Tahini

Mamnoon's Chef Carrie Mashaney shares her Persian Stuffed Trout

Geometric shapes hang in 3’s dancing beneath neon stars. A colorful contemporary piece of art ballooning out with light prisms dispersing from the core, refracted and reflecting like a constantly shifting rainbow. In an instant, the feeling of love, protection, inspiration and peace move into the experience. Colors for all cultures, all people. A reminder that we are all welcome here.

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Meet chef Carrie of Mamnoon who’s love for cooking began in her childhood kitchen while bonding with her mom. Cooking was a family affair that extended beyond the home to encompass an American diner type of restaurant known for its welcoming environment, diverse guest base and comfort food fare. Different from the Middle Eastern cuisine her work focuses on today, though the hospitable and vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of a home away from home shares a commonality that likely contributed to the gravitational pull that landed her into the current executive chef role she now holds.

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PERSIAN STUFFED TROUT

Trout Filling

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  • 50g Barberries

  • 65g Golden Raisins

  • 62g Verjus (white)

  • 30g Olive Oil

  • 30g Garlic

  • 100g Shallots

  • 100g Green Onions

  • 15g Parsley

  • 15g Tarragon

  • 15g Cilantro

  • 15g Basil

  • 15g Dill

  • 15g Basil

  • 1tsp Dried Mint

  • Salt (to taste)

Trout Dust

  • 5-7 Trout (boneless & butterflied)

  • 2Tbls Angelica (ground)

  • 2Tbls Turmeric

  • 1 Tbls Black Lime (ground)

  • Salt (to taste)

Barberries in Turmeric Oil

Tarator Sauce

  • 1 cup Tahini

  • 1 clove Garlic (grated)

  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice

  • 1 Tsp Salt

  • 2-3 Tbls Water

Garnish

  • 1 cup Sliced Almonds (toasted)

  • 1 cup Leaves of Herbs (from above)

  • 1 cup Dried Rose Petals

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Preparation

  1. Heat the olive oil, barberries and turmeric together gently, whisk together. Set aside.

  2. For the Tarator sauce, puree the lemon juice with garlic. Add tahini and salt and water to desired consistency. Refrigerate overnight.

  3. Plumb barberries and raisins in warm verjus overnight. The same day, pat the trout dry and dust with trout dust. Refrigerate overnight.

  4. The next day, rough dice the onions and saute them with the oil with the garlic until soft and a little brown. Add the raisin mixture and reduce until all the liquid is gone. Pour into and pan and cool until room temp (can also be made a day ahead).

  5. Give all the herbs a very rough chop and fold them into the cooled raisin mixture. Season with salt to taste. Stuff in trout. Brush with turmeric oil from above and grill to perfection, brush with turmeric oil after. Garnish with a few picked herbs, almond, rose petals and barberries from the oil. Serve with tarrator sauce on the plate or on the side.

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When asked what Guests favor? The answer is everything. Though if she had to choose it would be the fattoush salad that changes seasonally. In the winter it’s made with winter vegetables and in the spring it has yogurt and eggplant.

For Carrie, the path towards becoming a chef was a winding experiment of curiosity, chance encounters and a return to the familiar. A love for baking led her to study pastry techniques in France. The excitement of traveling and making social connections had her working in the front and back of restaurants on both coasts while also doing a stint in Alaska. It was the loss of her mother and the comfort, love and connection she felt to her while cooking that led Carrie to more seriously consider a chef’s career.

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The reflective reevaluation that only loss can summon led to a pivotal moment that propelled Carrie forward, towards a path with purpose. Moving through time. Further away from where it all began, with and without her because all roads lead back to our mothers in the end.

