Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weeknight Dinner...

I had a good day Thursday, so I figured I'd cook some food that makes me happy.
The kind of food that makes me happy in summer (or really any time) is simple food, with clear flavors and nothing really overpowering. That's probably why I like eastern-style barbecue (with its emphasis on smoked pork and a simple vinegar based sauce) rather than western-style, which I've always felt placed too much emphasis on hiding the flavor of the pork. That's the problem with commercial bbq sauce as well. Too much sugar, and too much "let's hide the flavor of the meat" instead of letting it shine through. Heck, that's the problem with most processed food (and why my grocery cart is usually heavy on the fresh fruit, vegetables and animal proteins), where companies try to make things taste like something other than what they are. Although I guess businesses are trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of cheap ingredients, and the best way to make some bad taste good is to make it not taste like what it is.

Anyway, enough of the rant.

I do pretty much all the grocery shopping in the house, and when I do the shopping I try to plan out the week's meals as much as possible. When I did the shopping earlier in the week, I'd picked up some nice lamb shoulder chops, planning to grill them, so that was a natural fit for "happy food". I'd never really considered shoulder chops until I made them when the family was out of town, and they ended up being very good. The flavor, texture and tenderness were similar to lamb leg (which I love), and the price is very reasonable (cheaper than steak, that's for sure).

I've never understood why there's not more lamb available in the supermarket, which I guess really means, I've never understood why more people don't eat lamb. I guess it might be that people don't want to eat something cute (which probably also explains why rabbit is not more popular in the grocery), but I've always thought cows were cute, and people sure don't have a problem eating them.

Anyway, I went very simple with the lamb. I made a paste of garlic and coarse kosher salt (by mincing 2 cloves of garlic with the salt, and just patiently mixing the two, and then mincing and mixing over and over until it was the right mix), and put the paste into a small bowl. I added some fresh ground black pepper, and then added a mix of regular dijon mustard and whole grain dijon mustard (I ran out of regular dijon, and all I had was the whole grain, so I mixed the two together). If I had to guess how much, I'd say somewhere between 1-2 tbsp. Once I'd mixed that up, I rubbed the mix all-over my chops. After I let them sit for a bit while I prepared the rest of the meal, I grilled the lamb chops for about 10-15 minutes (until med-rare), and then I let them rest for about 5-10 minutes while I set the table and what-not. Very nice.

I've been trying to eat healthier, and get away from potatoes and rice so much, so I went "no carb" for dinner. Instead of something like roasted potatoes (which would be really good with the lamb, I have to admit), I decided to roast some cauliflower as a side, along with some sauteed zucchini. The zucchini really doesn't need any explanation beyond "slice some zucchini, salt it and let it sit for a while, and then saute in olive oil until done", but I'd like to say more about the cauliflower, since it's one of my new favorite vegetables.

I'd never thought of roasting cauliflower until I bought a head of cauliflower a couple of weeks ago, with the intent of making something indian. When I thought about it later, and realized there was no way to get my daughters to eat something as exotic as an Indian cauliflower stew, I was stuck with this cauliflower and nothing to do with it. So, I ended up roasting it in olive oil with some garlic, salt and pepper, and it was awesome.
A formal recipe would be like:
1 head of cauliflower, cored, broken into florets and then sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
2-3 tbsp olive
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste.
heat oven to 400deg. Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan, drizzle olive oil over top, scatter garlic, salt and pepper over cauliflower, and then stir to coat. Place in hot oven for 20 minutes, then stir. Roast for another 20 minutes, and then check for doneness. "Done" is when the cauliflower is tender, and golden brown in spots.
Serve immediately. If you want to get crazy, toss with some (1/4 c?) feta.

I would add photos, but I've been sitting on this post long enough that I just want to be done.

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