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Friday, September 26, 2008

Ramblings of a Hungry Man

Ramadan scuttles along unwillingly, loosing momentum as I'm running out of steam. Time hesitates then trudges along, limping heavily, throwing reluctant glances over its shoulder. Diffident to convey our exasperation with the arduous ritual of fasting, timid to exhibit elation in anticipating the inexorable end, we skulk in silence. I break my own as I am worn out by the unhurried voyage of the moon and delighted by its certain demise.

I feel the weight of the passing years in Ramadan. This is a slow moving month with often repetitive, unchanging and ageless rituals. Days drag forever, nuisances magnified, children coming of age, hurdles crossed, pledges honored, fluid images projected on the mind’s inner walls, memories forever embossed.


Fares and I went fishing together for the first time. I lent him my hand, showed him the ropes then let him be. He hooked his maiden fish, a giant Smanniseh with vicious spikes protruding out of its back. A gargantuan whale, thrashing and leaping, pulling viciously at the line, it must’ve measured more than 5 cm in length. He beamed with joy, yelling and shouting: “Baba, Baba”. I grinned with pride, seeing him morphing into a handsome young man right in front of my eyes.


I come home in the afternoon and strip for an empty room. A mélange of whiffs and scents rafts through the air coming from down the hall. Om Fares doesn’t appreciate my loitering walkthroughs of her kitchen so I delay the inevitable harmless joust. To my bedroom balcony I head instead and kneel down by my peppers. I caress the green leaves and the colorful budding cayennes, most certain that they have feelings for me as well. "I love you little clitori. I’m going to take such good care of you, oil you and pamper you then eat you up with Labneh and mint", I hiss like a mad man.


Since I’m rarely leaving home after sunset I exercise by walking to work and back. Strolling by the park in the afternoon, with scrumptious thoughts of soup, casseroles and main courses floating through my head instead of striking images of brunette, blond and redhead beauties I make a detour toward the public bakery (Firn Al-Dawleh) as we call it in Tartous. With all the shortcomings of this and previous governments I have to admit to one thing only. They make the best Pita Bread in the world right here and it’s still selling for SP15 ($0.30) per 1 kg Rabta (bag). I buy 4 of them and return home. Om Fares thinks I’m a crazy glutton. I feast on the hot bread’s aroma while I take each loaf and tenderly separate it along its seam line into two halves.

Late at night, I ask Om Faresabout her least favorable topic for this time. What about I cook a rabbit stew tomorrow? I innocently ask. "I’ll cook whatever you want just stay out of my kitchen please". I tell her about my phone conversation with Abu Ibrahim earlier in the morning. I was at work and needed to talk food with someone. So I called, appreciating him for the great chef and the superb epicure he is. He’s preparing Scottish Eggs for the Iftar (Ramadan Dinner). I wondered if it goes well with a rabbit stew. He assured me that his Scottish Eggs and my rabbit stew would make for a glorious feast befit for kings and queens. Om Fares ended up cooking both with lusciously haunting results.

My next post is likely to come during or after Eid Al-Fitr. So I might as well wish you all here and now a very Happy Eid. Since I haven’t posted any recipe during the month, I wrap up with a double header, both of which, I assure you, are most extraordinary and mouth-watering.


Om Fares Rabbit Stew

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small cut rabbits + 1 bottle of vinegar + 1 carrot + 1 onion + cardamom + 2 cinnamon sticks + 1 cube chicken broth

1 kg cut fried potatoes

½ kg small cut mushrooms

2 sliced onions

4 pre-boiled carrots

3 tablespoons Quaker oatmeal

(additional spices per preference)

Recipe:

-Marinate cut rabbit overnight in vinegar and place in fridge.

-Place in pressure cooker along with 1 carrot, 1 onion, some cardamom, 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 cube chicken broth. Cover in water completely and keep on medium low for 1 hour after the whistle blows.

-Remove 2 cups of water and use to cook rice on the side.

