Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year! Good Times and Good Food!

It's no secret that the last quarter of 2008 presented us with a plethora of new challenges. I am excited that 2009 is finally here and look forward to the good times ahead.

These last several weeks Quent and I have been entertaining our children Josh (23) and Sarah (21) as well as Josh's girlfriend Michelle (19). We enjoyed a lovely holiday together and the kids have even pitched in at the gallery from time to time. Our adventures have included a trip to the city, to the coast and all around the valley.

It's always interesting to learn what their favorite pieces in the gallery are and to keep mental notes for possible gift giving occasions. Josh and Sarah rarely have much in common, but I am pleased that they are both big fans of Bryan Larsen. Josh recently announced that one of his new favorites is "There's Opportunity Here" and Sarah really likes "Deliberation." Both of them have enjoyed "How Far We've Come" since the first time they laid eyes on it. Both of them recently graduated from universities in Florida and will be entering the work force or going on to grad school. Hopefully each will be successful and some day be the proud owners of their favorite Bryan Larsen painting.

It's been pretty chilly in Napa these past couple of weeks. I've been enjoying the opportunity to cook a variety comfort food for my hungry family. After all, watching football on television, driving through the vineyards and playing Wii can build up quite an appetite. Tonight we feast on one of my all-time favorites, braised lamb shanks. There's nothing quite like the aroma of braised meat suffusing your home to get you salivating in joyous anticipation of the coming meal.
It's part ecstasy, part torture, as a great braised lamb shank recipe takes 3-4 hours to prepare.
My favorie recipe features a bottle of my favorite Bechard Zinfandel; half for the lamb and half for the chef.

If you have the need for some cold-wether comfort food, try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Linda's Braised Lamb Shanks

2 lamb shanks -- closely trimmed of fat
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions -- cut into eighths
3 medium carrots -- peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 celery stalk -- cut into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves garlic -- sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried Herbes de Provence
2 c Zinfandel or other good red wine
1 - 2 c beef stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325F.

Open the wine and pour yourself a glass

Generously season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb shanks and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients begin to brown. Add tomato paste, herbs, and garlic. add salt and pepper to taste. Cook an addition 1 1/2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, deglaze pan, and reduce by half. Return shanks to the pot and add enough beef stock to come halfway up the sides of the shanks.

Cover and place in the center of the oven, and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours, turning shanks over about halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with your favorite starch such as mashed potatoes, cous cous, polenta or rice.


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