Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Things I Am Loving This Week: Lamb Curry, Cookbooks, Local Products & By The Way... I'm Published!

If you are a long time reader of this blog you might remember a little feature called "Things I Am Loving This Week" where I highlight those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share. It's been a while since I have written a TIALTW post. (Tuesday, November 2nd to be exact--my sister pointed that out to me the other day. Apparently she missed it!) It's not that I have not loved anything in the past three months, I just didn't get it together enough to post about it. So here we go!

First up I happened to find a small package of lamb shoulder nearing its sell-by date at the store and discounted 30%. Discount meat may not sound appealing ;-) but I love a good lamb curry and I love a value, so I bought it and went to the mother of all curry cookbooks, "660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer to find a recipe. I am delinquent, because although I have had this book for a few years now I had not cooked anything from it yet--which is too bad because it is a fabulous book--curries for every mood and main ingredient.

The Cashew Lamb with Coconut Sauce sounded delectable and although it seems like a lot of ingredients, it goes together pretty easily. I ended up with a flavorful bowl of heavily-sauced tender lamb with a full, complex flavor. The cashews and coconut milk make it rich and creamy, the vinegar gives it a nice tang and the cayenne adds a good little kick of heat at the end. I loved this curry and intend to cook more (finally) from this book--only 659 curries to go. ;-) Served on top of some brown rice, with a little warm naan bread, it was a bowl of delicious curry love and comfort.

Iyer says, "There is a lot of sauce in this curry--all the more reason to serve it atop a mound of steamed white rice. The addition of ground red pepper at the end provides a sharp flavor, prized by many a Christian Goan, especially when it comes to vinegar-based dishes like this one."

Cashew Lamb with a Coconut Milk Sauce (Kaaju Nariyal Gosht)
"660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
1 lb boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed off and discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large red onion, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch cubes
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds from green or white pods
6 whole cloves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
7 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 1 1/2-inches long, 1-inch wide, & 1/4-inch thick), finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp cayenne (ground red pepper)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems for garnishing

Combine the cashews, 1/3 cup water, and the salt in a blender jar. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a smooth marinade. Pour this into a medium-size bow, add the lamb, and stir to coat the lamb with it. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or as long as overnight, to allow the mellow cashew flavor to penetrate the meat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry until it is caramel-brown, 8-10 minutes.

While the onion is browning, combine the coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamom seeds in a spice grinder. Add the cloves and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. Set it aside.

Add the lamb, including the marinade, to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is completely absorbed into the meat, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the ground spices along with the turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring , until the spices are aromatic. 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of water and stir to deglaze the skillet, releasing any collected bits of spice and onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is fork-tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, vinegar, and cayenne, and continue to simmer, uncovered, to allow the added flavors to blend in, 2 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve,

Tip: If you are allergic to cashew nuts, feel free to substitute any other nut that might be safe for you. If all nuts are taboo, puree 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion instead of the cashew nuts. It is obviously not a substitute for the nuts, making for a more pungent flavor, but it is an acceptable alternative that provides yet another layer of flavor to the wide world of curries.

I am always happy to find local products and businesses to love--especially when they involve food. I have written about all of these local businesses before--but I having been loving a few new treats from them that I thought I would highlight.

I have had lunch three times so far from the Melt truck--featuring gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Luckily, those lunches have been shared with friends so I have been able to try their tomato soup and six different sandwiches--Triple Cheese, Bacon Melt, Pastrami Melt, Harrisa Melt, Capicola (salami & tomato) and their very decadent special Duck Confit Melt and Foie Gras Soup. All of the sandwiches have been delicious--the bread crispy and buttery, the cheese oozy and good, the flavor combinations interesting. The duck with the super rich foie gras soup and the plain triple cheese dipped in tomato soup are my favorites so far. The down side--they are pretty spendy and not too good for the arteries --but what a way to go. Also the operational side lacks--they have seemed disorganized on all three visits, slow and the customer service needs a boost--there's just not a whole lot of friendly interaction going on. You wait... they stare at you... you stare at them... you try to make a little awkward conversation... it's a little painful, like a bad blind date. When paying $6-$8 average for a sandwich plus another $2 for soup I'd like to feel like they are happy to see me and have them engage a bit. ;-) Still, when the lure of the grill cheese siren makes its call, I am sure I will go back again and it is fun to have a few fun food truck options like Melt here in Hawaii.

