Category Archives: Food

Hummus

Making hummus is easy, but there are a few things to consider.  But first the recipe:

Ingredients:

Tahini (sesame paste)

Garlic

Lemon juice

Salt, pepper, cumin

Cooked chickpeas

Add into a food processor 1/2 to 3/4 cup tahini, 2-4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup water (see note below), juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper. Start the food processor and watch while it’s mixing. The mixture should turn a whitish very-thick liquid. Add more water if needed. When the tahini is ready (you can taste and add more garlic, lemon juice or salt if needed) add 2-3 cups of cooked chickpeas and run the food processor until the chickpeas are pureed and mixed well with the tahini.  Voila – the hummus is ready.

Things to consider:

Chickpeas – Yes you can use canned chickpeas, but it tastes so much better with home cooked chickpeas: Soak the chickpeas with lots of water over night (some cooks like to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water).  Replace the water at least once. Cook in fresh water, with salt, (the water has to be a few inches over the beans) until the chickpeas are soft – it will take a few hours in a regular pot, much faster in a pressure cooker. I often cook 1-2 pounds of chickpeas and freeze what i don’t use right away.

Water – you can use tap water but the hummus tastes much better with the water you cooked the bean in.

These are Canadian – one marketed to the Arab market, the other to the Jewish market. I think they are identical…

Tahini – Buy imported tahini. Any tahini from Lebanon or Israel is good.  There are also some Canadian brands that are good.

Lemon juice – fresh is always better. Bottled is OK, or you can use a teaspoon of citric acid.

 

 

 

Sunday in my kitchen – Knish

knish 2Saturday dinner was always at Grandma’s: There was always gefilte fish – it took me years to connect the fish swimming in the bathtub on Thursday with the grey blob on my plate on Saturday; the bread basket was full of sliced halla: “don’t eat too much bread kids. There’s lots of food”, and there were a few rotating dishes. One of my top three favorites was the potato stuffed knish. The pastry was flaky, oily and delicious. The potato filling was doted with caramelized onion and you couldn’t eat just one piece.  The recipe, like all of her other dishes, was memorized and not written. I have a note that my father wrote, a few years before she died and when I was already living far away. He tried to get  the recipe from her, but anyone who ever baked can tell that the amounts do not make any sense….  So I had a mission – re-create grandma’s knish….

A few weeks ago I was in the kitchen with my brother, cooking something else and contemplating making Knish. I looked at my brother and said – we have a problem….  I know that savta (grandma in Hebrew) used a lot of margarine in the dough. And I suspect that that’s what made it flaky, yummy and perfect. But I can’t bring myself to cook with margarine, so I didn’t need to hear my brother‘s one word answer: “Don’t”.  I decided to use my favorite fool proof dough recipe:

1 TBS dry yeast + 1 tsp sugarבצק

3.5 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp salt

up to 1.5 cups water

1 egg, beaten

Mix the yeast and sugar with about 1/2 cup of the water, let stand for about 10 minutes until the the mix is bubbly.  Add the oil, flour, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Knead the dough, add water as needed, until it’s smooth and doesn’t stick. Continue kneading for another 5 minutes. (I use an electric mixer). Let the dough rise, covered, for 1-2 hours.

The filling was easy – lots of thinly sliced onion, fried to perfection – in lots of vegetable oil, on low heat until it turns dark brown.  A few potatoes, pilled and boiled, mashed and mixed with the onions.

To assemble the knish: Divide the dough into two halves. Roll the first half into a large triangle (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick), spread the filling over the dough, living enough of the edges to fold over. Close the sides and transfer, seam side down, to a cookie sheet or a baking pan. Repeat with the other half. Brush the top of the knishes with the egg.  Now comes the real trick – slice the unbaked knish (see photo) almost all the way through.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes and voila – it looks just like savta’s knish!

It tasted great too, although it lacked the distinct flavor of cheap margarine.

 

 

 

Monday in my kitchen – Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

How to make RLS:

red lentils

Red lentils in a bag

Dice a medium onion and saute (in a large pot) in vegetable oil.

Add 1-2 cups red lentils. (Wash the lentils several times in water before adding to the soup)

Add water and broth (I use home made vegetable broth, but any clear broth is good).  How much liquid?  enough to cover the lentil plus 1.5 cups.  (Add as much broth as you have and than add the water).

Add spices: Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Paprika (I use both sweet and hot), Turmeric (just a pinch).

Simmer on medium heat 30-40 minutes. Whisk for 30-60 second to mash the lentils.

While the soup is cooking – chop 1-2 carrots and 1-2 celery stalks in a food processor.  Be careful not to process the veggies too much – you want them smaller than peas but larger than corn meal.

When the soup is done (the lentils are are soft) – add the processed veggies and turn off the heat.

Serve the soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and squeezed fresh lime juice.

 

 

Sarutday in my kitchen – How I make Cinnamon Bread

On Sunday mornings our house is filled with a sweet smell of cinnamon and butter.  Sky and Happy (you know, not their real names) are waiting in the kitchen for their favorite breakfast of French toast made with fresh eggs provided by our friends’ backyard chickens and home baked cinnamon bread, made by their mother, me.  The bread is usually baked on Saturday, and what’s left of it is turned into breakfast on Sunday.  The following description is of a modified recipe given to me by a friend a long time ago. Here it is:

In the mixer’s bowl mix -

2 TBS dried yeast

1TBS salt

2 TBS sugar

1/4 cup warm tap water

Let stand for about 10 minutes until the yeast wake up, start working and turn all the ingredients into a bubbly mix.

While the yeast is working for you, mix these ingredients in a measuring cup:

Two eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Water to bring the mix up to one cup.

Add this mixture to the yeast, and mix well.

