Buying a few clutch pre-made dishes, dressing them up in a more personal way, and preparing a few other easy side dishes might be one of the easiest ways ever to throw an impromptu dinner party. Everyone’s happy and everything’s delicious.
Earlier that morning, we took our friends out to Abu Elias and did a little grocery shopping of our own. Of course, I couldn’t resist their excellent hummus, or a pound of their excellent beef tartare, which is massaged with bulghur wheat, cumin, sumac, and other spices. But we also ordered a huge carton of fatteh (but then buttered and toasted our own pita chips to ensure crispiness late into the night), and a delicious lahmajoun.
I cracked open a jar of tiny pickled carrots that I made earlier in the week, and we readied a platter of radishes, waiting to be sliced in half and spread with butter. Adam prepped a small plate of celery sticks and taramosalata (a killer combo). We made a huge tomato, olive, and pepper salad, and a quick tabbouleh. I even whipped up (perhaps incongruously) a warm potato salad, with crispy pan-fried potatoes, tender green beans, bacon, scallions, and a rich mustard-crème fraîche vinaigrette.
But my favorite dish of the evening was derived from a recipe that I’ve had an eye on for months — a simple beetroot salad dressed with pistachios, lemon juice, and mint, from the indispensible Moro East cookbook. We picked up a bundle of gorgeous chiogga beets from the market, and roasted them in foil until tender. The Clarks like to thinly slice their beets and dress them with a chunky vinaigrette that includes minced pistachios, orange blossom water, mint, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. It was outstanding — light and floral but full of flavor.
Sigh… this is my last Montreal post! The good news: I can finally start writing about Singapore and Bali. The bad news: I am no longer in Montreal. While there, I was able to slash another key item from my bucket list: pizza from scratch! I was so proud of my novice results that I spontaneously submitted a few photos to Slice’s’ ‘My Pie Monday’ feature. Slice is my favorite website devoted to pizza by far, so I was stoked they ran the photos of my pizzas, which, to be honest, were not really pizzas, but chewy crackers. Flatbread pizzas, if we’re being generous.
But who cares!! I made pizza dough from scratch! Although I debated using Mario Batali’s focaccia recipe, I ended up using the flatbread recipe from the Moro East cookbook, partly because it doesn’t require 1/4 cup of olive oil. I know. While the recipe was freakishly easy, I think think I messed up by rolling the dough out too thinly. The dough, pre-rising:
Given that pizza is my favorite food of all time, I was so excited by how cute and smooth and precious it was that I raced around the house, clutching it to my chest like I had just laid a golden egg. I mean, I made that! What! Who needs kids when creation can be had in just 15 minutes??
The first pizza — grandiosely deemed a ‘potato chip pie’ — was covered with fried discs of baby purple potatoes, garlic slivers, rosemary from the garden, and fruity olive oil. The second pizza — which we agreed was much better — was even simpler: olive oil, flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper, grape tomatoes (of the $10 variety), and finely minced arugula (brilliant idea! I wish I could take credit for it), all finished with a thick flurry of grated Pecorino. The textures were perfect, the colors intense, the flavor profile spot on — I actually gasped when it came out of the oven.
This summer and fall I am devoting my energy to perfecting the perfect pizza dough. Moro East is not quite what I’m looking for, but for a first attempt, I’m super proud of the results.
Posted in color, food, home, snack, summer
Tagged arugula, crackers, flatbreads, moro east, my pie monday, pizza, potato chip pie, serious eats, slice