Month of July: “Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume” Recipe: Suzme Rolled in Za’atar, Sumac and Pistachios and Syrian Bread with Thyme Flowers

July 25th is a day for those of us who know Abby to remember and celebrate her would be 55th year. Happy Birthday my sister wherever your spirit resides! I have a delicious lunch prepared for us today. I know Abby would have preferred fish tacos with avocado, papaya, pineapple and mangos but this month we are not doing Mexican dishes. We are in the Eastern Mediterranean region so we will have to settle for suzme, which is a twenty four hour drained yogurt mixed with goat cheese and rolled in spices. We are serving this with homemade Syrian bread and a side salad of greens with lemon and pomegranate molasses. Above is a freshly picked bouquet of thyme from my garden and any bouquet of flowers often reminds me of Abby. She loved flowers and she was brilliant at arranging and growing them. Thyme is derived from the Greek word thymus which means courage. This is so fitting and I swear these things just play out without any planning. Abby was courageous in a myriad of ways, it’s one of the characteristics of her personality that drew me to her; she was fearless. So on this summer day in the sign of Leo, I humbly offer her this floral symbol in her honor. Thank you for knowing me…I love you eternally.

Suzme Rolled in Za’atar, Sumac and Pistachios

Ingredients: 1 quart whole milk plain yogurt, not Greek style, 7 ounces of goat cheese, 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios, 2 tablespoons Za’atar (recipe in previous post) 2 tablespoons crushed sumac, sea salt and pepper, 2 pieces of cheescloth, wild greens for serving, warm crusty bread for serving.

  1. One or two days in advance make the suzme by placing the yogurt in the center of the cheesecloth. Standing over a sink, twist the muslin around the yogurt until you have a tight ball and tie it to the tap overnight. You will end up with a thick consistency which is know in the Eastern Mediterranean as suzme. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  2. On the day of serving: Place the suzme in a bowl with the goat cheese and combine until mixed and smooth. Shape the mixture into ovals. Roll 1/3 into za’atar, 1/3 into sumac and 1/3 into pistachios.
  3. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Syrian Za’atar Bread with Thyme Flowers

Ingredients: 3/4 cup warm water (105-115F), 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk, 4 2/3 cup all purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons za’atar, scant 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons thyme flowers

  1. In a bowl combine yeast with warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the warm milk. Sift flours into a large separate bowl and make a well. Add the liquid to the flour and combine. Knead into a soft sticky dough.( I found the recipe needed less flour so I added the flour a little at a time.) Shape into a ball and place in a flour dusted bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 475F. When the dough has risen punch it down once with fist to knock out air. Cut the dough into 16 pieces rolling each piece into a ball. Using a rolling pin flatten them into disks, 5 inches in diameter. Arrange with disks on baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Miz the za’atar with olive oil and drizzle over the risen disks. Press the disks down with your thumb and season liberally. Bake for about 4-5 minutes until they puff up, keeping an eye on their progress. as this bread can burn very easily.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh thyme flowers and serve warm or cold.

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