- Debone the rabbit and cook over low heat with the fried potatoes, mushrooms, sliced onions and carrots for 30 minutes. Add Quaker oatmeal and keep for 5 more minutes.

-Serve with rice on the side.


Abu Ibrahim Scottish Eggs

Ingredients:

6 boiled eggs

1 raw egg

700 grams tender ground veal

1 onion

1peeled clove of garlic

½ cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons flour

Spices per preference

Boiled vegetables per preference (enough to go complement the dish)

Recipe

-In a blender mix the meat, the raw egg, onion, garlic, floor, bread crumbs and spices until consistent.

-Divide mix into 6 equal parts and spread then roll around the boiled eggs (shell removed of course).

-Fry in vegetable oil until light brown.

-Place in oven with boiled vegetables. Top with 1 ½ cup of water and 1 cube chicken broth.

-Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes.

-Serve and enjoy.

19 comments:

Mariyah said...

You're killing me, Abu Fares! I had to run up and down the hall to distract my hunger!! :) How mouthwatering!! Eid Sa'id to you and your beautiful family.:)

abufares said...

Eid Sa'id to you as well my dear Mariyah.
The rabbit was heavenly, the Scottish Eggs out of this world. 3 or 4 more days to go :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Abu Fares

Anonymous said...

Conejo estofado a la Puertorrican:

A- 2 lbs of cleaned rabbit cut in pieces ( you can add the heart and gizzards if you like, some people that I know don't use it... but they do give the sauce a lot of flavor)

B- 1 big Shallot diced
1 tbs. virgin olive oil

C- Sun Dried tomatoes
1 tbs. salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5 pimento stuffed olives
2 tbs. small capers
1 1/2 tbs. pine nuts
3 to 4 bay leaves
5 prunes or 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
fresh cilantro
ground pepper to taste

D- 5 small white or red potatoes with skin diced
1 big carrot diced
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cups of a good dry white wine (I use Albariño)

1- Wash the rabbit pieces, pat drie with paper towel and put on a big deep skillet with the shallot and olive oil on high temperature. Toss until de shallot turnes to clear color.

2- Add ingredients included in C. Put on high temperature until it boils. Reduced heat, cover and let it cook for 30 minutes, or until rabbit is tender enough when pinched with a fork.

3- Add ingredients in D and mixed and cook in High Temp. until it boils. reduced heat, cover and cook until potatoes are tender.

4- Uncover and let it boil in medium heat until the sauce thickens.

Hope Om Fares lis interested in this version of Rabbit Stew enough to try it. We eat it with white rice or couscus.

: )

w.b. yeats

abufares said...

@w.b. yeats
How come you didn't show me your talents (in the kitchen) back then???
Anyway, your recipe looks delicious and I'll try it out.
Om Fares is not a huge fan of rabbit recipes. She prefers fish and poultry over all other types of meat. I, on the other hand, like to cook wild meat in general and love to experiment with exotic ingredients and tastes.
The next rabbit I bag will be treated the Puerto Rican way.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I did not start to cook until my last year in USL. Did You know I was in the hospital at the beginning of my senior year? Twisted ovary... Anyway, when I came out of the Hospital I decided to live a healthier life. No more fast food, a lot less alchohol (only wine, which limitted my intake beacuse it was too expensive for me then) and a lot of bycicle riding, since after the operation I could not dance ballet for the whole semester.

It was THEN that I realized I enjoy cooking : ) !!!!

Anyway, I hope you like it beacuse this is really my recipe. Puertorricans use a lot more garlic and tomato sauce... which is good too, but I'm allergic to garlic now.

I hope your last 3 days of Ramadan are peaceful, and that the family and you are well.
cariños

w.b. yeats

Anonymous said...

Abufares, is that your son with the fishing rod?
i just returned from a fishing trip neer sao paulo , rainy and cold day, no fish, I,M wet and hungy, and you show me such a thing,

JGM said...

