Good mood food
Lamb cutlets with basil sauce. Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Paul Kavanagh. photographs: dara mac donaill
What foods bring a smile you your face? Will it be these luscious lamb chops or sticky, sweet plum crumble?
My definition of happiness usually involves something delicious on a plate. But then I spend an evening just hanging out with my husband, or an afternoon laughing uncontrollably with my kids or my sister, or a great night out with my best pals, and I start to worry that feeling so attached to something on a plate is all a bit sad when compared to life’s great moments.
Then, however, I’ll end up being fed something wonderful or even grazing on something perfectly matched with a glass of wine, like a bit of bread and cheese, and I’m immediately reminded of that old expression: “There’s no love sincerer than the love of food.” As soon as I nod in agreement with Mr Shaw, I immediately become ashamed of secretly putting a delicious bowl of stew on the same list as my first-born. I may be going to hell for saying such a thing. However, I’m way too smart to admit to such a thing . . . oops!
But a few weeks ago, I was struck down by adult whooping cough, which felt like the worst flu ever, coupled with the most dreadful cough. The worst part was losing all interest in food, only being able to stomach a Lemsip, which became my only salvation.
Normally when I’m sick, my appetite never disappears and time is spent wisely reading every new recipe I can get my grubby paws on. This time, I languished with my cups of sickly sweet medicine, having no desire to eat anything ever again.
It wasn’t until the fifth day, when the antibiotics started working their magic, that I felt the first stirrings of greediness re-appear. The relief! After a few more days, I began fantasising about certain dishes, and what I would cook as soon as I felt better.
By this stage, I started flicking through cookbooks for inspiration, which is where I found the perfect dish. One that would encapsulate happiness on a plate. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s the combination of breaded meat, fried in butter until golden and crisp, but still juicy and pink inside, dunked into a delicious emulsion – and eaten without cutlery. Heaven.
LAMB CUTLETS, BASIL SAUCE
4-6 lamb cutlets, French trimmed
Few sprigs rosemary or thyme
Salt and pepper
50g dried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp flour
You may have to give the bones a little scrape, to get lovely clean bones and a perfectly trimmed bit of lamb on each cutlet. Set the meat aside.
Chop up the rosemary or thyme and mix with the breadcrumbs and season well. If the breadcrumbs are a bit soft or too fresh, you can dry them out in a moderate oven at about 140 degrees/gas 1 for 10 minutes until they are dried out and slightly coloured.
Put the flour on a plate and season it well. Beat the egg in a bowl. Dip the lamb cutlets into the flour and then into the egg and finally the seasoned breadcrumbs.