Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Being a long-term expat gives a person a unique perspective, as you well may imagine – an outside eye with insider access – and in the case of these bloggers, the ability to be ambassadors to the world at large.  It’s been a while since I focused on food myself, and I want to highlight to whoever may be reading, a review of some incredible blogs – AND – their very special qualities.  I’ve chosen and linked some specific posts to shed a light on the diversity of boutique dairies and cheeses, markets, spices, comfort foods, and out-of-the-way corners/villages/eateries that guidebooks would never even know to mention.  Enjoy!

Milk, Dairies, and Cheese

Israelis love their cheeses, eaten (much to my chagrin, actually) very fresh.  For fresh cheeses, however, they’re extraordinary.  A huge variety of cow, goat, and sheep cheeses are produced by the largest and smallest boutique dairies all over the country.  Baroness Tapuzina told us about her visit to the Ein Kamonim goat far recently.  Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge posted about a comparison between camel, cow, goat, and buffalo milk, oh my!  To add my recommendations on Israeli cheese, I adore the Markovitch Dairy – run by a sweet couple, on their own, with their goats, near Petach Tikvah – they make a cheese very similar to Camembert, with a blue center – during events they cater, they stuff big majoul dates with a softer goat cheese – to die for.  A bigger better-known artisanal cheese-maker is the Jacobs Farm – they make a hard cheese with pimento and caraway seed that is so incredibly different – it took me a while to like it, but I adore it now.

Markets and Places

Pita with zatar

My friend Liz, of Cafe Liz fame, is truly a market connoisseur.  Actually, most of these bloggers probably are, but I as know Liz well and we hang out in Tel Aviv quite a bit – she has been my personal ambassador to some gems.  Here, she tells us about Ramle, an out-of-the-way melting pot of a little town near the airport with an incredible history.  Here, a foray into the Levinsky Street market, undoubtedly the best place to buy spices in Tel Aviv – a bizarre 2-3 blocks of storefront if you’ve ever seen one.  And in a post I highly recommend, Where to Buy Food in Tel AvivLiz compared the prices of several basic food items at the shuk (market), and several commercial and organic stores around town – with very interesting findings for the consumer.

Sarah has a whole page devoted to shuks (markets), that you should really check out.  She’s written about Nazareth on a couple of occasions, somewhere most of us urban-folk would never venture.  The food scene is incredible there, and the New York Times recently featured it in an article, “Nazareth as an Eating Destination.”  A great pictorial is Spice Up Your Life in Nazareth, and a more complete anecdote is Nazareth Shuk: A Kaleidoscope for the Senses.  Another great post is by Miriam Kresh, the veteran blogger of Israeli Kitchen, also littered with fabulous photographs.  Miriam’s knowledge of the natural foods around us and the making of such basic (yet to us, complex) processes such as wine-making, soap-making, lotion-making, olive-pickling, and much more is astounding.

Comfort Food Around Us

Stuffed peppers

The new Jerusalemite among us is Ariella, of Ari Cooks.  A trained pâtissière, I love reading through her recipes.  A recent post of hers focuses on soups, Soups for Thought, and it was so so so good. So apt for the winter, so cold this year, making up for last year’s heat wave.  She links to several other soup recipes, so it’s an excellent resource.  Miriam has a great post on pickling olives at home, a local staple, olives are.  Sarah is hands down the kubbeh expert among us, and if you don’t know what these lovely semolina dumplings stuffed with meat are, do click her link.  Here is also Sarah’s excellent, beautiful, and brief journey through Israeli foods, including the ubiquitous falafel, foreigners so know us by.

I have skipped so much and focused on too few blogs — the amount of recipes, the innovation of this cooking, this east-meets-west, foreign-domestic, old-new, always fresh outlook displayed by the food bloggers of Israel is inspiring.  If you live here, I hope you choose to eat well and eat interestingly.  If you don’t live here, when you visit, make food a priority.  It’s so special and vibrant and fresh here.

