Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Very Foodie Weekend

I think that nearly all of my weekend revolved around food in some way, and it was awesome!  On Friday night I went out for happy hour to Tommy's Seafood and Steakhouse, where I tried raw oysters for the second time and liked them for the first - it's all about the preparation which B was kind enough to teach me!  Then our group headed over to Don Pico's for a second happy hour ($2.50 margaritas!), chips and salsa, and some real food to soak up all of that alcohol.  And we ended the night at Sherlock's Pub where we drank beers and ciders and played darts and pool (my team lost both...) and just had fun in general!  I haven't been out for that long in ages and while it was a great time, it's also further enforced the fact that I'm getting old!
On Saturday I got an oil change and alignment check on my car and then met up with my friends from Friday night again in town at the Specs in Midtown for Specs Fest.  It was chock full of free samples of booze, wine, beer, cheese, boozy ice cream (genius!), and other non-alcoholic beverages.  By the end B and V said they had reached their cheese limit, which I completely don't comprehend.  I was admittedly getting full, but like ice cream, there is always room for more cheese!  After stocking up on some of our new culinary and alcohol based finds, I split off and went on a foodie shopping spree!  My first stop was Trader Joe's where I filled my cart with 10 bottles of wine, a 6-pack of beer, a bunch of frozen goods, and of course popcorn (see my cart above).  While I'm sure plenty of people stock up on cheap wine at TJ's all the time, I did feel like a bit of a lush...  After TJ's I moseyed on over to Central Market and went hog wild!  I bought a lot of fresh produce, 2 bags of freshly roasted hatch chili peppers, lamb shoulder, bagels, smoked lox, and big container of my new obsession: castelvetrano olives!  I've NEVER liked olives before I but I will willingly eat these straight out of the container.  That night I had a bagel with lox and fresh green beans for dinner while I watched old movies and had a batch of heirloom tomatoes (see top picture) slow roasting in the oven for 3 hours.
On Sunday I spent my morning hanging the rest of the artwork around the house.  I had no idea what I was going to do with my vintage stained glass window, but S suggested resting it along our slanted window in the bar room and now I'm obsessed!  It's so pretty to walk in there in the morning and see the sun streaming through the colored glass!  After that I headed into town to meet up with my Aunt B, who is a recent Houston transplant!  We had lunch at Local Foods (I had a bagel and lox sandwich again, apparently I'm craving old school jewish deli-style food...) and then I took her on a driving tour of the city.  While I'm a total Houston convert and I love the city, it's fun seeing it through the eyes of someone new to the area and gaining an appreciation for new bits you hadn't noticed before!  After our tour, I headed home and whipped up a sausage, sweet potato, and zucchini lasagna.  I added actual lasagna noodles to mine to give it more heft but otherwise stayed pretty true to the recipe.  Flavors were great, but the zucchini still had some bite to it after it was all cooked, so maybe I'll parcook the zucchini a bit next time.  I'd also love trying to make this sauce with butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes next time.  S got home from his long weekend bachelor party trip to New Orleans just before the dinner was ready and although I had enjoyed my tasty and productive weekend, it felt a little lonely in the house without him and it was so good to have him home!
After dinner on Sunday, I started preparation for Monday's dinner, as it was an involved meal that I'd been wanting to try.  I had to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from tearing up while slicing up one pound of shallots to make a shallot marmalade (delicious!) and I browned the lamb pieces that I'd purchased at Central Market and sauteed some onion slices before packing it all away into the fridge.  On Monday morning I tossed the lamb into the crock pot with some spices and broth (I followed this recipe) and let it slow cook all day.  When I got home I poured the liquid out of the crock pot and let it reduce on the stove and then tossed in some golden raisins and castelvetrano olives into the meat with the reduced mixture and let it all meld for a bit while I prepared the rest of the meal.  I used some of the reduced sauce mixture plus a cup of chicken broth and 2 cups of water to cook up some bulgar wheat for our grain and mixed in some chopped cilantro after it was cooked.  I also made some cumin lime roasted carrots for our side.  It was definitely not an easy meal to make, but the results were phenomenal!  I served it all with the lamb placed on top of a bed of bulgar wheat and then topped with a few tablespoons of the shallot jam.  The carrots were served on the side sprinkled with green onion and fresh mint.  If you want a meal that impresses, this is it!  It also makes a lot of food.  Between this and the sweet potato lasagna, leftovers have taken over our fridge!

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