Archive for the 'Middle Eastern food' Category

25
Apr
11

grilled ratatouille, seared tuna, lentil Israeli salad, stuffed peppers.

It’s happened again. I’ve allowed so much time to lapse between posts that I’m no longer confident with all the spice I’ve been eating and the sweat I’ve been doing. And I’ve been consuming massive amounts of spice and sweating TONS, my friends. Remember that Physique 57 I spoke of not too long ago? I’m now in the intermediate class and going about four times a week. I’m also severely limiting carbs from my repertoire, cutting out processed anything, and moving towards a more protein-focused regimen. If that’s not progress, then I’m not sure what is? Aside from in-flight wifi. No one can deny the absurdity/brilliance of that. Remember when we had to fly without facebook? Shudder.

I could try and condense a month’s worth of meals into one post, but I choose to feature only the most colorful of what’s been sustaining me. I made this great Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Feta that I found on Epicurious. It came about when I was thinking of making ratatouille, and then instantly self voting against it due to the pasta.

grilled ratatouille salad

Ingredients:

1 12-14 oz. eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into strips
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
2 tbsp fresh basil, slivered
2 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil (I used garlic mixed with olive oil)
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2/3 c feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe is meant to be made on the barbecue, but I have neither a workable outdoor space (hello, bustling Avenue A? Don’t mind the charcoal) nor a barbecue (nevermind, Avenue A. Go on about your day), so I used my version of the indoor grill with my Panini Press. That thing is a sweatandspicy legend, right? It’s been along for this more than two year ride, and it still has shotgun.

Anyways, you start by drizzling the vegetables with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Since I made my olive oil garlic-infused, I started by mincing 2-3 cloves of garlic and letting them soak in the oil while the Panini Press heated up and I chopped all the vegetables. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies look all blackened and delicious, and then remove from grill. Drizzle with vinegar, sprinkle cheese and basil, and eat. It was ridiculously easy, delicious, and colorful. Winner.

Next, I made a Seared Tuna with Green Onion-Wasabi Sauce, also courtesy of Epi. Trader Joe’s is always good for $4 frozen Ahi tuna steaks, so it was actually a pretty cheap meal, too.

Seared Tuna with Green Onion Wasabi Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 c of water
3 tbsp wasabi powder (I used crushed peas)
1/3 c soy sauce
3 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp dry sherry (I used sherry vinegar)
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 6-oz ahi tuna steaks (I used two)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into matchstick-sized strips

You start by whisking water with the wasabi powder, which I made by putting a handful of wasabi peas into a plastic bag and taking a hammer to them on the floor. Such a good stress reliever, and it made the perfect crunchy consistency. Then, whisk in soy sauce, 2 tbsp peanut oil, Sherry, sesame oil and ginger. Stir in onions, and set aside.

Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper, heat skillet with 1 tbsp peanut oil over high heat, and sear tuna for about 3 minutes a side. Spoon cucumber on a plate, top with tuna, and spoon sauce on top. The recipe called for radish sprouts also, but Trader Joe’s had nothing of the sort, so I left them out. I served alongside sugar-snap peas, and it was so delicious. Highly recommended, if only for the fact that I got to hammer wasabi peas. Delightful.

I was getting relatively close to introducing meat back into my diet, but I had a temporary setback with some unwilling bacon grease consumption and a subsequent bout of food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty, and so I’ve decided to steer clear of meat and limit even the pescetarian side of me for a bit. It really was jarring when I went an entire day in which I consumed just one slice of toast (ah, so sorry Passover!) and about a 1/2 cup of yogurt. A little breaksie is necessary.

While I was midway between my cardio routine (30-45 minutes of a combo of interval treadmill running, elliptical or the bike) and my Physique-ing, I invented and devoured this little salad earlier today:

lentil "Israeli" salad

Ingredients:

1/2 c yellow lentils
1/4 c grape tomatoes, sliced
1 mini-cucumber, sliced
1 c arugula
1/8 c feta, crumbled
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cumin

I was inspired when I dug some long-forgotten lentils from my freezer immediately after the cardio side of my workout. I had been craving this chopped Israeli salad I get from this place, but I’m conserving the slight remainder of my monies for my sister’s visit this coming weekend. Armed with a bag of newly bought groceries, I decided to make my own take on the salad with lentils rather than chickpeas.

