Another week, another menu. And you know how I was talking about finding a groove last week? Well, this week was an interesting curve ball. How do you adjust a planned menu for ten down to five in about 24 hours? It’s very common to have people out for various reasons, travel, health, unexpected circumstances. We understand as we all have been there before.
This week I was blessed to be able to do some prep cooking on Thursday after I hit the farmers market. So there wasn’t much I could do about what was already made! When I got the first text that evening I immediately knew I should cut a dish. By Friday afternoon we had several more cancellations. All I could think of was, “Crap! I have too much food!” Thankfully I was able to cut the salad in half before making it along with the amount of rice and naan. This helped a lot. But there was no way around having extra of things. We gave away what we could, we will eat what we reasonably can, and the rest? It is what it is.
Now for the menu. I had fun putting this one together. It let me explore new foods I have never made before and finally got me into a middle eastern grocery store that I’ve driven past a million times. What started out as Indian quickly morphed into a sampling of Middle Eastern cuisine. I’m not going to claim any authenticity of these dishes. But oh they were good.
I started with butter chicken as my main. A very flavorful, very liked dish. Served with rice and naan you can’t go wrong. From there I played… read about mezze platters. Hello many little dishes! I’m a sucker for tapas style food and it has been ages since I’ve had any hummus. I wanted to make tabouleh as well but it was the dish that ended up getting cut. And for the salad course I made fattoush. Holy cow this was awesome! Such a refreshing salad. To finish it off how could I not venture into baklava. Though I must admit, it was a bit stressful trying to find a “good” recipe the night before I went shopping when I had absolutely nothing to base it on! I think we fared pretty well though.
Butter Chicken: I love making this dish myself because I can control the heat level. It is always way too spicy for me at restaurants. But this. Mmm. It also reminded me of how good tandoori chicken is by itself. For ease of cooking I grilled the chicken and couldn’t help but eat one right off the grill. :D Substituted in chicken thighs (which I deboned) to bring down the cost. Served with jasmine rice.
Na’ama’s Fattoush: I think everyone at the table fell in love with this salad. I liked it so much that I made it again for dinner the next night! To get a more leafy salad, I went ahead and added in chopped up romaine lettuce. It totally completed the dish.
Ethereally Smooth Hummus: I have come to really enjoy a thick smooth hummus thanks to Deb of Smitten Kitchen. I know many think it is crazy and not worth peeling chickpeas but it is so worth it to me.
Moutabbal (Smoky Eggplant Dip): Smoky eggplant, tahini, aleppo, za’atar!
Cevisli Biber (Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut Dip): This is a recipe I came across as I was thumbing through The New Book of Middle Eastern Cuisine. Didn’t need this at all but I liked the idea of it. It turned out to be a very nice addition to the mezze platter. The flavor of the roasted red peppers really shines through.
Naan: I went with naan over pita for simplicity’s sake. I really wanted to spend some time exploring different flat breads and various grain free versions but there really was no time to do it. So go with old faithful.
Baklava: It is pretty much my rule to break the cardinal rule of entertaining; make things you have never made before! This was a great experiment. Because of how link hopping went, I ended up doing a Turkish style baklava with pistachios. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’m a fan of the rose/orange blossom water that is heavily present but it certainly did not prevent me from stuffing my face with it. And the buttering of the layers? Meditative and cathartic, it’s why I love baking so much.
Cardamom Pistachio Cookies: As I was making the baklava I was a bit concerned it would be so sweet that it would make me sick. So I wanted a backup option just incase the baklava was inedible. Enter one of my favorite cookies.
Dinner and Discussion is a weekly gathering over a meal and discussion. Read more about this series.