May 2019

Lamb and Apricot Tagine

Lamb and Apricot Tagine

The Astronomer and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary this past April. In line with tradition, we relived our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel and prepared something delicious inspired by antiquated anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted edible interpretations of Paper, Cotton, LeatherFruit, WoodSugar, Wool, and Bronze.

Since it is customary to bestow pottery upon one’s beloved in recognition of the ninth anniversary, I acquired a tagine and used it to prepare a lamb and apricot tagine using Melissa Clark’s recipe from the New York Times.

While it was nerve-wracking to cook with a new vessel, the phenomenal results made it more than worth it. The pleasures of fork-tender lamb goes without saying, so what really made this dish incredible was the onion, apricot, and spice-forward sauce. After nearly five hours of slowly simmering away, we couldn’t tell the onions from the apricots; it all melded into one fabulously jammy tour de force. Served with saffron rice, the tagine was savored while we reminisced about the sweetness of marriage.

  • 3 pounds bone-in lamb stew meat or lamb neck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 ¾ cups lamb or chicken stock
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 large onions, one finely diced and the other thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • Large pinch saffron
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  •  cup fresh cilantro, chopped

For garnish

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  •  Fresh lemon juice, to taste

In a large bowl, combine lamb and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Next, place a layer of sliced onions across the base of the tagine, creating a bed for the remaining ingredients. The bed of onions will prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom and burning. Set aside.

In a small pot, bring stock to a boil. Remove from heat, add apricots, and let sit at least 15 minutes.

Lamb and Apricot Tagine

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, warm 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, add lamb to pot, leaving room around each piece (this will help them brown). Cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a plate as they brown.

Lamb and Apricot Tagine

Drain fat, if necessary, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, ginger, 1 cinnamon stick and the spices, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lamb and any juices on the plate, the apricots and stock, and the cilantro. Transfer mixture to tagine.

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Apr 2019

You Kitchen – Alhambra

You Kitchen - Alhambra

The Astronomer, June, and I left hungry the first time we visited You Kitchen. It was the weekend following this particularly fetching Eater write up, and the kitchen was not prepared for the lunchtime crowds. After waiting a solid 45 minutes without a single dish hitting the table, the three of us high-tailed it to Omar’s around the corner.

You Kitchen - Alhambra

I returned a few days later with Tien for a late lunch slash early dinner. The restaurant was mostly empty, so we had our pick of tables and plenty to eat. Whew!

You Kitchen - Alhambra

I am grateful for dining companions who insist on something green to share. My natural inclination is to never order vegetables, especially when there are dumplings and pancakes to be had, so this kind of level-headed thinking is much appreciated. The cucumber salad ($4.50), snappy and seasoned, tasted of Sichuan peppercorns, chilies, and vinegar.

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Apr 2019

{swoon} Green Tea Mille Crêpes at Lady M Confections

Lady M Cakes

A trip to the Santa Anita mall isn’t complete without a slice of Lady M’s super-fine green tea crepe cake. Forking through 20 delicate crepes interspersed with matcha-infused pastry cream has a magical quality to it, quieting the din of shoppers, if only for a moment. It’s quickly become my tradition to share a slice with June, who might be even more enchanted by the cake than me.

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