I have never been a big fan of cute wine names. I generally prefer a more straightforward nomenclature. That said, there are exceptions to every rule. Have a good weekend.
I love Thanksgiving food, especially the big, bold flavors. This year we brined the turkey, made cornbread stuffing, and some roasted veggies with green beans, roasted squash with cream cheese and walnuts (adapted from Triathlete magazine, of all places) among other things.
For dinner, I made some chicken thighs with arak (I used pernod) and fennels (above). I also made a chopped salad with spiced chickpeas.
I made some food for lunches as well. First was a roasted squash and red onion salad with pinenuts and tahini.
I also made a risotto of barley with marinated feta.
All in all, it was a wonderful corrective to several days of turkey day leftovers. That said, only like 360 days until next Thanksgiving . . .
Many, many tomatoes this time of year. In December in North Dakota, not so much. So, I like to oven roast/dry them. It is easy – slice in half, put on parchment paper, top with herbes de provence or similar, and toss into a 250 degree over for 5-8 hours.
When done, they look like the picture above.
They freeze quite well, and I can slip them into risotto or pasta when the snow is flying, and get a fleeting taste of late summer.
On Saturday, Corbett and Clementine came over for dinner, sans kids. We had tons of produce, and so I was looking to use as many fresh vegetables as possible. I turned to a book I mentioned earlier, Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food, which I really love, as well as a few other sources, and put together a Middle Eastern mezze dinner.
I had a bunch of beautiful eggplants.
I had a bunch of tomatoes, so I made batrik, a salad of bulgur, kind of like tabbouleh, where the bulgur is rehydrated with a pureed tomato (link is not to Roden but is very similar). I had a couple huge ones, as you can see.
It pureed up nicely, and I added it to the bulgur.
Then when I served it I added some onion soaked in wine vinegar, chopped walnuts, and chili pepper. It was delicious
I also made a fattoush, basically a chopped salad. I cut everything on the mandoline, including some radishes and cucumbers I had, and soaked the onion in wine vinegar for a while to mellow it. The dressing is basically just olive oil and lemon juice – simple but good.
I also made tomatoes stuffed with lentils, bulgur, pine nuts, raisins, and spinach. This is a fun recipe for me because it was one of the first challenging dishes I ever cooked when I got interested in food and, much to Diane’s shock, ordered Gourmet. Now it seems easy, but the first time I made it was anxiety producing, and I was inordinately proud when it was done. The picture looks kind of odd, but these are pretty good, especially with a garlic yogurt sauce.
I threw together a quick black eyed pea and tomato salad, that was fine but really does not merit a picture. The link is really a suggestion more than anything – you can noodle on that sort of salad endlessly.
Finally, I made fatteh bel djaj. This is one of my favorite Lebanese dishes. We always ate it at Lebanese Taverna, a restaurant we loved in DC. A Google for fatteh djaj turns up tons of recipes, all of which are slightly different even if they have key similarities. I hunted around forever and finally found a recipe on Chowhound that basically tastes like I want. The basics, with my notes, are below, but I think you could do lots of variations on this, including especially if you made it with lamb, which I love but Diane does not often countenance:
For chicken and broth:
1 chicken, whole or quartered, or buy the ones already cut up
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tb salt
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 large can chickpeas
in large dutch oven or stockpot, put chicken lemon quarters, ground cinnamon, and salt. Add enough water to cover, onion with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Simmer until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and let cool. Strain and skim broth, using some to cook rice or cous cous, and pour remainder over chickpeas and cook for 15-20 minutes.
to put the dish togehter:
1 quart plain yogurt, ideally labneh or, failing that, thick Greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mints leaves, torn
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tb butter
2 pita breads cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 a pomegranate (if available)
some crunchy vegetables, sliced thin, ideally radishes
Enjoy. I did.
I really like cooking in the crock pot (though not as much as some people). It may not be the most elegant stuff, but it is wonderful for one pot dinners on school nights. Unfortunately, many crock pot recipes are horrible: cream soups, sour cream, and similar junk. But I do like the recipes in Lora Brody’s Slow Cooker Cooking, which has lots of good stuff (and the blog I linked before is a good source too). One of my favorites is for her “Moroccan style chicken,” which you can find adapted here, or here, or here.
I won’t repeat the recipe but just will note my approach to it:
I make it the night before, stick it in the fridge, and pull it out in the morning; it cooks while we work and is done when we get home (assuming you have a time function).
It looked like this when we left home:
Not awesome, I admit. But when we got home, and I had stripped the meat off the bones, it looked better (and smelled awesome):
I strained out the cooking liquid and used it to cook Israeli pearl cous cous (or ptimim for Hebrew speakers), which is always awesome, and especially so with this cooking liquid:
Diane and I had leftover sweet and sour eggplant from Claudia Roden’s masterpiece the New Book of Middle Eastern Food, both of which are topics for other posts. The kids got their own deconstructed salads: we had piles of CSA veggies, they both like carrots and peppers, one likes lettuce, one likes tomatoes, and they both like saying “deconstructed salad.”
It was a pretty good weeknight dinner, and I feel okay about using a crock pot to do it.