I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: baking bread is not my strong suit. But this recipe? I couldn’t stop eating it. Adapted from my well-worn Baladi cookbook, this Palestinian bread is full of herby za’atar and is perfect dunked in tart, thick labneh. Serve this as a breakfast or even an appetizer. It’s well worth the effort.
2 envelopes of instant yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup avocado oil
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup za’atar
labneh, to serve
Mix the yeast with the warm water and sugar until it bubbles, 5-10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Mix the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding a little more water if needed. Knead for 5-7 minutes; it won’t be as bouncy as regular bread dough because of the oil content. Leave to rest for 40 minutes.
Make golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and set aside.
Mix the za’atar with the remaining 1/4 of olive oil and rub each dough ball in the mixture until coated. Arrange the dough balls in a bundt pan, cover with a dish towel, and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and puffy. Serve with labneh.
I’d never had sujuk, or Palestinian-style spiced beef puffs, until I adapted this recipe from my Baladi cookbook. They reminded me of southern Iranian sambuseh, which, as the name suggests, taste a lot like Ethiopian and Eritrean sambusa and South Asian lamb samosas. Basically what I’m trying to say is (a) I love observing patterns of migration and travel through food and (b) meat encased in puff pastry is always delicious.
1 sheet of store-bought puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten
Handful of sesame seeds, to sprinkle
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 pound ground beef or lamb
Combine paprika, coriander, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, garlic, onion, pomegranate molasses, and ground beef in a bowl and set aside.
Lay the pastry flat so that you have one large rectangle, with the long side closest to you. Place some of the meat in a sausage shape along one long edge of the rectangle. Carefully roll the pastry over the sausage, just until the meat is covered. Brush the edge with egg to seal it, brush the top with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, the cut the roll away from the rest of the pastry. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue filling, rolling, sealing, brushing, sprinkling, and cutting until you have used up all of the filling and pastry. You should have 3-4 long longs of pastry-covered meat. Place the logs in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Remove the logs from the refrigerator and bake them for 25-35 minutes until the meat is cooked and the pastry is golden. Slice into 12-14 pieces and serve.
I know I’m basic but I cannot get enough of chili crisp. I slather it on everything these days — eggs, avocado toast, soup, and my favorite addition: noodles. Adapted from Bon Appetit, these ramen noodles have all of my favorite additions: crispy-chewy tofu and shiitakes, nutty tahini, lots of garlic, and a generous drizzle of chili crisp, ofc.
1/4 soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sugar
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons black (Chinkiang) vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chili crisp, plus more for serving
4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 14-ounce block extra firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons avocado oil, divided
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 ounces fresh ramen noodles or similar
Whisk soy sauce, brown sugar, tahini, sesame oil, black vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili crisp, and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Mix cucumbers, rice vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl to coat. Let sit, mixing once or twice, until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain and set pickled cucumbers aside.
Wrap tofu in a clean thin kitchen towel or cheesecloth. Gather ends of towel together and squeeze with your hands over sink to extract as much liquid as possible. (It’s fine if the tofu breaks apart.)
Crumble tofu into a medium bowl (it should look like ground meat with some larger pieces). Sprinkle with cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss with your hands to evenly coat tofu.
Heat 2 teaspoons avocado oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Arrange tofu crumbles in a single layer in pan; reserve bowl. Cook tofu, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, about 5 minutes. Toss and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until tofu is golden brown and crisp all over, about 4 minutes more. Transfer tofu to reserved bowl.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons avocado oil to same skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and shallot is translucent, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return tofu to pan and add reserved sauce; bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Ladle saucy tofu over noodles and top with reserved pickled cucumbers and more chili crisp.
Have a rice cooker? This easy summer dish couldn’t possibly be easier. Adapted from Donabe, a little bit of quinoa adds extra nutrition to this sweet and savory side.
2 rice cups jasmine rice, rinsed
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
7 ounces firm tofu, drained and pressed
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1/2 cup rehydrated wood ear mushrooms, sliced into small pieces
Place the rice, quinoa, and water in a rice cooker and cook according to rice cooker instructions.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: in a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sake, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper, and set aside.
Heat the sesame oil in a saute pan and saute the garlic for 1 minute over medium heat. Crumble the tofu into small pieces and add to the pan. Stir, continuing to break up the tofu with a wooden spoon and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the tofu is lightly browned. Add the corn and wood ear mushrooms and saute for 3 more minutes, until cooked through.
Add the sauce to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Saute until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the rice has finished cooking, uncover and gently fold in the corn and tofu mixture. Serve warm.