Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A Somewhat Exotic Meal

My friend Nancy asked if she could cook with me sometime, and last night we finally did it.

We were only four, so I tried not to go crazy. Just some spreads, soup, a main and dessert.

I love to share the method and quasi-recipe for my ricotta, sun-dried tomato and lemon zest spread, so that was one of the hors d'oeuvres. The other was more exotic, muhammara, a walnut and roasted pepper dip from Claudia Roden's Mediterranean. Both easy and delicious, served on crispy chips that I make from soft wheat tortillas.

Ricotta and sun-dried tomato spread; muhammara

Dinner started with tanabour, an Armenian barley and yogurt soup, using the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, September-October 2021. Tartness supplied by the yogurt and chewiness from the pearled barley, a nice combination.

Tanabour yogurt and barley soup

For the main, I made the same Palestinian upside down chicken, from the Milk Street Cookbook, that I made at Passover (see earlier post). A wonderful confection of chicken thighs, cauliflower florets, eggplant and abundant middle-eastern spices.

Palestinian upside-down chicken

For dessert I made my blueberry (and raspberry) tart from Food52 Genius, but since Nance was interested in working with puff pastry, I made a puff pastry crust rather than the ususal pâte sucrée. It came out great this way, and is even easier to make.

Blueberry and raspberry tart with puff pastry shell

It's fun to cook with friends

Bobby Jay

Macarons 2022

I generally make macarons when Joan is exhibiting at an art fair, to give to customers and dealer colleagues. Not that the other dealers don't like me, but they REALLY like my macarons. Of course, there were no art fairs for a couple of years due to the pandemic, but this year's Winter Show went forward, albeit in Spring.

So back to macaron-making, too. This year I invited my friend Odette to join me in my macaron manufacture, as she has been asking me for years to help when I next made them. It was fun having the company, and the extra pair of hands was very helpful.

We made Pierre Hermé's marvelous macarons mutines, from his cleverly named book Macaron. Probably the best translation of mutine is mischievous, although it literally means rebellious; in any event I am not sure why this name.

The macarons have lots of coconut, in the shell and, combined with good chocolate and cream, in the ganache. Lord, they are good.

Macarons mutines
 We had some pastry left after making the boxes, so made two giant 2-1/2" plus) ones, one for each of us.

Jumbo macaron mutine
 Nice to have art fairs back, and nice to oblige our friends.

 Bobby Jay

Belated Passover Post

As was the case before the pandemic, I made the family seder this year. Pestilence and illness reduced our company to ten, and no one was able to bring matzoh ball soup.

We had lots of hors d'oeuvres. There was Michael Solomonov's fantastic smooth tahini from Zahav,

Michael Solomonov's hummus

my own ricotta, sun-dried tomato and lemon zest spread, gefilte fish bites made from Citarella's excellent fish, with homemade horseradish from America's Test Kitchen's DIY, bar nuts from The Union Square Cookbook and tuna tapenade from Joel Robuchon's The Complete Robuchon.

For matzoh ball soup, I went to Friedman's, a quite good Jewish deli/restaurant with numerous branches around the city. I was thrilled to find a sufficient quantity of soup, but really disappointed when I tasted it.. Weak, salty, with not great matzoh balls. I doctored it as best I could be cooking it with some chopped parsnips, dill and parsley, but to little avail. It was barely adequate.

The first main course was Palestinian upside-down chicken  (maqlubeh), in which chicken thighs are cooked with cauliflower florets, eggplant slices, tons of spices and basmati rice and almonds, which are supposed to crisp up like Persian rice. (Recipe courtesy of The Milk Street Cookbook.) It was delicious! Although I didn't get a photo, I have stolen a photo from my dinner of May 31, 2017, which will be covered subsequently.

Palestinian upside-down chicken
The second was a pretty classic seven-hour lleg of amb, with the principal recipe from Bones, by Jennifer McLagan, but with the addition of anchovies, rosemary in garlic in finger-sized holes, as suggested by Simon Hopkinson in his lovely Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Absolutely perfect, without the dryness this dish is prone to.

You can't have a seder without haroset, great on its own but also on matzoh with lots of extreme horseradish: the famous Hillel sandwich. As always, I made two kinds First, figs, date, and apples and walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, from Judith Nathan's Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Food in France. My second was a Syrian-style dried apricot and pistachio puree that I got from Jennifer Abadi's blog, Too Good to Pass Over. Both incredibly simple and tasty.

Finally, dessert. Ginger molasses cake from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, in homage to my late mother, who adored this cake and anything else with huge quantities of ginger. And my fresh blueberry tart (to which I add raspberries from Rose Levy Beranbaum, by way of Food52 Genius Recipes, always a hit.

Blueberry and raspberry tart
Ginger molasses cake
For post-dessert, assorted brownies and cookies made by Vicki and homemade chocolate covered matzos from Rebecca.

All in all, it was quite a feast!

Bobby Jay