Israeli Couscous with Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes

Israeli Couscous

I realize I have been MIA since Purim, but the last month was a long series of crappy happenstance that ate up most of my free time.  Oddly, one of the last of the series, the evening before Pesach began, was my inspiration for today’s post.  I was driving in the Mission, headed over for a Troika dinner meeting when, in my haste to find a parking space, I crashed my car into an Indian food delivery truck.  Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply attached to my car I am, so after assurances that no one was hurt, the sadness of my broken car set in. Despite this, following the insurance fun and the bungee cording of my car’s bumper into a drivable arrangement, we managed to resume the evening plans.  My fellow Troika members, Sarah and Megan, consoled my wounded ego with assurances that I was a decent driver and fed me chametz in the form of Israeli couscous. It was amazingly delicious, both warm the night before and again cold for lunch the next day.

With Passover behind us and with Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, coming up next Tues, a little Israeli chametz, seemed like a good way to come back.  Israeli couscous, or ptitim, was invented by the Osem food company to serve as a substitute for rice during the years following the founding of Israel, when rice was in short supply. It is wheat based and has grown significantly in popularity in the US in recent years, and can now be found in most US grocery stores.

Its amazing adaptability, also gave me the opportunity to play Ready Steady Cook. I had some bell peppers that needed to be used, as well as some cherry tomatoes that I bought believing they were an orange breed, but it turns out they were just really under-ripe and flavorless. The best way to rescue bad tomatoes is to roast them with a little olive oil and salt, so into the oven they went. I figured as long as I was turning on the oven I may as well roast the bell peppers too. Digging through my kitchen I discovered a small bag of pine nuts left from pesto making in September, a shallot in its last moments,  and way in the back of my fridge, my long-neglected jar of preserved meyer lemons, that I put up last year. I threw these things together with a block of feta and I had dinner.

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from Pesach past

mmm... matzo ball soup

Passover is rapidly approaching and I have been laid up after knee surgery for the past week. I had grand plans for Passover related posts this year but my recovery has kept me off me feet longer than I anticipated.  In my delusion of being much younger than I actually am I thought I would be cooking away this weekend, but am still propped up with an ice pack.  Luckily, I am bucking tradition and not hosting a Seder until the 4th night, since it also happens to be my birthday, so I have a couple of weeks to go. Unluckily, this means no birthday cake, but I prefer ice cream anyway. So, as I slowly get back into the kitchen, here are some of our recipes from last year to help with your Seder menu planning:

Matzah Ball Soup

Make Your Own Matzah

Matzah Crack .. I mean Candy

Charoset

Matzah Brie (Fried matzah)

Pomelo Passover Bars

Chocolate Orange Truffles

Passover Kamish (mandelbrot)

and last but not least Hillel’s kosher for Passover BLT sandwich with homemade lamb bacon

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Filed under Holidays, Jewish, Passover

Polish Egg Bread (for Purim and Shabbat)


“What foods other than hamantaschen are traditional for purim?!”

This is the question I asked myself (and google) this week. According to Wilshire Blvd. Temple in Los Angeles, there are quite a few of other more savory options. Among them are kreplach, filled with minced meat or vegetables to evoke the response of stopping and general noise making upon hearing ‘haman’. Some communities will also eat nuts and beans because *legend has it* Esther ate mostly these foods in the court of King Ahashuerus (he didn’t keep kosher).

So what about this year’s fun shabbat/purim combination?! Polish Egg Bread. Also known as “koyletsh” (or sometimes spelled: keylitsh, keylitch, koilitch, koylatsh) this is an extra rich challah type bread prepared for special occasions and Purim. Why Purim? Apparently the long strands for braiding are supposed to remind us of the ropes used to hang Haman. So morbid.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Bread, Jewish, Purim, Shabbat

Chocolate Hazelnut (aka Nutella) Hamantaschen

Nutella Hamantaschen

As you may have noticed, the Heathens produced quite a few hamantaschen recipes last year for Purim, so I was struggling a bit to come up with something unique. I re-read Marc’s post and was reminded that his mother uses chocolate in hers, and the same day went digging through my freezer. I came across a bag of Oregon hazelnuts, that were given to me by my friends, Penny and Bill, brought back from one of their many trips to Eugene to see family and the Ducks. At that point I recalled of the joy of the ultimate combination of chocolate and hazelnuts:  Nutella. The ingredients of Nutella are relatively simple (sugar, oil, hazelnuts, cocoa powder), and I realized I could easily make my own with my unearthed treasure of hazelnuts.  I adore Nutella and will put it on just about anything, so filling  hamantaschen with it may be the most deliciously evil idea to occur on the blog since the (in)famous animal style latke.

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Purim and St. Patrick’s Day

Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes

Obviously these two holidays are totally unrelated except for the fact that they fall within two days of each other this year. While I am working on a new hamantaschen recipe this weekend and starting the brine for my annual corned beef, I invite you to peruse some recipes from last year:

Learn why corned beef is really a Jewish thing that got adopted by Irish Americans and make your own or you can head over to Wise Sons Deli on Saturday to try theirs.

