To write a successful food blog, you have to cook, write, photograph, socialize, and eat. Mostly, this summer, I've been eating. Maybe you've noticed my less frequent blog posts. Don't assume it's for lack of content. Oh no. I've been gathering lots and lots of content. While you were all dutifully preserving your lemons from scratch for our Tasting Jerusalem June topic, I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, too busy with high school graduation and my milestone birthday to get a jar started in time. (But I did learn all about hibiscus margaritas!)
And while you were all enjoying the fruits of your lemon preservation, I was wandering the hillsides of Sorrento, Italy, marveling at their two-tiered combo lemon and grape gardens and eating and drinking the harvest from these gardens as frequently as my appetite would allow. And in one of these hillside gardens, lived a delightful Italian “mama” and cooking teacher named Lucia. As we enjoyed a glass of her homemade limoncello, I had the pleasure of telling her about preserved lemons. Her eyes held mine in fascination as I explained the concept of taking a fragrant Sorrento lemon and preserving its perfection in a jar. She is awaiting my email with instructions so she can try it for herself!
Despite my exploits, I did manage to cook a fabulous flank steak with preserved lemon gremolata, a recipe I found on Winnie Abramson’s blog A Healthy Green Kitchen. (look for her new book coming out soon… One Simple Change) and I made Hannah Cordes' simple but luscious recipe for a chicken salad with preserved lemons on a busy night after I returned from my trip.
Sarene, our fearless co-leader, cooked the Charred Okra with Preserved Lemons, pg 74 from the cookbook and suggested that green beans might be a good substitute if you’re not an okra lover – great idea! She also prepared chicken with preserved lemons and haloumi, as well as mozzarella marinated with preserved lemons, garlic and basil. She was busy cooking AND eating! (now we just need to convince her to start a blog)
And did you see this video from Rachel of the blog La Fuji Mama showing the final steps of making preserved lemons?
Emily from the blog West of the Loop cooked her version of the Braised Eggs with Lamb, as did Susan Busch from Couscous and Consciousness, our friend from Down Under. Each of them offered some creative variations for us to consider, such as Emily's idea to substitute yogurt sumac sauce for yogurt tahini sauce to manage a nut and sesame allergy or Susan's use of her homemade green harissa as a sub for the coriander or zhoug called for to finish the dish. (photos below: (L) Emily's lemons; (R) Susan's lemons )
And as mentioned earlier, Hannah’s chicken salad post was the perfect transition into July as it pulled both topics together – using the preserved lemons in a simple cold salad you can prepare even on a hot summer night. (photo courtesy Blue Kale Road)
July Topic: Salads!
Sarene and I thought we’d make July a salad exploration month as we all enjoy the lazy days of summer, take vacations, survive heat waves, and shuttle kids around in odd summer schedules. Seemed like the perfect time to see what Jerusalem offers for our salad plate and palate.
Have you tried the roasted cauliflower with hazelnut salad yet, pg. 62? As some of our Tasting Jerusalem community already knows, it’s a delightful and unusual combination of flavors and textures and would be great prepared ahead and then set out on a backyard buffet, for example. Or what about the zucchini and tomato salad, pg 84? If you are in the northern hemisphere, zucchini and tomatoes are plentiful and cheap and this one works well with the backyard grill. And you just have to make one of our favorites, the Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almond, pg 30. Sarene suggests topping it with grilled chicken or salmon and turning it into a main course.
But we want to hear what strikes your fancy either directly from the cookbook or a variation that uses the flavors and ingredients we’ve been enjoying and learning about these past 6 months.
If you’re new to the group, welcome! The popular na'ama's fattoush salad recipe is available for reprint so I have included it below. This is a perfect chance to join in the cooking even if you don't have the book! And if you choose to reprint the recipe in your blog, please use the proper credit lines listed below with the recipe.
Here are our “rules” for the group (there really aren’t any except to cook and share your experiences.)
- How often will we cook: We’ll pick a new set of recipes monthly to allow us all to fit in the cooking when we can and to find any ingredients that might not be available at your typical grocery store stop.
- Do I need to cook all the recipes?: We offer up several recipes to fit your taste buds, menus, schedules – cook as many or as few as you desire. But once you start cooking from this book, you probably won’t stop!
- What do I need to participate: The cookbook! Plus an interest in cooking, willingness to try new flavors, and an electronic device that communicates via the Internet. We will always post the month’s information in a blog post via omgyummy.com so you can subscribe to Beth’s blog to be guaranteed to receive it or just check in frequently via the Facebook page or Twitter hashtag #TastingJrslm
- How to share what you cook: Tasting Jerusalem is open to anyone. You do not have to be a blogger or food professional of any sort. But if you have a camera, we encourage you to share photos of your dishes on Twitter or the Facebook page or Instagram, using the hashtag #TastingJrslm – we all love to see the results of your kitchen adventures. New to these types of social media? Just drop me an email beth (at) omgyummy (dot) com – I’ll be glad to help you get started.
- What recipes can be published and how to publish: We expect to cook through most, if not all, of the recipes in the cookbook over time. As such, for those of us blogging or writing about our experiences in any way, it’s important that we don’t include the recipe in our blog posts, unless Ten Speed Press has approved its use. The goal of the group is to learn together and enrich our experience using this cookbook, not create an online version of it. We are in touch with Ten Speed Press to find out which recipes we can post. For an example of another group that writes about their cooking but doesn’t post each recipe, please visit French Fridays with Dorie. If you legitimately change a recipe, rewrite the headnote and instructions, and choose to share it, please say you’ve adapted it, giving credit to the source including a link to purchase the cookbook.
- What if I have questions? Sarene and I will be monitoring the Facebook page and Twitter hashtag #TastingJrslm almost continuously so just leave us a note there. If you see a question and know the answer, jump on in before us. Part of the fun of the group will be each of us sharing our own knowledge, perspectives and ideas.
- What to include if you write a blog post: If you do post about what you cook, please let us know – we will link to it. And feel free to post it on the Facebook page and Twitter with the #TastingJrslm hashtag. We’d also appreciate it if you would include this verbiage in the context of your post:
“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, liking our Facebook page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups' dishes on Pinterest."
Please include the following credit if you use the recipe and photo:
“Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”
Photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2012
Na’ama’s FattoushBeth Lee
- scant 1 cup Greek yogurt and cup plus 2 tablespoon / 200 ml whole milk (200 g) or 1 cups / 400 ml buttermilk (replacing both yogurt and milk)
- 2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan 9 oz / 250 g in total
- 3 large tomatoes 13 oz / 380 g in total, cut into -inch / 1.5cm dice
- 3 oz radishes (100 g) thinly sliced
- 3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers 9 oz / 250 g in total, peeled and chopped into -inch / 1.5cm dice
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 oz fresh mint 15 g
- scant 1 oz flat-leaf parsley (25 g) coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil (60 mL) plus extra to drizzle
- 2 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sumac or more to taste to garnish
- If using yogurt and milk, start at least 3 hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of homemade buttermilk, but less sour.
- Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yogurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavors to combine.
- Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil, and garnish generously with sumac.