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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Kusheri, Fastnacht Kreppel


This recipe has a lot of steps, but if you set out all your ingredients and have them ready, it is not hard to do. I tried to streamline the method so you only use two pots, a saucepan, and have only one extra bowl. It is completely worth every effort, though, and will feed loads of people. Everyone ate it all before I could get a photo. Next time I make it, I will try to catch it first! This is a traditional Egyptian dish, and honestly, though I had heard of it, we always ate mejeddarrah in my house rather than kusheri. However, a friend from church who lived in the Middle East for a while remembered this fondly and asked me about it, so I started looking into recipes, and this is what I put together for us. This may not be a true, authentic, recipe. It is what I came up with after reading many recipes from multiple Egyptians. It is delicious, though, and a good recipe for Lent or other abstinent times. You can use olive oil or safflower oil, and it will be fine either way. If you want to cut down on your hands on work just before dinner, I would prepare the cumin sauce and chickpeas ahead of time and have them in your fridge. Or you can pre-cook a whole lot of them, and freeze them in smaller bags, and pull one of those out of your freezer. Canned chickpeas will work, but I find their texture to be mealy. This meal will feed 10 - 12 people easily, and it is delicious the next day, either cold or re-heated.

For the Chickpeas: (This can be done up to three days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator, or cooked ahead of time and frozen, to be thawed in time to heat and serve with the meal).
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked four hours to overnight
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
or you can use a can of chickpeas (but really please cook them from dry, they are so much better)

For the Lentils:
2 cups lentils (green or brown)
water to cover lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce or purée
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For the fried onion:
3 large onions, peeled and sliced
oil for frying

3 cups of short grain rice (I use Egyptian rice)
1 16-ounce package dry pasta, preferably Ditalini or elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 16-ounce cans tomato sauce or purée
salt to taste

For the Cumin Sauce (Kamouniyeh): (This also can easily be made ahead, up to a week, and kept in the refrigerator, then warmed gently on the stove).
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt, to taste

Cook chickpeas:
Drain soaked chickpeas and place in a pot, add salt and baking soda, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and continue cooking 60-90 minutes until the desired tenderness is reached. Make sure to check on water level and add water whenever necessary. Conversely, place drained chickpeas, baking soda and salt, and water to cover in a pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then release the pressure (this is usually how I do it). If you cook the chickpeas in a pot, you can use that same pot to cook the pasta.

Prepare lentils:
Wash lentils thoroughly in a colander under cold, running water. Place lentils in a large pot covered with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes until just about al dente, checking water level occasionally and adding water if necessary. Drain, but do not rinse, and set aside while in the same pot heat oil and sauté onion until fragrant. Add lentils back to the pot along with the tomato sauce and seasonings. Continue cooking about 5 minutes, until al dente, and remove to a bowl while you prepare the other ingredients. Reserve pot for frying onions, and then cooking the rice. You don't even need to wash it.

Fry onions:
In the same pot, add oil to cover the bottom by 1 inch. Add onion slices and cook on medium-high stirring every now and then making sure not to burn the onions. Remove onions to a plate to dry and get crisper. Set aside and return to the other ingredients, leaving the oil in the pan.

Rice and pasta:
Rinse the rice, drain, and place in the pot in which the lentils and onions were cooked. Cover with about a knuckle's length of water, season with about 2 teaspoons of salt, and bring to a rolling boil. When it comes to a boil, return the lentils to the pot, spooning them on top of the rice, and cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from heat. While the rice is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil (you use the same pot you used for the chickpeas) and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and toss immediately with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. While both of these are cooking, you can prepare the tomato and cumin sauces.

Make tomato sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, about a minute. Add vinegar, tomato sauce, and salt and stir to combine. Pour into a heated bowl and set aside in a warm place. Rinse out the pan and use to make the Kamouniyeh.

Make cumin sauce (Kamouniyeh):
In a small sauce pan, sauté garlic and cumin together until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar, water, stir to combine well, and taste to adjust salt.

To assemble:
Stir rice and lentils a bit, and turn them out onto a large, shallow platter, leaving a small circumference around it for the chickpeas. Spoon the chickpeas around the rice and lentils on the dish. Drizzle the cumin sauce over the top of the rice and lentils. Cover with the cooked pasta. Then spoon the tomato sauce over that. Finally, top with the crisp onions.

German Fastnacht Kreppel

These German doughnuts are traditional to the eve of Ash Wednesday. Our non-traditional modification is to use a pomegranate-raspberry preserve as the filling. I use my stand mixer to save time and work.

6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of one large lemon
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk, warmed slightly (I microwave it a minute or so)

raspberry jam (to fill)
powdered sugar (to dust)
light, neutral oil (to fry, I use safflower oil)

In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and lemon zest to combine. Pour in the butter, eggs and milk. You do not want either the butter or milk to be hot, simply warm.

Mix the dough with the flat beater until it comes cleanly of the sides of the bowl and you can see bubbles start to form in the dough. Cover with a lid or a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and roll to about 1/2" (1.5 cm) thickness. Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut circles for filled doughnuts. Cut the remaining pieces into triangles for unfilled doughnuts with a sharp knife or pastry wheel cutter, or pizza slicer (these can be dusted with powdered sugar or glazed, as you wish).

Place doughnuts on a large baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel to rise for another hour or more, until they are doubled in size again. Please make sure you let them rise enough, as this will make them cook more evenly and won't over brown in order to get the middle cooked.

Prepare your workspace so the dough is on the left, the pot with the oil in it for frying is in the center, and a pan with racks over it is on the right.

When the doughnuts are almost all the way risen, heat oil in a wide and deep pan until it is hot enough to fry. (Test by putting a piece of bread in and if it immediately sizzles, begin frying). Slowly place the doughnuts in the oil and fry on both sides over medium heat until they are golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove from the pan and place on the cooling rack.

Filling: Empty your preserve of choice into a small bowl and whisk it until it is smooth. Place in a decorating bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped on one end. Fill doughnuts using a pastry tip.

When they are filled, roll in a bowl of powdered sugar. You may do the same with the triangle pieces, or glaze them. This year, we used a bourbon-maple glaze on ours.

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