Fate would plop her into highly valued positions as a pastry chef and cook at Cafe Juanita & Spinasse. It is there she would find a supportive and enduring friendship with Chef Jason Stratton of MBar that would encourage personal growth and pushing beyond areas of cooking that were familiar. When the opportunity came up to join the Mamnoon team as a pastry chef, acceptance was an easy yes. The many accolades of the restaurant, food and owners made the choice an easy sell. It’s not a coincidence that Carrie found a place and even more opportunity at Mamnoon to grow professionally for Racha and Wassef forever loyal and supportive of their staff and friends, value professional development and promotion from within.

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Racha and Wassef have supported Villa Jerada almost from the beginning when inventory consisted of a few core ingredients to a warehouse filled with high quality ingredients of the Levantine, Mediterranean and beyond. They are like family so to see their restaurants so successful gives us great pleasure and speaks to the authenticity and role they play in sharing such an old and special cuisine.

At the core of everyone’s story exist the influences that connect us back to our cultural and familial roots. Our presence forever swayed by the fibrous experiences branched out in various directions, anchoring and supporting us in our efforts propelling one upward, rising towards a future destined, even when not intentionally pursued.

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Our individual food memories are a small piece of a bigger food story. Food informs how we interact with people in the world and when shared in celebration of culture and flavor like at Mamnoon, it breaks down walls where isms erect them and invites us to imagine how food connects us to the human condition that celebrates food, culture and people across countries and time.

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Meet Chef Logon Cox of Homer - Beacon Hill's new neighbohood hot spot

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In the winding story to find the self, the path we hang our hooks on seldom reflects a catch from first cast. Practice, patience, perseverance and u -turns quite often come before the gathering. The bounty a chef’s career. For some cooking, serves as a utility, a task to feed the belly, a job to pay the bills, while for others, cooking represents a way of life, never a means to an end, rather, the start to a beginning, a conversation, a meal, an experience, an exchange. 

Meet Chef Logan of Homer restaurant on Beacon Hill, who found his way into kitchens at the age of 15 and continued working there while attending Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. Logan’s food story evolved from curiosity, exploration and dedication that had him scheduling classes around the Great Chefs Show long before the Food Network & studying CIA cookbooks in his free time. 

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Compelling choices acted upon reflect the moment a value moves from mere existing to a reality. A conscious choice made in the face of uncertainty had Logan switching from his music major to a major that would allow him a more comfortable schedule to work full time in kitchens, because he realized that his passion for food far outweighed his passion for music. Fortunate to work under chefs he admired along the east coast, then in Orvieto Italy before settling into a chef position at Sitka and Spruce in Seattle.

Though we may have missed out on enjoying Logan’s musical explorations, we enjoy his willingness to experiment with food in a way that celebrates the abundant flavor of other cuisines, while mixing with fresh, seasonal, NW ingredients. Today Logan makes Lamb Ragu with Tahini.

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TAHINI

  • 1/2 pint Tahini (Villa Jerada brand, of course)

  • 1 pint water

  • 3 lemons (juice of)

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

  • 5 raw garlic cloves

  • Salt to taste

In a blender (preferably a Vitamix) add your raw garlic cloves, lemon juice and rice wine vinegar.  Blend on the high setting until the garlic is finely minced and well incorporated into the juice and vinegar.  Leave this mix in the blender.  Add the water and blend on high to mix.  While the blender is running, slowly add the tahini in an even steady stream, making sure to stop adding tahini to gauge the texture of the sauce. Once you reach the consistency of something similar to thick buttermilk, stop. Add salt to taste. Place your now uber delicious tahini sauce in a container!

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LAMB RAGU

Serves 6

  • 1 boneless lamb shoulder

  • 1 quart lamb stock (beef or veal work too)

  • 1 pint thick full fat yogurt

  • 8 cloves garlic

  • 1 yellow onion (diced)

  • 3 inch piece ginger (peeled and julienned)

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 Tbls fennel seeds

  • 1 Tbls fenugreek seeds

  • 1 Tbls Aleppo chili 

  • 2 star Anise

  • 1 Tbls Berebere

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 6 sprigs thyme

  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

In a dutch oven (that has a lid) or large stock pot (also requires a lid), place on your stove top and set to the highest setting and add 3/4 cup of olive oil. Once the olive oil starts to smoke add your garlic, onions and ginger. With a wooden spoon move the "mirepoix" around until it gets lightly caramelized. Once caramelized add the the fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick & star anise.  Toast the spices in the oil with the vegetables until they release their fragrance. Immediately add the red wine, bay leaves and thyme and let reduce by half.  Gently place the whole lamb shoulder in the pot and add the stock. Cover the pot with a lid and place in your preheated oven.  

