Saturday, June 23, 2007

Turkish Delights

Heading into this weekend visit, one of the things I was looking forward to was cooking with a new friend. (I'll let Dear Reader Tina speak for herself on that point!)

So with all the good things we found at the farmers' market this morning, what did we end up making? you may ask.

Of late, I've been craving Middle Eastern foods, and so I pulled out a cookbook I'd borrowed from the library (Arabesque) for ideas. The book covers Moroccan, Turkish, and Lebanese cuisines, and I had found a couple of simple vegetable recipes that seemed like they were worth a try.

First, however, I made one of my new favorites, haydari, to serve as a sort of appetizer along with the hummus and pita found at the market.

We then made two of the Lebanese recipes from the book. For the first, Tina quartered and steamed the last of my red potatoes from last week's market before tossing them with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasting them for half an hour. When they were done, we added a splash of lime juice and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. We also made a simple saute of zucchini with fresh mint scattered on top.

For the third vegetable dish, I turned to my favorite book, Local Flavors, and found a ragout of spring vegetables that called for kohlrabi and turnips sauteed with garlic and thyme and simmered until tender. After that, we added peas and lamb's quarters along with some fresh parsley for a dish with a hint of Middle Eastern flavors.

As you might expect, they made a colorful dinner plate:

For each dish, we only made a small amount... just enough for two to share, without the threat of further crowding my refrigerator with leftovers. It ended up being just perfect, and though we lingered over all the good food, eventually it was gone.

After dinner, we wandered out for another short stroll before returning to the kitchen to make a Turkish dessert from Arabesque: a milk-almond pudding, topped by a warm berry compote found in Local Flavors. Thank heaven there were two of us to share the stirring, because the pudding took nearly an hour of stirring from start to finish! But after an hour in the fridge, the pudding set enough to take the berry compote and make a blissfully mellow dessert.

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. We're both big fans of fresh food, cooked to perfection, and we both enjoy being a little adventurous in our eating. But the whole meal turned out to be such an amazing array of fresh local foods, each with its own little flavor twist, that we just sat back, looked at each other, and smiled in utter contentment.

What could be more delightful than experimenting in the kitchen with a friend?


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