You may have noticed over the last couple of weeks that most of the photography has been the jaw-dropping work of the very talented lifestyle photographer Sarka Babicka. Over the last 3 years, Sarka and I have become close friends and several months back we decided to collaborate on a series of projects. What began as a weekend visit to my home in the West Country turned into a two-month long ‘rock and roll’ kibbutz experience. At the time, my sister and right hand woman on all projects Joslin was also here. Those two months were the most incredible, intense, insane, productive and the most boozy time of my (our) life… okay, maybe not the most boozy time, come to think of it!
Anyway, there were weeks on end of recipe testing to serve three different purposes, with dishes coming out of the kitchen all day, all night and right through the crack of dawn. Everything I cooked up would leave the kitchen for the adjacent studio, where the girls would style the scene before Sarka would snap her magic. There were even ‘project disassemble’ instances when the kitchen and even the entire living room were gently hurled outdoors to create moods and scenes.
On the first occasion, Chris (the hubby) returned home with no forewarning. His eyes quickly sweltered with anguish and with only his laptop remaining in a then very bare room, he could only reach out to Facebook for help: “I came home and the strangest thing happened- I found my living room in the backyard” his status update read. Not to worry, his anxiety would quickly dissipate over the weeks and soon nothing could phase him. Remember this video? This too was realised during those ‘looney tunes’ months though there were a few outdoor “disassemble” scenes that unfortunately for production reasons didn’t make it into the final footage filmed and edited by the rad brothers over at Raspberry & Jam.
So, with the past few months now behind us, we are confident in the fact that as a team we can rival Vogue lifestyle covers. Vogue, if you’re reading, we’re up for the challenge. Same goes for Delicious covers, if anyone in editorial happens to be reading. – cheeky, I know 😉
Oh by the way, have you seen the recent cover of Food Magazine? Yes, that’s Sarka’s picture and my mograbieh recipe.
And, all this was going on as we geared up for the launching of Food Blogger Connect 2012, the organising of the 4th edition of Taste Lebanon culinary journeys and all the while, I frantically raced to meet a looming deadline on another very big project (sorry for the vagueness). Then, just when I thought I was going to have a breather (or a detox), the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism asked me to throw together an impromptu Press Trip to Lebanon for a handful of UK journalists.
- 30g/1oz barberries or cranberries
- 45 ml/1½ fl oz/3 tbsp verjuice or cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp caster sugar (optional)
- pinch of cinnamon
- 10g/1/4oz/1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
- 400g/14oz lamb minced
- 1 medium green chilli, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
- olive oil, for frying
- 6 iceberg or other round lettuce leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- The day before the dish is to be eaten, soak the barberries in twice their volume of water for about 10 minutes, then drain and remove the stems.
- Put the barberries, verjuice, sugar and cinnamon in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the mixture is just syrupy but not completely set. Remove from the heat, stir in the pistachios and leave to cool. Transfer to a lidded container and set aside overnight.
- Put the lamb, chilli, garlic, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses and coriander leaves in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Pinch off a very small portion of the mixture and shape it into a burger patties.
- Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the burger for about 2–3 minutes on each side. Once cooked, leave to cool for 2 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning for the remainder of the mixture accordingly. Cover and set aside in the fridge overnight, unless making on the day.
- The next day, bring the mixture back to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking, then shape it into 6 burgers. Cook the burgers under a grill or on a barbecue for 2–4 minutes on each side, depending on your preference. Alternatively, cook them in a griddle pan or sauté pan over a medium-high heat on the hob for 2 minutes on each side. Serve each burger on one of the lettuce leaves topped with some of the barberry-pistachio relish.