April 18, 2006

Easter Dinner - Cooking together


Much as I like ham, which was my family's traditional Easter dinner when I was growing up, I confess that these days I find myself leaning more towards the Australian tradition of lamb to celebrate the Spring. Of course, the Australian tradition usually involves roasting a great big leg of it, which presents much the same problem as a ham does in a household of two-plus-cat: too much leftover.

When one is not tied to unwavering expectations, however, one can feel free to walk on the wild side and do something completely different. So, with remarkably little discussion required, Palle & I settled on a lamb Daube Proven├žal as our dinner of choice.

Now, a daube is essentially a meat stew, and this one certainly was stewed for quite some time. 90 minutes, to be exact. Fortunately we had lunched well and further fortified ourselves with snacks in the afternoon before we got to cooking. Palle took point, and I took prep, so the dish is really his execution of the Daube Proven├žal from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook - his third recipe from that book.

So, Palle handled the batch-browning while I chopped, poured and wrangled the mise en place at kibitzed at him about raising or lowering the flame, when to add certain ingredients, and whatever else I could think of. He is always patient with my sometimes never-ending stream of chatter and general kitchen bossiness, and happy to let someone else do the prep for a change, I think.

More often than not it is he who helps me in the kitchen, deftly retrieving things from the fridge or freezer, opening, peeling, slicing, chopping endless amounts of mushrooms and peppers, which are among our most frequent fliers. I enjoy it when he steps out from behind the cutting board and cooks, which would probably happen more frequently if he had more reasonable work hours.

My contribution to the night's dinner was a pear and ginger cheesecake (from the latest issue of Eating Well) for which - alas! there are no pictures. It was quite nice, but the ginger flavour outshone the pear. Of course, if you choose to drink a little Poire William with it, you probably wouldn't notice...

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