This is the story of how a typo turned into an entree. In Whatsapp group of fellow moms, coordinating the dishes of a potluck, someone offered up a Samoa cake. Misreading that for “Samosa Cake” many of the moms jumped at the prospect: “Samosa cake?! What’s a Samosa Cake?! I want to try it!!”. After clarifying the mix up, some ideas were thrown around as to what a samosa cake would look like. I immediately thought of layers of phyllo dough stacked with a samosa meat mixture, baked and cut in slices. When I looked up for recipes that would meet these requirements, I pulled together elements from a Borek recipe (Turkish layered meat pastry), an Egyptian meat pie, and the filling from a Yemeni Samboosa. There are cubanelle or italian frying peppers here for flavor, often seen in Turkish recipes. There’s tomato paste from the samboosa recipe, an ingredient that is necessary for any red meat dish, in my humble opinion. And the whole layering and baking technique pulls from Egyptian meat pie recipe.
My heart is hurting. The world is burning. There is no where I can go, or send my family members, that feels safe from natural disaster, disease or rampant violence. Perhaps this is the way it’s always been – just now we are hyper aware because we are hyper connected. The natural disaster stuff is not new. Climate change is. And as a Bangladeshi American, I worry about the effects of glacial melting for a sea-level country like Bangladesh. We already have climate refugees.
Disease is certainly not new (hello plague, small pox, measles and the like). But Planetary Health is. The deterioration of our forests and natural resources that previously acted as a barrier from infectious diseases rampant inside the wilderness.
And the violence. From mass shooters to terrorists to drone strikes. We’ve been killing one another since Cain and Abel. Yet for all our progress, our education, we can’t seem to teach one another empathy. We can be pro-life when it comes to matters of a woman’s right to make decisions, yet when it comes to the life of someone who looks a bit different from us, we only know to act in self preservation.
What does this have to do with these vegan “meatballs”? I’m not sure, except it is a Turkish recipe. And if a certain small handed, orange hued, and even smaller brained individual had his way, contributions like this (both culinary and non-culinary), would come to a halt for a certain period of time. We cannot let fear come in the way of this country’s most powerful asset: our pluralism. We must use our propensity for innovation to tackle this challenge we’ve never faced before: an ideological war. One with no national border, rather the exploitation of the disenfranchised, the bored, the feeble minded.
A wonderful cook and long time associate, Keri Egilmez, shared this recipe with me. You may remember her from the Samboosa recipe I shared a while back. These are not meant to satisfy your cravings for dark, rich, savory meatballs. They work best as an appetizer – light and lemony and the perfect finger food. Also works well over a bed of greens as a light lunch. Afiyet olsen!
- 1 cup Red Lentils
- 1/2 cup fine bulgur
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Paste (or tomato paste)
- Juice of 1 lemon (or half if you like less sour)
- 1/3 cup of parsley, finely chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes or pul biber (aleppo pepper) – optional
- Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and rinse under running water 2-3 times. Add 2.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes or until all the water is soaked up. Add the bulgur to the pot, give it a stir, and cover until mixture is cool enough to handle.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened – 4 to 5 minutes. Add cumin and red pepper or tomato paste. Stir until combined then remove from heat. Add this mixture to the lentil/bulgur mixture.
- Add the lemon juice, parsley, green onion and chili flakes, if using, to the mixture. Stir until everything is combined, then pinch off golf ball sized amounts and lightly press into an oblong shaped ball. Set aside. Continue until all of the mixture is made into kofte (balls).
- Enjoy as is or wrapped in lettuce with a squeeze of lemon. Afiyet olsun!
This will likely be the first post of many about an Ina Garten recipe. The woman is a genius. What I would give to be one of her gay hamptonites solely for the pleasure of her food. Um, I mean company. Her approach to food, cooking and entertaining has significantly influenced mine. From “turning up the volume on classics” to her emphasis on only using the best ingredients in her cooking – I adore the balance she’s struck between tradition and modernity. Reverence for what works and adaptability for what doesn’t has become a core part of my cooking.
Anywho, she is just a pleasure to watch. Her show is as technical as it is therapeutic. And it’s about the food, not the boobs (sorry, Giada. Though I appreciate your taking it down a notch from your Everyday Italian days).
This is actually my second Ina recipe this week. I made Pappardelle with white truffle butter as a midnight snack (hey, I’m pregnant) but exhausted it too quickly for any photographic evidence. Either way, it was divine and I’d highly recommend it. These recipes are not for the faint of heart (there might be enough saturated fat to send even a small calf running to the vet). I tweaked her recipe quite a bit (due to availability of ingredients in my fridge). You can find the original here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/pastitsio-recipe/index.html
For the Tomato Meat Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 2 small onions or 1 medium chopped
- 1 cup of chopped carrots (i used half a bag of baby carrots)
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Bechamel:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
- 1/2 pound shells or some other ribbed pasta (I used cellentani)
- 1/2 head of cauliflower cut into florets (can sub broccoli or just nix the veggies for 1/4 lb more pasta)
For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Add the lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Ladle off any excess liquid. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup ofParmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don’t over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside. Boil the cauliflower florets in the same pot for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Add the pasta and cauliflower to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.