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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Frugal Cooking: Diana Kennedy's Syrian Yogurt Sauce

As is probably evident from this blog, our family has its eccentricities. I suppose most families do--or, at least, I hope most families do. As a further exhibit of whatever it is that characterizes our family, here is an email exchange between Frugal Son and Frugal Scholar.

Frugal Son: I had a dream last night that made me think of a dish you once cooked and now I want to know the recipe. In my dream I was at the Union at the pasta bar and I was asking them to put yogurt on my pasta along with some chicken. When I woke up, I remembered that you actually once made something like that and I remember how well the tartness of the yogurt complimented the chicken. Any help here?

Frugal Scholar: This is from Diana Kennedy's Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food. It's called Syrian Yogurt Sauce with Cooked Meat. Kennedy notes that it's especially good with cooked lamb or chicken. Hence it would be great for a rotisserie chicken, a fairly cheap boon for college students and harried working people.

Cook 1 onion in 2 TBS butter--caramelize it.

Put 1 beaten egg in 2 cups plain yogurt. Cook over lowish heat, stirring till it bubbles and thickens.

Add 1/4 cup (optional) broth to yogurt mix.

Add 2 cups cubed, cooked meat, salt and pepper. Stir till heated through. Sprinkle with dried mint.

Kennedy forgets to mention the onion again, but either stir it into the melange or use as a topping.

Serve with bulgur or brown rice...or white rice...or couscous. All would be better than pasta.

This book, which is out of print, and being offered for a ridiculous price at Amazon and a much lower price at Powell's Books, is in one of my favorite genres: the personal cookbook, with a heavy dose of eccentricity, and wonderful stories. Kennedy is mainly known for her Mexican cookbooks, which are classics in the cookbook field.

But I love this one the most, for its stories as much as for its recipes.

Kennedy, who is British, was an adventurous young woman, much like Julia Child. Kennedy married a journalist, traveled and cooked, and, widowed, built an ecological house in Mexico, where, I hope, she still lives. I once met someone who had interviewed Kennedy and said she was a classic dotty Englishwoman, utterly charming and opinionated. And eccentric. No wonder I love her cookbook. The recipe is delicious too.


Duchesse said...

Most definitely alive, and a treasure.
Love her, think she lives in Michoacan.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Have you met her? A treasure is right.