For some time there has been a page torn out of a food magazine stuck to our refrigerator door. I found the photography compelling – a deep red background, with pieces of steak in a deep red sauce in the foreground – strangely effective. And the recipe itself sounded like something we would like: broiled skirt steak, rubbed with sumac and served with a port-pomegranate pan sauce. It needed only the proper occasion, and Jon’s birthday immediately suggested itself.
chickpeas with pomegranate molasses
Nothing really groundbreaking here, just a really nice thing to do with chickpeas for a little side dish, bringing in a bit of North African flavor to an otherwise ordinary dinner. I was wanting to make something else out of Casa Moro, but wasn’t feeling very ambitious, so this is what I landed on. It’s really easy, assuming you have a can of chickpeas hanging around in your pantry and you happen to have some leftover pomegranate molasses lurking in the fridge, like we did.
Chickpeas with Pomegranate Molasses
adapted from Casa Moro by Sam & Sam Clark
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
- about 1/3 cup water
- 30 threads of saffron, steeped in 2 Tbsp boiling water for a few minutes
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper
Fry the garlic in the olive oil until it just turns golden. Dump in the pomegranate molasses, water, saffron infusion and chickpeas, stir it up well and let it simmer for ten minutes. Add the cilantro, then salt and pepper to taste. You can add pomegranate seeds, too, which looks pretty, but I’m not fond of the texture.
The book suggests serving the beans with fish, but I thought it went splendidly with roast chicken. Follow your own taste, as always.
summer for a day
Our much-anticipated heat wave hit this weekend, much to the delight of all of us here in gray and mossy Skagit County. It’s been a long, dark, irritating wet season, and everyone was very ready to get out the summer clothes and try being too hot for a change. We celebrated by hauling out the patio furniture, opening a bottle of rosé and eating dinner out by the grill. The air was warm, the wisteria was blooming, and I had put the tabouli together earlier, so I got to sit back and watch my husband cook.
Dinner was grilled lamb chops, grilled eggplant, tabouli, grilled bread and a Graham Beck pinotage rosé. What can I say, but mmmmmm. It’s summer. Continue reading
My favorite pizza dough recipe of all time (so far) is from the book Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. It’s just the perfect blend of white and whole wheat, with just the right amount of chew and crispiness and not at all doughy. The recipe I got it from, however, isn’t a traditional pizza – it’s a middle-eastern lamb flatbread often made as a street food.
In the original recipe, the pizzas are cooked one at a time as small, personal-size breads in a skillet, then finished under the broiler, rolled up like burritos and eaten immediately with mint and yogurt. This time, though, I wanted to have it all done at once so we could sit and enjoy our pizza together. So I followed my usual pizza-making format and baked two pizzas at very high heat, adding the toppings at appropriate points. It worked! The other way is good, but this was very, very tasty. And I was so excited to find a little bit of fresh mint in my garden to sprinkle on top!
While we were eating, I was reminded of a pizza that my friends and I often got in college – the “gyros pizza” from the two local Greek-owned pizzerias (run by competing brothers). I don’t remember the exact toppings, but it was a spiced beef or lamb pizza that always came with a container of tsatsiki sauce. It was delicious. You could definitely do the same sort of thing here, just by crushing some garlic into a bowl of yogurt, maybe adding a bit more mint. Yum. Continue reading
kebab b'il karaz
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather for various reasons (hence the much less regular posting – sorry), but I’m finally managing to get back gradually to real food and wine. The other night J decided to break out one of our new cookbooks, Street Food by Tom Kime, and make Turkish lamb meatballs with sour cherry sauce, called kebab b’il karaz.
We had ground lamb in the freezer and plenty of dried tart cherries on hand, but we did not have any pomegranate molasses, which forms the basis of the sauce. After calling around to local specialty stores, none of whom had even heard of pomegranate molasses, J decided to make his own by boiling down pomegranate juice into syrup. It worked great!
The original recipe suggested serving the kebabs as one of many dishes, with lots of flatbread. J made chapatis, and we put the hot meatballs and sauce on a bed of fresh spinach, which went beautifully with the cherry sauce. The flavor is very rich, dark, sweet and spicy, so it’s good to have something to contrast. Couscous would be good, too.
Lamb-apricot tagine with Lebanese couscous
Saturday was another nasty, cold, wet, blustery day – perfect for a stew. We had some lamb in the freezer, already cleaned and cut up for braising, and I felt moved to make a tagine. A few years ago I bought J a copy of Claudia Roden’s book on Middle Eastern food, but we’ve actually made very little progress through it with the exception of two tagine recipes, one with preserved lemon and one with apricots. They’re both excellent, so maybe someday we’ll try something else from the book.
Anyway, this time I felt like making the apricot one. I got started shortly after 4:30 pm when we got home from errands, and dinner was ready around 7 – not really a workday dinner for us, but fun for the weekend. The tagine is really straightforward: I began by sauteeing a chopped onion in a glug of olive oil for awhile, until soft but not browned. I added cinnamon, cumin and a bit of cayenne pepper, then added sliced ginger, garlic and the defrosted lamb chunks and salted and peppered them liberally. Once they were browned I added water just to cover, brought it to a simmer and covered the pan. It burbled away on the lowest heat setting for about an hour while I did other things. Then I tossed in about a half pound of whole dried apricots, stirred it up and covered it again. About 20 minutes later I added a can of chickpeas, left the lid off so the liquid could boil down slightly, and started on the couscous. Continue reading