A Middle Eastern Feast

UnknownOn Saturday night we decided to have friends over to play a rather obsession-making board game, and treat them to a Middle Eastern feast. They had lavished us with a beef bourguignon that left mine for dead and a delightful lemon tart last time, so it was only fair…

First course was a eggplant brushed with homemade chermoula, baked for 40 minutes, and topped with a burghul salad that included coriander, green olives, and nuts. It was fantastic although not actually as good as it could have been – I used those awesome long Lebanese eggplants, which were tasty but because they were skinny, didn’t get as mushy and baba ganoush-y as they would if they’d been fatter.Unknown

Next, my darling made him favourite dish – lamb and braised egg. We minced lamb eye fillet and cooked it with harissa, pistachios, preserved lemons and other good things, then braised eggs in it. Served with flat bread, it was utterly delightful. Both of these are from the fabulous Jerusalem, which is probably my favourite cook book ever.

Finally, Egyptian filo pudding, from Moorish. Cook filo sheets; break them into pieces and layer it with rosewater-soaked dried apricots and currants, and pistachios and almonds. Then cover the lot with boiling custard, basically, and cook… it was utterly, photoutterly delightful; more-ish, in fact. The picture does it no justice whatsoever.





Lamb, lentil and mint pies

Here’s a thing I have now learnt. All those times I ignored the instructions about covering the fill pastry with a damp tea towel while you’re working with it? STUPID. That trick actually works! Who knew?? (… aside from all the recipe writers I’ve been ignoring, of course…)

photoI’ve decided to work my way through Leanne Kitchen’s Turkey, and these pies seemed like an excellent thing to attempt. The filling is:Turkey-Leanne-Kitchen

lamb mince (minced by me! Although the butcher didn’t have any fillets, so it was just their diced lamb, which was… not awesome)

lentils (which are mentioned at the start of the recipe, as needing to be boiled for 30 minutes to soften, but then never mentioned again so I just presumed that they should be mixed with the lamb)

mint, parsley, garlic, onion, tomato/pepper paste and goat’s cheese (I just used fetta).

The prep is incredibly easy, and since going with the tea towel trick even the construction itself was straight forward, although it did take a while – each of the spirals is three layers of filo, with butter on each (an exercise which has convinced me that I need a new pastry brush, because mine is losing bristles like it’s going bald).

The mint was a delightful and intriguing taste; I think it needed more fetta (the recipe called for 60g, I think I put in more like 100g). I will absolutely be making these again and I imagine that I will be playing around with the ingredients, too. It can’t be hard to come up with a chicken version, or even a vegetarian one (although getting the ingredients small enough might be a pain).