|These are the good old days, but those were just a little bit better.|
I’m not saying this has ever happened in our household, but it must be bracing to start the day with a high decibel fight with your teenaged son during which you threaten to take away all his privileges forever and do so at the top of your lungs, to which he responds by threatening to throw the nice baguette and brie sandwich you just made for his lunch across the room and you can actually see the realization flicker in his eyes that this is the suburban kid’s version of cutting off the nose to spite the face and so he just smacks the sandwich back on the counter really, really hard and storms off to feed the goats.
And I’m guessing that if you’ve had such a morning you might later feel contrite about the yelling, even though you were 100% in the right, because you remember your own mother yelling before you headed off to be lonely and awkward all day at middle school, and even though you’d actively provoked the yelling and she was 100% in the right, it made you feel bleak and terrible, so you decide you’ll go pick the teenager up from school instead of making him trudge home up the hill and you’ll take him to Woody’s for frozen custard where he’ll needle you the whole time about your bad temper and be semi-intentionally irritating in every way he can think of, but you’ll still feel better because at least you’ve reached out with that olive branch, even if all he does is use it later to tease the cat while refusing to practice trombone which will make you want to . . .
There’s a handful of easy recipes in The A.O.C. Cookbook by Suzanne Goin and I believe I’ve now flagged them all. It appears I’d rather spend an hour identifying and sticking purple Post-it notes on easy recipes than actually cooking.
The lamb meatballs in spiced tomato sauce is one of those easy recipes. It’s also a really lovely dish -- the meatballs are tender and perfectly spiced and I can’t think of a single criticism. It might be perfect.
The recipe isn’t online and it’s not mine to share, but in brief: ground lamb mixed with cumin, cinnamon, salt, chopped onion, Aleppo pepper, egg yolks, cream, breadcrumbs, parsley. You don’t have to pre-fry the onions or anything annoying like that and Goin tells you exactly how much salt to use, which saves you the trouble of cooking little sample meatballs to figure it out. You brown the meatballs in a skillet, place them in a shallow casserole, cover with a simple tomato sauce, and bake. Top with fresh mint and feta. You can eat these on their own, but I served them with overcooked whole wheat macaroni. Bread, properly cooked pasta, couscous, or rice would also work. It’s one of those solidly great recipes that makes you trust a cookbook and want to explore it further.
Unfortunately, I subsequently made the mistake of opening Goin’s first book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. A.O.C. contains some intriguing recipes, but Lucques is a barn burner. Page after page of dishes -- Portuguese pork, chorizo and clams; grilled skirt steak with artichoke-potato hash; hazelnut brown butter cake; caramel nut tart; a date milkshake -- that made me want to quit A.O.C. immediately and start cooking from Lucques.