Thursday, July 18, 2019

What I'm Cooking - 6

Although I haven't posted in several months for various reasons, I have not been totally idle on the food front, having read a number of cookbooks on foods from the Middle East (mainly Persia and Israel) but also New Orleans and Vietnam.

We had friends for dinner the other night and I was planning to go full-on Middle Easter, but when I went to the farmers' market on Columbus Avenue on Sunday, I realized that I should take advantage of the summer's bounty and decided to mix and match a bit.

I did start with the now iconic hummus tahina from Michael Solomonov's wonderful Zahav, with store-bought (shh!) pita chips and a sprinkling of hot Hungarian paprika,

Zahav hummus tahina
and an eggplant pâté from Naomi Duguid's excellent Taste of Persia, served with homemade laffa (a thin non-puffy bread made with pita dough), using another recipe from Zahav. This was a really wonderful dish, just screaming Persia with eggplant, walnuts, fenugreek and other herbs and spices common to the region.

Eggplant pâté
Now the seasonal part: heirloom tomato salad with torn mozzarella and basil, based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver, but now whatever I feel like doing. Although the heirlooms, among the season's first, were not at their best, it was great to welcome them back.

Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad
For the main course, I went to Zahav again for spatchcocked chicken marinated in a celery seed and harissa rub, then served with sumac onions and tahina sauce (the same one that went into the hummus) and served over the homemade laffa.

Spatchocked chicken with tahina and sumac onions
Accompanying the chicken was a summer corn sauté with tons of herbs -- and I mean tons -- anc cumin seeds, from This is a go-to recipe and is more elegant than corn on the cob, which may be my favorite food in the world.

Summer corn sauté with tons of herbs
Dessert was another tribute to the season: berries, cherries and apricots with homemade strawberry sour cream ice cream (from David Lebovitz' authoritative Scoop).

A good time was had by all, even though the kitchen air conditioner broke while the chicken was in the oven, bringing the temperature to triple digits. Fortunately, the A/C was fine in the dining room!

Bobby Jay