Have a great week, all!  Here’s to getting through the winter!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Pesto, pre frap

What happens when you can’t get through the “small” veg box? What if it happens week after week?

Wasteful nastiness, that’s what. And fruit flies. Lots and lots of bloody fruit flies.  So, you know the expression – when life hands you lemons…

Somehow, every Saturday morning I have woken up and unconsciously moved toward the fridge and fruit basket — and absentmindedly chose to cook — something.  Anything.  To prevent the rot and perhaps enjoy the organic expensive fruits of – someone’s – labor.

Week 1 – amazing really really ripe banana bread (an amalgam of 3 recipes found in 10 minutes online).

Week 2 – makeshift no-recipe apple and quince butter (really gorgeous – love quince and it was a good combo. Hadn’t made apple butter in years – not since I properly jarred it for thank you gifts. Cut up apples and quince, boiled in minimal water for quite a while – the quince needs it, blended the lot, added a cup or so sugar and a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.  Cooked until thick.  In reality, it’s much harder to do this – sieves, and the like).

Week 3 – 2 weeks worth of pasta sauce (20+ tomatoes, what else could you do? Have a bloody mary party? Actually, that’s not a bad idea.  And I’m really not partial to gazpacho).

Week 4 – imitation aloo gobi – for 10 (3 heads of cauliflower, umpteen potatoes, red peppers, onions, jerusalem artichoke – in like a ton of turmeric, cumin, coriander, sumac, chili, paprika, and luck. God have mercy).

Week 5 – pesto – what can you do? Fresh herbs that are so pretty and fragrant you want to cry! And they wilt in a day or two.  No matter what or how hard I try.  And the next week, another bunch arrives! I demolished this bouquet fresh and pretty with great results.  Huge bunch of basil, 5 or so cloves of garlic, 1 small onion, handful of chestnuts (this was the hail mary play – I would never have used them except I really wanted/needed a nut component – I’ve used pine nuts and would have loved to use walnut – luckily this sort of worked).

Here’s what my kitchen is perpetually looking like:

Organic nightmare in my kitchen

The vat of spaghetti sauce (I  would call it marinara or arrabiata, but was a completely improvised mess of tomato, other veg, and lots of spice):

Yesterday I roasted two huge eggplants that wouldn’t hold out much longer – ate the one, and just can’t squeeze the second down yet.  Hope it’ll last another day.

This week, I may have to take up pickling – I have 20 cucumbers not going anywhere, fast.

Horn of plenty, indeed.  I wonder if my provider would consider helping me out of the organic nightmare I’m stuck in and allow an every-second-week drop.  We just can’t eat fast enough…

Read Full Post »

Remember the days back in college when all you needed to guarantee attendance was a sign advertising “free food”?

Well, step right up ladies and gents, have I got good news for you!  You, yes, you can have FREE salad and stewing veg all winter long — if you can identify it, that is.

It’s sprouting from every street corner, alley, empty lot, park, and even every private garden in Tel Aviv.  And most of you probably thought they were just lowly weeds.

An Anarchists’ Amblings

My good friend Moshe invited me to come along on a walking tour being hosted by Salon Mazal, an interesting place that according to Wikipedia is:

an infoshop in Tel Aviv, Israel. Its purpose is to spread information and raise awareness of issues related to social change, including human rights, animal rights, the environment, globalization, social and economic oppression, consumerism, feminism and gender issues. It is run by an open, non-hierarchical collective of volunteers at 32 Yitzhak Sadeh Street, Tel Aviv.

I had actually been inside their premises a few years ago (and two locations ago), when I had no idea who they were…and left quickly when it sank in that I was in what appeared an anarchist bookshop.  Moshe says that they’ve actually branched out from then, hosting lovely events and lectures, and that generally friendly people frequent the place.  I’ll have to drop by sometime for a better look.

