A new year's eve feast is a tradition with J and me...with me enjoying a fabulous cook-out while still not having figured out how to turn J's oven on. One year I'll get it right. This year's meal was eastern mediterranean, and many of the dishes came from Silvena Rowe's lovely Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume - definately one of my cookbooks of the year. The book's focus is on Syria and Turkey, and there's one recipe for a nasturtium flower sauce that I can't wait to try once the allotment is in full bloom.
The rest of the meal had a certain Claudia Rodin feel, as I can never resist an excuse to make her tarator sauce.
First up, we have some little not-so-flat breads, made to a recipe from a recent Sainsbury's Magazine. I've never used a bread mix before, being a baking snob, but what with it being a lazy time of year, I followed instructions and bought a packet of Wright's ciabatta bread mix, adding some fresh thyme to the mixture. Then I packed it up in a lock and lock food box...but by the time my train arrived in Bucks, the proved dough was oozing gently through one of the locks that it had broken in a bid to escape. Quite a riser...and it was quickly knocked back and torn into little pillow shapes. These merrily rose again, and once I'd slapped on some olive oil and za'atar and bunged them in the oven, they emerged, smelling like perfumed cushions. Tasted damn good too. I think I'll be using that bread mix again.
The green salad is watercress, avacado, tomatoes, red onion and parsley with a dressing of pomagranate mollases, lemon juice, sumac and olive oil.
Next up are kebabs from the Gaziantep region of Turkey - ground pistachios combine with minced lamb and a dreamy spice mix that includes cardomon, cumin, paprika, cloves, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg. These were a huge hit, with Izzie the lab scoffing a couple too. Defying authenticity, I added halloumi to the menu because we both love this hot rubbery cheesy hit.
Giant beans were sneaked onto the menu in honour of our Skiathos holiday. The outrageous purple is beetroot moutabel - a garish but delicious combination of roast beet, tahini, yoghurt and olive oil. The carrot and pink grapefruit salad is my version of the Moroccan carrot and orange classic. And finally we have a cooling salad of cucumber, pistachio, mint, dill, yoghurt and pomagranite seeds. Yum.
As usual, I loved devising it, cooking it and scoffing it. Very few things beat cooking for your best mate then gobbling up the food with beer and good conversation.
Happy 2011 to everyone!