I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

April 30, 2010

Strawberry Meringue Pie

Supper Club (theme: Local) was last night, and Matt and I were in charge of dessert. My CSA box arrives on Thursdays and I knew it would be brimming with ridiculous fresh North Carolina strawberries, so I wanted a recipe that would use them, deliciously.

Enter Strawberry Meringue Pie. It looked tasty and somewhat speedy so I gave it a go.

You've got the whole recipe listed online, so I'll only cover the basics:

Cook a store-bought refrigerator aisle pie crust for 10 to 12 minutes and let it cool. Make meringue by mixing room-temperature egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and sugar until they create stiff peaks. Spread this mixture into the baked piecrust, building the meringue up along the edges of the crust.

Bake this for about thirty minutes and let cool.

Once this had cooled (actually, I didn't let it, because I was short on time), spread some warm lemon curd on top of the meringue.

While the meringue was cooling, I chopped up five cups of strawberries.

And then I mixed those strawberries with the rest of the semi-melted lemon curd and added them into the pie.

I chilled this for about an hour and a half before serving.

Totally delish. I was expecting to be able to take some home after supper club, but everything was devoured. I strongly recommend it.

And now we're off to Dallas for the weekend, so no tasty updates until Monday, at the earliest!

strawberries -- $2.75
pie crust -- $2.69 (1 crust left)
eggs -- $.89 (3 left)
Total Cost of Strawberry Meringue Pie: $6.33

April 29, 2010

Sweet and Sour Cabbage (p.302)

This is the last cabbage recipe I have in the book, and I can't say I'm sad. Again, cabbage is fine, but it's not something I would ever really choose to eat.

This recipe is more inventive than the last one, though, so I was interested in giving it a try. I sauteed pancetta (YUM) in olive oil until the fat began to bubble, and then added chopped onion to the pan, cooking until it had softened. To this I added two chopped tomatoes and some tomato paste, and simmered them down until a sort of sauce had formed.

Once the base of the dish was ready I added thinly chopped cabbage and some red wine vinegar and left it for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage was wilted and mostly cooked in the sauce. Throw in a dash of honey and simmer a bit longer, and the dish is ready.

This was good. You know, for cabbage. It was definitely both sweet and sour, and the pancetta added a nice flavor. And it only required one dish to cook in, so I was sold. 

cabbage -- $3.67
onion -- $1.22
pancetta -- $3.29
Total Cost of Sweet and Sour Cabbage: $8.18

April 28, 2010

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I had four nice fat sweet potatoes in my CSA box last week. The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook doesn't seem to have any recipes about sweet potatoes so I had to expand my recipe searching to the web.

Sweet-potato fries seemed to be the ticket, so when I found this recipe I was good to go. The potatoes are peeled, cleaned, and chopped into pieces. The recipe calls for each potato to be cut into six wedges, but I've had problems in the past with potatoes not getting cooked all the way through if they are cut into such fat sections, so I cut mine much smaller.

The potato pieces are mixed with cumin, salt, red pepper (it calls for ground but I used flakes) and oil (I used olive instead of vegetable.)

The only problem I had with the recipe is the length of time it calls for cooking the potatoes -- the recipe says it should take about 30 minutes but for me it was a lot closer to an hour.

Once the edges were all crispy and brown, I took the potatoes out of the oven and served. Delish! Nice and spicy, and good with ketchup. (Though what isn't?)

sweet potatoes -- $3.67
Total Cost of Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries: $3.67

April 27, 2010

Andalucian Asparagus (p. 293)

This is a recipe from southern Spain, from the region of Andalucia.

My CSA box last week has lovely little asparagus stalks in it, so I wanted to find a tasty way to prepare them. Unfortunately, there are only two asparagus recipes in the cookbook and I've already done one of them.

In a pan, sauté garlic, almonds (I used the ones I prepared earlier this week), and bread cubes in olive oil until they are all browned.

Put this mixture in a food processor along with a little sherry vinegar (or, in my case, red wine vinegar mixed with a little sherry) and salt. Process this briefly, so that it is coarsely chopped.

In the same pan that was used before, sauté the asparagus (I needed to add a little bit more olive oil for this.) Once the asparagus has cooked for a little over five minutes, place it in an oven-proof pan. Boil a cup of water and pour it over the asparagus and then add the bread crumb mixture to the top. Bake the dish for about 15 minutes.

We both really enjoyed this, but felt that less water should have been poured onto the asparagus -- it made the topping a little soggier than I would have liked. If I made this again, I would only use a half cup of boiling water. Still, the bread crumb mixture was very flavorful and the asparagus was perfect.

