Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cocktail orientation, cooking, and the plague

So yesterday I was not feeling great to start with- I'd gotten crap sleep the night before and it's still rainy and blah here. I did have to go into the French Quarter to the Hotel Monteleone for my Tales of the Cocktail volunteer training.

Drove in, parked the car on Burgundy, and walked down Iberville toward the hotel. I walked past Felix's and remembered that I really want to go there sometime. It's across the street from Acme, another oyster bar that gets more tourist traffic, so when I walked back to my car later, there was a line out the door for Acme and it was very quiet inside Felix's.

Anyway, I got there a little early, like 15 minutes or so- I saw that there were several empty seats at the Carousel Bar and fought the temptation to try to get a drink before my meeting started. (I should have known I was coming down with something at that point!)

The meeting was pretty basic stuff- going over registration policies, scheduling, introduction to the staff, etc. At the start of the meeting one of the TotC sponsors, Firefly Vodka, brought by some sample sizes of their product, vodka mixed with sweet tea (booze and sweet tea seems to be quite prevalent around here, as we started off with a sweet tea and spiced rum cocktail at the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery tour a couple weeks ago.) Their brand new product was lemonade with vodka, which is what I ended up getting a hold of. It was ok- tasted like pretty decent lemonade. Not my favorite kind of drinking, but I appreciated the sentiment in getting into the spirit of things, so to speak.

About halfway through the presentation, I started feeling feverish, and my face, head, sinuses, and ears were super achy. Which sort of ruined the rest of the evening. Once the meeting was finished, I got Tom from work and whined a LOT for the rest of the night.

Today I took it easy for the most part, (ordered Reginelli's delivery for lunch- a small saltimbocca pizza) but I really wanted/needed to make this lamb curry I'd been looking forward to since the weekend. So I'd do bits and pieces of it throughout the day, the most labor intensive part being cubing up the bone in roast into 1 inch pieces (ehhh, more or less.) So not to waste the bone, I covered it with water, threw some bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, celery and green onion in there, and simmered it for a couple hours to make the stock I'd need for the recipe.

Lamb Curry Korma

This is a “Dry” or thick curry and isn’t supposed to be runny.

2 Tbsp Butter Ghee (I used 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil)
20 large black pepper corns, crushed
1 tsp black cardamon seeds, crushed
8 each whole cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp chili flakes
1 Tbsp coriander seed, ground
1 Tbsp cumin seed, ground
2” chunk fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large French Shallots, minced
3 pounds lamb shoulder roast
1 cup white wine
1 cup lamb, veal or chicken stock
1 cup thick yogurt
2 cups coffee or single cream (min 18% BF)
2 cups finely chopped Cashew Nuts or Pistachios
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp garum masala, best if whole seed, then toast and grind fresh
Method:
Cut lamb into 1” cubes, reserve bones if present
In a heavy 6- to 8-quart sauce pan, heat Ghee until almost smoking. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and cook stirring constantly, ‘til fragrant and soft. Increase heat to “high”. Add peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, chili, coriander and cumin. Fry 30 seconds, not more. Immediately add the lamb to stop the spices from burning and brown (you can do this in batches if your stove is low BTU or pot is too crowded).
When lamb is nicely caramelized, add wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer briskly until all liquid is evaporated. Add stock and simmer until nearly evaporated. Add cream & yogurt and simmer gently until lamb is tender.
Add Garum Masala and simmer 2 – 3 minutes more. Add nuts and cilantro and stir ‘till thickened (1 – 2 minutes)

I made a raita to go with it:
1 cup yogurt
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic
salt
cumin
cayenne

The curry was REALLY REALLY good. I love korma and this was a good one. A little labor intensive, but the effort could really be tasted.

Oh! Another thing I finally did today that I've been wanting to do since Saturday is make watermelon lemonade! Well, I used store lemonade (the Simply Lemon lemonade) and peeled, seeded, pureed in the blender, and strained the watermelon. It was AWESOME.

I'm pretty tired/achy now though. I think tomorrow will be another day of rest (I might make blueberry buckle though) so that I can be ready for the weekend! Tom and I will be visiting with folks and actually leaving the city limits of New Orleans.

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