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Let me count the ways?

On pita, in tabbouleh….just to lick….and will soon try it on pizza! Forgive me, but ancient civilisation wasn’t blessed with crockery, so if the foundation is right, then the fruits can’t be that far off….therefore, finger-eating is not a curse!

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I’m into food….just a little bit. Is it that obvious? I’m addicted to recreating recipes especially those I sample when out and about and enjoy like Ling Cartoccio from Rome and now this. See, a few weeks ago, we were at the Food Blogger’s Connect and I we had a delicious, smoky red Middle Eastern dip. That instant, I just knew what would have to follow. On investigation, I found out that their version of the dip was made with smoked red paprikas, breadcrumbs, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and some chili pepper. Thankfully, when I asked Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets, she said the words I wanted to hear: ‘I have a recipe for Muhammara’ on my blog’!!!

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Of course I bidded my time to make it, waiting for a perfect opportunity like Sunday, when husband and ALL three kids went to a zoo out of town…….leaving ME all alone at home. All morning and afternoon. What bliss……You can imagine what I did. I tidied the living room…..took me so, so long, between checking out different Muhammara recipes and actual cleaning. Some called for cumin, others for Aleppo pepper. The regulars were all there – bread, peppers, nuts, Pomegranate molasses…..but I knew what I had in mind….and what was possible.

First of all, the nuts of choice would have to be almonds, which I purchase by the kilo! I love them. Unlike pine nuts. This means I make my pesto with almonds and have them on my favourite no-cook dessert ever (Turkish yogurt with ginger jam and flaked almonds). Then since I didn’t have any pomegranate molasses, I considered using a bit of maple syrup…but ended up using some blackcurrant cordial! I figured that the effect wouldn’t be that different!

Now I am in love with cumin, especially dry-roasted and coarsely crushed so it figured that I would have to put some in, along with some chili pepper.

IMG_7596The final piece of this puzzle was to make some bread. And thanks to Jennifer @ Unplanned Cooking who virtually introduced me to Jeff and Zoe of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes and my beautiful King Arthur’s Wholegrain Baking book, I was able to make super-delish, puffy wholewheat pitas to go with my dip! Recipe for another day though…..forgive me!

IMG_7634Without further ado, here it goes:

Muhammara recipe (Adapted from Dirty Kitchen Secrets)

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

2 slices of wholegrain bread (~ 70g), toasted
2 cloves of (roasted/smoked) garlic (smashed)
80g flaked, raw almonds
2 red paprikas (bell peppers), blackened
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or Aleppo pepper)
1 teaspoon dry roasted cumin seeds
20ml (1 1/2 tablespoons) blackcurrant cordial (or pomegranate molasses)
20ml olive oil
2/3 squirts of juice from a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
2 food bags or small ziploc bags

How to

Prepare the peppers by poking the bottom end with skewers or long fondue forks and set them to blacken on the stove top…on medium heat. Turn them round every couple of minutes till they are almost completely blackened and then take them off the heat. I must confess that this is a tricky stage. Sometimes, the peppers just didn’t want to cooperate and I was super thankful I had them skewered. Eventually though, the job was done and I popped them into my little sandwich ziplocs and left them to cool off.

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(While the peppers were blackening, I toasted my bread and dry-roasted my cumin seeds.)

When the pepper are cool, take them out of the bags and place on a chopping board. Keep a small knife handy. Starting from the bottom end, pinch off a bit of the skin and start peeling. Yes, the blackened bits will stick to your hand and the peppers. even when the skin is all off but dont despair and whatever you do, DO NOT RINSE THE PEPPERS. Sorry, I shouted! But this is really important. Instead, use the knife to scrape off the blackened bits and wipe your hands on some kitchen tissue.

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When you’re done, split them open and remove the seeds and veins, leaving the flesh for our dip, again using your little helper (aka knife) to accomplish great things.

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Out comes the  food processor. Feel free to dump things in, save for the liquids (which I left for last). In goes the bread, almonds, spices, garlic, red peppers, chili, paprika etc. Then *biltz* and rest. Again. Stop. Again. Stop…till the mix looks well combined. Use a spatula to scoop and clean the sides in, now and again.

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Then follow with the liquids..in the required amounts. If you feel you need more than what is specified in the recipe, by all means modify.

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Regardless of what you do, taste and season with salt to ensure you have a tasty dip.

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When it is ready, you should have a well blended, red thick dip, which tastes and smells lovely.

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Store for up to a week in the refigerator if you not serving straight away.

If you’re have plans of serving it up ASA, then slice warmed pita bread into sticks or  and present as part of a spread or mezze. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of paprika powder.

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I took some over to friends of ours who are veggies and we had it with some taboulleh. Next day, there was a pita attack…

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… And what I have left will grace a pizza this weekend, with mozzarella and halloumi! Thank you Levant and Beth for bringing me so much yummy pleasures this 2009. God bless you!

I’m submitting this to yeast-spotting this week!

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If you had to choose a favourite dip you’ve had or made, what would it be?

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Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a top Dutch holiday recipe….called Oliebollen. Stop by if you can. LOL XOXOXO

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