Since I'm in a CSA now, its hard for me to determine the prices of my veggies. These won't be exact, but from now on I'm just going to divide the overall price per week of the box ($22.00) by however many different types of veggies I receive that week. So, this week, I had six types of veggies in the box, or $3.67 per veggie type.

asparagus -- $3.67
Total Cost of Andalucian Asparagus: $3.67

April 25, 2010

Lots of Mezze!

Matt and I were hosting a little party yesterday, which was the perfect excuse to make some delicious mezze dishes. It rained and we had to cancel, but yummy food was still consumed.

Marinated Olives (p. 47)
This is an easy recipe that can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for several weeks. Take drained black olives and put them in a bowl. Pare the skin in thin strips off of two lemons -- I actually used my vegetable peeler to peel wide chunks away that I then sliced more thinly. Peel away the white skin of the lemon, and cut the fruit into narrow strips, removing any seeds that you come across. Combine these ingredients with the olives and add red chili pepper, sweet paprika, and cumin.

(All the delicious things that get added in)

Mix the dish thoroughly and then add olive oil. Mix again, and set aside for at least a few hours for the flavors to develop in the olives. Serve at room temperature.

These are very very citrus-y -- next time I would potentially use a little less lemon and more of the spices. Still, very tasty.

Roasted Almonds (p. 51)
This was an incredibly time consuming recipe because the skins need to be removed from the almonds before they can be baked. To do so, you boil a pot of water and add the almonds for about a minute. Put them in a colander and, once they're cool enough to touch, husk the skins away from each almond. (It took forever. I brought a stool over to my sink so I could sit hunched over the almonds -- I watched two half hour shows on Hulu before I was done.) Once the shells are all removed, the almonds are cooked for five minutes and then removed from the oven to mix them with olive oil and salt. They're cooked ten minutes longer and then sit for several hours before serving.

These were one of the favorites for the evening. Lightly salted, crunchy, etc.

Provencal Anchovy Dip (p.53)
This is a super simple and fast recipe -- in a food processor, puree garlic and anchovies, and then slowly add butter (!), olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Chuck some freshly ground black pepper on that and you're good to go.

This didn't photograph well, but it was delicious. It was really flavorful and could potentially even be used on a sandwich as a mustard replacement.

Chickpea Salad (p.54)
Really, this is hummus, or hummus bi tahini. It can also be used as a garnish for lamb. I've made hummus before, but never using dried chickpeas, only with the canned type. The chickpeas soak overnight and are then simmered in boiling water for about half an hour to soften them. They are pureed in a food processor, along with some leftover water that they were cooked in, until they are coarse and grainy. The puree is then mixed with tahini, sesame oil, salt, cumin, a lot of lemon juice, and garlic. A garnish of olive oil and hot pepper flakes is added to the top, along with parsley, which I neglected to do. The recipe also instructs you to save a few whole chickpeas to put in a garnish on top, which was very cute.

The hummus was good, but a little too thick at first. I thinned it out with a little water, and also added additional garlic. I think we're spoiled by Trader Joe's hummus, which we love. This was pretty good, but we had hoped for a little more of a flavor punch.

And for dessert, peanut butter pie. Which is in no way Mediterranean, but is in every way delicious.

black olives -- $3.60
lemon -- .69
Total Cost of Marinated Olives: $4.29 (I halved this recipe)

almonds -- $5.99
Total Cost of Roasted Almonds: $5.99

Total Cost of Provencal Anchovy Dip: Free!

dried chickpeas -- $1.39
2 lemons -- $1.09
Total Cost of Chickpea Salad: $2.48

All of these make a ton of food, and cheap!

April 24, 2010

Catalan Shrimp in a Sweet Red Pepper Sauce (p. 392) and Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Chili Pepper (p. 297)

After a week of stomach troubles I was finally ready to cook again last night. I had a little bit of broccoli left over from my last creation, so the side was covered, but I wanted to find something delicious for the main meal. I love shrimp but haven't made any dishes with it yet, so I decided on the Catalan Shrimp in a Sweet Red Pepper Sauce.

A note -- I halved this recipe so that we don't have a ridiculous amount of leftovers, but the full preparation would serve six. 

The first step is to roast and peel a sweet red pepper over whatever you have to do this -- the book recommends doing it over charcoal to impart the flavor to the pepper, but my only option was the gas stove. (Have I mentioned how much I adore my gas stove, but the way?) I've seen my mom and sister roast peppers a billion times but have never actually done it myself. Tongs would have been helpful (add that to the list of things I need) but instead I had to rotate the pepper with two wooden spoons.

Once the pepper was blackened all over, I set it aside to cool and began working on peeling the shrimp. I bought fresh deveined shrimp, so it only took about ten minutes to pop the shells and tails of the shrimp to prep it to be cooked. They were sauteed in olive oil for just a few minutes on each side until the shrimp were pink and the whole house smelled delicious. The shrimp is then removed from the oil and set aside, and onion and parsley are added into the same pan and sauteed until they are soft.

Once the onion cooked down, I added peeled, chopped tomatoes and the pepper (now peeled and cut into long strips) to the mix, and cooked them until the tomatoes had created a thick, jammy sauce. White wine and cognac were added and boiled down into the veggies. Once this sauce is prepared, the cooked shrimp is added back in along with a little cayenne pepper and saffron threads (by far the most expensive part of this meal) and cooked just long enough to heat the shrimp.

The broccoli dish had a very simple preparation -- add the broccoli heads to an inch of boiling water for about five minutes, drain them, and transfer to a pan in which garlic and dried chili have sauteed in olive oil. Cook the broccoli in the covered pan and then serve immediately.

I really enjoyed the shrimp dish, but my one complaint about it is that it was a little too sweet. I'd like to do it again, but to kick up some heat in the dish. Still, it was very flavorful and the shrimp was delicious. It would be great paired with a rice dish to soak in some of the flavors of the sauce.

The broccoli didn't do a lot for me, but then, broccoli doesn't in general. It had a little bit of crispy-ness to parts of the broccoli from cooking in the oil, which was interesting, but it didn't seem especially flavorful to me. Luckily, I only made a very small amount of this dish using our leftover broccoli, so no additional leftovers to deal with.

saffron -- $17.99 (luckily, I have several other recipes lined up that I'll need this for)
white wine -- $5.00 (I bought the cheapest wine possible because of how much the saffron cost. We drank most of it.)
1 lb. of shrimp -- $9.99
red pepper -- $2.79
tomatoes -- $3.49 (I bought a four pack and have 2 tomatoes left.)
Total Cost of Catalan Shrimp in a Sweet Red Pepper Sauce: $39.26
(1 serving is leftover)

Total Cost of Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Chili Pepper: Free

April 19, 2010

Orecchiette alla Barese (p.203) and Oven-Braised Leeks (p. 324)

Orecchiette has always been my favorite pasta. It means little ears, and the pasta are the perfect size and shape. They're like tiny suction cups on my tongue. I love them.

Anyway, Orecchiette alla Barese is a pasta dish with broccoli rabe or, if that's not available (as it wasn't for me) it's a pasta dish with broccoli. It requires a few different pots and pans to cook things at the same time, so my timing for making this dish be ready at the same time as the side didn't really work, but someone else might have had more luck with it.

The broccoli are cleaned and coarsely chopped and put into an inch of boiling water. After about 5 to 10 minutes, the broccoli are supposed to have absorbed the majority of the water, and are to be put aside but kept warm until the other ingredients are ready. It might be that the water is absorbed by broccoli rabe but not by regular broccoli -- I left mine for over 10 minutes and the water remained. I eventually had to just drain the bulk of the water out of the dish to avoid having seriously overcooked broccoli.

In a separate pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Once the garlic is soft, add anchovies to the oil and mash them up a little bit with a fork. This is then combined with the broccoli and mixed together, and added to the orecchiette once it is cooked along with some hot pepper flakes. Fresh pepper is ground over the whole dish.

I wanted to make a vegetable side as well, so I decided on Oven-Braised Leeks. I've never done anything with leeks before, so I had to do some internet searching on how to prep them. I was a little astounded by how much of the leek goes to waste -- they have incredibly long leaves that are cut to about an inch above the bulb of the vegetable. The leeks are then cut in half and washed very thoroughly because they hold a lot of sand and dirt inside their leaves. 

Once the leeks are prepped, they are placed side by side in an oven safe dish and set aside while their sauce is made. The sauce is just chicken or veggie stock, EVOO, lemon juice, celery, oregano, a bay leaf, and peppercorns and coriander seeds that are all boiled down together. 

This is poured over the leeks and it goes in the oven for about half an hour, covered part of the time with aluminum foil.

Matt and I were both expecting to be so-so about this meal. Broccoli isn't my favorite veggie, and neither of us were sure about the leeks (in fact, I halved the recipe just so we wouldn't have to deal with a bunch of leftovers we wouldn't enjoy.) We were thrilled that both of these turned out to be delicious and filling, and actually went really well together. I'm sad that this is the only leek recipe in the cookbook -- they're good!

1 lb. bag of orechiete -- $1.79
broccoli -- $2.99 (with a couple of heads leftover)
Total Cost of Orecchiette alla Barese: $4.78 (enough left for several meals)

leeks -- $3.13
chicken stock -- $2.99 (plenty leftover)
coriander seeds -- $5.49 (a nice addition to my spice rack)
lemon -- $.42
Total Cost of Oven-Braised Leeks: $12.03 (1 serving left)

April 18, 2010

Noshing in Nashville

I've been MIA this week because I was at a wedding in Nashville. Very fun, but no cooking on my part. I did, however, do a lot of eating.

Raspberry pancakes at the Pancake Pantry

And perfectly crisped bacon

Hummus and goat cheese platter with more pita triangles than possible to eat

Delicious sampler of beer

Fear not, though. Tomorrow it's back to business as usual and I'll be posting things I made, not just things I ate.

April 13, 2010

Italian Frittata with Tomatoes and Peppers (p. 93)

We had a ton of eggs left from a couple of recipes earlier this week, so I decided to cook a frittata tonight. A quick trip to the store for a tomato, a zucchini, and an onion and I was ready to roll.

I sauteed the onion and some garlic in a pan for about 15 minutes until the onion started to brown slightly around the edges, and then pushed those veggies to the side and added diced zucchini, a seeded chopped tomato, and chopped sweet peppers. I left these to cook for about 15 minutes with a little salt and pepper.

Once the veggies were soft I took them off the heat to cool a bit and then added olive oil to coat the pan and several eggs that had been beaten together. This went back on the stove for about 6 or 7 minutes, long enough to cook the eggs almost completely. I tried to make sure that I could get a spatula underneath the eggs without breaking the whole frittata, but I was somewhat unsuccessful.

When the egg part was mostly cooked I scattered parmigiano reggiano cheese on the top and put the whole dish under the broiler for four minutes until the cheese was browned and the egg cooked completely through.

We enjoyed this. Nice fresh vegetables, crispy cheese, and a pretty light meal altogether.

onion -- $.62
zucchini -- $.86
tomato -- $2.50 (why did my one tomato cost this much?)
Total Cost of Italian Frittata with Tomatoes and Peppers: $3.98

April 12, 2010

Lemon and Garlic Dressing for Salads or Vegetables (p. 262)

I was invited to a friends house for dinner last night and was scouring for the house for things to bring. I had a loaf of stecca with olives already prepared, but I wanted to throw together a little something else as well.

I knew the menu we were having included salad, so I found the salad dressing section and made the one that we had all the ingredients to. It's very simple to make -- crush a half a clove of garlic and mix it with salt until you have a paste, and then add lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Ta da! All done.

It's a good quick recipe but also very salty. My hosts, David and Wendy, said it tastes just like the dressing they get on their salads at a Mediterranean restaurant they like to go to, so at least it's legit. It's also really tasty for dipping bread into.

I didn't take a picture because a tupperware full of a yellow dressing would have been boring.

April 11, 2010

French Toast made from Pompe a L'huile

That Pompe a L'huile recipe made a lot of bread. It's good, but it's not savory enough to eat with dinner, and I don't want it fore breakfast every single day, so it hasn't been moving all that quickly. This morning, I decided to repurpose it into French Toast, which I love.

Neither of us was totally blown by it, but it was still tasty and a nice variant on the traditional recipe. Since the bread has a citrusy flavor to it, this was a bit sweeter than normal French Toast.

I'd do it again (and may tomorrow) to use the bread, but I probably wouldn't make Pompe a L'huile specifically to make the French Toast.

Braised Pork with Sweet and Hot Peppers (p.435) and Cumin-Scented Lentils and Rice (p. 259)

Matt and I enjoyed the pork roast I made last week so much that I decided to try out another pork dish -- this time made on the stove instead of in the oven.

In a skillet, I sauteed onion and garlic for about 15 minutes before pushing them out of the way and adding pork tenderloins to the pan. The pork is browned on both sides in the pan, and then flavored with salt, pepper, and rosemary.

Once the meat had been seasoned, I added a mixture of water, red wine, and balsamic vinegar to the pan, and placed thin strips of sweet and hot peppers (I used jalapeno, anaheim, and a bunch of super tiny colorful sweet peppers) over the whole mixture. Cover the pan for about 20 minutes, until the peppers are soft, and then serve.

