Don’t you get sick of cooking the same old thing? What does it take to get out of your culinary comfort zone? It was a dinner party, one of the guests couldn’t eat dairy and it threw me. Butter, cream, milk and maybe eggs…suddenly all the dishes I’d been thinking about were off the list.
I thought Middle Eastern and pulled my Tess Mallos bible from the shelf and started reading.
We would start with dips and bread. All made from scratch during the week. Some serious procrastination was going on… writers block meant the house was spotless and I’d spent far too much time in the kitchen!
Quick Tip- For easy spicy crisps lightly brush fresh Lebanese flat bread (Pita) with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs or spice of choice and add a generous scattering of salt flakes. Cut bread into skinny wedges and bake in moderate oven till golden. Remove from oven and let dry on wire rack. Bread should be crisp, light and perfect for scooping up creamy homemade hummus.
I would cook lamb stuffed with Turkish Kofta (recipe next week), tabbouleh, roasted sweet potato with cumin, tomato and pomegranate salad, green beans in tomato and Adjvar and lastly a Lebanese potato Kibbi. Lots of lovely (dairy free) food that could also be pre-prepared so I wouldn’t need to spend too much time in the kitchen away from my guests.
POTATO KIBBI (adapted from ‘The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook’ by Tess Mallos)
1.5 kg (3 lbs) potatoes
3 large onions
2 cups Burghul (Bulgur, cracked wheat)
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped mint
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt flakes and cracked pepper (optional for decoration)
Start by peeling and dicing potatoes, boil till soft, then coarsely mash.
Rinse burghul in a fine mesh sieve with warm water and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 finely diced onions, salt, pepper, cinnamon and mix till combined.
Add mashed potato and herbs and knead with hands till a thick mince like paste is formed.
Coat inside of a shallow oven-proof dish (30 cm or 12 inch) with half the olive oil. Slice remaining onion and place rings on bottom of dish.
Press mixture, on top of sliced onions, evenly into baking dish.
For the sake of being a smart ass, cut a beautiful diamond pattern into the raw kibbi. It looks really difficult but… start by cutting into 4 quarters, then eighths and follow the bloody picture till you get it right… and next you’ll be commissioned to re-tile the mosaics at The Alhambra Palace!
When you’ve finished cutting, drizzle over remaining olive oil and sprinkle surface with salt flakes and cracked pepper.
Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and gently sizzling. Serve hot.
-This can be baked the day before.
-When reheating the Kibbi, cover in alfoil to prevent drying out.
-The flavours develop much more if Kibbi is eaten the following day.
The food was a huge hit and I’ve discovered a new favorite in the Kibbi. It’s a hearty dish that mops up rich spicy sauces and would be great if you have a vegetarian/vegan at your table. A bit of a tour of the Middle East and a pleasant change from my usual repertoire.
How did you get your culinary mojo back?
Cheers, Anna x
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The Lost Woman series follows the sexy adventures of Christina as she makes her way through a world of new media, design, fashion, travel, and … men.
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