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Archive for September 5th, 2011

la rentrée

September.

It always feels like the beginning of the year. The French have the perfect term for this. La rentrée. It refers to the early days of September. Children returning to school. Families returning from vacation. The coasts emptying out. The cities filling up again. The July sales (the French government dictates that stores only have sales in January and July) long gone. A return to “regular life.”

To me, this September feels more like la rentrée than any in recent memory.

Why?

Well, thank you for asking.

Remember when I said that there were some things in the works? I wasn’t just talking about food. I’m starting a new job tomorrow! Talk about feeling like the first day of school.

I’ve laid my outfit on a chair, shoes beneath. I have a few pens and a new notebook in my bag. My blackberry’s charged. My alarm is set. I’ve practiced the route to the office.

I thought I’d be writing today about making some big, last-all-week, dish that I could dole out in my new lunchbox every morning with a piece of fruit, granola bar, and diet Coke. Who am I kidding? Do you honestly think I have a lunch box?

For now, I’ll share my dinner (leftovers) with you.

Here’s to hoping I still have time to cook!

Lahmajun-style sauce

Lahmajun in an arabic meat pizza. I first tried it when I was in summer camp and one of my Syrian friend’s family invited me for a picnic lunch on family visiting day when my parents got stuck in traffic. One taste and I was hooked. These mini meat pizzas, never larger than four inches in diameter according to my long-forgotten friend’s mother, are a little spicy, a little sour, and a lotta good. I usually make these with store-bought pizza dough, using recipes from FoodBridge and Blue Jean Gourmet as a guide. Thanks ladies for helping me out here.

Too lazy to even roll out dough earlier this week, I turned the lahmajun meat topping into a sauce to put on top of barley. This is a bit more tomato-y than when I put it on pizza dough. The pomegranate molasses provides a sweet piquancy. I add a fair amount of harissa for kick. The pizzas are traditionally made with pine nuts and parsley, but I leave both ingredients out and finish with a little fresh mint.

- 1-2 T olive oil

- 1 onion

- 4 cloves garlic

- 1 lb ground beef or lamb

- 2T lemon juice

- 28 oz can chopped tomatoes

- 2 T pomegranate concentrate or pomegranate molasses

- 1-2 t baharat (or cinnamon)

- 1 T harissa (yes, I really do mean a tablespoon — I like things spicy — adjust to your own taste)

- mint leaves

Saute. Chop onion and garlic and add to olive oil in a large skillet. Saute until golden brown and translucent.

Brown. Add meat and brown.

Keep cooking. Deglaze meat with lemon juice, scraping up all the good stuff. Add tomatoes, pomegranate, baharat, and harissa to taste. And of course, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. If it gets too dry, add some water.

Eat. Serve over rice or barley and sprinkle with torn fresh mint.

PS – that cutie up there, that’s Caroline‘s son.

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