Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blistered in the Sun

Been really busy lately and haven't had much time to post, but tonight came home and decided it was time to get busy in the kitchen. Had some beautiful lamb in the freezer, and our fridge was loaded with farmers market produce. This included some baby eggplants that were calling to me. Lamb+eggplant is a natural combination. So here's the menu:

• Local red lettuce and tomato salad with sprouts and sweet peppers; dijon-balsamic vinaigrette
• Roasted "Charmoula" marinated lamb loin, with mint-garlic pesto, on eggplant-garlic-pepper puree.
• Corn on the cob
• Blistered shishito peppers with pink sea salt

Not going to post full recipes here, but here are some details.

"Charmoula" is a somewhat generic term for a north-African olive oil based spice paste, that generally includes ground chilies, cumin, salt, garlic, lemon, onion, coriander, saffron, etc. For this particular spice paste, I used:

olive oil
pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
sweet paprika
ground cumin
minced garlic
ground black pepper
kosher salt
dash of white wine vinegar (didn't have a lemon, but needed acid)

The eggplant puree was actually one of the best concoctions I've come up with in a while. Started by blackening the eggplants on all sides in a cast-iron skillet. After about 20 minutes, I let them cool, then peeled them and scooped out the softened flesh. Next, pureed in a food-processor with a little bit of salt and pepper. Meanwhile, sauteed finely diced garlic, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and zucchini until all were softened (but still slightly firm), and folded it all together. This creamy, spicy-sweet puree was a perfect compliment to the lamb (but tasty as hell on it's own)

The pesto was just fresh mint, olive oil, and garlic with a bit of fresh black pepper. Brightened the whole thing up and transformed a pretty comforting meal into a much more summery affair.

Shishito peppers are the closest thing to pimientos you can get around here. These small, tender, slightly spicy peppers are best prepared simply: tossed with a bit of olive oil, and blistered in a hot cast-iron skillet (or grilled), and tossed with a bit of sea salt. I have to get them fast.... Dunnie will make these disappear in a flash.

Shishito Peppers

Lamb loin chop w/ mint-garlic pesto, eggplant-pepper puree, corn on the cob

Blistered shishito peppers

(You can see I got jipped on these suckers!)
(Dunnie ate twice as many as me)

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