Shabbat shalom from my apartment!
Well, this photo was actually last shabbat, but one week later, I get to say the same thing! If you look closely, you’ll notice that nothing really matches, but most of the stuff sort of “goes.” When I left Boston, a friend helped me pack and, more than anything else, she helped me purge. She convinced me to get rid of my service for twelve and only bring down six meat plates and four dairy plates. She said that I’d never have an apartment large enough to entertain more than six people.
Well shame on me for listening. Last Friday, I cooked for seven (and a baby). If you look closely, you’ll see there’s only enough for six on the table. One of my friends is typically late and I didn’t expect her until dessert. When she showed up pretty close to on time, I had to scramble. I managed to assemble a blue, white, and yellow mishmash of a table.
The menu took shape when I decided to make my favorite carrots. Then, still thinking of Paris and my favorite foods from the late great Les Ailes restaurant, I decided to make chreime – a spicy Tunisian fish stew – as the main event since I had a few non-meat eaters in the crowd. I rounded things out with haricots verts tossed in garlic scape dressing and roasted potatoes, straight from the farmers market.
As usual, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough food, so I burnt a few eggplants and mixed the flesh with a dash of tahini and pomegranate molasses à la Ottolenghi.
It’s hard to make mushed eggplant look good, but a sprinkle of parsley helps.
After dinner, we retired to the couch and ate dessert clustered around my coffee table. I spread out a cloth and piled on the desserts. There was a magnificent almond cake, a chocolate zucchini loaf (I promise to share), and a massive plate of watermelon and berries.
Have a great weekend, all!
Burnt eggplant with tehina and pomegranate
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. You can also add some chopped cucumber and/or halved cherry tomatoes. If you have pomegranate seeds, they would be lovely to sprinkle on top. Since this was a last minute addition to my dinner, I just used what I had.
Makes about 2 cups
– 3 medium eggplant
– 1/2 C tehina
– 1/3 C water
– 2 T pomegranate molasses
– 2 T lemon juice
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1/4 C chopped parsley
– salt and pepper
Burn. Poke several holes in the eggplants with a fork or sharp knife. Put them on a foil- or parchment-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for about an hour, turning them a few times, The eggplants need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break.
Drain. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the blackened skin. Leave to train for at least 30 minutes.
Mix. Chop the eggplant flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tehina, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, a pinch or two of salt, and a grind of pepper. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice, or molasses if needed. You want the salad to have a robust sour/slightly sweet flavor.
Chreime (Spicy Tunisian fish stew)
Just barely adapted from Lior Lev Sercarz‘s recipe in Saveur. I doubled the recipe and added some crushed tomatoes so make a soupier dish. I couldn’t find small red Thai chilis, so I substituted larger serranos and added the seeds to the mix – the result was only a little spicy, so I might add more next time. I made the sauce first in a large skillet, then divided it between two skillets so the fish would have enough room to cook.
Serves 8 – 10
– 3 lbs fish such as sea bass or grouper, cut into 4- to 5-ounce filets
– 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
– 1/2 C olive oil
– 20 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 5 serrano chilis, stemmed and finely chopped
– 1 6-oz can tomato paste
– 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
– 2 C water
– 3 C minced cilantro
Marinate. Combine fish, juice, salt, and paper in a bowl; set aside.
Cook. Heat oil in a large (at least 12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chiles (including seeds); cook, stirring until soft 1-2 minutes. Add paste; cook, stirring until slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, cilantro, and water; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until sauce is slightly reduced, 6-8 minutes.
Simmer. Split the sauce between two large skillets. Divide fish between the two skillets, skin side up, with its juice and cover; cook until fish is done, 18 – 20 minutes.