Friday, June 11, 2010

A winter warmer to swoon about

With 15 years between my oldest and youngest brothers, there are always great observations to be had around generational differences and the inevitable change in family dynamics, particularly parenting, as the six of us "grow up". As you might imagine, this has caused a little angst and hostility at times but mostly it gives us a laugh as we marvel at the changes and differences in each of us and our circumstances. Conversely, our similarities, in spite of growing up in different decades in vastly different environments, bring about a sense of wonder. It raises the question "are we products of nature or nurture?"

Recently my youngest brother (15) wrote a Facebook status update that began with the word "swoon" and related to his love for a music group. Just hearing that word makes me swoon. How perfectly it captures the heart's tendancy to focus on an object of affection for one extravagent moment as if nothing else exists. Teenagers are passionate creatures, discovering what it is that makes them tick. Their obsessions are not always understood, not even by them, but they are always enjoyed with intensity even if it comes from a defiant place or a desire to belong. With social networking becoming commonplace, our passions are often out and proud. As a result, our differences are perhaps celebrated more than they were in decades gone by and that's a positive that today's teenagers may be partially responsible for. Obviously there are well-documented  negatives to posting our details and desires online, but I'm not here to warn against stalking, bullying and other horrors. I'm here to swoon like a teenager and convince myself that my gorgeous little brother and I are surely more similar than we are different!

Here is a winter dish that totally makes me swoon. In light of the above about passion, discovery and following your loves without question, I am not going to continue trying to work out why I like it so. I just do. I like each ingredient on it's own and I like them even better combined on the same plate. What more could I ask for in a winter warmer? Try it for yourself. I call it chargrilled lamb with cheesy polenta and red wine balsamic sauce. Swoon!

Chargrilled lamb with cheesy polenta and red wine balsamic sauce
Adapted from Simply Heaven, the PHILADELPHIA recipe book.

Serves 4

500-600g lamb backstraps or 8 small lamb steaks
Olive oil spray

½ cup red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
1 clove garlic, crushed or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cups water

1 ½ cups milk
1 cup polenta
125g light cream cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

2 red capsicums cut into large cubes
2 squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Spray vegetables with olive oil and roast in a single layer on a tray for at least 30 minutes or until the vegetables start browning. Turn halfway through cooking if you can.

2. Combine the wine, balsamic, honey, garlic and rosemary in a saucepan, bring to boil, then simmer gently until ready to serve.

3. Spray the lamb with oil and chargrill for 3 minutes each side.

4. Meanwhile, bring the water and milk to the boil in a medium-large saucepan. Reduce heat and whisk in the polenta. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and comes away from the saucepan. Turn off the heat and whisk in cream cheese, parmesan and salt and pepper if desired.

5. Divide polenta between serving plates, top with chargrilled vegetables and two lamb steaks (or slices of backstrap if using). Drizzle with red wine and balsamic sauce and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Serve immediately.

For a very simple take on this dish, try serving the lamb and vegetables on a prepared box of Continental flavoured cous cous Mediterranean vegetables and herbs. Not quite swoonworthy but tasty all the same.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that dish makes me swoon too - even if it is the middle of summer right now!

    If you haven't already read it, I recommend a book called "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris. It's very funny and, in light of this post, I think you'd like the stuff about his family and particularly his much younger brother (and his parents in relation to him).




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