By Joella Almeida
The last two days of the weekend had such wonderful sunny weather that today seems like such a drag. When it's too cold, I find it's best to either get cozy at home with a good movie or reminisce over warm summer memories. I'm going to do the latter, and I hope you are cozy at home reading this, so you get to do both.
Near the end of the summer, we attended a BBQ at our friend Sara's place where she offered to cook a light dinner. All of us brought a little something to contribute and in addition, every one who attended were guests on the site at some point and knew the importance of being considerate of Amanda's allergies.
Sara decided to make the meat skewers for the BBQ, Amanda brought some flavoured curried cauliflower that were served with spring onions as garnish and a lot of us brought fruit - grapes, peaches, strawberries and cherry tomatoes. A quick pasta salad was served with red peppers and red onions which was a nice touch. Surprisingly, I was the one person who had a loaf of zucchini bread with walnuts in it *thanks mom* so we kept that separately and cut it with a separate knife, avoiding serving any to Amanda.
I decided to ask Sara how she went about preparing for the evening BBQ, what steps she took, and if she found it cumbersome to manage.
What dressing or marinade did you use on the meat for the skewers?
For the BBQ pork tenderloin skewers: olive oil, cayenne pepper, za'atar, black pepper, salt, chicken breast cubes, red/green/yellow peppers, yellow and green zucchini, onion.
Marinate the chicken in the oil and spice mix overnight. Make the skewers right before bbqing. For Mandy's skewers, I used crushed oregano instead of za'atar as za'atar has roasted sesame seeds in it and I wasn't sure if she's allergic to that or if the za'atar mix had come in contact with nuts, as some varieties of za'atar have crushed pistachios in them. The za'atar I used was from Palestine, and I wasn't sure how strict they are with their allergen handling procedures there, so I stuck to regular crushed oregano for Mandy's tray.
What prep was required at home, in your kitchen before you started to cook?
I created two work stations, one for allergen-free space, and one for everything else. I worked on each one at a time. Once I was done with Mandy's tray, I wrapped everything in foil. Then I started working on the other tray. It was important not to multi-task so I wouldn't get mixed up. I cleaned my sink well before washing the fruits for the fruit basket, and I covered that in foil when I was done too.
And just for fun, what is an Iraqi dish you could recommend to someone with a 'peanut and dairy allergy' to try in Toronto? (And where would you find it?)
Iraqi food AND in Toronto? Haha, that's tough. There is Dr. Laffa, a Jewish Iraqi restaurant that makes falafel sandwiches with "amba". Amba is a traditional Iraqi mango pickle sauce that is spicy and sour. Growing up, my mom would add amba to boiled egg or falafel sandwiches (or laffas) during Lent, the Christian fasting period before Easter. "Laffa" is the Iraqi word for sandwich, and it translates to "roll", as in pita roll. You can get amba from Middle Eastern grocers like Adonis.
So finally, everything we ate was really easy to purchase and prepare, making the evening enjoyable and hassle free. It helped that everyone was very aware of Amanda's allergies but it didn't stop anyone from having a good time and even my walnut zuchini loaf got eaten up safely.