October 2007 Archives

Moroccan spiced leg of lamb

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I love lamb.  It's not as popular here in America as it is in the UK, for some reason, but that hasn't stopped me subjecting most people I've met to a lamby dinner.  This dish has gone down particularly well, several times.  If you don't want to deal with a whole leg of lamb, you could buy some large cubes of lamb, preferably leg meat, make kebabs instead and call them 'brochettes' to sound fancy.

moroccanlambfest.jpgThe dish uses a vaguely Moroccan spice blend, which goes so well with lamb.  It’s definitely party food - buy a whole leg and then invite as many people as you think it will feed, plus a couple more.  Thanks go to Patrick, Marketa, Megan, Kevin, Lindsay, Andrew and Carole, among others, for being such active lamb-fest participants.

Corn's domestication of the human race

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Smbobscorn0001.jpgZea mays, the giant tropical grass commonly known as corn or maize, now totally dominates both American agriculture and the American diet.  93.6 million acres of US soil is given over to its production (imagine a cornfield bigger than Germany), and of the 45,000 or so different products in the average American supermarket, over one quarter contain corn.  Why has corn been so successful in domesticating us?  The answer involves sex, drugs and very complicated US government farm policy…


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When visiting Libby, Tim, Ollie and Abi in Seattle a few months ago we had this in a Bolivian restaurant and found ourselves ordering more and more.  I recreated the recipe, and the home-made huminta was a hit with all of the original dining party, especially the littlest members. 

SmAbihuminta0001.jpg‘Huminta’ may mean something different to most South Americans, but here is the Copacabana Restaurant version.  For a hot, savoury, sweet, buttery side dish, you can’t go too wrong with this.

This recipe's for Abi (aged 1 year and 10 months), who was an enthusiastic guinea-pig during recipe testing.  Her dad calls them 'fairy cakes on acid'. You'll have to try them to see if you agree.

Roasted figs

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When weekending in the Russian River area recently with friends (picture higgledy hills, back-to-back vineyards of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet, pasty San Franciscans soaking up the rays by day and in the hot tub by night…), we were delighted to find a fig tree in the garden. Roasted on their leaves, the figs went a treat with the grilled lamb we had for dinner.

Smfigs0009.JPGI reckon they'd also go well with other grilled and roasted meats, or with cheese, or even with ice cream as a dessert (in which case add some sugar and go easy on the salt and pepper).

Corn and courgette soup

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This soup might sound too plain and simple to be very interesting, but it is very delicious.  It is the first soup I was asked to make at Chez Panisse, and I've made it several times since at work and at home.  (It was not the soup that ended up in the compost, so you can trust me on this one.)  It is creamy, sweet and delicious.  The trick is to get a good balance between corny and courgettey flavours.  You might be tempted to substitute tinned corn for cobs, but please don’t.

Smbobscorn0001.jpgWe are still getting corn here, but I guess the season may have ended in the UK - ?  Judging by the Halloween decorations ALREADY out on our neighbours' houses, it must be 'fall', so I guess recipes will be moving over to the celeriac/potato/roast meat variety quite soon.  I'm going to have to send you one more corn recipe first though, as there are just too many important corn facts I feel compelled to write up.  For instance, did you know that one quarter of the c.45,000 products sold in the average American supermarket contain corn?  Find out more about corn's domestication of the human race next week...


Culinary Anthropologist