Back to the veg – As I was pouring wine all day last Friday (I got to open the Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, a rare treat), so I couldn’t attend the walking tour.  Lucky for me, Moshe took me on a private post-shabbat nighttime tour of central Tel Aviv’s tiny patches of green, sharing with me what he learned from the experts.  What we found astounded me.

Mallow

Hubezah - Hebrew for Mallow

Hubezah - Arabic for Mallow - חובזה in Hebrew

The mallow plant has gotten a bad wrap in modern times.  It’s been thought of as a subsistence green, a poor man’s refuge, if you catch my drift.  It used to grow just about everywhere in Israel.  In fact, I think it still does, despite the urban sprawl.  The Arab community cooks with it quite a bit, and it can be found in all of their suks.  The Jewish markets…not so much.  Luckily for us, this very easily identified plant grows everywhere…and I mean everywhere.  This is a great little article in Hebrew about mallow, and if this works, here is the googled-translation of the same story.  My friend Moshe told me to eat it like a salad green, very neutral yet pleasant taste.  The Arabs sautee it with onions, include it in stews, and I’ve seen it used to wrap other foods in (like grape leaves).

Mustard

Mustard

Slightly less obvious, but also quite plentiful is the mustard plant.  For those of you who have never eaten mustard greens, they taste like the condiment.  They really do.  Somewhat brighter, sometimes more spicy, even.  And this bold flavor is marvelous for cooking.  Moshe, who I might add is a vegan, recommended that it also be eaten raw.  Fine for some.  In the States I bought mustard greens when I could find them (the first time was a mistake…I’m a sucker for strange veg I’ve never tried before).  Great for stewing, steaming, sauteing. “Southern greens,” you know the kind that are stewed and drenched in fats and seasonings of all sorts indeed include mustard.  Even the flowers are good, spicier than the rest of the plant.

Sorrel

Sorrel with the lovely sour yellow flowers

My new favorite green!  I’ve already written about this green extensively, and now I don’t even have to hunt it down in the markets…it’s right out front!  With delicate little leaves that look like flat folded clover, the stems are sturdy and snap crunchily when you bite into them as the lemony sour taste pours into your mouth.  Lovely!  Every part of this plant is edible – leaf, stem, flower.  All sour.  It packs great punch in a salad, and as I’ve demonstrated a few times this year, it’s extremely wonderful in soups and stews.

There are a few more edible greens in my public urban garden, according to Moshe, but they are more difficult to identify and are supposedly far more boring in flavor.  For now, I’m going to stick to these three and see if I can come up with a creative recipe with them.

If I have the guts to go foraging, I’m going to have free soup and free stew and free stir-fry all winter long.  You should try it too.  Just wash these greens very, very, very well.  You’ve got a good imagination, you can figure out why…

Moshe munching on sorrel

__

Check out this cool blog I found on the New York Times called “The Urban Forager”

Read Full Post »

The gorgeousness that is sorrel

It looks like spinach but tastes NOTHING like it.  A sour, delicate leaf, perfect in soups and stews as it has a remarkable thickening quality while retaining its vibrant taste.  Spinach cannot compare.  I don’t know why the whole world isn’t cuckoo for sorrel.  In fact, I’m hoping to start a trend here.  People, if you haven’t tried it, take my word for it, you simply must.  Period.  With the scents that were wafting out of the kitchen, we knew we had one legendary meal in the making.

