Indian-spiced lamb blade chops, spiced eggplant and crispy kale.
Yesterday while at market to replenish my stash of the Magic Hat Brewing Co. seasonal beety Wacko, I discovered Wacko is done and in its place was a harbinger of fall – Roxy Rolles amber ale (“Hoppy Autumn!”). Sigh. August has just arrived and it’s feeling like summer is coming to a close.
July brought Karen and me a deluge of catering business which while a bit grueling, provided a welcome catching-up from slower apres holiday times. We’ve both been dedicated to shopping and cooking from local farmers markets, and are now enjoying a short respite to cook in a more leisurely manner for ourselves, friends and family – a rollicking joint birthday celebration comes to mind – kinda sort of.
Though I generally gravitate to the larger North Union Farmers market at the Saturday Shaker Square locale, I’ve found some new favorites at their more provincial Sunday gig in Chagrin Falls. The Great American Lamb Company has given me a reason to etch in stone my love for the taste of the protein I loathed as a child. Last week I stocked up on a trove of shoulder chops – an economical cut that has the odd slice of bone and fat to navigate and lean towards the chewier side, but the flavor is as irresistible as pricier loin chops, so, to my freezer you go, oh carload of blade chops.
Kelli Hanley, of the new Hanley Homegrown, is realizing a first season of bringing the fruits of her labor to market. The first day up and running, Kelli shouted to me with her ever-present blinding smile and hands waving excitedly in the air, “I’ve been dreaming of this day for five years!” Not only is Kelli delivering crisp salad greens and lovingly-tended seasonal vegetables to the stand, she has been micro-producing her low sugar, no pectin, Spread The Love jams. The first smash run of strawberry/balsamic/basil was a sold-out success. Can’t wait to see what shows up next to top my almond butter and Kavli cracker snacks. :::Since this writing, Kelli says “Am jammin’ on the new spreads- peach cardamom, zucchini chutney and blueberry jalapeno, come check them out this week at the market!”
More local goodness to praise:Dear, gorgeous Claudia of cook eat FRET is in town, so we forge bravely on to what she missed from her last Cleveland visit: Yesterday a breakfast of perfect flaky, buttery, Paris-worthy croissant from On The Rise Artisan Breads. Later, Karen caught up with us for cocktails done right at the Velvet Tango Room (praise the French 75 – make mine gin, please), and dinner at The Greenhouse Tavern – just selected by Bon Appetit as one of the years top ten best new restaurants – congratulations, Jonathan and Amelia! Grilled country bread with goat butter, a rich and piquant chicken liver spread, slender French radishes with butter and sea salt, clams steamed in foie gras broth, steak tartare topped with a chilled poached egg, confited and duck fat fried chicken wings – uh huh, pasta with Ohio tomato, basil, summer squash and pancetta, grilled romaine lettuce with breadcrumbs and evo, pot of chocolate mousse, olive oil cake with fresh figs…much enthusiastically delivered to our table by kick ass chef Sawyer himself. Oh yeah, we ate it all and I could totally do it over again today.
Craving some heat to pair with our cool Cleveland summer (not complaining one bit – so far I have been a.c. free and very comfortable – sleeping like all good dreams), I put together this Indian inspired preparation for some of the blade chops. Soothing cucumber raita and Massa Organics brown rice balanced out the meal.
One recipe, one off the cuff:
Adapted from Marcus Wareings Cook The Perfect… via Heidi Robb
3 med-large eggplants
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves, cut in half lengthwise
A few fresh thyme sprigs snipped into short lengths
2 tablespoons tomato paste (you may need more to cover all of the eggplant surface)
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
5 tsp. ground cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
1tsp. black mustard seeds
Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, then make crosshatch incisions in the flesh of each half without cutting through the skin.
Push the garlic slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into the incisions, then spread the tomato paste over the cut sides and sprinkle with the spices (I achieved this by tapping the spices through a small strainer). Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Sandwich the halves back together, then wrap each eggplant tightly in foil. Place in a roasting pan and roast 1 hour or until very soft.
Unwrap the eggplants while still hot and separate the halves. Spoon out the flesh into a sieve suspended over a bowl. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Let the flesh drain for about a half hour, then turn it out onto a board and chop roughly.
Place a large saute pan over high heat. When hot heat the remaining oil until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add the eggplant and cook for about five minutes until the mixture becomes darker in color and looks quite dry. Stir in the cilantro and correct seasoning. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Marinade for lamb
Garlic mashed to a paste
Ginger mashed to a paste
Sliced jalapeno or serrano chile
Salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together until you arrive at a thick blend that tastes pleasing to your palate – enough to coat your quantity of lamb. I like mine on the spicy side. Coat lamb well with marinade and refrigerate 24-48 hours. Wipe off much of the marinade, season again with a light sprinkling of salt and grill chops to your degree of taste.