I started by boiling one cup of lentils in 2 1/2 cups of water, and then simmering for 5-10 minutes. I then chopped the tomatoes and cucumbers, and laid them atop my bed of arugula. Once the lentils were done, I drained in my handy Giada colander (shameless plug for my girl) and added about half to the top of the salad. I seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper, and then topped the whole salad with the feta, olive oil and vinegar. Easy and delicious, just like I like it.

After my salad, I headed to Phyqisue for some more body sculpting. I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in those studios doing moves like the one you see below, and it’s all in the hopes that I’ll get somewhere near Kelly Ripa-ripped. I mean, that’s the goal. It’s her preferred workout and they taunt you with press pieces all over the place that she swears by it. Any day now, I guess.

Staying with the whole originality thing, I made my own version of a stuffed bell pepper for dinner.

Physique

Ingredients:

3 large green bell peppers
1 c black eyed peas, pre-cooked
2 ears of corn, grilled and sliced off the cob
1/2 c grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 c feta, 3/4 mixed in and 1/4 on top
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, to finish
1/4 c dried cranberries to top (not pictured)

First, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees. I started by cutting the tops off the peppers and gutting the insides, removing the ribs and seeds. I par-boiled the peppers in water for about 5 minutes, and then I removed them to drain with their “business ends” in the air.

Meanwhile, I spent about 15 minutes grilling the corn on all sides with my Panini Press. Once that was done, I stood an ear up on a bowl and sliced the kernels right off. I learned that little trick from Rachael Ray, and it really does make it to where no kernels fly across the kitchen. Easy clean-up, my friends. I’m a fan.

I combined the onions, tomatoes, peas, corn and feta in a bowl. I mixed those ingredients together, and then added the salt, pepper, and cayenne. I filled each pepper with the mixture, and then topped with more feta. I put them on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and popped them in the oven for 30 minutes. I removed, cut one in half, and served with a squeeze of lemon juice for added flavoring. About midway through, I realized some dried cranberries would be a welcome addition to the party, so I added those as well. They know how to get the party started. Anyways, they were really good and pretty, in a Georgia O’Keefe kind of way:

stuffed bell pepper with black eyed peas, onions, tomatoes, corn and feta

03
Jan
11

spicy parmesan grilled shrimp and tabbouleh.

Well Happy New Year, readers. I hereby resolve to make this the sweatiest and spiciest year of them all. These first two days have been pretty decent, so all signs point to continued success for the next 363. As I danced away 2010 on New Year’s Eve,  a trusty vodka soda in hand, I spent a brief moment reflecting on all I experienced last year. My passport was covered in cobwebs of neglect since I’d tucked it away in 2005, but I revived it in March to go to Mexico and in June to visit Israel. I went to California twice while it was frigid in NYC, and I was even fortunate enough to experience Malibu in all its glory. Yep – I saw it nakey. I went to Austin and had the best damn fish taco of my life, which I bought from the back of a food trailer. I was promoted at work in May, and then I moved to my own apartment on arguably the best street in the East Village (next to 7th street) in October. Quite the eventful year, 2010. I’m sad to see you go.

It will be tough for 2011 to compete with my self proclaimed “Year of the Vacay” that was 2010. I hate to go all “lowest common denominator” on you and deem it the “Year of the Stay-cay,” but that’s pretty accurate as to how I see the year panning out. I’ve bought adorbs dishware, my first ever flat screen TV, and I recently upgraded to a 2-disc Netflix program, so I’m beginning to understand the joy in nesting. I also became reacquainted with the novel I started a few months back, and I’m hoping to actually finish it this year. It’s a marathon, yo. Books are so very long. In the meantime, I’m strongly considering giving birth to another blog that will operate in a more stream of consciousness manner. Stay tuned for that…

In between all the Netflix-ing I’ve been doing, I’ve managed to kick my glutes into shape. Who’s that girl logging an average 60-90 minutes of intense cardio along with more challenging strength training? Oh, that’s just me. I’ve been spinning, stair stepper-ing, ski machin-ing, and hitting a yoga class at least once a week. Suzanne Somers in the height of Three’s Company fame, you say? Well, I guess I have been mistaken for her once or twice.

doppleganger

I need to be bikini-ready for a wedding in Mexico this February, so I can’t exactly take my sweet time getting there. I’m off to quite the sweaty start.