For Purim ideas:
Traditional poppy seed hamantaschen

Honey whole wheat hamantaschen

Onazi haman – Fried Haman’s Ears

Kicheleh, aka Dutch Puffed Purim dough

Ma’amoul – Menena (Walnut & Date Tartlets)

Kreplach

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Filed under Holidays, Jewish, Meat, Purim

Porcupine Meatballs

Cutie "Porcupine" Meatballs

So this is an Israeli version of homey-hibernation-mode meatballs that was passed along from one of the best Israeli home cooks I know (a close second to my grandma). Super easy, extremely fast, and delicious… well apparently-I’m still vegetarian.  In a fresh tomato sauce and made in a flash they are ideal for quick hearty meals or to feed the little ones. In Hebrew they are called Ktzizot (keh-tzi-tzoat) Kipod (keep-od), which translates to porcupine meatballs. They are called this because of the way the rice pops out of the meat when they are done, reminiscent of the quills of the cute little animal often seen scurrying around Israel.

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Come on, you won’t be disappointed you did.

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Abadi…Savory sesame cookies

"Abadi"... reads: delicious savory cookies

If you know me longer than 5 minutes, you’ll probably come to understand my deep love of fresh fruit, produce, and markets. So of course I am a little too obsessed with the shuk (everyday open air produce market) here in Tel Aviv. To say that I frequent the shuk is a bit of an understatement. I have my preferred vendors and stalls and am thoroughly proud to say that I’ve become a usual face in the market community. So I’m pretty keen on what’s going on in the shuk, I often contemplate opening my own stall there when I see vacancies. Anyways, when someone decided to open a stall dedicated to abadi cookies, I was inspired to try my own hand at making them.

 

Abadi is really the name of the brand of the cookies, let’s say like Oreos, even the weird flavors are still called Oreo cookies. And like Oreos, there’s just one brand. These cookies come in a various types, different shapes, toppings, and are offered in both sweet and savory versions. But of course the originals are the best. They are flakey and flavorful, and come in delicious little O shapes. After an intense amount of searching I finally came across a recipe in Hebrew, from one of the online newspapers here. And I must say that these turned out pretty close to the originals.

These cookies are pretty easy and fun to make (ie. good activity for the kids). You can make them into sticks or circles, top them with za’atar, sesame, or sea salt. They are perfect for when you want to a snack for coffee with company or to calm the afternoon munchies. Just be warned, they are addictive.

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Dilly Carrots

For those of us who can’t jetset to San Francisco to eat the famed Wise Son pickles, this easy-to-do recipe will not only provide tasty results BUT will also make you feel like a DIY superstar. The Heathens have offered a couple different variations of pickling, but I would like to add my favorite from the Ball Complete Book of Preserving. These make a fun gift (perhaps for the Purim mishloach manot you’re making in a couple weeks??)

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Filed under Cured and Pickled, Deli, Fruit and Vegtables, Jewish

Tehina Cookies

Cookies are so photogenic

Someone at my yoga studio requested I make them tehina cookies. Tehina is sesame seed paste and is used prolifically in Israeli foods, like hummushalvah, or straight up as a condiment with falafel. Obviously jumping at the opportunity for an excuse to make cookies I immediately set to the task. I never fail to be in awe of the strange properties of tehina. It can be liquid or turned into a solid, savory or sweet…. whatever it is made into, it’s bound to be delicious.

These little cookies are no exception. It’s similar in a way to the nuttiness of peanut butter. They taste like halvah and melt in your mouth. These are SO easy and quick to make. They will not disappoint. You can easily double the recipe, or use margarine instead of butter to make it dairy-free.
Click on for the recipe!

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Eggs with lox

I spent the better part of the last decade believing I had an intolerance to eggs. Every 6 months or so I would try them again just be be sure because I love them and regret it within an hour. Recently, I started buying the cage free organic ones at Trader Joes and low and behold my intolerance has disappeared.  I am not sure if I just got over it or there was something in standard eggs that was causing the issue, but either way I have resumed eating eggs with gusto. As I have mentioned in the past my dad used to get up on Sundays to get fresh bagels and then would make a giant pan of scrambled eggs to go along with it. I have now resurrected the eggs on Sunday tradition for myself and a friend who has the tendency to hang around on Sundays. Normally I am a big fan of bacon with/in/on my eggs, but having been indoctrinated by the several weeks of Wise Sons delicatessen brunches, I decided to go deli on my eggs.

Scrambled eggs with lox, scallions and cream cheese is now a modern Jewish brunch standard. Why just throw lox and cream cheese on top of a bagel when you can serve it up all creamy with your eggs… and then put it on top of your bagel.

recipe after the break

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Filed under Breakfast, Deli, Jewish