What was once a Soframiz review is now a Sofra vs Kareem’s curiosity post

I’m always of two minds when it comes to Middle Eastern cooking.

On the one hand, I know that I love Middle Eastern food.  There’s a restaurant a couple of towns away from me called Kareem’s, where I learned how wonderful and diverse Middle Eastern food really was.  It’s more than hummus, kabobs, and baklava.  I discovered muhammara, ma’moul, kanafa, and so much more.

But enjoying middle eastern food doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel an urge to cook it at home.  I’ve learned a few wonderful recipes over the years, but I just never make them.

For the longest time, I only owned one Middle Eastern cookbook in my personal library.

I now own two books.

Soframiz, by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, is a title that I waffled about picking up a copy.  The recipes are from/inspired by Sofra Bakery and Cafe, a locally acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant.

9781607749189

Full disclosure – I haven’t been to Sofra yet.  I know I’m ridiculous considering how not-far-away it is from me.  I almost didn’t pick up the cookbook.  But my older sister has been there, and she was quick to tell me to give it a go.  (And I’m sure that she wants to borrow it for herself.)

Skimming through the cookbook, there’s something adventurous about all the recipes.  True, there’s the ubiquitous recipe for shakshuka.  However, more often than not, there are recipes that I’ve never even heard of like cheese borek with nigella seeds (borek appears to be a type of pie).

Some recipes that have peaked my interest?

  • tahini brioche loaves
  • asure (breakfast grain pudding)
  • olive oil granola
  • yufka (unleavened bread dough)
  • chicken shwarma with garlic sauce and greens
  • chicken and walnut borek
  • tahini shortbread cookies
  • milky walnut fig baklava (I would love to know how Sofra’s baklava compares with Kareem’s.  So far, Kareem’s is my favorite.)
  • almond rose cake
  • kunefe (Also curious as to how Sofra compares with Kareem’s on dessert.)
  • orange blossom lemonade
  • tahini hot chocolate

So far, I’ve only made the shwarma spice mix.  I haven’t used it for real shwarma but I have experimented cooking with it a little.  It’s quite warming on the tongue, and perfumed.  Very bold flavor, maybe too bold.  I made a batch of spiced chickpeas stewed in tomatoes, and some spiced meatballs.  While both were enjoyable, I’m considering simplifying the spice mix.  I’ll probably make the chicken shwarma recipe from the book before cementing my decision.

The photos are downright delightful looking.  I would love for someone to make all that food for me to taste.  (I guess I should really just hoof it over to Sofra, right?)  I’m having trouble finding a photo that I don’t think looks appetizing.  The food take center stage, free from any unnecessary background noise, and free from any insane photoshopping.  (To this day, I don’t like food photos that are heavy on the contrast.)

There are really no bad points to Soframiz.  I guess I can thank my sister for nudging me to pick up a copy.

Having said that, will I really step out of my comfort zone and cook from Soframiz?  I’m not really sure.

(I will, however, make the lemonade.  I don’t care of it’s the wrong season for it.  I even bought lemons already.  I can’t lie:  I really like the orange blossom lemonade at Kareem’s.  I don’t have the recipe, and I haven’t been able to replicate it on my own.  I’m insanely curious to see how the Soframiz recipe will compare.)

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Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

Reference Links:

http://www.sofrabakery.com/

http://www.kareemsrestaurant.com/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/258239/soframiz-by-ana-sortun-and-maura-kilpatrick/

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Summer/Fall 2014

Look!  Pictures as promised!

There are probably more pictures I should upload but this is all I remember.

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

kale2

tuscano kale in my garden

kale1

red kale in my garden

lobster and peach dish  at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

lobster and peach dish at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

Kareem’s is a place in Watertown that serves dinner on the weekends (otherwise, it’s dedicated for catering and cooking classes).  An entree is typically around $25, but the food is fresh and lovely.  Chef Ahmad is very talented.  He also makes delicious desserts.  Expect the menu to rotate with the season.

let's talk about food festival swag

let’s talk about food festival swag

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014.

I meandered through the Let’s Talk About Food festival by myself this year.  It’s not as fun when you’re alone.  It was smaller this year, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I found that having two demo locations last year to be overwhelming.  So, I’m glad that there was only one demo location, but the down side is that it meant fewer demos this year.

I had a lot of homework looming over my head that weekend, so I didn’t stick around for too long.

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

I still love the Salty Pig.  I was there on a Saturday with some friends for lunch.  Menu set up is a little different on lunch, than dinner or Sundays.  We ordered sampler boards instead of the normal charcuterie/cheese a la carte.   The Salty Pig board came with (I think):

Porchetta, SP Kitchen, MA Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder, Fennel Pollen, Rosemary
Stracciatella, SP Kitchen, MA Mozzarella Style Pulled Cheese Marinated Olives
N’duja Rillette, SP Kitchen, MA Smoked Pork, Calabrian Chili, Sea Salt

While I think our Farmstead board was:
Manchego de Corcuera, SPA Sheep, Aged 3 Months, Rich & Buttery
Pont L’Evêque, Normandy, FRA Cow, Washed Rind, Soft & Strong
Vermont Wildflower Honey
Marcona Almonds
Stravecchio, Veneto, ITA 
Cow, Aged 12 Months, Sweet & Nutty

I also ate a Broccoli Rabe pizza with Ricotta Salata, Lemon, Garlic, Chili.  No pictures because we devoured it so quickly, but it was delicious.  Definitely different, but no less awesome.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Salty Pig, I highly recommend it.