Wow so many amazing projects as always in this thread. I've been super busy working on a swap item which has used all my creative energy in the past few weeks! I was going to use it for my Nerd Pride, before deciding to post this instead...
Prompt: Red Alert! Nerd Pride
Bonus Points: Engineering
Project Name: Slow cooked Middle Eastern lamb and quinoa salad
Project Link: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=439983.0
Brief Description: My boyfriend recently gave me a slow cooker, and this is the first thing I have ever cooked in it! I cook food for a living, I sometimes forget it is a craft. But it is definitely where I am able to let my true creativity shine and is something I am immensely proud of. I don't post things I make for work on here (I think that would be cheating!) This is a dinner I cooked for my boyfriend and myself last night. The lamb recipe is adapted rather liberally from one of my favourite restaurants that is far too expensive to eat at more than once a year.
Slow cooked lamb:
First of all, the marinade. Crush a whole bulb of garlic. Mix with 1/4c ground cumin seeds,, 1T ground sumac, zest and juice from one lemon. A liberal amount of salt and black pepper. Score the fat of a lamb leg (I used a half leg - bone in, butt end. It weighed about 1.25kg, and was enough for both of us to have a big dinner and left overs the next day.
Then comes the hard part. Well, the first hard part. Seal in a freezer bag and leave to marinate in the fridge for AT LEAST two days. I'm serious. Let it soak up all that awesome delicious flavour.
Hard part; part two. Wake up ridiculously early (6.30am for me!) chop up a couple of carrots and an onion for the bottom of the cooker. Add that sweet delicious meat, fat side up. You could sear the meat if you wish but I had no time and it really doesn't need it! Add two cups of vege stock. I just used it because I had never used a slow cooker before and wasn't going to be home for ten hours and didn't want to risk the meat drying out! I would cut that quantity to 1c next time I make this.
Set slow cooker to low. Go to work, spend nine hours cooking for other people, all the while dreaming of your lamb. Return to an amazing smelling home.
The meat had been cooking for about 10 hours at this point, and was super tender. I tasted, adjusted seasonings, then removed lamb from cooker. I drained the liquid into a pot and discarded the vegetables. Add the lamb back to the slow cooker. The meat was literally falling apart every time I touched it, it was glorious! Simmer the liquid over a low heat until reduced to about 1/4 of the original volume. It will be syrupy and full of flavour!
While that was happening I had a salad to prepare!
First of all was the cumin labne: Stir 1T ground cumin seeds through 1c plain greek yogurt. Tie in a kitchen cloth or muslin and sit in a sieve. Sit sieve over a small bowl and leave in the fridge for about two hours. All the liquid will drain off and you will end up with a thick, spicy yogurt. I LOVE labne, I also like to add vanilla beans, cinnamon, honey etc etc to make a sweet one to go with fruit.
Pickled red onions: So easy! Bring 1/2c pale vinegar (I had apple cider, white wine vinegar etc will also work!) with a few big tablespoons of sugar and maybe 1T salt. Finely slice red onion. Add to vinegar mix, remove from heat and leave until ready to serve. These turn out bright pink and taste absolutely delicious on everything! Everyone should have a jar of these in their fridge at all times.
Then I simply had to put my salad together. I made it up as I went along and it was delicious.
2c cooked quinoa. (I used mixed, because it looks prettier!)
Coriander, mint and basil leaves.
Lemon zest. (preserved lemon would have been ace, but sadly I had none!)
Chopped roasted pistachio nuts.
Finely sliced red chillis.
I didn't make a dressing, just tossed it with the juice of one lemon, 2T sesame oil and 2T of the pickled onion liquid.
Time to put everything together! I pulled the lamb apart, which was so easy, all I needed to do was nudge it with my spoon and it would melt. Pour over the reduced liquid and let that soak right up.
Top salad with pickled onions and labne. Sprinkle with dukkah (I bought mine from another favourite - but much more affordable! - middle eastern restaurant.) Add a lemon wedge on the side for extra flavour, pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy!
It really isn't often I spend so much time and effort making dinner for myself at home. So when I do I make sure it is extra special. I am already planning another trip to the butchers so I can make this again!