feast magazine article, mains, salads, sauces, sides, snacks

Feast magazine feature article: Taste of the Exotic.

feast magazine, april 2015 feature: taste of the exotic.

I think I’m going to let the article speak (mostly) for itself this time (a cruel lie: I ended up with many words); I worked hard on it, and the finished product came out beautifully in both the pages of the magazine as well as online, and I’d like you to see it. I’m going to talk about the recipes in a different way than I usually do; break them out (and down) a little bit.

I took no photos aside from a few shots for reference, so I have nothing for you to look at, and if I did, it wouldn’t measure up to the beautiful shots Jennifer took of my food for the feature, so I’m not even going to try. Also, cheers to whomever edited my piece in the article for their brilliant addition of the word “mutability” – nicely done. That’s quality grammar in action, friends.

There’s a common theme which seems to run through the blog as well as the column, but it’s especially prevalent in the features: I like to put a bunch of small recipes together to form one big recipe. Anyone ever noticed I do this all the time? I do. There’s a line in Justified (TV series, FX network) when someone says to one of the main characters “Man, I love the way you talk… using 40 words where 4 will do.” Replace “talk” with “cook” and “words” with “recipes” and that’s my cooking style, in a nutshell.

Look closer, and you’ll notice something else. Maybe you’ve already noticed, because some of you? You know me. These aren’t just small recipes designed to form one big something; rather, all of these recipes – and this holds true for almost any of my multi-part recipes for Feast or the blog, but especially for Feast – can stand alone, or be matched to something entirely different. True story.

I don’t make anything that’s a one-trick pony: all my recipes are workhorses in some way. Multitaskers able to drop into all sorts of things and make them awesome, if you just let them. You want to see? Allow me to break these lamb recipes apart for you and show you how much you can do with them.

Recipe: Rack of Lamb with Thai Pan Sauce and Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Breakout Component: Thai Pan Sauce

Although designed in the recipe to throw in the pan after the rack has left it, you can make this without having the leftover flavor from the lamb and its rub to work with. Make the sauce in a skillet, and pour over anything: it’s particularly delicious with chicken and sturdy white fish. If you’re feeling festive, chill it down and add it to some shredded cabbage and carrots for a Thai-inspired slaw perfect for fish tacos.

Breakout Component: Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Do I really have to explain the wonders of coconut-cilantro rice? It’s got flavor everywhere, and way more exciting than ordinary rice when used as a base for stir fry. I like to use it in lettuce wraps too, or burritos, or whatever. Coconut cilantro rice has almost limitless potential when you’re trying to make your weeknight meals more exciting without adding more work.

Recipe: Greek Salad with Lamb Steaks and Herbed Yogurt Dressing

Breakout Component: Lamb Steaks

These things are herbed to perfection with a marinade of oregano, thyme, and garlic: can’t get much more classic than that. Grill them up and serve them with roasted red potatoes, potato salad, pasta salad, grilled asparagus, the world is yours with these.

Breakout Component: Herbed Yogurt Dressing

I take a great deal of pride in my dressings, and this is one of my favorites. Sometimes with creamy dressings you get lots of thickness but not a ton of flavor; this one is bursting with herbs and spices that accentuate whatever you throw it on. Outstanding on unadorned greens, or make it a little thicker and you have a rock-star dip for crudités.

Recipe: Garlic-White Bean Puree with Dukkah, Pomegranate Molasses, and Seared Lamb

Breakout Component: Dukkah

An Egyptian spice miracle, if ever there was one. If you’ve never had dukkah, you should try it immediately, because well…it’s sort of indescribably perfect. There’s a warmth to it that’s curry-like, and yet it’s not truly “curry-flavored,” – it’s exotic and familiar all at once, and it’s the best. make it exactly as I tell you to in the recipe, or branch out and substitute in ingredients you want to use until you find your perfect dukkah. Once you do that, store it in the fridge and use it with hummus, as a crunchy flavor bomb for roasted vegetables, your morning eggs (not kidding!), salads, whatever. Make it. 

