The time has come people, when I am sick to death of the same old same old. Monday came around just as fast as last Sunday, I looked back on the week and thought to myself- nothing made that week a great week. We didn't do anything that stood out....come to think about it, we haven't done anything in the past 4 months that has been fun, engaging or memorable.
Last night Nic and I threw a dinner party. I was reminded of just how therapeutic it is for adults to come together over good food and wine and let their hair down. I feel revived (if not a little foggy this morning..) and most importantly happy that I have touched base with a few of the great people I know.
Dinner parties don't have to be a full on affair. I wanted to relax and enjoy my friends, so I decided to go with a leg of lamb on the barbie and a few other bits and bobs.
A little while ago I bought a Middle Eastern cookbook called A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. She is a fantastic food writer, her book was first published in 1968 and I bought my copy for $1.70 on the Internet. When it arrive it was as I hoped, the pages stained yellow from age, recipes short and simple yet enticing, however, my favourite part about the book is her style of writing. Unlike cookbooks of today where they get down to the business of glossy pictures and bold recipes and not much more, this book is filled with antidotes of the writers history with dishes not to mention the funny little quirky poems relating to food and culture. That's right, it is a cookbook that is a great read too! I mean when was the last time you read a cookbook that was filled with riddles?
"....Beaded, her head is high and she sleeps in a shawl. Guess who she is.
Answer: A corn cob..."
I love it!
OK so I am sure you now understand why I threw a Middle Eastern dinner party, not only is the food delicious, tasty and easy to prepare but my new/old book provided entertainment too.... how many modern day cookbooks do the same?
My marinade for the lamb is a combination of a few recipes in the meat chapter of this book. I picked out the flavours I thought sounded delicious and then put them together as I saw fit. The end result was a yummy one which also gave me time to sit and relax with friends while the lamb looked after itself.
I served the lamb with Israeli couscous tossed through roasted pine nuts, currants, Italian parsley and mint. A very quick and easy side dish to put together. I cooked some of the long flat Italian beans in a tajine which complimented the lamb and couscous beautifully. The beauty of this side, is it can be made the day before and then simply reheated.
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried oregano
zest of one lemon
In a mortar, grind the above ingredients into a paste.
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
Grind remaining ingredients together (or place in a blender) until you have a thick paste. See below.
Once you have your paste, rub down your leg of lamb with paper towel then stab it randomly with a sharp knife to make incisions throughout the leg.
With your fingers, begin filling the holes with your marinade then rub the remaining all over the lab joint back to front, top to bottom.
Leave for at least 4 hours before popping on the BBQ.
Just before BBQing, rub in a good handful of salt and pepper all over the joint.