15 February 2012

just another day

Yesterday started as a normal day.  It was Valentine’s day, I had a plan for my day – go grocery shopping on my way home from work and also pick up a gift or two.  The day did not remain normal.  Having expectations for things sometimes comes with its downfalls...things happen.  Life happens.  Clearly, it was nothing catastrophic.  Work was hectic, the interweb was down and I had to use my phone to do follow-ups, forgot my phone charger, no one had one at work...by the end of the day, I was dead.  Out of touch with any and everything.  The mister knew I was going to the grocery store before I got home, but he didn’t know I was going shopping – as he wasn’t supposed to b.c it was a surprise for him!  When I got home, an hour later than expected, he frustratedly left for an audition, an important one where an important person specifically requested to see him...think I'd feel the same.  He was expecting to be on a certain schedule.  Nothing wrong with it, we all do it.  I try to remind myself to “hope for the best and expect the worst.”  It limits the disappointment, or so it seems...sometimes.
Yo, DJ!

I was just having a conversation (read shared blog post) with my best girl friend about telling stories with points.  [Side note: she’s really the best, I’m like totally in love with her.]  I’m not very good at it.  Rory give me a hard time about it too...I tend to ramble and get lost in my details and tangents...which, sure, is good from time to time...but all the time?  I don’t know, maybe I will take a story telling class and get my points all lined up.  Or maybe I just accept that that's the way I work after 30 years.

Back to yesterday, while there were some let downs there were also total positives...it was Valentine’s Day after all.  It was also our mini-celebration of our 7 year anniversary.  Seven years!  Man.  It doesn’t seem like that long, or it doesn’t feel that long.  I guess that’s what happens when you fall in love and decide to spend the rest of your life with someone and that someone if the right someone.  Everything just sort of fits.  It works properly.  Even when there are problems, you work them out.  I’m glad to say that we don’t fight all too often.  When we get mad at each other, we’re typically able to come to common ground and we just don’t disagree on a ton of stuff.  I’m a lucky girl who’s madly in love with the man she’s going to marry.  That’s all.  A friend of mine tonight, after I said Rory was off for a whole month, told me I was "so understanding."  Sure, I am but that's also just part of what our relationship is.  We've learned to make it work.  It's very hard from time to time but I think it's also good for us.  It's made us value each other, everything about each other.  The good's, the bad's and even the ugly's.  In the end, I think it makes us love each other harder and fuller.  That's what I feel, full.  So cliche, but Rory kinda completes me. He makes my life full.  When he's not around or off on one of his distracted ways its hard but in the end, at the root of it all there is so much love and patience and kindness and joy and positive emotion that the good truly does outweigh the bad. Really.

Now on to the food!  Yes, it’s a recipe post.  I’m excited, it’s been FOREVER.  Plus it was my instagram yesterday so, even better. (Actually I had two, both in the post)  I made lamb with a yogurt mint sauce, broccoli rabe and hasselback potatoes. Then store bought pound cake w. strawberries and homemade vanilla whip cream. Delish.
Nom, nom, nom

Lemon-Garlic Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce
Slightly adapted from epicurious

For yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
a big handful of chopped fresh mint

For chops:
fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
a good shake dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (1/2 to 1 inch-thick) shoulder lamb chops (I asked my butcher for shoulder chops and he sold me a whole shoulder, thought of roasting the whole thing but just ended up cutting my own pieces – I guess you could do the whole thing but think you’d need to increase the marinade)
1 tablespoon water (plus whatever you feel like you need, probably used ~ 1 cup)

Make sauce:
Put a cup of yogurt in a doubled up piece of cheesecloth, make sure you have enough to tie this up.  Then tie the lose ends to a spoon and rest the spoon over a large pot, be sure to put a bowl under the cheesecloth/yogurt concoction so you catch the liquid.  Recipe calls for 20 minutes, I did it for like 30-40 minutes…so worth it.  Mix in the garlic, mint, and salt and pepper to taste.  You can do this a day ahead of time if you want to, just make sure it comes to room temp before serving.

Prepare chops while yogurt drains:
Stir together lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and 2 tablespoons oil in a shallow baking dish. Add lamb chops, turning to coat, and marinate.  Recipe calls for 20 minutes, I did it for a little over an hour (I had the time) just be sure to take the lamb out of the fridge so it comes back to room temperature.  Remove lamb from marinade, reserving marinade, and season with salt and pepper.  Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chops in 2 batches, without crowding, about 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  I had to go back and heat these a little longer, so be sure to check the meat and do sauté to the appropriate done-ness for you.  Transfer to plates. Boil reserved marinade in skillet with water 1 minute and pour over chops.  Serve w. the yogurt sauce.

Now for the potatoes…so yummy, they were sweet and spicy from the pesto.  Rory doesn’t like pesto, I knew this and still made this…he even LIKED the pesto.  Goes to show you can’t judge all pestos by the cover...wait, what?! Oh, before potatoes, I really didn’t do anything to the broccoli rabe.  I blanched it, then sautéed it with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes until they were done.  Easy-peasy!

Hasselback Potatoes with Spinach Cashew Pesto
Barely tweeked from Joy the Baker
For the Potatoes:
4 russet potatoes
4 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
coarse sea salt
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Thinly slice garlic cloves – try to keep them consistent, this is near impossible for me…just try to get them pretty thin.  Set aside.  Clean the outside of your potatoes well.  So your potatoes don’t slip around and you don’t slice off a finer, cut a small part off the bottom of the potatoes…I picked the wonkiest side. (You can do this with onions too so as to not have the onion roll around while you’re sobbing through your slicing)  Slice into the potatoes creating ribs, don’t go all the way through the potatoes, so everything stays connected.  Slide garlic slices in between potato slices.  This is a lot harder than it seems, you may have to be a little rough with these buggers, but not so rough that you break them apart.  End goal, keep them in original potato shape!

Put 'em on a baking sheet, salt them, well.  Put a tablespoon of butter on each potato and drizzle with oil.  Bake for about 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, baste the potatoes with the oil and butter deliciousness that is happening.  (When I was doing this, I wished that I had put the potatoes in a deeper dish, I kept fearing that the mixture would pour over onto the bottom of my oven, so...a suggestion?) When cooked through and crispy, remove from the oven, top with spinach pesto and serve.

For the Pesto:
2 loosely packed cups of spinach
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted cashews
juice from one fresh lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Put everything (sans oil, salt & pepper) in the bowl of a food processor.  Blend until spinach is broken down and, whiles still blending, slowly pour in the olive oil.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

Cook's note: this makes a TON of pesto, after dinner I grabbed a piece of parchment paper and put 4 globs (about the size of a silver dollar pancake) of pesto on it and put in the freezer.  I meant to grab them last night, but just put them in their own ziploc bags in the freezer.  These are perfect for a pesto pasta dinner down the road...now you don't have to make the pesto!

I hope you enjoy these recipes, it always makes me so happy to cook. To cook something I've never eat but have read about somewhere else that someone else tried...I always want to know what I can do with it.  

What'd you make (do) for Valentine's day? 

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