05 February 2013

In the Midnight Kitchen

with Warm Yogurt Soup with Freekiah and Herbs

Gingerbread Cookies

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Paul's Pear Frangipane Tart


Often I don't document the things we make at night, sometimes because I take terrible pictures in the dark, other times because it's the end of a long workday and I'm tired and just throwing something together. Cooking here in Algiers is not just a hobby but a necessity. Other than pizza, schwarma, omelets, and ice cream, take-out or pre-prepared food of any kind is almost non-existant here. Which is why you might find me padding around the kitchen late at night, sliding some bread out of the oven or making cookies, or prepping lettuce for a salad the next day. I'm probably wearing my workout clothes from earlier in the evening and a big pair of hand-knit socks and listening to one of my favorite podcasts.

It's been a while since I've written about yogurt soups and yogurt-based sauces, but they seem to have had a bit of a resurgence on the interwebs. I still believe that to make true yogurt sauce you stabilize the yogurt and let it come to a full boil (see here for more). However, stabilizing and then lightly heating the yogurt works nicely too and is a bit less stressful. A warm yogurt soup is super-simple and comforting on a cold winter evening. You literally whisk together the yogurt ingredients in a pot, and then heat them to steaming - that's it for the yogurt base. Then I like to put in whatever I have lying around the fridge - like leftover rice or wheatberries from a previous dinner, some chickpeas or beans, perhaps some vegetables. Add in plenty of chopped herbs, a drizzle of good olive oil, and dinner is served. You can dress it up by infusing your olive oil with saffron or spices.


Warm Yogurt Soup with Freekiah and Herbs
Plain yogurt varies in thickness, so use your judgement when adding the broth to the soup. If the soup is still very thick you may want to go with 2 cups of broth. If your broth is very salty go easy on any added salt. Freekiah is available in Middle Eastern groceries, wheatberries make a nice substitute. 

3 cups plain yogurt (preferably not fat-free)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg white
1 cup cooked freekiah (cracked green wheat)
1 1/2 cups chickpeas
1 cup of chopped mixed herbs (any mix of parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, fennel fronds, etc)
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
salt and pepper
pinch of saffron
olive oil for drizzling

1. Place the broth, cooked freekiah, chickpeas, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a pot, and place over low heat, you just want to warm the mixture.
2. Whisk together the yogurt, cornstarch, and egg white in a pot off of the heat. Whisk until well combined. Place the pot on the heat at medium heat. Stirring occasionally let the mixture heat until it is very warm and steaming, but does not boil.
3. Gently stir in the chickpea and freekiah mixture with the broth. Stir everything together over low heat until very warm again. Add in the herbs and stir well.Season with salt and peper
4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Crumble a pinch of saffron over top and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm, with good crusty bread.


Aaron said...

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Mercedes said...

We like Fresh Air, This American Life, Radiolab, Design Matters with Debbie Millman, the Moth radio hour, and more. I also love the Leonard Lopate show but it's too voluminous for me to podcast it regularly. If anyone has good podcast rec's we're always open.

Lakshmi said...

Kadi comes to mind. There are many versions of Kadi in Indian cooking. The one from Gujarat is thinner in consistency, spiced with fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns, sweetened with jaggery. In Rajasthan, they make a version that is thicker, more sour. In South India, there is a version with vegetables that uses tamarind for sourness. Then in Kerala, there is a thicker version that is incredibly sour.

Sounds like enough fodder for a whole blog post!

Aleksandra said...

Pictures in the dark? ha! welcome to my world! Luckily, it's staying light outside til around 6 these days, and getting better by day :) Do you by chance have a recipe for your frangipane tart? That looks so good. If you have a moment in the next bit, throw it on the blog pls. I Googled imitations, but I'd like to make one just like you did. Take care.

Mercedes said...

Hi Aleksandra- I asked Paul and he said he combined a few recipes but it came primarily from these two - http://www.marthastewart.com/287319/pear-and-almond-frangipane-tart and http://www.latimes.com/features/food/thanksgiving/la-fo-peartart,0,113193.story

We buy ground almonds in the store here which makes the tart very easy to make.