Let the lamb shoulder cook in the oven until it can be pierced with a fork with no resistance (think pulled pork). Remove the lid from the pan and let cook for 20 more minutes, fully caramelizing the lamb. Pull the pot out of the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the lamb and place on a large plate or serving bowl. It's ok if a few spices and seed sticks to it, they're edible and delicious! Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof container. Skim the fat from the strained liquid with a ladle and whisk in the yogurt, Berebere, Aleppo chili and salt to taste. Pour your now finished sauce over top of the lamb OR into a bowl for your guests to sauce their lamb however they like. 

You'll just need plenty of pita (I heard Homer has some good ones…), some pickled onions, raw lettuce and/or vegetables, fresh picked parsley, mint, dill & cilantro AND more Aleppo for heat.

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Logan admits that he is not an authority on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine though he has a strong affinity for the food, and the inspiration that follows. Mostly he loves the way that the dishes encourage sharing when brought to the table, which was how the meal was enjoyed at Homer on this day. When asked what dish customers order most, we’re told the spreads sell more than any other item, especially the Lamb Ragu on Tahini. People break bread at the table with warm pita straight from the oven served with delicious spreads. Sharing good food, in good company, happens without effort, exactly as the Homer experience was intended.

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Why VJ? “Every spice we use in the restaurant we buy from VJ. As well as the VJ Tahini. Their products are the best. When I was on the east coast, I used to buy from a spice merchant called "The Saffron King" out of NYC. He really sparked my interest for using high quality spices instead of the run of the mill you would get from a purveyor that would also sell you cleaning products. You just know the quality control isn't there. Villa Jerada has pristine quality and not just "luxury" spices but every seed, I know is going to be delicious.

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So many whys racing through the mind as we sit eating great food on a busy Friday night. Every table full by 6pm, with a line waiting near the door. A bright space with expansive windows dominates the front, great for curious eyes peering in on the drive home. The room acoustics vibrant as conversations from smiling faces flow forth like musical notes. Hues of whites, ocean and midnight blues, earthy yet dreamy, with natural woods to ground us in. The Homer team so welcoming, every member playing their part while they dance in tune with each other. A team that Logan credits with much gratitude for getting Homer up and running. Why the Ostrich walking with its head in the sand and what is it looking for? Gold light shining like the disk of the sun; food perhaps. Why Homer and why on Beacon Hill?

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Passion implanted on the path remind us that we have something special, a skill that needs practicing, something sweet and colorful that needs to be shared. For Logan, cooking professionally was the first part of his food story, the larger dream was always to open his own restaurant. The moment of realizing that it could be done, came from having the support and help from his wife Sara whose organizational skills and motivation were key in making Homer happen. 

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Ambition materialized brought about by love, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Homer is both an homage to Logan and Sara’s ball loving, snuggle inducing, eat everything in sight kind of pup, as well as, a tribute to the vivid memories of when the two ran a luxury adventure lodge near Homer Alaska that was accessible only by helicopter or float plane. They lived sparsely in a 10'x10' plywood cabin with one outlet and no running water. Simple living, humbled together in their tiny home, would form the foundation and inspiration for opening a neighborhood restaurant in the Beacon Hill area where they live, walk their dog and genuinely desire to be part of the fabric of the community. Homer, an extension of themselves feels like Home. Every meal has a story, and when we break bread and share food, we share community, connecting ourselves to the whole. 

Photographer - Alicia Pollett Food Stylist - Julia Whiteside

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