A warning: I am not a food photographer. I would really like to learn to be better, and I did just buy a (non-DSLR) new camera, but I know that these are not Gourmet magazine pretty. However, I’m learning and I hope you’ll take that into consideration.
Enough with the apologies!
I found some lamb shanks for a decent price at Kroeger Meats in Findlay Market. I decided braising them would be a good idea, so I turned to How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman, and found a recipe for Lamb Shanks with Apricots and Onions. Sounds right up my alley. The flavors were great, but I did make a few changes to the given recipe:
I used Chinese 5-Spice powder in place of the cinnamon and clove, as 5-spice complements lamb well.
I used a LOT more chicken stock than it called for– around 2 cups; Bittman suggested a half-cup– as I had to rescue the onions from nearly burning. The original recipe (the apricot and onion is a variant) calls for a can of tomatoes, but removes them in the variation without accounting for the lost liquid. I’ve heard from others who have had mixed successes with Bittman’s recipes, and I can see some of their frustration, particularly for a beginning cook.
Overall, the sauce was delicious and the lamb turned out tender.
I just started participating in an organic food co-op (which I’ll write about in a future post), and this week’s shipment had fennel. I’d never cooked with fennel before, so I checked with Bittman, and he suggested boiling them until nearly tender, then shocking them in ice water, slicing thinly, and baking with butter, chicken stock and Parmesan cheese until bubbly and golden. So, I did. No pictures of this one (honestly, it’s not a terribly attractive dish), and in this, Bittman suggested that the fennel would absorb most of the chicken broth– instead, it was almost soup-like with the two cups of chicken broth. Halving the chicken broth would have produced a superior product. However, nothing tastes bad with parmesan cheese on top, and fennel was delicate (like an herb-scented leek) and delicious.
For Valentine’s Day, I picked up some chocolate from the Greenup Cafe. It was pretty and delicious, but I forgot my camera on V-Day (I purchased a new, smaller one so I wouldn’t be tempted to forget it anymore, and could carry it around with me everywhere) so I only have a picture of the box, and not the truffles that came inside it. At this point, only the top of the box remains (and I’m not sure how long that will last).