I finally tried a few recipes from The Gaza Kitchen. This was the same night I tried the Molokhia. As you know if you read that post, that was a disappointment, so the real winner of the evening was the griddle bread, particularly since that was the only thing the children ate willingly. I will definitely make this again. I know griddle bread doesn't sound like an amazing takeaway, but I would really like some scrambled eggs, Gazan salad, and griddle bread right now. It's quick, it's simple, you don't need to run out to the store, and your kids can help you if perfection is not your goal. It's supposed to be made on an inverted wok placed over a flame, but I made it in a large sauté pan and the results were good. If you have something dome shaped, however, I think it makes sense because it will help to keep the dough stretched out and thin. Thinner is better for this one.
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
about 1-1/2 cups water
Mix it all together and knead it well. Let it rest for five minutes, and then divide it into lemon-sized pieces. Either with your hands or a floured rolling pin, flatten the balls into very thin tortilla-like circles.
Heat your inverted wok or skillet over high heat and stretch the very thin dough over it. It will be done with only a minute or so on each side. Take it off the heat and wrap it in a cloth to keep it warm.
How badly I wanted to love this. Made with molokhia, a vegetable consumed in ancient Egypt, referred to in the book of Job, and eaten throughout the Middle East and North Africa, I was sure I would love this and come out feeling like the cultured and sophisticated woman I would like to be. It's ridiculously good for you: loaded with minerals and antioxidants. Unfortunately, I did not like Jute Leaf Stew (Mulukhiyah). I've tried lots of Palestinian recipes and felt ready for something adventurous, but I couldn't make myself want to eat this. No one else could either. It's also referred to as Egyptian spinach, but don't let that fool you. It is called Jew's mallow, jute leaf, Molokhia, mulukhiyah, and moloha. There are even more variations, but it would take too long to list them all.
I don't want to imply that this is bad food, but it was mucilaginous beyond my imagination, coated with a layer of oil at the top, slightly sweet and looked like it was poured directly from a swamp. It was also supposed to be extremely spicy, but I had to leave out all the chillies or my children would never have tried it- not that they did. I guess the spice would have offset the sweetness. It was a lose-lose for us.
The broth was interesting. I believe the mastic gave it a very sweet flavor.
The broth was seasoned with bay leaves, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, rosemary, cardamom and mastic pebbles pulverized with salt. It reminded me of my first taste of Vietnamese food- I couldn't tell for a while whether I loved it or hated it. I think this might have been a huge win if it hadn't been paired with a vegetable so reminiscent of aloe vera.
What was very good, however, was the tiqla: 10 cloves of garlic mashed with salt, fried, and doused in coriander. The smell was amazing, and at some point in the future I plan on dousing something I like in it.
If after all this you feel that you MUST try molokhia (maybe you are a fan of Egyptian food or the book of Job), try Pinterest. There were lots of recipes there. I won't bother giving you this recipe since, obviously, I didn't like it and I won't use it again. It was taken from The Gaza Kitchen. Let's hope for better luck next time.
Maybe I'll give it a year and try again.
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?
Except for the extreme hassle, the high price, and the irritating over-enthusiasm your children will bring to this project, it's a perfect recipe. It's also the only thing I've ever made that really, REALLY impressed my husband. If we make the drive to buy these in the city, we still pay $2-3 each. This recipe makes a LOT of cookies, and they freeze well. They are dense, almond flavored bits of heaven that go well with black coffee. Mmm.
The original recipe claims that the only special equipment you need to make this are 3 9"x13" cake pans, and I suppose that's true, but you will also need a pastry brush, 2 baking sheets, wax paper, an icing spreader, 3 bowls, and a mixer. I believe this is pushing the limits of home baking, but the results are worth it. This is a great cookie.
The colors are supposed to me red, white, and green like the Italian flag, but since I made this the day before Easter I tried pink, green, and yellow. Still pretty. I found this recipe a few years ago on epicurious.com.
2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
non-stick cooking spray or extra butter
6 large eggs, separated
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
12 ounces of chopped almond paste, chopped
2-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon white flour (fussy!)
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon green food coloring
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup orange marmalade
about 1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
I cannot lie; I saw this on Pinterest. But I have tried to grow chives, scallions and leeks and it feels like they never get bigger than sewing needles. And then they die. This method really works!
My mother made this as a Christmas gift three or four years ago from the China Moon Cookbook and it was so good that I have never bought curry powder again. Barbara Tropp really knew what she was doing. The cookbook itself has always intimidated me because for every dish, you have to make anywhere from two to five of her special pantry ingredients. The ingredient lists are all italicized, making them hard to read, and then the ingredients themselves make me want to give up. She doesn't just call for dried red chili flakes, she calls for "shockingly pungent dried red chili flakes." I understand where she's going with it all, obviously fresher is better, but I've never been able to get past it all to really use many of the recipes. It's a good thing that the curry powder made the whole cookbook worth it. I use it on roasted vegetables, meat marinades, and I add it to fried noodles. I have had to leave out a couple ingredients occasionally when I hadn't checked that I had everything before I started and it's still great.
