So, I do this whole KAC Food thing by myself. Copy, photos, site design and maintenance. Just me. So it can be extra rewarding when other people appreciate—or at least notice—the effort.
And every once in a while, I get rewarding with kind gestures, as I did most recently when Elaine (the friend of a mutual Facebook friend—and now new friend—who had been following KAC Food on Facebook) visited New York City from Tel Aviv, Israel, and brought for me a pack of za'atar, a common and traditional spice mix featuring toasted sesame seeds and comprising any number of other spices and ground dried herbs, including but not limited to salt, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and sumac.
I've had items seasoned with za'atar; last time though several years back, with a simple yet homey roasted potato dish, patatas, at Balaboosta. My Middle Eastern cooking experience is likewise limited, recalling the arais (grilled pita sandwiches with ground lamb) a couple of years ago as well.
So what better opportunity than presently with fresh (stored inside a sealed plastic bag inside another sealed plastic wrapped in tin foil inside a sealed plastic bag inside a sealed plastic bag!) za'atar to make my own new versions of both dishes.
I added a liberal amount of the seasoning to some ground lamb that I also added chopped onions, fresh cracked black pepper, and sundried tomato past to.
I sliced open a full pita and spread the ground lamb mixture fully covering one side, then topped it with the other half of the pita, and set it into a medium hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil.
I grilled both sides until the pita crisped up to a dark toasty golden brown, which was just enough time for the lamb mixture to cook through, rendering its own fat and steaming the aromatics all the way through.
The patatas—large-diced, tossed in olive oil and za'atar, then roasted in the over for about 30 minutes—were properly crispy on their outsides as well, and greatly highlighted the flavors of the spices, being roasted adding a nice pleasant smokey layer to the balance of flavors.
It was an unexpected gesture, and a greatly appreciated one. It's nice to think that I inspire others with all my food- and food blog-related efforts. And it's great when someone, even a new friend, returns the inspiration in kind.