Because I cook, dammit

The Spec server seems to have come back to life. I'm going to transition things over again and do nightly backups... in the meantime,
here's the lost cooking post.

It's been a while since I had a real dinner party, but I've been accumulating glasses from the new Fish Eddy on Montague St., and
I've got to use them sometime, no? So I had Scott and Rachel and Meitav over last night. I liked the meal. I got the "paper tomatoes" at the greenmarket by the courthouse; they're really baby tomatillos, as far as I can tell, and they're very sweet.

Cucumber and Paper Tomato Salad

one bunchette of paper tomatoes

two seedless cucumbers

good olive oil and acid (I used lemon juice, and white balsamic and rice wine vinegars)

ground pepper and fresh dill and mint if you have

Husk the paper tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Peel and chop the cucumber and put that into a bowl (preferably the same bowl as before). Mix up the oil, acid, and seasonings, and then pour into bowl (the bowl with all the other stuff, if you'd doing it right). Serve as a salad course.

Lamb and Vegetable Couscous

a couple of cans of chicken broth

a few threads saffron, some cumin, and cinnamon

a quarter of a kilo of bonesless leg of lamb, or whatever other meat you'd like

a big carrot

two stalks celery

an eggplant

yellow squash

a Spanish onion

some pistachios and/or raisins

Boil the chicken broth with the saffron, cumin, and cinnamon. Mince the lamb and add it to the broth, turning the heat down low. Cut up the carrot and celery and add that too, and cover. Cook it for about two hours; the longer the better. Stir every once in a while and add water if the broth boils out.

Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cube it. Put the cubes in a collander and douse with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes or so; the salt will draw out all the bitter liquid from the eggplant. Thoroughly rinse of the eggplant and put on some paper towels (I tend to use Bounty) to dry. Peel and dice the yellow squash and onions. Heat up some olive oil in a pan and add the onions, squash, and eggplant; cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, and when it's all nice and nice, put the whole thing in the broth pot and let it simmer with everything else.

After the lamb/broth/vegetable/spice mixture has been simmering for a couple of hours, everything should be all nice and tender and well-seasoned, and you're ready to add the couscous. I can't really tell you how much to add, as I added an entire package from Sahadi's, which was great, but which left me with enough left over for the next week. So use your judgment, or the judgment of a loved one. There should be a decent amount of liquid left in the pot before you add the couscous; add more water if necessary as you cook it for 5 minutes or so.

Then it's ready to serve.

Pink Gauva Yogurt Parfaits

I originally intended to make blackberry yogurt parfaits instead, but the Garden of Eden was out of the blackberry juice I like, so we improvise.

one container of high quality plain, strained yogurt (I'm serious here; go to a Middle Eastern grocery and buy some good Greek yogurt or something)

a bottle of pink guava fruit juice

a packet of shortbread cookies

Mix the yogurt and the juice in a bowl until smooth, tasting all the while to figure out exactly how much juice to add.

Put some shortbread cookies at the bottom of a rocks glass (or any other type of glass you happen to have multiples of), spoon the yogurt on top, and then add some more shortbread.



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