My mom kept, in a cupboard, the CT Junior Women’s Club plastic ring-bound book of recipes overstuffed with clippings, note cards, and labels, which she would consult approximately once per year for the family picnic when it was time to concoct her infamous crumpets stuffed with ambrosia. I don’t know how should could forget the proportions of this saccharine dessert: 1 can Dole pineapple rings in juice/1 bag Stella D’oro Anginetti Cookies/1 tub Cool Whip seems simple enough, but I suppose since they were such a favorite she felt compelled to keep ‘em consistent.
As much as I love the tactile paper nature of this organizational method, it hasn’t worked for me. I’ve moved almost every year since I graduated from high school. I don’t belong to a Ladies Auxiliary anywhere. And although I resisted computers for years, I have grown fond of cutting and pasting and dragging around little icons that I can double click. I couldn’t get through a day without looking up something I’d forgotten and just remembered, but barely, or read about or heard about or thought of. Plus, there’s the whole sharing and immediacy of features like “send to a friend” and “reply to all.”
This morning I woke up, checked my inbox and happily discovered that my excellent friend Missy had forwarded a recipe for a dip/spread/marinade that is going to haunt your dreams. Epic poems should be written for this condiment. Avenues ought to be be named after it. I am considering calling my first born son Muhammara, because I am so enamored of the delicate yet explosive flavor combination happening here.
Muhammara: Syrian Red Pepper Spread
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, flakes or 1 small red chile, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted (or whatever nuts you have- I use pecans if that’s all I can find. Almonds work too)
- 1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs (I just make a few slices of toast from whole grain bread and pre-crumb them in the food processor)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 to 3 roasted red peppers
- 1/2 to 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Using a hand blender or a food processor, puree the chile flakes, cumin, garlic, walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, and red peppers to a smooth, even consistency. Mix in the warm water in increments to achieve an easily spreadable consistency similar to a thick yogurt. If you’re going to use it for dipping, you might want to leave it a bit thicker. Stir in the salt and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Since Sunday, I have enjoyed Muhammara as a spread on hearty, whole-grain crackers, and as a marinade for meat that we grilled. I have also dunked a red pepper, a leaf of lettuce, a hunk of havarti and honestly, my index finger into this exotic delight. You will, too. Wash hands.
There are pros and cons of keeping your recipes digitally. In the “pro” column, I would have to say the absence of food stains and stickiness ranks high. Contrarily, the warmth and love and absentminded articles of history collected within the pages of my mother’s recipe book are impossible to replicate on this clickety clackety machine.