Not all at once, mind you.
First, the Syrian comfort food, and the food of my childhood: Squash and Cheese. Just for fun, now that I have a New Mexican husband, I’ve taken to adding roasted green chiles to the casserole. But that’s not traditional. My friend Leila, who is Lebanese and knows a lot about food, Middle Eastern and otherwise, calls this recipe Kusa bi Jibneh.
Squash and Cheese / Kusa bi Jibneh
1 lb zucchini
1 lb cheese — muenster, or muenster mixed with a low-fat medium-soft cheese (light havarti, or Heini’s yogurt cheese if you can get it.)
1 large yellow onion
roasted green chile (optional)
Slice zucchini into thin rounds and simmer in enough water to cover for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain. Set aside to cool. Chop onion. Sauté till golden brown. Grate cheese and mix with eggs. (Mom’s original recipe had 3 eggs. I upped it to 5 at some point. Then again, I like to go over the 1 pound limit on the cheese too.)
In a 9 x 12 Pyrex dish: Mix together the onions and zucchini, then add 2/3rds of the egg/cheese mixture in small batches, mixing quickly, so the eggs don’t cook in the warm squash. If desired: add chopped roasted green chile. Dot the top with the remaining 1/3 of the egg/cheese mixture.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes — till top is browned. Let cool a few minutes, cut and serve.
Traditionally, this casserole is accompanied with lentils and rice. Frankly, I’m not sure what the correct transliteration of the name would be. When my mom says it, it sounds like Enjedreh. So that’s what I call it, though I’ve often heard it called Mujadrah. Whichever.
Lentils and Rice
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 cup long grain white rice (or Basmati is also nice)
1 large yellow onion, chopped and sautéed till caramelized
pat of butter
Bring to boil 1/2 cup lentils in enough water to cover generously, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until soft. Drain lentils and reserve boiling water. Add more water to make 2 cups. Return lentil water to pot with lentils, add 1 cup rice, and 1/2 of the caramelized onion to pot. Add salt and butter. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and steam for 45 minutes.
Stir in remaining half of sautéed onion. Top with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and plain yogurt.
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So that was supposed to be my recipe for the week, but then today I made this really yummy smoothie, off the top of my head. A pregnancy craving of sorts. No picture because I drank it already.
Quick Almond-Berry Smoothie
Handful of strawberries, handful of blueberries, one cup milk, one heaping spoonful almond butter, dash of vanilla. Whizz in blender. Yum!
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And then I thought I should share with you what might be my all time favorite way to cook and eat pork, which we are having for dinner tonight. (Yes, I’m Jewish, but clearly I don’t keep Kosher.)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
10 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dry white wine (I used white basalmic vinegar instead)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (6-1b) boneless pork shoulder Boston roast
Preheat oven to 275°F. Blend together sage, rosemary, garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a food processor until a thick paste forms. With motor running, add wine and oil and blend until combined well. (Or pour both in and then whizz a bit. Not sure it makes any difference)
If necessary, trim fat from top of pork, to leave a 1/8-inch-thick layer of fat. Make 3 small incisions, each about 1 inch long and 1 inch deep, in each side of pork with a small sharp knife, and fill each with about 1 teaspoon herb paste. Spread remaining herb paste over pork, concentrating on boned side. (I’m deleting notes about tying with string as I didn’t do that. Too much work.)
Put pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 6 hours. Transfer roast to cutting board and let stand 15 minutes.
Cut pork roast into thick slices. (They recommend an electric knife. Gotta get me one of those.)
If I have any energy left, I may make potato porcini soup and broccoli rabe to go with this. Or not.