Dolma & Bastilla

A Mediterranean plate of Dolmathes (dolma) and Bastilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie).

Last week we went back to the classic Middle East for a few reasons.  We had quite a time with grains and beans the week before, and had stretched the envelope of traditional fare more than I had expected.  That and we wanted to explore Prom food options that might be easy, in budget and enjoyable.
So first up, lavash.  Rolled flat bread with a few kinds of spreads to fill and roll, in much the way we rolled maki sushi:  a traditional version with our own housemade hummus with lettuce and vegetables and a westernized version with a turkey and herbed cream cheese interior.  Hands down, they enjoyed eating the slices when compared to finger sandwiches, but the overall consensus was that the hummus thing wouldn’t fly at Prom.  Most students had not had hummus before, many liked it, but there was concern that prom goers would be afraid of it.  But rolled turkey, rolled steak(what?! in budget??), rolled cheeses, definitely.  They loved the ease of boom, 10 sandwiches in one movement.  We agreed we’d make smaller ones for prom, so there would be less danger of spills on a beautiful outfit.  The things one needs to think about when preparing food..
Next we got out jars of brined grape leaves and made dolma.  I love dolma, but have never actually made them, and I have to say, they are even better when you make them yourself (as with pretty much everything else).  Students enjoyed rolling them, liked seeing that we then weighed them down while they were steaming, but they did not like the idea of eating them cold the next day.  They did break them open to taste the rice filling, a pilaf flavored with onions, dill, allspice and currants.  I could hear “it’s not that bad” whispers at the other end of the table as we ate.
And finally, phyllo dough.  Loved it, just wished we had more time to bake. We made a sheet cake version of the Moroccan chicken pie, Bastilla, and also made triangles of Spanikopita and cylinder rolls filled with sweetened cream cheese and strawberry sauce. Between our short class period and our eager eaters, desserts sometimes don’t make it on the plate, but the approval on working with phyllo dough is still on the table.