My to-do list is 100 items long.
Things I have to do at work.
Things I had to do before I left for L.A. today.
Things I have to do before I leave for Miami next week.
Things I have to do before I leave for Nepal in a little more than three weeks.
Things I have to do to maintain my sanity through all of the above.
I admit that one of the things that can cause me stress is food. I hate the stress that comes when I haven’t properly planned and have to “grab something” on the go because it 1) is most likely sub-par 2) most likely contains something that I probably shouldn’t be eating 3) costs me way more than it should cost and 4) could inevitably be made better by yours truly.
I knew that the next few weeks were going to involve a lot of eating out with all of the aforementioned frivolity, so I wanted to make sure that I had good stuff to eat when I was home. Therefore, last Sunday I packed my freezer with all kinds of Lebanese goodies for the grab-and-go situations ahead. And, best part of all, they were all so easy, required no odd ingredients or trips to specialty markets and are oh-so-delicious to boot. Wins all around.
While I am not really following a country-by-country approach this month for the Middle East, I couldn’t help but focus a bit on Lebanon after I learned that my friend, Lima, is part Lebanese and had in her possession some Grandma recipes (and we all know that Grandma recipes, like Mom recipes, are THE BEST KIND OF RECIPES). I’d never have guessed by her very Irish-looking-red-hair-fair-skin-completion, but I guess therein lies the magic of genetics.
The first of the Grandma Lima recipe I’m introducing is Kibbi (Kibbeh). It’s basically a meat-and-onions dish, but reading a bit about it, it seems that every country does it differently. Lima’s recipe was something akin to a square meatloaf, but it can also take the form of footballs, discs or pies. It can be fried, or even served raw. The fried version sounds good. The raw…not so much.
Traditionally made with beef, lamb, goat or camel, I chose to use a mix of dark and light meat ground turkey since both beef and lamb are coming at you later this week (and camel and goat are not so plentiful in these flat, Midwestern Chicago parts).
Bulgur wheat is pretty commonplace in a lot of Lebanese recipes. I can’t eat wheat. However, judging by what I recall cracked bulgur wheat looks like, I chose to substitute quinoa to add the heft. I think it worked rather well.
I doubled the spices because I do that. Also, I was shocked to learn that it only needed two spices: cinnamon and allspice. I was convinced after reading this that I’d need to add something else- cumin, perhaps? Nope. The only thing I added were some red pepper flakes for kick.
Finally, following up on my previous comments about the pine nuts, I used almonds once again here. However, after talking to Fava and Legume last night, it seems they aren’t nearly as expensive as I thought they were at Trader Joe’s, so perhaps seek them out there.
Makes an 8 x 8 pan size, serving 4-5
For the loaf part:
½ cup quinoa, raw
1 cup water
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ cup flat parsley, finely chopped
½ pound ground dark turkey meat
½ pound ground white turkey meat
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup ice water
For the filling:
1 large onion, chopped and sautéed
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup olive oil for the top
1. Cook the quinoa on the stove or in a rice cooker with the 1 cup water.
2. When the quinoa is cooked, mix it with all of the other ingredients for the loaf. Mixing by hand works the best.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4. Place half of the meat mixture in a 8 x 8 baking dish.
5. Spread the sautéed onions and toasted almonds over the first layer of meat.
6. Pat the rest of the meat mixture on top of the onions and nuts.
7. Score into sqaures or diamonds and cover with ¼ cup of olive oil.
8. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
9. Let rest for 15 minutes.
*Can be served at any temperature.*
I’ll be eating my way through Los Angeles with Tomato for the next few days, so stayed tuned for the ridiculousness and deliciousness that will ensue as we hit the L.A. food scene with the force of two Tasmanian devils.