Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Salatim - What Shabbat Means to Me

There are 7 days in the week. The first 6 are crazy, stressful, and busy and at times seem like they are never going to end. That last day of the week though is beautiful, relaxing, and spiritual. Shabbat is a day to reconnect with the one above and those around you. A day to put down your phone and unplug from our very technology-obsessed world. It is 25 hours that is needed to recharge for the hustle of the next week.
Sina Mizrahi of Gather a Table asked some fellow bloggers to share their favorite Shabbat dishes and what Shabbat means to them. At the end of this post, you can find links to all of the amazing words and recipes that are being shared in this Virtual Shabbat Potluck.

Growing up Shabbat was a special day to spend with family, seeing my friends in shul, playing games on Shabbat afternoon, and eating my mother's delicious food.
As many of you know I moved to Israel 6 years ago. I moved away from my friends, my childhood home, most of my family, and my mother's cooking. Moving to Jerusalem on my own I had to make my own Shabbat meals with my new community of friends. Every week different friends host Friday night and Shabbat day meals. Sometimes they are big meals of 15 people squished around a table with each person bringing something else to create the ultimate potluck. Other times it's a small intimate meal of 3 or 4 friends with a couple of challah rolls sitting around enjoying bowl after bowl of chicken soup.
I work very crazy hours and I don't get to see my friends at all during the week (unless they stop by the restaurant) so I really look forward to Shabbat as a time to catch up with them (and to catch up on some sleep).
I host a Shabbat meal every few weeks. If I'm hosting lunch I usually make a big cholent (using the Foolproof Cholent recipe) schnitzel while the rest of my friends bring other dishes to round out the meal.
My favorite part of any Shabbat meal besides for the talking and zmirot is the salatim course. I love combining all the different flavors, textures, and colors spread on fresh challah that I usually am pretty full at the end of the course, but don't worry I still eat the rest of the great Shabbat food that everyone has prepared.
Here are some of my favorite salatim and I hope that you will make some for your next Shabbat meal. The best part is that they make for great leftovers for snacking on with vegetable sticks and crackers that you can have a little taste of Shabbat all week long.

I used to not enjoy techina as I was only used to the watery strange flavored liquid trying to pass as techina in the squeeze bottle at pizza shops that sell falafel. When I moved to Israel, a friend of mine who grew up here introduced me to the good stuff and now I'm kind of obsessed. I love techina drizzled on everything and I especially love it drizzled over lots of other salatim on Shabbat. Techina is very simple to make it's all about the right amount water that you add to the paste to make the perfect consistency.
I strongly recommend reading Michael Solomonov brilliant cookbook about Israeli Cuisine, Zahav. He spends 20 pages explaining in great detail the beauty and importance of techina and chummus.

1 cup techina paste (in english called tahini)
3 Tbs lemon juice
1/4-1/3 cup of water depending on the texture you like
salt to taste

Mix together the techina, lemon, and salt. Slowly whisk in the water until you reach the desired consistency. Adjust lemon and salt to your taste.

This is a staple dish in the salatim course. It's creamy smooth mixture of chickpeas, garlic, techina, a touch of olive oil, and some spices and there's nothing like freshly made chummus.  Chummus is infinitely better with freshly cooked chickpeas, but if you're short on time you can totally use canned.

Zahav chummus recipe on Food52 is the way to go. 

Chummus is a great base for some yummy toppers like spiced meat to make chummus bassar or sauteed mushrooms and onions for a vegan option.
Simply brown meat or mushrooms with sauteed onions and garlic. Add a pinch of a few different spices such as cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper.

Roasted Pepper Chummus 
I usually don't like other varieties of chummus because usually recipes are switching out the chickpeas for a different type of legume or vegetable. Although those can make for a nice dip chummus literally means chickpea so if you use something else it's no longer chummus. In this recipe, it's pretty much basic chummus pureed with roasted peppers. The smoky sweetness of the peppers with the nutty creaminess is a great balance. This is also a great option for those with a sesame allergy.

1 can chickpeas
1 roasted pepper, skin and seeds removed
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
Puree all ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Kohlrabi Salad 
I love the fresh crunchiness of kohlrabi. It's a very versatile vegetable perfect for roasting and soups, but it's also great raw. Be sure to top this salad with lots of techina.

2 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
handful of fresh chopped parsley
Toss all ingredients together.

JalapeƱos Dip 
Not a traditional dish in the salatim course, but you should add this to your repertoire.

2 jalapeƱos, stems removed if you want it hot keep the seeds in!
1/2 cup mayo
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
handful of fresh dill
Puree all of the ingredients to combine.

Roasted Eggplant 
Soft flesh and crispy skin top it with lots of techina!

2 Eggplants, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
Score the flesh of the eggplant in a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplants on a sheet pan flesh side up and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with minced garli and salt. Roast at 400°F/200°C for 20-30 minutes until eggplants are extremely soft.