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick (1-1/2 inches long)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon turmeric
The spice blend routine is always the same: toast the whole spices, add it all to a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder with the ground spices, grind finely, and store in a jar.
Well, this month I nearly locavore-ed myself to death. Somewhere in the good intentions of shopping farmer's markets, expanding my garden, conserving water, using up what's in the freezer, etc., I made cooking (and housework in general) such a chore that nothing less than lots of imported produce shipped via fossil fuels, lots of frozen pizza and hired help could save me. I am hoping that the same panic that fed my insanity will inspire sanity's return. Here's where some of it started...
First I discovered the theory that we are all only three days away from hunger. Shortly after this I came across a documentary on youtube that explained how Cuba nearly starved for two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Imagine that next week you are struggling to convert your barbecue, an old baby bath, and a shoe into some kind of garden on your tiny patio. That's exactly what they did.
The next book I came across brought a new twist to the story of hunger. The Gaza Kitchen, by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt, tells the story of the refugees of the Gaza Strip. Many were farmers who were kicked off their land. They had the skills, but no land and no money and today they rely on handouts to survive. The Gaza Kitchen records their stories, their cooking, and their resilience. At the end of it you will want to grow your own food and maybe dig a bunker.
I haven't tried the recipes from the book yet, but they all use spices and produce which are easily purchased or grown here in California. If I had a pair of breeding rabbits and a spice pantry, I'm pretty sure I could reproduce most of these recipes without even a trip to the grocery store. I've tried some Palestinian recipes before and LOVED them, so I stepped out in faith and bought a few of the things I need to get started. If you are hesitant, try Maqloubeh.
I planted dill, purchased tahini as well as toasted sesame oil to get the flavor of their red tahina, and bought mastic, or arabic gum. No idea what it is or how it tastes. I also found nigella seed, also known as kalonji. The man at the store says it's good for everything but death. I found preserved lemon at Trader Joe's and planted purslane, because they eat it and now so will I. I bought frozen molokhia to try in a stew. It's also known as jute, or Jew's Mallow, and is apparently one of the greens most eaten in Egypt, though I've never heard of it before. Everything else is familiar: chickpeas, Swiss chard, cucumbers, squash, chillies, garlic, and lemon.
This should be fun.
Sometimes even eating out feels like too much work, particularly with children. The BLT is a good alternative. Buy bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and bread. The avocado is optional, but delicious. For four people I buy a pound of bacon. You can bake or broil the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet while you toast the bread and slice everything else up. It was so good. Even my daughter who dislikes tomato and avocado enjoyed her lettuce bacon sandwich. Not much cooking required, just assembly.
I made a horrible, lean, watery cabbage soup that I had to feed to the chickens because it was so bad. I had trusted the cookbook author and followed the recipe exactly. Big mistake, but here is the antidote. Chicken, beef, AND pork! It's rich and satisfying. It won't leave you wondering if times are really so desperate after all, and it serves 12. So make it for a big group, or make it once and freeze the rest for future dinners when you need something instant. You need an ENORMOUS pot.
This recipe calls for yuca, or cassava. You can usually find it in a Latin grocery store, and sometimes already peeled in the frozen section. It has a nice gummy texture; I believe tapioca is made from yuca. The preparation is simple. Peel it, cut it into manageable 2" sections, and remove the tough cord that grows down the center since it's impossible to chew. It wasn't until later that I read somewhere that it's poisonous before you cook it. It would have been nice to know earlier, but I was never tempted to pop the woody tuber in my mouth anyway. Here is a complete step-by-step tutorial on how to prepare yuca for cooking if you feel like you need it.
The tomato sauce that seasons the whole dish is so good I will at least double it next time. It would be so good over eggs or spooned onto just about anything. This recipe is from Saveur, and they based it on a recipe from Secrets of Colombian Cooking by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 whole chicken
1-1/2 pounds pork spareribs, separated
1 pound beef brisket or stew meat
a few springs of cilantro
1 tablespoon salt
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds cassava, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
3 avocados sliced for serving
white rice to serve along with the soup
Now at the end of March, it is pretty clear nothing is coming up. I NEED MORE BIRD NETTING!!! It's like having a ghost garden. I see sprouts, and then they're gone.
First attempt at a potato tower. We ran out of chicken wire and planted the last group of potatoes in a garbage bag. We ordered a blue variety, a cranberry variety, and a white variety. The straw keeps the soil in, and as the potato grows we will add more dirt to form more potatoes. This is all theoretical so far. The potatoes arrived at least a month ago. Finally in dirt!
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!