Meanwhile, I was also working on Cumin-Scented Lentils and Rice, or Mujaddarah. I have never done anything with lentils before. Including eating them, I think. In fact, when I went to the store, I first looked in the produce section. Whoops. Next time I know, rice aisle.

The rinsed lentils are added to a cup of boiling water, along with a couple of bay leaves. These cook until all the water has been absorbed, and then another cup of boiling water and rinsed rise is added. The whole mixture simmers with salt, pepper, and cumin for another 20 or so minutes, until the water is again absorbed.

In another pan, I very slowly sauteed thin slices of yellow onion for about 15 minutes.

The onions are poured (along with any extra olive oil in the pan) over the lentils and served immediately.

Both of these recipes turned out really well. The pork was delicious -- you could really taste the wine and the outside was beautifully browned.

The lentils were really flavorful as well. We both added a little extra salt and pepper to them, and I enjoyed them mixed with a little of the sauce from the pork.

Both of us agreed that this is one of the best complete meals we've had from the book so far. Both parts were great individually, but they also paired together nicely.

pork tenderloins -- $1.93 (on super sale at Harris Teeter)
red wine -- $9.99 (plenty left to drink)
peppers -- $4.75 (a few left over)
Total Cost of Braised Pork with Sweet and Hot Peppers: $16.67

lentils -- $1.49 (most of the bag is left)
rice -- $2.39 (most of the bag is left)
sweet onion -- $.96
Total Cost of Cumin-Scented Lentils and Rice: $4.84 (with tons of leftovers)

April 10, 2010

Zaleti (p. 450)

Zaleti are Venetian Cornmeal Cookies, often made for Carnival or pre-Lenten festivities. They can be made with a variety of fruits or nuts in them though I chose the most basic -- raisins -- for mine.

The raisins (or currants, or candied fruit) are set in a bowl with a liquor to soak up the flavor. I chose rum because we have a bunch of it, but you could also use vodka or grappa. While the raisins are absorbing the alcohol, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. The recipe calls for about the same about of cornmeal as it does flour, which gives the cookies a unique consistency.

In a third bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, and butter, and then combine this with the dry ingredients until it creates the cookie dough. At this point, you can drain the remaining liquor from the raisin bowl and add the fruits to the batter as well. The recipe also calls for pine nuts, but I didn't have any, so I left them out.

Place spoonfuls of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake for about ten minutes, and out come lovely golden cookies with crispy brown edges.

I enjoyed these cookies. They're definitely not as sweet as traditional American cookies, but the rum soaked raisins give them a nice flavor, and I liked the consistency that the cornmeal provided

eggs -- $2.49 (I have 9 left for making frittatas later this week)
raisins -- $2.59 (lots left for snacks)
Total Cost of Zaleti: $5.08 for about 20 cookies

April 9, 2010

Pompe a L'huile (p. 167)

Mmm, more bread. This time it's from The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, so it's not quite as labor-free as Sullivan Street bread, but still not too difficult. The English translation is Olive Oil Bread from France, and it's a recipe from Provence, in the south-eastern part of France on the Mediterranean. It creates a beautiful circle of golden bread that is surprisingly fluffy and light tasting on the inside.

This recipe has all the usual suspects for making bread (flour, yeast, salt) but also contains more cake-like ingredients like milk, sugar and eggs. I started by creating a well filled with milk and yeast inside of my flour and let that mixture sit while combining, in a separate bowl, eggs, sugar and salt. To the wet ingredients, I added olive oil and orange zest. The recipe also calls for orange-flower water, which, when I was making my shopping list, I somehow skipped over deciding that I could craft that myself out of water and orange juice. Once I actually started making the recipe I realized I was crazy and called my mom, who said that orange-flower water can't be faked with other ingredients and that if I didn't have it I should just leave it out. Done.

Once the wet ingredients are all combined, I poured them over the flour/milk/yeast combination and stirred them all together until it resembled dough. I kneaded it and let it sit for two hours, and then punched it down again and let it sit for an hour and a half.

Around this time (9:00ish last night) I realized that if I finished the bread I would be up until the wee hours of the morning. Altogether it rises three times for about 6 hours altogether. I'm not a night person, and wasn't willing to set my alarm to wake up at 11:30 p.m. to put the bread in the oven, so I let the bread have its last rise over night, inside of a round cake pan.

