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.