I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

April 15, 2011

Lamb with Artichokes (p. 439)

I still can't decide if I like lamb. I think I do, but it's such a unique flavor that some preparations of it are much better than others.

Anyway, this recipe is supposed to be mostly about the veggies, with just a little meat to flavor. The problem with it is the same problem that all my other artichoke recipes have -- the artichokes they sell here just can't be eaten whole. So I made mine with more meat than artichokes.

Cook the meat first, with lamb cut into small pieces sauteed in olive oil until totally browned. Add in chopped scallions, garlic, and onions and cook until softened, then add water to cover the top of the meat and cook gently.

Put in the artichokes, halved if they're small, quartered if they're big. Stir flour into a small amount of water until blended and pour it into the stew, along with lemon juice. Cook until the sauce has been reduced and thickened, then add in chopped parsley and cilantro as well as salt and pepper. Serve over white rice.

We didn't eat this as a stew; I used a slotted spoon to ladle the meat and veggies over the white rice and we ate it like that. We both enjoyed it (and finished it off) but it was severely lacking in spices, so we doused it in hot sauce and went from there.

lamb -- $4.76
cilantro -- $1.99
scallions -- $.78
Total Cost of Lamb with Artichokes: $7.53
($3.77 per serving)

April 12, 2011

Koukia me Anginares (p. 319)

Koukia me Anginares is Broad Beans with Artichokes, and is supposed to be made with fresh fava beans, but I only had dried, so I soaked them overnight and then cooked them until tender before starting up the rest of the recipe.

And I know I've asked before, but why do cooked fava beans smell so gross?

Moving on. Sauté the fava beans as well as chopped onion and dill in olive oil, and cook until the onions have softened.

Add in the cleaned and prepped artichokes along with lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

The next step confused me a little -- add water until it covers the vegetables, cover, and cook until the artichokes are tender. Which I did, but then there was a ton of water in the pan. The recipe must have used a totally different type of pan then I did, because I had to drain everything so that the dish would look how I thought it should, but draining was definitely not included in the directions.

Well.... this is not my favorite. The beans seemed totally lacking in flavor and I was kind of bored by them. The artichoke leaves I dipped in melted butter, so I can't really complain about that part.

artichokes -- $5.99
Total Cost of Koukia me Anginares: $5.99
($2.00 per serving)

April 11, 2011

Salsa Romesco (continued)

So, Salsa Romesco wasn't a perfect match for the poached fish the other night, but I found out what it is perfect with; grilled cheese sandwiches.

April 9, 2011

Poached Whole Fish (p. 351) with Salsa Romesco (p. 277)

I've been holding off on this poached fish recipe because I don't get to an area with a fish market very often, and Fresh Market doesn't sell whole fish. I finally got a chance to swing by Earps, a long-standing fish market in Raleigh, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. Fresh fish comes in from the coast each morning, and you kind of feel like you're in a little hut at the beach when you're in there.

My recipe calls for a pretty large fish -- a 6 pound salmon or sea bass -- but not only would that be way more fish that we could ever eat, I also don't have the type of pot that I could cook a fish that big in. Instead I chose a white bass that looked like it would feed two nicely.

This preparation would definitely have been easier with the proper pan; a long fish kettle with a removable rack. Instead, I simmered vegetable stock and some water along with dill and parsley and a chopped onion in my regular stock pot and then tossed the fish in whole.

Covered, mine only took about 10 minutes to cook, and then I carefully lifted the fish out (though it still lost its head -- whoops!) and put it on my pretty fish plate. For a little flavor, and to keep the fish from drying out, I spooned a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, dil, and parsley over the fish.

Since the fish is pretty simply prepared, I made Salsa Romesco to jazz things up a bit. It's a Catalan sauce that is supposed to be muy piquante.

It's also easy to toss together -- I made mine earlier in the day and it only took as long as needed to brown each of the ingredients (dried chilies, garlic cloves, almonds, and bread crusts) in some olive oil. These all go into a food processor along with a seeded tomato and some vinegar. Process everything down together into a sort of grainy paste, then serve.

I was surprised that Matt thinks this is a definite candidate for making in the future. I thought it was good, but whole fish is always kind of a pain, what with the bones and all. Still, the fish was really flavorful and we loved the olive oil mixture. Even after the fish was long gone we did a lot of bread dipping in the extra sauce.

The Salsa Romesco was good, but not great. I liked the flavor of almond and the sort of subtle spice, but it was lacking a strong kick that I wanted. We've got a ton left and might try it with eggs for Sunday breakfast.

fish -- $4.87
dill -- $1.99
garlic -- $.59
vegetable stock -- $1.78
Total Cost of Poached Whole Fish: $9.23
($4.62 per serving)

tomato -- $1.70
bread -- $1.99
Total Cost of Salsa Romesco: $3.69
($.46 per serving)

April 8, 2011

Turkish-Style Oven-Braised Winter Vegetables (p. 343)

This is a really simple recipe to throw together, if you're the kind of person who's in to braised veggies. I'm not, really, but with enough salt and pepper pretty much anything can be good.

The only stove-top cooking needed is for the beans -- I had soaked mine over night and then cooked them in water and olive oil for about an hour, until they were nice and tender.

For the rest of the veggies, you can use pretty much whatever you have on hand. I chopped up carrots, celery, a turnip and a potato and put them in an oven-proof dish with some salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Pour in some boiling water and cook in the oven until the veggies are all cooked, about half an hour.

Sprinkle with chopped scallions and mix in the cooked beans.

We ate this at room temperature (which the cookbook recommends), and it was okay. I had leftovers for lunch today that I heated up and I liked that quite a bit more. Cold beans just don't do it for me.  Luckily, a perfectly cooked steak with garlic-butter sauce filled us right up.

white beans -- $2.49
celery -- $3.99
carrots --$1.29
potato -- $.69
turnip -- $1.23
scallions -- $.99
(with plenty of beans, celery, and carrots leftover)
Total Cost of Turkish-Style Oven-Braised Winter Vegetables: $10.68
($2.14 per serving)

April 1, 2011

Moroccan Harira (p. 147)

I know, I know -- it's been forever since I've posted. I'm horrible. I'm trying to make a comeback, though, so wish me luck with that.

Raleigh has had pretty gross weather all week long -- cool and rainy -- so a thick stew seemed like the perfect thing, and this one fit the bill exactly; lentils, chickpeas, beef, and lots and lots of spices.

Start the recipe in the usual way, sautéing onion (both large, chopped ones as well as tiny whole ones) in olive oil with some salt. Add in the diced meat and cook, then add chickpeas, pepper, saffron, ginger, and a cinnamon stick.

Simmer with water and chicken stock until everything is cooked and tender.

A note about chickpeas: I normally buy the dried bag and soak them overnight. Fresh Market for some reason doesn't sell them like this, so I had to buy the canned kind in liquid, which I was wary about. What do you guys think -- which is better to use?

In a separate pan, cook a thick paste of chopped parsley, cilantro, and celery along with olive oil. Stir in tomatoes and lentils and some of the boiling water from the meat mixture. Spice it up with tomato concentrate, cumin, and a healthy dose of dried chili.

Finally, just combine the two contents of the two pots and cook them together for a bit, then serve.

This is incredible thick, which Matt and I both really liked. Also spicy, yum. I definitely enjoyed my leftovers.

And unfortunately, Fresh Market didn't give me my receipt, so no price update for this one.