Search results for '"A book of middle Eastern Food"'

Snow Birds

11 Jan

For a minute there, I almost believed that winter had forgotten about us up here.

Isaacs lavendar yesterday.

Isaac's lavender yesterday.

Isaacs Lavendar Today

Isaac's lavender today

I was watching the status updates on facebook of my friends down in the city: Playing in the snow in Brooklyn! Cozy inside watching the snow fall.  Snowball fight!

And we were up here, in the great snowy north, with no new snow.  It was mystifying.

And then, as soon as I dared to mention something to Isaac, oh?  What’s that?  A flake.  Followed by another and another.  By the time we got home from the grocery store, it was snowing in earnest.

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Have You Met Ms. Jones?

25 Oct

I was supposed to meet Judith Jones last night.

Empire State Building

It was dark and blustering as I trotted up the slick sidewalks of Fifth Avenue, ducking and weaving around tourists and construction sheds. It was only four blocks, and I covered them in an odd half run, half trot, holding my breath the whole time, checking my watch every few strides. I turned the corner onto 19th Street and my hope faded. I could tell that the event was over. I checked my watch again, 8:01pm. I had missed her.

I burst into the store and asked the proprietor, “Is she still here?” “No,” he said, “the event ended at 8.” “But it’s only just 8:01 now,” I pleaded. “I’m sorry, but you missed her, you should have gotten here earlier,” he snapped peevishly. “I couldn’t,” I blubbered, “work.” “Well, I’ve got a few signed books left I’d be happy to sell you,” he added in a kinder tone. “No, thank you, that’s not the point. I wanted to meet her.” And then I turned and walked away, thoroughly depressed.

Empire State Building

It’d been a truly cruddy day, and meeting Judith Jones was the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I had a two hour window, I knew she was only four blocks away, and yet all the servers of creation kept me from her. Sometimes I hate computers.

So, who is this woman that I hold in such high regard? Judith Jones was (and still is) an editor at Alfred Knopf. As a young woman living in Paris she found and helped get published The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. She brought us Julia Child as an author and TV personality. She’s also worked with James Beard, Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis, Marion Cunningham, Joan Nathan and many, many others.

Empire State Building

But most importantly to me she discovered and edited two of my favorite cookbooks of all time: Roy Andries de Groot‘s Feasts For All Seasons and Claudia Roden‘s A Book Of Middle Eastern Food. I discovered all this a few months ago after I took a galley of Ms. Jones’ memoir, The Tenth Muse, that had been sent to someone in my office and set aside to be thrown out with the trash. The girly lavender cover threw me off, but I decided to take a closer look and there on the back was this quote:

Food is one of the greatest gifts of life… You should derive enormous pleasure from making it, eating it, enjoying it with family, and it should be honored.

Each chapter was a revelation, how she made her choices, the women she met, the lessons she learned. The Boy quickly grew tired of me coming home, bursting through the door and starting our conversation with, “Do you know what else Judith Jones did?” Finally he suggested I contact Knopf’s press office to let them know that I really wanted to meet Ms. Jones, to sit down with her and talk to her. I did, and all I got back was a terse email inviting me to the reading she did last night. But alas, I missed it.

Empire State Building

As I sit here typing at my desk, next to my bookshelf, I’m scanning the titles. So many of the cookbooks I love and trust were published by Knopf. Did she have a hand in all of them? Could one woman have shaped the way I cook so anonymously? It’s a delicious question, and one I’m afraid I’ll never get to ask.

When I finally made it home last night I was exhausted and famished, but too tired to cook. I tore off a hunk of focaccia and poured myself a glass of good red wine. I sat and munched and thought. Ms. Jones still cooks dinner for herself every night and all I could manage was a hunk of bread. It’s humbling and inspiring.

My Books

If I had had the energy I would have loved to have eaten my favorite quick and easy dinner last night. I didn’t have the energy then, but I’d love to give you the recipe now. The slaw (known around here as slawpy) is made a day in advance and goes much faster if you have a “chou chef” to help with the prep (the Boy’s term, not mine!).


All that is required upon arriving home is the caramelizing of onions and garlic and boiling the pierogis. It’s fast, healthy and delicious.

Pierogies with Caramelized Purple & Yellow Onions

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, if you’ve got the time to make it.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Fluffy Dilly Slaw.

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Purple, Pickled, Peculiar

29 Mar

Let’s face it, it’s that time of year when the hearts of children, and yes, grown men and women the world over, sing with glee and hope.

It’s almost time to bite the ears off a chocolate rabbit.

Or snarf down multiple bags of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs.

And while I am human, and I do get a weird thrill out of chomping on dopey, oddly vacant bunnies in dark, milk and white chocolate varieties, the thing that really makes my heart go pitter-pat as we approach the Easter season is, of course, pickles.

Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Red Beet Eggs

And I know I am not alone.

I have been getting dozens of hits a day on this site in the past couple of weeks from people looking for a pickled red beet egg recipe.

Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Red Beet Eggs

So, pickled egg lovers of the world unite! Here is what you’re looking for:

Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Hard Boiled Eggs And Red Beets (aka, pickled red beet eggs)

  • 1 can small, whole red beets
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 3 or 4 whole cloves
  • small pieces of cinnamon
  • 1 doz. hard boiled eggs

Put all together in a pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Peel eggs and add to liquid and beets.
Put all in a jar or container and cover.
Allow to pickle for about 2 days before using (aka,EATING!)

This recipe first appeared in the Pitcher Hill Church’s Ladies Cook Book.

