Fërgëse of Tirana with Lamb (Albania)

July 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

J: Welcome to the second installation in our round-the-world cooking trip.  This offering is a national dish of Albania (Tirana is the Albanian capital! *the more you know*), and is usually made with veal or beef liver.  However, for the sake of our wallets, we opted not to use those meats.  Lamb is another common meat used in Albanian cuisine, and since neither of us had cooked or eaten lamb before, we decided we’d take the opportunity to try something new, so we substituted that instead.

saucy lamb

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Shakshuka

October 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

J: I have to admit that when I saw this post over on Smitten Kitchen, my primary reaction was a combination of wanting it and fearing it.  It looked delicious — but it had some steps that seemed scary to me, like cracking eggs into a stewy-tomato-saucy-thing.  Something that, a year or so ago, might totally have put me off making a dish.  But now, feeling the echoes of that fear that I used to have about far more dishes and strategies, I just got more determined, pushed the fear aside, and said to Erik, “we’re making this.”  And so we did.

finished shakshuka: can you see the eggs hiding down there?

Shakshuka
(recipe, once again, from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen) « Read the rest of this entry »

Warm Couscous Salad with Avocado, Cranberries, and Feta

April 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  So, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to eat this week, and remembered that I had most of a box of couscous in my pantry left over from making these mac ‘n’ cheese burgers.  I decided that, yes, couscous has an extraordinary shelf life, but it was about time that I used up the rest of that box.  So, what to do?  I settled on a riff on a salad that I used to make all the time in college: it used spinach as the base, and had feta, dried cranberries, avocado, and almonds, and a little bit of light balsamic dressing.  I decided to throw in the same mix-ins, but leave out the spinach and add one or two other ingredients I thought might go with couscous.  For instance, I knew I wanted a spice, and Erik suggested turmeric, so I threw in some of that and it worked really nicely.

This salad turned out just the way I wanted it.  It’s so delicious and so, so easy, and it’s even pretty healthy for you!  You can have it as a main course or as a side, and while I prefer it to be just a bit warm, you could serve it cold as well.  It’s got nice fresh flavors, and it would be great to take on a picnic or some other outing to enjoy the lovely spring weather!

One last note: I made this with 3/4 box of couscous, so I’ve scaled up the recipe to be for a full box.  Most of the amounts for the mix-ins can be adjusted to your own taste, so feel free to play around with them to get proportions that you like.

dramatic lighting!

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Spinach, Feta, & Bacon Pizza

October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

Last week I decided that I really wanted pizza.  So, I threw together a dough recipe that I’ve worked with several times before with delicious results (here!), and set it to rise for the requisite two hours.  I came back to check on it… and it had done nothing.  It hadn’t risen one bit.  What??  I thought maybe it was the yeast I’d used; I’d only had it for about a month but figured it could be a fluke bad batch, so the next day I went to the store, got a new jar, threw together another batch of the dough, and, drumroll, same results.  But this time I decided, what the hell, I’ll plastic-wrap it, put it in the fridge, and try to make pizza with it tomorrow just the same.  And, as it turned out, the dough worked just fine, and as an added bonus, I accidentally discovered how to make deep-dish pizza!  My theory is that since the dough didn’t rise, it didn’t get the air into it that it usually does, so it was much denser, and when it cooked it rose some but stayed dense.  Delicious.

(Incidentally, I still don’t know why the dough wouldn’t rise, but it wasn’t my yeast, because I used the same stuff to make bread the same day and it worked beautifully.  If you have any ideas on this, please let me know!)

Feel free to modify the toppings to your tastes!

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