A Naan-Traditional Meal

In July Alex and I traveled to Phoenix, while we were there we ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant in Tempe, called Layalena. Before we ate there my middle eastern food experience was extremely limited; in fact I think the only thing I had previously eaten was hummus. Since neither of us knew what to order we decided to order a sampler mezza (appetizer) and the king’s feast for dinner and share it.  The appetizer included: Hummus, baba ganouj, falafel, labneh, m’hammara, and grape leaves. The king’s feast was huge and included: A skewer of kefta kabob, shish tawook, and shish kabob plus a lamb chop. It was a wonderful meal. Since we aren’t on vacation anymore, I had to figure out how to satisfy my craving for that meal at home.

My inspiration for this meal came after we took a trip to the library and I checked out several cookbooks; one was this beautiful book entitled “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World“. As I flipped through the book (several times) I saw a recipe for Silk Road Non; after reading it over and over I thought I could at least give it a try. What fun it would be to make handmade non (also spelled nan or naan), and a whole middle eastern meal to accompany it. I did a little research and completed my menu with muhammara and shish tawook.

Everything turned out so beautifully, in this case my hard work really paid off.  Alex was presently surprised with a delicious meal when he came home from work, and he requested it becomes part of the meal rotation. So shake up your recipe collection and try something naan-traditional!If you need inspiration, head to your local library. Many libraries are stocked with recipe books from around the world.

Silk Road Non
Makes 12 round breads
From: Home Baking

2 tsp active dry yeast
3 c warm water
7 to 9 c AP Flour (or 2 c whole wheat flour, plus 4-6 c AP flour)
1 T salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 c rendered lamb fat melted, (or 4 T unsalted butter, melted)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 3 cups of the flour (if using whole wheat flour, add it and 1 c AP), a cup at a time, stirring well until a smooth batter forms, then stir for another minute, always stirring in the same direction. If you have the time, cover your bowl with plastic wtap and let stand for 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours, if more convenient.

Sprinkle on 1 T salt and stir in. Add 3 T of the lamb fat or butter and fold in. Continue to add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring and folding it in until dough becomes too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a clean blow, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until at least doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (For more flavor, set in a cool place to rise for 8 hours, or overnight.)

Place rack in upper third of oven and place a large baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or baking sheet) on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half and set one half aside, covered. Cut the remaining dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then flatten with the floured palm of your hand. With a rolling pin, begin rolling it out into thin rounds about 8 inches in diameter. The dough may resist stretching, so work with 2 rounds at once to give the gluten in the dough time to stretch and relax. Roll out 1 round as far as it will easily go, then work on a second before coming back to the first to roll it out a little more.  As you complete each round, set aside on a lightly floured surface, covered with a towel or with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes before baking.

To shape the breads for baking, warm the remaining 1 T lamb fat or butter until very liquid and place by your work surface, together with a pastry brush and salt. Lightly dust a peel with flour. Place a dough round on the peel, then stamp or prick with center of the round thoroughly and vigorously with a fork, leaving a 1 inch rim. Brush lightly all over with lamb fat or butter, then sprinkle the center with a generous pinch of salt. Transfer to the baking stone, placing it to one side to leave room for another bread. Prepare the next bread, and slide into the over beside the first.

Bake for 5 1/2 – 7 minutes, until well flecked with gold. Place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so, then wrap in a cotton cloth to keep warm.

As this post is already incredibly long I will just include links to the other recipes. Mahammara is a red pepper and walnut dip. It is delicious with naan. Mahammara link is here. Also I recommend you roast your own red peppers; I couldn’t believe how easy it was, click here for a how to roast your own peppers tutorial.

Shish Tawook is a marinated and grilled chicken. It is so easy to make and tastes wonderful with muhammara. I used a combination of recipes. The original recipes can be found here and here.

Shish Tawook

1/2 c Plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 T ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2-3 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut into strips)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Stir in chicken pieces, coating all sides with marinade. Cover bowl, and refrigerate overnight. Skewer chicken onto kabobs, grill until cook through.


Vampires Beware!

Roasted garlic. So easy. So simple. So delicious! The first time I enjoyed roasted garlic was when my husband and I were dining in Omaha’s Old Market. We ordered an antipasto appetizer off the menu at Vivace, which came with an assortment of cheeses, salty Italian meats, crusty bread and roasted garlic. Neither one of us had had roasted garlic before, and we were in love after the first bite.

Don’t live near Omaha? That’s all right, you can enjoy roasted garlic in your home, without a lot of fuss. All you need is a couple heads of garlic, and olive oil. Cut the tops off the garlic, drizzle olive oil over the garlic, wrap up in tin foil and roast in a hot oven (400-425 degrees F) for 45-60 minutes. What comes out of the oven is the most delicious way to enjoy garlic. Squeeze out the golden brown cloves, mash into a paste, and enjoy. I love roasted garlic smeared on a piece of crust bread. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Oh the Pesto-bilities!

Open-faced Mediterranean Tuna Rice Cake sandwich. WOW what a mouthful–at least it is a delicious one. I currently have an open jar of Classico -Traditional Basil Pesto sitting in my fridge. I opened it the other night to use some in my Pesto Couscous.

Last night for supper I wanted a high protein, low calorie meal. Immediately I thought of tuna, tuna is a lean protein packed with omega-3 fatty acid (which is great for breastfeeding moms). Alex doesn’t care for tuna; actually he doesn’t like it at all, so I knew this tuna sandwich would be all mine. I was going to make my traditional tuna salad which consists of canned tuna and a little mayonnaise, but when I opened the fridge last night I saw the jar of pesto sitting there staring at me. I’ve never had tuna and pesto together but thought it sounded not too bad. Well I was right, it was better than not too bad, it was frickin’ awesome.

I served my tuna on Quaker White Cheddar Rice Cakes. This makes a nice low calorie snack or meal. I tried to take some pictures of this deliciousness, but the pictures did not do justice to the amazing flavor or this sandwich.

Check out my recipe for Pesto Meatballs if you need any other ideas for integrating pesto into your meals.

1 can lite chuck tuna packed in water, drained
2 T Classico Basil Pesto
1/2 T lite Mayo
2 Quaker White Cheddar Rice Cakes

Combine tuna, pesto and mayo. Divide between two rice cakes. Eat as an open-faced sandwich. Eat both yourself or share with a friend. Enjoy!

Calories for one open-faced sandwich: 186.5