This is pretty much exactly what I cooked last year for Memorial Day – including the Ethiopian Deviled Eggs appetizer that I forgot to list. The only difference is that I felt this needed some pickles, so I tried out this Korean Cucumber Pickles recipe. And instead of the Thai Cashew Butter Cookies, my sister-in-law picked up some pastries from An Xuyên – a local Vietnamese bakery.
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I decided to go with a bottle of Szech ‘n Brett – a light Belgian ale brewed with Szechuan peppercorns – from Logsdon and a bottle of last year’s Special Herbs – brewed with sweet and bitter orange peels, lemongrass, Szechuan peppercorns, hyssop and aged in Gin barrels – from Upright.
This is only the third time I have attempted this dish – a date encrusted, dill and cilantro stuffed grilled whole fish. The last time I tackled this recipe – which is Kuwaiti in origin and can be found in May Bsisu’s cookbook The Arab Table – was almost five years ago. Although the prep work is extensive, the hardest part of this dish is finding a six pound red snapper. I ended up going with a rockfish instead…
Since it was Mother’s Day and my mother-in-law was in town, I put on a full spread of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African inspired dishes. First, was the Lemony Swiss Chard with Fried Olives, Capers & Garlic – which has become a mainstay. Second, was the “Spring Version” of Toro Bravo‘s Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash which uses Crook Neck and Patty Pan Squash instead of Butternut and garnished it with Mint.
For an appetizer / accompaniment, I wanted either Pita or Lavash – but couldn’t find any that wasn’t tough as leather. So, I went with some Mini Naan that I served with some Kaymak with Honey and S’hug. The Kaymak recipe was in a recent issue of Saveur and the S’hug was a discovery via the Mediterranean Exploration Company.
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I don’t know where I got the idea that Spruce Tip / Sahti beers go with Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African food. But It’s just been one of those things that’s stuck in my… I started with a bottle last year’s Spruce Desay from De Garde followed by a 2014 bottle (which was the last time is was produced) of the Sahati from The Ale Apothecary.