February 20, 2017
Expand your culinary horizons this week with new techniques and flavours!
I’m feeling creative this week, and travelling a lot this month, and the cold, grey winter always inspires me to push beyond by usual culinary palate and spice things up a little.
I’ve been loving mujadara lately - a Middle Eastern dish of rice, lentils and crispy onions. If you’re the kind of person to make batches of beans and grains and prep veggies on the weekend to get a head start on dinner throughout the week, this is a good one - it’s interesting and inexpensive, and if you have some leftover rice and cooked lentils in the fridge, it just takes a few minutes. Pork satay is delicious alongside - made with pork shoulder or loin - and thin strips of pork, marinated in yogurt, garlic and cilantro - can be prepped in the morning and cooked just as quickly at dinnertime.
I’ve also been on a bit of a noodle kick lately - the long Asian kind, particularly with a sesame-spiked peanut butter sauce. I recently made a version with crispy ground pork and cilantro, and couldn’t get enough of it - fortunately, ground pork is inexpensive and cooks quickly, and fresh Asian noodles are done in about three minutes, so you can make an interesting meal, get out of any dinnertime rut you may find yourself in, but not require hours dedicating yourself to a new, complicated recipe. Also: leftovers are delicious to take to work for lunch.
Of course, we’ll need a little something sweet - I love breaking out of my usual baking routine - scones, loaves and the chocolate chunk cookies I’ve been making for a decade. I’ve had middle eastern flavours on my mind lately - spiced desserts made with toasted nuts and sweetened with honey - and so I baked Um Ali, an Egyptian dessert people say is like bread pudding, but it’s not really - it’s far more complex and interesting, made with puff pastry and milk, lots of nuts and thickly sliced coconut.
I’m also starting to make room in my freezer by using up all the turkey stock from the holidays in noodle bowls - I like heating unstrained stock - with chunks of meat still suspended in it - with slices of fresh ginger, salt it with soy, toss in some greens, broccoli florets, pea pods or peas for a couple minutes, just until brilliant green, and ladling it over slippery noodles. Comfort food for cold days.
Have a great week, everyone!
dry green lentils
plain Bles-wold yogurt
fresh Asian noodles
frozen puff pastry