Sunday, 25 March 2007

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins

Adapted from Canadian Living Comfort Cooking Winter 2007
This stew is a new favourite for me. It takes a few hours to prepare and cook, but freezes well. The recipe calls for lamb, but it works well with pork too.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins
(serves 8)

1.5 kg boneless lamb shoulder
2 tspn ground cumin
1 ½ tspn cinnamon
1 tspn each salt and ground ginger
½ tspn each turmeric and pepper
2 cups low salt chicken stock
3 tbspn olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, sliced diagonally
1 cup sliced dried apricots (the Turkish variety)
½ cup golden raisins (or sultanas)
1 tbspn liquid honey
1 tbspn dried mint
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted, to serve

In a large bowl, combine cumin, cinnamon, salt, ginger, turmeric and pepper. Set aside 1 tbspn, and add the rest to a large bowl. Trim fat from lamb, and cut into 3cm cubes. Toss in large bowl with spice mix.

Heat 1tbspn of the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Brown lamb in batches, adding up to 1tbspn extra oil if required. Transfer lamb to a plate. Add remaining oil to pan, then fry onions, garlic and reserved spice mix over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft; about 5 minutes.

Return lamb and any juices to pan. Add stock mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is just tender; about an hour. Add carrots, apricots, raisins, honey and mint; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender; about 30min.

Uncover and boil over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of gravy, about 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


101 8 Ave SW
There are two major industries in Alberta, oil and beef. The oil industry has taken off in recent years, bringing prosperity (and many new residents) to the province. But beef is strong in the history of Alberta, and it is only fitting that Calgary boasts lots of fancy steakhouses. Saltlik is right in the middle of the downtown core, on the corner of Centre St and 8 Ave. The atmosphere is inviting; dark timber, subdued lighting, and cozy tables. The back of the restaurant is dominated by an intricate glass sculpture hanging from the elevated ceiling.

Saltlik is all about steak, although the menu makes some effort to tempt the “I don’t eat red meat” crowd. Vegetarians (who probably know better than to eat at a steakhouse) should stay clear. We shared the Mediterranean God’s Dips - tarama, feta, and artichokes served with flatbread - between three people. A delicious start, and plenty of food. Main course steaks are served with a loaded baked potato. With the smallest steak weighing in at 8oz, and the potatoes twice the size of my fist, a single meal could easily feed two people. Steaks arrived cooked as ordered. The bĂ©arnaise sauce on the petit filet was fantastic. Citrus rosemary butter on the rib eye was disappointing and tasted mostly of garlic. Fortunately the steaks are good enough that sauce is really unnecessary. I can’t comment on the desserts. I love food, but after that much steak and potato not even I have room for the sweet stuff.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Lemon Vodka Risotto

Adapted from Vogue Australia Wine and Food Cookbook 1995/96
This recipe is an old favourite from my undergraduate days when I subscribed to Vogue Entertaining and Travel. It was the first risotto I ever cooked, and probably the first I ever tasted. The lemon flavour is quite subtle, and blends very well with the stock. I happily eat the risotto by itself for dinner, but it would make a nice starter for a more substantial meal.

Lemon Vodka Risotto

(serves 2 for a main meal, 4 for a starter)

3 tbspn (45mL) olive oil
1 small brown onion, peeled and chopped finely
200g Arborio rice
1.25L reduced salt chicken or vegetable stock, warmed to near boiling
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tspn dried mint flakes
finely grated zest of one lemon
4 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more, to taste)
50mL vodka
1 tbspn (15mL) unsalted butter
15g freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and fry until softened. Add the rice, and stir until all the grains are coated. Continue cooking until the grains are lightly toasted. Add 1 cup of the hot stock and cook the rice, stir often until all the stock is absorbed. Add another half cup of stock and cook until it is absorbed. Repeat, until all the stock is absorbed. Never drown the rice by adding too much liquid at a time. Taste the rice, it should be tender, but still a little firm. Add a little extra stock or water and cook longer if necessary.

When the rice is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir, then cover the saucepan and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.