February 25, 2020

Dear friends,
I don’t know what happened last week. I got tropical fever or something and my intentions wilted. I barely turned on the stove.

Oh, I still ate well. I had a fabulous brisket-and-apple hash breakfast at an almost 70-year-old diner in Jupiter, Fla. I found the seafood restaurant of my dreams, a dressed-down place with eight tables, super-fresh local seafood and a line out the door in Port Salerno. And the Greek church next to my campground in Hobe Sound pitched a couple of big white tents, tuned up the balalaikas and dished up a smorgasbord of homemade Greek food at its annual festival. Tony and I partook.

The slow-simmered Greek lamb shanks were a treat on a rainy night in Florida. They would be a treat on a cool evening anywhere. Braised lamb shanks are a common Greek dish, although the style varies. Some have a lemon-wine underpinning; some a tomato base. The local church went with the latter.

I found this recipe that is very similar to the shank Tony and I enjoyed. Cooking it will fill your house with cozy aromas. I promise to fill my camper with delicious aromas of some sort this week, but I need inspiration. What have you cooked lately?

GREEK-STYLE LAMB SHANKS

2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt, pepper
3 tbsp. flour
2 lamb shanks, fat trimmed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup water
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, season the lamb with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour, dusting evenly. Brown shanks on all sides in the hot oil. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the water and stir, scraping browned bits from bottom of the pan.

Return the shanks to the pan. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, cinnamon, allspice, oregano, and thyme. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour or longer, until the meat is very tender. Check the lamb often to make sure the edges and bottom of the pan are not burning., adding more water if necessary Sprinkle with the parsley just before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from greekboston.com.

TIDBITS
I almost snorted my coffee through my nose when I stumbled across a parody in The New Yorker of a food newsletter I get every week.

The article, “What Not To Cook This Week,” is a hilarious spoof of the New York Times’ newsletter, “What To Cook This Week.” In the original, the Times’ Food Editor Sam Sifton suggests meals made with the Times’ recipes both old and new. In the spoof, not so much. Max Cohn writes, in part:

“Seven-Pot Garlic Spaghetti With Anchovy-Lime Breadcrumbs
This ‘simple’ dish requires you to use more pieces of large cookware than you actually own,” Cohn cautions before continuing with the “recipe,” and

“Spatchcocked Micro-Pheasant Avec Creme Monet
You know only 18 percent of the words in this recipe.”

The list goes on.

Somehow, Cohn caught the cadence if not the substance of Sifton’s writing. I’m actually a big fan of the New York Times Food section and Sifton, who manages to keep the section relevant and exciting in this age of instant-Google recipe gratification. And I do not find his weekly newsletter at all precious. Still, the New Yorker’s takeoff is gut-busting.

Both the New Yorker and the Times are touchy about allowing non-subscribers a peak at their brilliance, but you may be able to access the parody here: https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/what-not-to-cook-this-week.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Chicken and cheese quesadillas.

What I ate in/from restaurants, etc.:
Grilled grouper over a salad with pears, jicama and a ginger-coconut dressing at Moir’s Food Shack in Jupiter, Fla.; a gordita with chicken and black beans from Taqueria Solavino taco truck in Hobe Sound; a Cuban sandwich, sweet plantains and cafe con leche from Wow Cuban Cafe in Hobe Sound; chicken tacos from Taqueria Solavino taco truck in Hobe Sound; conch fritters, steamed clams in a spicy broth and a Bud Light at King Neptune in Port Salerno; barbecued ribs, slow-cooked marinated chicken quarters and fresh corn tortillas from Gallo de Oro Tortilleria in Stuart; brisket, apple and chile hash with eggs over easy, toast and coffee at the Olde Lighthouse Diner in Jupiter; braised lamb shank, rice pilaf, green beans and moussaka at a Greek church festival in Hobe Sound; various dribs and drabs at Tony favorite restaurant, Mikata Buffet in Stuart.

THE MAILBAG
From Pennie:
What’s up with bone broth? I thought all broth was made with bones. At least, the stuff my mom made was. What is the difference between bone broth and broth?

Dear Pennie:
The difference is time. Regular meat broth is simmered on the bones for a couple of hours, maybe slightly more. Bone broth is simmered for 12 to 24 hours to leach the minerals from the bones. It contains more nutrients than regular broth. More flavor, too.

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