Here are the pieces by my amazing fellow bloggers
Between Carpools
Cooking in Heels
The Sugar Box 
Gather A Table 
Kitchen Tested 
Spice and Zest
Beth Warren Nutrition
Jamie Geller
Busy in Brooklyn 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hot and Sticky Wings with Ranch

The Super Bowl means great food, an awesome halftime show, hanging out with friends, silly commercials, oh and some guys throwing around a ball.
This recipe combines two Super Bowl staples, wings and beer.
The wings are first baked and then coated in a spicy beer bbq sauce and served with a cooling ranch sauce for dipping.

5 lbs. chicken wings - cleaned, tips cut and joints split
cooking spray
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Beer BBQ sauce
2 cups beer
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup hot sauce (more or less depending how hot you like it)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs soy sauce

Ranch Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 cups tofutti sour cream
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

To prepare wings
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F
Line 2 sheet pans with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Lay the wings out in a single layer and spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the wings with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes until crispy.
In the meantime make the BBQ sauce.
In a medium saucepan mix together all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half. Check for seasoning. Set aside
Remove the wings from the oven and coat with sauce. Reserve a few tablespoons of sauce to drizzle over the wings after they cook
Place the wings back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
To make the dipping sauce mix together all the ingredients and serve alongside the wings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Here's a quick and simple dessert recipe for shabbat that's perfect for these short Fridays.
All you have to do is mix a few simple ingredients together, pour it into a graham cracker crust, and then pop it in the freezer.
Another great option is to pour the peanut butter mixture into individual dessert cups and you'll have a creamy decadent dessert that all of your guests will enjoy!

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

2 cups non-dairy whipping cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 square of chocolate or 2 tsp mini chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip the cream until stiff. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. This can also be done in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or if you have some good upper body strength whisk it by hand and build up those muscles.
Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust.
With a microplane, grate the square of chocolate over the top of the mousse or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Pop the pie into the freezer for at least 6 hours. Pull the pie out of the freezer 15 minutes before you're ready to serve to soften.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Coffee Cake Muffins

It's Monday morning and the only thing that's going to get me through the Monday blues is a nice blast of caffeine from a big cup of Joe.

The perfect thing to go along with a steaming hot cup of coffee is some type of baked good fresh from the oven and what goes along better with coffee than a coffee cake muffin?

Coffee Cake Muffins 

Crumb Topping 
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil or melted butter

Coffee Cake Muffin Batter 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2.5 tsp cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2/3 cups oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

Cinnamon Glaze 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
Line 2 standard size baking pans with paper liners or coat with non-stick spray.
In a small mixing bowl mix together the dry ingredients of the crumb coating and then add the oil. Pinch together until crumbs form. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the batter mix together the batter dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then add the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins filling 1/2 way. Top with chilled crumb topping and lightly press into the batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes. In the meantime mix together the glaze ingredients. Allow the muffins to cook for a bit and then drizzle with the glaze.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dips for a Great New Year

There are many different foods that some people have the custom of eating that symbolize different blessings we hope to receive this coming year. Here are three dips that use three different symbolic foods.
Beets - the Hebrew word for beet is selek which is similar to the word for remove. We are hoping that our enemies be removed. 
Gourd - The Hebrew word for gourd is similar to the Hebrew words announce and to rip. We are asking that God rip up any evil decrees and that our merits be announced before Him. 
Leeks - The Hebrew word for leek is similar to the word cut. We are praying that those that wish to hurt us are cut off. 

Beet Chummus 
1 large beet 
2 cloves garlic
1 can chickpeas
1 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs tahini paste
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs olive oil

Wrap the beet tightly in foil and roast at 400°F/200°C for about 45 minutes until tender. Allow the beet to cool completely and then peel. You can also use cooked vacuum packed beets.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade blade pulse until the garlic is minced.
Cut the beets into chunks and add to the food processor along with the chickpeas, salt, tahini, and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on and with the motor running stream the olive oil in through the feed tube. Puree until smooth. Place the beet chummus in an air-tight container and it will keep in the fridge for a week.

Baba Gourdnoush -  the classic middle-eastern eggplant dip just with gourd  
4 small bottle gourds, halved and seeds removed
1 Tbs kosher salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs tahini paste

Cut the gourd into one-inch chunks and place in a colander. Sprinkle the salt over the cut gourd and let the gourd strain for about 30 minutes to draw out some of the moisture. Remove from the strainer and pat dry with a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the gourd carefully as the oil will splatter from the wet gourd. Cover the pan and cook the gourd for 20 minutes then remove the cover and let the gourd cook for another 15 minutes until golden and tender. Let the gourd cool completely.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade blade pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the gourd and the rest of the ingredients. Puree until smooth. Place the baba gourdnoush in an air-tight container and it will keep in the fridge for a week.

Creamy Leek Dip 
4 leeks
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic
1 Tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice

Cut the root end and dark green ends off the leek. Slice in half lengthwise then cut into half moons. Fill a large bowl with cold water and place the sliced leeks in the water, swishing around to separate the layers. The dirt and sand will sink to the bottom and the leeks will float on top. Skim off the cleaned leeks and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and salt and cook stirring every few minutes for about 25 minutes until the leeks are very soft and caramelized. Let the leeks cool completely.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade blade pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the cooled leeks and puree until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and puree until combined. Place the leek dip in an air-tight container and it will keep in the fridge for a week.

