I had a little shin-dig at the flat recently, which compelled me to cook, and not just cook but cook for real people, not like RM and I who will eat anything, and sometimes off the floor. It’s been a while since I had company for dinner, between the holidays and the near-lethal amounts of fluid in my lungs and whatnot. No one who knew me in, say, 2006, in my stock-making, canning, lard rendering, organic food growing glory, would believe how little cooking I do anymore, or when I do, how little effort I put into it. Left to my own devices, I will eat fried chickpeas with garlic yogurt for two straight weeks, and follow that up with two straight weeks of increasingly eccentrically flavored lentil mushes. It’s a good thing that four times a week I work for companies that let me eat lunch in their cafeterias. On those days my diet looks fairly balanced. There’s a breakfast that isn’t too bad, (yogurt with cereal and bananas mixed in)
and then dinner can be whatever slop I throw together. (sometimes it actually is just beans out of a can, eaten with a plastic fork. DON”T JUDGE ME!)
Company is a good excuse to use the kitchen for good, and I usually take the opportunity to make Western foods that I miss. This week, besides the constant ache for tacos that I fear will never salved in Istanbul, I missed Pigs in a Blanket, which is convenient because they’re great cocktail party food, and they aren’t much harder to put together than turning on the oven.
Little weiners, (sosis)
plus puff pastry
plus thirty minutes in (what passes for) the oven (in most Istanbul apartments)
(I admit America has some screwed up values but in the States we call these “toasters” and try not to look disappointed when our aunt gets them for us for Christmas.)
(you can also add cheese. I did with the second batch. You can get super fancy and add pickle slices or condiments too but plain is sometimes better.)
My piggies went quickly, but the real hit of the evening were my Chicken Things which are unbelievably easy, and minus the pastry actually kind of healthy. (Try the chicken mixture over greens or in a tortilla for lunch sometime.) I got lots and lots of requests for the recipe. The original recipe is on a blue and white card in my recipe box, 5000 miles away, so this one is adapted from the adaptation that I think I remember. It was given to me by a nice Jewish boy I knew once, who adapted it from an old Sephardic Jewish recipe. It’s such a simple thing but so much more than the sum of its parts.
First boil a few cups of already cooked chickpeas (maybe with a bouillon cube) at least an hour, until they are as tender as tender gets. Mash them up a little with a potato masher. Cook a large onion or two in a little butter . When they are soft, add more cumin than you think is sane. At least a tablespoon. When it’s fragrant after thirty seconds or so, add half a kilo of ground chicken or turkey. When that’s cooked, add the chickpeas. When the mixture cools, encase in puff pastry or pie crust and bake until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. ( 30 minutes at 225 for the above puff pastry. Pie crust can take up to two hours depending on the recipe.) Cool on a rack. Serve with lots of wine, pigs in a blanket, and fruit salad, for the ultimate in Sarah Perrich entertaining.