Walnut, lemon and cardamom cake is the first recipe I've made from Moro that was truly unpopular. Not bad, exactly, just not popular. I don't know why I have to lead with the negative, since I've been loving this book so ardently over the last few weeks, but I'll get to the good news soon.
The cake was flourless and gained substance from chopped walnuts, almonds, and polenta. My father and I decided that if this were served in a thin slice at a restaurant with a scoop of fancy ice cream, everyone would find it delicious and elegant, its extreme graininess exotic. But at home, with no ice cream, it was severe to the point of punishing. The recipe calls for 3 to 4 tablespoons of freshly ground cardamom and much though I love cardamom, even I was put off. It was like eating cardamom-scented grit. Just a spoonful of whipped cream would have worked miracles.
I've fallen so behind in my food reporting that this will be a long, listy Moro roundup.
-A mushroom and almond soup was designed for people who love the flavors of sherry and dried porcini mushroom, which I don't, but I still enjoyed the soup. The pounded almonds went in at the end and while I'm not sure what they contributed, they certainly did not detract.
-A chicken stuffed with garlic and coriander made us all happy.
There was a lot of salt and pepper on the skin, which explains the dark blisters. Looks obscene, like all roasted chickens.
-Hummus with lamb was substantial and tasty. The meat turned one of my favorite snacks into a meal.
It floors me that anyone can object to hummus, but neither of my children will touch it and ate only the Moro flatbread I'd made to go alongside. The breads of Moro are so spectacular they get their own post.
-A saffron pilaf
called for almost a stick of butter, which pretty much guaranteed triumph. The recipe suggests the optional addition of "barberries" which I had never seen until a few days ago, when I was in my favorite imported foods store
and happened to come across a little baggie of them. So exciting. They are very tiny and taste like sharp, exceedingly sour raisins. Unfortunately, eating them wasn't as much fun as finding them.
-Finally, back in December I mail-ordered mojama,
a "wind-dried" tuna from Spain, the recipe for which dates to the Phoenicians. Or so says Moro
. Do you think they really dry it in the wind?
The mojama arrived in the form of a rock-hard, burgundy-colored brick
which you are supposed to shave it into the thinnest of slivers and use as an accent in salads and starters.
It is chewy, super-salty, fishy and very delicious. Rich. A little goes a long way. If you can imagine tuna prosciutto, you can imagine mojama.
On Christmas Day, I served mojama with spinach oregano and lemon
which was a hit, though I did not slice the mojama thinly enough, as you can see.
Last night I made mojama with piquillo peppers and caperberries which was basically just a clumsy salad.
I am not fond of capberberries unless they are chopped up, and didn't like the salad. (This
is by far the best recipe I've ever made with caperberries. If you like delicious food, you should try it.)
We have a large slab of mojama left and you can eat it like you would beef jerky, though that seems like a waste of a delicacy. I keep thinking it would be excellent on a pizza with manchego cheese and pumpkin seeds. Many months ago, I saw a picture on Facebook of such a pizza (minus mojama) and can't get the image out of my head. It's on the 2010 to-cook list.
Speaking of 2010 goals, my only New Year's resolution is to drink less. Back when I merrily started and named this blog, I was a much heavier drinker than I am now. Last year I cut back drastically, and this year I'm cutting back even further. I have a deep terror of a certain disease
, not unreasonable given my family history, and alcohol consumption is one of the few controllable risk factors. So I'm trying to control. The goal is no more than 100 drinks in 2010, which sounds like a lot until you do the math.