Other new favorite products that I am happy to support on the "sweets" side include my new obsession Madre Chocolate. (Read my post from last week about the awesome class I took and the company here.) Dave from Madre was at the Hawaii Kai Farmers Market this past Saturday with two bars I had not yet tried. In the interest of research (you don't have to thank me), I thought I should try both. The Hawaiian Passion Fruit Dark Chocolate (see it in the top right corner--isn't it a pretty bar?!), takes passion fruit (or lilikoi) from The Big Island and pairs it with their 70% cacao. It is slightly tangy, a little sweeter than the hibiscus bar previously tried and the pairing works really well--a fruity bar, smooth texture and lots of flavor. The Triple Cacao Dark Chocolate is a unique combination of cacao in three of its forms--the dark chocolate, combined with the slightly tangy cacao fruit pulp and the roasty cacao nibs. I loved this bar for it's complex flavor and textures--it is full of chewy and crunchy bits worked into the smooth chocolate.

I have talked about Ono Pops before, Mexican-style fruit paletas made with locally-sourced ingredients in wonderful combinations. I try to keep a few in my freezer for an occasional treat. This week their special was the Chocolate-Strawberry, a delicious fruity strawberry pop was dipped in a thick layer of dark chocolate. So ono! After enjoying it I really wished I had bought more than one--both the bar and the chocolate coating were excellent.

Cake Couture is the cupcake place about 2 miles from my house that I try to avoid whenever possible as my hips do not thank me for going there. However, a few weeks ago when I saw an new addition to their Friday line-up--Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes, I had to try one. This is a moist cinnamon cake, topped with a fluffy, creamy vanilla icing, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with a little piece of Cinnamon Crunch cereal. Yum! This may top their Coconut-Lime as my favorite flavor--although I may have to try the special Caramel Banana again to be sure. ;-)

Finally, if you are going to buy only one ginormous 864 page, 600 recipe cookbook this year it should be "One Big Table: 600 Recipes From the Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs" by Molly O'Neill because I am in it! I keep forgetting to mention to all of you that I was lucky enough to have a recipe included in this book which I love because who doesn't love seeing their name in print?! ;-) It's kind of a funny story and happened so long ago I had almost forgotten about it until the book came out just before the holidays (guess what one of my Mom's Christmas presents was?), and my Fennel Frond-Yogurt Dressing was in it.

Almost two years ago, I got an email from a very nice researcher working with cookbook author Molly O'Neill saying they had been reviewing recipes and were looking for "a yummy yogurt-based salad dressing to round out the salad section of the book" and asking if I would consider sharing an original recipe they had seen on my blog with them. I had to laugh when I saw which recipe it was, as the Fennel Frond-Yogurt Dressing was a part of an Foodie BlogRoll Royal Foodie Joust entry I had done featuring fennel, dairy, and parsley as the three ingredients. (That's a photo of the sauce on the fennel frito I made below--it is from the very early days of my blogging adventures so please ignore picture quality.)

Satisfied that it was the recipe they wanted, much back and forth ensued about what the dressing could be used on and I filled out a questionnaire some of which became the basis of the intro to the recipe. It does sound a bit like I go around my tiny kitchen drizzling this dressing on everything I eat which isn't quite the case, but I do make it or a variation of it when I have leftover fennel fronds that I don't want to waste. It is fun to have a recipe out there and I really do love Molly O'Neill and especially her "The New York Cookbook" so it is an honor to be involved in something with her name on it. There are so many recipes in this book that sound delicious and I can't wait to get around to trying some of them.

So those are the very delicious Things I Am Loving This Week, brought back especially for my sister Phyl, and hopefully back again more often that it has been. ;-)


BTW--I am sending the luscious Cashew Lamb with Coconut Milk Sauce to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by my friend girlichef and some other fabulous bloggers because nothing is better for the soul than grinding and mixing homemade curry powder. Check out the round up of links for lots of wonderful recipes and ideas.

