Introduction to The Cave

I have 2 friends that happen to be married to each other. They have a very nice large garden level condo (that means basement in Chicago). Typically at least once a week we get together and do a combination or all of the following; crafting, cooking, drinking and gaming. Last night was all mentioned. Since I frequent their home so often I will for now refer to it as The Cave. Last night I had a lot of raw product that I needed to use up. I had run out of time (as always) and hadn’t gotten to any cooking. I was feeling Middle Eastern and with the items I had on had I came up the following menu;  roasted spaghetti squash, a Moroccan inspired tomato based sauce, kubbideh, pita and some goat cheese. I was cooking without a net, but made sure to write down as close to possible the ingredient amounts.

The tomatoes were left from the massive amounts of green tomatoes I pulled off the plants the day before our first freeze last month. Most of them had ripened and those that haven’t will be made into green tomato jam today. I used Zahtar in 2 of the recipes so included my blend that I make. I took lots of in action photos as well.


An aromatic mixture from North Africa, which is also found in Turkey and Jordan, zahtar is a spice blend comprised of sesame seeds mixed with powdered sumac and dried thyme. Zahtar can be found in Middle Eastern markets. It is sprinkled on meatballs or vegetables, and used as a dip. It can be mixed to a paste with olive oil and spread on bread before baking.



1 cup thyme
½  cup sumac powdered
1 tsp sea salt
4 tablespoons sesame seeds


Dry roast the sesame seeds over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Allow to cool, and then mix with the sumac and thyme. Grind the thyme, sumac, salt and sesame seed in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder until you obtain a fine powder.

Stored in an airtight jar, the blend will keep for 3-4 months.


Roasted spaghetti squash ready for eating

spaghetti squash

Squash preparing to go into oven, they are wrong side up in this picture.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Split squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a well oiled cookie sheet lay squash skin side up. Oil skin side

and poke with sharp knife to pierce skin 3-4 times.  Place in center rack and back 45-75 minutes. Squash is finished when skin side in tender to a dish towel clad finger pokes it. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes. Using a kitchen towel pick up skin side and use a fork to pull strands into bowl.

Vegetarian Moroccan Tomato Sauce

3-4 lb               fresh tomatoes, peeled

3                      yellow onion, peeled and rough chopped

8 clove             peeled garlic

½ bunch          parsley

3                      carrots, peeled and rough chopped (I used white carrots)

¼ cup              olive oil

1 cup               raisins

1 large can       Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (1ln 13oz size can)

1 cup               wine (red is best but used white zin)

3                      bay leaves

2 tsp                sweet curry powder

2 Tbl.               Cinnamon, ground

1 Tbl.               Cumin, ground

1 tsp.               coriander, ground

1 Tbl.               Zahtar

¼ tsp.              cloves, ground

¼ – ½ cup        sugar

To taste           salt and pepper

In boiling water blanch tomatoes for 30sec-1min so skins will be peelable. Cool in cold water and peel skins off. Set tomatoes aside in bowl.


Tomatoes after quick work in food processor

In food processor (or by hand) pulse to chop; onions, garlic, carrots, parsley and olive oil. In a large pot heat up 2tbl of canola oil and add chopped veggies. Saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. While cooking, puree tomatoes in food processor.

Once vegetables are ready add all the spices and herbs. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add  wine and simmer for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half. Add tomatoes, raisins and garbanzo beans. Stir well, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and stir well. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.  At this point adjust sugar, cinnamon and any other spice flavors to your preference. Sauce should be reduced down to a thick ragu.


Fresh from the broiler


1.5  lb              ground turkey

1.5 lb               ground beef

(any combination of ground meat can be used lamb, chicken pork etc.)

3                      onions, peeled and rough chop

12 cloves         peeled garlic

½ bunch          parsley


Here is the kubideh being molded

1 Tbl.               Zahtar

1/3 cup                        olive oil

1 tsp.               coriander, ground

1 ½-2 tsp         salt

½ tsp               black pepper ground

In food processor grind fine onions, garlic, parsley and oil. Put into large bowl abd add remainder of ingredients. Mix well, with hands is best. Line a large sheet pan with foil and form long logs on the pan of the meat mixture (see photos)

Place in refrigerator until cooking time. Cook under broiler on high heat until tops of logs are browned and logs feel firm to touch. Serve with pita etc. These can also be formed onto metal skewers and done on the grill.


Before going into the oven

The final product before we tore into it is pictured below.

Middle eastern dinner

About queenofone

I was in the food biz for over 20 years and still love food more than ever. I knit, create, write, mother, date, live and get angry. All I share here and hopefully with some kick ass pics to boot.
This entry was posted in cool stuff, foodie news, recipes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Introduction to The Cave

  1. Stephan says:

    It was awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Benjamin says:

    So this is you trying to get me to move back to Chicago I take it? Cause it’s tempting seeing that and remembering my one night of cooking with you in the cave.

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