Last Saturday Mr.O offered to cook dinner to impress me so I stayed out of the kitchen for a change, taking a full advantage of the occasion, and sipped wine amid the clattering and chopping noises coming from the kitchen. I could sense even from the noises that he was feeling pretty nervous trying out a new recipe, but I was also as anxious as he was, while imagining possible disasters. I shouldn’t really make a big deal out of one bad dinner, but I was born to care about food, which I sometimes saw it as a curse, but now I’ve come to the point where I shall accept the fact that I am a food snob and shall remain as such; now I understand why chefs are thought to be bad-tempered, grumpy, cranky and foul-mouthed except Jamie Oliver. I am sure he swears in the kitchen when off the camera, though his swearing won’t sound as offensive and vulgar as others, but still….Professionalism or Obsession? You can’t separate both, can you?a
I got occasional calls asking for help from the kitchen, “Do think it’s ok to…?” “Do you think…?” “Stop asking questions and just do it, hon, or I would feel like I’m cooking with my mouth.”
So I returned to sipping wine and 30mins later I went to the kitchen, not to check his progress, but to refill my glass and caught the lovely looking lamb sizzling away as it was coming out of the oven. And another 10-15mins later the moment of judgement finally arrived and this perfect looking roulade was laid in front of me. On the presentation, he got 4.5 stars so far. Next, I took a bite, feeling the heat of his eyes on my face. Even before I said anything, he could sense that it wasn’t satisfactory.
Voila! Lamb Roulade au Spinach and Mushrooms. “Well, the meat is nicely cooked, but to be honest, flavours are missing.” He, so preoccupied with the stuffing and the look, completely forgot about seasoning the meat. I’m bad…I make people nervous in the kitchen. Perhaps, I have the charisma to be a judge on the MasterChef show?
Anyway, mushroom sauce on mushroom stuffed lamb is a double crime. 🙂 It would have worked better with stronger flavours to cut through the gaminess of lamb. However, the wine he picked for himself for the evening was so pleasant that he was easily forgiven for the dinner that wasn’t quite up to the scratch. He’s in the process of learning international cuisines so…
The next day I gave the lamb roll a quick makeover by serving it on the bed of Satay sauced-Cauliflower. This little fix turned the last night’s leftover into a whole new meal for another evening. How fantastic and frugal! It is made with ground peanuts but you can also cheat by using peanut butter. As I don’t like the sweet and heavy version, when I make for myself, I skip sugar and use water, adding some coconut flakes for the exotic flavour. It’s quick, easy and light. My peanut satay cauliflower can be served as a substitute for rice for low-carb people or on its own for veggos. Mr.O said he didn’t like satay he ate in Indonesia because it was too sweet for his taste, but liked mine very much. Not surprised. 🙂
Who doesn’t like so called satay sauce? The richly flavoured, exotic, nutty, sweet, spicy sauce….though it’s an Indonesian origin, it’s internationally better known as Thai cuisine. However, according to A Taste of the Past, peanuts originated in Peru and were introduced to other countries following the Portuguese trade routes, to China, southwest Asia, and then later, recipes using peanuts reached Indonesia through the Dutch East India Company and other countries. I love the history of food; how food commodities such as Salt, Cod, Saffron, Vanilla, Coffee, Tea, etc. changed the world history is quite fascinating.
The wine we drank is quite an interesting one. It is from the same winery as Consensus that I liked and has Petit Verdot, one of my favourite grapes; its dark berry colour and flavour, spiciness, leathery aroma and a strong floral note of violet. Yes, Petit Verdot = Violet. It’s my smell. When I first started to drink wine, I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to drink wines whose tasting notes includes words such as leather, char, tobacco, licorice?” Now I understand of course what that means and even love it.
Smyrna, which came from an ancient city on the Aegean coast within modern Izmir, Turkey, is a blend of Carbernet Sauvignan and Petit Verdot 2010 by LA Wines. It is a bold wine with plenty of tannin and acidity, which are the major differences in characteristics to other Turkish wines. It was a bit like a young and untamed version of St. Julien wines (of course, not comparable but just as a reference). It is definitely worth stocking up some more as table wine. The powerful structure of the wine coped very well with meaty food and also with cheese and was better balanced and not as astringent as Pasaeli, which is €10 more expensive. It was 2010 but I could feel that it had a lot of potential to age, especially with a nice tight cork, and some of the tannin would soften in one or two more years. I can’t wait to test it but at the moment, I want to drink more of it while I can since I’ve finally found a decent wine at an affordable price. One last note is that this wine happened to be an organic wine registered for Ecocert like Kup that I reviewed earlier.
Update: Smyrna Shiraz-Marselan isn’t so nice so please read the label. I accidentally bought it, thinking it was the same one that I drank and was disappointed.
Lamb Roulade stuffed with Spinach, Walnuts and Cranberries
Ingredients (4 rolls)
4 pieces of flattened lamb meat
1 bunch of spinach, blanched and drained
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 cloves of garlic
sea salt and cracked pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp grain mustard
1. In a food processor, blend all the ingredients for stuffing except olive oil.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper and rub the surface with olive oil, and put the stuffing on top, and roll it up. Repeat with the rest of meat.
3. Bake in the preheated oven at 190’C for 30 mins until the meat is browned.
4. Let it rest in the oven while making the cauliflower satay.
Quick and Light Satay Sauced Cauliflower
enough cauliflower florets, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped (I used leek)
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped or ground in a food processor
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric or curry powder
1 tsp chili powder or cayenne chili power
a little vegetable oil
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp coconut flakes (optional)
1 tsp tamarind paste (I used rosehip paste)
1/3 cup water
a squeeze of lemon or lime
sea salt to season
1. Fry the peanuts in a pan with a little oil and add spring onions and cauliflower.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour in water and bring to boil, and then simmer for 5 mins until thickened.
3. Season it with salt and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.