So, what things are you loving right now?


  1. Congratulations! I can only imagine how great it feels to see your name and recipe in such a cookbook. The Fennel Frond Yogurt Dressing sounds fantastic! More thanks for sharing the lamb curry recipe - Raghavan Iyer is based in Minneapolis, MN and I had the pleasure of (very briefly) meeting him. He sometimes offers cooking classes that unfortunately I never got a chance to attend while still living there. [Sigh] This dish will have to serve as consolation... 8-)

  2. wow! so exciting to see your name in print :) I know someone famous!! love your list of things too.

  3. Hello!
    Congratulations on having your recipe printed. That is fabulous! I make my own yogurt at home so it's nice to see a recipe for salad dressing! I'll have to try it.


  4. I'm so glad this feature is back! It's one of my favorites, especially when it brings me recipes like this lamb curry. I'm sure I'll be loving it soon.

    Congrats on being published chica! You're right...now I DO have to get that book!

  5. I've been wondering about this feature and I'm so glad to see it back! I always like to see what you're up to and what you're loving. The lamb curry sounds delicious. I've been meaning to buy the 660 curries book for awhile now. And, those chocolate dipped strawberry pops look SO good! In fact, all of the Ono Pops that you share look terrific.

  6. So much to love this week! Congratulations on being published!!!!

  7. Congrats for being in the cookbook! love all your features this week, especially those grilled cheeses!

  8. Loved this post.

    One can substitute, peeled and roasted almonds, peanuts, or even poppy seeds to give body and richness to the sauce. Frying the grated onions works well too.

  9. Congratulations too on the publication

  10. I had to immediately scroll down to the published reference! Congrats! That is so great! Then I had to scroll back up to that amazing curry cookbook. Both are on my list!

  11. Congrats on your recipe being published, wonderful! The cashew lamb sounds really good, excellent flavors in this dish!

  12. Yay! for you, Deb! That is exciting. And what an honor!

  13. Congratulations on getting your recipe into the cookbook! It's such a nice feeling to see your name in print.

    I love the deep flavor of lamb, and it always goes so well with curry recipes.

  14. Wow, Deb! Congratulation on the publication- it must be exciting to see your name and recipe on print!

  15. This sounds fabulous! I've only recently discovered how healthy lamb is and I've always loved a good curry! Discounted meat is a great score, it's still good for several days, supermarkets usually err on the side of caution.
    Congrats on being published!!!

  16. Yay, Deb! Well, you know I own a copy of that book...and I point out to anybody who will listen "my friend Deb!" Ha! Congrats on being included in such an awesome work =) And I MUST have that lamb curry...and the book. It sounds amazing!! And I'm so loving the lamb right now. Ditto on the Melt truck...why is there not one in my area? Oh, and okay, I'll take an Ono bar to round it out. Sheesh...no need to twist my arm ;) LOL! Thanks so much for sharing your great post w/ the hearth and soul hop this week...I'm glad TIALTW is back!

  17. Tangled Noodle--I would love to take a class from him someday. ;-)

    Kat--thanks! ;-)

    Kim--thank you and thanks for stopping by. ;-)

    Joanne--Thank you--I will be doing TIALTW more often. ;-)

    Kim--thanks! I knew you would like the Ono Pop. ;-)

    Natashya--Thank you! ;-)

    Molly--thank you!

    ?--thank you! I love using different nuts in sauces too. ;-)

    Lori--thank you! It's not having my own book like you will soon (yay!) but still fun. ;-)

    Natasha--thank you! ;-)

    Michelle--mahalo! ;-)

    Christine--thank you. Lamb curries are among my favorites too. ;-)

    Plateful--thank you--it is exciting and fun. ;-)

    Healthy Mama--is is always great to find a value at the store isn't it?!

    girlichef--thanks for all the love!

  18. Hey that reminds me that we were asked to contribute a recipe as well - can you see if there's one for Sauteed Brussels Sprouts?


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