Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini and Sumac: Tasting Jerusalem


I’ve embarked on a culinary adventure. This is a new journey, one where I am cooking virtually with a community that shares a love for trying unique flavors and exploring a cookbook in depth. I couldn’t be happier! The inspiration for this group comes from two friends, Beth Lee of OMGYummy and Sarene Wallace. We are cooking from Jerusalem, the treasure of recipes created by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Each month, we’ll focus on a spice and some selected recipes, and share our experiences and what we’re learning as we cook.

To kick off this first month, we’ve been cooking with sumac, a deeply red spice that is prevalent in Middle Eastern cooking and brightens dishes with its rather tart, lemony zip. It is sprinkled on top of Kohlrabi Salad, which was the first recipe I made from the book. Now, I’ve only bought kohlrabi once before and normally I would have paused over this recipe and then moved on to another since this is not a vegetable in my usual repertoire. Am I ever glad I made it! Before peeling and chopping the kohlrabi, I made sure to show the purple bulbs to my sons (to deepen their veggie education!). Its texture is crisp, like an apple, and when combined with refreshing mint, peppery watercress and a creamy dressing of yogurt, sour cream, mascarpone and sumac, it is dazzling.


I am continually drawn to the ends of cookbooks now, where the condiment recipes are usually stashed. Condiments and other such fundamental recipes are the building blocks of so many dishes. If you have good quality sauces and such on hand, it’s a snap to put together a delicious meal in no time or add a bit of flourish. Jerusalem does not disappoint! In order to prepare the Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini and Sumac, I saw I would need preserved lemons and harissa. Yes! Preserved lemons take some time (about 5 weeks), so I quickly salted some lemons and started the process.


But in the meantime, I still wanted to make this lamb recipe. So I also happily pickled some lemons overnight with red chile, salt, garlic and other spices. I’m finding lots of ways to use these lemons (tuna salad!) and I’ll be making them again and again.


And then there is harissa ... this one’s a winner. Red peppers and chiles, coriander, cumin and caraway toasted and ground, garlic and lemon - harissa has it all and pops with taste. I made a double batch knowing we’d fall in love with it, and next time I’ll be tripling it.


With the condiments prepared, the Braised Eggs with Lamb comes together quickly. Ground lamb, onions and garlic are sautéed and seasoned with sumac and cumin, then harissa and pickled lemons add a punch of flavor - a little tart, a little spicy. Braising the eggs in this mixture reminded me a bit of cooking eggs in tomatoes and peppers for shakshuka (another incredible dish). Charred tomatoes and more sumac top off the dish beautifully. There were many happy sighs as we ate dinner that night! If you’d like to make Braised Eggs with Lamb the recipe can be found here.


It is such a pleasure to learn, share and discover together. I can’t wait for next month!

If you’d like to join us in cooking or follow along, please do! Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ten Speed Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and liking our Facebook page.

26 comments:

  1. Cool idea! I'm loving the cookbook. I made the lamb stuffed eggplants the other night. Tasty!

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    1. Oh yum, that one looks so tempting. I'll have to try it soon! Happy to hear you're enjoying Jerusalem, too. :)

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  2. What a wonderful post Hannah! Sarene and I are so happy to have you cooking along - what an inspiration your creativity and experience in the kitchen is for all of us. And your photos are always so mouthwatering yet calming and beautiful to see. Sarene and I are already contemplating next month's fun but if you have a direction you'd like to see us go - let us know!

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    1. Thank you, Beth! I really appreciate your kind words. This is fun journey to be on with you. I can't wait to see what you and Sarene have in mind for next month's cooking adventure!

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  3. What an awesome cookbook - I just returned it to the library and it's on my to-buy list! This is going to be fun - I will no doubt be following and can't wait to see what you make!

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    1. I'm glad you've discovered Jerusalem, too, Alyssa! And I'm happy you'll be following along. :)

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  4. It is such a pleasure to taste together! My friend used to share her CSA basket with kohlrabi and we'd slice it and use it as a raw "chip" for hummus; like you I don't use it often enough though, I do want to try that salad. And you're motivating me to pickle again! I have yet to do the lemons but I really should, many Moroccan dishes I have on my list to make call for them (and I like the idea to add it to tuna). Delicious post, wonderful to enjoy something new.

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    1. Thank you, Orly! I agree, it's a pleasure to be sharing together in this way. Love your raw chip kohlrabi - I'm making a crunchy veggie tray tomorrow for dips, so kohlrabi will be on it. Thank you for the suggestion!

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  5. I've had a jar of za'atar for longer than I'd like to admit that I have yet to use. Oops! The same can be said for my preserved lemons. Double oops! Looks like I need to get my hands on this cookbook and make this recipe, stat!

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    1. Oh Brianne, you'll love this cookbook! Your za'atar and preserved lemons will disappear quickly and you'll be happily cooking so many new dishes. Last night I made the roasted chicken with clementines and arak...big hit with my family and our dinner guests. The book is addictive.

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  6. Fabulous post, I love the foods of the Middle East and am always drawn to them. I use sumac often, it's one of those spices that is almost chameleon like depending on what you sprinkle it on. The recipe from Jerusalem is fantastic, I so look forward to more posts and what a great culinary journey you are embarking on. I will have to check out Beth and Sarene's websites. What fun this will be.

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    1. You said it, Suzanne, what fun this will be! I'm so happy to have sumac in my repertoire now (you're right, it's very versatile). Stretching and challenging myself in the kitchen is such a pleasure. I even picked up chicken livers from our kosher butcher to try the chopped liver from the book! My husband is looking forward to that one. Bethe and Sarene started something wonderful.

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  7. I'm still new to Middle Eastern cuisine. I learned about sumac not a long ago too! I always want to learn new dishes from other cultures and want to introduce to (myself and) my children. But having a busy schedule I always fall into the same food that I have been cooking (which is Japanese food). I love to be inspired and this was a wonderful post!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nami! It's wonderful to learn from and be inspired by different cultures. I can tell you that your Japanese cooking has inspired me many times!

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  8. I love this idea! I just finally got up the courage to cook anything from Ottolenghi's last book, Plenty this month! I am so annoyed with myself for waiting over a year! I've never heard of sumac besides "poison sumac" I can't wait to learn more about it!

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    1. Oh, I'm so happy you discovered Plenty, Brooke! That one is never far from my kitchen. What did you make? Do you ever shop at Goodies on Lake City? You can find sumac and many other ingredients there to try. I find it's best to have a well stocked pantry with Middle Eastern spices and condiments when diving into Plenty and Jerusalem.

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  9. Everyone is raving about the cookbook...I can see why.

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    1. It's a terrific one, Karen - well worth all the praise it receives! I'm slightly addicted to it now. :)

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  10. Okay, I can't count the times in the past month that his cookbooks have been recommended (enthused over, really). These photos and descriptions are stunning. I love kohlrabi and so do my kids. I grew it one year and would love to do so again. And did you know you can eat the greens, too? I need to get on the preserved lemon bandwagon. I've never made my own but it seems pretty simple. Just a matter of doing it!

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    1. Thank you, Jenni! This is definitely a book to gush over (as is Plenty) - I think both will be permanently within easy reach of my kitchen. You know, I wondered about the kohlrabi greens...I gave them to my chickens to gobble, but next time I'll keep them to cook up. Preserved lemons were something I thought about doing for years, too, and they are indeed simple - just need some time to do their thing.

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  11. I was given that book and it is beautiful. I've not made anything from it yet, but need to get busy. You have inspired me.

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    1. Oh Lisa, you'll enjoy digging into this one! It is indeed a beautiful book and we've loved every dish so far. I made the chicken with clementines and arak last week and it was a hit with our dinner guests. Have fun!

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  12. I look forward to all your Jerusalem adventures, I love that book, well all things Ottolenghi the flavours are always so wonderful & more often than not combinations I have not come across before. I have a few lemons left & a quick pickling may be just the way to go.

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    1. Oh yes, do pickle some lemons...they jazz up a dish in such a lovely way. I'll be sharing this month's Jerusalem cooking soon (rose water and petals!) and can't wait for next month's theme of barberries. If you'd ever like to join in we'd love to have you cook with us! :)

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  13. Jerusalem is a great book and this is my favorite recipe! The chicken with cardamom rice is very good too. My favorite is still the baby spinach, date, & almond salad. To die for. What I wouldn't recommend (or at least won' t be making myself again) is the maqluba. It was a lot of work for not much effect (but perhaps I did something wrong...).

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    1. Hi Joris! I need to make these braised eggs again soon - definitely a favorite of mine, as well. I've made the chicken with cardamom rice and liked it, too. Thanks for the tip on the maqluba...it does look like a lot of work so haven't attempted it yet. And yes - the spinach salad is unbelievable! I just made a variation of the stuffed potatoes and will be sharing it soon. I'm happy you stopped by!

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