Well hello, hiatus. I wasn’t planning to allow for you these past two months, but you seem to have happened upon the old blog. You knew I’d be distracted by the Sun, beach and miscellaneous activities only possible in 70+ degree heat, and you were happy to step in and make me look lazy by comparison. I’d be angry if I weren’t so impressed, hiatus.
Nevertheless, hiatus, I created you and I can destroy you. Care to know what I’ve been doing in my sweaty time? Oh, just training for a half marathon. It’s no big deal, really. I just decided it would be nice to have goals, and so I made one. I’ve also decided to take part in more outdoor sports, because it’s far too nice out to while away hours in the gym. And whiling I’d been. This past weekend I went bike riding for the first real time in about 15 years. It’s been a while since I stowed away my Huffy complete with detachable radio, and I feared I’d have trouble steering with handlebars curiously not equipped with streamers. Luckily, the saying held true, and I remained upright for the entire ride!
In other news, I abandoned vegetarianism. We had a solid three year run, but I tired of the inevitably carb-heavy lifestyle and lack of variety in my meals. It’s been a little more than a month since I crossed over to the meaty side, and I’ve had quite a few experiences of note.
I began with a little chorizo in an omelette, and I was taken aback by how overpowering I found the pork to be in an otherwise inoffensive Manchego-laced omelette. Immediately after, I approached the Whole Foods meat counter for the first time and bought some chorizo of my own, assuming I would like it much better once I prepared it myself. This was pretty accurate. I made Rachael Ray’s Portuguese Fisherman’s Shrimp and Chorizo the next night, assuming it would an easy transition for me to sneak it in a veggie-heavy soup with shrimp.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces chorizo, casing removed and chopped
1 starchy potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced
1 Fresno or Holland pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch flat-leaf kale, leaves stripped and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes with chiles
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, deveined and stemmed
Juice of 1 lemon
You start by heating the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat, and then render the chorizo down for a couple of minutes. Add the potato, onion, carrot, garlic, chili pepper, thyme, and bay leaf, and soften for 5-6 minutes. Wilt in the kale, then stir in chickpeas, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a low boil, season with salt and pepper, and add shrimp and cook until pink. Juice with a lemon and serve. This meal was infinity times better than my first chorizo experience, which made me realize I enjoy fatty meat only when it’s the supporting role rather than the lead.
A few weeks later, I ate some steak tacos from this place that easily made my list of top five meals under $10. I had suspected up until that point that I enjoyed beef, but that experience solidified my appreciation. I made this Pepper Grilled Steak with Chopped Summer Salad from Epicurious not long after.
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 3/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 2-pound 1 1/2-inch-thick top sirloin steak
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup baby arugula or chopped regular arugula
1/2 cup (generous) diced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 jalapeño chile, seeded, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)
You start by mixing the garlic, pepper, and 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt in small bowl; rub all over steak. You’re supposed to let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour, but I’ve been fending off a freeloading mouse for a month or so, and so my steak standing lasted more like 15 minutes.
I then heated up the Panini Press and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. I grilled the steak until charred and cooked to desired doneness, about 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes.
Mix tomatoes and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thinly slice steak; arrange on plate. This may not have been the prettiest dish, but it redeems itself in both saltiness and juiciness. Those are two admirable qualities.
Tonight was the proudest moment in my meat exploration, however, because I both prepared and tasted lamb for the first time. I have been curious about lamb for quite some time, but purchasing the lamb rib chops took cojones I was quite sure I did not possess. I found this recipe for Lamb Chops with Yogurt-Mint Sauce on Epicurious:
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
6 (1-inch-thick) rib lamb chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp cumin (I added)
1 tsp paprika (I added)
1 tsp salt (I added)
1/2 tsp pepper (I added)
The recipe did not call for the last four ingredients, but one of the Epicurious reviewers said she’d followed an old Jacques Pepin dry rub to the chops. Jacques, pictured above, was a mainstay in my childhood as one of the chefs who lived on the television in my family’s living room. He said “salt and pepper” in a hilarious French accent, but the man knew his shit. So, prior to my lamb searing, I mixed together the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and rubbed it on the meat. I then heated the olive oil in a skillet, and cooked the lamb over medium-high heat for about three minutes a side. While those were cooking, I stirred together the mint, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl. I also made some Sugar Snap Peas with Ginger and Garlic, and served those with the chops.
The meat was fattier than I would have expected, but it had a really interesting flavor far from anything I’ve accidentally experienced before (ahem, pork snuck into every Chinese dish ever). I really enjoyed, and I think in the future I’ll try ground lamb so there’s less fat invited to the party. See below: