cashew kibbeh

ck_nuts

Nuts!

Another recipe from my ummah cookbook, this one a kind of… savory fig newton, I suppose. Except without the figs. If you cut it as small as fig newtons, you’d get some pretty nifty party food, though.

Kibbet Kashew
from Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa

1 cup dry bulgur, prepared [the recipe asks for fine, but I used #3]
1 cup raw cashew nuts
3 cups chopped onions, divided
2 TB flour
1.5 tspn salt, divided
3/4 tspn pepper
1/4 tspn allspice
1/4 tspn cumin
1/4 tspn cinnamon
1/8 tspn cayenne
3 cloves garlic, minced
oil

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the bulgur by steeping it in boiling water.

Sauté two cups of the onions, the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper until the onions begin to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Use a little oil or butter, but don’t go crazy (and don’t use the 4TB the recipe requires).

Find some way to make a coarse paste of everything else plus 1TB of oil. If you’ve got a food processor, use that. If you don’t, use your blender and/or stand mixer, but be prepared for tough sledding. You might consider doing the cashews first.

Divide the paste in half. Spread one half evenly in a greased pan or on to parchment paper, roughly 7×11”.

Spread onion mixture on top, then cover with second half of the paste.

If you’re going for neatness, cut the kibbeh into 2” squares now. If not, don’t.

Bake for ~40 minutes, until top is golden and bottom is deeper brown.

The kibbeh will set as it cools, so while you can eat it hot right out of the oven, it will have a different feel to it once it has cooled. Cold, you can pick it up like finger food.

ck_onions

No, really, I do use this pan for other things than members of the allium genus.

ck_bottom

The bottom layer, which came out to more than 7×11, but good enough for me. You’ll notice the chunks of cashew because I had some… issues getting to the paste phase. Also, a hand. I don’t know why it’s there.

ck_covering

Skipping ahead to the covering up of the onion layer.

ck_top

All covered up. I have to say, patting everything into place was great fun – like being in preschool again. Very therapeutic.

ck_green_interlude

A colorful interlude of beet greens and swiss chard.

ck_baked

The finished version.

ck_sliced

This was when everything was still warm. Once they were cool, they would’ve stood on their sides without help.

You’ll notice the greasy parchment. I cut the oil – an astounding 8TB was required in the original recipe – but it was still a little much. I cut it further when I posted the recipe above. Adjust according to taste.

These were fun and tasty out of the oven, but I really think they were better the next day – all of the spices were better blended. They’re also quite tasty cold.

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ersatz falafel

patties_done

When is a falafel not a falafel? When it’s this, more or less. Another recipe from my ummah cookbook, one that I had bookmarked to try once I got around to buying bulgur.

Chick Pea and Bulgur Patties
adapted from Classic Vegetarian Cooking of the Middle East and North Africa

1 C dry bulgur
2 C chick peas, prepared (the recipe calls for a 19oz can; I had cooked-from-dried ready)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (no need to mince if you don’t have a press)
1/4 C fresh cilantro, finely chopped
[2 eggs]
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
pinch cayenne
1 C flour
salt & pepper

Note: these are supposed to be fried in oil. I chose to bake them. I also added the egg, which is not in the original recipe, because I had my doubts about everything holding together. Omit if the mixture is sticky enough on its own.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the bulgur according to type. I have course, which I had to cook it first. The finer grinds can just be soaked in boiling water for five minutes, like couscous.

Combine everything but the flour in a food processor and achieve a paste — I was content with a pretty course chop, but you might want to smooth it out.

Add flour and combine. If it’s too dry, add the eggs or just use water if you’d like to keep this vegan. If it’s too moist, add flour.

Form into balls the size of walnuts. [If you’re baking, you might want to move up to golf balls, since this will make many, many walnuts.] Flatten each ball so that you’ve gone from walnuts to hockey pucks.

Space them out on a baking sheet. You don’t need to worry too much about proximity — they won’t spread.

Bake 15 minutes, or until underside is golden brown. Flip, then bake 10 minutes more. This will depend on the size of the patties, so be a little paranoid the first batch so you don’t dry them out.

