Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lamb Kofte, Saffron Rice, and Colorful Salad

When minced lamb smells good enough to eat raw, close your eyes and you can almost picture the animal running around in a meadow rich with grasses and wildflowers. On my kitchen board was farm-fresh, pasture-raised lamb from a local ranch (link). This lamb begged for fresh herbs, for natural sweetness, for a hint of spiciness. It longed for a gentle roll on the hot grill. This lamb also sought a tantalizing liaison with the vibrant colors and crisp flavors of fresh vegetables, and the fragrance of saffron in rice. This was a weekday meal for us, one we loved so much I decided to cook the same for friends when they came to dinner. And like often, the question arose: "so do you cook like this every day?" Well, yes, I do. When I'm not eating out somewhere.

Dessert was a yogurt-coconut-lemon cake, a recipe for another time. Following recipes are for 3-4: adjust amounts accordingly!

Colorful Salad
1 orange
1 medium fennel bulb
1/2 small red cabbage
4-5 radish
1 medium red beetroot
2-3 scallions
2 small cucumber
fresh herbs (to taste)

You can use any vinaigrette you like. Here's one I use
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Tarragon Vinegar (I make my own; use another vinegar if you don't have)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tahina (if you don't like tahina in this vinaigrette, use mustard)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint and parsley

Prepare the vegetables: grate the beetroot, shave fennel and cabbage, slice radish thin, dice the cucumber, and chop the scallions. Layer in a wide bowl. Clean the orange and cut segments (without white). Catch the orange juice that spills and add to the vinaigrette. Add the orange to the salad, scatter fresh herbs over it all. Make a vinaigrette by mixing all ingredients together. Add the vinaigrette just before you're ready to serve. Toss at the table (all separate colors will run red the moment you toss the salad, owing to the beetroot).

Lamb Kofte
500 gr ground lamb
1 tbsp mixed spice (equal amounts of cumin, ground ginger, paprika, cayenne)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint and oregano (2/3 mint, 1/3 oregano)
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dhibs (date syrup)
1 clove of garlic, minced

Saffron Rice
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1 pinch saffron threads
1 medium/small onion, diced fine
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter

Rinse the rice 2-3 times. Pound half of the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle. Bring 1 cup water (of the 4 cups) to a boil, add to the pounded saffron and leave to infuse. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and sweat gently over low heat until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat in the onion-butter. Add the pounded saffron, and the water. Add salt to taste, and the rest of the saffron threads. Bring to a boil and let simmer slowly until fluffy and soft.

Cucumber, Mint & Yogurt Sauce
1 cup thick yogurt (if you use plain yogurt: let it strain in a cheesecloth for an hour or so)
1 small cucumber
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on how much garlic you like)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to taste

Grate the cucumber, and let it strain in a sieve to get rid of excess liquid. Mix with the thick yogurt, and add garlic, mint, and seasoning.
and this is what happens when you toss the salad: all shades of delicious red

A recent post on Texas Local Meat: In My Kitchen here

My meat came from A Better Way Beef, a local farm I found through

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