Monday, 15 December 2014

Moroccan lamb cutlets

Our last weekend was full of good food. From Far East (and the Thai beef salad we had for Independence Day) we continued our culinary travels to Middle East and had a nice relaxing Sunday: we bought some lamb that we both adore, opened a bottle of wine and cooked together to the sweet sounds of Arab pop music (read: 150 different songs all revolving around the words "habibi, habibi").

Oh, and in case that first chapter made us sound like one of those depressingly happy-looking, smug couples straight out of a catalogue whose seemingly effortless quality time fills one with envy... keep reading. I promise I'll trash any such illusions in the next chapter!)

The relaxation was cut short by my sudden realization: its the time of the year again when it's impossible to shoot in the natural light after 2pm as there is no light! As a result of obscene flood of profanities and equally obscene time spent editing the photos I was left with the shots below. And a decision to do something about the lighting situation in my kitchen ASAP. As I'm shopping for new lights there isn't much I can do but to squirm with embarrassment and have another glass of wine. Better photos are just around the corner. I hope. Finnish winter, I hate you.

These lamb cutlets on the other hand we loved. Our butcher talked us into adopting some leftover bits in addition to the rack we'd already chosen so I am supposed to write "serves four" and actually mean it but the horrible truth is that we destroyed them all between the two of us. Willpower (or the words "no, I don't really need any more") is so not one of our strong suites...

Serves four  two FOUR  

750 g lamb cutlets


0,5 dl olive oil
the juice and zest (peeled into strips) of 1 lemon
4 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 tbsp cumin, ground
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp cardamom, 
1 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

To serve: mint leaves, chopped (optional)

If you want, toast the spiced on a dry pan over medium heat to release the aromas and combine with oil and the rest of the ingredients. Or just combine all the ingredients of the marinade. Rub the marinade into the cutlets, cover and leave to marinate. For at least, say, 4 hours, but overnight if possible. Turn every now and then to make sure they're evenly coated. Take into room temperature a couple of hours before grilling them, wipe off the lemon zest and garlic scrap, season generously with salt and pepper and grill on a hot grill or griddle pan for 3 minutes/ side. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

These babies were served with fruity couscous...

... and apricot and coriander dressing that got its inspiration from this apricot-stuffed pork (another tragic photo shot in the depressing winter evening's darkness...)

Apricot and coriander dressing:

100 g dried apricots
2,5 dl stock (meat or vegetable)
200 g Greek yogurt
3 generous tbsp chopped coriander leaves
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp ground ginger
salt (if needed), white pepper

Cook apricots in stock until soft and plump. Blizz in a blender (the stock and all) and mix in yogurt and the remaining ingredients. Serve either at room temperature or cold. 

But hey - there was a silver lining in this day too. Pinot Noir works well with lamb and the Middle Eastern flavours. New Zealand and Australia are homes to some seriously good choices (Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir is an excellent choice!), though we settled for a slightly chilled bottle of this Australian sweetheart. A fine pair. And a fine man behind the winery - you can read more about him over here!




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