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Meal the Eighty-Ninth
Tonight’s dinner was brought to you by the food processor – the ultra-heavy machine that is stored at the back of many a pantry. The first food processor (which more closely resembled a blender) was the Starmix, which was introduced by German company Electrostar in 1946. In addition to blending, it also had attachments for slicing bread and making ice cream. In 1971, a French inventor developed a more familiar-looking processor, with a detachable bowl and blade. The 1970s is when the food processor really took off, with multiple companies beginning to market different designs, including Cuisinart (which is the brand of the one used to make tonight’s meal). However, food processors continued to add on new functions and gadgets to this day, with some of the familiar more counter-friendly types being the Ninja and Magic Bullet (both of which we have owned, in addition to our Cuisinart).
And speaking of the Magic Bullet, while I am a huge fan of their original and very bizarre after-hours television commercials:
…the LaMachine Food Processor Moulinex 1977 is a very creepy and tough competitor for those oh-so-weird infomercial spots:
Funnily enough, the same couple who got us the Book of Jewish Food for our wedding gift also got us our food processor, so tonight’s meal truly comes full circle!
This Moroccan tomato and fish dish is a favorite often served around New Year’s. It all starts with the sauce – we fried garlic until aromatic after which tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and cayenne. We then added about 2 cups of water to the pan and set it to simmer while we created the fish balls.
For the protein, we briefly blended flounder in the food processor and then added matzo meal, one egg, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and cilantro to the mix. We scooped our fish paste into walnut-sized balls and dropped them one by one into our tomato sauce. These were simmered for 20 minutes until cooked through.
This recipe was Gary’s preferred fish dish of the night, as he quite enjoyed the acidity of the tomato sauce. The texture of the fish was not my favorite, but I did like how the brightness of ginger and coriander complimented the flounder. Both of us agreed that the sauce could have simmered longer to develop more flavor. All-in-all, this flounder dish did not flop, but it definitely has room for improvement…
Kefta de Poisson au Coriandre et Citron Confit – Stewed Fish Cakes with Coriander and Preserved Lemon
Our second Moroccan fish recipe of the night is very bright, both in flavor and in color, so white kitchen counters beware (i.e. spoiler alert: there is quite a bit of turmeric in this dish)! Like our above recipe, this dish began with the sauce, which started by frying onions until soft. After the red onions had just begun to carmelize, turmeric, preserved lemons (which we are still using from last year’s canning session), salt, white pepper, and coriander were added to the pan. At this point, we had to debate a bit with Claudia Roden, as this was not really a sauce, and we kept having to add water to the pan to prevent it from burning…
While we kept a watchful eye on our “sauce”, we used the food processor to chop up the flounder, after which we added bread crumbs, onion, salt, white pepper, mace, turmeric, ginger, cilantro, and an egg to the mix. This mixture was then shaped into small fish patties, which was then placed into our “sauce” of red onions and turmeric. These were fried on low heat for 15 minutes and flipped halfway through until cooked through and browned on both sides.
These fish cakes were my favorite fish dish of the evening, as they were light and bright, with a nice balance of ginger, lemon, and cilantro. Gary thought it was a bit overkill on the turmeric and they were certainly very yellow and you could definitely taste the spice. This dish was also a bit tricky, as the sauceless “sauce” was just always on the edge of burning, but the tastily seasoned caramelized red onions were worth it once they made it to the plate!
Kurdish Jews (i.e. those Sephardic individuals living in the area spanning southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria) feature bulgur wheat in many of their recipes. Bulgur is a common ingredient in many countries of the Middle East and Mediterranean areas as it was thought to have originated in the Mediterranean basin. To begin this dish, tomatoes were blended to a cream in the food processor and then combined with oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and cracked wheat. This red mixture was brought to a boil and simmered for ten minutes while covered. After this period of time, the pot was taken off of the heat and allowed to rest for an additional ten minutes while covered.
The end result of our cracked wheat with tomatoes was a very bright, acidic, and nutty side dish. It was a nice compliment to our fish dishes as it was light and not overpowering. However, as I greatly enjoy bulgur wheat cold, this dish turned out to be much better hot than straight out of the fridge, but still made for good leftovers later in the week.
For our recipe this evening, we remain in Iraq for our sweet bite of the evening. To start, we coarsely chopped 1 cup of walnuts and then finely chopped another cup of walnuts. Next, we blended pitted dates to a paste, adding a tablespoon of water at a time until it had formed a soft malleable paste. Once it had achieved an ideal texture, the coarsely chopped walnuts were worked into the mixture
Easy date rolling required oiled hands, so once our hands were sufficiently greased, we rolled the date paste into walnut-sized balls, which were then rolled into the finely chopped walnuts. To add a final flourish, the date balls were dipped into caramelized sugar and left to rest until set.
Well…”set” was the idea, but unfortunately was not the end result. The date balls were almost too soft to be handled and the caramel never set, much to our surprise. The flavor was nice, almost like baklava, but the texture was off-putting, as it kind of fell apart in your hands but also stuck to your teeth, so this was not our favorite recipe in the Sephardic section of the Book of Jewish Food.
AND IN THE END, THE FOOD YOU MAKE IS EQUAL TO THE CARE YOU TAKE…
So how was Made In Marrow’s meal number 89? As a reminder, our rating system is based on sticks of butter (because butter is best!), with 1 being the absolute worst and 5 being out of this world. Sticks of butter are assigned to Difficulty (how many kitchen fights were needed to complete the meal?), Tasty Goodness (was it a palate poor or did it make our mouths merry?), and Repeat Customer (how likely are we to return to the recipe?).
Difficulty  2/5
The food processor did most of the heavy lifting for the evening, so besides having to heft it from the panty to the counter, there was not too much to much prep to do!
 3/5 Boulettes de Poisson à la Sauce Tomate – Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce – Acidic and tomato-y and bright!
 3/5 Kefta de Poisson au Coriandre et Citron Confit – Stewed Fish Cakes with Coriander and Preserved Lemon – Lemony and tumeric-y and bright!
 3/5 Burgul bi Banadura – Cracked Wheat with Tomatoes – Like couscous, but with tomato sauce
 3/5 Bouchées aux Dattes – Date and Walnut Balls – A sweet and sticky dessert
 2/5 Boulettes de Poisson à la Sauce Tomate – Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce – Perhaps again, but with a longer simmered sauce
 2/5 Kefta de Poisson au Coriandre et Citron Confit – Stewed Fish Cakes with Coriander and Preserved Lemon – Perhaps again, but with an actual sauce
 2/5 Burgul bi Banadura – Cracked Wheat with Tomatoes – An easy way to mix up your couscous game
 2/5 Bouchées aux Dattes – Date and Walnut Balls – Perhaps again, but maybe when the house is a bit less hot?
Sip, sup, and savor all you can, you curious cooks,
Elais & Gary