In other news, I'm teaching a couple of classes again, including a food-writing seminar for which I promise to make some sort of delicious snack. Check it out here and sign up! Thanks.
Burnt Eggplant with Tahini adapted from Plenty
2 medium-sized eggplants
1/2 cup tahini paste
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or more to taste)
1 garlic clove crushed
nice handful of parsley, chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (optional)
a little olive oil to finish
flatbread or baguette, to serve
To burn your eggplants: on a gas stovetop, line the area around the burners with foil to protect them. Put the eggplants directly on top of the grates on two moderate flames and roast for 12-15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft, smoky and shrunken in, and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don't catch fire.
When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the blackened skin. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.
Chop the eggplant flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper; mix well with a whisk. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice if needed. If you want to add tomatoes, go ahead!
Serve with warm flatbread or toasted and drizzled-in-olive-oil slices of baguette.
Shirazi Salad* slightly adapted from Saveur
*At the Middle Eastern restaurant where I worked, they called this the Lebanese Salata, but according to my Internet-based research, Shirazi seems to be the much more prevalent name.
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A nice handful or two of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I love parsley, so I use a lot.)
5 Persian cucumbers, cut into small cubes
2 tomatoes, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Whisk together the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Taste it to make sure the citrus really shines. If it doesn't, add more lemon juice. Add the parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions and toss to combine. Serve at room temp.
Agua de Jamaica slightly adapted from Paletas
makes 6 cups
1 1/2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
6 cups water
1/2 cup sugar (This makes for a very subtly-sweetened drink, so if you like your drinks a bit sweeter, I'd probably use 3/4 cup.)
Rinse the flowers in cold water and drain thoroughly. Put them in a saucepan, cover with the water, and let steep for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the sugar and stir until it's dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, pressing the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate until chilled and taste, adding more water if you think it's too strong. Or, you could just serve over a bunch of ice and let it mellow a bit that way.