Pick your pleasure

The high in Oklahoma has been right around 70 degrees! I’ve walked my dogs two days in a row for longer than 10 minutes! Meryl Streep on Fresh Air! Happy weekend, indeed.

What is it about Meryl Streep’s voice that makes it so…I don’t know, luscious? I’ve been thinking about this and here’s what I’ve come up with: Her voice brings to mind feelings of swirling a spoon into a carton of ice cream that’s been softening on the kitchen counter, taking a big, silky bite, then, ice cream in mouth, carrying on conversation with your dear friend at the table. Bless you, Meryl, for making speech a sensory pleasure. May we all learn, by your example, how to bring more art and pleashaaaah into our daily speak.

Speaking of pleasure, I pulled myself together enough this week to cook something other than sautéed greens or roasted vegetables for dinner. I should add, for the sake of the vegetables and greens, that they are perfectly satisfying enough for an-easy-to-please girl like me. But, every now and again, and increasingly so as the weather turns chilly, I like to pass my evening sauntering around my little kitchen, getting lost in the smells and sounds and sights of Home Cooking. And last Wednesday, I did that with a pound of lamb, onions, carrots, and some aromatic spices.

Carrot Confetti

I first made the lamb patties that bring me here today for a column I wrote for Edible OKC. I don’t have much to say about it right now, because I’m sitting in Room 120 of Community Hospital, keeping my Mimi company as she recovers from back surgery, and, as such, am a bit distracted. But what I can tell you is that this is a recipe that pleases my palate in exactly the right way. I hope you’ll take my word for it and give it a try.

With a little prep beforehand, this recipe doesn’t require a ton of fussing, which is especially nice if you, like me, get easily caught up in the smells of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and fennel, while A Tribe Called Quest’s Electric Relaxation beats in the background. As a fine dice, the onions and carrots look ever so slightly like orange-and-white confetti, so if you, like me, have a camera nearby, you might even be able to grab it and practice taking photos in the last light of the day.

BedroomLight

We ate the patties with injera bread — an East-African, spongy, sourdough-risen flatbread, also known as Jamie’s most favorite thing to eat and make ever — and lightly cooked greens. You could serve them with a mint yogurt sauce, but, truth be told, I don’t find it necessary. I’m including a recipe for such a sauce, though, so you can pick your pleasure.

I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of the finished product for you. I’ve never found myself much inspired by a hunk of meat — not in it’s looks, anyway. The inspiration here comes with taste.

Take care, folks.

Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Minty Lemon Yogurt Sauce
From Flavors of Health Cookbook

This recipe comes from a cookbook I received as part of my studies in holistic nutrition. While Mr. Bauman’s lectures are hardly flavorful, the recipes in this book more than make up for that. I know that in many cases flavor is not synonymous with health. But this cookbook is proof that the two elements can coexist very well.

For the patties:

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried currents — we’ve also used raisins and dried tart cherries
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • 3 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil, if you prefer it)

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 1 pint greek-style plain, whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

A quick word about the sauce: The recipe will give you about 2 cups, so you’ll likely have some left over. All you need to do to make the sauce is mix the ingredients together in a medium bowl, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the lamb in a large bowl and set aside. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the onions and a pinch of sea salt, and sauté until soft and opaque, about 5 minutes.

Add the carrots and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Reduce the heat, then sprinkle in the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and turmeric. Stir so that the spices coat the vegetables — it should smell very aromatic — and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour the vegetable sauté over the lamb and stir. Add the salt and pepper, then fold in the currants and egg, making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Form the meat into 3-inch patties (you can make them bigger, if you want) and place on a baking tray. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add a few spoonfuls of butter. As the oil melts, swirl the pan around to coat the bottom. The pan should be adequately hot before you begin cooking the patties. You can test if the pan is ready by putting a small drop of meat on the pan. If it sizzles, the pan is good to go; but, if it spits and sizzles too aggressively, the oil is likely too hot, and your patties will burn before they are cooked through. If this is the case, remove the pan from the heat for a few minutes before cooking.

Place the burger patties 2 inches apart and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the burger sears and releases easily from the pan with a spatula. Flip the burger and cook the other side. If you have a thermometer, you want the internal temperature to be 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Transfer the patties to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat the cooking process until all burgers are cooked.

These patties go well on a bun (or any bread that so pleases you) topped with fresh lettuce. You can also top them with the yogurt sauce. Any leftover patties store well in the refrigerator, and taste equally delicious the second day.