Friday, July 11, 2008
Lebanese dinner courtesy of Nigella
Thanks to the lovely Claudia, I have recently watched many episodes of Nigella's food shows, including Forever Summer. In a time when I find it hard to plan ahead my meals, ie looking at my cookbooks for inspiration, writing down grocery shopping lists and going to the supermarket, I was surprised to be inspired by so much DVD watching of La Nige. The last program I watched was Forever Summer, and therefore it had the most vivid impact on my memory.
The other day, we hopped over the border intending to gather strawberries in a special field where you pay for the amount of fruit you've collected (and stuff your face in the process). It was to have a little fun and show Maya where strawberries come from (she loves them). Alas, what disappointment when we found out they had cleared the field to sell the produce in a stall by the side of the road, having a strawberry fest that weekend -probably the end of the season (?)
Anyway, we consoled ourselves by spending time in Trier, and I knew of a Middle-Eastern shop there, so picked up, among other goodies, some Lebanese-style bread. It's a type of very thin and soft pita. It's exactly what Nigella uses for her flatbread pizzas and fattoush in the show.
I used to have a Lebanese friend when I was at school. I remember tasting what seemed highly exotic and nevertheless delicious foods at her house after school. The door was always open for her friends (and her brothers'). She rarely came to my place, but I spent many many hours at hers, a whirlwind of people, food and languages (they spoke perfect French, Arabic, English with the Filipino maid). Sadly we lost touch when we were at university. Drifted apart.
Anyhow, that was just meant to say that I knew those flatbreads well, we even had Nutella on them for snacks sometimes, and while the Auchan supermarket has them (€ 3 a measly industrial pack!!!) the shop in Trier sells them fresh for 50 cents.
So it was ideal to make both the "pizzas" for which I have no photo to show (they were too quick to wolf down) and the fattoush.
Fattoush is a bread salad composed of cucumber, tomato, spring onion, mint and parsley. The dressing is made of lemon juice, olive oil and grated garlic. You toss everything together and add some splinters of flatbread (which you have toasted to crisp in the oven beforehand). You leave it for the flavours to mingle then just before serving, add some more bread chips for contrast of textures. It was really delicious, even though W. said : "Brotsalat?" with a suspicious arched eyebrow.
For the za'tar chicken, you just rub olive oil all over chicken pieces then sprinkle and massage a lavish quantity of za'tar spice mix (which is just pulverized oregano, sumac and whole sesame seeds) into them before grilling or baking.
Add to that some potato wedges rubbed with oregano and olive oil, and dinner's ready. Flavoursome, healthsome, summersome, quicksome (ha!)