Keep going until done. Using half-sheets, it still took me three batches.

bulgur_peasI used cooked-from-dried chickpeas, since I had some in the freezer, but I think this is a recipe where using the can would be preferable. Canned beans are softer and moister, which are attributes you’re looking for in a recipe like this.

patty_prepI had hopes for using the blender for this, since it’s sort of like hummus, which is blender-able, and I don’t own a food processor. However, I ended up using the grinder attachment on the KitchenAid when the blender gave me those ‘are you kidding me?’ looks.

egg_adjustmentThe left is what I got after following the recipe; the right is what it looked like after I added the egg. I was guesstimating quantity with firmer, drier chickpeas, so don’t add the egg or water until you see that you need it.

patties_panThe last batch, halfway through. You can tell I worked right to left here. Also that I really, really didn’t want to make a fourth batch with just two patties on it.

patty_splitA somewhat less-than-perfectly photographed cross-section. The dip is just cilantro and plain yogurt, since it was getting pretty late and I didn’t have any tzadziki or tahini sauce recipes to hand. However, since this recipe makes enough to freeze half and still be eating it for three days, I can always go with one of those options when I defrost some. The cilantro sauce was quite serviceable, though — simple and a nice complement to the cilantro in the patties.

Bulgur Pilaf with Dried Apricots

bulgur_finished

I keep mistyping and writing ‘bulgar,’ from which it would be most probably ethically and halachicly wrong to make pilaf.

This is the recipe I used, out of Gourmet‘s December 2007 issue, and it requires only wheat product. Which I acquired not at Fairway or Zabar’s, but instead in the Aisle of Goya at the Otherwise Shady Local Market, right next to the bag of quinoa (which would be a value worth taking advantage of if I consumed it in any quantity). Goya sells “course”, which is #3 on the bulgur scale, I think, and requires some cooking.

Me being me and this being a grain, I did make a single notable change from the recipe as written: I used broth instead of water. Use veggie broth to keep it pareve, but I do think the recipe is improved with the change.

bulgur_mis

Onions, apricots (Turkish, not California, but that’s what I had), bulgur, spices, and the broth lurking in the rear. I was a little generous with the apricots.

bulgur_simmerIt’s like making rice. You’ll note that my spatula has thankfully lost some of its shocking orange tint since its adventures in adobo-tinted soup.

veggiesThe question of what to make with the pilaf was somewhat limited by the fact that I had only what was in the fridge. Which was this.

dinner_pansWhich became this. There are a couple of small boiler potatoes in there, which both dulls the final presentation and is probably unnecessary considering the pilaf, but, hey, I’d just gotten them and was eager to use them.

veggie_dinnerBut everything turned out all right in the end.

birdseed

I’m one of those people who wants to like quinoa more than I do. I suspect a lot of it is that I haven’t prepared it in any special way or done anything fabulous with it — mixing it into oatmeal is about as glamorous as I’ve gotten. (It’s quite good in oatmeal, for the record.) In the meanwhile, I haven’t given up yet because it’s good for you and all that stuff. I collect quinoa recipes in the hope of finding one that will change my mind on the wonder-grain. (I know, it’s not a grain.)

In the meanwhile, I am working my way through the rest of the seed and grain family. Rice is rice and I am exceedingly fond of it, even if I cannot figure out how to make rice pudding properly. (I would like to figure that out so that I can figure out how to make my mom’s version, which I do not really remember but my father does.) I have experimented with wheat berries and barley both hulled and pearled, although there’s much more to work with for the latter. And now comes millet.

Millet-eaters are apparently considered a little hardcore; I was standing in the dried-stuff aisle at Fairway holding the above package and a woman started asking me about bulgur, presumably on the theory that if I ate one weird grain, I’d know about the others. Her questions were pretty basic, thankfully, as she seemed to be confusing bulgur and hominy.

Millet is, well, bird food. And people food, but not in these parts too much. Which is a shame, since it’s actually quite tasty. It’s like a nuttier, more interesting couscous. It reminded me a little of kasha, I think, although it’s been years since I last had kasha.

The basic preparation is easy, but a little time-intensive; it takes twice as long as rice and that’s the shortcutted version. You clean and rinse the millet, then toast it until it starts to smell nice, then simmer it in salty water for half an hour. And what you end up with is this:

Which might look like cookie dough because of my photography, but it’s really couscousy. It worked fabulously as a base for the lentils and veggies in the previous post, not to mention a couple of lunches. All from a cup of the dried millet.

I foresee working millet into the menu more often, although perhaps not on weeknights as often.

stuff what I’ve done

They're not dirty -- they're frozen.

They're not dirty -- they're frozen.

1) My summertime crack is frozen blueberries.They’re good fresh, but on hot summer nights, they are the perfect dessert/snack when they’re frozen. I have six pints of blueberries in the freezer, not counting the containers that get put in solely for snacking purposes. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with six pints of blueberries, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with six pounds of cranberries, either, and I’ve managed to use it all without making cranberry-chocolate chip cookies once.

