Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting to the Good Stuff

I've mentioned my frustration about not being in the right place at the right time to find lamb around here, either at a butcher or at the local supermarket. Not that it's the freshest quality, but it turns out the Commissary has ground lamb and chops in their frozen meat section. I'm so hard-wired toward "fresh" that it never occurred to me to look there. Fortunately, my friend filled me in on the glories to be found in the frozen meat case. Jerusalem contains several ground lamb recipes, so I loaded up (to the extent that my teeny freezer would allow).

Kofta B'siniyah (pg 195) caught my eye, primarily because of the pretty picture in the book. These are lamb and veal meatballs (I may have a tough time finding lamb, but veal is all over these Italian supermarkets), mixed with onion, garlic, toasted pine nuts (which I totally forgot to add. I had them, but I didn't use them), parsley, red chili pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper. The meatballs are sweetly spiced and lovely on their own, but then they sit in a little pool of tahini sauce. Yup. Yup. These were good. They want to be surrounded by gyro fixins and shoved into pita or something. Matt did just that with leftovers last night after deciding that the fajitas I made were not filling enough.

Conclusion: Liked it. These were no harder to make than any other meatball, and satisfy my "What can I cook that's not Italian food?" craving. If you didn't know, there is very little diversity here, restaurant-wise. Not that I'm complaining about Italian food. It's phenomenal. Sometimes a girl just wants a lamb meatball and some tahini sauce, though.

I made Balilah (pg 102) as a side dish. More chickpeas. This time, mixed together with a butt-load of parsley, green onions, olive oil, cumin, and a chopped up lemon. I ate plenty of it while trying to determine whether or not I liked it. In the end, I decided that I'd rather eat the spiced chickpeas from last week. These leftovers tasted alarming in my scrambled eggs. In case you were wondering, lemon does not improve eggs.

Conclusion: Just okay.

I get the feeling that Ottolenghi would be horrified if he knew that I was using canned chickpeas for his recipes. There are some cookbooks that seem to encourage you to play with or modify their recipes. This is not one of them. There is at least one instance where an intro quotes the person who gave him their recipe as forbidding any changes. I can't pinpoint why, but the book just seems to have a "do it exactly as I write it or don't do it at all" vibe. And he's probably right. Still, I'm using canned chickpeas. Don't tell.

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