Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Returns

Oh, gosh. Hi. It's nice to see you again.

I could pretend that I didn't go on another long hiatus, and just launch right back into blogging as though nothing happened. But I should probably address the situation, straight on. I didn't blog, because life is wonderfully busy, mostly with lots of work in radio.

I also left the country for nearly a month. We went on a trip in July, Andrew and I. Several days in Paris, and several more in Sweden.

The highlights? A wedding in the north of Sweden, near a city called Luleo. The bride was Sri Lankan, and we feasted on warm curries under the (nearly) midnight sun. I also discovered something Swedish called smörgåstårta --- sandwich cake. And it really is that: a cake made out of sandwiches. With shrimp and ham and pickles and tangy mayonnaise -- tangy because it's mixed with Baltic herring. And they rolled it out in the wee hours of the drunken morning.

I'm going make sandwich cake one day. I have a recipe, you know.

Andrew, in Sweden

Now, on to business. This is a hefty salad I've been meaning to share with you. It's originally a Jamie Oliver recipe from Jamie at Home, but it comes to me via the lovely blogger Beth Palmer. So it's changed hands a few times. I've made it many times in my own kitchen, and it's starting to morph, as recipes do.

It's hard to find the right name for this thing. Jamie Oliver calls it an Indian Carrot Salad. I think its more about the ground lamb, and I'm not sold on its authenticity as an Indian dish. Beth calls it Lamb Salad, and I think she's on to something.

I can say, at least, that it's definitely a salad. It's warm, and delicately spiced with garam masala. Shallots, cilantro and mint punctuate the dressing. I always serve it as a meal course, piled high in distinct layers. But tossle it around before you eat it. A bite of this, a bit of that. Let the shallots surprise you.

Spiced lamb salad
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe in Jamie at Home
Serves two as a main course

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala -- you may want to adjust by adding more
  • 4-5 good sized carrots, shaved into long ribbon-like strips (use a mandolin or a regular peeler) You should come up with two large handfuls.
  • A genourous handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Nearly as much fresh mint, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • A thumbsized nub of ginger, peeled and grated (should come out to a teaspoon or so)
  • 2-3 shallots, very thinly sliced
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

In a dry skillet, briefly toast the sesame seeds on high heat. Be careful, it happens very fast! When they're golden, set them aside.

Now, prepare the dressing. Combine the shallots, ginger, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt. Whisk together with enough olive oil to turn it into a dressing. I would say three tablespoons should do the trick. Jamie asks for five. Use your judgement. Set the dressing aside.

On two plates, arrange the cilantro and mint. Think, bed-of-lettuce, only they're herbs.

Now, in an ungreased , non-stick skillet(perhaps the one you toasted your seeds in?), fry the lamb up with the garam masala. Here, I fry it a bit longer than I normally would. When it is rather crisp, take it out of the skillet, using a slotted spoon. Leave the spiced lamb fat in the skillet.

With the skillet still hot, briefly fry the carrots in that lovely garam masalaed fat.

To assemble the salad, first pile lamb atop each of the beds of herbs. Then the carrots. Pour the dressing over the carrots. Now scatter the sesame seeds, and serve immediately.