Berbere–Or What Happens When You Follow Your Nose

October 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

As we’ve already discussed, I grocery shop with great intentions. I make lists and mentally prepare myself to resist temptation. I remind myself of all the rational reasons that I should stick to a grocery list. I fail everytime. In fact, I wonder whether I would save more money to pay for someone to grocery shop for me so I didn’t impulse buy. Alas, I live in the country and such entities do not exist. So here I am at MOMs, my favorite locally owned organic grocery store in Maryland, and I can’t help but bee-line for the spices.

You see, I’m a smeller and a toucher. Perhaps in a creepy way if you’re an apple or jelly melon. Pick up, inspect for bruises, squeeze, and smell. I smell things when I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be smelling for. I fondle fruit like I’m a goddamn expert. (I am, don’t get me wrong. Is there any fruit that I can fondle for you today?) I can smell through plastic. It’s a gift. Dad calls Mom’s side of the family “The Noses.” I can sniff out anything.

But with great power come great responsibility–or so I was told in Spiderman–and I really need to get on the responsibility bandwagon, because this whole grabbing everything that makes my nose go, “Ahhhh” is not going to coexist with keeping my bank account in the black.

And here I am standing in front of the bulk spices. My nose led me there. It appeared to me, Berbere Seasoning, I hadn’t heard of it so I did the one thing I knew: I opened it up and smelled. The scent of chilis, cinnamon, and coriander whisked me back to the open air markets of Marrakesh (or so I thought). I imagined the possibilities that Berbere seasoning could bring to my tagine.

Well, that was until Google crushed my hopes and dreams for my new found spice. It’s Ethiopian. My mind raced, “Ethiopian?! How will I ever convince ol’ M&D to chomp down on it?” I barely convinced them that Indian food is delicious until I made butter chicken slathered in, well, butter and heavy cream. For people who tormented my brother and I into not being picky eaters, they really make ethnic cooking a challenge.

If you’ve got some Berbere Seasoning on hand, I heard around the blogosphere that this Misr Wot recipe is delectable! I’ll check it out soon and post my results!

Grilled Margherita Pizza

October 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

Back when the humidity showed no sign of retreat, we abandoned the kitchen. August was in full swing with ripe, delicious plum tomates. Our basil plant had become more of a hedge than an herb. I had leftover tomatoes from the 40 pounds that I’d purchased from a local farm and canned to my hearts content (and then some). I knew that I had one place to turn, the grill.

Margherita pizza is easy with its straight-forward ingredients. However, the difference between an alright and a mouthgastastic Margherhita lies in the freshness of the ingredients you use. Spring for fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella–lets not even mention jarred garlic!–and you’re in business!

Unless you have a brick oven in your backyard–which I often think about and wish that I could will my parents into building me the oven of my dreams–the grill might be your best bet as far as pizza cooking goes. Home ovens rarely heat about 450 or 500 degrees Farenheit and, if your oven’s like mine, it’s 20 degrees cooler than the display says it is. The fiery heat of a brick oven or grill is what gives us a light, crisp crust rather than a dense, chewy one.

This pizza cooks fast and WILL catch you off guard if you aren’t prepared. I highly recommend that you get your mise en place together before slapping the dough on the grill.

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