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So good (pat, pat, pat…).  Sunday’s dinner was a success!  The menu:

  • Cheese and olives – with a bit of pepperoni
  • Falalfel with pita
  • Shakshuka
  • Briam  
  • Bailey cordials

The menu, minus a side dish, was set and I was beginning to panic, unsure as to what low-carb, paleo friendly accompaniment could go with a very spicy meal?  Thankfully, I lucked out; tripping across The Mediterranean Dish which is chock full of regionally appropriate dishes with easy-to-follow instructions, settling upon an intriguing Briam.  I also found great information on the New York Times’ Cooking site and on Eater.com – Eater being a  surprise as it’s a Vox website and as a general rule, I’m not a fan of Vox.

Italian Frying Peppers

The surprise hit was the falafel, thanks to Aglaia Kemezi’s Mediterranean Hot cookbook.  I’ve not previously seen, made or eaten the crispy patties of goodness and wasn’t sure what to expect.  The recipe called for Chilies which was confusing.  Never before have I purchased just chilies – habaneros and jalapenos, sure they’re pretty common in most Jersey grocery stores. I couldn’t recall, however, ever seeing plain ole fresh chilies in a store.  Frustratingly, I killed more time than I care to think about pacing up and down the aisle of Corrado’s looking for the spicy hot green goddess, but to no avail.  With the help of the produce guy, I found a pepper that we believed the recipe called for.

My happiness was short lived. While prepping the ingredients I realized that, combined, the falafel would probably be way too hot for my delicate palate. Feeling saucy, I threw caution to the wind – how could I not, my husband and our friend were taking them down; delicately nibbled the dark, crispy patty; and am now a changed woman.

The shakshuka – the driving force behind the meal — was delightful.  Albeit, the whole poach your eggs in the stew thing was new to me and something I need practice as ½ the eggs broke as I ‘gently’ dropped them into the stew.  The Briam was also intense – how could it not be, just look at that pan full comforting veggies. But I do question if it were the right side for the shakshuka – perhaps a little too sweet and maybe not a good strategy —  tomato on tomato —  when planning a meal.

Overall, the day was a success.  Proof?  That would be our friend, Ganesh, exclaiming, “this is basically a dish we make back home and yours is really good” – he’s from Southern India.  A few learnings from my adventures:

  • Frying peppers are a good substitution for Chili peppers (they may be one and the same). 
  • You really need to serve pita and some sort of saucy side with falafel
  • Shakshuka can be made the night before (I always enjoy doing this as it allows the ingredients to marry together).  Simply reheat and then add the eggs.

I’m confident the shakshuka will reappear on our table someday soon as will the falafel; however next go around they’ll be paleo friendly for the big man.  More tales of my mid-eastern culinary pursuits will follow.  Until then, however, I wish you safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.