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July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

I realized after I saw tm's review of this same dish that I had posted in the wrong place. Oh well, I will finish it off here and pay more attention the next time.

I appreciated the research and background Wolfert provided for this dish, it really is unique. And while it takes some time for the spice mixing, poaching, cooling, and resting, nothing is complicated or difficult. It is holding up very well in the fridge, smothered in the sauce. Texture of both chicken and sauce is very smooth. We are heating it up gently in the microwave on a portion-by-portion basis (Wolfert says to reheat in a 350 oven).

It is likely to be a one-off, though. Some might find the flavor subtle, I find it bland, with a little bitterness from the walnuts. It doesn't stand alone, it really needs sides like the fattoush or onion-parsley salad to pump it up. And because it needs to be served warm, it doesn't fulfill my quest for make-ahead, room-temperature dishes.

Jul 18, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

And, after 4 days, it is still toothsome, although pita has obviously lost its crunch.

Jul 18, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

Well done! This section, and the one on dumplings, totally spooked me. But you are right, ncw, it is great to know how things are done from your own experience and the ground floor up even if you do decide to revert to "store-bought"; it makes you a more discriminating chowhound.

Jul 14, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

S28, it mostly depends on the fineness of the grind. I don't know about Bob's red bulgur, but I suspect it is medium to coarse. That's why boiling is the recommended treatment, and it won't lkely soften up much more. Fine grind is generally used uncooked, as in the salads Wolfert presents. It will soften with time and moisture, like the tomato pulp in the kisir.

Jul 14, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM Announcement: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean

My copy of CoEM is due back at the library and I can't renew...I have tried most of what interested me. I would like to have another look at it in the winter; I didn't get to any of the soups or stews, and pomegranate is just not available around here in the summer, so that limited selection. I picked up a couple of good tips--the grated tomato and the salted onion--and overcame my apprehension about doing things like babaganoush at home when you can get perfectly good versions at the middle-eastern market. (Not so "perfectly good" when you have your own for comparison, and the same for some of the spice mixes). So, thanks again to COTM for all the inspiration!

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

MARINATED GRILLED LAMB LOIN with BURHAN's ONION-PARSLEY SALAD

This is a great kebab recipe. As Wolfert notes, the marinade is "not for tenderizing but for a bold and spicy taste". So it does depend on using the more expensive loin rather than another less tender cut, but it is well-worth it. Lamb is cubed, marinade uses tomato paste and the pepper paste (the quick version) from other recipes, and the baharat spice recipe. Wolfert stipulates a 9-12 hour marination, and brings the meat to room temperature before grilling cubes on skewers. The reserved marinade is to be used as a baste, but we didn't find there was much to work with; because of its paste consistency it adheres to the meat, which was totally fine with us.

Wolfert proposes grilled poblano as an accompaniment; we grilled eggplant instead. The meat is sufficiently spicy that the eggplant was a nice neutral balance. Might be different you were making the pepper paste with chili peppers (the "summer" version). She also recommends serving in a flat bread, but we had a lot of other carb activity at this meal.

The onion-parsley salad is simple--the salt rubbed onion is mixed with parsley and sumac. It is more of a pickle than a salad. And it got lost in the tabbouleh and fattoush we were also serving. The black olive and orange salad would go really well with this--the acid and fresh orange flavor would go beautifully with the rich and spicy lamb.

Jul 13, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
2

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

Oops, I worked on this one too, but I posted in the wrong place (for chapters 5 - 8). I am still waiting for mine to mellow, will update tomorrow. I can`t imagine even being tempted by squeezing walnuts with a garlic press to make oil, tm, so kudos to you for being charmed by the suggestion!

