Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roated Veggie "Chips" PLUS Quinoa

A friend wrote to me:
"i'm sure you know this and might already prepare it but...this is a wonderful treat we have been feasting on. we got an extra virgin olive oil infused with roasted garlic ... not a cheap overpowering one...we've been slicing eggplant very thin (especially when it's the long lavender ones) brushing them with olive oil, sprinkling some seasoning and baking them on an olive oil brushed cookie sheet. some come out like chips and others are softer and all are addictive!

 on the bigger fatter and darker eggplants we put the kosher salt on the thins slices until they sweat, wash that off to kill any bitterness and then bake at 350 like the aforementioned ones. they are filling and fabulous."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Buying Falafel PLUS Hebrew Lesson

I thought my son and I were unique, occasionally ordering a pita sandwich with all the fixings, but no falafel.  However, on my last trip, a man ordered "chips" (French fries, for you Americans) on a hoagie bun.  That's it, a roll full of deep fried potatoes.  This shop, Shawarma Hacohanim, seems to have unusually sweet chips, but what really makes it my favorite is the fried eggplant, bell peppers, and friendly service.  The falafel is tasty and never under cooked, and the pita is VERY fresh - soft, springy, and delicious.  And another perk - I order and wait inside where there's no smoking!

my favorite take-homes: peppers,
eggplant, & sauerkraut
Most falafel shops begin serving falafel around 10 or 11 in the morning and are open late.  Most have some kosher supervision and are closed on Shabbat and holidays.  Hacohanim has some indoor seating and has a sukkah outside during Sukkot, so diners can fulfil the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah.  There seems to be a little price war between Hacohanim and the falafel shop on the other side of the small street.  Mimi of Israeli Kitchen wrote a post featuring the other shop with exterior photos of both.

A falafel sandwich is a delicate balance of ingredients and if one is off or missing, my falafel experience feels incomplete.  In the coming weeks I plan to teach you how to make many of the ingredients necessary to create you own falafel dinner.  First, we'll see how the experts put together a great falafel pita.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creamy Buckwheat "Kasha" in the Pressure Cooker

seasoned crunchy buckwheat groats
photo by vsimon
My hubby and kids gobbled this super simple side dish up so fast I just had to share.   Buckwheat is actually a seed unrelated to wheat.  It's gluten-free and low glycemic! (Buckwheat scores around 51 on the glycemic index and red lentils come in around 21.)  Plus buckwheat and lentils are good for the heart, high in fiber, and all that jazz.

1. Caramelize two chopped onions in olive oil in a pressure cooker.
2. Add chopped garlic.
3. Add 3/4 cup of buckwheat groats.
4. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup red lentils and about 3 cups of water, plus a couple pinches of salt.
5. Lock the lid and cook for 10 minutes after the pressure cookers reaches pressure.
6. Turn off heat and let pressure come down naturally.
7. Season to taste with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, mustard powder, cumin... whatever you like.  It doesn't need much.

If you want to up your intake of buckwheat, check out this recipe for Crunchy Buckwheat Groats.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lunch Apples and Breakfast Bags

Last week my 6.5 year-old daughter told me she liked the way I cut her apple for her lunch and put cinnamon inside.  I thought I'd show you what I did.  You will need a knife, a melon baller, and a piece of plastic wrap, or a bag and a rubber band to keep the apple together.

Start by cutting the apple in half.  By coring it with a melon baller you waste less than cutting pieces off the core.  Then cut the apple into pieces and put it back together.  My kids like when I put honey or cinnamon in the middle.  You could also hide raisins inside or even stick the apple together with peanut butter, if you want to get messy.

Another trick I want to share this week I call "breakfast bags."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Extra Meaty Turkey-Cabbage Soup

Did you know Israelis eat more turkey per capita than anywhere else in the world?  Turkey shawarma accounts for much of this, but about half the poultry sold in the grocery store is also turkey.  And yet its practically impossible to procure a whole turkey, like the type us Americans like to feast on every November.  I usually grab a package of chicken when I'm shopping, unless I go to the meat counter and see how much cheaper the turkey is.  It's hard to resist the savings.

