Why is life always like this? Just when I start getting used to the weekly regularity of Mark’s Monday evening antics in the kitchen, he goes and leaves me.
Don’t panic, dear readers! We’re simply taking the month of June to pursue separate economic endeavors that have dragged us away from our happy existence. <pout> This arrangement will undoubtedly be good for the regularity of posting, for my writing in general, and for my discipline with triathlon training. It won’t be so much for meeting my daily goofiness and hugs quota.
And so, a little tribute to Mark’s wonderful Monday concoctions is in order:
If you’re the one who usually take the reigns in food preparation, you’ll know how utterly fantastic it is to have dinner prepared for you. I think just as many women fantasize about Alton Brown and Mark Bittman as men do about Angelina Jolie.
It’s not the labour I most appreciate the break from (see picture on the right) – it’s the mental energy expended in planning and executing a pleasing and nourishing meal (see picture on the left). Don’t get me wrong, at least half of the pleasure I take in food is thinking, reading and talking about it. Maybe it’s that very pleasure that, when suspended for a moment to allow me some non-food-oriented thoughts, charges through to my palate when it beholds a meal made by someone else. Hence my love for everyone else’s salads (which always taste better than mine), for my mother’s cooking, for great restaurants.
Among the many enjoyable things about the past few May Mondays have been two meaty meals, prepared by my sous chef himself. Since we eat an 87% vegetarian diet (yes, that’s an exact percentage), these morsels of protein shone in their bath of tangy marinade. My muscles and my tastebuds cheered for hours afterwards.
The lamb was local, pasture-raised and organic, thanks again to Wendy of Sweet Grass Farms. When you seldom eat meat, you really appreciate the good stuff. Michael Pollan catches the sentiment better than I could, reflecting on his first experience of shooting a wild animal: “Respect for what is points us in the direction from which we came–to that place and time where humans looked at the animals they killed, regarded them with reverence, and never ate them except with gratitude.” Hm.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade
marinates 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (about 2 ¼ lbs)
a third of a cup chopped green onions (with white parts)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp liquid honey
1 Tbsp grated gingerroot
2 tsp minced garlic
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and minced (wear gloves! We would use 3 next time)
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp each dried thyme, salt, and fresh cracked pepper!
½ tsp each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
¼ tsp cayenne (optional, but I think it would be great!)
- Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl, and pour over chicken thighs or breasts in a large resealable plastic bag. Turn bag a few times to coat all the pieces and marinate in the fridge overnight.
- To cook, preheat grill to medium setting. Place chicken on grill rack that has been coated with cooking spray or brushed with oil. Grill for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked. Serve hot with Tropical Fruit Salsa.
Marinated Lamb Shish Kebabs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 minced onion
¼ cup minced fresh mint (our favourite!) or 1 Tbsp ground cumin or ¼ cup minced fresh dill leaves
¼- ½ tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Cut 2 lbs boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, trimmed of all excess fat, into 2-inch chunks. (Shoulder makes for a moister shish kebab and more margin for error in cooking; leg pieces are leaner but easier to overcook and drier if cooked beyond the rare stage.) Marinate in above marinade mixture for up to a day in the refrigerator.
- Grill over medium heat (brushing with reserved marinade) or broil 6 inches away from heat for 5 minutes per side. Serve with pita wedges to pull the meat off the skewers (or with couscous) and roasted vegetable skewers.
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman