There’s a platter loaded with all the things I’ve been holding on to so tightly. I’ve got it in my outstretched arms, hoping the precariously balanced load won’t topple over before I can let it go. My fingers have been clenched so tightly around each item, grasping for control.
As if brought in by the winds of seasonal change, this last month has come with significant doubt, mental upheaval, physical pain. It’s brought back past issues I thought were well behind me. All month, I have been holding fast to each day, fingers still entrenched in the managing, yet knowing there is something within trying to break free.
Perfectly situated in this storm are the conversations I’ve been having. They are purely surface conversations and so ingrained are my answers that I toss them out before I think of how I truly want to respond. I’ve spent the better part of 27 years dishing out as little about myself as possible and I purposely avoid asking the tough questions of others because questioning too, might reveal too much. The conversations that haven’t been happening are more honest and they’re haunting me day and night, telling me I’ve got to start being more real.
I had a moment in adoration a couple weeks ago, bulldozed by a message that broke me completely open, empty, crying, hanging on to a vision and His firm truth. That same message has been bouncing off the cavern walls in my mind ever since and each time doubt comes, the message is there, lurking in the background, telling me to trust the process.
As I look at the platter, it’s contents are overwhelming. I hold out my arms as far as I can, shoving it further away. All it takes to let go is deciding. I don’t need to be in control anymore. Hand it over. Trust. The lesson is in the unknowing.
Interspersed with all this internal struggle is the art of everyday living, and in that we’ve been eating these mini galettes. They are extra-spicy, sweet, and comfortable all in one. Our garden’s eggplants finally got ripe and the makings of this recipe have been in the back of my brain for months waiting oh-so-patiently for those plants to yield. The first batch had cayenne and a healthy dose of black pepper, and only jalepeños in the harissa, and it was a touch spicy without enough sweet balance. We threw in raisins because raisins-go-in-everything-round-these-parts, and ditched the cayenne and black pepper. Will complained they lost too much oompf, so the black pepper is back. Seriously, no, we don’t really need to eat black pepper, jalepeño, spicier-harissa and cayenne-infused pie. So we’ll just stick with the first three and it’s perfect. If you’re not such a spice-fan, ditch the jalepeño all-together, cut back on the black pepper, and if you’re purchasing harissa, taste it before adding the entire amount! Do make these though–or request an invite to dinner–because the time has come, both for eating rustic little Moroccan-inspired pastries and getting comfortable in the unknowing.
Moroccan Eggplant Mini-Galettes with Chickpeas and Harissa, makes 8
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 jalepeño, diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup harissa
1 recipe Quinoa and Olive Oil Pastry
Quinoa and Olive Oil Pastry, adapted from “Small Plates and Sweet Treats”
1 cup brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cups almond flour
1/2 cup garbanzo-fava flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
For the pastry:
1. Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to aerate the ingredients. Add the olive oil and 1 cup cold water. Pulse until the dough comes together.
2. Transfer the dough to a work surface, knead it a couple of times and press it into a disk. Wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Make the filling:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant, garlic, jalepeño, and onion, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the beans, raisins, apricots, and spices, and harissa. Taste to adjust seasoning, if necessary.
2. Divide the pastry dough into 8 equal pieces. Dust a work surface with brown rice flour and roll each piece into roughly an 8-inch circle. Spoon 3/4-1 cup filling into the center and pile the edges up around it, pinching it as you go. Transfer the galette to a baking pan, and follow the same process with the remaining 7 pieces.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for about 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Cover the galettes as necessary with foil to prevent excessive browning and bake until done, about 20 more minutes. Let the galettes cool slightly before eating.
Harissa, adapted from “Jerusalem”
1 red sweet pepper
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted and ground in a spice grinder
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
3 serrano chiles, coarsley chopped
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
For the harissa:
1. Place the pepper, on foil, under the broiler in the oven, turning it occasionally for about 10 minutes, until it is blackened on the outside and completely soft. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool. Peel the pepper and discard the skin and seeds.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic, and chiles for 10-12 minutes until they start to become caramelized.
3. Now turn the sweet pepper, onion/hot pepper mixture, and remaining ingredients into a food processor. Blitz everything together until it becomes a smooth paste.