Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Yogurt & Mint Potato Salad
"The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity." -- Doug Horton
There's a lot to be said for complexity: the intricacies of form, function and meanings - whether in artistic endeavors or technological production - serve to create a tangle of elements that most of us are quite happy to spend hours unraveling, identifying and mastering. Just as we are fascinated with people who have enigmatic characters, we celebrate foods that have a depth of flavor; in both cases, the allure lies in the complicated, from myriad facets of personality in the former to multifarious ingredients and techniques in the latter.
Complexity is great but sometimes, simplicity is good.
I actually enjoy meeting people whose worldviews may not be profound but whose sincerity and generosity of spirit are genuine. I love tasting food whose flavor can be described with a single word or making a recipe with ingredients I can count on one hand. Many of you know I can run on and on about how the act of eating is imbued with deeply personal and symbolic meanings, but even I realize that we often eat just because we're hungry.
There are times when I don't want to work the puzzle or figure out the mystery, when I'd rather leave it to others to scrutinize Mona Lisa's smile while I content myself with a Happy Face sticker.
This is such a time. In an effort to accelerate my progress toward graduation, I enrolled in a summer class that condenses 3 months worth of coursework into 3 weeks. So, for several hours a day, I am immersed in the complex issues of cultural transitions and its psychological impact on members of insider/outsider groups. By the time I get home, I don't want to think anymore.
Mr. Noodle's gift of alstroemeria, also known as Peruvian Lily and Lily of the Incas
- quite fitting, given my fascination with this culture!
Last Wednesday (my birthday), I returned from class to find on the kitchen counter a thoughtful gift from Mr. Noodle - a beautiful mixed bouquet of flowers, including alstroemeria. Neither as fragrant as roses nor as showy as lilies, these common blossoms have always been a personal favorite and were even in my wedding bouquet. Later that evening, Mr. Noodle made a refreshing cocktail with a hint of sweetness and a tinge of pink that brought to mind the lovely hues of alstroemerias. The simplicity of both blossom and beverage was the perfect antidote to a day of complex study and I wanted to share it here.
Mr. Noodle is fundamentally opposed to claiming ownership of a recipe with only 3 ingredients; it's very likely that many variations of this already exist in the bartender's canon. However, since it brought to mind the flowers in my bridal bouquet and the fact that tomorrow is the first day of June, the traditional month of weddings, I've christened it with a nuptial theme.
The Bride's Blossom
I originally called this "The Blushing Bride", then discovered that there is already a cocktail by this name. Oops.
Just a hint of pink
For one drink:
1 part Shaker's Raspberry Honey Vodka **
1 part tonic water
Juice from 1/2 lime
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add lime juice and top with equal parts vodka and tonic water. Stir well and garnish with a slice of lime. Alstroemeria blossom optional.
**This particular brand may no longer be in production so please feel free to use another raspberry-infused vodka. However, you may wish to add a bit of simple syrup to boost sweetness.
For even more pretty-hued drinks, check out the delicious concoctions from Greg at SippitySup, who invokes coolly glamorous sophistication with the Aviation Cocktail, and Diva on a Diet at Beach Eats whose sleight of hand turns a Spiked Blueberry Lemonade into a magnificent magenta refresher.
These two bloggers also deserve credit for my next offering: shortly after Greg posted his Minty Mashed Potatoes as part of Mint Week, the Diva confirmed that it's officially potato salad season (per Papa Diva). Between them, I was inspired to make a favorite summer stand-by that is definitely in keeping with my need for simplicity.
While dinners in the Noodle household have recently been of the very quick and easy variety, it doesn't mean that we've given up on great flavor. One of Mr. Noodle's favorites is the rich, gamey taste of lamb loin chops, which he grills unmarinated, unseasoned and barely on the safe side of rare. Instead of a traditional mint sauce to go directly over the meat, I paired it with a delicious potato salad in a fresh yogurt and mint dressing.
Mint and Yogurt Potato Salad
This recipe comes from Cooking Light** magazine; unfortunately, I did not record the publication date and it does not appear on their website. This is the recipe in its entirety and original form.
**Update 6/8/09 - I found this same recipe posted in NYTimes.com Recipes section, dated 7/99!
2 lbs fingerling or other small potatoes, halved
1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove minced garlic
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, thinly sliced
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes;
2. Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl;
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
4. Pour mixture over the hot potatoes, toss and allow to cool to room temperature (although the sauce may appear runny at first, it will thicken upon cooling);
5. Toss again with scallions, garnish with mint and serve.
Wishing you a simply delightful summer meal!
A birthday bouquet from my sweet sisters in California!