This is how my evening started at 4pm on Saturday night. I ended up making a delicious dinner, but I actually didn’t like it, and that’s a great little piece of discovery. What I mean is that after about 3 1/2 hours in the kitchen with prep, cleanup and cooking…..I like simple. A simple Italian meal with a light sauce and fresh pasta. A baked chicken with veggies. A slow cooker chili or meat. Seafood. Any kind of seafood. Light and healthy.
The 2008 Cakebread Zinfandel was lovely. Big wine, big dinner.
Not that this meal I made here wasn’t delicious. There was flavor everywhere, but maybe there were TOO many. I wasn’t quite sure where they were coming from.
So here’s my story. Stick with it, it does come to a point down the page somewhere.
First though, I want to thank the Homemade with Mess blog for a beautiful recipe. Herb crusted lamb chops with pomegranate dressing sounds tremendous in theory. And when I first read the post, I said, ” Yes, I shall make this and it will be the most delicious, fancy dinner in all the land”. Four hours later, I was re-thinking my decision and re-defining the way I think about food and cooking.
Call it a night of discovery, of finding out cooking comfort zones, of finding out what’s meaningful to you when it comes to food and cooking, and truly knowing you really want a gas range.
I love lamb. I love grainy mustard. I love fresh herbs and I love pomegranate. Combine all these thing together to make a meal and I’m thinking that nothing could go wrong. This would be a challenging meal with several moving parts, not to mention several simultaneous pans…and I’m not very adept at time management in the kitchen. You can find me with a small glass of wine, chopping parsley or basil or time or rosemary without a care in the world, music playing. Then see pop my head up in surprise and exclaim, “Oops, forgot about the meat in the Dutch oven” or something to that effect. Me and coordinated multitasking in the kitchen don’t mix. And that was the biggest problem last night!
I was asked last week what I enjoy about cooking: I like the creativeness of it, finding out what happens to favors when you mix and match. Prepping veggies and food is calming to me. I like music and knives, what can I say. I like the way the kitchen smells during different stages of the meal. I like trying new things and just seeing what the result is.
Cooking to me is part adrenaline and part
feartrepidation to an extent. When you get down to it, when the food is in the oven or the pan, several points are converging and you’re two minutes away from plating up and you’re not sure if the main course is cooked the way you want it…..to me that’s “fear”, but the excitement of putting it together and presenting it and digging in to see how it turns out? That’s the fun. If I screw it up, it probably isn’t going to taste horrible, and I try again tomorrow, you know?
Back to the meal last night. One part I was excited about was the pomegranate sauce. This I found to be a long process, but worth it taste wise. Basically I had to geind the seeds in a food processor, then pass through the sieve to get the juice:
A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed in, on to the stove, bring to a boil, then back to a simmer for 30 minutes. It turned into a beautifully rich syrup for topping the chops off.
I also made celery and carrot purée. The recipe called for a celeriac purée, but there was no celeriac to be found, so I improvised a touch. Both were very tasty. I cooked them in separate pans with a little bit of butter, salt/pepper, one small clove of garlic chopped up for each and some chicken broth on simmer until they were soft. Used the food processor for each, a little bit of cream to each, as well. The purée got warmed up later with the potatoes in the oven. Turned out to be a nice accompaniment to the lamb chops.
Below is the herb crust paste for the lamb chops: fresh parsley, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, a few tablespoons of plain bread crumbs, paprika, cumin….and whole grain mustard. I’m a huge mustard fan, and the flavor this mustard had with all the other stuff going on was tremendous.
Time for the little lamb chops to go into the pan. Tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. I went 90 seconds per side, then put the crust on one side, put them face down in the pan for another 2 1/2 minutes. I’d increase the cook time by 30 seconds or so all around due to how thick my chops were.
And the end result. I found some major difficulty in getting the chops out of the pan without ripping the crust off! Perhaps the heat was too high? The purée framed the chops nicely, the potatoes were baked with a touch of rosemary olive oil and salt/pepper.
Food. We all need it. Different tastes and styles and techniques. Influences, wines, herbs, and the gas vs. electric range top debates. Time and energy, resources, motivations and imagination. All of these things go through my head when I cook and it fascinates me. And I’ll keep trying recipes out from cool bloggers I follow. They probably will end up being fairly different from the original because I’m apt to find I don’t have something I need or I spaced in putting an ingredient in or I just had some sort of divine intervention and said, “Wait! I can put THIS in and it should taste awesome!” Or not. That’s what makes cooking fun for me.
Clean up as you go. Wash your hands often. I usually have a towel over my shoulder. I love music playing as I go. Maybe some wine to occasionally sip. The wonderful smells coming from the counter. That’s my kitchen. What’s yours like?