Shut up, I needed some retail therapy and I have their discount card.  I can only stimulate the economy so much without coupons.  I like to support my local big-box bookstore whenever I can, because this upstart Amazon is usually cheaper and is really giving the brick-and-mortars a run for their money, let me tell you.

They didn’t have any great looking Spanish cookbooks either, and was I especially loathe to buy the new Batali-frolics-across-Spain book because (1) I wanted to buy a cookbook, not a series of photos of his orange Crocs in various Spanish locales and (2) it would have meant looking at way too many pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow, whose GOOP still leaves me with a significant amount of ass-chappage. Gwyneth: cursing, especially when you ******* out most of the word, does not up your cred level.  If you really want to start nourishing the my inner aspect, you’re going to have to start dropping f-bombs like they’re hot.

Apparently, she was at Mario’s house for dinner the other night, and she is willing enough to acknowledge her own privilege to note that she is a “lucky m************er.”  JUST SAY IT.  SAY, “MY NAME IS GWYNETH PALTROW, AND I AM A LUCKY MOTHERFUCKER.”  It will be liberating, I promise.  It will nourish the shit out of your inner aspect.

That was all completely off topic.  The heart of the issue is that I have to suffer like some filthy commoner who hasn’t taken a bath since last spring because he fears the flux, and use the Chanterelle cookbook I bought instead.  La via, she is trés difficile.  Tonight: cumin and salt encrusted rack of lamb with a garlic-veal jus and Middle Eastern scented couscous, followed by multiple orgasms in my mouth, I assume.

Also, in the interest of not being up until 2 o’clock in the morning trying to finish the Smackdown, deal with the photos and write the post – whose great idea was that?  Oh, yeah – I’m liveblogging myself.  It’s all very meta, but if I have to wait an hour and twenty minutes for my 8 cups of veal stock and wine to cook 5 entire heads of garlic and reduce down to 1 1/2 of total liquid, I may as well do something with that time other than make fun of my dogs.  They don’t speak English anyway, so it becomes less and less satisfying every week.

Note the gelantinousness of the cold veal stock, which doesn’t even allow all the garlic to sink.  It is the beautiful/terrible paradox: this delicious, delicious substance made from a helpless baby cow.

Wait a sec, the dogs are crying at the door like pathetic babies because they heard our upstairs neighbor go by and want him to PLEASE COME IN AND PET US WE LOVE YOU THE PEOPLE HERE ARE SO MEAN AND WE WANT TO PLAY WITH YOUUUUUUU.  These are 55- and 80-pound beasts we’re talking about.  I have to make fun of them for a minute. You would too.

Here, look at this in the meantime:

That is some garlicky, stock-roasted wonderfulness, which is about to get pushed through a strainer and reduced with the stock and wine even further.  And this is all before the butter.  Oh yes, there is butter.  It’s not like Chanterelle is not known for the foods it is able to produce using Lee Iacocca’s Olivio brand non-butter spread.*

You know what I’m liking about this book, aside from all the pr0n?  The dishes are refined but accessible; elegant, but something you can pull off outside the professional kitchen – and it’s written to help you succeed, not fail. Did that sound a little douchy?  Maybe, but it’s true.  Also you can use veal stock you bought from Fresh Direct (seriously, their house stocks are good – real ingredients, filled with luscious collagen) directly from the container and Thomas Keller will not send one of his goons to your house to go all Tonya Harding on your kneecaps with a chinois.

He’s probably too busy at dinner service now re-straining his thrice-strained chive coulis into a tinier china cap he constructed himself from a larger china cap** and can’t spare a goon, but I bet he just felt a chill.

We haven’t gotten far enough in therapy to begin to address my Thomas Keller issues.

*Which frankly, is not even butter-esque.  Although, I think creating a line of fake butter products was the only obvious move for him post-Chrysler.

**10 bonus points for getting this joke.

The vegetable matter for the couscous, I do admit, is slightly irksome – in a production kitchen I’m sure this is not an issue because of economies of scale, but when the home cook is asked to produce 1 tablespoon each of finely diced carrot, leek, zucchini skin and yellow squash skin, there is a question of what to do with the rest of the vegetable matter.

Unlike most households in which humans share their digs with canines, I can’t just drop food on the floor for the dogs, because the only vegetables they’ll eat are (1) asparagus tips or (2) coated in balsamic vinegar (a recent discovery, although Dog A prefers to lick the balsamic off and leave the vegetable matter like a small child who licks the cream cheese of her bagel and then leaves the gummy bagel shoved between the couch cushions).  I’m not about to rub down a partially denuded zucchini with balsamic, nor do I particularly want to pick up the type of poop that would follow such a “treat”, so I’m going to have to come up with a plan B.

It sure is purty, though.

Meanwhile, the oven gets preheated to 500 degrees for the lamb, so at least we got to turn off the heat and open the windows for a little while.  Although the oven is electric, so the robber barons over at PSE&G are still rolling around in piles of my hard-earned cash.  I like the picture of them wearing monocles, smoking cigars and ogling loose women when I do picture them, which is not frequently.

The lamb is done entirely in the oven, which means the rest of the evening will be fraught with the EXCITEMENT of trying to remember that the pan came out of a 500 degree oven and MY GOD DON’T TOUCH IT.  It’s like a game, with lamb chops as the prize and digital mutilation for the losers.  I believe it was first invented in Japan.

Then there is deglazing and straining until you have a tiny cup of intensely flavorful sauce.  The only thing better than veal stock and wine reduced with sweet, sweet garlic is veal stock and wine reduced with sweet, garlic which is then used to deglaze a pan in which you’ve just roasted spice-crusted lamb. Freudian slip: I just accidentally typed “lust” instead of “just.”  Because my kitchen? Smells good.

I’m a little sad I let Brian take charge of the lamb roasting while I got the job of couscous fluffer.  Then again, I would totally lose that game show so it’s probably for the best.  Plus, Brian cooked the hell out of that lamb.  I mean he did a great job, not that he cooked it to death.

I gotta be upfront, I’m still totally spoiled from last week’s Jamie Oliver filet mignon and bean love-in.  So thank god that this week was also fantastic, especially because it takes a long fucking time to reduce 8 cups of stock and wine to 1/2 cup and I could have been taking a nap.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love naps? I LOVE them.  They’re like my third favorite thing to do, after eating sandwiches and rolling around in one of those plastic ball pits where all the balls have been replaced with Goldendoodle puppies.  Anyway, it was excellent, so there was no issue with the nap thing.

The sweet and umami-ful sauce was the perfect foil for the salty, earthy crust on the lamb, and its concentrated flavor would push back against the strong, gamy flavor of the lamb.  The meat was cooked to a wonderful medium rare.  The couscous brought some freshness (and vegetation), as well as serving as a great vehicle for sopping of the sauce.  Which, if I hadn’t mentioned, was really good.  There were a few tablespoons left because even we are not complete gluttons, and there are some puppies around here who are going to have some very special gravy in their breakfasts tomorrow morning.

Final Score:  Us, 1; Food, 0; Puppies, 10

One Year Ago: A Thursday Night Smackdown of Questionable Methodology