Sunday, October 3, 2010

Middle-Eastern Menu

A couple summers ago, we made plum wine with some friends.  We don't really enjoy drinking this vintage, but I knew I could figure out something else to do with it. I was thinking of a salad dressing or marinade, but I ended up instead developing a recipe for sorbet.  I made it first for family and it was a huge hit, so because of the story behind it, it became one of my favorite things to make for guests in the summer.  Recently, we were having another couple to dinner on a Monday night, and I wanted to make the sorbet for them. Along with the plums, the flavoring is heavily spiced of cinnamon and peppercorn, so I wanted to build a menu around those rich, warm flavors (also developed by the still sunny but briskly oncoming fall weather of Seattle September).  I also wanted recipes that I could shop for and prepare somewhat in advance since I wouldn't have a ton of time to fuss around after work, and that would create a main course as impressive as dessert. I succeeded. These items all come together so quickly, and cook for such a short period to time, that it is quite easy to get on the table with minimal time away from your guests but a lovely presentation.

Moroccan Style Lamb and Carrots with Chickpea Puree (click here).
These carrots roasted in a simple oil dressing were outstandingly delicious, and were just as good cold and again reheated the next day. The recipe calls for a pretty high ratio of oil mix, I would cut it about by half. And make sure to check the thickness of your chops - mine were almost 2 inches thick, so needed more time.

Note: my back-up entree was Lebanese Chicken. I ended up making this for myself the next day, and the rub was excellent, but the flavors didn't really infuse the meat, though as an entree, it also would have worked well in this menu.

Turkish Zucchini Pancakes (
click here).

Cous Cous with Toasted Pistachios and Golden Raisins
Cook the cous cous in chicken broth, then stir in toasted, chopped pistachios (or pine nuts) and drizzle with olive oil. Be sure to allow guests to salt to taste.

Plum Wine Sorbet with Cornmeal Cookies

The recipe for the plum wine is:

1 12-oz bottle plum wine (ours was homemade, by a recipe our friends found online)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 3-in cinnamon sticks
20 peppercorns
1 T lemon juice

Simmer ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill overnight. Strain into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.

Unlike many homemade ice creams, this sorbet stays soft in the freezer, although it melts very quickly.

Serve with
cookies. Instead of patting the cookie dough into rounds, I roll it into a log before refrigerating, then simply cut the log into slices and bake. I like smaller two-bite cookies, especially for company after a larger meal.

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