Middle Eastern Archive

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

smoky eggplant dip

smoky eggplant sesame spread

The first weeks in a new apartment are always about comparisons: The living room is smaller; the kid’s room is a little bigger. Our room is narrower and contains only one closet that we must share (uh-oh) but also maybe six inches longer, and in those inches, we no longer routinely stub our toes on our dressers while fumbling around in the morning like the old people we’ve unfairly become. The living room gets less natural light, but for the strangest reason: a massive leafy oak tree outside, something I’ve walked by at the sidewalk level for over five years and never noticed. What is this, Brooklyn or something?

eggplants, getting artsy
putting the fifth burner to use

The kitchen differences are, predictably, the most obsessively analyzed. For example, can we talk about the stove? It has not four but five burners and when I saw them for the first time, I nearly wept. Five burners! This is the small kitchen equivalent of the real estate fantasy of every New Yorker, which is to discover that their apartment contains a whole extra secret room, one that would make their sardine can conditions livable. Do you know what I can do with five burners instead of four? No seriously, do you? Because about five minutes after declaring that it completed me, I realized I had no idea what the purpose of the middle burner is, only that I welcomed it.

charred well

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, February 20, 2014

stuck-pot rice with lentils and yogurt

stuck-pot rice with lentils and yogurt

I once read that if you ask a guy what his favorite item of clothing is, he would pick the oldest thing he owns — some t-shirt he’s had since high school or nearly threadbare sweats. And if you ask a woman, she usually picks the last thing she bought. [Nobody mentioned four year-olds but obviously: fireman hat.] Gender stereotyping copy aside,* when it comes to recipes, this has me down to a T: my favorite thing to cook is usually the last thing I made. Because of this, I fail 100% of the time at “content-planning strategies” [or as it sounds in my head when I read phrases like this: blargle-blargle blargle] because while I’m supposed to be telling you about this great dish I made last week for Valentine’s, I only want to talk about what I made for dinner on Tuesday night. Because it’s my new favorite everything.

what you'll need, plus a fork
i rinsed my rice. for once.

When I first read about stuck-pot rice many years ago, I guffawed a bit, because who needs a recipe for that? I come from a long line of cooks that cannot make rice without burning it; any night where rice is on the stove ends with a gunked-up pot soaking overnight in the sink. It’s tradition; one day I will teach this guy too!

deb, your pot is too small!

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ethereally smooth hummus

ethereally smooth hummus

For as long as I have written this website — yes, even longer than it has been since I told you the wee white lie that Paula Wolfert’s hummus was all I’d ever need — I have known how to make the most ethereally smooth, fluffy, dollop-ing of a hummus and never told you. I have some nerve. But, in my defense, I had my reasons, mostly that I knew if I told you how to make it, I’d be able to hear your eye rolls through the screen, they’d be at once so dramatic and in unison. From there, there would be the loud, synchronized clicks of “Unfollow!” “Unfriend!” “Hide these updates, please!” and the under-breath mutters of “Lady, you have got to be kidding me.” Because, you see, the path between the probably acceptable, vaguely grainy but borderline good-enough hummus you probably have been making and the stuff that I dream about sweeping cold, sweet carrots sticks through — the January version of fresh strawberries and whipped cream — has only one extra stop but most of you will argue that it’s at Cuckoo Farm: you see, you must peel the chickpeas.

my chickpeas
your chickpeas just want to be free

Chickpeas, when they’re cooked, have a thin skin that sags a bit, kind of like a Sharpei’s, but less cute. It hangs about them like they’re trying hard to shake it, but just couldn’t. I have found that if you help them — put a single chickpea between your thumb and next two fingers and press gently until it pops out with a rather satisfying soft pop, then plink! into a bowl — it makes all of the difference in the texture of your final hummus. But I theorized that no sane person would ever spend their time ejecting chickpeas from their skins, because it would be such an arduous task, even reorganzing bookcases, which we did last night, would be preferable. Yet when I cautiously asked you last week if you’d want to hear about a new hummus technique, so many of you said “Yes, please!” I figured it was time to make peace with this technique once and for all.

naked chickpeas are happy chickpeas

Continued after the jump »