Thursday, December 15, 2005

Another Lousy Day in Paradise...

It’s been a bit busy this week; I hope I haven’t let down my readers by my non-blogging…

So anyway, our decky has gone on vacation and the previous stew has headed back to South Africa. The new steward (Chris) has been temporarily promoted to the deck-hand position and I’ve taken on some of the interior duties. So, I’m now officially Den Mother to a troop of pre-pubescent Boy Scouts; cooking, ironing, vacuuming, dusting, turning down the boss’s bed…

I could complain, but my work load is pretty light right now. We’re anchored out at Corossol and we can’t get into dock until our boom is fixed which probably won’t be until mid-January or February, so the holiday parties have been on hold and I’m basically just cooking for the crew (since the boss is out partying on the other boats most of the time). And besides, there is no “I” in team – at least that’s what I’ll be telling myself over the next few weeks. I take solace in knowing that its 22 degrees and snowing sideways in New York and at 5pm today my mates and I will be jumping in the cool, crystal clear ocean which is about 90 degrees and on Sunday I’ll either be renting a scooter and zooming around St. Barth’s or hooking up with friends in Anguilla.

Life could be worse…

For the bon-voyage dinner for our decky I made middle-eastern:

Lamb Kofta with Lemon-Tahini Sauce
Chickpeas Cooked with Za’atar, Onions and Tomatoes
Fatush Salad

I’d never read or cooked the chickpeas with za’atar before but I thought it would be good – and they came out so delicious, a definite winner.

Za’atar is a Lebanese spice blend of ground thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. My favorite brand is Salloum Bros., from Salaata, Lebanon and is available at Sahadi’s in Brooklyn (on Atlantic Ave., near Court St.) or Kalustyan’s (my all-time favorite spice store in Manhattan on Lexington around 28th St.). This one is a dark brownish-green and has a nice tang to it. There are lighter colored ones that look completely different than this one, but Salloum Bros. is my favorite and that is what my family uses as well.

Chickpea’s with Za’atar, Onions and Tomatoes
3 – 4 cups Chickpea’s, cooked
1 med Spanish Onion, sliced
1 28 oz. can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, sliced (reserve the juices separately)
2 tablespoons Za’atar (or to taste, I didn’t really measure it out)
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (the unfiltered Lebanese brands available at either Kalustyan’s or Sahadi are my favorite)
Chopped parsley for garnish

Sautee the onions in olive until they have sweated out and are just beginning to caramelize. Add the Za’atar and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the slice tomatoes, cook 5 more minutes, add chickpea’s and some of the liquid from the can of tomatoes. Allow to stew for 15 – 20 minutes or longer (my chickpea’s actually weren’t cooked all the way through so they absorbed a lot of the tomato liquid and were perfectly cooked after about 15 minutes). Season to taste, finish parsley and a little more olive oil (I could bath in good olive-oil, it’s really up to you if you want to garnish with it – but I like the subtly olive taste that comes through). The finished product should have a bit of liquid in it, but it shouldn’t be soupy. Adjust the liquid using the reserved tomato juices and you can add a squeeze of lemon to give it a bit more zing.

All in all, a very satisfying dish. The chickpea’s would probably be good cold but it didn’t last long enough to find out. I’m sure it would warm you to the bone on a cold winter night in New York as well…

If you haven’t discovered the wonders of a pressure cooker yet – run out right now and buy yourself one. I was able to cook dried chickpeas in 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. I covered them by several inches of water, added a bay leaf, an onion and a few cloves of garlic, turned on the heat, started timing when the steam started – and was totally amazed by the end result. I will never go without a pressure cooker again… It’s invaluable. I can’t wait to try meat in it… And on that note, you could probably even make this chickpea dish more substantial by adding some lamb stew meat, the tomatoes, onions and za’atar to the pot with more liquid – and actually making a stew or tagine. I’m sure it’d be great…

So much to fill my dear readers in on - so much tanning to do... I'll have a longer, more detailed post up sometime in the near future...


sha said...

chick peas in 20mins
wow... looks like a diving meal you gave him

dearest we women on yacht are the divine mother of all.. the few months before I left, I was shopping, budgeting, cooking, doing the stocks, in between all the time making sure uniforms are sparkling white, boat dust free.. of course by 3pm am having my cuppa at the deck...

ah life go rent yr scooter and enjoy ok

if u see MY bIG EAGLE (at the moment they are in stmaarten) knock and give the chef a call MARGO my friend

sha said...

divine... meal correction

prcrstn8 said...

Welcome back to the blogosphere!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mama! I'm so sorry I keep missing your calls. I had to go upstate to Canton, my Grandmother Briggs (mom's mom) at age 90.

I had to take Monday off from work, which is crazy as it's one of the busiest days of the year.

Blog is great. Hope to speak w/you soon.

Love you & miss you,


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