Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At least I didn't have to make a dorky toga out of a bedsheet this week

My daughter's class has just begun a study of Ancient Greece. Like countless other parents, I've been beset by the reintroduction of vaguely remembered gods and godesses into everyday conversation (Prometheus? Didn't he do that triangle equation? Or was he the fire guy?) and am living in dread of the costume drama and the associated gold braid and fig leaf crowns that will certainly ensue. So you can picture my muted response to this one:

Her: Hey, Mom! Guess what? I have the coolest homework for the Greek study!
Me: That's nice, honey. Your dad should be home soon, and I know he'd love to hear all about it.
Her: But...
Me: Really, he's great with all those Olympians. He's practically a Greek god himself*.
Her: But...
Me: And your brother, despite being barricaded in his room hiding from you right now, I think would be open to bribery if you need any help. I'll even pay.
Her: But it's COOKING!
Me: It's...Oh! Well...great! Let's get started!

It turns out she's volunteered to make a dish and bring it in to feed the class this week. She pulls a cookbook out of her backpack, a personal loan from her amazing teacher. There are tons of great options to choose from, so we decide to do a test run of a few at home and pick a winner from there. She's all over that plan. Post-it notes are stuck to three recipes, then she and the book disappear and she returns with a detailed shopping list. "Don't forget anything!" she admonishes me when I drop her at school the next day. With a determined look on her face, she takes over the kitchen that evening, demoting me to lamb-cuber, onion-slicer and clean-up crew**.

And then, my oh-so-mortal girl proceeded to make a dinner that was fit for the gods. Whatever their wacky names might be.

In the background is an Arugula Salad with Ginger-Date Vinaigrette nestled in a Parmesan bowl

All the recipes she made are from The Philosopher's Kitchen, a fascinating collection of modern interpretations of ancient foods. I've just ordered a copy and can't wait to try more of these recipes when it arrives. This lamb dish was incredible!

Lamb Skewers with Fruited Mint Pesto

1/4 c. raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 Tbs. golden raisins
4 pitted dates, minced
1 tsp. honey
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. fresh mint leaves
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 small wooden skewers, soaked in water

Simmer the vinegar, raisins, dates and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until raisins are soft, 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Puree this mixture, along with the pine nuts and the Parmesan cheese, in a food processor until smooth. Add the mint leaves and pulse until minced. Slowly add the olive oil and continue blending until smooth. Toss the lamb cubes with 1/2 of the pesto in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and as long as 12 hours. Season remaining pesto with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat grill or broiler. Liberally sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Evenly divide the lamb cubes between the skewers and grill or broil until the lamb reaches the desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium. Serve with the reserved pesto on the side.

Noting selflessly that there are several vegetarians in the class, she's decided to serve these decadent Honey Feta Griddle Cakes to her friends at school.

* When we were applying for our first rental house together, we had to meet the agent at his West Hollywood office. When my now-husband, then-boyfriend walked in, the dapper older gentleman representing the owner drew in a breath and said, "You didn't tell me you were bringing Adonnis!" We got the house, and I got a stomach cramp from laughing so hard in the parking lot afterward.
** I could have personally filmed a week's worth of material for Dirty Jobs.

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