Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middle Eastern Spins

Nothing is exotic or as tasty as Middle Eastern cooking. It is a mélange  of different spices and cooking techniques, all marrying to create a wonderful , flavor packed meal. Mediterranean cooking is also easy. Any novice home chef can make it with ease and confidence, producing a perfect meal.

The cuisine featured prominently in both Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite and David Tanis' A City Kitchen in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Ms Clark made shallots grilled on a warm or indirect heat grill. Shallots are part of the onion family and they have a very sweet taste, intensified by the grilling. Ms. Clark recommends cutting them into chunks, This will vary
the textures of the shallot .Some will have creamy smooth interiors while others will be chunky and chewy which works.The key is moving the shallots around so they can get the optimum warmth.If they're not browning, then move them to the hotter side of the grill..They  are then chopped and mixed with herbs and lemon and turned into a kind of relish to be served with labneh, a richly creamy middle Eastern yogurt. You can use Greek yogurt instead and pile on a pita. Ms. Clark recommends serving the relish with meats and fish, but personally I would have chicken and beef layered with the relish and yogurt as a kind of gyro.

It would also go well with David Tanis' recipe this week, Moroccan steamed lamb shoulder. It one of the favorite Moroccan ways to cook it besides spit roasting and simmered in tangines,it's an easy technique with first starting off with putting the seasoned shoulder in the basket of  large steamer(you can use the steamer part of your spaghetti pot for this). Keep the water at the steamer's bottom at a brisk boil for two and a half to three hours. This will make the meat incredibly tender and succulent. Serve with typical Moroccan veggies such as carrots, turnips and zucchini but you can also have a dish with chickpeas drenched in lemon or spices. Moroccan cooks and home chefs slather saffron butter on the shoulder before cooking but Mr. Tanis recommends dabbing it on the meat and veggies before serving. The shoulder is usually accompanied by wildly spiked red pepper oil that's rich with cayenne. For something much more tamer serve it the charred shallots with it as  side on  top, along with pita to sop up any juices.

Mediterranean cooking is a tasty mélange of different spices and flavors. Try an easy relish of grilled shallots for an easy lunch or served with a steamed lamb shoulder for a dinner. These make wonderfully fragrant dishes that are a snap to make.

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