Breakout Component: Pomegranate Molasses

I’ve covered pomegranate molasses before, and buying the bottled variety is great in a pinch, or if you’re adding it to things like stews and things which employ it for its sweetness rather than it’s standout beauty. When using it like I do in the recipe, or in things where it’s more of a star, it’s essential to go the homemade route with it. Not only will you get amplified pomegranate flavor, but you’ll be getting the deep garnet-redness which can only come from making it fresh. My recipe for pomegranate molasses is one I employ all the time for things: sodas, dressings, drizzling onto random meats as a glaze (but you know that from this article), and just adding a little zing to fruits and vegetables. It just works.

Recipe: Turkish Koeftas Kebabs with Lemon Tahini Dipping Sauce and Jeweled Couscous

Breakout Component: Lemon-Tahini Dipping Sauce

I mean, lemon-tahini dipping sauce; there’s zero things wrong with that combination, and it makes a pretty awesome salad or slaw dressing (thin it out with water or a bit more lemon juice.) Maybe most obviously, it’s lovely dip for vegetables as much as it is for these koeftas. Try it with plain turkey or beef meatballs also, or throw your burgers a curveball by using this as the condiment along with some fresh spinach and tomatoes, and maybe a little feta, if you’re into it.

Breakout Component: Jeweled Couscous

I was surprised at how much I loved this one, to be honest: sometimes side-dish grains are just that: sides, kinda lame, just laying there. Not this one, my friends: it’s filled (like to max capacity) with tender shallots, bright herbs, and dried fruits, and the combination of those things makes for a pretty standout couscous to pair with your normal roasted or grilled chicken, pork or beef tenderloin, or salmon. Marinated baked tofu would work nicely alongside this one as well.

And then there’s my North African Lamb Tagine, which has zero breakout components, but rather is my breakout lamb dish: making this one taught me how to (finally) french trim shanks the way a person should know how, and rewarded my efforts after three hours with the most sumptuous dinner i’ve had come out of my oven in a very long time. This is one everyone should try, and although it’s great in the colder months (I’m looking at you, snowbound Haligonians) I think it’s pretty amazing as a spring or summer meal, because there’s nothing heavy about this dish (aside from my 277 lb dutch oven you see pictured.)

With that, I’m done with lamb. And not done: I’m just starting with lamb, because after all that, I realized how much I’d been missing by not including it in our weekly routines. That’s changed: I think about lamb now in the way I would beef, or even chicken, because at the end of the day, it’s just as comfortable on a Wednesday night as it is on your Easter table. So think about using it more often; maybe try one of my recipes from this collection and see what you think. If you want to watch one get made, you’re in luck: the Rack of Lamb with Thai Pan Sauce got picked as the recipe featured in this month’s Feast TV episode. Locals, that’s this weekend on the Nine Network; everyone else, you’ll be able to view it once it’s available online. I’ll link you to it when it’s up.

*whew* okay! so back to our regularly scheduled programing. I’m still trying to nail down Easter brunch for this weekend, which is proving difficult only because I want to make everything I see online, and we’re only having about 5 adults at the meal. Excuse me while I whittle.

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12 Comments

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs March 31, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Lamb is my favorite red meat! Although goat can give it a run for its money. Looking forward to reading the new issue!

  • Reply Brianne March 31, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Oh my God, I can’t EVEN! These recipes are mad pro, yo! I can’t pick a favorite, but I really dig that all of these have potential as pantry staples and lots of uses outside of the combinations you used in your article. I’m especially excited about that pomegranate molasses shortcut–who wants to buy a whole bottle of that stuff when you can make it a 1/2 cup at a time? That makes so much more sense to me! Dang, these all look so good!