When all the liquids are mixed, add:

When all the liquids are well mixed, it’s time to add the flour. I start with 3 cups (bread flour works best, but a mixture of bread and whole wheat or whole wheat white flour can be used). After the flour is added,I start the mixer and  knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too wet and sticks to the fingers – I slowly add more flour.

The dough should be very elastic and not sticky.

Now it’s time to shape the dough into a ball, roll in vegetable oil until it’s all covered, cover with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place.

After about an hour, when the dough ball has doubled in size it’s time to shape the bread.I place the dough on some flour that I sprinkled on the big cutting board.

Place the dough on a floured surface. I use a large wooden cutting board. Let it rest for a 2 to 3 minutes, and then roll it to a rectangle.

Spread 3-4 TBS of soften butter on the dough and sprinkle with Cinnamon & Sugar

Roll the dough

Place the bread in a lightly bread oiled pan, seam side down.

 

Cover with a towel and let rise again.It is now time to go for a walk in the woods….

Cover with a towel and let it rise again for about an hour.

 

Pre heat the oven to 400F and place a dish with water at the bottom of the oven – the steam will help create a nice crust.

Place the bread in the oven and lower the temperature to 350F. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the pan and let the bread cool.

The warm bread is super yummy with some butter or cream cheese. Or Nutella. Any leftover bread can be sliced, frozen, and used for French toast next weekend…

BON APPÉTIT!

If it’s not all gone before the end of the day, I slice and freeze the bread. Next Saturday it will be used to make French Toast.

Saturday in my kitchen – Eggplant Salad

Saturday is a day to go to the beach, or hiking…  but more often than not it is the day I do laundry, cleaning and food shopping.  I bought an eggplant last Saturday and a week later it is still sitting on the counter among the bananas and a lonely avocado.  It’s time to make the old country favorite:

Eggplant Salad

Here’s how:

Start by lining the stove with aluminum foil – it’s going to be messy!

eggplant1Rinse and dry the eggplant and place over a medium flame. Let it roast for a few minutes. When the skin blacken, turn the eggplant so an uncooked side is over the flame. Repeat until the whole eggplant is black and soft.

Transfer the eggplant onto a cutting board and let it cool.  Now is a good time to clean the stove. Be careful,  liquid drained from the eggplant will make removing the foil somewhat tricky.

eggplant2When the eggplant is cool to the touch, remove all the skin off and transfer the flash into a dish.

Add: Juice of one lemon, mashed garlic clove, salt and pepper.  Add as much or as little of these ingredients as you like. You can also add a few drops of your favorite vinegar.

Serve with crackerseggplant3 or fresh pita.

Ingredient list:

Eggplant

Lemon

Garlic

Salt & Pepper

Thursday in my kitchen – Mushrooms in cream sauce

Thursday evening I came home from work, ate a handful of almonds and three Brazil nuts, got back in the car and drove to the airport to pick up a friend.  We got home together two hours later and we were hungry.  Inspecting the fridge we found: pulled pork, roasted chicken, a few sorry looking pieces of cooked broccoli and a container of sour cream. Not much to eat for two vegetarians. But in the vegetable drawer there were treasures to be found: a few cucumbers, a container of mushrooms, fresh dill and radishes from the community garden and a head of lettuce….  a delicious dinner was on its way – fresh salad and

Sauteed mushrooms in cream saucesauttedd mushrooms

Here’s how:

Saute in olive oil:

1 small onion, chopped

While the onion is sauteing  slice-

1 lb mushroom

When the onion are soft and translucent add the mushrooms.  Cover the pan and saute for 3-5 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Uncover, add

1/4 tsp allspice

Salt

Chopped dill (as much as you like)

Stir well and add

1 8oz container of sour cream

Mix well over medium heat. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Delicious on top of fresh bread or as a side dish.

 

United we eat

Like every foodie who grew up in the middle east – l love tahini.  It has one ingredient – sesame. Ground to a paste it is used for making a dip called Tahini, it is added to hummus for a distinguish flavor and it can be used for cold dressings, hot sauces and mixed with honey or sugar – dessert. It is also considered healthy because of the high content of calcium and iron.

My favorite brand is Al Arz, made in Nazareth, by a small family owned compnay.  It’s not easy to find Al Arz tahini in North America and I often buy other brands.  Recently I purchased a jar of sesame paste off the Kosher shelf in the local supermarket. I also got a jar at Phoenician, a middle eastern grocery store knows as ‘The Lebanese’.

Here are the two jars:

tahini1Although they contain different amount the containers are identical except for the color of the lid and the label.

And here is the back side of both jars:

tahini

It may be hard to see the labels, so let me help you – one says ‘Product of Canada’ the other ‘Produced in Canada’.  I couldn’t find much information about the Canadian source of sesame products, but I don’t think there are very many sesame paste manufactures in Canada. Is it possible that the Tahini with Arabic name, marketed to the American Arab population and the Kosher Tahini marketed to the Jewish population are one and the same?   Politics may separate these two people, but united we eat.  Sharing meals may lead to world peace. Amen.

Wednesday in my kitchen – an experiment with avocado

abocado sundriedtomatoes

Guacamole with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts

Wednesday is not a day that usually inspires creativity in the kitchen.  But a lonely avocado was looking at me from the vegetable drawer and it had to be eaten today or gone to the compost bin. I decided to experiment.

Sun Dried Tomatoes Guacamole 

Here’s how:

In a small glass bowl mix:

1 avocado

Juice of 1/2 lime  

sundriedtomatoes jar

Sun dried tomatoes from Costco

4 chopped sun dried tomatoes

Salt

1 tsp Chopped cilantro leaves

1 TBS roasted pine nuts

 

Delicious on top of whole grain crackers.