September 24, 2012
The word “double” in the name of a recipe always elicits a sense of mischievous anticipation and entitlement from me. I feel like I’m 6 years old again and allowed to eat dessert before dinner. Please allow me to demonstrate this sentiment with a little experiment. First, read this list of food items:
- Fudge Brownies
- Apple Pie
- French Fries
August 28, 2012
If I had to guess which pantry item I use with the most frequency and enthusiasm, it would be either tahini or chickpea flour.
Tahini is an obvious choice for someone who lived in the Middle East and loved the food. I use it in traditional ways—hummus, tahina, moutabbal, chicken fatteh—but also in some pretty unusual concoctions that arose, as all great ideas have, from desperation.
My favorite thing to use tahini for is salad dressing. I mix the tahini with lemon juice or vinegar (it thickens to a paste), and then thin it with water and more vinegar if necessary to make a very flavorful, creamy dressing that’s perfect on a number of salads. Sometimes I’ll add chopped herbs, like parsley or cilantro, or spices, like coriander and cumin. Always salt and pepper. Any type of vinegar is fine—I’ve used apple cider, red wine, and rice wine. If you ever find yourself out of olive oil and need to make a dressing, this is a great solution. But I suppose I’m the only person who runs out of olive oil before tahini. Continue reading
May 20, 2012
I always find it strange when Americans tell me they think Middle Eastern food is “exotic.” Perhaps this is because I’ve been eating it since I was 12 years old. Or, more likely, it’s because I lived in a Middle Eastern country for two years and nearly forgot what a decent cheeseburger tastes like (don’t even get me started on bagels and pizza).
But the main reason I don’t understand why Americans are so puzzled by Middle Eastern food is that it has such a similar flavor profile to our pseudo-European cuisine: We have BBQ, they have kebab. We have donuts, they have zalabiyah (fried dough balls soaked in syrup). We have macaroni and cheese, they have macarona fil forn (baked macaroni with béchamel). Granted, French fry sandwiches are pretty odd, and I doubt most Americans would be interested in the ubiquitous Middle Eastern breakfast of fava beans (ful) and pita. (Personally, I find this much preferable to syrupy French toast and greasy bacon.)