As far as the spicy side is concerned, I’ve had a confusing last few weeks as there seems to be a holiday dinner party every other day that I need to mentally prepare for. The chances to cook have been pretty limited, but everything slowed down once a blizzard slammed the east coast and dropped 20 inches of snow outside my door.

I found myself ill-prepared, as my refrigerator boasted a modest two eggs, a bunch of parsley, and bread crumbs. I found myself impotent to create new meals from such limited ingredients, and I had just two dollars in cash on my person. Delivery was out of the question, and Fresh Direct had put a temporary moratorium on all deliveries. Nice one, blizzard. You win this round.

Left to my own devices, I ate poached eggs and worked on my novel for the full two days. On the third day, I emerged from the apartment to find an unplowed winter wonderland outside:

post-blizzard

I so badly wanted to get to the Middle Eastern restaurant across the street for my falafel fix, but a guaranteed face dive in the snow kept me away. I decided to go home and make my own tabbouleh instead, because the market on my side of the street was much more attainable.

As someone who credits half her body weight to the existence of the chickpea – and more specifically, hummus – I’ve rarely attempted to make my own dishes. My sister and I once made a meal of Mediterranean sides in college, but I credit that olive tapenade, hummus and tabbouleh to her and her alone. I vaguely remember adding colorful commentary while I thumbed through Vogue and halfheartedly toasted pita chips, but I don’t recall actually making anything.

In my post-grad years, I once famously bought a jar of tahini so I could start making my own hummus. The tahini mostly sat in the refrigerator and worked on creating a rusty ring on the shelf from its tin container. I may have made my own hummus just once, but that one occasion reminded me of how much I loathe cleaning food processors. I went back to buying.

I was left with no choice last weekend as the Middle Eastern food craving had already hit, and I was a sea of snow away from the people who prepared it so skillfully.

I found this tabbouleh recipe in the Jewish cookbook that my dad gifted me a few months back:

Ingredients:

tabbouleh

1 package tabbouleh mix
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
juice of 2-3 lemons
¾ c of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In actuality, the recipe called for cracked wheat or bulgar wheat, but the only open market was not too sophisticated. I wasn’t able to find either of the above, so I was forced to cheat with the ready packaged tabbouleh mix. I’m so ashamed.

I started by making the mix as instructed on the box. I was to mix the grains with the seasoning mixture with one cup of boiling water, and then remove from heat. It asked me to refrigerate for half an hour, and so I did as told. Meanwhile, I prepped all my veggies. La di da. When the tabbouleh was ready, I added the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley and mint. Then I added lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. It was so tangy and herby, just as the recipe predicted. I ate it the first night as is.

The second night, I grilled some shrimp and ate them alongside the tabbouleh. While the Panini Press was heating up, I threw together this fun little rub to dip them in pre-grilling.

shrimp

Ingredients:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 c Panko bread crumbs
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of salt

I dabbed my grill with canola oil, dredged my shrimp, and let them grill for about two minutes each side. I’ve watched several hundreds of hours of the Food Network through the years, so I’m aware that for anything to stick one needs a binding element, such as egg. I was maybe a little over zealous with my shrimp rub, because I knew I’d like to avoid turning a simple, 5-minute meal into a more drawn out, painful process. As a result, the majority of my rub ended up stuck to the grill, and solely the flavor of the lemon juice penetrated the shrimp. I have a secret habit of eating grill scrapings and enjoying them far more than the actual intended meal, so I was all too happy to scrape off the cheesy mix and use it to top the shrimp. I did as such, and enjoyed a few shrimp with my tabbouleh. Don’t they look good together? It was yum, too:

spicy parmesan shrimp and tabbouleh




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