This morning when I woke up the dough had risen beautifully, so I cut some crosshatch slashes in the top and threw it in the oven.

The whole house smelled amazing, but I couldn't quite figure out what it smelled like. Once I cut into the bread and saw the consistency, I realized that it smells (and tastes) a lot like croissants, but with a  slight citrus flavor. I'm looking forward to eating it for breakfast tomorrow morning with a little bit of jam. So good.

orange -- $.59
Total Cost of Pompe a L'huile: $.59

Strawberry Ice Cream (Definitely Not Mediterranean)

Making ice cream for work parties or cook-outs is my go-to recipe because it's ridiculously easy and so good. My mom always made this strawberry ice cream when I was little and it's gotten to the point where I can't eat strawberry ice cream other than this one because everything else tastes like a pitiful mockery of what strawberry ice cream should be.

The cool thing is, you don't even need an ice cream maker to do this, just a food processor. Take one bag of frozen strawberries and let them defrost a little bit on your counter for 15 minutes or so. (You can skip this step, but I'm always nervous about killing my food processor with the totally frozen fruits.) Empty the bag into the bowl of your food processor, and process until they are finely chopped and without lumps.

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine 1 cup of cream and 2/3 cup of sugar and stir them well so that some of the sugar dissolves. While the food processor is running, begin to slowly pour the cream mixture down the spout and into the bowl. The color will change from bright red to a lovely deep pink as all the cream is added.

You're basically done. The ice cream is cold and ready to eat since the strawberries were frozen, but you could also pop it in the freezer and firm it up more.

In the summer time, I sometimes make this recipe using fresh NC peaches. I chop them into small chunks and flash freeze them and then follow the recipe. When using other fruits, you might want to play around with the amount of sugar you use -- some fruits have more natural sugar than others.

I also sometimes make this "healthy" by using 2% or even skim milk instead of the cream. It's definitely not as good, but it's passable.


April 4, 2010

Samki Harra (p. 369) and Green Beans with Olive Oil and Tomatoes (p. 322)

Samki Harra is Lebanese Fish in a Cilantro-Chili Sauce that is made with a firm white fish -- I chose cod. I was in Asheville for Easter weekend visiting with my dad and sister, so this was my first recipe made away from my own kitchen which was definitely a challenge in of itself.

The fish is dusted with flour and lightly sautéed in olive oil for a few minutes on each side. My dad only owns small frying pans, and at first I tried to do this in a pasta pan but the fish immediately stuck to the bottom of the pan and the first fillet had to be scrapped entirely. After that, I moved on to using the tiny pan and only sautéing a piece or so at a time.

Once the fish was golden on each side but not cooked all the way through, I set the fillets aside and began working on a sauce for them to be cooked in later. Onions and garlic are cooked down until they begin to brown and then cilantro is added. The cilantro in my herb garden has been taking over lately, so this was a nice opportunity to use it up -- I cut it a couple of days ago and then transported it to Asheville in tupperware.

The sauce calls for fish stock to be made from scratch, but I wasn't ready to get so inventive in someone else's kitchen, so I purchased stock at the store and added this to the onion mix, along with walnuts ground down to almost a paste, hot pepper, and cumin. The sauce sits over medium heat for about 20 minutes while the flavors develop, and then the fish is added to finish cooking. After 8 minutes or so the fish flakes easily and is ready to come out of the liquid. Once the fish was removed and set on a platterI added fresh lemon juice to the sauce and then spooned the mixture over the fish.

Here's the platter with all the fish:

And an individual piece:

With the Samki Harra I served a green bean dish, which was a pretty quick fix although I was again without the proper type of pan. As in the recipe for the fish sauce, onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil, and then freshly drained green beans (with their ends cut off) are removed and cooked for about five minutes. To these ingredients, I added tomatoes -- in my case whole canned tomatoes that were cut up, but fresh could also be used if they were in season -- and covered the dish to simmer for about 20 minutes with a little salt and sugar. Just before they were ready (when the beans are soft) I added some lemon juice, and then served.

I cut down on the ingredients in both recipes since there were only three of us eating and I figured that any leftovers would go to waste. It looked like a lot of food and my dad was sure that there would be tons leftover, but we ate all but a pretty tiny piece of the cod.

The sauce on the fish was very flavorful and had a little bit of heat. I really enjoyed both the texture and the flavor of the walnuts. The green beans were also delicious, and the tomatoes really stood out.

As you can see, I also made Stecca, which was yummy. And since they haven't completely bought in to the Mediterranean diet yet, both my sister and dad said "hello, butter."