Ottoman Feast

I wanted Middle Eastern food so here’s the menu I came up with: Shish Kabob with Tzatziki Sauce, Baba Ganoush and Tabbouleh. Chopping and prep takes a while, but the results are awesome.

Ingredients

Shish Kabob Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Kabobs:
top-round beef
green peppers
onions
(sautéed mushrooms on the side)

Baba Ganoush:
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup kalamata olives

Tabbouleh
1 cup bulghur wheat or couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tzatziki Sauce
1 medium peeled or unpeeled cucumber
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (from 6-oz container)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Instructions

Shish Kabobs

shish-kabobThese are the easiest to make. Cut top-round beef into 2 inch cubes. For the Shish Kabob Marinade, mix ingredients together, let kabob meat marinate for at least 2 hours.

My pattern was green pepper, meat, onion, meat, green pepper. I got 4 pieces of meat on one skewer.

I cooked them on the grill for about 10 minutes – flipping them over at 5 minutes – then I put the whole lot in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Baba Ganoush

baba-ganoushIt is tricky to cook eggplant just right so that it is soft, fully cooked, and not spongy. I had to play with it a little to get the right consistency. After cooking in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes I put the uncooked pieces into the microwave to soften them up.

Remove eggplant from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

I think I used 3/4 cup of tahini and quite a bit of salt to balance out the lemon. In the end it came out a little chunky, but it tasted fresh and good.

Tabbouleh

tabboulehThis recipe is the most time consuming: I cut the green onion, parsley and mint with kitchen sheers.

Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

This recipe taught me a new technique to make fine-chopped cucumber: cut cucumber in half, quarter halves length wise, cut out the seed patches, slice the pieces length wise (2 or 3 slices), then chop the slices (perpendicular) into small pieces.

Tzatziki Sauce

Mix ingredients together and season to taste. I added celery salt and dill and dash of sugar (the celery salt was too spicy).

 

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 pounds chicken tendors, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the chicken pieces in flour until coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet (one that has a cover/lid). Fry the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides. Remove from skillet.

Chicken Cacciatore

Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until the onion is slightly browned. Return the chicken to the skillet and add the tomatoes, oregano and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium low heat.

Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Inspiration: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-chicken-cacciatore/

Chicken Puff Pastry With Asparagus

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: 1.5 hours

Menu:
Chicken Puff Pastry
Asparagus

1 Rotisserie chicken, about 2 cups deboned
1 8 oz container of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 stalks of celery
1 small white onion
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg white
2 tbsp butter
2 pounds asparagus

Lay out 2 sheets of puff pastry to defrost on a lightly floured cookie sheet or counter (takes about 40 minutes). Diced celery and onions, then sauté in a small skillet with the butter until the celery is soft. Debone the chicken (you could also use leftover chicken, or fried chicken) and cut into bite size pieces.

Heat oven to 400⁰ F. In a medium sized bowl, mix the chicken, cream cheese, softened onions and celery until well incorporated. Unroll and stretch out 1 sheet of puff pastry on a cookie sheet that has be lightly sprayed with non-stick spray until the pastry covers most of the pan. Starting in the middle, place the chicken mixture on top of the puff pastry sheet and, with a spoon, spread out the mixture until the chicken covers all but about 1/2 inch of the sheet.

Place the second sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface (I used a second cookie sheet) and stretch or roll it to almost the same size as the first sheet. Once stretched, place the second sheet on top of the first sheet and chicken mixture. With a pastry brush, use the egg whites to lightly moisten the edges of the puff pastry. Once all the edges have been moistened, crimp and fold the edges up so that the pastry makes a sealed pocket (it will look like a pillow). You can use a fork around the sides to help the pastry join together like you would with a pie crust. Brush the top of puff pastry lightly with the egg whites. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

For the asparagus, I cut off about an inch off the bottom to remove the woody/dry part. I then steamed the asparagus in a large skillet with about an inch of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes or until desired tenderness and added 2 tbsp. of butter.