This is what dinner looks like when I have no idea what to make, nothing in fridge and limited time. It was born of my curiosity about buckwheat flour, the fact that kale lasts for quite a while in the fridge and that I always try to keep a pound of ground turkey around for just these sorts of nights. This dish comes together quite quickly. Flavor builds upon texture as the vegetable and proteins comprise a delicate framework for a singular dish. The earthy taste of the buckwheat serves as an excellent platform for the chermoula spice paste, the North African flavor base for the rest of the meal. The sweet raisins and salty, ground almonds play as a counterpoint to the finely minced and flavored turkey, which is then tempered by a cool drizzle of yogurt, fragrant mint leaves, a splash of olive oil and a hint of cilantro. This yogurt topping is well worth it. I just left it out of the photos because when you live in a pre-war building in NYC they start piping heat in on high in October. You can leave the radiators off all you want, the heat pipes will ensure that your face and any cold ingredients will melt within minutes, especially when you have a pipe in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, one in the bedroom and two near your dinner table. Forget sleeping with covers.
Not every meal comes from a recipe, but I’m starting to find when you cook enough of them you end up improvising things that may end up delicious. Sometimes they’re failures, but we eat them anyway. As long as I continue to expand, learn and grow, nothing can really be a complete failure. This one works. I discovered the wonders of this spice mix in an Ottotenghi recipe, but I added a few things, changed the ratios, the protein and everything else really…And apparently I like buckwheat. I’d had it in Korean soups, but never in my kitchen. A keeper. Give it a shot. I will totally make this again.
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tomato chopped or 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 4 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
- ⅔ cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
- about 2 teaspoons mint, chopped
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives, halved
- ⅓ cup ground almonds
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
For the Buckwheat pancake batter
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups milk
To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Once mixed, combine in a medium bowl with ground turkey, Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a medium frying pan add a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. Add the chopped onion and let cook until translucent. Add the turkey. Let cook until brownish, add the tomatoes, cook for another 15-20 minutes. Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain the raisins and add them to the turkey. Add any remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
FOR THE BUCKWHEAT PANCAKE
In a large bowl, mix the buckwheat flour and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs in the center, slowly combine and stir the milk, melted butter and salt. Make sure to stir constantly and firmly so you won’t get lumps in the batter. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for at least an hour. Heat your oven on a low heat so you can place your pancakes to keep warm. When the batter is ready, melt a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan. Add one ladle of batter to form a pancake. Fry approx 2-3 minutes on a medium heat until golden. Flip sides and repeat.
Put it Together
Add a leaf of washed curly kale to the buckwheat pancake. Spoon the turkey on top. Spoon some yogurt on top if you wish and sprinkle with cilantro and mint and finish with a drizzle of oil.
I have so much good stuff coming up for you: I made the most amazing rustic Italian dinner last night with cannellini beans in a chicken broth reduction with brown butter and sage. It was Karen’s recipe with a twist. Seriously, it was one of the best meals I’ve made in a while and it can be done in under 45 mins. I also made an America’s Test Kitchen version of French apple cake that Ngan made, which you must see. I’ve got a short piece of fiction that I wrote with some recipes from my grandparents’ kitchens to share with y’all, which I’m nervous, but excited to publish here. OH and I’m secretly in love with someone in my apartment building. The other day we came home and someone had thrown away a bunch of books. The first was a literary journal with stories from Brooklyn (um, hello!). The second was “The Chateaux of France–A Travel Guide.” The third was “100 Best Places to Eat in America.” Hearts. This was two weeks ago. Today, when I went to throw out the garbage on my way to work I found a very old and heavily used Paul Bocuse pastry cookbook, about 50 old hard copy “Food and Wine” books and an oddly demolished Bobby Flay cookbook. There’s a lot to be said for rifling though the garbage in the morning. I wonder if this is all from the same person.
One last thing. A list for you. I’ve been curious about the allure of French cooking–and its effects on American cooking. Aside from seeping into many of my recipes and it becoming exacerbated by a trip to Quebec City this summer, it started me on a whole new genre of reading food writing. Here is a list of some of the most informative and interesting ones I’ve read lately. One thing I’ve learned from them, especially the pioneering women, is that I thought I was adventurous, precocious and modern. I’ve got nothing on these intrepid folks.Provence 1970 by Luke Barr The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman One Souffle at a Time by Anne Willan Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl The Gastronomical Me (and a few others) by MFK Fischer (but something about her makes me sad) A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (Thanks, David)
I also highly recommend the novel “All the Light we Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr which takes place partly in occupied France and partly Germany during WWII.
As for cookbooks, I’m coveting: Salt to Taste by Marco Canora (after eating in his restaurant Hearth twice) And I can no longer avoid the wonderful treatment of vegetables so I’ve elevated the priorities of Plenty, Plenty More, and Vegetable Literacy on my wish list. And added a prime lens. And world peace. Enjoy the week!