The leek dip can also be made with onions they will just take longer to caramelize.

Shana tova!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pomegranate Bark

This is the perfect sweet treat for Rosh Hashana. It only takes few minutes to prepare, you can customize it to your tastes and the best part (at least for me) it's sweet and salty which is a combination that I just love!

This pomegranate marble bark with pistachios, candied ginger, and sea salt is delicious and so simple to make even when there is so much cooking to be done.

Some people have the custom to not eat nuts on Rosh Hashana so feel free to leave them out. My family does not have that custom and I really enjoy having the nuts in this bark as it sort of masks crunchiness of the pomegranate seeds that not everyone enjoys.

If you want to make this even simpler you can just do the dark chocolate or the white chocolate and skip the marbling step.

The melted chocolate is a blank canvas. Sprinkle on any chopped dried fruit or nuts that you like and you have a customizable treat that you can serve year round.

Pomegranate Bark 

5 bars good quality dark chocolate (100 gram/3.5 oz bars)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
2 tsp chopped candied ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt

Break the dark chocolate bars into chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate at 30-second intervals stirring until melted. Repeat the process with the white chocolate. This can also be done in a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot with a few inches of simmering water.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the melted dark chocolate over the parchment paper.

Using a teaspoon drop dollops of melted white chocolate all over the dark chocolate.

Take a knife, toothpick, or skewer and swirl the white chocolate into the dark chocolate to create a marble effect.

Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the marbled chocolate.

Using a flat spatula or a clean hand gently press the toppings into the chocolate to ensure that everything really adheres to the chocolate.

Place the tray in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened. Remove from fridge and break the bark into shards. Place the pieces into an air-tight container between layers of parchment and put in the fridge or freezer until it's time for dessert, but I can't guarantee it will make it that long :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pomegranate Glazed Chicken

Pomegranates really are one of the most beautiful fruits. They're sweet, tart, juicy, and those little jewel-like arils are truly stunning. One of the reasons I think this fruit is really beautiful is because you have to work hard to actually enjoy it which makes you appreciate it even more.

Pomegranates are one of the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashana. I remember when I was first grade, my teacher split us into groups and gave us parts of a pomegranate and we had to count the seeds. I'm pretty sure we didn't get the exact number because if I remember correctly some of us couldn't resist the delicious fruit and ate some of this math project. The reason my teacher had us count the seeds is that many people think that the pomegranate has 613 seeds to symbolize the 613 mitzvot/commandments. While this is not the case and every pomegranate does not have the same amount of seeds there are still hundreds of arils inside the pomegranate. We eat this fruit on Rosh Hashana in the hopes that we are blessed in abundance like the abundant amount of seeds in a pomegranate.

During Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we reflect on our lives and our relationship with G-d. If we look to the pomegranate we can find some inspiration as to how we can improve both. Before you can enjoy a pomegranate you have to cut through a thick outer skin and then you have to remove the arils by peeling away the membranes (see below for links on how to remove the arils). You really have to put in some work before you are able to enjoy the fruit. Sometimes in life, you want to take the easy route, but that might not always be the best thing for you. If you work hard towards fulfilling your goals you will appreciate those sweet hard-earned results even more. When it comes to our relationship with G-d, sometimes you might think that He isn't there and that He isn't listening to you. G-d is always there if you just look past the hardships you're going through you will see that He has been there all along. Even during difficult times, He is there caring for and watching over each and every one of us.

Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Thighs

1/4 pomegranate molasses* plus 1 Tbs for drizzling
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 lb skin on chicken thighs (you can use boneless just adjust cooking time)
3 large white or red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate arils for garnishing
Fresh herbs for garnishing

Combine the pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, brown sugar, spices, lemon juice, garlic and jalapeno in a gallon sized zip-top bag. Add the chicken and really massage the marinade into the chicken. Place the bag in a bowl or baking dish just in case it leaks and then stick it in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to one day. If you want to make this in advance just stick the bag of chicken in the freezer for up to one month marinade and all.
When the chicken is done marinading preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C and spray a 9x13 pan or sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the sliced onions in the pan in a single layer. Place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes until cooked through making sure to baste the chicken with the juices in the bottom of the pan every 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter drizzle with pan juices and arrange the flavorful caramelized onions around the chicken. Garnish the chicken with the pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs, and 1 Tbs of pomegranate molasses.

This works great on chicken thighs, but it would also be a great marinade for a roast or duck.

*If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by pouring 2 cups of pomegranate juice into a pot with 3 Tbs sugar and 3 Tbs lemon juice. Let the mixture reduce over a low flame for about 2 hours until it has reduced by half and has thickened slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.
Alternatively, you can use balsamic vinegar for that tart slightly sweet flavor.

How to seed a pomegranate
In water -
Wooden spoon -
Slicing -