Thursday, September 22, 2011


Things have been kind of a whirlwind since I last posted. I spent the summer in NYC, juggling catching up with all of my loved ones and working on my MA dissertation. My plans of posting about yummy places in Prospect Heights, my adopted home for the 5 weeks I was there, will be shortened into this:

If you ever find yourself on the northeastern end of Prospect Park (maybe there for Grand Army Plaza? Brooklyn Museum? Botanical Garden?), go here for ice cream, here for tacos, here for brunch, here for lunch, here for coffee, and here for drinks.

Ample Hills ice cream in Brooklyn
After NYC, I spent two weeks in Oslo: an emotional experience after the events of July 22nd. I was glad to have good friends and family around who had been in Oslo during the attacks and was very proud of the way Norway responded to them. The summer ended with a rush to finish my dissertation and a mad apartment hunt all over London. After seeing loads of mediocre and downright depressing places, we walked into our new home and knew it was right.

Yes, it was a mess, it was chaotic, the bathroom was torn out and halfway through a renovation, but it had a soul. Our landlord seems to be a second-hand furniture fiend. Plus the area's really cool. And we had to find a place quickly so that we could start the next stage of life as active job-seekers. We moved in to promises of a completely renovated flat within a few days time.

Fast-forward three weeks and renovations, although not anywhere near finished, have come to a standstill. I might have to get used to using a lonely toilet in an otherwise torn up room, and showering sitting down in a bathtub. It seems oddly fitting that this part of life also is chaotic while so many other parts of my life are uncertain.

There are some definite perks about this place. It's on a quiet street near loads of cafes, bars, and markets. The couple we're sharing a place with is fun and easy to get along with. The living room is cozy and spacious for London. Plus the kitchen is filled with all of these cool/random accoutrements. Like a bonafide 1981 commemorative Charles and Diana plate. And a 5 piece upright toast holder. And a 70's teapot. And a tagine clay pot and lid, which was put to good use this past week, as outlined below.


Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Original recipe found here.

A few things: Allow lots of time for preparation, starting with marinating the lamb in half of the spice mix the night before. I only allowed an hour for the marinating, and it still turned out real yummy, though. Also, you can figure out how much dried fruit and nuts you want based on intuition instead of exact measurements. If you don't have a tagine dish, you can make this in a casserole with a cover. It's a slow-cook meal, meaning it needs to cook for 2- 2 1/2 hours. (Enough time for a movie!) Also, this dish only tastes better with time (up to a certain point...), so don't be afraid to make lots once you're at it and eat it up over time.

Spice mix:
1 ts cayenne pepper
2 ts ground black pepper
1 1/2 Ts paprika
1 1/2 Ts ground ginger
1 Ts tumeric
2 ts ground cinnamon

1 shoulder of lamb (get your butcher to chop it into stew-sized pieces)

2 large onions, chopped
2 Ts olive oil
2 Ts argan oil
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 liter tomato juice
1 can chopped tomatoes
115 g halved dried apricots
55 g halved dates
55 g sultanas or raisins
85 g flaked almonds
1 ts saffron, soaked in cold water
300 ml stock
1 Ts honey
4 Ts chopped fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 Ts and 2 Ts chopped fresh coriander)

Mix together spices in spice mix in a small bowl. Place lamb bits in a big bowl and mix with half of the spice mix. Refrigerate for however long you can afford.

Heat 1 Ts of olive oil and 1 Ts of argan oil over medium-low heat in a pan over the stove. Add onion and spice mix and cook until soft, then add garlic. Transfer to tagine dish.

Heat remaining oil in pan, brown lamb bits on all sides- might be good to do this in batches. Add to tagine dish. Deglaze pan with tomato juice, add to tagine. Transfer onions and lamb back to pan on stove. Add tomatoes, apricots, dates, sultanas, almonds, saffron, stock, and honey. Bring to a boil, and return to tagine dish.

Cover and cook for 2-2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, sprinkle fresh herbs over, and serve with couscous.

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