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

BULGUR SALAD WITH RED PEPPER AND WALNUTS p. 142

I did a head-to-head with the other bulgur salad, the Turkish Kisir. Much preferred the Kisir. This one is a little more work, requiring an onion saute. This gives a more ``cooked`` or roasted flavor than the freshness of the kisir. There doesnt seem to be quite enough liquid to soften the bulgur, although I may have been too stingy in the presoak. I thought the ketchup was a weird ingredient, and I continue to hold that view now that I have tried it. LNightshade mentioned that there was too bulgur in proportion to the other ingredients in the Kisir; I didnt find that to be the case in the kisir, but I certainly did in this one.

Jul 13, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

I also tried the bulgur salad with red pepper and walnuts. This was the winner. I loved the tomato technique, and the versatility of this version. I can see it a great addition to many grilling menus in the coming months.

Jul 13, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

As Goblin says, this is a winning fattouxh formula. In the absence of purslane (and honestly being a little scared off by the risks described above) we used some romaine with the arugula. I really enjoyed the mint hit, and will try this again as ripe tomatoes appear. We toasted the pita on the grill while eggplant and lamb kebabs were underway.

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

"CIRCASSIAN-STYLE" CHICKEN p 325

This is the recipe I was most interested in; composition is unique, and I am always looking for a good "party dish" that can be prepared in advance. This one makes you wait two days before eating!

I should have read the recipe more carefully--poaching chicken on one of summer's hottest days isn't a great idea. Although maybe it beats turning on the oven. Wolfert calls for chicken quarters; I used legs with back-on. Onion is sauteed, garlic, salt, pepper and saffron to season. I had to use a little more water than the quart she calls for to cover these bigger pieces. And maddeningly, she says to simmer
"until the chicken is tender". I went for over an hour; and chicken fell off the bone, so could have done with less. At least I was saved the step of cutting it up into smaller serving pieces.

While the chicken is poaching, a small quantity of flour is toasted with Aleppo pepper (mine is Armenian) and allspice. This is ground in the blender with a couple of cups of walnuts. A cup of the broth is added to the walnut mix added to make a paste; then the rest of the broth to make a sauce. Then the sauce is cooked on the stovetop for 20 minutes, and a cup is stirred into the chicken pieces with some lemon juice. The rest of the sauce is thinned with water to"napping consistency" and poured over the chicken. When cooled, it goes in the fridge for at least two days before serving. It then needs to be reheated, according to the recipe, and garnished with a red-tinted walnut oil with Aleppo pepper.

Notes: Because I had extra broth, I only added what was required according to the recipe, about 3 1/2 cups. The rest is in the freezer to be used when a rich and flavorful broth is required.

Caution is required in cooking down the walnut sauce; because of its viscous texture, it gets sploochy--sort of like the mudholes at Yellowstone.

I am not thrilled with the finished product as a party dish, it is very beige. Check back on Tuesday, I will let you know whether the taste redeems it!

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

Hi BC. Partially cooking actually firms up the fish and makes it easier to cut without tearing (although maybe your knives are way sharper than mine. And I dont want to discourage anyone from trying this recipe, it is worthy. Just not going into our regular rotation. The sauce is, though--we used some extra for cold grilled chicken and veg later in the week. It really lifted leftovers.

Jul 10, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

Our interpretation was yogurt on the skin side. Who knows for sure, it worked that way. It would probably work anyway; it is the marinade that really made it for us. While the yogurt may have added moisture or subtle tang, it was otherwise undetectable.

Jul 10, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

FISH SMOTHERED IN A TAHINI SAUCE p. 299

Wolfert invites you to marinate the fish briefly with cayenne and lemon juice (we used the suggested halibut); panfry onion until golden; and process tahini with garlic and lemon juice to make a sauce. Fish is partially baked, then cut up and mixed with onions, spread with sauce and popped back into the oven to finish. (She tops with hazelnuts, which we didnt have).

We thought the sauce was amazing--as Wolfert notes, tahini doesnt preserve its smooth look when cooked, but heating brings out its nutty flavor. The sauce, though, didnt do anything to bring out the flavor of the fish. OK if you are just looking for a protein to carry the sauce, but seems like a waste of halibut! Wolfert was looking for the contrast between the richness of the sauce and the austerity of the fish, I guess. This might be great with chicken or lamb, with appropriate adjustments for cooking time.

