Posts Tagged ‘bread’

A (possibly) Authentic Middle-Eastern Meal

homemade pitaIn the kitchen, there are a few things that I know to be true. If there is an open jar of peanut butter in the refrigerator, somewhere in the room (smudged on the refrigerator door, hiding out among the natural blotches of the countertop, on the door jamb—yeah, it’s happened) said peanut butter will be smeared. If I turn off the heat-dry function on the dishwasher, as soon as I walk away, it will be on again. Once I even got into a screaming match—with my dishwasher, God help me—as I pressed the button over and over and over, only to watch that little red light pop on again, mocking my futile attempts to make the damn machine do what I wanted it to do. And—this one is very important—you must proof instant yeast. Must. I never trust a recipe that tells me to mix yeast, flour, salt, and water together all at once. No sprinkling the tiny granules on warm-but-not-too-warm water, with just enough sugar to give the yeast a nice little meal? Those recipes are not for me. I worry too much. Will those three-odd cups of flour end up wasted on fickle yeast that refuses to do its job? And what’s the point of making bread/bagels/English muffins/whatnot if your kitchen doesn’t get filled with that wonderful sour smell of blooming yeast? Well, I guess there is some point.

homemade pita 2

But although I’ll still opt for that yeasty smell whenever I can get it, I think I might be a changed woman. Instead of doubting the recipe in front of me and proofing my yeast in an act of rebellion, I dove in. I stirred flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, and water in the Kitchenaid and tried to shut up that nagging voice in my head. “It will work. It’s from Smitten Kitchen. Who’s more trustworthy than Deb? Remember this? And this? And, holy crap, this? What could go wrong?” But still, I couldn’t stop checking the dough in the refrigerator. Was it rising enough? Was that a skin forming on the surface?

roasted cauliflower

After all that needless worry, the pita turned out perfectly. They puffed up into little floury balloons in the oven, and when deflated they had thick, doughy bumps perfect for sopping up my take on this Palestinian lentil soup. But the real standout of the meal was the cauliflower, cut into wee little pieces, roasted to almost-burnt caramelization, smothered in a salty-tart tahini-lemon sauce, and scattered with bits of parsley. The original recipe called for enough sauce to turn the crispy pieces of cauliflower soggy before they could even hit the table, and one head of cauliflower can shrink to a paltry portion likely to cause fistfights at the dinner table, so I’ve adjusted both amounts. And if you’re lucky enough to have any left over, it will still be delicious straight from the fridge the next day.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

adapted from The Washington Post

2 heads of cauliflower

olive oil, sea salt, pepper

Cut cauliflower into small, bite-size pieces, coat evenly with a flew glugs of olive oil, spinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in a 450 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until starting to turn a roasty brown in spots, tossing every ten minutes or so.

2 1/2 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp water

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, and garlic until smooth. Toss with warm cauliflower, then sprinkle with parsley.