Years ago, there was a commercial for some hard plastic or acrylic dinner plates (I forget the brand name). They showed the different styles of plates along with different families. One family was an elderly couple. The woman said, “My (insert name of company here) plates make any meal look special.” She scoops some scrambled eggs on the plate and passes it to her husband who responds, “Any meal is special as long as it’s made by someone special.” They lock eyes and smile; in that way, that says we-still-love-each-other-after-all-these-years.
I think of this commercial each time I make dinner for myself. I enjoy cooking and feeding the masses…. Food, after all, IS my passion. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that even when I am alone for dinner, I do not order out, pick-up takeaway, or even take myself out to dinner. I relish the moments when I can prepare a simple dinner just for me – with some of my favorite foods that no one else eats in my home. My vegetarian leanings almost always bring to mind Chinese Five-Spice Grilled Tofu with Spicy Hoisin. My carnivore leanings almost always bring me to lamb chops – my favorite cut of lamb.
The season dictates the sides though I almost never make more than one side. Why? Because the more sides, the more pots to wash later… and I loathe washing pots. Since we are winding down the spring and the first summer crops are showing up in south Florida markets, the side for tonight is okra and tomato. Fresh Florida corn is so darn sweet this year, I am going to throw in some fresh corn kernels with the okra and tomato to cook in one pan. (So far, I have two pots to clean later.)
To start my special meal, I put on some music (tonight I choose a shuffle between Santigold, Thievery Corporation, and Rae and Christian) and I pour myself a glass of cabernet.
My Recipe: CUMIN-LIME PAN ROASTED LAMB CHOPS w Okra, Tomato, and Corn Sauté makes 2 servings
For Lamb Chops:
4 – 3oz lamb chops
1 lime, zest and juice
¾ t ground cumin, divided
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 ½ T olive oil, divided
1 t honey
½ t Dijon mustard
1 pinch dried marjoram or oregano
cracked black pepper
For Okra, Tomato and Corn Sauté:
10 med fresh okra pods, top removed and cut into ¼” rounds
1 corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 c diced canned tomato
½ c vegetable stock or water
½ med yellow onion, diced
¼ med green bell pepper, diced
½ stalk celery, diced
½ jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1 T olive oil
1 sprig fresh thyme
cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Combine ½ t ground cumin, minced garlic, ½ T olive oil, 1 t lime zest, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper to taste; rub paste into lamb chops making sure to coat all sides; set aside for while you prepare Okra, Tomato, and Corn Sauté
Heat 1 T of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat; add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, celery, and thyme sprig; cook until vegetables start to soften, approximately 5 minutes; add okra and corn, cook for another 5 minutes
Add diced tomato to the sauté pan and vegetable stock; cook on medium-high heat while stirring for two minutes; reduce heat to low and simmer for 6 – 8 minutes until okra and corn are tender but still crisp; season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste; keep warm while finishing the lamb chops
In a small bowl, whisk together: 1 T lime juice, 1 T olive oil, ¼ t ground cumin, Dijon mustard, honey, marjoram, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper to taste; set aside
Heat a large skillet over high heat; adding no extra oil, sear lamb chops on one side for 1 minute; turn chops over and place pan in the preheated oven and allow to roast for 2 – 4 minutes for medium-rare lamb chops, longer for medium or well-done lamb chops
To serve, mound half of the Okra, Tomato, and Corn Sauté in the center of the plate; place two lamb chops over mound; and drizzle with half of the lime-honey vinaigrette around plate
To enjoy the meal, I pour another glass of wine and grab a cloth napkin from the closet. I adjust the volume of the music, offer a prayer, and say aloud “this meal is special, because it was made by someone special.”
I laugh and dig in… my thoughts turn to what will I make me for dessert… and to the leftovers that I will have for lunch tomorrow.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!