Hopefully you’ll forgive me for my disappearance.
I really haven’t cooked at all since I’ve been back home, with the exception of Mother’s Day. Within the last year or so, my Dad and I have successfully joined forces in the kitchen to make good food for my Mom (hi Mom!) – whether for her birthday or Mother’s Day.
This year, I unfortunately had to work the evening of Mother’s Day, but we made an awesomely huge lunch to make up for it.
First up is grilled lamb chops. Yes, lamb. As many of you may have observed, this blog is called everything but the baa. I’ve undoubtedly explained this in the past, but will reiterate here. I try to avoid eating lamb. Not because it tastes badly, but because of how much I enjoy living lambs. I make exceptions for occasions such as these, because lamb is one of my Mom’s favorite things.
Having said that, here is roughly what we did.
I have to say, I highly prefer grilled lamb over roasted. Then again, I find I tend to have a preference toward almost anything grilled. I enjoy the smokey flavor. Initially, we thought the sauce’s recipe called for too much lemon zest so we halved it. Personally, I would have appreciated the full amount, but even with half it tasted wonderfully. The lemon serves two purposes here. The zest functions as an aromatic enhancement, while the juice brightens the intensity of all the herbs. I thought the combination of mint and rosemary with lamb seemed a little tired, and was so happy to find this recipe. The thyme and parsley pair quite well with lamb.
We decided to go with a surf-and-turf theme and make some serious crab cakes. Seafood is one of my favorite food groups (in fact, I think it may be THE favorite), but I make it a point to avoid restaurant crab cakes at all cost. In fact, you should avoid commercial crab cakes as well. It’s well-known that the cakes are nothing but filler (be it bread crumbs, crushed crackers, or whatever other non-crab ingredient they throw in there). I actually quite pride myself on these cakes, adopted from here.
I only had 1 lb. of jumbo lump crab meat, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly. The bottoms were a little crispy, at which I initially freaked out. However, it worked out well, because crispy crab meat is delicious. After they came out of the oil, I set them on a plate lined with two paper towels. Do this, otherwise the oil will sit in the cakes and make them soggy and greasy (and who wants that?). Next time, I would probably increase the amount of Worcestershire sauce a little bit, as well as the mustard. I love the taste of crab (more than lobster, if I’m honest), but I wanted some more of the other flavors in the cakes. Nevertheless, these cakes were great because I was able to control how much filler went into them. Once you make these, there is no going back to those….excuses you get at most restaurants.
And finally, for the vegetable component to the meal, I blanched some green beans and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple, but so good with lamb. The beans were so crunchy and full of vibrancy. In fact, a squirt of lemon juice over them would’ve been great.
And that is that! I made blackberry souffles (first try ever!) for breakfast, but never took pictures. They turned out nicely, but I wasn’t that enthusiastic about them. I guess I expected something different (I’ve never had a souffle before).
Oh, fun fact. I turned 21 this past Tuesday, and to celebrate, I got cannolis instead of a birthday cake. If you are in the Central Jersey area, PLEASE go to this bakery. They have a location in Brooklyn (which is what the site links to), and one on Middlesex Ave in Metuchen. They have some of the finest cannolis I have had the pleasure of eating. Good bakeries are dying out, so SUPPORT THEM (but leave all the cannolis for me)!
I have decided that this week will focus on comfort foods.
Stewing is a great way of putting meat and vegetables together and coming out with a tender, flavorful dish. Stewing, as far as I can tell, is the preferred cooking method for many comfort foods. It makes sense, historically speaking. People did not have the luxury of picking and choosing lean cuts of meat. The tougher parts needed some extra time to cook, and what better way of doing that than stewing? It’s the “set it and forget it” of the olden days.
Tonight’s dish comes from Iraq. It’s called Thareed (depending on who is transliterating, it could be spelled a number of ways), and is essentially a chicken and chick pea stew. It’s Iraqi comfort food to say the least, and is traditionally served with a bread called khubz al-tannour.
The recipe I originally had for this was for serving 6 people, so I scaled it back and used only what I had on hand. So, it’s my take on Thareed.
*the following is for one serving, with some leftovers*
1 chicken thigh, cut in half
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 small golden potatoes, quartered
1 can white beans
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
3 c water
salt & pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
Flatbread of your liking
After gathering your ingredients, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, potatoes, bay leaf, turmeric, garam masala and salt. Cook until onions and potatoes are browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and water to the mix, stirring. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium and simmer uncovered until the chicken is tender. This will take about 25 minutes.
Add the beans. Cook for another 5 or so minutes. Ladle the stew over the flatbread. Squeeze some lemon or lime over, and you’re set.
The original recipe calls for curry powder, *not* garam masala. I did not have curry powder on hand, so I used what I felt was closest. The original recipe also calls for chick peas, *not* white beans. Again, I had no chick peas on hand. I also had no flatbread, and used leftover rice instead. If I had to do it over, I’d get the curry powder and I’d get the bread. I think the dish suffered without these ingredients. Although this dish wasn’t what I would consider a complete success, it happens and you, reader(s) should know.
Overall, I think this dish has pushed me toward one conclusion: I’m sick of stews at this point. This meal was hearty and flavorful, but I think I’ve stewed myself to capacity (I blame you, winter).
Tomorrow, I am off to a screening of Shutter Island, and Wednesdays are my leftover days…Thursday’s dinner: Golabki (Stuffed cabbage)!
Chickpeas and purple potatoes – the first of my leftovers to go. I know it seems like I’m obsessed with purple potatoes, but you should know that this is the first dish I made using them. Anyway, this meal could not be quicker or easier to make. It’s really adaptable to whatever your tastes are. It is also a take on a Lebanese bean and potato casserole.
1-1 1/2 cup of dried beans of your choice (I used 1 can of low sodium, rinsed beans)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP parsley, chopped
approximately 6 or 7 small purple potatoes (you will have to eyeball this depending on what you want your ratio of beans to potatoes to be)
2-4 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
Scrub the potatoes, chop them into cubes. Chop up your parsley now, too. In fact, just grab all your herbage and things you’ll need now. Heat the olive oil in a skillet (preferably one with sides).
Add the potatoes and toss in the oil until they are golden brown. Once browned,
add 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and cover. The potatoes will steam for 7 minutes before being fork tender. If you can, resist the urge to lift the lid and check on things. Sure, shake the skillet every once and a while, but no opening.
While that’s happening, get out another skillet and heat up some oil. Dump the garlic and parsley in the oil, and fry it up for like 2 minutes, if that. Add this to the potatoes, along with your beans and turmeric. Toss everything together, and then serve.
This recipe may serve about 1-2 people, depending on how hungry you are.