Thursday, March 24, 2011
The doctor declared my "particularly violent" flu demanded 5 days off work. That was on Tuesday, when I felt like my ears were going to explode inside my head. He told me I looked miserable. I was. Wednesday I embraced romantic comedies on the couch like there was no tomorrow, and against all better judgement even shed a tear at a movie I'm too embarrassed to name because it most definitely does not warrant tears, at any point. The drugs had definitely kicked in and this morning I had lofty dreams of getting up and going for a walk to the supermarket. I made it as far as the kitchen, for my daily food-juice-drug dose and swiftly needed another nap. Mid-afternoon though and I made it to Moore Wilson's. The sunshine sure helped. Buying too much and having to walk home with 4 bags of groceries did not.
I made it though, and after a big rest with more drugs and juice, I felt well and stir-crazy enough to embrace the kitchen like a long-lost friend. In possession of the latest Cuisine magazine, and a lamb shoulder and an aubergine, I braised them under instruction. It's rare that I follow a recipe exactly, and even serve it with what the recipe suggests. But this I did, and a delicious dinner was served. It was really very tasty. The aromatic cinnamon went with the soft lamb perfectly.
Braised Lamb and Eggplant (From the March 2011 edition of Cuisine magazine)
900g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
oil for frying
2 onions, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (optional, more or less according to taste)
400g tin of tomatoes
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 large eggplant, cut into thirds then large wedges
Season the malb with salt and pepper then brown in a heavy saucepan with a little oil. Remove the lamb from the pan and add the onions. Fry gently without colouring until soft, then add the cinnamon, allspice, cumin and chilli flakes. Cook until fragrant.
Return the lamb to the pan along with the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover with a circle of parchment paper (I used baking paper. Apparently this is swankily called a 'cartouche') and put the lid on. Simmer on a very low heat for 1 hour. Check occasionally and add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick (I didn't need too, by the way).
Meanwhile, salt the eggplant (so it soaks up less oil) and place on a colander for 30 minutes to drain off any liquid. Rinse and squeeze dry.
Heat around a 1/4 cup of oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant on all sides until golden (it doesn't have to be cooked through). Place the eggplant on paper towels to drain off excess oil, then place in the pan with the lamb, after it has simmered for an hour. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until lamb is tender (I gave it another hour).
Serve with rice and spinach wilted in a dash of oil, 2 sliced garlic cloves, a squeeze of lemon juice and a knob of butter.
I've also got a plum and yoghurt cake in the oven, which I'm taking along to Good Morning tomorrow! I'll share the recipe with you then. I also have some fruit soaking in tea for another of Nigella's spiced tea loaves. And I have a bag of carrots which will swiftly becoming baby hummingbird cakes over the weekend. While I was sick I also found myself dreaming and writing about Laos, so who knows where that will lead kitchen wise...nothing like a few days being bedridden (and an alcohol-free-antibiotics-induced weekend ahead) to get re-inspired and reacquainted with the kitchen!