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)!
Last night, I got Chinese takeout to have while watching a movie. There is something comforting about having Chinese while watching movies.
In spirit of comfort food, I rounded out the week with one of my favorite meals: sausage, peppers and onions on a hard roll. I don’t know why, but it’s one dish that really reminds me of home. We aren’t Italian but, we make this dish often. I actually associate it with the Kutztown festival in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. It’s a celebratory festival of Pennsylvania-Dutch culture full of kitschy arts and crafts, and REALLY good sausages. As a kid, I always looked forward to having a good sausage, peppers and onions sandwich…along with funnel cake afterward. My family and I would go to the festival around 4th of July, and we’d pick up fireworks to smuggle back to New Jersey on our way home. Ah, writing this is making me homesick and nostalgic.
I picked up this sausage from Trader Joe’s. To be honest, I wasn’t really impressed with it. I forget which kind of sausage I picked up, but I think next time I’d go for a spicier one. I cooked two sausages so I could have leftovers for lunch tomorrow or something.
2 hard rolls
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1. chop everything, get your ingredients together.
2. in a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. once fragrant, dump the onions in there. stirring occasionally, cook them until they are starting to brown. add the pepper slices, and cook until the onion has completely caramelized.
3. as for the sausage, i used my george foreman grill. if you have one, set it on medium heat and cook the sausages for about 6 minutes. you can also bake the sausages at 350F degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or sautee them in a skillet until they have browned nicely, and are no longer pink.
4. heat up some tomato sauce (i highly recommend making your own) in a small saucepan.
Put the sausage in the bun, load it up with some peppers and onions, slather on some sauce and you’ve got an awesome, easy, flavorful dinner. I love the smell and taste of caramelized onions. It is by far one of my favorite condiments/accompaniments. And the sweet bell peppers balance the saltiness of the sausage really well. I got this really tasty wheat roll from a local market, which was crisp and crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside. Perfect.
Good evening, all.
I’m not a huge fan of pasta. Most of the time, I find it really uninspiring and mediocre. I’ve never had homemade pasta, so this could be why I’ve been reluctant to get into it.
However, in spirit of quick meals, I chose to make a spaghetti dish tonight. Spaghetti con acciughe e mollica is essentially spaghetti with bread crumbs and anchovies. To mine, I added a tomato, mint, thyme, spinach, a leek, some lemon and some feta cheese.
Revamped spaghetti con acciughe e mollica
inspiration for this was found here
about two handfuls of spaghetti (so, maybe…a little less than half a box?)
about two handfuls of spinach (but you can really add however much you want..)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 TBSP crumbled feta cheese
12 anchovy fillets packed in oil, minced — reserve the oil (remove the spine of the fish and fry them up for later! the bones are so delicate, you can eat them with no problem)
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs thyme, minced
2 sprigs mint, minced
1 tomato, diced
3/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted
pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
Get all your ingredients together. Mince the garlic, anchovies, herbs. Dice the tomato, chop the leek, get everything nice and organized.
Throw your breadcrumbs on a small skillet over low heat. I used panko bread crumbs, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Toast them until they’re evenly browned. You’re going to want to shake them every now and then because they’ll burn quickly.
In a medium saucepan, start boiling some water. Dump your spaghetti in, and cook until al dente (I cook my spaghetti for about 5-7 minutes because I like it preeetttyyy al dente).
While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the anchovy oil and extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Dump your garlic, anchovies, and leek in. Sautee that for about a minute. Then, add the tomato. Sautee for another minute or two. Add your spinach, thyme, and mint. Cook until the spinach has wilted. At this point you’ll be able to decide whether you want to add more spinach or not, as it loses a lot of volume once it wilts.
Drain the spaghetti and put it in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Add about half of the breadcrumbs and toss well. Add the feta and the rest of the breadcrumbs, remove from the heat. Toss again. Squeeze some lemon juice on it, toss a little bit more, and serve.
I garnished it with a little bit of mint I had leftover. I think the dish came out quite well. It’s a fusion dish, I guess, and a very satisfying one at that (particularly after an hour of kickboxing!). I have never used anchovies before, so this was a bit of an experimentation. I think a lot of people tend to assume that adding anchovies to a dish means it’ll reek of fish and taste horribly salty and fishy. This is not the case at all whatsoever. The anchovies add a hint of salty greatness, and I guarantee even your most anti-fish diners would never know they were in the dish. I will definitely be using them in the future.