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

We really enjoyed this; simple, but moist and delicious. We served with the blood orange, olive and onion salad. Could have used a bed of rice, as well as the potatoes Wolfert suggests...we passed on carbs and it made for a very satisfying plate.

Jul 07, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 5-8

Black Olive, Orange and Onion Salad (p. 150)
As Wolfert says, we are all pretty used to the orange/black olive combination. This one is set apart by the use of onions, and her treatment of them (rub with salt to soften). This was a nice, but not revelatory, complement to a couple of the chicken and fish dishes.

Jul 07, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

Just got Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean from the library, yay! Amazing to think it is over 20 years old, so many of the flavors and ingredients are still novel (to me, anyway). And sad to look at the maps and appreciate how life in some of the region has unravelled over that same time.

Montreal Advice - 5 Days

We get to Montrwal a couple of times a year, bookmarking this and waiting for the rest of your report, Degustation, so we can update our dining itinerary. I hope you made it to Lawrence, one of our favourites.

Urbanspoon...end of the road? Rebranding? And what is "Zomato"?

It is just bad. One less app, and a loss.

Jun 03, 2015
painperdu in Food Media & News

best food neighborhoods in Berlin

Interesting question, Michaelspont. I appreciate how Berlin has acknowledged its past--the Holocaust Memorial, contemporary art museums, the Topography of Terror, the stolperstein installations... My experience in Pauly Saal was not different--the history of the building is transparent and respectfully remembered. I find this easier to deal with than when things are muffled or obscured; Vienna gives me the creeps. And if we were going to avoid all the places that raise challenging memories, we might never go anywhere interesting.

KdW--just take your time to thoroughly cruise the offerings before grabbing a tray, there are lots of specials and made-to-order items that arent obvious on the first pass-through. Invite yourself to sit at a bigger table that only has one or two (hopefully friendly) looking other people at it. I suppose it is an option to stake out a table before going to collect your meal, but we didnt.

May 26, 2015
painperdu in Europe
1

best food neighborhoods in Berlin

I am at risk of high-jacking this thread, or resurrecting a zombie, but I did want to report on our Berlin dining experiences as this conversation and other contributions, especially by linguafood and BerlinFoodStories, were helpful to us. I am not going to do a free-standing report as it was long ago (October 2014) and my memory is not that sharp! We did more high-end dining than we would typically do, as we were celebrating a significant birthday.

Inspired by the neighbourhood theme, we picked a couple of "destination" restaurants, Horvath in Kreuzberg; and PaulySaal in Prenzlauer Berg (or Mitte, close enough!). Our plan was to taxi or transit one-way and walk back to our centrally-located hotel. That worked for PaulySaal, we had a great walk back after a delightful dinner. It was pouring rain, though, so we taxi'd to and from Horvath. Too bad, as it was looking pretty lively even in the gloomy wet. And for our last night and big splurge, we booked at Fischers Fritz, right across the street. FF was an experience--that level and intensity of service is becoming increasingly rare. For the $$, I thought the food at Horvath was the most interesting, and PaulySaal was the most enjoyable overall experience -- the unique setting, the concise and careful seasonal menu, and our great walk home.

We also braved the KaDeWe dining floor for lunch, and were well-rewarded.

Thanks again to Chowhound companions for enriching our trip.

May 25, 2015
painperdu in Europe

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Poultry, Meat

We have made this several times, and herby, I think the za'atar makes a huge difference. We are now buying a goodly quantity from our local MidEastern grocer and keeping it in the freezer.

May 25, 2015
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Radically Simple: 325 Inspiring Recipes from Award Winning Chef Rozanne Gold

I have succumbed to the lure of Amazon--the book is due back at the library, and there are still things I want to try. This COTM could get to be an expensive and space-consuming effort, but I have really enjoyed it this month. I do hope my book hangs together.