  • Reply Ashley March 31, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    I already told you how much I love these lamb recipe. And you’re so right, these are components that can go beyond a single meal and be repurposed in a multitude of ways. Their mutability (ahem) is great. Okay, I just wanted to use the word mutability because when can we talk about mutants without freaking people out? 🙂
    I too am whittling away — at my desired Easter desserts list. It’s cruel, really. So many lovely, tasty things I want to make and so (relatively) few people to eat them. Plus the whole time and budget thing (ha, silly). People want the classics and I want to get all crazy on them! It looks like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, lemon meringue pie (with pistachio crust, a la Milk Bar), and perhaps an Eton mess (I’m enchanted with the concept, plus rhubarb. Need I say more?). Best of luck to you! And please share your meal!

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats April 1, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    There are so many recipes of this feature that I am dying to make! The great part is how easily they can be adapted to go with other things (if lamb isn’t your thing). Like that cilantro rice and the jeweled couscous? Pretty sure I want to eat those with EVERY SINGLE THING I EAT FOR THE REST OF THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE. just sayin.

    This was such an amazing compilation of recipes! I already tell you all the time but YOU’RE SO AMAZING!!!

  • Reply elizabeth April 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Holy moly, lady–I’m sending this to the husband for reference the next time we make lamb for ourselves. because I’m dying to try all of these. We’re making a really traditional lamb this weekend for his family, but I have a feeling we’ll be craving something different that knocks us out of our default settings for lamb very soon, and I really want to make those koftas as soon as possible.

    Moreover, I really need to start adding tahini to my Greek yogurt sauces that I usually make with lamb meatball recipes.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      I’m still totally thrilled you loved my koeftas, Elizabeth. THRILLED. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to make them! I said this in another comment, but i really, really thought i’d be over lamb once this feature was done, but i find myself missing it as of late, especially the koeftas and that rack of lamb.

      tahini is a fabulous add to yogurt sauces: it’s a nice texture and subtle flavor, and i like it a lot…great in dressings, too. my tahini just sort of sat in my fridge for ages, but now it’s on regular rotation for saucy things.

  • Reply Emma April 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    These all sound incredible, and that’s not just because I’m impatiently waiting for my dinner to finish cooking. My dinner is enchiladas, speaking of which, I’d love to wrap some coconut cilantro rice up inside of them!

    I really agree with you that a lot of creamy dressings tend to lose their flavor. I need you to school me on dressings!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      my coconut rice would work perfectly in your enchiladas! That rice has been used her for burritos, chinese stir fries, whatever. I eat it with a fork and my barbecue chicken too…whatever. sometimes the easiest things turn out the best, and that was a favorite from this feature.

      I’m like a dressing whisperer at this point. Anytime i can help you, you let me know!

  • Reply Monica April 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Love the mix-and-match and all the thought you put behind this! So much to learn. I am particularly interested in the lemon-tahini dipping sauce. You know I have passed by that container of tahini for years now wanting to buy it but feeling like “what am I going to do with all that”. : )

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks, Monica! I’m laughing a little to myself b/c thought is a huge part of these features…and it’s what KILLS ME b/c once i start rolling in the thoughts, it almost never ends.

      I highly recommend the lemon tahini dipping sauce, for real: it’s a really flexible thing to use as a dip, or thin it out with a little water (or more lemon juice) and use it to dress sturdy greens like kale or spinach…really works and it’s more refreshing than you’d think tahini would be. I have that same container of tahini and i’m happy to report that it’s almost gone, thanks to multiple occasions of making this.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats May 6, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Shannon, you are a star! This feature is totally amazing…not that I would expect anything less from you. I can’t wait to finish reading it, but in the meantime, I totally need those recipes in my life. Specifically The coconut cilantro rice. YUM!!!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      I’m happy you like it, Amy! you have far too much confidence in me. This one was for sure a challenge, but a great one, and i feel like i finally know my way around lamb (and everyone should!).

      make that coconut cilantro rice: really easy and it goes with basically anything…it’s a really good add to burritos and bowls, too, and scoots right in alongside mexican food or chinese, not just thai. it’s on repeat here, for sure.

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