Arabesque

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These are little home made pita breads rising. I ground up wheatberries for flour to make these pita a little more homespun. I can bake them as they are or grill them, either plain as they are or topped with something, like a seasoning or flavour. Hmmm! The original flatbread was made with a coarser grind of grain and thats what I am trying to do.

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I did not get as far as grilling any flat breads to-night…..time is a buzz-kill. I baked some off plain and some I seasoned with Za’atar. Za’atar is a combination of sumac, thyme, marjoram, sesame seed and sea salt. It can be used as a seasoning for vegetables fish and other meats. There is no better way to eat pita bread than with hummus. I started with dried chick peas and flavoured the hummus with roasted garlic and freshly milled toasted cumin seed. Most of the spices I use are in whole form and I like to grind all my own spices as I need. Cumin is one of the more frequently used spices in my kitchen. The hummus is finished with olive oil and paprika.

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The grain here is called Freekeh and is popular throughout Middle Eastern regions. It is green wheat that has been burnt or set on fire or somewhat charred to help remove the husk. The grain itself has a remarkable smoky or toasted flavour. I boil it like brown rice. Here, I added cinammon, allspice and bay leaves to the cooking liquid. And cook it so that the pot or pan is dry after the Freekeh is finished cooking.

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Marinated striped bass steak. Yes, steak, not a filet. I visited a Portuguese fish market and they had striped bass steaks….you know, with that big bone through it. Fish cooked on the bone is much better. The bone conducts the heat giving you a more juicy and flavourful piece of fish…or whole fish, as the case may be. Skin on is good too for the same reasons. I marinated this striped bass with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, preserved lemon, lemon zest, thyme, pureed garlic, green onion and…….Za’atar.

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This is what i got…..pomegranate and za’atar marinated grilled striped sea bass. I put this atop the spiced freekeh, cumin roasted carrots and turnips, arugula, orange segments and almonds……then I crossed my fingers……and the kitchen muse smiled. I think she forgave me that there are no striped bass in the Arabian Gulf. Everything worked……even the pomegranate molasses to the extent of it’s been charred. Grouper or Hamour as it is known in the Arabian Gulf would be an acceptable substitute among others.

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At the end of every great meal, or any occasion really, in the Middle East, a shot of cardomom flavoured espresso is the way to go. A 50:50 blend is the standard ratio. Just grind it all up together.

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Coffee was introduced to Europe by the Arabs and Ethiopia is it’s ancestral home. I guess Jah-jah Jah-jah Jah Rastafari had a coffee buzz going on too. Queen City refers to it’s degree of roastness or doneness. it would be similiar to a Full City roast. Harar refers to the area outside of Addis Ababa, across a wadi, up a steep hill then up a mountain to the middle of nowhere, where the coffee is grown. . I did not smell the blueberry aromas but I sure got lots of cocoa. This would be an heirloom coffee bean given it’s history and method of production.

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My grill has no bells or whistles and involves lighting it manually with a match and paper. With limited light, it is difficult to control the cooking, plus there is the wind and sub-zero night time temperatures. There is a balance to be struck between not burning the fish or overcooking it. The sugars in the pomegranate molasses means it can carmelise and blacken and burn more easily. Maybe even stick to your grill. And you have to take into account that bone which runs through the fish steak, both cooking and eating it.

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