|Moroccan Lamb and Asian Pear Tajine. Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
Friday I was in a class all day, so i didn't get the news that I had advanced into the next round of "Project Food Blog" until 4pm that afternoon. How exciting!
The challenge: To cook a dish from another culture that is out of my comfort zone.
My initial thought was something Greek, or Turkish, because I love the cuisine, but I knew that it was also important to stay true to my purpose and my cleanse. I sat on my front stoop in the sun, in cut off jean shorts, sipping mint iced tea, the weather tricking me back to summer. I think of myself as an intuitive cook, rarely using recipes, but for this challenge I knew who to look to for inspiration, what tome would guide me on a spice tour that was delicious, nourishing body and soul, and honoring the ground rules that I have been following for the past 5 weeks.
An additional and self imposed challenge to go along with the cooking is to embroider and sometimes paint all of the food that I make. This time it proved very challenging! How does one embroider rice! I think I did a pretty good job, considering the time frame...
|Preserved Lemon Rice. Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
|I decided to embroider this one last minute! The paint was still wet on the scanner! Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
CHILLED AVOCADO AND CILANTRO SOUP
MOROCCAN LAMB AND ASIAN PEAR TAJINE
TOASTED BASMATI RICE WITH
CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND PRESERVED LEMON
FRESH LOCAL FIGS, MANOURI CHEESE, CHESTNUT HONEY
The rice isn't traditional. Couscous is, but that is a grain I just can't eat right now, so I substituted rice. Also, the recipe called for Quince, but there weren't any at the store, so I opted for asian pears instead.
My car was in the shop, so my boyfriend said I could borrow his:
|My beau's awesome 1976 BMW 2002. Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
I picked up the groceries, and arrived at his house to cook at 7:45. oops! dinner was planned to be at 9, but the recipes called for at least 1.5 hours of cooking, plus all the prep. He had at the very last minute gathered a party of 6 together, and I was excited and nervous to cook this meal, lamb shanks being something I had never prepared before.
the ingredients for everything:
stock(used homemade from a chicken I had made the week previous)
fresh figs: turkish and black mission
manouri sheep cheese (for the figs)
salt and pepper
A pretty simple list of ingredients for a delectable and complex meal...and no wheat! no dairy! (except for the manouri sheeps cheese, but that was for the other guests...)
|Chilled Avocado and Cilantro Soup. Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
The lamb was fairly easy to cook! hooray! I braised it briefly in my favorite Le Creuset pot (the one I found at the Goodwill for $2), and let everything simmer, stirring the spices into the butter, mixing the garlic, onions and rich spices and letting it cook for what seemed like hours, while the fruit reduced in water, filling the room with perfume. I could almost imagine the heat, scents and colors of the far away lands where this food was born.
The soup chilled in the fridge, and I took a hand blender to it. I love these things. The ease in which they blend!
|Fresh Figs, Manouri Cheese, Chestnut Honey. Freehand Embroidery and Watercolor on Paper|
Everything took a little longer than I expected, we didn't sit down to eat until 10:30, and I made a huge mess chopping onions for some reason...but the guests arrived and played cards, drank wine, ate dates, and joked, as the darkness grew around us, and the evening breeze tangled with the sweet heady scent of the stove.
The end result was a table of smiling, too full people, and one happy cook. Excited that I had challenged myself with a dish that was foreign to me, I tasted success with every taste bud, felt deep gratitude for and from the room of friends, and best of all, I didn't have to clean up the mess...
Vote for me here: Project Food Buzz