Abufares, the aroma of the bread you have separated is lingering in this very same room I'm sitting in...I can almost touch and feel the love radiated from each half...
Eid Kareem

abufares said...

@w.b. yeats
That's it. You really had to get me out of your system to start cooking, sort of :-)
We love garlic too. October, my favorite month, is almost here. I love to go out with friends, enjoy the great outdoors, good food and spirited drinks.
I'll think of you, as always.

abufares said...

@LÊ
That's Fares alright enjoying his first fishing outing with me. There's very little (sea) rod fishing left in Syria I'm afraid. When I was his age we would go to the Tartous port and catch handsome Bouri fish at 1/2 kg a piece.
These days are gone for good.

abufares said...

@JGM
Wallahi nothing in the world is as endearing as the aroma of our bread. We take so many things for granted when we have them right under our nose. Take it from me, I fell in love with Tartous when I lived away. Now, and despite all the nuisances of living here in Syria, the freshly baked bread alone makes it worthwhile.
Thank you for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Abufares, I used to catch nice size BURI(mullet) at the Jable´s bay, but as you know most of oure sea life was killed wiht dinamite, it is very very sad but that is how it is, I remember Syria with its beautiful river all were clean and full of life,I know them from Khamishli to Kasab, to Mzarib in south Sueda, some are dry some dead, none alive any more,you said it ,the futere generation will not have what we had, some times I remember ABU ALLA AL MAARI, I dont blame anyone, we want cars, energy, luxery, the economy must continue growing to offer jobs and food for more and more people, eaven here in Brasil it is getting worst, the heavy monoagiculter is killing every palm of soil, soya to feed milions of chinese and suger cane to produce metanol, thats why I fish ,twice or three times aweek,

Piscean Rubble said...

Abu Fares!! This sounds so delicious!! I cook rabbit once in a while...introduced to me by my husband - usually in the slowcooker. Its very good but I hate the bones. Om Fares's recipe is great because you de-bone!! YEAH!! I was very surprised to see Scotch Eggs as a plate on a Syrian table...the Scots aren't exactly known for their gastronomic delights aside from Haggis and Shortbread!! ;) Anyway, a very Happy Eid to you and your family!! Om Anastasio

Az3ar's Fan said...

A bunny and a baby cow. I think I will pass.

Az3ar's Fan said...

Look at what I found:

http://bashcakesanddesserts.blogspot.com/

abufares said...

@Om Anastasio

You're right about the bones. Although I prefer the wilder side of life myself I think that eating rabbit without the bones let you concentrate more on the succulent taste.
As for the Scottish Eggs, it was on that day that I've heard about them for the first time. They turned out delicious and everyone in the family agreed that we should do it again.
If you'd like to try some Middle Eastern dishes yourself I found www.quakersa.com to have some nice and easy to follow recipes.
As for the famous Scottish Haggies, why don't you take a look at our version:
http://www.abufares.net/2006/08/asheh-of-tartous-stuffed-sheep.html

abufares said...

@Az3ar's Fan
Kol 3am Wa Anti Bi Kheir.
Come on, a bunny after all graces the cover page of one of the best selling magazines in the world. Don't tell me they are inedible?!

Piscean Rubble said...

Thank you, Abu Fares for the recipes. I actually have a book called Damascus: Taste of a City by Rafik Schami and his sister, Marie Fadel. I noted that many of the recipes are quite similar to the Greek dishes I have prepared. The Syrian dishes have a little more garlic and use some different spices...but more or less the same veggies and meat. As for the Haggis...I've never actually prepared it myself but as a nod to my Scottish heritage I buy a haggis from a local butcher each January for Robert Burns day (a Scottish Poet - he wrote Auld Lang Syne). Your recipe sounds intriguing and when I gather the nerve to play with intestines, I'll give it a whirl!! ;)

Az3ar's Fan said...

abu fares,


eintum ballaf khair

You mean the bunnies that look like the deminative brain Sarah Palin? Balch...