Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pies are the new...

In the same way violet is the new pink and blueberries are the new pomegranites, pies (or piemakers) are going through a bit of renaissance, surfacing in a combination of popular and indie culture.

Its yet another snowy afternoon in Maine (we've had storms every few days in the last two weeks, totally 18 inches on the ground -- a record for December). Scott, Willa, and I are nestled in with hot cocoa and tea. We just finished Waitress, a two and a half/three star indie film, about (go figure) a Waitress who's special place in life is creating pies. Savory pies. Sweet pies. Creative pies. Non-sensical but delicious pies (e.g. a marshmallow mermaid pie or Joe's Horny Past Pie).

The movie came out this summer, shortly before Pushing Daisies priemiered on ABC during the 8 PM primetime Wednesday spot. Pushing Daisies is one of the few TV shows that I'll make time for this season, primarily because I love fast paced dialogue, and well, its got a quirky unformulaic plot. Most of the show is based at the "Pie Hole," owned and operated by Ned, our hero, more often than not referred to as "the Pie Maker" by the show's narrator.

Which brings be back to my original conundrum which is whether or not pies or piemakers are experiencing the renaissance. I think its the latter, as I don't actually see any real pie creativity making its way into modern cuisine (and I should know, I live in Portland home to the creative economy and fabulous restaurants :) There is something however common about the piemaking characters. They are certainly all quirky. While not quite social outcasts, they seem to spend more time in their own heads than is generally accepted as normal. However, this lends itself to an independent persona than a character flaw. They are sympathetic, to the extent of being forlone, and they are sad. This doesn't quite mesh with the character of the pie -- which I generally characterize as down home comfort food, made by all around happy people (mostly women), with their trademark perma-grin.

So if indeed the pies and their piemakers are reemerging in life -- what/who are they replacing? I'm not sure there is a desert or occupation that currently holds that place in pop or indie culture...

Friday, December 14, 2007

This year's cookbooks roundup on Slate

Nice commentary on the year's best cookbooks from cookbook writers, chefs, etc. 3 pager, starting here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lamb Chops

So I love lamb —particularly lamb chops---and a while back I decided to try the recipe that Mari posted but since I was in a hurry and I didn’t have all the ingredients, I changed it up a bit. (I should’ve taken a picture because it looked pretty too!) This recipe makes about 8 lamb chops.


8 lamb chops
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons (lightly packed) fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ tsp dried thyme (one day I dream of having a little herb and vegetable garden so I don’t have to rely on my dried herbs!)
1 tsp zaatar (this is a spice mixture of oregano, thyme, sesame seeds and some other spices. You can find green zataar at any Middle Eastern grocery store. It also tastes delicious on oven roasted potatoes)
½ cup chopped tomatoes
¼ cup chopped onions
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp meat tenderizer

Preheat oven to 425F.

First, I crushed the cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle first but didn’t roast them. I added all the ingredients (except the tomatoes and onion and olive oil) to a bowl and mixed the ingredients. I coated the lamb chops with this mix and poured the oil on top of the chops and coated the chops with the oil.

I then lined a glass baking pan with foil and put the lamb chops on the foil. You can pour any marinade on top of the chops. Then slice onions and tomatoes in thin slices and put these on top of the chops. I sprinkled a tiny bit of zataar on top of the whole dish and then covered the dish with foil and put it in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes.

Delicious and super simple. The lamb was juicy and very flavorful.

Maybe next time I will share my Thanksgiving experience too. Our halal turkey came from Detroit, feathers and all. Imagine 3 women (none of us ever having made a turkey) sitting there pulling out the feathers with eyebrow tweezers, knives, you name it. I have to say though—the turkey turned out pretty darn good at the end of the day!