Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fingers Crossed

Charlie was sick to his stomach all night. Around 5:30 this morning, Matt got sick, too. I figure it's only a matter of time before I'm taken down, so while I'm exposing myself to contagion, snuggling with wee man on the couch, I might as well catch up on a few recipes that I've neglected to post about. If I'm lucky, it'll distract me from the annoying voice of Annie on Little Einsteins. In general, I really like this show (and am always surprised and delighted when I'm listening to Ben Folds and Charlie announces, "That piano sounds happy"), but seriously. Annie has to be a producer's daughter or something. Her voice is nails on the chalkboard of my brain.

Last week, I made Roasted Lamb Chops with Charmoula (pg 62 of The Epicurious Cookbook). This was easy (score: 1). Blitz cumin seeds, parsley, mint (which I couldn't get my hands on), cilantro, garlic, paprika, salt, cayenne, and lemon juice in a food processor. Still running the machine, add olive oil. You're supposed to marinate the lamb in this mixture for 4-24 hours. I only marinated mine for the time it took me to prepare the rest of the meal. Still good. The recipe instructs you to place a rack on a baking sheet and roast the chops in the oven. My cooling racks are coated with something, so I wasn't about to put them in the oven. I grilled the chops on the stove instead. This seems faster and more straightforward to me, anyway.

Conclusion: I seem to love every lamb recipe I come across, and this one is no exception. Delish! 
I made Creamed Spinach from Nigella's Feast (pg 207) to accompany the lamb. Holy moly. I could have eaten the entire pot myself. With a stick of butter and a cup of heavy cream, this is way too caloric to be anything but a special occasion vegetable, but it is so, so good. It makes me laugh that Nigella says to "heat the butter -- using less if this amount frightens you." It did frighten me, Nigella. I used half a stick of butter, and didn't miss the other four tablespoons.

I've only had creamed spinach out of a can, and never liked it. This homemade version is rich and nutmeggy and cozy. I added a can of while beans to it, just for kicks, and Matt said he loved it with the beans, and didn't think he'd like it as much without the beans, for textural reasons. I could eat it either way.

Conclusion: Loved it. Dangerously delicious.

Back to Epicurious, I made Black Bean Soup with Cumin and Jalapeno (pg 220). In hopes that Charlie would taste some, I toned down the heat. Instead of using an entire hot pepper, seeds and all, I only used the flesh. I don't think including the seeds would have changed my opinion of this all that much, though. It was kind of bland. I might feel more favorably toward it if I wasn't already in love with Nigella's black bean soup from How to Eat. Nigella's is more time-consuming (though not that much more actual work), but it's also a lot more flavor.
Conclusion: Just okay.

Last night, I made Salmon Cakes (pg 25 of TEC). A few things concerned me during the process, but it all turned out ok. The salmon in my freezer had skin on it. I worried that it would be hard to cut the skin off, but it really wasn't. Then, after I was midway through cutting my second fillet into bits, I felt bones. Nooooooo! the fillets were supposed to be boneless. I felt around, picked a few out, and hoped for the best. Fortunately, I didn't find any while I was eating them.

The raw salmon is mixed with torn up bits of pita bread, mayo, an egg, coriander, cayenne, and lemon zest (though I used tangerine zest, b/c that's what I had). There's also supposed to be chives in there, but I didn't have any. Then you just make patties and cook them in a little oil for a few minutes. I worried that they'd fall apart. I worried that they wouldn't cook through. Everything worked perfectly.
Conclusion: Loved them. Crispy on the outside, soft, yet solid on the inside. Chives would make them even better. I might try them with only one pita bread instead of two. I think I'd prefer a different bread to fish ratio, assuming that messing with it doesn't impact how it sticks together. Really good, just as it is, though. It's supposed to be served with a lemon yogurt sauce, but I omitted that part b/c I'm doing WeightWatchers again. In case you care about point values of things, best I can tell, each patty is 7 points. I served it with a delicious 3 pt serving of Warm French Lentils from Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That? Yummy meal.


  1. Feel better soon!! It looks like you had some wonderful meals :)

  2. I spent last weekend at my daughter’s house to celebrate her twins 6th birthday…they both woke up with fevers…I can only say I hope it didn’t come home with me! Oh the black bean soup sounds wonderful!

  3. You have certainly been very busy, and it all looks so good. The lamb chops with the
    spinach and beans sounds wonderful. Hope everyone is feeling better now. Have a great weekend.

  4. I covet the chops something chronic! Here's hoping your family gets well soon and that you avoid the mystery illness.

  5. Although, frankly, I enjoyed your Post about buying broccoli at the Commissary more than anything you have ever written, this was also an interesting Post. First, I am sorry you're all sick. That sucks. Especially when Mom gets it. I have never made one thing of Nigella Lawson's and you and many others rave about her recipes. (I am in great sympathy with her problems so will probably buy a few of her cookbooks just to show support.) Although I read the Epicurious Blog, I have never seen the cookbook. You seem to like the recipes. I was at the Farmer's Market today and bought some famous medjool dates. Guess what salad I am going to make this week-end? Get better.