Meats of Strength for a Feast of Strength: Roast Leg of Lamb

I wanted to ring in New Year’s 2013 with a celebratory roast, and lo, inspiration did cometh unto 10th and M St. some time in December with the idea to prepare leg of lamb:

And he said unto them, prepareth thy meats of strength rare to medium rare

And I sayeth unto you, prepare thy meats of strength rare to medium rare

This probably came from two sources – (a) In The Hobbit Tolkien waxes gastronomic about the diet of trolls, which consists of all kinds of delicious roasted meats, at which point I became strangely hungry (b) Years of exposure to verses like this one from Deuteronomy 32:

He nourished him with honey from the rock,
    and with oil from the flinty crag,
14 with curds and milk from herd and flock
    and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan
    and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.

Lo, a feast of strength surely begins with oil from the flinty crag, but thou will likely struggleth to find it at your local grocery store.  Fortunately Whole Foods carries delicious cuts of meat so I was able to put everything together the morning of.  Lamb seemed like the most celebratory of meats, as well as the one to enjoy before the NYE resolutions kick-in. For the line immediately after the passage above doth warn: “Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness.”

But seriously lo, who cares about that on NYE, let’s roast!

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Little Prince Pilau – the SOP

The fresh LP…

Today we went over to Zenna Babu’s house to meet the Little Prince.  We picked up Goodluck near Makatona Pub to show us the way, then kicked it for a spell in Zenna’s living room sipping on Serengeti and listening to gospel.  Then we ate pilau.

Pilau is like an East African pilaf – masala seasoned meat and vegetables cooked with rice.   But pilau at Zenna’s is extra special, maybe because of Little Prince, or maybe because of her SOP, or maybe because she cooks it with her sister.

My homework is to replicate the Little Prince Pilau back in the US, but we think it best to share the original here first, since I’m sure I’ll muck it up with my own ideas back in Cali…

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Pesto di Noce

The orchard and its flock

It’s officially fall, which means no more 100 degree days.  Out in Winters fall isn’t colored in the mosaic of reds, yellows, and browns of Michigan or Eastern states.  Trees don’t drop their leaves, they drop their nuts. Acorns, buckeyes, pine nuts, and walnuts.  So in honor of dropping nuts, it was pesto time.

I thought about a crafting a traditional pesto using pine nuts from the grey pine, or ghost pine (digger pine if you’re racist), but  it seemed like a lot of work.  Picking cones, placing them in a burlap bag and then bashing the bag to break up the cones, finally working through the mess to pick out the nuts, which are reportedly tasty, though not as rich in fat and oil as Pinon or the pine nuts of the Fertile Crescent.  According to this guy, working with wild pine nuts is a labor of love.  Walnuts on the other hand, simply require shelling, like a good domesticated orchard crop should.

Out in Winters we are surrounded by walnut orchards.  Basil, parsley and garlic grow in the garden.  Olive oil is produced down the road, so all that is missing from a rock solid country Pesto di Noce is a local Parmesan.  No luck.  Sorry localvores, this dish features a no good border crossing immigrant cheese.

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Fast Eddie’s Morning Oats

This morning we received the first recipe contribution from pops indirectly through email.  This is a no bullshit Grimm Gourmet style recipe for his habitual morning oatmeal, prepared every weekday since Atari released this game

Fast Eddie’s Morning Oats

In the morning, I just throw oats and water in a pan, boil, and then throw in fruit, olive oil butter, a little flax and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and it’s delish.  Takes @10 minutes.

Cast Iron Revival

Before we moved I cleaned the oven, on self clean.  But I didn’t check inside before locking it down and starting the cycle.  Then I turned on the light and sighed.  Cast iron dutch oven perfectly seasoned waiting for execution.  After 5 hours I opened the door and took out the charred remains of my favorite cooking tool – ashen, grey, brittle, just like this:

Two months later and I can’t braise or stew over charcoal without my Dutch buddy, so today I reconditioned it.  There are so many bad cast iron reconditioning methods out there I decided to contribute another post on the simple method.  Ignore all the online traffic calling for aerosolized chemical oven cleaners, vinegar, rubber gloves, steel wool, power sanders, and a wicked variety of bad ideas.  Instead, find a potato, cut it in half, grab your salt shaker and head outside.

Method:

  1. Pour salt into cast iron pan (fine or course – both work great, you can even do this with sand)
  2. Take your potato in hand, and scrub inside and out, special attention on any rusty spots
  3. Rinse out the rust brown clumped residue with a hose or bucket of water
  4. Rub cooking oil all over the pan (inside and out)
  5. Put pan on the range over low heat for about 10 minutes
  6. Lightly dab any oil from the pan with a towel for storage

Why does this work?  The moisture in the potato works with the salt/sand like a wet sanding pad, rust removes rapidly with the moisture and abrasion, and in about 15 minutes you have a rust-free iron pan.  Oil starts the reconditioning process to build up that rich patina again.

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Hash It Out

Inspired by a little diner here in Ann Arbor, famous for their “Hippie Hash”, as well as a good friend up in Traverse City, we decided to take on making some hash.  At this point you may be wondering if we are going to be smoking this concoction at the end of preparation.  Not quite.  Although feel free to take a puff in honor of Fleetwood’s dish.

Making a delicious hash is the ideal way to clean out your refridgerator.  We think its best when it’s especially spicy, so make sure to modify yours accordingly.

Start by chopping up some potatoes into little peices–we had some yukons and some red skin potatoes, about 3 cups should be enough for dinner + lunch leftovers.

chop up the following veggies OR improvise and use whatever you may have.  However, we think swiss chard is a great component of hash.

Finished product

Above is what this may look like on completion.  Here is what we had in the fridge that we wanted to get rid of.

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Summery Burgers (y tacos accidentales)

Some time around February in New York, I got a little claustrophobic,  a little sick of the cold, and a little nostalgic for a grill and some personal space.

I figured I had the most control over the grilling aspect, so I tried mimicking a cilantro cream sauce I had at JoeDoe, threw together a carrot mango slaw I’d seen frequently at Westside Market, and then sauteed some teriyaki and mango infused burgers on the stovetop.  Not ideal, but paired with a few beers it was a nice wintry mix of summer color:

Siiiii, Aventura!

This probably looks way better than it was; I found both garnishes a little bland that night.  And at JoeDoe, you’d be dipping cheese curds in that cilantro sauce.  It’s only downhill from there.

A little disappointed in the burgers, something funny happened the next night when I channelled my inner taco truck.  Maybe there was less interference from a wheat bun, or maybe the flavors in the slaw and the cilantro sauce needed a night to bond; whatever it was, when I turned this stuff into tacos it got way tastier:

Much better

Due to the fact that I made this months ago with a hunch for a recipe, this will probably amount to the least helpful instructional toolkit of all time.  But you’ll at least find the building blocks for something colorful …  Continue reading