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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Post the Fifty-seventh (in which our heroine indulges in a bout of melancholy)

You know the kind.  You fetch lots of deep sighs.  You find yourself thinking "Woe is me" rather more than is strictly necessary.  You can kind of see the appeal of just turning your face to the wall and dying, in the style of a melodramatic Victorian heroine.  You don't want to go out.  You don't want to stay in.  You don't want to get out of bed in the mornings, but you can't sleep at night either.  The "Slow" or "Sad" playlists on your iPod are on constant rotation.

Melancholy.  It happens to us all every so often.  My most recent bout snuck up on me several weeks ago, while I was out with a lovely guy from my online dating site.  Those two facts are unrelated, by the way, I'm just setting the scene a bit.  I'm not going to lie, it kind of took me by surprise.  I'd been doing really well, or so I thought.  But little by little, I realised I was listening to more James Vincent McMorrow than was strictly necessary.  And that I'd been looking at old photos on Facebook quite a lot.  I went to bed that night and bawled my eyes out.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the pants side of marital breakdown.  (Not that there's a particularly good side to it either, but anyway.)  You can be doing great for months at a time, then completely out of the blue, the pain train hits you again and you're back at what feels like square one.  But it's not actually square one, thank Jebus.  You spend a lot less time leaking from the eyes, for one thing.  There's also a lot less alcohol and time off work involved ( you can decide for yourself whether or not that's a good thing).  I take all this to mean that each subsequent relapse will be slightly less horrific until eventually, I will be "cured".

In the meantime, I have found that the best short-term cure for the dreaded melancholia is to play Pink's "So What" at ear-splitting volume and lep around the bedroom like a child with ADHD who's been drinking speed-laced Coke for three days.  I apologise to both Sinead and Mrs. Keane next door for being subjected to this on myriad occasions over the past few weeks.

Anyway, my other go-to cure for feeling a bit down in the dumps in general is any food containing chillies.   I don't care if it's a placebo effect, it works for me and that's all that matters, right?  So, dear readers, I give you:

Moroccan-spiced Lamb Burgers with Minted Chickpeas & Harissa Yoghurt - serves 4

500g lamb mince                                1 red onion
1 red chilli                                           1 fat clove garlic
Bunch fresh coriander                         2 cream crackers
Pinch each cumin & paprika               Jar of harissa paste
Salt & pepper                                      Tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2 large white onions, sliced                 Tbs mint sauce
250ml natural yoghurt

1. Roughly chop your red onion, chilli and garlic.  Lob them into a food processor with the coriander and the cream cracker (broken up into a few pieces).  Whizz til finely minced, then pop into a large bowl with the lamb, cumin, paprika and a teaspoon of the harissa.  Add a little salt and pepper and mix well til everything's really well combined.  Shape into four burgers, then pop on a plate and stick them in the fridge to firm up for at least half an hour.

2. While your burgers are firming (oo-er, matron!), heat a little olive oil in a large pan and sweat the white onions until soft, but not coloured.  Add the chickpeas and mint sauce and warm through.  Season to taste with salt & pepper, and keep warm.

3. Preheat your grill to its highest setting.  Make a little indent in each burger with your thumb.  Don't ask me how this works, but it does stop them swelling up in the middle as they cook.  Grill until nice and golden-brown, turning over halfway through.

4. Swirl another tablespoon of the harissa into the natural yoghurt.  Serve the burgers in round pitta breads with a big dollop of yoghurt and the chickpeas on the side.  I also like to add a spinch & coriander salad to this.