In the days leading up to Christmas, the buzz around work and with friends was about food. Some want to know what others are having for Christmas dinner because they don't like their great aunt's cooking. Others spark the conversation because they really want to talk about their own meal.
Well, Seth and I didn't go to anyone's house at Christmas, so I guess I fall into the latter.
I will come back to that meal, but first I have to gush about how the past few days have been excellent despite getting a one-day weekend and then working every day this week except Christmas. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon making tamales with Christiane. It was an exhausting, time-intensive process that makes you respect so deeply this dish made with a few simple ingredients. Masa, lard and pork demand time, attention and, most of all, patience. The result wasn't bad, either. Plus Christiane paired it with a great frise, avocado, radish, cilantro and lime salad and her beautiful pomegranate salad, too. I made Oaxacan black beans and a roasted tomatillo salsa.
On Monday evening, Christmas Eve, Seth and I made Italian. We had a fun dinner where we cooked together, drank wine, and ate a lot of it standing around the island. We started with artichoke stuffed mushrooms, then we roasted eggplant and fennel and tossed with olive oil and parm, and the main dish was spinach ricotta gnocchi in a sage butter sauce. The gnocchi wasn't quite right -- it didn't have enough of a toothsome bite. That said, it tasted great. If measuring by our enjoyment of the process, the meal was a success.
But Christmas dinner is what everyone talks about. Friends and co-workers alike, told me their prime rib stories. Dina even made a last-minute stop by our house to borrow horseradish sauce since her in-laws deemed it a must-have with the beef.
I was cooking for two, though. And prime rib, a whole turkey or a ham just seemed excessive. I asked Seth what he wanted for the meal, and I enthusiastically agreed: We would have lamb prepared in a fenugreek curry like our favorite Indian restaurant -- make that favorite restaurant -- serves.
It's a dish we discovered on our first trip to Vancouver, B.C. On the recommendation of a hotel clerk, we ventured out of the core downtown to Vij's. The food, the environment, the staff, all clicked. It's the restaurant trifecta and nothing less that happens there. We've since returned twice, taking friends and family with us to share the experience.
So, here is the recipe Marinated Lamb Popsicles, courtesy of Vij's.
4 pounds French-cut racks of lamb, cut into chops
1/4 cup sweet white wine
3/4 cup grainy mustard
1 tsp salt
4 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tbsp dried green fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 to 4 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp turmeric
Lamb: Combine wine, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lamb and coat well in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
Curry Sauce: In a large bowl, combine cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek leaves and lemon juice. Heat canola oil in a medium pot and saute garlic until golden. Stir in turmeric and cook for 1 minute. Stir in cream mixture and cook on low to medium for about 5 minutes, or until it is gently boiling.
Finish Lamb: Preheat stove-top cast iron grill or barbecue grill on high. Place lamb on grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
To serve: In a shallow bowl, place lamb popsicles in curry sauce to serve family style. And, given their name, you eat them by hand.