So for my “50 Dishes by 50” quest, I decided to have another go at lamb. I made it myself, and here’s what I discovered: Lamb chops are a whole lot different than leg of lamb.

Recipe 43:

I’ve never been a fan of lamb. I have never ordered it at a restaurant, and I’ve never cooked it in my house.

Oh, I’ve tried to like it, but I just never could get past that distinct flavor. I’m kind of embarrassed about it, actually. I’ve always considered it a culinary flaw of sorts.

So for my “50 Dishes by 50” quest, I decided to have another go at lamb. I made it myself, and here’s what I discovered: Lamb chops are a whole lot different than leg of lamb.

Seasoned with garlic and herbs and seared in a hot pan, the tender meat tasted like filet with a mildly exotic flavor. It was delicious, with an almost buttery flavor –– by the way, I bought free-range lamb chops.

Another culinary flaw is my loathing of sweet pickles. However, I have no intention of overcoming it.

Giada’s Lamb Chops

2 large garlic cloves, crushed 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves Pinch cayenne pepper Coarse sea salt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 3-6 lamb chops, about 3⁄4-inch thick

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, cayenne and salt. Pulse until combined. Pour in olive oil, and pulse into a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops and let them marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow the chops to come to room temperature; it will take about 20 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add chops and sear for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until deeply golden. Check for doneness. (I like them medium-well, so I placed the ovenproof pan under the broiler for a few minutes).

-- Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network

Recipe 44:

Several years ago, I happened upon a recipe for grilled grapes. I’ve thought about it ever since, but for the life of me, I could not remember which cookbook it was in. With more than a hint of fall in the air this weekend, I got to thinking about harvest time and vineyards, and that recipe came to mind.

Lo and behold, I happened to be leafing through a favorite cookbook and came across it! I found it in “Farms & Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate,” by Marilou Suszko.

Surely, this was a sign to make the grapes. I did, and I love how the roasted rosemary and grapes meld to create a unique autumnal flavor. I didn’t have any Ohio grapes on hand, so I used store-bought red seedless grapes. They cook great; they just tend to fall off the cluster. I’m looking forward to finding local grapes at area farmers markets.

Grilled Grapes

1 hearty bunch of seedless red Ohio grapes, such as Reliance or Mars variety, washed, dried and left as a cluster 4 sprigs fresh rosemary Extra virgin olive oil

Remove any shriveled or bruised grapes from the bunch. Tuck the sprigs of rosemary between the clusters and grapes. Lightly brush or spray the surface of the grapes with olive oil. Preheat the grill to medium high. Place grapes in a grill pan, then put the pan on the grates and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until the grapes are warm and show grill marks. Transfer to a plate and serve with toasted baguettes, cheeses and wine.

-- “Farms & Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate,” by Marilou Suszko

Recipe 45:

Whenever my father came to visit me while I was a student at Ohio State, he would take me to dinner at The Wine Cellar in Columbus. Without fail, he would order French onion soup and Beef Wellington.

It was my first introduction to the elegant entree, which in essence, is beef filet cooked in a golden puff pastry crust. Recipes for the dish vary and often include additional ingredients, such as a layer of ham, pate, mushrooms or mustard, between the beef and dough.

I found a recipe from chef Gordon Ramsay that seemed right for me. It calls for slathering the beef in mustard, then wrapping it in prosciutto and ground mushrooms before adding the pastry cloak.

One reason I like this recipe is because Ramsay has a YouTube video of the process, complete with two-word instructions and punchy background music. The upbeat presentation is a little more than two minutes long and completely demystifies the dish. Definitely check it out before attempting the recipe.

I enjoyed making the beautiful entrée, and I have to say, I was pretty full of myself as I plated it up. I couldn’t help think of my dad as I ate it, and I wished I would have thought to make it for him before he passed away in 2005.

Beef Wellington

4 large portobello mushroom caps, roughly chopped Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Olive oil 1 1⁄2 pound piece of beef filet 1-2 tablespoons English mustard* 6-8 slices of Parma ham, also known as prosciutto 1 sheet from box of ready-made puff pastry Flour, to dust 3 egg yolks, beaten

Put the mushrooms into a food processor with a touch of salt and pepper. Pulse to a paste. Scrape paste into a skillet and cook over a high heat for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently, to cook out the moisture from the mushrooms. Spread out on a plate to cool.

Heat a frying pan over high heat and add a little olive oil. Season the beef with sea salt and sear in the hot pan for 30 seconds on each side. You don’t want to cook it at this stage, just brown it. Remove the beef from the pan and let cool. Brush all over with mustard.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and arrange the Parma ham slices on it, in slightly overlapping rows. With a spoon, spread the mushroom paste over the ham, then place the seared beef fillet in the middle. Keeping a tight hold of the plastic wrap, neatly roll the Parma ham and mushrooms around the beef to form a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends of the plastic to secure. Chill for 15-20 minutes to allow the beef to set and keep its shape.

Place one sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface. Remove the plastic wrap from the beef, then lay in the center. Brush the surrounding pastry with egg yolk. Fold the ends over, the wrap the pastry around the beef, cutting off any excess. Turn over, so the seam is underneath. Place on a baking sheet. Brush pastry sides and top with egg yolk and chill for about 15 minutes to let the pastry rest.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly score the pastry at 1⁄2-inch intervals and glaze again with beaten egg yolk. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 350 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Slice no less than 1-inch thick. Should be pink in center.

* In a pinch, use a combination of regular mustard with honey mustard.

-- Adapted from chef Gordon Ramsay