Mediterranean at 20 degrees F


We’ve been having a rash of seriously cold weather in the NY Metro area in the last week or so. The snow hasn’t managed to stick to the ground, but its definitely freezing outside — making one long for sunnier, warmer climates. While I can’t go to the Meditterranean this month, I can certainly bring it to my dinner table, so recently I decided to have another go at Shish Taouk, a type of Lebanese chicken kebab. I made some earlier in the summer, but I had gotten some advice from Elie Nassar on how to make it taste more authentic.

The Shish Taouk, which is chicken breasts that have been marinated for several hours (optimally, this should be done overnight, but I only did it for 4 hours this time) with lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, tomato paste, French mustard, cumin and oregano, and then grilled on a cast iron grill pan and cut up into pieces. If it wasn’t absolutely bone-chilling freezing outside, I’d do it on the Weber. The marinade keeps the chicken from drying out, and it gives the meat a nice tangy flavor that just plain “tastes” Lebanese.

A trio of mezze — Turkish-style spicy eggplant dip, Hummus, and Coban Salatsi (Shepherd’s salad). For the dip, I’ve taken a big Italian eggplant, cut it up into peices, and sauteed it in Greek olive oil along with a nice big onion and some chopped, de-seeded chili peppers. After cooking it down for a while, I added a can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes and a few squeezes of Tomato paste, and simmered everything down, adding cumin, chili flakes, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. When the dip cooled down, I blitzed it up a little bit with a hand blender, and then I added some more olive oil, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and crumbled in some Greek feta cheese.

The Coban Salatsi, which is Turkish version of a fairly typical salad common to many Middle Eastern countries including Lebanon and Israel, is simply a mixture of chopped tomato, cucumber, scallions, parsley and feta cheese, dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

I served it with toasted Turkish flatbread, which I basted with olive oil. Freshly baked pita bread would work nice too.

5 Responses to Mediterranean at 20 degrees F

  1. kristin says:

    If you are really adventursome, try the raw kibbe or some grapeleaves. I can pass along the recipes if you want them. :)

  2. Raw kibbe is excellent, but you need to have very good meat to make it. I would never make it with supermarket quality beef, it would have to come from a local butcher or a specialty meat place like Lobel’s.

    Bennie’s, in Englewood NJ, makes a very good raw kibbe:

    https://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/2006/05/21/nj-dining-bennies/

  3. E.Nassar says:

    Very nice Jason and I love the sound of that eggplant dip (I’ve never met an eggplant dish I did not like yet). Kibbi Nayee (raw kibbe) is a wonderful thing, but you are right, you have to use quality cuts of meat from a reliable source.

  4. kristin says:

    Don’t do raw kibbe with BEEF!!! Find a Middle Eastern Market ( you have them around I am sure) and tell them you want LAMB, ground for kibbe. Make sure it has some fat but not alot. Cut onion super fine, add some bhulger wheat. while mixing it my mom, grandmother and I all add an ice cube. ( Helps with the mixing.) When you serve it, put it in your plate, flatten it out a bit and drizzle some good quality olive oil over it, grab some pita bread and chow down. Kibbe is devine. It is the food of the gods. :)

  5. […] a number of very good Lebanese (1) (2) and Turkish restaurants in Bergen and Hudson County and have prepared a number of authentic dishes at home. But Paterson always seemed to escape me, I guess because I don’t speak Arabic and having […]

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