Monday, February 05, 2007

Tonight we're gonna party like 2 happy valentines

Did you guys watch the Superbowl? I’ll come right out and admit that not only did I skip it, I still don’t know who played. Call me culturally illiterate, but I’m ok with this omission from my awareness. I know it will come back to bite me when next I play Trivial Pursuit, and I’m at peace with it. What I did watch, belatedly and excitedly, was Prince’s dazzling halftime show. Can we talk about how phenomenal he is? Besides breaking out some Purple Rain-era classics that make me wanna party like it’s 1989, he segued into a Foo Fighters song, of all things. And gave it some guts. You know Dave Grohl must have peed his pants with excitement.

Anyway, this will come back to food, I promise. I plan to share the aforementioned Lamb Tagine recipe for Valentines Day, but I had to bring up The Big Game because Prince is inextricably linked with Valentines Day for me. And since I have your attention, I’ll tell you why. A few years ago, Michael surprised me with pretty much The Best Valentines Day Present Ever. We were eating at The Indian Oven in the lower Haight, which was already plenty romantic since it was the site of our first date. But then things got all crazy-great when he mysteriously handed me an envelope. Inside there was a simple, one-sided card with this on it:
All it said was “The Fillmore. Midnight. 2.14.04.” See, Prince had announced a secret show that very night and we were within hours of experiencing his Purple Reign, live. I don’t know if it was the best show of all time, but I’m not ruling it out. Seeing him perform at the halftime show brought it all back and got me thinking about this upcoming February 14.

This year, my beloved is taking me to The Most Glorious Place on Earth. No, not a couples getaway at Club Med, sillies. I’m talking about The Cheese School. We’re doing a champagne and triple crème cheese tasting, so you know I’ll be one happy little piggy. Now, I planned to gift him with some palate pleasers too, but unfortunately, he discovered his gifts before I had a chance to hide them. The one he’s most excited about is the truffle salt. from Far West Fungi in the Ferry Building. And with good reason¬it’s exquisite. It makes high-grade truffle oil taste like canola. It’s that potent. It was introduced to me by a friend who carries it in a vial in her purse so she can sprinkle it on food wherever she goes. And when you taste it, you’ll understand why.

So on to Valentines Day. And hey, I don’t mean to suggest you have to spend it being all lovey-dovey with a mate. You might be (as the ‘70s t-shirt says) “single and lovin’ it”. You might hate all manner of Hallmark holidays, which is certainly understandable. You might want to spend the evening with a bunch of friends, as I’ve done happily on many February 14s over the years. The point is this: I’m giving you Kelly Whalen Molloy’s recipe for Lamb Tagine for 2, but it’s easy to alter the amounts accordingly, whatever your plans. It will make you burst with love, if only for the fine flavors mingling in your mouth. Happy Valentiines Day to you, dear readers, avec amour.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon, Orange, and Dried Plums

1 lb. boneless lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 ½” cubes
1 yellow onion, peeled, and cut into quarters
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 T. olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ t. each dried ground ginger, cumin, and paprika
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 can, 14oz., chopped or diced tomatoes
½-1 cup water
1 strip orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped & some whole leaves for garnish
12 large pitted dried plums
1 ½-2 T. honey
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 325. Place the lamb in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

In a food processor combine the onion, garlic, 1 T. of the olive oil, pepper flakes, ginger, cumin, paprika, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and pulse until mixture is smooth. Pour over lamb and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or set aside on the counter for one hour.

Heat the additional T. of oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat and using tongs, pull meat out of onion/spice mixture and brown meat in batches evenly on all sides. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Turn heat down to medium and place remaining onion/spice mixture from the bowl in the same pan. Cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until mixture smells very fragrant and has cooked down a bit. Add lamb back to pan along with tomatoes & their juices, water, orange zest, cinnamon stick and ½ of the cilantro. Mix well, cover and place in oven for 1 ½ hours until meat is very tender.

While meat is cooking, place the dried plums and honey in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the dried plums, their liquid and the remaining cilantro to the tagine during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve garnished with sliced almonds and cilantro leaves.


Blogger Sean Carter said...

Well Valentines Day is round the corner and this is the time to start preparing for the celebrations...and well you've got a good idea here...thanks for sharing the sounds quite nice...well also do drop by my blog sometime and check out all the great stuff i've posted there!!!

10:14 PM  

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