Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fragrant Evening Delight

you've heard about brandon's love of curry. it's true. he is a fan of the spice and when he hears i'm going to put it in anything, his eyes light up and food he would have never tried, he is willing to eat.

tonight, in honor of this love and because my young son has been struggling with his fair share of stuff in his pre-pubescent life, i decided to MAKE curry. i grabbed our THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, the SILVER PALATE ladies, and discovered LAMB CURRY WITH CONDIMENTS. now, as a little history with this cookbook, i shall regale you with the tale of howf this cookbook made my first platinum, full on sit down, all the way live, show off what i'd learned in cooking class dinner party such a success. here goes:

i took a serious cooking class from a school located on a corner that faces both MORTON'S in l.a. and what was once TRUMP'S -- this lovely teahouse my mother frequented with "the ladies who lunch" crowd who were (and still are) her friends -- but, at the time, was a pan pacific restaurant whose name escapes me (very yum -- i ALWAYS got their THAI FRIED WHOLE FISH when i went, because, as i have said, i was once almost a full on vegetarian save the fish and chix and because it was freakin' AWESOME). my teacher was fantastic and i learned a TON from the class. mostly how much i truly loved cooking in a serious way. it consumed me and i have kept all of the recipes i learned in class and all of the notes. i remember i had this really great cooking partner to whom i just gravitated. we always picked the same dishes to work on together and it just seemed natural that we would always look across the class to each other when our teacher would announce the various dishes we would prepare and ask us to sign up for them. i don't remember his name. that really bugs me, because i'm actually really good with names and faces. but i don't remember ANYONE'S name from that class, not even my teacher's. i'm sure it's because it happened during a rather icky time of my marriage and i put a lot of things out of my mind from then. even stuff that was life saving, although i've held on to the teachings or have begun to, i don't fully remember the specifics of the events from which i learned during that time. yep. amnesia can be your friend.

anyway, this guy was from korea and his goal was to return one day and open a REALLY GOOD hamburger stand. along the lines of a Johnny Rockets, In 'n Out or Sonic. i loved that. and he took photos of everything we made and gave me copies. what a good guy, right? yeah. we did a lot of great food, my teacher was exceptionally supportive of me and believed in my ability. and i wanted to show that off to my friends. i'd like to say i was purely altruistic and wanted to SHARE it with them, but let's be honest. i wanted to show off like a prize peacock. shoot me.

i created a multi-course meal to end all meals. i set a long table, like in the film BIG NIGHT, for 16 people and fed them soup, salad, sorbet for palate cleansing, a fish course, a meat course, a cheese course, an antipasti, wines with every course and desserts. i made EACH AND EVERY BIT OF THIS MEAL. honestly. and when the meal was over, everyone was happy. even me. amazing, isnt it?

so where does THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK come into play with all of this? i made three of these courses from it and have considered this cookbook one of my best friends. i use it frequently, rework things from it, add, change, use as my base for many of my best dishes, but i always know where it comes from . that's something about cookbooks that i love. that you can GROW the recipes, once you get your confidence with the cooking. you can take what you read and tweak them. and that's what they're there for as much as they are there to show you how great the cookbook writer is with the dishes they have put in there.

back to our meal tonight. LAMB CURRY WITH CONDIMENTS. and here we go.

2 tbs olive oil
3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsps best-quality curry powder
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cumin
/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups homemade beef stock or canned broth
1 cup New Basic Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup cream of coconut
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
toasted unsweetened coconut, for garnish
3 to 4 cups cooked white rice

what to do:

1. heat 1 tbs of olive oil in flameproof casserole or dutch oven. brown the lamb, in batches, over medium-high heat and set aside.
2. add the remaining oil and saute the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat, 5 minutes. then stir in all the spices.
3. stir in the stock, tomato sauce, marmalade, chutney, cream of coconut, lemon juice, and salt. return the lamb to the casserole.
4. sprinkle the mixture with the raisins and bring to a boil. lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
5. sprinkle the curry with toasted coconut, and serve over rice.

4 to 6 servings

here's what we did:

we used canned beef broth and pre-made tomato sauce -- no time. we also didn't have any mango chutney in the house -- which was pretty funny, since i had just been at the market before looking at the recipe and thinking "ya know, i could sure go for some mango chutney" then didn't buy it (follow your instinct, that's what i say). we also used dried currants instead of raisins (we're not a big raisin family, as i believe i've said before) and i didn't top it with coconut (it's packed away in a box somewhere still). but, i upped the amount of marmalade and lemon by a tad and simmered away, serving it atop the leftover rice from the night before with fresh apples and pears with it as a cooling, refreshing accompaniment.

the report card was yum. brandon was very calmly delighted to have curry as the main, focused meal. nicholas liked it, except the currants, which he doesn't like in anything but baked goods (i make couscous with them in it, but always leave them out in his portion).

nicholas wants to take it with him to school for lunch tomorrow as long as i pull out the currants. i'm cool with that.

it was a nice night. leisurely, loving, low key. it's rare we have no drama in our evenings and this was well worth the simmer, sit down and just be time that came out of it.

now you can see why, even more than a multi-course show-off meal, i am so deeply devoted to my NEW BASICS cookbook.


Hamster said...

There's a bunch of Thai cooking videos in this website you can watch to learn to cook Thai food

PalateScriber said...

cool. thanks! i'm going to be moving into my thai cookbook sometimes soon, i'm sure.