Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #41 – Lamb

Written by Dee

Back again with a new Tasting Jerusalem update as I bring the monthly features up to date.

November 2016’s featured ingredient was Lamb, which has been a commonly used meat in the Jerusalem region since biblical times, perhaps even earlier, and one which offered several choices of delicious sounding recipes to try out this month.  I made the excellent Lamb Schawarma back in July (click here for details) which would have been a perfect showcase recipe and it was certainly tempting to make it again, but I opted instead for a lamb meatball recipe.

Lamb Meatballs with Barberries, Yoghurt and Herbs
In addition to this month’s featured ingredient, this recipe, on page 199, included Barberries and Yoghurt, both of which have been featured ingredients in previous months.

Normally, Jay is our meatball maker...ok ok, I’ll admit it: It’s because I don’t like getting my hands all messy by mixing the ingredients together, but I was on cooking duty when the time came to make the recipe so I had to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in.  The meatballs were enriched with barberries, cinnamon and allspice, and were initially browned in the pan and set aside while the sauce was prepared.

The base for the sauce was provided by chopped shallots which were softened in the lamb fat which I had left in the pan.  The recipe says to wipe the pan clean before frying the shallots but I decided instead to see if any extra flavour from the meat could be retained.  Wine, and then stock and a little sugar was then added to form the body of the sauce.

The meatballs were returned to the pan, along with some dried figs and cooked in the sauce over a low heat until the sauce had reduced to the right consistency.

We served the meatballs and their sauce over the Rice and Orzo which we cooked according to the recipe on page 103.  As an aside, the Rice and Orzo recipe has been our greatest discovery since we first started working our way through the book.  It is certainly the one we’ve made most often, and we always smile when we decide to make it.

The finished dish certainly delivered the sweet and sour flavours that the recipe commentary promised and both Jay and I were very happy with what we had made.  The barberries delivered small bursts of intense fruity flavour that still worked in this savoury dish.  Jay wasn’t convinced by the figs and took the option that was suggested in the recipe commentary to remove them, but I liked them and kept them in there.  The yoghurt and herbs were excellent garnishes;  the former providing a mild creamy taste to counteract the strong taste of the sauce with the latter providing freshness and crispness.

The barberries and copious amounts of herbs included in this recipe suggested to me the Persian influence which has appeared in previous recipes such as the Broad Bean Kuku (click here for details) and Pistachio Soup (click here for details).  I have spotted one or two more recipes in the book with a similar Persian influence and I will be making all of them in time.  I wonder how a themed menu would work out?

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)

Monday, 21 November 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #40 – Pomegranate

Written by Dee

After a September break, October 2016’s featured ingredient was pomegranate, in its fresh fruit form.  The molasses derived from boiling and reducing the juice from the seeds was featured a while ago (click here for details).

Something I discovered while reading up on pomegranates and their use in Jerusalemite cuisine was that the seeds, the edible part of the fruit, came in different colours, ranging from almost white to a rich purple colour.  I initially thought the lighter coloured seeds signified some sort of deficiency with the fruit.

Something else I learned during ‘pomegranate month’ was how to remove the seeds without making too much of a mess.  I’d never quite mastered this stage of the preparation despite several experiments with knives, spoons, vegetable peelers and my bare hands.  There are several written articles and videos on line, including Sarene’s from our Tasting Jerusalem community; click here for details

Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
 
There are a few recipes in the Jerusalem cookbook which include pomegranate seeds, and the one I chose, the Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds on page78 and 79, showcased them brilliantly.  The recipe turned out to be fairly simple to follow but took a while to prepare.  The burnt aubergine turned out to be another great discovery for me.  There’s no getting round the fact that it take a while to prepare, makes a mess of your gas hob and fills the kitchen with smoke, but the flavour that is produced from all this is amazing:  strong, smoky and creamy all at the same time.  It formed the base of the recipe, with the pomegranate seeds adding intense fruity bursts as well as acting alongside the flat leaf parsley to provide the finished dish with a colourful garnish.  There was an option in the commentary accompanying the recipe to add tahini as a final garnish but I decided not to take this up as I felt there were enough flavours on offer already.

The dish was part of a meze arrangement, as recommended in the book and was accompanied by a few recipes from Michael Solomonov’s book ‘Zahav – A world of Israeli Cooking’.  The book was recommended a while ago by the Tasting Jerusalem community but was only a recent purchase for Jay and me.  This, and ‘Palestine on a Plate’ by Joudie Kalla will ensure that there are lots more delicious recipes to try out.

The picture below shows the whole meze spread.  The dishes are;  Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds, fried Kashkaval cheese (we had to use Halloumi for this recipe as Kashkaval was not available), Fritas de Prasa (fried leek patties) and Agristada (egg-lemon sauce).
“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)