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Sambusak

Olive Trees and Honey

Olive Trees and Honey

Last weekend I got a loaner gift from my friend, Caro, (who has also declared herself as future catsitter – YAY!). A Jewish vegetarian cookbook, of all things – I guess I rarely think of Jewish and vegetarian food together, but in fact it does exist. At least if you extend yourself outside the typical Ashkenazi standard cooking repertoire. “Olive Trees and Honey” – a fairly dense and weighty book of recipes – that I paged through most of the week last week looking for something that would grab me. In the end, yesterday morning my page turning stopped at Sambusak. Maybe a bit cliche for me, I love every variation of these things – “turnovers.” In this case, the Sambusak is from Iraq, but really it could be from almost anywhere. Relatives abound: the Indian Samosa, the Italian Calzone, the Lebanese Fatayer – basically, a pocket-sized savory pastry filled with something yummy. I decided to try them out. I love the practicality of them – all of them – you can make a couple dozen, eat a few, freeze the rest. Two or three of them pack up nicely as lunch. They can be quickly defrosted and thrown in the oven when an unexpected guest shows up. They’re just good to have around.

Yesterday was pretty much run run run, no time to do anything other than quickly buy a few grocery ingredients in the afternoon, but today I had a leisurely morning, so I took the time to make them for a few hours. Of course there were substitutions from the first second, but most of them fairly tame. I didn’t have any semolina flour. But I did have chickpea flour and I thought the flavor might pair really well with the fillings I was making (spinach, chickpea). It did.

Half wheat, half chickpea flour dough

Half wheat, half chickpea flour dough

I was worried that the chickpea flour might make a dough that was really tough and unmanageable; it didn’t. I didn’t have any pine nuts, but pistachios worked just fine. Etc.

As with any wrapped up folded up item, putting them together takes some time, but it is a chance to do some meditating, no? Just sit there, roll, scoop, fold, fork. One after the next. It goes fast with some music in the background.

Assembly station

Assembly station

And? Caro, I can recommend them. I just had them for dinner (and I confess, lunch as well), and they’re a cute little pastry. I like that they are baked, not fried. I can imagine trying out the yogurt cheese filling. I can also imagine trying out a non-veggie filling – perhaps some ground lamb thrown in with the spinach.

I’ll keep looking through the cookbook for some more recipes. For now, I have some sambusak to eat.

Finished Sambusek

Finished Sambusak

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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Avoiding Junk Food, Cooking at home

 

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The Report: “Special Meal” on Lufthansa

Vegetarian (Indian) Special Meal

Vegetarian (Indian) Special Meal

Ok, I admit, it doesn’t look all that appetizing. But if you think about what you normally get on an airplane – some soggy peas and carrots plotzing under a cardboard-dry grey piece of chicken with an unidentifiable lump of something (mashed potatoes?) next to it…you have to be fair with your comparison. Because after eating this vague mix of mashed up looking stuff (with some rice in the middle), I have to say that for all future cross-atlantic trips, I will never be eating the terrible Spaghetti Bolognese or Chicken Teriyaki again.

This here is the “Vegetarian (Indian) Meal” that I special ordered about 26 hours before I got on the flight home. And it was pretty good. Fairly standard stuff for Indian food – a Paneer Masala, some dal and some rice. A little bit of yogurt. A strange “salad” of chana (chickpeas) that was the only sort of odd dish because Indians would never eat chickpeas that way – with no spices, just plain. At least I don’t think they would. And contrary to predictions (take note, Dirk), there *was* a dessert – the orange stuff in the corner there was a reasonably tasty carrot halwa.

There seemed to be quite a few people ordering special meals on the flight – I was mostly surrounded by Italians, although I don’t know why, and some of them had ordered meals as well, although I didn’t get a good look at them. Two orthodox Jewish men sat one row ahead of me and they received a very carefully packaged Kosher meal. I tried craning my neck to see what they had in there (order kosher next time?), but no luck. Amusing was the fact that the meals seemed to come packaged with prayers or readings. I saw one of the men pull out the slip of paper from his tray and read it after the meal.

One other amusement on the flight. About half-way through I turned to see a DOG on the plane in the row a little further down. A little guy, he was sitting at that point between his owners on the seat – quite a surprise because I always thought they had to stay in their little cage under the seat for the whole flight. Later, when I snapped this shot, he was on the floor. He was quiet as a mouse, though. It was only chance that I even noticed him there.

Pooch in the plane

Pooch in the plane

 

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