Frozen fruit makes the best milkshakes. Bananas first and foremost, but mangoes and berries work well, too. It’s ridiculously simple and so much more fun (and also cheaper and healthier) to do it at home rather than pay for one of the 1300-calorie monsters at the smoothie shop. I didn’t add any yogurt to this one, but it’s a great thickener (especially if you drain the yogurt first) and an excellent source of additional calcium.

Top view so you don’t see my Mets stein that has been through the dishwasher a few too many times.

2) I goofed off with barley and black-eyed peas the other day. Celery, a little bit from my thyme plant, nothing too exciting. I had it first in a green pepper with some cheese and pluot (there’s a glass of milk just out of the frame) and it was… fine and not very exciting.

A few days later, I decided to make zucchini fritters. I grated the lovely zucchini, got out some relevant spices… and somewhere between going to get the eggs out of the fridge and pouring them, I forgot I was making fritters and thought I was making a frittata and poured a cup of egg. Which is far too much for fritters, but I didn’t want a frittata, so I scrambled around for items I could throw into the batter (beyond much more flour) to thicken it up and at least get pancakes, and came up with the barley-bean mix. The first few pancakes were like Korean pancakes, which were fine but not what I wanted. With a little more flour and barley and some baking powder and resting time, I got something that was somewhere between a pancake and a patty. With the barley and the celery and thyme, they were maybe a little like stuffing, but they were quite tasty. Especially with mustard. They freeze well — I’ve defrosted some for lunch already — and aren’t bad at room temperature, so maybe I’ll try them again, except this time intentionally.

3) I grilled again over the weekend, this time with my spiffy yellow gloves (which don’t actually make me feel any safer overturning the chimney into the grill, but it was again accomplished without incident). Eventually, I will grill meat on this thing, but for the time being, the grill is merely an excuse for me to char veggies. This time, I marinated some tofu that had first been pressed. It looks a little sketchy, but there’s no elegant way to press tofu and you really do need to get the extra water out. Also on the grill were the usual suspects zucchini and eggplant along with potato (thank you, parental peanut gallery) and cauliflower. I usually make my potatoes either in the broiler or in the microwave and then in the toaster, so this was both familiar and not — I needed to make the slices a little thinner so that the outsides don’t get too done while the insides are still raw-ish. Same with the cauliflower, but it wasn’t bad as it was.

Yes, I really do like things that charred.

The highlights of the grill, however, were the white peach and the pita. I’ve been reading about grilled pizza all summer and I have lovely recipes for various middle eastern flatbreads, so I decided to do a test run and see what grilling bread was like. I threw together some whole wheat pizza dough while waiting for the grill to heat up and then realized I had nothing I wanted to put on it, so I split it into four after it was risen and just made pita. Well, more like naan than pita, since it was pillowy and soft. However you class it, though. it was amazing. I want to grill bread all of the time. (Those aren’t toothmarks, btw, but tongs marks.) I foresee trying za’atar bread and maybe lamejun soon.

In conclusion: fire is still scary, but grilled bread is worth the scare.

chow

chow

you bought it, you eat it: wheat berries

In trying to expand my grain horizons beyond rice, barley, and the quinoa that I feel I ought to love more than I do, I picked up wheat berries. Which did not cook as per Fairway’s instructions stuck to the side, but eventually acquired tenderness. What they failed to acquire was purpose. You — or at least I — can’t really eat them by themselves.

On a whim, I combined them with some leftover navy beans and, since it was time to trim the mint plant, some mint. And it was pretty good, especially when I dropped a little bit of ricotta salada on top. Nonetheless, I could see room for improvement.

Take two got fancier the more I pondered it. First, there would be two kinds of beans. And then maybe something in the diced veggie category for color, maybe use crumbled feta instead of the ricotta salada, possibly try it with basil since the basil plant needed a trim…

Wheat berry and bean salad There was too much feta, although it wasn’t as overwhelming as it looks in the picture. And I ended up with green pepper instead of red because it was $1.50 cheaper. And there are no pictures of the last meal I made of this, which involved slicing up some tart strawberries to make a juicy counterpoint to the cheese.

But, all that said, for an off-the-cuff composition, it really didn’t turn out too badly. It was tasty, it was toothsome, and it was filling, which made it perfect to take to lunch in one of my smaller bento containers.

What’s in here: navy beans, pink beans, wheat berries, green pepper, feta, fresh basil.

I used ~1.5 cups dried beans — any would work, but this is what I had 3/4 cup left each of — and 1 cup wheat berries, a moderate sized pepper, too much feta, and basil to taste (probably under a cup). It made a lot. Too much for one person to finish over time, really. But I’m definitely going to do it again.

Berry good?

Berry good?