Homemade bread. It’s having a renaissance if you haven’t noticed. You have only to look at the nearly-empty flour shelves in your local grocery store to know that people are baking. Bread flour isn’t the only baking ingredient in short supply; don’t even think about…
Month: August 2020
For a foodie like me, one of the great joys in life is finding an exceptional recipe. Bonus points if the recipe is spot on in recreating a fond food memory. You know that kind of recipe, I’m sure. You make it. You taste…
Musaqa’a is a Palestinian eggplant, chickpea and tomato bake with inspired spicing–somewhat reminiscent of Greek moussaka. The recipe I’m using here is adapted from Chef Sami Tamimi’s and Irish food writer Tara Wigley’s new cookbook, Falastin. The recipes are Tamimi’s and the writing is Wigley’s. In the Introduction to the book, Wigley writes that the cookbook is a love letter to Tamimi’s heritage and to his mother.
Let’s get the “P” and the “F” out of the way first. Tamimi is a Palestinian chef who co-authored the best-selling cookbooks Jerusalem and Ottolenghi with Yotam Ottolenghi, the prominent Israeli/English chef. In the Introduction to the book, Tamimi explains that there is no “P” in Arabic and so it is common to use the term Falastin interchangeably with Palestine. Hence, the name of the book.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Falastin is a cookbook of wonderful flavors and over one hundred recipes. The cookbook’s aim is to showcase Palestinian foods but to do so with innovative flourishes. The recipes in the book are geared for the home cook–perhaps a natural inclination for Tamimi who came from a family of seventeen children.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of Tamimi and Wigley preparing some of the recipes from the book: Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley Cook From Falastin. The Baby Gem Lettuce with Charred Eggplant, Smacked Cucumber, and Shatta recipe looks pretty great.(Shatta is a spicy condiment made from fresh or semidried green or red chiles.) That salad is definitely going on my “To Make” list— if only because the idea of smacking cucumbers makes me giggle. (I’m easily amused these days.)
Apparently, the Musaqa’a is a recipe with all sorts of iterations. Eat it as a casserole dish with a dollop of yogurt and a side of steamed rice. Eat it for breakfast on toast. Tamimi recommends serving it on top of a baked potato. The options are endless.
- 5 medium eggplants
- 1/2 C. olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1 t. chile flakes
- 1 t. ground cumin
- 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 t. tomato paste
- 2 green bell peppers (seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 t. sugar
- 3/4 C. plus 2 T. water
- 1 C. cilantro (roughly chopped)
- 4 plum tomatoes (sliced into 1/2 inch rounds)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Trim off the ends of the eggplants and, using a food peeler, peel strips of the skin off the eggplant. You want to peel alternating strips of the skin off the eggplants so that you have a stripe pattern. Cut the eggplants into 3/4-inch rounds and toss them with about 5 T. of oil, 1 t. salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Spread the oiled eggplant rounds out on a baking sheet that you have lined with parchment paper. Roast the eggplant rounds for about 30 minutes. You want the eggplant to be completely softened and lightly browned. Remove the eggplant from the oven and set aside.
- Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
- Heat 2 T. oil in a saucepan and saute the chopped onions for about 7 minutes until they are lightly browned and softened. Add garlic, chile flakes, cumin, cinnamon and tomato paste and stir it well. Continue to saute for 1 additional minute. Add the bell peppers, chickpeas, canned tomatoes, sugar, water, 1 1/4 t. salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Cook this mixture over medium heat for about 18 minutes. You want the bell peppers to soften. Stir 3/4 C. chopped cilantro into this mixture and remove from the heat and set aside.
- Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Spread half of the plum tomato slices on the bottom of the baking dish and half of the roasted eggplant slices. Spread the chickpea mixture on top of the tomatoes and eggplants. Next, top the chickpea mixture with the remaining tomato and eggplant slices. Drizzle about 1 T. of olive oil over the top of the dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes of baking, remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the sauce in the dish is bubbling and the tomatoes have totally softened.
- Top with remaining chopped cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature. I enjoyed the dish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a side of steamed rice to soak up the flavorful sauce.
Tamimi’s and Wigley’s cookbook Falastin is available here.
Time to party—in a socially distanced kind of way. Whether you are Zoom partying, front yard partying or just partying with the faithful family dog (as I am with Sweet Juliet), this Cheddar and Scallion Dip is very very good party food. It also works…
When I was twenty-two and had my own kitchen for the first time, I knew absolutely nothing about cooking. Nothing. So…I bought my first cookbook–a used copy of the 1963 edition of The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. The book’s provenance is interesting. The name Sugar Bardy…