I sometimes get into a little wee rut, making the same things over and over until I feel entirely uninspired, and even a fridge full of food does not inspire me. I mope over my meal calendar and stare at the spines of my cookbooks, and sigh. It's the cooking blues. I know that fantastic dishes lurk within their pages, some triumphs of the past, some perhaps of the future. There's a sense of overwhelming work involved with the idea of either reproducing a past glory or tackling something brand new that is a part-and-parcel of the whole stuck-in-a-rut cooking blues feeling.
Sometimes the cure does come from a recipe or a cookbook, fallen magically open to something that looks both delicious and undaunting to my frazzled mind. More often, though, I am captured by the sight of something in the market that gets the motor running again. This week, it was a lovely half-roast lamb - from the shank side (which makes it easier to debone at any stage). Roasts are lovely because they can require minimal preparation time, take a while in the oven, and you can surround them with things that are both delicious and suitable to the task at hand.
For this little devil, I lay down a few springs of fresh rosemary, cut some slits into the roast and thrust slivers of garlic into them, rubbed the whole thing lightly with canola oil (olive would have been fine, too) seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, and tossed it in a 400 F oven for an hour and a half. The potatoes are chunks of Yukon Gold - a lovely, lovely, medium starch potato that roasts up very well and, as I am wont to add to almost any roast, a fistful of peeled garlic cloves went in half-way through cooking. The potatoes finished cooking, getting a nicely rosemary-infused crust in the roasting pan (actually, my 10 3/4" cast iron frying pan) while the lamb rested on a plate. A few chopped vegetables and a little feta later, we had a salad, and heartbeats later, we each had a plate of sliced rare lamb, golden roast potatoes, a few cloves of garlic, and a Greco-Turkish salad.
Blues? What blues?