Jul 18, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Poultry, Meat

BLT Chicken with Cumin Seed and Lime Mayonnaise, p. 181

Loved this. It is, as title suggest, a deconstructed and wilted BLT without the toast, although I could imagine it with some crouton toppings. A quick lime mayo, a garlic and lime juice bath for chicken breasts (which we barbecued rather than broiled). Bacon is rendered, tomatoes and and romaine wilted in the pan with cumin seeds and vinegar.

The recipe says it serves four. We did restrict ourselves to one piece of chicken each, but we ate all the "salad". The remaining chicken was delightful the next day in a sandwich with left-over lime mayo.

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Poultry, Meat

Chicken with Za'atar, Lemon and Garlic

This is one of our RS favorites so far. Chicken (leg quarters) is rubbed with Za'atar and roasted with tomatoes and garlic. Tomato and chicken pieces are turned during the roast, and broiled briefly. Lemon zest, juice and pan juices are poured over to finish.

With basmati rice and fresh green beans, this is a winner, and pretty enough for guest food. The flavour will depend a lot on the za'atar. We have a Middle Eastern market in our neighbourhood, so we are spoiled for choice. This recipe inspired me to think about making my own, so as to have more control over the flavour profile and freshness.

Jul 13, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Pasta, Fish

Sauteed Cod with Chorizo, Orange and Wild Arugula, p. 148

True confession time, I rarely pan fry fish. But this combination of flavours looked too good to fall victim to my cowardliness. The chorizo is crisped in a skillet. The orange is segmented, and some of the juice goes into a sherry vinaigrette. Greens are tossed with the vinaigrette and the chorizo/pan drippings, garnished with the orange slices. Then fish is sauteed and finished with remaining juice and sherry vinegar before plating with the greens.

The recipe calls for 4 6 oz thick fillets. My pieces were scrappier, so of course cooked less evenly. And I used less oil than the recipe called for (a lot!) While the plate wouldn't win any beauty prizes, especially in comparison to the photo in the book, it was very good, and helped my deal with my fear of frying.

Jul 13, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking
1

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Pasta, Fish

Salmon with Lime Leaves, Poppy Rice and Coconut Sauce, p.139

I have some kefir lime leaves in the freezer that I keep looking for ways to use. RG proposes wrapping salmon in plastic with a couple of leaves and steaming the pieces. This resulted in a very delicate fish and flavour.

This technique is interesting, and I will use it again. But the accompanying rice with poppy seeds (I substituted black sesame) and coconut sauce with sake (I substituted sherry) were too bland to provide a good contrast or complement. Both the rice and the sauce called for butter, which softened them even more.

Jul 13, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Pasta, Fish

Golden Fettuccine with Sardines, Fennel and Saffron, p. 113

We are suckers for sardines. This simple preparation uses only canned tomatoes, garlic, cayenne and turmeric in addition to the headliners. The saffron provided a nice earthy background for the fish. Easy-peasy, tasty. For what more could one ask?

Jul 13, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking
2

June 2014 COTM - My Paris Kitchen: Main Courses (Plats)

Yes, LM, we had it with grilled salmon. Delicious.

Jun 25, 2014
painperdu in Home Cooking

Izanami, Santa Fe: izakaya returns to NM

We just spent two nights at TTW, booked Izanami for both nights and had lunch there the day we checked out. I agree with you, finlero; it wasn't all amazing, but there was certainly enough to keep us entertained over 3 meals with the regular menu and the daily special features. The wakame salad was the best we've had in North America, I think, and if you are there when udon noodles are on the set lunch menu, you will be well-rewarded. We played with the Japanese beers, and the ginger brew was our favourite. The set lunch menu is a terrific bargain at $17.00, and we found everything else very reasonable. We tried the wagyu--it was pleasant, but not the most interesting of the options.

The room is beautiful; even as spa guests, we didn't mind the "busyness", it was a nice change. We had a service issue at our lunch that was remedied effectively and graciously.

I hope SF supports this enterprise so it will be thriving next time we visit.

Mar 28, 2014
painperdu in Southwest