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Milk Street Middle East Meets London (Ep 502)


Cauliflower with Spiced Tahini and Garlic-Chili Oil

Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (30 minutes active), plus cooling
Servings: 4 to 6


This recipe melds the best qualities of two Middle Eastern–style cauliflower dishes we
tasted at two restaurants in London—Berber & Q Shawarma and The Barbary. We start by steam-roasting a whole head of cauliflower until tender, then slather it with a mixture of tahini and spices that caramelizes under a hot broiler. Grated fresh tomatoes and a pungent garlic-chili oil finish the dish, along with parsley and toasted pine nuts. To serve, cut into wedges as if serving a cake.

Don’t bother opening the foil packet to test the cauliflower for doneness; insert the
skewer through the foil. When making the garlic-chili oil, be careful not to overcook the
garlic and pepper flakes or the flavors will turn acrid. When the mixture sizzles gently, transfer it to a small bowl; it can scorch if left in the skillet.

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2-pound head cauliflower, trimmed
1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 ripe but firm tomatoes, halved
1⁄4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges to serve
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground sumac
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly brush the foil with oil. Place the cauliflower in the center, then draw up the edges of the foil; drizzle 2 tablespoons water onto the cauliflower, then enclose the head, folding and crimping the edges of the foil to seal.
Bake until a skewer inserted into the cauliflower meets no resistance, 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the wrapped cauliflower cool for 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil but leave it in place under the cauliflower; set aside to cool.

While the cauliflower cools, in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low, cook the oil, pepper flakes and garlic, stirring, until the mixture sizzles lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater set in a medium bowl, pressing the cut sides against the grater, until only the skin remains; discard the skins. Stir a pinch of salt into the tomato pulp and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the tahini and lemon juice. Then stir in 2 tablespoons water, adding more as necessary 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a smooth, spreadable paste. Stir in the cumin, sumac, cardamom, cinnamon and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.

Heat the broiler. Spread the tahini mixture onto the entire surface of the cauliflower, then broil until deeply browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and cool for about 5 minutes. Spoon the tomato pulp over the top, drizzle with the chili-garlic oil and
sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts. Serve with lemon wedges.


Almond-Coconut Cake with Cherries and Pistachios

Start to finish: 11⁄4 hours (20 minutes active), plus cooling
Servings: 10 to 12

In 2012 in London, Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer opened Honey & Co., a tiny restaurant that serves up thoughtfully prepared Middle Eastern comfort food. The couple has since opened Honey & Smoke and Honey & Spice and authored several books. This rustic cake is our adaptation of a recipe from their first title, “Honey & Co.: The Cookbook.” Dense, moist and filled from top to bottom with fruity, nutty flavor and texture, the cake is great as dessert, brunch or with coffee or tea. Honey & Co.
flavors it with mahleb, a baking spice made from the seeds from a variety of cherry; we
use easier-to-source almond extract. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room
temperature for up to three days.

Don’t use sweetened shredded coconut, as it will make the cake too sugary. Unsweetened shredded coconut—not wide shavings—is the right variety. If fresh cherries are out of season, don’t hesitate to use thawed frozen cherries—they’re equally tasty on the cake. Lastly, don’t worry that inverting the cake out of the pan will cause the toppings to fall off. The fruit and nuts are baked in, so only a couple small pieces may come loose, if any.

141 grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, melted and cooled, plus
more for the pan
100 grams (1 cup) almond flour
86 grams (2⁄3 cup) all-purpose flour
40 grams (1⁄2 cup) shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
106 grams (1⁄2 cup) plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
73 grams (1⁄3 cup) packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract
255 grams (9 ounces) fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted,
or 225 grams (11⁄2 cups) frozen pitted sweet cherries, thawed and
patted dry
48 grams (1⁄3 cup) unsalted roasted pistachios, chopped
Powdered sugar, to serve (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of kitchen parchment, then butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the coconut, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, the 106 grams (1⁄2 cup) white sugar, brown sugar and almond extract, then whisk until well combined. Whisk in the melted and cooled butter.
Whisk in the dry ingredients until homogeneous; the batter will be thick but pourable.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using your hands, tear the cherries in half over the batter, allowing the juice to fall onto the surface, then drop the pieces onto the surface in an even layer. Sprinkle with the pistachios and the remaining 1 tablespoon
white sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until barely warm to the touch, about 1 hour. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter. Lift
off the pan and peel off the parchment. Re-invert the cake onto a platter. If desired, dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

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To see other recipes from Christopher Kimball's Milk Street and other shows, visit Cooking with WSKG.