisian kitchen looked like a bird graveyard, dammit!!
Like I said, I don’t pine for my LCB days all that much. Call me lazy, but I’m all too happy to purchase chickens sans feathers and ask the fish monger for a filet. I’m also very down with barefoot prep to the sweet sweet sounds of 90s hip hop Pandora or My Favorite Murder. However, there are a handful of things that I do miss about culinary school, the most obvious being the daily dose of inspiration. Every day at school, I learned something NEW. A new technique, a new ingredient, a new flavor combination, a new French swear word. It was exciting and for better or worse, I was never, ever bored.
I’m lucky that this site keeps me on my creative toes in the kitchen, but I still fall into an old-fashioned cooking rut from time to time, making the same meals over and over. (Quinoa bakes and avocado toast anyone?) On those days, I turn to my trusty cookbook collection for a little inspo, and lately The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School cookbook has been getting some serious love.
This gem of a book is written by Alison Cayne, owner of Haven’s Kitchen, the most fabulous cooking school and café in NYC. I’m pretty sure when people fantasize about cooking school, Haven’s Kitchen is exactly what they’re picturing—the classes are confidence building and practical but also SUPER FUN. So if you’re in NYC and want to pick up some serious skills, check it out. If not, you’re going to want to snag a copy of this book, which is full of not just droolworthy recipes, but also provides the fundamental building blocks that one needs to feel confident and comfortable in the kitchen. (Virtual chest bump.) It covers everything from basic knife cuts and how to cook every style of eggs to deep-frying, making your own stocks and dressing, and yes, even filleting a fish.
The globally inspired recipes in the book are simple but still impressive, and each one that I’ve tried has been an absolute home run, especially the super easy Lamb Kofta on your screen…
These lamb meatballs are a pared down version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, and they are straight fire, friends. I don’t make lamb all that often, so I’m grateful to Alison for giving me a nudge—I tend to forget how much I love its unique, slightly rich flavor. It’s delightful in these fabulously versatile kofta, which are loaded with fresh herbs, cumin and coriander, and come together in about half an hour. I served them as recommended with some hummus and a simple salad of parsley and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil and lemon, but they’d be equally epic in a bowl with couscous, tabbouleh, quinoa or greens, or wrapped in flatbread with tzatziki and your favorite veggie accoutrements. So many ways for you to do you here.
In the hope of inspiring some of you to harness your culinary potential, love the kitchen a little more, and maybe even fulfill a latent cooking school fantasy, I’m giving away a copy of The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School cookbook AND a Williams-Sonoma Stainless Steel Tool Set to one of you!!
To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment with a dish you’ve always wanted to make but felt to scared to try. The giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, July 23. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, July 24. THE GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.
Lamb Kofta: (Makes about 20 1½-inch meatballs/4 servings)
1 pound ground lamb
2 scallions (white and green parts), minced
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preparing your Lamb Kofta:
-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with parchment.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, scallions, parsley, cilantro, mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, and large pinch of salt.
-Use your hands to mix the ingredients and evenly distribute the seasonings throughout the meat.
-Form the mixture into 1½–inch balls using your hands. Set aside on the prepared baking sheet(s).
-Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and pour in enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil begins to shimmer, gently place the meatballs in a single layer—you’ll need to do this in batches. (Note that for meat to sear, the oil must be hot enough; it should sizzle when you place the lamb balls in the pan. Do not crowd the pan, as this will lower the oil temperature and create too much moisture, thus steaming rather than searing the meatballs.) Let the balls sear for 2 to 3 minutes, then rotate them until they are browned all over. Use a spoon or tongs to remove them from the pan and place back on the baking sheets.
-When all the balls have seared, bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
-Serve with hummus and cucumber salad, or your favorite flatbread/salad fixings.
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