Stevie, Alexxa, and I are attempting a bi-coastal book club. While we haven’t actually talked about anything yet, I read the first book on the list: Annia Ciezadlo’s Day of Honey. It’s an American woman’s memoir of her time in Iraq and Lebanon during the conflicts of the past decade, told from the perspective of the people she met and the food she ate amidst the bombs, checkpoints, and other dehumanizing aspects of war. I loved the book and found it so inspiring and challenging. Especially when it came to my palate.
I have very little experience eating Middle Eastern food–outside of the occasional shawarma and falafel–and even less cooking it. So, why not cook a feast dedicated to the subject for ten people? That seemed like the most logical way to me to understand more about this cuisine. I spent one entire weekend sourcing ingredients (thank you Sahadi’s); soaking lentils, beans, and bulgur; cooking onions so long that they puffed up like Rice Krispies; and creating some of the most interesting, at least texturally speaking, dishes of my life. Who knows how authentic everything was, but in the end, it was all delicious.
The bulgur and greens dish shown here was one of my favorites, perhaps because the texture was one more familiar to me… it reminded me of cous cous.
Main (served family-style):
Lebanese Wheat Berry and Dried Corn Soup with Yogurt
Bulgur and Greens with Pistachios and Yogurt
Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Rosewater and Sesame Seeds
Mjadara (Red Lentil Stew)
These roasted for 4 hours in a 250-degree oven, dressed with a mixture of turbinado sugar, coarse salt, and cinnamon, then were topped with toasted sesame seeds and rosewater.
Greek Semolina and Yogurt Cake
I’ve been doing some research on Lebanese wines, so we tasted a few bottles from the portfolios of Massaya, Chateau Kefraya, and Chateau Musar.