Showing posts with label esme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label esme. Show all posts

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tanoreen: Olives, Lemons & Za'atar

The fates sent me to Brooklyn instead of Wall Street tonight.
I love an adventure and "Fell Back Alone" listening to World Party, staying on the train to Bay Ridge and Tanoreen - a Michelin-rated bib gourmand Middle Eastern restaurant. It won't disappoint unless you can't handle red wine, heavy spices and the next table's raw kibbeh.
I had a cumin-spiced lentil-butternut squash spread, "a Gaza specialty," and mhammara, a red pepper, walnut, spicy spread. (It's similar to the Turkish salsa-like appetizer spread esme, but not as chunky nor sweet-sour.)
Accompaniment: za'atar toasted flatbread. And a nice French Pinot Noir (Cote du Rhône).
Innovative Palestinian Chef Rawia Bishara, with recipes influenced by the Mediterranean and Middle East, is a well-kept New York foodie secret. Her new cookbook is number two to Ottolenghi's latest cookbook. Check out "Olives, Lemons & Za'atar,"a beautiful cookbook. Only complaint: the index doesn't cross reference traditional names, which is what you find on restaurant menus.
Tanoreen's menu and website has Bishara's interesting story: she started the restaurant later in life, in the 1990s, with inspiration from her mother, a teacher-cook. Bishara says:
"What I truly loved and respected about my mother’s cooking and indeed the woman herself, was that she somehow “colored outside the lines” and enlivened her life and therefore her food with many creative flourishes."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ezme Spread

SUNNYSIDE, QUEENS -- This delish meze called ezme or esme is a bit spicy, with walnut, tomato and garlic. Trying it at Turkish Grill and wondering if my γιαγιά made it.
What I liked at "Smyrna," a Turkish (!!) resto in Hell's Kitchen, and at Turkish Grill, is crunch, sweet and sour.
But online recipes are full of variations. Fresh tomato alone won't work and you have to hand chop everything superfine. Turns out "ezme" translates to "crush" and is like a salsa but more of a paste. So, based on an amalgamation of recipes below and what I have tasted, the strategy seems to be: mash onions, salt with sumac, de-seed fresh or canned tomatoes, then  drain tomatoes of all liquid after chopping - flavor may be best using canned plum tomatoes whole no skin. Plus, tomato paste. Another key: pomegranate syrup or paste. Right! Green and or red pepper has been very subtle, so probably put lemon directly on that before blending. I have had ezme at three different places with a few walnuts and some garlic chopped.
But none of these recipes recreates all this. So until a Turkish chef weighs in, ezme goes down as Turkish secret sauce! Recipes: From a Mediterranean charter tour company, a surprisingly good recipe and explanationTurkish Cookbook's version.'s take. Some sites call it Acli Ezme. This version from the blog "Saffron and Lemon" is written by a Middle-East food enthusiast in Japan and has some good meat recipes for after lent. I like this site for Turkish cooking tips, but it's not archived well so there isn't an obvious ezme recipe.