Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wednesday Night Dinner

My inner domestic goddess is back with a vengeance! Dinner tonight was so incredibly fab!

28. Spinach Soup
29. Cinnamon-hot rack of lamb with cherried and chick pea’d couscous

These recipes all are from the Fast Food chapter. The lamb and couscous are meant to be served together, and the spinach soup is one of the “Reminders of and Ideas for Hasty Improvisations” from the beginning of the same chapter.

Spinach soup… very quick impromptu soup. I decided to add this at the last minute, as I realized we didn’t have any vegetables in this meal. You just fry an onion, then add frozen chopped spinach, and once it’s thawed, some stock (500g spinach, 500ml carton of Campbell’s Real Vegetable Stock). Nigella doesn’t say to blend it, but looking at the mixture, I didn’t think “soup”, I thought “very wet spinach”… so I blended it up. Oh my God though, the mixture I poured out of the blender was the most intensely green iron-y looking sludge I have ever seen in my life. I mean, even Popeye would have had a heart attack!

Spinach soup

I panicked! What on earth would I do with a huge pot of green sludge? I added a bit of water from the kettle to thin it down a bit, and took Nigella’s option of whisking in a spoonful single cream beaten with an egg yolk, hoping that this would tone down the intensity of the green. (I finished the carton of cream! Sounds lame, I know, but finishing of an entire tub of cream with no wastage makes me very happy and satisfied.) It still looked a bit spooky, but I thought, “Screw it, we’re going to try everything from this book”, and resolutely filled up our soup bowls. How wrong I was! The soup tastes infinitely mellower than it looks. And it was so lovely that we all ended up coming back for seconds.

The couscous does not count as a new recipe in my list, as I’ve made a fruitless version of it before, last week. It’s better with the fruit in it. Nigella suggests dried cherries, but I used barberries, which we already had in the pantry. And I know that this is an appropriate, if not desirable change, because in her middle-eastern Herbed Bulgar Wheat and Nut Salad, from Feast, she suggests dried cherries as an alternative if you can’t find the more authentic barberries. (I actually have no idea where I could find dried cherries here, but I got barberries at Nuts’r’Us, my favourite middle-eastern store). Visually, the barberries are beautiful, studding the couscous like rubies. And they taste lovely, so incredibly sour against the bland couscous. Even Dad, who hates couscous, loved this.

Dad: This is fantastic! And you know how I feel about couscous…

The lamb is simplicity itself. They are brushed with a mixture of chilli oil and cinnamon, and shunted in the oven. We got very high quality lamb racks, from Rendinas Butchery, and they were fantastic – charred black on the outside, and juicily pink and tender within.


1 plate - My mum loves restaurant-style presentation!

What a fantastic dinner!

Dad: So if we invite some of my work-colleagues around, could you cook this?


domesticgoddess said...

the lamb with the studded couscous definitely looks fabulous, i have to try it!! cinnamon is ALWAYS a good plan. :)

i had the same experience with spinach soup- i thought it was gonna b vile (like those wheatgrass shots-puke) , until i had a sip... *bliss*

Annauk said...

This looks really delish,
And mom's presentation is great!!