A recipe like this requires you to break the bank and spend that sweet money on buying a rack of lamb. A rack of lamb is arguably the best part of the animal because it has that incredibly tender rib eye in the center and it the crown jewel of any dinner party. Since I am not going to spend $17 on barely one pound of meat, I went to a local farm and bought an entire 120 pound lamb for just a hundred dollars and got about 50 pounds of meat including two complete racks. I frenched one and made the other into lamb rib eye steaks. Sure I got drenched in blood and shit and it took about three hours on heavy labor and came home looking like a serial killer, but it was worth it. Expect to see a lot of lamb recipes in the near future.
Kibbeh is found in almost all of the Levant countries and surprisingly is the national dish for several Middle Eastern countries. That is a surprising amount of information about a dish that I didn't know existed until last week when my Arab friend took me to a halal restaurant and ordered this mediocre looking appetizer. It's like finding out that your run-of-the-mill neighbor Jim is actually the immortal Perpetual who serves as the ruling monarch of the Imperium of Man, and is described by the Imperial Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Cult as the Father, Guardian and God of humanity. This meze is literally a ball of fried bulgur (cracked wheat flour) stuffed with ground meat. It has slight modifications depending on the country and the ruling party, the Turks call it an Içli köfte (ich-li kuf-ta) and add some potato in the dough and use ground walnuts instead of pine nuts in the meat stuffing. Pine nuts taste better but cost more, and the potato gives a much needed consistency to the dough. I've made this dish several times using recipes from different countries and come up with an abomination that probably tastes good.
This is the "other" Kanafeh (Kunafa) which is actually easier to make. I tried reading up the history of this dish and it is either a Turkish variant of the original Palestinian dessert or it just descended from the sky in delicious angelic hands. Not to be confused with the not-so-delicious angelic hands that touched you when you were a kid as you wondered why your uncle called his penis "angelic hands". Good times. This recipe uses an ingredient called kataifi which is just soft vermicelli dough and can be obtained from any Middle Eastern store. The cheese of this dish is called Akkawi and is like a softer version of unsalted mozzarella. This recipe make two 8" pies which can serve up to 8-10 people, but my friend and I ate it in one sitting while reading MRIs. Me while looking at a mirror: "Why are you like this?"
So according to those pompous steak gourmets, the only way to eat a steak is grilling it with salt and pepper to a temperature of medium rare. But I don't have space to have a grill in my apartment. And I'm definitely not driving to the park to wait for those rich Imperialist families to finish their barbecue so I can go and sneak some of those used hot coals, never again! Instead I'm going to buy a nice N.Y. strip loin for $6.95 and dine on it in the most exclusive restaurant in New York State: Hotel Delicatessen du BrokeButFancy. The next best way to cook a steak is by a method called reserve searing, basically you bake it in the oven at a low temperature and then sear the fuck out of it! This is definitely better than the simple pan searing method and limits the chances of error because it is cooked so slowly. It is especially good for thicker steaks (about 2 inches wide) because they are cooked more evenly. This method is time consuming but can be set into place before your guests arrive (if you have any) and requires no resting period so the steak will be hot when it reaches the table. One more tip: never wash a good piece of meat with water, make sure you buy the meat from a hygienic source and let the blood juices tenderize the meat for you.
Clarified butter is a very versatile cooking ingredient. It has an incredibly high smoke point when compared to regular butter and can last for six months without spoiling. And the best part it that it brings a wonderful aroma to any sweet or savory dish. Remember that episode of Game of Thrones in which Hotpie tells Arya that the secret to making the best pie is browning the butter, this is exactly what he was talking about! If Arya would have browned the butter for the Freys pie then Walder would have eaten it without hesitation. Clarified butter is way more expensive than regular butter, but you can make it at home with the same ease as boiling water. This India method only uses one ingredient and involves just heating it until the milk solids begin to curdle and continuously sieving it. There are other methods, but this one adds a unique cooked milk taste which can only be described as heavenly.
Kanafeh is one of the oldest desserts in the world, according to Wikipedia it was mentioned as early as the first millennia anno domini in the Levent countries. But this is when it really strikes you how old the Middle Eastern culture is, and not just a thousand years, but sixty thousand! Our primitive ancestors came out of Africa and settled here for the first time. The existential crisis begins to set in, why am I even here? What is the point of being alive if I am so insignificant? Is there a God? Just relax and ignore these thoughts for another day. This ancient part of the world has given us farming, language, civilization, religion, and most importantly: recipes! Kanafeh has a couple varieties, this is na'ama which is made with baked semolina flour. The other variety is made using shredded dough called kadayif and I will make it soon. Its hard to explain what this recipe is to someone who has never had it, it is like an upside down cheese cake but the cheese is like really gooey, and you have this dish really hot.
So I was looking at my fridge and the only thing in it was a couple chicken thighs, an almost empty container of sour cream, and a bag of frozen spinach. I sat and wondered what I could make and the only thing that came to my mind was this recipe. This is one of those recipes you can whip up on a moment's notice with minimal ingredients to serve to your un-welcomed dinner guests so they can be on their way. But what if you don't have any dinner guests? What if you have no one who ever comes to your place because you are such poor company and your cry yourself to sleep because of the loneliness? Then stay strong my friend, neither do it. Just make this dish, post it on social media, or better yet, start a blog.
Indian foods have a lot of aromatic spices and this dish is no exception. "Masala" literally means spice. I really like this dish and order a variant of it when ever I go to Indian restaurants, but the biggest issue I have with them are they are drowning in orange colored oil. This is the beauty of cooking at home, you can customize the recipe however you want AND it is cheaper. For the price of one serving at a mediocre restaurant, you can make an entire dinner for four (or four meals meals for yourself). The special ingredient for this recipe is cardamom, its distinct taste gives a floral aroma to the dish.
Ever bought a cabbage, used about a quarter of it since you only cook for one person at a time, and then wonder what to do with the rest? Or have you ever had a craving to eat sour cabbage after a week? Then you're in luck, sauerkraut is the perfect remedy for these two specific occasions. This is the easiest fermentation possible, the bacteria are already present on the skin of the cabbage and all you have to do is leave it in heavily salted water to wash the taste of poverty from your mouth. You will need jars to make this.
I know what your're thinking; "I could go for some Polish heroin right now". But unfortunately that is not the Kompot I am teaching you how to cook. This sweet or bitter drink is of Eastern European origin and is especially popular in Slavic countries due to its functionality. You can drink it hot in the winter or cold in the summer, or the other way around if your are a serial killer. This is a useful drink for us broke people because it utilizes all those fruits you take, but can't finish, from your neighbor's backyard. Kompot can be made with almost any fresh fruits like apples, apricots, berries, grapes, etc, but should be made from what is growing in your garden or what you can steal from your neighbor's garden for that home-grown taste. I am making this with blueberries, cherries, and strawberries because there was a sale at Tops. I had apples but I've found that they dissolve completely into the Kompot leaving a very murky look.