This week I bought three big ole turkey legs to make for Shabbat.  Unfortunately, we had a crazy Friday and I didn't get them in on time, so I was stuck on Friday night with three only mostly cooked giant drum sticks.  (Thanks to my good friend Hannah of Cooking Manager, I still had a DELICIOUS challah and potato kugel to make our Shabbat special.  Thank you, Hannah!)

Today I used my pressure cooker to make a delicious, meaty soup from the turkey and some vegetables that had over stayed their welcome in my fridge.  Into the pressure cooker went:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Girlled Vegetable Salad

I made this salad to have a simple cold, healthy snack to keep in the fridge, and also to use up cauliflower and peppers.

  1. Wash, and cut your vegetables into bite-site pieces. I used cauliflower, yellow and red bell peppers, several cloves of garlic cut in thirds, and cherry tomatoes. I meant to use red onion, but I forgot.  
  2. Toss with olive oil and salt.
  3. Spread out the veggies on a baking sheet or foil and roast, broil, or grill.  As Alton Brown says, "the broiler is nothing but an upside-down grill."  So in this manner, I "grilled" my veggies. 
  4. Cook veggies until the tops brown. In the mean time, prepare the dressing.
  5. Chop fresh parsley, add fresh finely ground black pepper, and some vinegar you like.  I used rice wine or "sushi" vinegar and toasted sesame oil.
  6. Let vegetables cool. Then toss, taste, and add salt or more vinegar is necessary.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Baked Chicken Tenders - Pargiot/Young Chicken

My husband made the most delicious baked chicken fingers or "shnitzel" last week.  Not to insult his skill, but I think the trick was good chicken.  Instead of using thinly sliced or pounded chicken breast, my husband bought something we call פרגיות "pargiot," which usually translates as baby chicken.  My understanding is that this can refer to either a young chicken (less than 28 days old) or a boneless chicken thigh.  Similar cuts would be "spring chicken," though they can be bigger, or "Rock Cornish game hen," though they are usually sold whole.  (A Cornish game hen is just a fancy name for a hybrid chicken with stunted growth. Despite the name, they are domesticated and can be either male or female.) Google translate says pargiot is a pullet, a hen less than a year old; however, I imagine most chickens sold today are under a year old.  It's hard to find a nice old chicken these days, the the type traditionally used for coq au vin.  For more on the benefits of dark meat, check out my post "Are you a Poultry Racist?"

Here's what he did:
1. For close to 3 pounds of chicken (over 1 kilo) beat two eggs in a bowl.
2. Put lightly seasoned Panko Japanese bread crumbs on a plate or bowl. (He used half a bag.)
3. Spray baking sheet with oil.
4. Dip chicken tenders in eggs, shake off, then coat in bread crumbs.
5. Lay chicken on the baking sheet and spray top with oil.
6. Bake until golden and tender.

No need to stand over a pan of hot oil! And they reheat nicely. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best 11 Podcasts of 2011

Happy New Year!  Time for me to share what I've been listening to.  As I said last year, in one of my most popular posts Best Podcasts of 2010 (PLUS Tutorial for Newbies),
Why am I sharing my favorite podcasts on my food blog? Because while I am patiently choosing produce, chopping veggies, babysitting beans, or washing dishes, I am usually listening to my MP3 player. Podcasts make boring chores fun. They inspire, inform, make me laugh, or just keep me company. I wanted to inspire you to check out a few podcasts.

If you need a tutorial on downloading, subscribing, and listening, or still don't know what a "podcast" is, read last year's post.  If you have a smart phone, you can probably listen to MP3s on it.  If you find that you are always connected to the Internet, you might like Stitcher Smart Radio (downloadable app); I haven't tried it, but my husband is hooked.
Here are my current favorites:
  1. KCRW's Good Food - This podcast packs in more food for thought than any hour long program I can think of.  It's local to Santa Monica, California, but host Evan Kleiman also discusses international food and environmental issues.  Every episode is juicy and delicious and gives me ideas I can't wait to share.
  2. Planet Money - I love hearing about how the world works from an economist's perspective.  Twice a week. Always interesting and presented for the masses.
  3. Nutrition Diva - From the Quick and Dirty Tips series - Monica Reinagal, M.S., L.D./N. presents well researched solid information about food and nutrition.  I always learn something interesting.  "Nutrition Diva" inspires many of my posts, like my recent "Celebration of Coffee", and my herb posts.


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