So I spent my morning up to my elbows in raw meat!
To explain: my church has a bazaar every year (for locals, it’s September 24-26 at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Potomac, MD. Sure to be lotsa delicious Arabic food!).
The priest gave an agonizingly guilt-inducing speech on Sunday how people had to contribute work.
So I thought hey, I like cooking (and love kibbe and don’t know how to make it so I’d get to learn :D) and could help out the church.
So I was put on dough-rolling duty (kibbe is made of an outer “dough” made of ground meat and bulgur, then filled with a filling of browned meat, spices, and pine nuts).
The more sophisticated job of filling the dough and shaping it into the proper “footballs” (the highly scientific term everyone used) was left to wiser folks.
The meat was freshly ground, as I discovered when I came upon this charming tableaux in the kitchen.
Cute and a teensy bit disturbing!
Apparently there was a potluck lunch, and I hadn’t brought anything and was planning to skulk out the back. However, an older woman threateningly said “You’re not LEAVING without EATING, are you?”
So I said “No, ma’am!” and obligingly chowed down.
Unsurprisingly, there was a ton of food. Women in our part of the world take potlucks very seriously. Meals, really.
It was cute, too- I brought my camera and was going to play it by ear on the photographs, but EVERYONE was taking pictures. Someone was taking VIDEO. There was a nice feeling of camaraderie.
Anyway, the potluck selection was bountiful and included fresh figs (!) but I just had to get a picture of this wild and crazy thing:
Couldn’t tell you much about it, except that it involved rice, vegetables, and toasted almonds. And was delicious.
And now we move on to dinner.
So sports fans, remember how the pizza extravaganza also had some other stuff lurking around near the grill?
Well that jalapeno and peach (both fresh and local, yes ma’am) got searity seared and got sexy.
Chopped those up, with some fresh local ‘maters, some corn on the cob my sister abandoned, fresh local parsley, garlic salt, and lime juice, and I had me some beautiful homemade delicious salsa!
Now, I could probably eat salsa for dinner and be happy (I have an Italian friend who has similar feelings on marinara sauce). However, there’s the matter of protein.
To that end, for awhile now, I’ve been idly wanting to make this Cooking Light recipe for refried beans. I tweaked it some.
I began by sauteeing a bit (didn’t measure) of minced onion and carrot in a bit of oil.
You were supposed to add the beans with their liquid, but I find that gross.
Besides, I had excessively juicy salsa! So I drained about 1/3-1/2 cup of the salsa liquid, and added that to the pot.
Then added the beans (I used kidney beans in my preferred brand, Goya low sodium), some salt and pepper and cumin, and cooked them all together til the salsa liquid evaporated. I think potato mashers are silly, so I just mashed them with the back of a wooden spoon.
And they were great! And now I feel silly all those years of buying unhealthy and/or bland refried beans (as far as I’m concerned, those are the two choices if you’re not making your own- note to manufacturers: there is a happy medium between soaking-in-lard and totally-fat-free!)
So we had some nice tacos with beans ‘n salsa ‘n cheese ‘n rice.
As for dessert… let’s talk about this:
Saturday night was ridiculous, and a story that perfectly summarizes my family and food (i.e. EXCESS!). We were planning a gathering at my aunt’s house.
First, I was leaving work and noticed we had leftover Napoleons. The bakery is closed on Sundays, so by Monday they’d be no good and thrown out. SO I brought them home. “Perfect!”, I patted myself on the back. “There are eight people going to dinner, and I have eight Napoleons! Dessert’s on Lele!”
Then, I went home, and discovered that my mom and sister, on a day trip to DC, had walked by Hello Cupcake (FYI: Hello Cupcake, in Dupont Circle, makes fantastic cupcakes. Georgetown Cupcake, now famous due to reality TV, by all accounts makes sucky cupcakes). They had bought eight cupcakes.
Then we arrived at my aunt’s house to discover that my other aunt, Nan, had made a homemade fruit crisp.
So for eight people, we had dessert for about 24. Obviously we took a lot of leftovers home. Tonight, here’s what remained:
From your 12:00 going counterclockwise, that’s a rootbeer (blecch), a dulce de leche, a “princess” (vanilla cupcake with what tasted like strawberry frosting), and a chocolate-chocolate.
We all had fun divvying up tastes (and STILL have more) but my sister’s friend Hannah, who was over for dinner, wins for cutest arrangement:
Just for cupcake lovers who might head to Hello Cupcakes, everything is delicious! So many cupcake places focus on frosting to the detriment of the cakes. I had tastes of the Princess and Dulce de Leche and found the vanilla cupcake to be very moist and lovely (the dulce de leche caramel frosting was nice of a bit boring, and the strawberry frosting on the Princess was fab!)
(Prior to tonight, I tasted the nicely nutty carrot cake; texturally fun cookies ‘n creme; decadent chocolate with subliiiiime peanut butter frosting; and BLISSFULLY delicious raspberry beret, which consisted of a wonderful chocolate cupcake with an unfrigginbelievable raspberry buttercreme).