“Hey Joanne, I was just wondering. Ummm. Did you mean to leave your pesto thawing on the counter?”
Notice the gleam in her eyes. The bated breath. (Diaphragm contracted. Chest expanded. Intrapleural pressure rising. Waiting to exhale.)
Why so tense, you might ask?
You see. I am a hoarder. (They made a television show about me on A&E. You may have seen it. It’s called…wait for it…Hoarders. Yeah, for an arts and entertainment channel they need to work on their creativity. Talk about eponymous.)
But only when it comes to food. (Things like class notes? They go in the garbage as quickly as possible. The sooner, the better, in my opinion.) But the pantry is a different story. My freezer contains probably eight bags of cranberries. And six containers of homemade pesto. Not to mention all of the cans of pumpkin and jars of peanut butter that are sitting on my bookshelf. And don’t forget that partridge in a pear tree. (I wish. I’ve heard good things about partridge meat.) I collect these things. Just in case. In case of what I’m not sure. Because I amass them. And then when it comes down to it, I have an aversion to using them.
Because. I start to think. What. If.
What if the day comes when I really need them? And then I don’t have them. Because I’ve used them on frivolous recipes. Joanne, I say to myself. You should just wait until the perfect recipe comes along. Never mind that by the time that occurs it might be cranberry season again. In which case you will probably just start adding new bags to the year old collection that is already in the freezer. And will still be just as opposed to using them.
Yeah. I have a definite problem.
It’s really amazing that Sophie and Sarah tolerate me.
Out came one of the containers of pesto. (Recipe here.) Into the dough it went. Along with some pine nuts. (Breathe, Jo. Breathe. Everything is going to be okay.) Rise. Preheat oven. Shape. Rise again. Bake. (Recipe for the bread is here.) Cool.
Eat. Rejoice in the fact that this? Was one of those perfect recipes. This bread tasted like pesto. If you can imagine such a thing. It was good. Really good.
And then, of course, because I knew that I was having you guys over for the Regional Recipes round-up, I had to make a dip to go on it. Because how can you have company over without some kind of nosh to offer up? (This is where my Italian roots come out. I really like feeding people. It’s in my genes.)
So into the food processor went some eggplant. Tahini. Cilantro. Garlic. Lemon juice. A few whirls of the blades.
And out came baba ganoush. Magic I tell you. Magic.
Serves many, adapted from David Lebovitz
2 medium eggplants
1/2 cup tahini
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp chile powder
a few pinches of cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
cilantro or parsley
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Prick each eggplant a few times, then char the outside of the eggplants by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner and as the skin chars, turn them until the eggplants are uniformly-charred on the outside. (If you don’t have a gas stove, you can char them under the broiler. If not, skip to the next step.)
Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients until smooth.
Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving.
The bread has been yeastspotted and will also be featured on the HBinFive roundup over at Big Black Dog later this month!
So please. Come in. Pull up a chair. Have some bread. With some baba ganoush. And settle in. (There will be no cell phone use permitted during the round-up so please turn all such devices to the off position. Notice the fire exits on the left and right side of the apartment. In the event of an emergency, walk – don’t RUN – to the nearest one. And please, no matter how hungry you get during the round-up, don’t eat your neighbor. It’s not polite.)
Let the round-up begin!
First up is Jasmine of Confessions of A Cardamom Addict. When I saw this recipe for Lamb, Prune and Almond Tagine with Honeyed Caramelized Onions, on her site I knew I had to beg/convince/coerce her to submit it. Thankfully, she graciously complied.
Marisa of The Creative Pot and I share a (not so) secret love of Claudia Roden. By which I mean we are completely enamored with every one of her recipes. Mia cooked three of them for this event, all of them gorgeous and delicious.
We have Zhoozshed Up Tabbouleh:
Sweet Potato Salad with Green Olives:
Zucchini Puree with Tomatoes:
Mia of Vanilla Strawbery Springfields who is one of my best blogger friends threw me a surprise birthday party this year, at which she cooked the chicken with caramelized onions and honey that I had posted for the event. They say imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery, so what better present could I have asked for!
Faith of An Edible Mosaic and I are on the same page when it comes to birthdays in that we bake for those we love (rather than give gifts…at least in my case). Thus, she made this Knafeh for her husband Mike’s birthday this year. I can definitely see why this is his favorite cake…after this it may become mine as well! Move over carrot cake, there’s a NEW dessert in town.
If you think Middle Eastern food is only for adults, you are wrong because Azita of Turmeric and Saffron claims that her kids love these Persian Zucchini Kookoo. I must be five at heart because they have got me drooling.
Christine of Kits Chow made this Muhammara in an attempt to clean out her pantry. This looks so delicious that I would never have guessed that she had just thrown it together from things she had on hand. The hallmark of a good dish!
Daniel over at Casual Kitchen submitted this recipe all the way from Chile! (Yes he has survived the earthquake, thank god.) He describes this shrimp in tomato sauce as both exotic tasting (it has cumin and cinnamon – my favorites) and simple to make. A winner for sure.
