knowing where your pizza comes from

leek and lamb pizza

This was a good pizza.

It evolved naturally, inspired more or less equally by our usual Middle Eastern Lamb Pizza, the cover of the latest Food & Wine, and a recipe in Tessa Kiros’ book Falling Cloudberries. I knew I wanted to try a pizza with a leek-based sauce (I’m on a leek kick right now), but I wanted spiced lamb on it as well. In the end, it wasn’t quite like any of the source recipes, becoming something quite perfect all on its own: a melange of braised leeks tossed with hot pepper and tamarind-spiced lamb, layered with mozzarella and adorned with small ripe tomatoes, all resting on a chewy part-whole-wheat crust.

Savory and wonderful as the pizza was, there was something that made me stop mid-chew and stare at my plate for a minute. I realized that I knew where everything on that pizza had come from! Leeks and gorgeous fiery red peppers from Hedlin Farms in La Conner, lamb from Linda Martiny, local mozzarella, Shepherd’s Grain Stone-Buhr flour, salad (with flowers sprinkled in it) from Frog’s Song, and tiny tomatoes from our deck.

The only products I couldn’t put a face to were the salt, yeast and olive oil (well, okay, and the tamarind and cinnamon). I think that’s pretty cool.

dinner

Plus it was an incredible pizza.

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lamb-yogurt noodles

lamb noodles

Perhaps you remember the lamb pizza I posted about way back when? How good it is when you’ve rolled it up with a mint leaf and dipped it in a bowl of garlic-laced yogurt? This dish is just like that, only on noodles. Oh my god it was so good. Heading straight into the repertoire, this one is.

I found this recipe in the book Olives and Oranges, which is a wildly attractive cookbook and full of the kinds of things I like best to eat. The recipe is really straightforward and simple, and takes hardly any time to prepare – about as long as it takes the pasta water to boil. The resulting pasta is a thick tangle of noodles drenched in tart yogurt sauce, studded with lamb and pine nuts and the occasional spark of hot chile or raw garlic.

lamb noodles

This would be great with a tossed green salad or cooked greens, but we ate it with cold grilled eggpant and it was beyond sublime. Add a bottle of good red wine and you, like us, will be happy.

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mostly local

the all-local dinner

While I am, in principle, a big fan of the locavore, 100-mile diet movement, I really don’t think I’m ever going to manage to eat one hundred percent local. I’m very fond of olive oil, for instance. And mangoes. But it does give me a thrill when I realize that everything on my plate was produced within a fifty mile radius of my house. This was a recent dinner of grilled lamb chops, Japanese eggplant and asparagus, all purchased at the downtown farmer’s market.

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lamb riblets

grilling lamb riblets

We consider ourselves very lucky to finally have a local grocery store that actually carries lamb. Usually, each new store that opens up includes lamb in their meat case, just to make themselves look interesting, but as soon as the novelty wears off they drop it, except for the occasional leg at Easter. Boo. We did once get some lamb from a farm near my parents’ place, but it was closer to mutton and very badly butchered, to the point that the cuts were unrecognizable and hard to deal with.

But to our delight, Haggen (our favorite grocery store, apart from the co-op) has actually continued to have lamb in their case – we can always get leg and ground lamb, can often get loin chops, and every once in a while there is a package of riblets – what’s left after the breast meat is cut away. They’re dirt cheap, so we snatch them up and stuff them in the freezer until we have enough for a meal.

dinner

What to do with them? Continue reading

köfte kebabs

cool skewers

One of the treasures that we brought back from Kansas City (and, no doubt, were responsible for our suitcase being searched) was this bunch of gorgeous skewers. They’re just what we’ve been wanting: long, flat and wide. Finally, we thought, we can make ground-meat kebabs without the meat falling off the skewer!

kebabs
whoops

We were wrong, of course. Continue reading

spaghetti with anchovies

dinner

Now here’s some real food: pasta tossed with anchovies, garlic, hot red pepper and breadcrumbs. Man, this stuff is good. I got the idea from one of John Thorne’s old newsletters that’s been floating around the kitchen. I suppose you might not like it if you don’t like anchovies, but why would you not like anchovies? Honestly.

This would, of course, be good with any number of variations, including adding cheese, but the breadcrumbs really do a great job of standing in for grated hard cheese, adding a charming nutty crunch. We ate the pasta with a few tender lamb rib chops, just salted and seared, and a bit of fresh spinach tossed in a hot wok. Leftovers reheated quite splendidly, tossed in a nonstick skillet, with an egg fried alongside. Yum. Continue reading

goat cheese mashed potatoes

 goat cheese mashed potatoes

One of our new (to us) cookbooks was beginning to pine away from lack of use, and we decided we must make something from it. As it turned out, we managed three different dishes from the book in one meal: not all exactly as written, but definitely inspired by. As a result, we’ve decided that Greg Malouf is a genius. These recipes are from Artichoke to Za’atar (I prefer its UK title, Arabesque)- now we have to get to work on Turquoise. And I really must get hold of a copy of Saha.

fennel salad
breaded lamb chop
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lamb tagine soup

lamb tagine soup

This was another one of those dishes that, although it was delicious in its first incarnation, was even better as a gussied-up leftover. It makes sense, of course, since a tagine is a braised dish, which tends to be best on its second day. But this, I think, was particularly splendid.

preserved lemon

Usually when we’re in the mood for tagine we make our standby, lamb with dried apricots and chickpeas. This time, though, I decided I really wanted to try an old favorite, a tagine of lamb with preserved lemon, peas and olives, which we hadn’t made for ages. We had to drive all the way to Bellingham for the preserved lemon, because I keep forgetting to make some, but it was worth it. Besides, it meant that we got to eat falafel and schawarma at Mediterranean Specialties for lunch that day. Continue reading

the last farmer’s market + mizuna pesto

farmer's market haul

The Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market had its final day this weekend, so we made sure to go stock up. Squash, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, peppers, a pumpkin for the porch and a big bunch of dahlias – we did pretty well. There will still be a few farmstands open, of course, but it’s never as easy as the market for getting all our shopping done with one fell swoop. Ah, well.

mustard greens

Before leaving on our market trip, wondering what we might end up having for dinner, I was paging through The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali, and found an enticing picture of lamb rib chops dancing around a pile of something green. It was, apparently, a pesto made of broccoli rabe. What a good idea, I thought, I’ll get some at the farmer’s market and try it out! Naturally, not a single booth was offering it…but Blue Heron Farm did have lovely fresh bunches of mizuna, or Japanese mustard greens. Thinking one bitter green might well replace another, we bought a bunch and proceeded to wing the recipe. Continue reading

the last farmer's market + mizuna pesto

farmer's market haul

The Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market had its final day this weekend, so we made sure to go stock up. Squash, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, peppers, a pumpkin for the porch and a big bunch of dahlias – we did pretty well. There will still be a few farmstands open, of course, but it’s never as easy as the market for getting all our shopping done with one fell swoop. Ah, well.

mustard greens

Before leaving on our market trip, wondering what we might end up having for dinner, I was paging through The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali, and found an enticing picture of lamb rib chops dancing around a pile of something green. It was, apparently, a pesto made of broccoli rabe. What a good idea, I thought, I’ll get some at the farmer’s market and try it out! Naturally, not a single booth was offering it…but Blue Heron Farm did have lovely fresh bunches of mizuna, or Japanese mustard greens. Thinking one bitter green might well replace another, we bought a bunch and proceeded to wing the recipe.

Continue reading