Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Smashed Spiced Chickpeas

10 Mar

I discovered this recipe on one of my “Crap its 9pm and there’s no meat, poultry, seafood, pasta, or soy products in the fridge and there’s no way I’m going to the grocery store but I’m really in the mood to cook right now” nights.  On these nights I generally make a lentil salad and cook up some falafel.  But, this has turned out in some mildly disastrous meals because I will inevitably not let the falafel mix refrigerate and firm up for long enough (a very necessary step), and I end up with a pan of oily falafel mush.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that he calls a “bastardized hummus recipe”, which it is, but chunkier, and with a little heat. It seems like it would be faster too, but its really not, because I ended up half-mashing the chickpeas with a potato masher while heating them, which takes a little more time and care than throwing everything in the food processor.  But that’s what makes it so tasty.

Smashed Spiced Chickpeas

Courtesy of Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef Takes Off)

Serves 6

Ingredients

one 14-oz can of chickpeas or use 6oz dried ones, soaked and cooked until tender

a good pinch of cumin seeds, pounded

1-2 small dried red chillies, crumbled

1 clove of garlic, peeled and pounded to a paste

juice of 1 lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra-virgin olive oil

SIMPLE. Smash up the chickpeas and mash everything together.  Jamie serves it cold but I gave it a touch of heat. Serve with homemade pitas, thin grilled pizza crusts, or tortillas. Or, if you want to make a sandwich, like me, fold it up with some fresh greens and warm lentil salad.

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Homemade Pitas

6 Mar

Last night, when I wandered into the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I was sure I was out of luck.  No chicken, no meats (not even deli meat that I could perhaps use to make fried rice), no tofu, etc.  I didn’t even have pasta, rice, or eggs to make breakfast for dinner. I generally focus most of my meals around the protein, unless I’m making an Italian dish.

But, alas, I DID have protein in the kitchen.  As an omnivore living with a super-omnivore, I tend to forget about those items that are chock-full of protein but weren’t once swimming or walking…LEGUMES.

I had a huge bag of dried French lentils (my favorite kind) in the cupboard, as well as several cans of chickpeas. In the end, I put together these Falafel sandwiches with lentil salad, hummus, and greens.

BUT, here is the best part — Since I didn’t have any pita, I decided I would try to make my own — and I’m so glad that I did!!  I cut out a lot of the waiting time from the recipe, but they still came out great!!! It made what might have been a mediocre meal into an amazing one.  I will never buy pita again, because these babies were DELICIOUS.

Pita Bread
Courtesy of The Bread Bible

Ingredients

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

2. Let the dough rise: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise. (I only refrigerated it for 1 1/2 hours and it was fine).

3. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.

4. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. Bake the pita: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.

Shakshuka

25 Feb

In my second year of college, I briefly interned with an Israeli Commercial and Fine Art photographer named Kfir Ziv . I am a huge fan of his work, especially his fine art photographs, in which he tends to use a lot of food and liquids-fruit, eggs, water, food coloring, etc. The combination of his intense detail and perfectionist lighting, and kinetic photography style make his photographs some of the most beautiful (in the commercial world) that I have ever seen.

Anyways, at the time, he was working out of a studio in Midtown West, which also served as his living space (separately). His fiancé/studio manager, also Israeli, was a great cook. It was a perfect situation for me, as a poor college sophomore, because every time I went into work I would get a ‘free’ (unless you count the unpaid internship) meal, and a home-cooked one at that! Her signature dish was Shakshuka, or eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. She would serve it with warm pitas and dish of pickles and olives.

It’s the perfect dish to make on a budget or with limited food in the fridge.


Shakshuka

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.