While we are all snowed in here in the nation's capitol, I thought I'd share some recent recipes that have not gone so well. I cook a lot but I also spend a lot of time reading about cooking. Reading a lot of recipes gives you a sense of what works and what doesn't, what proportions are right for cake, techniques for cooking meat and vegetables. Often I follow that knowledge and instinct, but it seems recently I've taken the recipe's word for granted, and wound up sorely disappointed.
First up, a lovely rack of lamb on a bed of fennel and figs. I love Donna Hay's magazine, and was browsing through her site when I found this recipe. I substituted grapes for out-of-season figs, but that wasn't where I went wrong. First the 3 tablespoons of sugar, which I cut down to two, but which still left the vegetables far too sweet.
But the major problem was this recipe doesn't have you sear the rack of lamb before roasting. This doesn't give you the nice crust on the lamb, and it also causes very gamey lamb juices to run into that overly-sweet fennel. Let's just say it was bad.
(For the record, shredded lamb, sauteed in a bit of butter can be made into lamb tacos or sprinkled over fetteh, It can also be shredded and sauteed with sweet potatoes and cumin for a tasty hash.)
For our next failure, we have another case of sugar gone wrong. I love, LOVE, the pumpkin dish (kaddo bourani) at The Helmand in Baltimore. I had already assumed they used some special kind of squash to get that firm yet tender texture, which is the antithesis of the watery-mushy mass that pumpkin can be.
But then I found some recipes online, which called for slow baking of the pumpkin in massive amounts of sugar. I thought maybe it could work, kinda like this preparation of pumpkin. Sadly, this recipe was exactly what I feared, far too sweet. However, we're still looking for tips on making this Afghani pumpkin, so please send any our way!
Looks like the government will be closed for the 2nd day in a row, so hopefully I find some successful recipes to share with you next!