Monday, February 20, 2012

Trip to The Middle East

Okay, so I didn't actually go to the Middle East but I did make some fabulous food inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. Lemon, dill, parsley, garlic, yogurt, thyme. SO fresh and light. 

My sister was visiting this weekend so I had finally had someone to share my cooking with! How thrilling. I've been dying to cook up this feast for someone else ever since I ate at this fantastic Lebanese restaurant in D.C. months ago. Anyway, Leah loved the food, especially the tzatziki sauce. You could SERiously eat this stuff with a spoon.....and we may or may not have done that, too. 

I would suggest making each of these recipes in the order that follows to allow flavors to meld. 

Lebanese Chicken
((serves 2))
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon, juiced + zested
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t Lebanese seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 t salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and rub chicken to distribute marinade evenly. 
2. Squeeze air out of bag and place bag in a dish. 
3. Let marinate for at least one hour or overnight.

Lebanese Seasoning
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Tzatziki Sauce
((serves 2)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber
1 clove garlic
1 t dried dill
1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste

1. Start by grating the cucumber on a box grater and put in a fine mesh strainer to drain liquid. You can also salt the cucumber to pull more liquid out.
2. Zest the lemon with a micro-plane, as well as the garlic clove. Juice the lemon. 
3. Stir yogurt, garlic, lemon juice + zest, and dill in small bowl. 
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. 
5. When ready to serve, squeeze any remaining liquid from cucumber and add to yogurt mixture. Season with salt and pepper. 

((serves 2))
1/4 c dry bulgar wheat
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
1 T olive oil
fresh parsley and mint
salt + pepper to taste

1. Cook bulgar according to package directions. I cooked mine in vegetable stock to boost flavor. 
2. Juice the lemon and whisk together with olive oil, s + p to make dressing. 
4. Add hot* bulgar to dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate. 
5. When ready to serve, chop tomatoes and herbs and add to bulgar. 
*Note: I like to add the bulgar when it's still hot because it soaks up more of the flavor!

To assemble your feast: (!!!!!)
Grill chicken on a grill pan 6 minutes on each side or roast in a 400 F oven for about 20-25 minutes. (I'm just guessing here because I grilled mine.)Let the chicken rest off the heat  loosely covered in foil for about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Place the chicken, tabouleh and tzatziki sauce on a plate. Serve tzatziki with some warmed pita bread (or on top of the chicken) and DEvour!

Anne Burell says, "brown food is good" and man is she right. See those nice grill marks on the chicken??!? 

 That color is NOT caramelization. I am not about to go on a rant about how annoying it is when cooks on the Food Network refer to this color as "caramelization". Instead, the browning that occurs on meat is a process called Maillard Browning and involves a series of chemical reactions between amino acids (protein) and sugars when introduced to high heat. It's totally different. 

Today's to-do list is a mile long so good thing it's President's Day and I'm off work! 


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