CHRISTMAS brought some culinary presents, including a little jar of sumac, a Middle-Eastern rusty-red spice that goes well with lamb, besides salads, fish, and eggs.
Michael is a superlative host, and his suppers are always memorably good; so the mark of a good supper here now is that it’s preceded by drinks and nibbles which equal his for care and variety. We have been beginning with an hors d’oeuvres of Salad with sumac dressing.
Flaked tinned sardines or smoked
salad leaves (as varied as possible)
sliced salad tomatoes
green and yellow peppers, sliced
spring onions, sliced
pitted black olives
For the dressing:
3 fl. oz (90ml) olive oil
the juice and zest of a lemon
a garlic clove
2 teaspoons sumac
Assemble the salad, and mix the dressing, adjusting the ingredients to taste. It is good served with a little crisp bread or croutons, too.
If you remember to roast the aubergine when you have the oven on, this Aubergine dip is quick:
1 large roasted aubergine
1 garlic clove
the juice and zest of a small lemon
1 fl. oz (30ml) olive oil
a handful of parsley and mint, chopped
a handful of pomegranate seeds
Scoop out the flesh of the aubergine, drain it of any liquid, and blend it with the garlic, lemon, oil, and seasoning, and some of the fresh herbs. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as you like it. Stir in the rest of the herbs and the pomegranate seeds, and serve it with raw vegetables or pitta bread.
Lamb mince becomes delicious when given a Near Eastern flavouring with cinnamon and sumac. I have served this alone or on a pizza:
400g (14 oz) lamb mince
1 garlic clove
half a tin of tomatoes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sumac
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons yogurt
fresh coriander leaves, chopped
I cook the mince without adding fat; so I brown it in a non-stick pan on a high heat, and then add the onion and garlic, finely diced, to cook until tender on a lower heat. The tomatoes go in next, and then, just before serving, the spices and a spoonful of tahini. Mix the rest of the tahini, lemon juice, and yogurt to a smooth cream, and add half to the pan; taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve it as it is, with a salad and fresh bread, or pile it on to a pizza base and bake for as long as the dough requires. When you serve it, add the rest of the tahini-yogurt mixture and chopped coriander.