When I first heard about Lulu Powers, she was described to me as “the British version of Martha Stewart”. I perked up over that sentence for two reasons. One: I am caught in this crazy love affair with British talk shows and celebrities (BBC Canada is one of my favourite channels) and two: Martha Stewart terrifies and fascinates me with her “good things”, perfect ways and delicious recipes. So flipping through Lulu’s entertainment book gave me great, simple ideas on hosting some awesome summer dinners.
I decided to make her Lahmajoons on page 214. Lahmajoons are Armenian pizzas, and I love trying new ethnic recipes. And the best part was that I didn’t have to make dough from scratch or hunt for hard to find ingredients – they were all at my neighbourhood grocery store just begging to be bought and cooked.
And so here I go:
The recipe lists that the onions and green peppers be finely chopped – and mine were not. Remember watching those infomercials for the Magic Bullet or SlapChop and thinking nothing much of them? Well, this was the perfect time to have one handy. So my veggies were a bit on the larger side. The smell of freshly chopped mint was amazing, as was the parsley (which was fresh from the garden), but I didn’t add the cilantro because I’m not a fan of it, and went a bit heavier on the other two to make up for the lack of third herb. The recipe also suggested Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, but I checked the difference between this and the generic one I had on hand and there wasn’t anything really different. I think that as long as your seasoned salt has no MSG you should be merrily on your way to making this dish.
*Technically you shouldn’t have MSG in anything you consume, so there’s my public service announcement of the day.
The next stage was the best part. My girl Lulu says to get into the meat with your hands and really work all the ingredients in. What a great way to unwind after a long day at work! Squishing your hands into this meat concoction is a great stress reliever – and the awkward squirty sounds of the mixture makes for a few chuckles in the kitchen.
I tested out the lamb by making a small patty and frying it in a pan to see if it needed more seasoning, and it was just right. So onto prepping the tortillas – I opted for small, whole wheat ones to add a bit more nutritional value, and they were the right size for individual lahmajoons. I unfortunately left my silicone mat at my parents’ house, so I sprayed my cookie sheet with a bit of oil so they wouldn’t stick.
If you like your tortilla crispy, then having them on the pan like this gives it that crunch – but you also need to watch it! My first two were a bit…tanned around the edges. So the next two I put on another cookie sheet with foil and baked for about 12 minutes. These pizzas weren’t as crisp, and I actually preferred the first ones. I finally figured out that 13 minutes on the cookie sheet without foil brought the best texture. So depending on how you like your pizza “crust”, let them hang out in the oven or take them out sooner.
And the final verdict: delicious! I was a bit worried about my veggies being too big, but they added a nice contrast to the meat. The seasoning had a little bit of kick and was very aromatic, kind of like a unfolded, Middle Eastern-inspired taco. I garnished mine with a few baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes from the garden, a wedge of lemon and a glass of shiraz. A perfect way to end a balmy summer evening.