Today, after a rather frustrating morning of heavy work, I boarded the bus to Jerusalem, on a whim.  One of my favorite friends, the lovely queendeb, resides there on the border of Baka and Talpiot (although she only admits to Talpiot). We don’t get together as often as we should, and as two creative food-minded people, we decided on a cooking project.  I brought the sorrel and a bottle of Israeli-Champagne (GHW’s Gamla Brut).  In her quirky kosher kitchen (with her little brother in NYC on video-Skype the entire time), we proceeded in what felt like an adventurous cooking show.  Here’s what became of our evening:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery root, chopped
  • 1 yam, chopped
  • 500 g chicken wings
  • 1 bunch sorrel, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 left whole
  • handful of cilantro stems, chopped
  • 3-4 small celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 white cabbage, cut into large in-tact wedges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 in strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 shot Laphroaig Whisky
  • chipotle pepper to taste
  • pepper, garlic powder, chili, etc to taste
  1. In a large soup pot over high heat, drizzle olive oil, then brown the chicken wings.  Remove.
  2. Whisk together the mustard and soy sauce.
  3. With the fat of the chicken left behind, add the onion, garlic, celery root, and yams (in that order – waiting a minute between additions).  Cook at medium heat until sweating/softened.  Add mustard/soy sauce.
  4. Layer the chicken wings evenly over the vegetables.  Then sprinkle the chopped sorrel, chopped celery & celery leaves, and cilantro stems evenly over the chicken.
  5. Sprinkle chipotle pepper over the surface.
  6. Create a layer with the whole sorrel leaves spread flat.  Place the cabbage wedges over the sorrel evenly.
  7. Pour the whisky over the contents of the entire pot.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.
  8. Sprinkle all the lemon zest, and pour lemon juice over the contents of the pot.
  9. Without stirring, slowly and carefully pour two glasses of water into the pot.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce flame to lowest possible, cover and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Do not stir, but checking to ensure the bottom layer isn’t burning is fine.  Add pepper, spices, etc at the end, to taste.
  11. Serve over couscous or rice.

The resulting stew-y casserole was pure heaven.  Rich, smoky, sour, spiced.  The smoky qualities of both the Laphroaig and the chipotle pepper, combined with the tartness of the sorrel and the lemon components, were so complementary, it was wild!  All the veg fell apart, becoming almost caramel-like.  The sorrel indeed thickened things up, and oh me, oh my, the lemon zest was a joy in and of itself!  The layering method came about organically, in that we thought it would be interesting to allow the leafier veg to steam in the lovely saucy broth of the layers beneath it.  And what can I say of the chicken?  It fell off the bone.  So tender.  So moist.  So perfect.

The best part was, even though we didn’t know where we’d end up, we always knew we could do it.  Two savvy seasoned cooks with random well-loved ingredients having a ball.  The bubbly went great with the meal, and I’m so glad we drank it.  This meal was a shining beacon in the middle of a drab work week.  So, it’s a yes to letting loose!  A yes to drinking your best wine for no reason but to enjoy it in the here and now!  And a resounding yes to sorrel! To single malt scotches everywhere! To lemon rinds!  To chipotle! L’chaim, l’chaim to life!

And I’ve driven myself into the cheesy corner.  But it really felt like that.  A meal as a celebration.  Even with just a couple lonesome American-Israeli friends.  Especially because.

Read Full Post »

This is yet another fantastic transfer article from my old blog.  It was really popular a few months ago, and as I read this fascinating story about a new “Urban Caveman Diet” in the New York Times yesterday, I felt it more than relevant to share this with all of you.  I admit I sound a bit like a militant anti-vegan, but I assure you I’m not.  It was just my mood at the time.  As evidence, I’m cooking a big vegan meal for a dinner party I’m hosting this Friday.

The ideal human diet is a topic that really intriques me. It should interest everyone, really. What we eat is who we are. The food and drink we imbibe becomes the fabric of our cells. And given the spiral of ill-health around the world, the raging debate (at least in some circles you’ll find me visiting) around vegan-ism being the true natural diet for humans, my oft-hesitant carnivorous tendencies following nearly a decade of vegetarianism, and of course, the fact that I adore cooking, food history, etc, etc, it was serendipitous that I came across this article today.

The Healthiest Foods On Earth!