Yasmeen of Health Nut always features the most colorful and flavorful dishes that I have ever seen. They are so aesthetically pleasing, it’s insane. Which is why I was so happy when she regaled us with this Matazeez with Vegetables and Salmon:
As well as this lamb kabouli:
Andreas of Delta Kitchen, who was inspired by the leeks that are currently in season, made this fantastic Herbs and Green Egg Pie from Iran. Talk about seasonal cooking!
What is food porn? The timeless question that Greg of Sippity Sup asked himself while making this dish. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that if you Wikipedia’ed the term, these zucchini fritters with dill would show up on the page.
Jagruti over at Joy of Cooking decided to try to make couscous using a new set of spices and flavors than her traditional method. And I sure am glad she did, because this Couscous with Moroccan Vegetable Tagine looks excellent! Then again, it has butternut squash so I was already predestined to like it.
When Ann of Split Pear-sonality asked me if she could submit more than one recipe, I told her the more the merrier. Little did I know what wonders she had in store for us! First up, she brings us this Milk Pudding with Balsamic Strawberries. Yes I always try to eat dessert first.
And, if those last two weren’t enough to send you into foodie heaven, this Middle Eastern Saj bread.
Kim, the lovely writer over at Stirring the Pot, said that her Saffron Chicken Kabobs and Couscous with Pistachios, Chickpeas, and Corn had magical qualities…they even allowed her to tune out her eight year old daughter at dinner! Now that is some high quality stuff. What I love most about these recipes, though, are that they came from books that Kim got out of the library…which also happens to be MY favorite place to get cookbooks! You know what they say, great minds think alike.
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, one of my oldest and dearest blogger friends whipped up two beautiful dishes – Cherried and Chickpea’d Farro and Ground Lamb Kefta Patties with Tahini Sauce from not one, but two of my favorite chefs (Nigella Lawson and Claudia Roden). Needless to say, I will be making these soon.
I loved PJ of Ginger and Garlic‘s approach to this blog event. Rather than try to choose a specific recipe to make, she took the flavor profile of Middle Eastern cuisine and ran with it. Ending up with this stuffed lentil za’atar bread with a yogurt dip. Genius.
Sayantani of A Homemaker’s Diary, knowing that the way to a man’s heart is through food, made this Moroccan Harira for her husband on their anniversary. Lucky guy!
Tami of Always Eat on the Good China (and a fellow hostess over at Our Krazy Kitchen) relives memories of her college roommate with this Armenian Easter Bread (Choreg). Even if didn’t already celebrate Easter, I’m pretty sure I would start just so I could eat this bread.
A bread lover like myself (she must know that I want to experience every complex carb out there), Elra delivers this Manoushi bread with Za’atar and Sumac, two spices that are indigenous to the Middle East. Wouldn’t you just love a piece of this for breakfast?
Martha of Seaside Simplicity brings us what she calls a party in a bowl. This dish seems so colorful and delicious, my stomach is having a party just thinking about eating it!
Ruchika of Ruchika Cooks was lucky in that she got experience Middle Eastern food firsthand on a trip she took to visit her sister in Dubai. Check out her post to see all of her beautiful photos! And also her recipes for the three scrumptious dishes she made!
First up we have Egg Kofta Biryani.
Next, veg seekh kabobs.
And last but not least, Laban.
I was so happy that Debbi of Debbi Does Dinner decided to join us because…this was her first blogging event ever! Not only did Debbi participate but she refused to be holed in by foods that were familiar to her and instead chose to make two completely new dishes! The first was this colorful Salatit Khodar Meshakel or mixed vegetable salad.
And the second were Manti, also known as Turkish dumplings.
SE of Denufood graces us with two beautiful dishes, the first of which is a batch of Almond/Chocolate Rugelach. These delicious little Jewish cookies are some of my favorite treats! I can’t believe she got them to roll up so perfectly…that is no easy feat.
She also finishes up the last of her fresh (homegrown) dill with this Shepu Bhaath or Dill Rice Pilaf. Way to end the dill season with a bang!
Next is my submission of Chicken with Caramelized Onion Baby Onions and Honey. Not much to say about that. Except that I loved it. And was truly sad when I ran out of leftovers.
Last but not least, Graziana of Erbe in Cucina brings us a beautiful Herb Baked Omelet (Kuku) from Iran. The best part is, it was made entirely of herbs from her garden!
So this brings us to the end of our travels, at least for this month. Thank you all for stopping by! And for submitting these fabulous recipes! I am SO impressed by the turnout!
The fun does not end here, however. Because next month we are headed to….IRELAND. In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, when EVERYONE is Irish (even this Italian girl from Queens) I invite you to cook some Irish soda bread, Guinness stews, or just about anything with Bailey’s. Please join in and send your entries to [email protected] by March 31st along with your name, a photo of your dish and a link to your post!