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Meal the Fifty-Sixth
Happy May from Made In Marrow! We have greatly enjoyed the first couple of days of the month (a bit too much actually), so this week’s blog is a day late and at least a dollar short on introduction word-smithing. We hope that everyone had a great Kentucky Derby/Cinco de Mayo weekend – now, let’s get to our Sunday dinner!
Like many of our previous weeks’ vegetable dishes, this is a Sicilian specialty that was brought to northern Italy by Jews fleeing the Inquisition. Our modern-day zucchinis actually originate from Northern Italy and were brought to the United States by Italian immigrants, being cultivated in California. Zucchini are actually a fruit, rather than a vegetable and are enjoyed by countries all over the world.
This cold salad is very tasty and quick to prepare. The zucchini was thinly sliced and fried quickly in a very hot pan, browning each slice on both sides. The garlic was then fried and sprinkled over the zucchini slices along with mint, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It was then chilled/marinated for 4 hours until dinner.
We were not sure what to expect of this dish and sufficed to say, were very pleasantly surprised. The fruit/veggie slices were wonderfully flavorful and still had a bit of toothiness despite their marinating time in the fridge. They had a not-too-overwhelming taste of garlic which was perfectly balanced by the small bits of mint. We would definitely make this again as it would be a perfect starter for a protein forward dinner party.
Our second zucchini dish of the night originated in Tunisia and is exactly the opposite of the above recipe. The zucchini was boiled in salted water until soft. The water was drained and pressed out of the zucchini, after which it was mashed with a fork. Salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic were added to the mash and then chilled until dinner.
This was tasty, but overwhelmed by the marinated zucchini. The mashed zucchini was much more subtle in flavor and lightly bright from the lemon juice. Because of its delicate flavor, this recipe would definitely be better suited to lighter meals and paired quite well with tuna salad as leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese Pies
As the name states, these cheese pies (which were more like cheese breads) come from Georgia and are often a tea time treat. They are filled with Gruyere, a cheese that dates back to 1115 in Switzerland. Gruyere production requires fairly high humidity, so it is often matured in caves to produce the most ideal environment.
This recipe started with creating a dough, consisting of flour, baking powder, salt, vinegar, an egg, and warm water. This was kneaded for 10 minutes and then left to rest for 2 hours. The filling was made by mixing grated Gruyere with feta cheese and a beaten egg. After resting, the dough was rolled out as thin as possible, then brushed with oil, folded in half, brushed with oil, folded in half again, and then folded in on itself like an envelope and left to rest for 15 minutes.
The folded roll was then rolled out slightly and cut into 12 pieces. Each portion of dough was rolled out as thin as possible and filled with a tablespoon of the cheese filling. The squares were then folded over like an envelope with the edges pinched closed and placed seam side down on a baking sheet. The tops were brushed with an egg wash and then baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until browned.
The cheese pies were excellent – creamy and nutty from the Gruyere and sharp and salty from the feta. Gary and I found these very similar to pao de queijo, which are Brazillian cheese balls made with tapioca flour and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. These kept well and made for great leftovers with soup over the upcoming nights. These took a bit of effort to make, but were well worth our time in the kitchen!
Hamin Toscano con Pomodori e Polpettone – Meat Loaf with Beans and Tomatoes
Our next recipe from “The Sabbath Pot” section of The Book of Jewish Food is our second Italian dish of the night. To start, onion was fried in oil until soft after which tomatoes and beans were added and simmered until the beans were soft and the sauce had reduced slightly. While this was bubbling over low heat, ground beef was combined with two beaten eggs, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and parsley. This mixture was shaped into two oval rolls, rolled in flour, and then browned in a hot pan. After this, the rolls were placed in the pan with the tomato and bean sauce and simmered for 40 minutes.
The meatloaf was served sliced and in its bean and tomato sauce. The meatloaf had an excellent texture and was wonderfully savory with just a subtle hint of nutmeg. The tomato sauce was a bright element on the plate, with the beans rounding out the dish as a creamy and hearty ingredient. We both enjoyed this meatloaf stew and it kept well for leftovers over the next two days.
Bulemas Dulses de Balabak – Filo Coils with Sweet Pumpkin Filling
Tonight’s dessert is our second Georgian dish this evening which was popular with Jews who immigrated to Istanbul from Georgia. This recipe is very similar to the marzipan coil in filo pastry which we made several weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed. But, as we have learned in the past, changing one ingredient can make a huge difference, and not always for good.
This recipe called for pumpkin (but there were none to be found) so we substituted canned pumpkin as the pumpkin needed to be mashed anyway. The puree was mixed with a small amount of sugar, cinnamon, and two beaten eggs. This filling was then rolled into sheets of filo, which were then shaped into a coil. Unfortunately, the filling proved to be too moist for the filo and quickly turned to a coil of mush. Despite it being fairly horrific to look at, the dessert was tasty and was very similar to pumpkin pie. Lesson learned, yet again, always be careful when substituting ingredients!
AND IN THE END, THE FOOD YOU MAKE IS EQUAL TO THE CARE YOU TAKE…
So how was Made In Marrow’s meal number 56? 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  3/5
Dough making, bread filling, and dessert shaping were all complex parts of tonight’s meal but were luckily balanced out by fairly simple veggie and protein courses.
 5/5 Concia di Zucchine – Marinated Zucchini – The meatiest tasting veggie dish we have ever had the pleasure to enjoy!
3/5 Ajlouk de Courgettes – Mashed Zucchini Salad – Subtle in flavor, making for a nice light starter
 5/5 Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese Pies – Savory cheesy bread bites
 5/5 Hamin Toscano con Pomodori e Polpettone – Meat Loaf with Beans and Tomatoes – A well-rounded main course
3/5 Bulemas Dulses de Balabak – Filo Coils with Sweet Pumpkin Filling – A very messy pumpkin pie substitute
 5/5 Concia di Zucchine – Marinated Zucchini – We would definitely enjoy this tasty plate again!
 2/5 Ajlouk de Courgettes – Mashed Zucchini Salad – Perhaps in the future and maybe paired with fish
 5/5 Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese Pies – Well worth the effort!
 5/5 Hamin Toscano con Pomodori e Polpettone – Meat Loaf with Beans and Tomatoes – A wonderful alternative to our usual meatloaf recipe
2/5 Bulemas Dulses de Balabak – Filo Coils with Sweet Pumpkin Filling – Unfortunately our substitute did not work out and while tasty, not very likely to return to our kitchen
Despite finishing on a fairly ugly note, tonight’s dinner was quite tasty and enjoyable. We learned our lesson (yet again) when it comes to caution in the kitchen and are looking forward to next week’s culinary caper!
Sip, sup, and savor all you can, you curious cooks,
Elais & Gary