Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manoushi morning

Last night, son #2 and my daughter and I made asiago and halloum cheese, eggplant, and mushroom pizzas on wholewheat crust, so this morning I made manoushi. I always make manoushi the day after making pizza because I always make so much dough that I always have leftover dough. My own perfected-over-the-years pizza dough recipe handily works for manoushi pies or even Arabic pita bread. Don't ask me for the recipe, though, because I don't measure anything, I just look and put. It's by sight and touch.

So, morning breakfast: manoushi, labne (a dip made from yogurt), Lebanese olives, a small plate of tomatoes, last night's steamed asparagus, and cucumber, and like every morning, a mug of fairtrade organic coffee. Currently, I am drinking some Guatemalan dark roast Peace Coffee that son #2 brought back from the co-op in Duluth. And, like an old-style Finnish Canadian, I have that with cream.

My manoushi pies are simple. Za'atar mixed with a bit of olive oil, throw on a few pine nuts. Bake in a hot oven, lower rack. Of course, the za'atar you use makes the utmost difference. There is za'atar and then there is za'atar. One of my favorite blogs, Land and People, has a 2 part section on understanding this delicious and healing ....wonder food. Manoushi is aka mana'eesh or manoucheh or simply, za'atar pies.

Like a trout story, everyone has a za'atar story. My daughter related hers as I sipped coffee and dipped an edge that I had torn off my manoushi into the labne. Popped an olive in my mouth.

We went up to the mountains with Ziad, she said. Mom, we had the best-ever za'atar pies in the village. Fresh out of the oven.
At our house, we've at least 10 different kinds of za'atar in the cupboard. Indeed, we have a za'atar cupboard. Open and behold. In the cold storage in the basement....more za'atar. Everyone in the family has his or her favorite. So, before baking, I always ask, which za'atar do you want? Then, there is the moot point of detail. My husband likes the za'atar sprinkled on dry with olive oil added on after baking; I prefer my za'atar mixed with olive oil and spread on the dough before baking. And as to which type of olive oil? well, that is another story.....

...if you are in town, try and catch tonight's NOSFA film: Caramel, a Lebanese/French film set in a beauty salon in Lebanon...

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