Today was a great eating day. The tastes ran from blini, caviar, and smoked fish engagement party finger-food to down-home-and-dirty Superbowl tucker. I have to submit my complete delight for the late- afternoon party I visited. There, a blini bar was found, stocked with bottles of ice cold vodka, coin-sized blini’s, layers of soft and oily pink salmon, and little glass bowls purveying diced egg yolks and whites, red onion, capers. Especially exciting, because it coincided with me finishing my non-cook book reading assignment of Anna Karenina, set in pre-Communist Revolution Russia. Food wasn’t really of interest to Leo Tolstoy, which is my main criticism of the book, that, and it’s about 50 pages too long. But I imagined the sumptuous fare that the Russian aristocracy enjoyed; Slavic food prepared in a French manner – potatoes, beets, sour cream or crème fraiche. Horseradish, dill. Jam, wine, vodka. The atmosphere was enhanced by the bride-to-be’s sophisticated flounces, and the foreign accents that bounced around the room.
Had me returning to my idea for a cold salad that presents these Slavic flavors in a light and fresh way. Something that Vronsky would serve at one of his impeccable late Spring lunches or dinners. But once I returned home from the blini bar, fine and light and delicate had to be stowed away, in order to churn out some good ‘n tasty Superbowl fare. All weeklong I was preparing for a dish I called “Ivrito’s-Hebrew for nachos”. I decided that the pita chips would be homemade (unnecessary), make an Israeli style tomato-eggplant salsa (adapted from a Claudia Roden recipe), pile kufte spiced ground lamb on top, and then cover it in a layer of tehina, and scatter it with chopped green olives and charif peppers. Post Script: The dish has promise, but it needs improvement, a little too heavy, perhaps make it vegetarian with herby chickpea’s replacing the lamb(?)
Hub smoked a lamb roast and it was delicious. The salty-spicy-pastrami-like crust was very flavorful, and cut through the fat. I usually don’t go in for the heavy stuff, but it was Superbowl and the celebrating is in sitting on the couch and chowing down. It proved to be the most enjoyed dish at our friend’s fun superbowl party.
The upcoming week will hopefully continue on with flavor. Tomorrow my piece on Seitan Reuben Melts comes out on www.Koshereye.com. I have to begin a large batch of Chocolate Espresso truffles for a Valentine’s Day order for the 76 House in Tappan, New York’s oldest tavern (George Washington drank here). The special treat at the end of the week will be my brothers briefly visiting from Israel. And to mark the celebration a Shabbat gathering of course, where maybe I’ll crowd-test the Pastrami Egg Rolls and Crunchy Hoisin Vinaigrette Salad with Omelette Spirals?
Post Script (2/19): Ground lamb was hearty and substantial, but it became unappetizing and stodgy when it cooled to room- temperature. The chickpeas offer substance and protein in a light, flavorful, vegetarian way.