It’s my grandmother’s recipe, or maybe even her mother’s, or her mother’s mother’s. We’re not 100% sure.  What I can guarantee is that these are delicious. Make them and eat them in good health.

But why just make purple pickled eggs? Why not make say, purple pickled cauliflower?

Middle Eastern Pickled Cauliflower & Purple Cabbage

Yeah, I thought it was a good idea when I came upon it in that Claudia Roden book, too.

They’re only just becoming really good. There’s a lot of sulfur and other unique chemical compounds for the brine to soften in family Brassicaceae (there’s that pesky Latin again).

Middle Eastern Pickled Cauliflower & Purple Cabbage

As you can see, they’re beautiful, almost as if rather than starting out as white cauliflower they began life as the purple stuff. But no, all that color has come from the purple cabbage.

Middle Eastern Pickled Cauliflower & Purple Cabbage

Ms Roden doesn’t say which part of the Middle East these are from, but unlike the Iranian pickles I made awhile back, these don’t have dill. They rely entirely on the raw ingredients and the brine to supply the punch, kind of like Middle Eastern sauerkraut.

Middle Eastern Pickled Cauliflower & Purple Cabbage

And how do they taste? Pretty darn good. I tasted them a few days ago and thought they were too salty, so I added a little more white vinegar. This seems to have done the trick. They’re mildly bitter with a mustardy undertone, lightly spicy, perfectly salty and deliciously sour.

Middle Eastern Pickled Cauliflower & Purple Cabbage

I can’t wait to eat them with some pate and crusty bread. But until Meat-Free March is over, tossing them with some bitter greens and cucumbers in a salad slicked lightly with the very best olive oil will have to, happily, do.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Purple Pickled Cauliflower.

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Praise Persia

6 Mar

Gifts come in many guises.

They come in little blue boxes. Wrapped in the Sunday funnies. Hidden behind backs. In crates marked “fragiiile.” In baskets. With ribbons tied around fuzzy necks.

And sometimes, out of the blue.

Some of my favorite gifts are ones I’ve given myself (selfish-only-child that I am), like my new favorite book, purchased a few weekends ago at the Strand.

A Book Of Middle Eastern Food

There are many Middle Eastern groceries in Bay Ridge, chock to the ceilings with amazing looking things in packages marked in curvy Arabic script that I don’t know how to use. On a recent book buying expedition, I spotted A Book Of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. I grabbed it without even looking inside. I figured it would have at least something to teach me. I was right.

This book is a gift in every sense of the word. Full of anecdotes, knowledge and delectable recipes, I’ve barely been able to put it down since I picked it up Saturday morning after declaring to The Boy, “I think I want to make a lentil dish tonight.” If anyone knows the author, please thank her for me.

Persian Lentils & Rice Pilaf with Green Grabanzos

One of the other gifts to come into our busy, hectic lives since moving, is a place around the corner called The Family Store. It’s a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean deli of sorts. There’s olive oils and beans, dry cured olives, cheeses, rices, dried fruits, nuts.

But the real gem is the long case at the back of the store full of prepared foods. You never know what they’re going to have. One night it will be Chesapeake Bay-style crab cakes nuzzling up against rack of lamb. Curried cauliflower next to a warm salad of radicchio. But our go-to for a quick snack is a pilav made of bulgur wheat, reshteh and chickpeas tossed in olive oil with a hint of garlic. Outstanding warm, just as tasty cold.

Persian Lentils & Rice Pilaf with Green Grabanzos

I’m enamoured with these tiny noodles, the reshteh. They’re basically just broken up angel hair pasta, similar to what Spaniards use in fideuá or Mexicans in fideos. When I spotted a lentil recipe using the reshteh, I knew I had to make it. But, then, on second thought, what good are lentils with no starch?

It was time to confront my rice fears. I settled on making the lentils minus noodles, and rice plus noodles.

I know I say this from time to time, but I’m going to gush… This was one of the best meals I’ve ever made in my entire life. Hands down. The lentils were luxurious, simple, bold and seductive. The rice fragrant, clean, alluring and decadent.

I’m over the moon that I now own 10 pounds of, what I was assured to be, the very best (World’s Best & Longest!) Basmati rice you can buy for $8 (and get a free handbag to boot). I know this is the winter of discovering the obvious, but oh, Basmati! I love you! I love your aroma and your fluffiness, your adaptability, but mostly your aroma. I want to eat you for dinner every night.

They may not look like much, the sunny yellow lentils (no turmeric added!) and the bland white rice, but don’t let that fool you. This is hearty, soul-satisfying winter fare. If you need to serve more than two people, double the lentils. If you need to serve less than four people, or do not want leftovers halve the amounts in the rice recipe.

But why you wouldn’t want leftovers I have no idea. They heat up well on the stove, and would probably do just fine in the microwave.

Persian Lentils & Rice Pilaf with Green Grabanzos

Now, close your eyes, I have a present for you. It’s just a little thing, a gift to make a cold day feel warmer.

Tada! Yes, it’s just two recipes, but they’re really, really good ones.

This could even be party fare. Dig your best wall tapestry from college out of storage to use as a tablecloth, light candles, toast some naan, burn incense, eat with your hands and if you must, sit on the floor while drinking mint tea, and serve the rice and lentils with harissa-marinated lamb, pickled cauliflower and maybe a tomato and onion salad.

Happy Tuesday. I hope you like my gift.

It better fit.

I can’t return it.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Lavish Lentils and Roz Bil Shaghira.

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