Author Archives: ejm

About ejm

I am a freelance musician in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. What I really love is good food, books, movies, gardening (even though I have a black thumb) and bicycle travel. My foodblog is at adventures in food and drink, recipes, disasters, triumphs....

Our latest obsession: Naan Sangak

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summary: recipe for wild Naan Sangak (Persian Pebble Bread); using our trusty Jane Mason whole wheat starter created in July 2017; it turns out that measuring carefully IS a good idea; store-bought river stones are filthy; our expectations might be too high; all’s well that ends well; we made another video!

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Okay, I’m not so little any more. But Mum always told me that Longfellow’s poem was written specifically about me….

Because the summer has been so hot, in our attempts to not be cranky that people are misusing their AC units by keeping their houses ridiculously cold, we have been embracing our barbecue to make naan. Suddenly, as we realized that we had a.) run out of yoghurt and b.) the milk in the fridge had gone sour (again!!) because of the excessive heat and humidity, we remembered reading about making Iranian bread. It doesn’t call for anything but flour, salt, and water. (We loved Barbari Bread whenever we make it!) We reminded ourselves by looking inside Naomi Duguid’s lovely “Taste of Persia” again:

There’s a kind of reverence surrounding two of the breads of Iran. One is the classic breakfast bread called barbari, with a ridged browned top, and the other is sangak, the chewy, textured “pebble bread” that most often accompanies lunch and supper. […] The traditional oven of a sangak bakery has a tall, narrow opening and inside the cavern of the oven is a wall of gravel sloping upward toward the back. Sang means stone or pebble in Persian, so sangak refers to bread baked on a bed of stones. […] It’s possible to make reasonable versions of both sangak and barbari in a home oven if you have a baking stone and, for making sangak, a supply of small stones […] If you have a starter going, use it rather than the yeast and lengthen the proofing times as necessary.
– Naomi Duguid, “Bread in Iran”, Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan, p.258

Naan Sangak (Persian Pebble Bread)

Since childhood, we’ve known about stone soup. But Stone bread? We neeeeeeded to try Stone Bread! (continue reading )

Another new (for us) favourite: Ajvar

summary: Ajvar, a Macedonian staple; staying at home – still; making homemade Ajvar is easy; Ajvar goes with just about everything; Bullhorn peppers?? Canadian substitute for ajvar peppers; where are the shepherd peppers when we need them?

[Ajvar is] so old in fact, it was a favorite of Alexander the Great
– | Ajvar

Fino fine foods Ajvar: hot Back in the days (was that just 4 months ago?) when we were maskless, still travelling freely, and I was driving about 140 km east every Wednesday for evening PSO rehearsals, the concert master frequently got a ride with me. Because the traffic was generally pretty horrible gridlock – I sure don’t miss that! – we had to leave at 4pm to get there for our 7:30pm rehearsal.

Sometimes though, traffic would be clear and we would arrive at 6:30pm instead of 7:00pm…. On one of those occasions, I hesitantly asked V if she would mind if we stopped at the Freshco so I could stock up on flour because we were going to run out. Here’s how the conversation went:

She: Mind?? No! I LOVE grocery shopping! [getting her iPhone out and pressing buttons] Let me just see if there are any special deals…
Me: Thank you!! When we go in, do we have to be efficient? Or can we sort of wander through?
She: Wander through?! No! Let’s be efficient and go systematically through each aisle….

When we reached the condiments aisle, V (who is of Macedonian descent) started bouncing up and down. “They have more than one kind of ajvar!!” Then she proceeded to examine each kind – ingredients lists and looks – and decreed that the Fino brand looked correct. (continue reading )

Miracles in the Garden

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summary: mid-summer garden report; Swiss chard is great, especially when stir-fried with other vegetables; miracles do happen; red okra;

Look!! It’s a miracle!

Garden Miracles 2020

This cayenne chili plant is from last year. I thought I had murdered it in the basement this past winter; when I brought it out to the balcony, there were zero leaves on it. (I only brought it out to plant other things in the pot.) Just before I was about to uproot it, I noticed tiny leaf buds on the bare stems. And look at it now! Not only is it covered in leaves, it’s fruiting!!

Chilli (Hot Hot Hot)

Secondary miracle: the zillions of Swiss chard seeds (thank you for sending them, P and J!!) that I planted at the end of June in various spots on the balcony, behind the garage, and in the back garden, this is the lone seedling that came up! (I think it might be one that dropped out of the package by mistake….) (continue reading )

Lost in Translation: Not-Quite Tortas Ahogadas

summary: Northern take on Ersatz Tortas Ahogadas; opened-faced sandwiches; we’re gonna need a sharper knife….

It’s a hangover dish. Or at least it seems like the dish was invented by a drunk. – Aaron Garcia, owner of Pialeadero de Guadalajara, Mexico City, June 2017

Open-Faced Torta Ahogada (Drowned Sandwich)

One of the reasons that Karen (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) decided we BBBabes should make Birotes Saladas this month was so we could make tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches).

Here is what David Norman and Bryan Ford have to say about the sandwiches:

They say the torta ahogada was invented by accident when a sandwich vendor dropped a carnitas-filled roll into a vat of tomato salsa. It is now ubiquitous in the market stalls, street cars, and restaurants of Mexico’s second largest city.
      There are two sauces, one a flavorful but not spicy tomato sauce for “drowning” the sandwich, and a second made from arbol chiles, potent and fiery, used to cusomize the heat level. […] I read that a true Tapatio (a native of Guadalajar) supposedly can eat this sandwich by hand with only one napkin […] One important element in a torta ahogada is the refried beans used to coat the inside of the cut rolls. In Guadalajara, Mayocoba beans are treaditionally used […] [but, you] can use any variety except black beans.
– David Norman, Bread on the Table | Torta Ahogado – Sandwich from Gadalajara, p235
I find nothing more satisfying than recreating the unique breads of Latin America in my very own kitchen. I especially love when the bread is meant to be stuffed with savory fillings and drowned in spicy salsa—in Mexico, the torta ahogada is just that.
– Bryan Ford, New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fremented Breads | Birote, p60

Hmmm. I find it difficult to believe that drowning the sandwich in tomato salsa wasn’t entirely by design. (continue reading )