According to this article by Jonny Bowden, published in Forbes, it’s not necessarily what you eat, but how processed what you eat actually is. There’s a lot of debate as to what the “original” Paleolithic human diet was. Quite varied, probably. Depending on where we originated (rather where our ancestors migrated to and settled into many, many, many thousands of years ago), our predecessors may have thrived upon a high fat, high protein diet (hunting seals and the like in Greenland), or low protein, high carbs (in southern Africa), milk and fatty-cream (Switzerland…and from a documentary I recently saw…Mongolian nomads today thriving mainly on horse milk and yogurt), or even blood. Crazy, right!?

Wrong. The issue I have with vegans is this specifically. Human beings were never vegetarians. Maybe we were when we were apes. But there’s a reason we’re not still apes. Our ancestors were resourceful, and depending on where they wound up, may have gotten up to 65% or more of their intake from animals. You know, it’s probably the reverse…we ended up where we did because we learned to hunt and gather in this way. We learned to survive. We are learners and adapters. We are human.

Anyway, back to the article. Which made a lot of sense to me. It’s not what you eat, entirely, but how processed it is. The more natural the food, the more whole, the better it is for you. Even meat. Even meat. Sure, the best animal for you to be munching on would be grass fed in an open prairie-type environment that was never ever injected with any hormones or antibiotics. And then there’s milk and eggs. Perfect nutrition. So really, if we stop eating food with preservatives, if we stop eating fast food, fried food, food that doesn’t in a million years resemble food, we’ll be OK. It makes sense to eat organic. To cook simple foods at home. To eat lots of fresh fruits and veg. Nuts, berries, eggs, broccoli and its family, wild fish, raw milk, beans, grass-fed beef. Sounds good right? Better than a big mac? In a heartbeat.

My Message to Vegans

Keep at it. Love what you eat. Fight the man. It’s a good fight. But lay off me. Your logic usually sucks. I agree that most animals we eat are practically (or actually) tortured. That hormones and antibiotics are terrible things to be injecting in them and for us to be absorbing in turn. These policies are huge, most people don’t know about them, and something needs to be done. But eating animals the right way, drinking milk the right way, eating eggs the right way…I can’t see why that isn’t OK. Perhaps it disgusts you to be thinking that you’re taking part in murder or that it’s revolting to be eating an animal. OK. Good for you.

But chew on this – we (yes, including you, fellow vegans) would not be here, living this life, having created this society in this world (whether you like it or not), would it not have been for our ancestors learning how to hunt and kill and eat and eventually cook other animals. We would not have progressed. We would not have our intelligence. We would not have migrated across the entirety of this globe. Because I learned one really interesting (and almost bizarre) fact today, after having done some fancy (ordinary) internet research: the overall health and life expectancy of humans dramatically declined with the advent of agriculture. That’s right. Early farmers, the ones who enabled us to stop moving and develop cities and writing and technology, were shorter, sicklier, had far more infant mortality, died earlier, and were plagued with a myriad number of diseases.

Seems like we should all be pulling together for all of us to go back to a real Paleolithic diet, a la Fred Flintstone.

As for me, I’ll be looking for organic meat and eggs and milk in Israel. Anyone any ideas? Especially in the meat department?

Read Full Post »

Chocolata – a little glob of heaven found in the winter at almost every Israeli cafe. Pronounced “shokolatah” with soft European consonants, this is very different from your standard thin milk hot chocolate.  I’ve yet to attempt to make one at home, but it’s on the list.

Here’s the best description I can come up with for what it tastes like: hot chocolate pudding.  Yup.  Made with dark chocolate and the very best cream, of course, but the consistency is right up there with Bill Cosby’s wigglin variety.  Sometimes I’m tempted to see what would happen if I bought an individual made-for-a-school-lunch chocolate pudding and stuck it in the microwave.  Because it’s really like that.

