My work at the farmers market is all about education. It is my task to educate others about anything from foods full of fiber to the best way to store your leafy greens. And so it is always a treat when I go to work and receive some education for myself!
As the rain rolled in at La Marqueta Youthmarket on 116th and Park I could think of no better treat to take home than warm, freshly baked bread. I headed down to the incubator kitchen space to see what was baking at Hot Bread Kitchen. Their mission is to increase economic security for foreign-born and low-income women and men. By providing space in incubator kitchens, these inspiring entrepreneurs make multi-ethnic breads from local and organic ingredients. Thanks to Hot Bread Kitchen and their mission to “br-educate” New Yorkers about the tasty and important contributions of immigrant communities, I discovered a traditional bread variety that I fell absolutely in love with- m’smen.
There were so many tasty treats I almost couldn’t decide what to get, but the woman sitting at a cafe table enjoying her coffee and goodies completely sold me on trying m’smen. M’smen is a traditional Moroccan flatbread that simply melts in your mouth. It’s crisy on the outside, but soft and doughy inside. HBK makes theirs with pure organic wheat flour, semolina, and lots of rich butter, giving the bread its perfect flaky texture. Three Moroccan flatbreads (and one chocolate Mexican concha!) came home with me after a rainy day at work.
Traditionally, m’smen is eaten for breakfast and is simply heated in a cast-iron skillet (or fresh from the oven) and drizzled with honey, accompanied by a cup of mint tea. My first flatbread was eaten in this traditional style with a few additions.
After warming the flatbread, I laid down a light layer of whipped cream cheese, topped it with sliced yellow peaches, and of course, drizzled some local honey over the fruit. Fold and enjoy!
As if my first m’smen creation wasn’t sweet enough, I think I gave myself an instant cavity with my next snack! All I needed was three ingredients: m’smen, butter, and maple syrup. Traditionally, Moroccans would dunk warm flatbread in a melted mixture of butter and honey. I am a sucker for maple syrup and prefer it to sweeten most food and drink, and so it was a natural substitution in my mind. Words cannot even describe the deliciousness of this snack! The m’smen was the perfect doughy vessel to soak up the maple butter.
If savory varieties are more your style you might enjoy the snack I made the following day. A quick note about the m’smen- it is undoubtedly best eaten fresh on the day of purchase, but you can also keep it in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them if you really can’t devour them that quickly. Now back to my savory version…
A generous shmear of homemade “baba ganoush” topped with crumbled feta. My brain must’ve not been working properly when I went to the grocery to pick up a few pantry items because I completely forgot the tahini for the baba ganoush. Hence, what I created is really more of a roasted eggplant and pine nut spread, but delicious all the same. My boyfriend’s father says my baba ganoush is “restaurant quality!” but I think this is a pretty good substitution.
Roasted eggplant spread
- 2 medium eggplant
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves of garlic
- juice of 1 lemon
- parsley (for garnish)
- Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Generously rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay face down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until flesh is very soft.
- Toast pine nuts lightly in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Add nuts, lemon juice, and garlic to a food processor.
- When eggplant is roasted and somewhat cooled, scrape out the insides and add to the food processor. I threw in the skins of one eggplant for texture.
- Blend all ingredients together until smooth and serve with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
The possibilities of filling, toppings, and dips to go along with m’smen are clearly endless!