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Posts Tagged ‘Recipe’

Organic Disaster Defused -- Stuffed and Divine

The monster peppers I received today were sweet, not spicy.  I went ahead and stuffed them all.  Because of an embarrassing situation that has ensued (we’re out of gas — can you believe it — and we can’t figure out which gas company is ours — stupid, stupid), I had to make something 100% in the electric oven.  The approximate steps I took –

  • Sliced peppers vertically and de-seeded
  • Soaked a combination of quinoa, red lentils, and white rice in boiling water (from kettle) while I –
  • Chopped 5 medium tomatoes, 1 onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 handful of parsley
  • Drained the water from the rice mixture and added to the vegetable mixture
  • Drizzled olive oil, added salt, pepper, chili, oregano, and thyme
  • Stuffed all of the peppers, set them in a baking pan, drizzled with more olive oil, salt, pepper, ketchup, a couple dashes of soy sauce, and a cup of water.
  • Cover with foil, place in a 190 C (390 F) oven for around an hour (keep checking after 40 minutes), until the filling is fully cooked and the pepper so soft it’s practically falling apart.

Fantastic results.

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The overabundance of organic-ness combined with Valentine-monotonousness led to these. Home made chips.  Or fries. Or wedges.  Whatever you call them.

These small waxy fragile spuds needed to be cooked soon.  Cut them into strips, placed in a small metal oven pan casserole thing (I think it was a tray from a former toaster oven…amazing what we save).  Drizzled olive oil liberally.  I added salt, pepper, chili powder, ground coriander, tiny touch of cumin, sprinkle of sumac, and lots of sweet paprika. Tossed it all to coat.  Stuck ’em in a hot oven for about — can’t say — maybe 20 minutes, stirring some in the middle.  Finished them off under the broiler for a couple minutes to make up more crisp.  Now that I think of it, in the future I’d try doing the reverse.  Broil first to crisp the outside (in the manner of browning), and then letting the insides bake slowly.

They were lovely, though.  Take a closer look.

Eaten with some mayonnaise and a glass of Scotch in front of my laptop, catching up on American reruns.  Happy V-Day indeed.

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Some places are worth visiting just for the ambiance

And when living in Tel Aviv — sometimes you just want to get away.

Italy is always a perfect choice.

It was the second time I had visited Rustico, a charming, warm, stylish, (and if I’m honest – sexy) eatery.  The walls are artificially weathered, the paneling is a multicolored wooden puzzle, the authentic wood-burning pizza oven warms the chilly night air away, and the bar…is just a lot of fun.

As usual, it was crowded, and we didn’t have a reservation.  Luckily, as we were only three, there was space at the bar.  This turned out to be quite fortuitous — bar-side seats provide a bird’s eye view of ALL the cooking action.  That’s bravery for you — a kitchen that’s open for everyone to see — no need for a chef’s table here.

Our view...and our pastas being prepared

Simplicity is often the best policy

Here I must mention that I’m not a creature of habit. Sometimes I wish I were. I like to try everything. But this time, I didn’t.  I simply loved what I ate last time at Rustico, and I have often found myself craving it (and attempting variations of it at home).  And what kind of gourmet would I be if I didn’t relish giving in to cravings?  So I went with the simple Lemon & Spinach Pappardelle.  Dreamy.  I love pappardelle because it’s simultaneously a long and a wide pasta.  Think fettuccine that’s five times as wide.  It really holds a sauce well, and it’s heavy enough to feel hearty.  Because of this, I find the lighter butter-lemon sauce a perfect contrast.  It’s fresh fresh fresh, and oh so tangy – bearably so – but sometimes you need that tongue-curling goodness.

My dinner companions were Mom and Dad, and each ordered a risotto and another simple pasta dish. All well made.  We were really happy.  The only ho-hum element was my unremarkable Valpolicella.  They just don’t import anything really classy to Israel, I find time and time again (I’ve found it remarkably difficult to find my new favorites – Sicilian wines – at even the nicest wine stores). And unless you go to a restaurant that specifically calls itself a wine-bar, wine lists even at top eateries are extremely short.

For dessert we split the Scatziatina (sp?), pizza dough shmeared with chocolate, topped with Mascarpone, then closed up like a calzone and fired up in the pizza oven.  It’s the Italian version of a French crepe, I tell you.  Scrummy.

Verdict? A perfect place for a perfect night out.  It’s a place for a first date, a family dinner, or a celebration — it seems to dress up or down on demand.  Rustic-chic, I should say.  The food is a bit pricey (pastas 51-63 shekels; meats 62-93; small pizzas in the 40’s), but the decor, the super-attentive wait staff, and the gutsy clean-as-a-whistle kitchen crew make it worth your buck.

With a branch on Rothschild Blv in the south and Basel Street in the north, Rustico is a really great choice no matter where you find yourself…when craving a bit of an Italian getaway.

My parents are leaving tonight, so my two weeks of restaurant heaven are about to come to a close.  I’m slowly compiling my photos and thoughts about each. Restaurants to come include: Hashdera 34; Barbounia; and Rak Bassar (“Just Meat”).  I’m sure there are others, too I’m not thinking of.  So come back for a visit, and happy eating!

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