The Israeli chocolata comes close on the chocolate-satisfaction scale to Parisian chocolat chaud (that I’m afraid, will always take the cake in that department).  But it’s the springy custardy consistency which makes it stand out from the average wintery chocolate beverages.  You need a spoon to “drink” it.

Here is a very simple recipe (untried) that I’m translating from an Israeli website.

For 2 servings

  • 100 g bitter chocolate
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20 g butter
  • 1/3 cup sweet cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tsp Amaretto
  • 1 TBS Cognac
  • 2 pearls of pistachio praline (optional)

In a saucepan on a low heat mix all the ingredients except the Amaretto, the Cognac, and the chocolate.  Stir until all are well mixed, but do not bring to a boil.

When at a low boil, break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the mixture, stirring until entirely melted and combined.  Add the Amaretto and Cognac and stir until the mixture becomes thick.

Remove from heat, pour into two ceramic cups, and top with a decorative praline.

Let me how it turns out if you try it!

Read Full Post »

I’ve used coconut milk several times this week, and I have to say, I’m sold.  A jar I had had on a shelf for over a year came in handy in helping me figure out how to make vegan potato latkes at the last minute.  There was no time for even a quick internet search, and I needed to make the potatoes and the flour bind without eggs.  Needless to say, the coconut milk worked OK.  Not great.

But it left me with 75% of a jar left over.

What did I use it for, do you ask?  Teva Castel, the local organic grocery, had a sale last week on buckwheat noodles, the Japanese soupy variety.  I bought four packs (some an interesting green tea flavor), as pasta goes quick in my house.  The thing about these noodles, however, is their thicker and chewier texture, not to mention a more earthy flavor.  Not your Italian pasta.  I couldn’t make a European-style tomato-based vegetable sauce go with it, and I didn’t have the time and patience to make a Japanese-style broth for it.

So here’s what I did the first time – and it was spur of the moment, big time, let me tell you.  I boiled one serving of the green tea noodles in salted water, as you do, cooked to slightly under my desired level of done-ess, and strained.  In the same pot, I sauteed eminceed onions  (halve an onion lengthwise, cut very thin rings) with olive oil, lots of soy sauce, cumin, turmeric, chili, hot paprika, and sweet dried basil – lots of it.  When the onion had cooked for a minute, still slightly hard, I returned the noodles, dripped a bit more olive oil and tamari sauce, stirred, and then added about a third of a can of coconut milk.  I stirred the whole concoction on medium heat until the milk was absorbed/evaporated, and what was left was a sticky gooey noodley Thai-style dinner.  It looked like Thai green curry, I kid you not.

It was delicious.

I made a slightly more elaborate and slightly better planned version of this a couple days later involving garlic and sweet potatoes, in addition to the onions.  I cooked those earlier in the process in a frying pan (potatoes take a while, dontcha know), AND I tried infusing the veg in the pan with the coconut milk first, THEN added it to the strained noodles back in the pot.

Again, de-lish.

And what do I mean by the great equalizer?  I mean that coconut milk is exceptionally versatile and useful.  I have a very good friend who is vegan, and I haven’t been cooking for him for a while.  Well, here’s a solution.  I am nearly certain that you can replace coconut milk for regular milk in almost any recipe and come out with good, if different, results.  Sometimes, much, much better, as it’s very fattening.  In fact, I intend to try it out in ice cream, the quintessential dairy dish, something my vegan friend and several lactose-intolerant friends have expressed missing a great deal.

In a world where people are abandoning dairy as a potentially unnatural source of nutrition for humans (not that I am expressing any sympathy or antipathy for the movement), coconut milk is a natural replacement in cooking.  I wouldn’t have it in my Cheerios.  But I prefer it over already-somewhat-processed soy or rice milks.

For more interesting vegetarian recipes, I’ve got a pumpkin-apricot-red lentil soup AND my famously wacky-delicious fusion taboule.

AND read on to learn about the disastrous shopping trip this coconutty-post inspired!

Happy holidays, folks!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »