Menu Madness

So it’s nearly midnight and I am determined to finish up my Napa Cabbage pickles before I go to bed. So far tonight I’ve done Shitake Soy Sauce Pickles and Fennel Pickles with Coriander Seeds.  In total I want to have a pickle plate to greet my guests with 6 different kinds of pickles, North African Olives and some pickled Israeli Hot peppers.

And of course it all has to be home made.  Except the hot peppers which I buy – they are imported from Israel and are in cans and I love them.

The reason for this pickling madness is a large dinner we are having on Sunday which is a kind of benefit/informational gathering a friend of Neil’s  approached us to host…it’s long and complicated but it’s about the peace process in the Middle East and so of course what else could I do but make Middle Eastern Food. Though the pickle course I am calling: The Far East to the Middle East Pickle Plate.

I’m still not sure about all the desserts, but if I can find Quince at the market I sauce a recipe for roasted ones that are finished off by placing a pat of butter in the hollowed out center then sprinkling sugar over it all and broiling it until the whole mess caramelizes.  I thought it would be nice with some Vanilla Ice Cream?  It’s been very educational reading up on Middle eastern cuisine.  Quince for example isn’t something I associate with that cuisine but in Claudia Roden’s: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food There are several quince recipes including a fish cous cous with Saffron Raisins and yes Quince!

The rest of the day I shopped, went to Sunrise market, Chinatown and the farmers market.  And guess what?  I’m still not done!  Tomorrow back to the market, wine store and Korea town to hunt down some Kochukaru for my kirby cucumber kimchee.

Seems to me that each dinner party gets more and more elaborate. I see them as a challenge.  Sometimes I regret that, but mostly I like the opportunity to try new things and experiment.  The chalk board painted wall is the best thing I ever did – not only am I able to write menus on it I now use it as an idea board, where like this one, I write down everything I’m thinking about and over the days leading up to a dinner, things get changed or nixed and slowly the menu appears.

Some of the bounty from today.

I still have 2 days before the party and I sure would love to hear about your favorite Middle Eastern recipes.

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note:
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6 Responses to Menu Madness

  1. Natan says:

    Scary coincidence, I just made a big batch of kimchi yesterday after I found kochukaru powder and am planning on pickling the fennel from my CSA share I just got, I don’t suppose you’re also planning on making a maple ginger loaf with squash puree and almond meal?

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      That loaf sounds terrific! But you know Neil has to leave the room just at the mention of squash puree 😉 I’m still hoping to find quinces, the Concord Grape tart has an almond crust and a nut crumble….but I don’t think I have ever cooked with Almond meal is that to replace flour altogether?

      • natantheise says:

        I’ve seen recipes using almond meal to replace flour completely but then they add in all these other things to compensate. I’m just gonna do 2/3 almond meal and 1/3 AP flour, I did that last time with some banana bread and it came out really well but I’m hesitant to use almond meal completely if I don’t need to, even for a quick/tea bread.

      • urbanfoodguy says:

        Unless there is a gluten issue or you are trying to up protein I think that AP flour is a good thing and all Almond meal could make your loaf leaden….at least potentially.

  2. Leslie-Anne says:

    And some people think a guy freefalling from the atmosphere is impressive. Wow! I sure hope your guests know how lucky they are.

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