April 30th, 2015 § 5 comments § permalink

Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice blend. Composed of almonds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, anise seeds, coarse ground salt. These ingredients are mixed into a pleasant consistency. The result is addictively delicious. It can be found in Middle Eastern groceries. (It is also carried at Trader Joe’s). HG tears off small chunks of Ciabatta bread. Dips them in Sicilian olive oil and then in Dukkah. Great with red or white wine. A favorite HG meal is Dukkah, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, sliced sweet onions and Kumatoes (ripe heirloom tomatoes when they’re in season); anchovies and capers; Greek yogurt. HG adds grated garlic and a splash of olive oil to the yogurt. Dusts it with Zaatar, another sprightly herbal mix from the Middle East. Zaatar is made of ground thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. Not as assertive as Dukkah but equally delicious. Good Lebanese restaurants in London and Paris often pour olive oil on pita bread and then cover it with Zaatar. Though much splendid bread is baked in New Mexico, the pita available is a supermarket product, tasteless and insipid. HG sticks with Ciabatta from Whole Foods.


Spice Day

November 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG’s birthday was marked by a gift of some great spices from Gifted (and thoughtful) Daughter Lesley R. and family. Four savory spices: ┬áBerbere mixture, Aleppo pepper, ground Sumac berries and Charmushka. Berbere is North African in style and is powerfully hot and spicy. HG sprinkled it on grilled chicken. Gave it a big lift. Aleppo (from Turkey) is good on everything. Nice mixed with oil, oregano and garlic. Slather it on your broiled chicken or pan broiled hamburgers. Sumac (also from Turkey) is a whiff of the Middle East and is an essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes and spice mixtures. HG likes its lemony flavor so plans to add it to Zaatar, add olive oil and coat gently warmed pita with the mix. Charnushka (from India) has many uses. In Eastern Europe, it tops rye and other breads. In India, it is carefully blended with other spices to create the complexities of great curries, vindaloos, etc.. The flavor is something between caraway and cumin. HG intends to sprinkle some on on Greek yogurt and also add it to broiled tomatoes. HG loves the sound of the spice’s name. Can hardly wait to say: “Hey, pass the charnushka.”


Good Canned Goods

November 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG does not fancy canned goods — too many meals of “mystery cans” in HG’s youth (see the post Mom And Depression Canned Goods). However, there are exceptions. Alwadi Al Akhbar brand Baba Ghannouge is canned in Lebanon and is delicious. HG adds crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and smoked Spanish paprika to this eggplant dip. Serves it with a selection from the Whole Foods olive bar (kalamatas, artichoke hearts, giant lima beans) plus warm pita bread dusted with zaatar (a middle eastern spice mix). Nice mezze. In another geographic mode, HG likes the Mexican products of Juanita’s Foods: Chicken (or pork) Posole. Hot and Spicy Menudo (tripe stew). Mucho flavor. Of course, HG is a huge fan of most Goya products, but especially their canned beans (white, kidney, garbanzos, black). Black beans mixed with rice (topped with raw onions and a few canned chipotle peppers) is an HG/BSK household favorite. (Cubans call it Moros y Cristianos — Moors and Christians). For chipotle peppers (plus other pepper varieties) look for the Herdez brand.


Another Good Thing From our Wooly Friends

May 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Feta cheese made from sheep’s milk is good stuff. Great, pungent semi-salty taste. Low cal. Zero or modest cholesterol. HG likes it many ways. A chunk splashed with Sicilian or Calabrian olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar. Accompanied by warm pita, sliced tomatoes and warmed pita. In an omelet. Sprinkled over a green salad. Over pasta with sauteed zucchini and onions. Nice companion to middle eastern eggplant dishes like Baba Ganoush HG counsel: Stick with the sheep feta. Much better than the cow or goat product.

Shalom Aleichem and Salaam Aleikem.

May 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis. Decades of war and diplomacy have failed to bring it about. Yet, tonight at Chez HG/BSK harmony will reign between the two cultures as they make a bow to the troubled but tasty Middle East. Tel-Aviv style Falafel is brilliantly complemented by the smoky earthiness of BSK’s inimitable Baba Ganoush. Hummus dusted with Spanish piquant smoked paprika welcomes the coolness of Greek yogurt topped with za’atar. Olives. Cucumber. Chopped sweet onions and tomatoes with Sicilian olive oil (Sicilian cuisine much influenced by Arab occupation centuries ago). Lots of warm pita.

Dessert: More Greek yogurt with walnuts and New Mexico honey. The wine: A modest California Cabernet.

Peace reigns…In the stomach at least.

Eggplant Meal. A Gift from The Difficult Middle East.

April 19th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Baba Ghanoush. HG suggests you roll these two words around your mouth. Sounds delicious, doesn ‘t it? It is. Basically a spicy eggplant puree, baba ghanoush can be the center piece of a fast, simple Middle Eastern meal.

Here’s how you do it: Prick an eggplant all over with a fork and roast it at 400 degrees until it’s soft. When soft, scoop out the interior and discard the skin. Mash the eggplant with a lot of minced garlic, some tahini, lemon juice, cumin. Salt and pepper, of course. HG will not give specific proportions. Be creative and make it your own creation. Some very finely minced onion can be added, if you like. Form it into a mound. Make a well in the middle and fill with fruity (HG likes Sicilian) olive oil and drizzle some over the rest. Sprinkle with Za’atar. Surround with Kalamata olives and sliced tomatoes. If you want some heat add some Italian hot pepper flakes. Goes good with lamb chops and lamb burgers. Pass the warm pita.

Atlantic Avenue And Magical Za’atar

April 5th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Brooklyn zoom over to Atlantic Avenue, the broad thoroughfare that is the dividing line between Brooklyn Heights (with its wonderful port promenade facing the towers of downtown Manhattan) and Cobble Hill. Atlantic has very good middle eastern groceries. HG suggests you stock up on pita, olives and other good things. It is HG’s source for halvah, that wonderful confection of ground sesame seeds (tahini) and sugar. Best of all, Atlantic is New York headquarters for za’atar and HG buys this marvelous spice blend in bulk. There are many types of za’atar but basically it’s a blend of sumac, roasted sesame seeds and lots of dried green herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram, etc,). Magic. Mix it with olive oil as a sublime dip for pita or bread. Or, warm pita, douse it with olive oil and dust it with za’atar. Good dry rub for lamb. Dust potatoes and cauliflower with it. An HG favorite: a bowl of Greek yogurt with some pureed garlic and za’atar. Many sources will mail order za’atar such as Dean & Deluca. Don’t live without it.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with za’atar at HUNGRY GERALD.