In My Country We Make This Thing Called…
To be alive is to love food. And food is hardly only about the vitamin C or the protein we need from it. Savoring certain flavors and mixtures makes our taste buds do cartwheels and sing “hallelujah!”. And we’ve got some recipes for your taste buds right here.
Food is also an excellent way to share our culture with others. In fact, we dare you to find someone who isn’t excited about talking to you about that one dish from their country that you must try someday. We double dare you.
No, that guy doesn’t count. He’s weird.
Jody, Marc, and Rebeka have given us the gift of knowledge and taught us how to prepare an authentic Italian pizza, an exquisitely savory moghrabieh, and a lángos we’ll be eating at any time of day.
In Naples, pizza is a known staple. “Pizza lets me feel at home,” Jody says. “But I also super love eggplant parmigiana like my grandmother used to make it. Sorry, there are so many dishes I like!”
And we hope to get to all of them in time. Seriously, eggplant parmigiana is a dish to drool for. But let’s stay focused on the task at hand: pizza.
For the dough, you’ll need flour, yeast, flour, and salt. Great. Simple enough!
“Pizza dough is not easy at all, even if the ingredients are very simple.”
600 ml of water
1 kg of type 00 flour
30 grams of salt
1 gram of fresh yeast
Now, don’t just pour everything in and mix. Let’s do this thing the right way. Start by pouring the water into a bowl, then add the salt and mix until it dissolves. Next, add just a little of the flour, enough to get a bit of consistency. Think watery pancake mix. Now you can add the yeast to the mix.
For the next step, exercise patience. Add the rest of the flour—but wait! Patience! Not everything at once! Add a bit, then mix it. Then add some more, and mix it. And so on until you’ve used it all.
Once the dough has been made, lay it on a flat surface, like a clean table or large cutting board. It’s time to put some muscle into it. Apply pressure, turn it over, push down and keep at it for a few minutes, warming it up with your hands. When you make a ball and poke in a hole that pops back up, it’s ready.
“Let the dough rest for at least 8 hours and then you can make the dough balls.” You can also give them even more time to rise before you flatten them out for your pizza.
“Then you roll out the pizza and garnish it.” A bit of olive oil just before the toppings will make it crispy. “Toppings for me: simple Margherita with tomatoes, basil, extra virgin oil, and mozzarella (fiordilatte is the specific name that we use on the pizza).”
And then, you devour it.
Marc learned how to make this dish from his mother when he was 16 years old. “She knew how much I liked it and she told me that I would eventually make it, one day. So she shared the wisdom. She wasn’t wrong, I recently made it with Gaëlle and it was phenomenal.
“it is a very common dish in Lebanon, and Gaëlle did have her own recipe. We sort of experimented together.”
And this is how you can make it:“Get the chicken breast and season it with salt, and 7 spices.” Hold on a second. Which seven spices?
Ah, Marc is referring to a spice blend of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, cumin, ground coriander, and white pepper. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s make a shopping list first:
Dry moghrabieh (aka pearl couscous)
So, we season the chicken with the salt and 7 spices, then…
“Peel onions (the baby pearl ones). Heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan and put the chicken in there and stir it until it turns brownish.
“Pour water over the chicken until fully covered and add a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, salt, and black pepper. Add the onions.
“Let it cook for 45 minutes on medium-high heat and skim any fat that rises to the top.
“Prepare the spice mix (caraway, cinnamon, 7 spices, cumin, and black pepper.)
“Drain some chickpeas from their liquid and rinse with water. Add the chickpeas and almost all of the spice mix into the broth and mix well. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
“Boil a pot of water. Add the dry moghrabieh and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
“Drain the water completely from the pot and add a bit of butter and leftover spice mix. On low-medium heat, sauté the boiled moghrabieh for a few minutes. Add a few ladles of the fresh broth to the moghrabieh and let simmer on low heat for about 7-10 minutes letting the moghrabieh pearls absorb all the flavor.
“Serve the moghrabieh by combining the moghrabieh pearls with a couple of ladles of the broth and fixings.”
And then, you gobble it down.
This next one is brought to us by Rebeka… and her grandmother (thank you, ma’am).
“When it comes to Hungarian cuisine, most people think about goulash first. However, Hungary has a lot of other traditional dishes as well, and in my opinion, there are even much better ones than goulash. Lángos is one of them.
“Lángos reminds me of my childhood summers. I spent every summer at Lake Balaton, Hungary's most famous tourist attraction. Lángos was the most popular dish available from the small buffets along the beach. I used to eat it on my towel next to the water after getting out of the water with my sister and parents.
“There are many ways to prepare lángos, but I will give the best one, which is how my grandmother makes it.”
And don’t you dare argue with that statement.
Start by gathering…
1 kg flour
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 cube of yeast
1 mug of milk
3 tablespoons of sour cream
“First, take flour and add salt to it. Warm up the milk (just warm, not hot), and add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let the mixture rise and then add it to the flour.
“Add 3 tablespoons of sour cream. Then add water slowly.” At this point, we’re trying to get it to thicken a bit so we can proceed to knead the dough.
Use a bit of oil and rub it on you the palm of your hand (which hand is up to you), then take a chunk the size of a tennis ball from the dough and flatten it out so you end up with a disk of dough. “Repeat until you finish all the dough.”
What goes on top of it? “The original lángos has 3 toppings: garlic, sour cream, and cheese (originally with the Hungarian cheese, trappista cheese).”
But you can also get creative. “So, originally lángos is intended to be a savory dish. However, most Germans and Austrians like to eat it in a sweet way (and as the dough doesn’t have a salty taste, it is perfectly possible). They like to put jam, Nutella, or powdered sugar on it.”
What about pineapple and ham like some of us do on pizza? Or can we all annoy our Italian friends by doing that?
And then you scarf it down.
We sincerely hope you try them out and share the result on #eathion. Let us know what your taste buds thought.
Buon appetito! صحتين! Jó étvágyat!