Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ranch recipes: a light mezze picnic

Over at Olive Oil and Tomatoes, Lindsey is getting ready for a camping trip and asked readers for their favorite camping recipes. This reminded me of a meal I prepped and brought to Tahoe with us a couple weeks ago. We weren't exactly camping, but it would make a good camping meal as I did all the prep at home, packed it in a cooler and when we arrived all I had to do was cook up the meat in a skillet (though I could have done that at home as well) and we shared a wonderful meal in less than ten minutes.

Here's what I made:


- flatbread (I used naan, but pita would be more traditional)
- grass finished beef kafta
- labneh yoghurt cheese
- cucumber slices
- hummus
- harissa chili sauce

The great thing about this meal for camping is that the leftovers incorporate really nicely into the next day's meal: add the kafta to your breakfast burrito in the morning, have pita and hummus for a snack, mix the labneh and harissa to make a spicy spread for burgers and end the day with the last dab of labneh drizzled with honey or agave nectar and a few fresh berries for dessert.

Of course if you live in a big city, you could probably find many of these items at the market but all I have in these parts is a nebulously termed "ethnic aisle" at the grocery store and middle eastern food is not well represented so I make everything myself. Recipes are listed below


Indian flatbread

- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 4 cloves garlic, run through garlic press 3-4 times to make it extra fine
* 4 Tablespoons butter, melted to brush on warm naan

1. In a small bowl, proof the yeast by adding yeast, 1/2c of the warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until frothy. Meanwhile add flour, salt and remaining sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir. Make a well in the flour mixture and add milk, egg, remaining 1/2c of water, yeast mixture and pressed garlic.Knead well my hand or machine until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with damp tea towel and let rise until double, about an hour. Then punch dough down and let rise again another 35 to 40 minutes.

2. Preheat pan or electric griddle to medium heat. Pinch off balls of dough and roll out thin with a rolling pin. A tangerine-sized piece of dough will roll out to the size of a tortilla. (I use an electric griddle and prefer to make several huge naan that fill the whole griddle instead of many batches of smaller flatbreads. Size and shape is up to you and depends on how large of a cooking surface you have to work with.) Brush rolled out dough with melted butter and place, butter-side down, on the griddle.

3. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter and flip the naan. Let cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a platter, cover with a tea towel and cook remaining naan. Serve warm. Naan also reheats and freezes well so squirrel the extras away for the days when cook time is limited.


Labneh (yoghurt cheese)
Thickened, tangy yoghurt cheese

Labneh is incredibly easy to make at home but does require draining at least overnight to reach a consistency similar to cream cheese.

- Cheesecloth (or linen kitchen towel or old t-shirt, rinsed in boiling water to sterlize)
- Large pot or bowl
- Kitchen strainer that fits over top of pot or bowl while leaving at least 2 inches of space between bottom of strainer and pot.
- Spatula
- Long spoon, chop stick or dowel

- one quart plain yoghurt (no fat, low fat or whole)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (I use kosher salt)
- olive oil, as desired

1. Add salt to yoghurt, stir. Line strainer with cheesecloth and place over pot. Pour yoghurt mixture into cheesecloth and let strain for an hour.

2. Stir well with spatula and pour off liquid whey. Then fold two opposite corners of cheesecloth over yoghurt. Take remaining opposite corners and tie into a knot. Insert wooden spoon in gap under knot. Remove colander and place spoon across lip of pot, suspending the cheese mixture. Ensure there is at least two inches from bottom of pot so cheese can drain properly. Let cheese strain overnight up to two days or until desired thickness is achieved.

3. Remove cheese to bowl and if desired, add in olive oil, herbs or more salt to taste. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


1/4 c tahini
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 can chickpeas (remove outer skins if you desire)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
water, as needed

1. Whisk tahini and lemon juice together until thick and creamy. Add chickpeas, lemon zest, garlic, salt and oil. Puree until smooth and season to taste. Add water (1-3 Tablespoons) as needed to adjust consistency.


Spicy pepper sauce

My harissa varies from batch to batch depending on what I have on hand, especially peppers (harissa can be made with fresh or dried peppers or a mixture of both) so measurements are not very precise. Adjust and season to your taste. The flavor and intensity of harissa develops with time, if possible, make a few days in advance of serving to let the flavors mingle.

- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 handfuls dried chilis, stems and seeds removed
- 4 big cloves garlic
- 1 bunch cilantro (about 1/2 c roughly chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
 - 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
 - 1/2 c olive oil, more as needed

1. Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Grind with spice mill or mortar and pestle.

2. Add peppers, garlic, herbs, spices and salt to food processor and rough chop. Add in olive oil and process until smooth, scraping down sides of processor as needed. Keep refrigerated in a tightly covered jar and add a light covering of olive oil to the top of the harissa before storing (similar to pesto). Harissa will store for up to a month.


Clare Carver said...

new to your blog your mom bought some wine from us and turned me onto you!! can't wait to read more!! cheers! Clare

(fellow farmer and winemaker)

Katia said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, always nice to meet fellow farmers!

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