Monday, March 26, 2007

sunday supper: food therapy edition

It was a tough weekend for J-Cat and I, and it called for some serious comfort food. Let's just say that Saturday involved both my having to help my parents find a funeral home for my morbid dad, and J-Cat and I sitting at the animal hospital half the day waiting to pick up J-Cat's dog Gaia after finding a large mass at the base of her tail and taking her straight to the hospital for testing. We were both a wreck.

We tried that evening to lift our spirits (Gaia didn't need much, she got a huge treat and was happy as a clam), so we finally got around to checking out Pinkberry. J-Cat realized that a medium with 3 toppings costs less that a small with 3 toppings and somehow we both ended up with giant cups of frozen yogurt which we both finished. It was good. I wouldn't say that it was at the level of calling it Crackberry, but give me a couple of days and see if I start craving it.

Anyway, on Sunday I decided that we needed something yummy and comforting, something that filled up the apartment with a delicious aroma all day. So I braised some lamb shanks:

I got the recipe in The Joy of Cooking, which I can't believe I never owned until now. The spices were all super-aromatic: cinnamon, allspice, cumin, coriander, and mint. It was highly reminiscent of a lamb dish that J-Cat and I went crazy over at a random Greek restaurant in Astoria. The shanks braised for about 2 hours and it smelled unbelievable. At the end of the braise you toss in some chopped carrots and butternut squash.

I served it over orzo. The sauce was so rich and intense; the lamb had released an amazing amount of flavor into the braising liquid, and because shanks are a cut with a lot of connective tissue, the sauce thickened itself. You finish the sauce with more fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon juice to give it a little acidic edge. J-Cat says this may be in the top five of his all-time favorite dishes.

For dessert, I randomly decided on a Lebanese semolina cake called a Sfouf. A very simple recipe, which I found on



2 cups semolina
1 cup plus 1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar, plus 3 tbsp
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Combine semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder. In another bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, milk and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 9x13" baking dish, sprinkle the almonds on top, and bake for 30-35 minutes until set.

I don't have a great 9x13 pan, so I instead used a large round springform pan. It worked perfectly fine. I did not use all of the sugar thinking that middle eastern desserts are often super-sweet. I used slightly less than a cup and it was really perfect. I also used half salted butter, half unsalted, because that was what I had left and it was fine. And of course I used 2% milk because I'm terrible at planning and had nothing else. The cake was dense and slightly chewy, with a great grainy texture from the semolina. I like that it wasn't terribly sweet, it was fine with a dollop of whipped cream on top. It would also be great with some greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and of course a super strong coffee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

pinkberry is good and we've tasted something even better, they're in Canada and they are called Yogen Fruz.