Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cook the Books: Mujadara


This round Debra of Eliot's Eats selected our April-May selection. Her announcement post is hereThe Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather is our current Cook the Books project. And you have plenty of time to join the party, if you wish. Submissions aren't due till June 1st! I just got an early start...because I read it in one sitting.

On the Page...
I have to admit: I was completely put off by the subtitle: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week). I envisioned a self-absorbed memoir that was more focused on grocery receipts than the actual food. How wrong I was!

She mentions her divorce only in the introduction and, while what transpired informs her current situation, it doesn't define her. And, regarding her budget, she writes more about why she spends her money where she does versus what she purchases costs. "...my aim is to keep as much of my money with my neighbors as possible. ...So I spend a bit of time in shopping, to compare the choices by reading the labels to see where they're made and to choose the ones made closest to home."

I am with her on that. I tend to go out of my way to support local food artisans that I have gotten to know. It's both gratifying and delicious!

In the Bowl...
I had  hard time choosing which recipe I wanted to make. I loved that she shared a recipe for pickled cherries; but I had just made Chai Sweet Chili Pickled Cherries. She offered a recipe for gazpacho; I'm always up for variations on that delicious Summer soup. I've made Olallieberry Gazpacho and Watermelon Gazpacho. I was tempted by her Moroccan-style roasted beets with cumin and olive oil.

But, in the end, I wanted to make a recipe that was new to me. I decided to try her recipe for Mujadara, a Middle Eastern dish with lentils and caramelized onions.


Ingredients
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced*
  • 1 t organic coconut sugar
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 C brown lentils
  • 1/2 C organic brown basmati rice
  • 1 t ground sea salt
  • chopped fresh parsley

*Note: I found the dish too sweet with 2 caramelized onions. Next time I'll only use one onion.

Procedure


Heat oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the onions, coconut sugar, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are deeply caramelized, approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Do not rush this step.

Sort through the lentils. Add water to cover the lentils completely by at least an inch. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils re tender but still retaining their shape. Drain the lentils and set aside.

When the onions are cooked, stir in the rice. Add the lentils, 2 C of water, and the salt. Stir to combine. Decrease the heat to keep the liquid at a slow simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 20  minutes. Remove the lid and stir. If there is still liquid, cover again and cook till no liquid remains. When the rice is tender, it's done!

Stir chopped parsley into the dish. Spoon into individual bowls. Garnish with more parsley. Serve immediately.

Thanks, Debra, for the great selection. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Next up for Cook the Books...Simona of Briciole selected our June-July selection. The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch, Hope you'll join us.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the book or item of your choice.

      

9 comments:

  1. I love Mujadara. It is pure comfort food to me. I really enjoyed this book as well and posted very early.

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    1. I'll take a look for your post now, Wendy, instead of waiting till the round-up in June!

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  2. You are on it (as usual), Cam. I am glad that you liked the book. You are correct, that is a long and unwieldy title.

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    1. Thanks, Debra. I hadn't sent you my submission because it IS so early. Glad you found it. And really glad you chose the book. I enjoyed it immensely.

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  3. I almost made this delicious sounding dish too for Cook the Books. Looks terrific!

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  4. I enjoyed reading your reaction to the book itself. To me as well, I wondered why all the emphasis in the title of $40 per week but then not really and discussion about the implication of living with that kind of budget. I sure remember when I was on such a strict spending limit it often felt painful. Nice rendition of the dish!

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  5. This is a recipe I have never tried or even eaten out, but would like to try. Did you like it over-all, despite being too sweet?

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  6. Looks delicious Camilla, though anything with caramelized onions usually is!

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  7. I agree with Amy. Caramelized onions require patience but are worth the effort. Good choice of recipe.

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