Recipes with Friends

Roasted kohlrabi, beets and fennel
Roasted kohlrabi, beets and fennel

Roasted kohlrabi, beets and fennel

I love getting tips and new ideas from my friends. I also love brainstorming with them to come up with new ideas. Both of these happened to be when I was on a recent visit to Cape Town. At a glorious BBQ at her home, my friend Marianna introduced me to a new idea for serving kohlrabi. A relatively common vegetable in Israel, it’s less known in other countries. I first met this hard root veggie when I moved to Israel. It’s always served raw and in salads – I don’t love it as I think it’s rather bland. Marianna shook things up by roasting it, and it was sensational. A few nights later, I was treated to another wonderful meal at my friend Adrienne who roasted beets and fennel together. That too was a great combo. Then the topic of roasted kohlrabi came up, and hey presto, the two of us figured that throwing all three into the roasting pan had to be a good idea. It was!

I now have a new favorite roasted veggie combo that taste amazing, is really easy to prepare, and the best part is that whenever I make it, I’ll think about Marianna and Adrienne. Food and friends are really the best combination. Thanks ladies – this one’s for you.

ROASTED KOHLRABI, BEETS AND FENNEL

Ingredients

Kohrabi, beets and fennel

Kohrabi, beets and fennel

1-2 large fennel bulbs

2 large beets

3 kohlrabis

1-2 heads of garlic (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt

2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (for serving)

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)

2. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper and grease it with some of the olive oil.

3. Fennel – slice off the base of the fennel, and tops and peel the outer layer. Chop into large bit size chunks.

4. Kohlrabi – peel the kohlrabi and cut them into large bite size chunks.

5. Beets - peel the beets and cut them into bite size chunks that are smaller than the kohlrabi and the fennel as the beets take a little longer to cook.

6. Place all the veggies in the baking dish, including the whole heads of garlic, sprinkle with salt and the remaining olive oil and toss to coat all the veggies in oil. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a fork smoothly enters a piece of beet.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Squeeze the garlic out of the peels into the veggies (if using), sprinkle with Balsamic vinegar, toss around and serve at room temperature or warm.

Serves about 6 people.

Something Healthy, Something Asian

Seaweed Salad
Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad

One of my favorite dishes to order when we get takeout sushi is seaweed salad. I love the flavor combination and I adore the taste of seaweed. And, it turns out, wakame, the edible seaweed used in this salad, is really good for you – while it’s a little high on sodium, it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of Vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and more (check out the nutritional low-down here).

After the 5,000th time I ordered this salad, I decided that it was time to make it myself. Turns out that the recipes online didn’t quite square up to what I was used to eating and enjoying, so I created my own. You can buy wakame today in most large supermarkets and specialty food stores in Israel in the Asian sections. It comes in 40g and 100g bags. For this recipe, I use 40g. Don’t be alarmed when you see the raw product – it looks like there’s very little in the bag, but once you add water, it expands like crazy in a few minutes. You can also add tofu to make it a really nutritious meal.

While there are a few steps to making this salad, none of them take very much time, and from start to finish this salad takes about 20 minutes to throw together, depending on how many ingredients you add. My recipe has a few options for ingredients, but add whatever you enjoy, just make sure they are crunchy veggies and that they are very thinly sliced so they suck in all that dressing flavor. I’ve made this several times in the past few weeks, and I am addicted.

SEAWEED SALAD

Ingredients

Dressing

1/3 cup Asian rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons Mirin (optional)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon minced garlic

Salad

100g (3½ oz) thin rice noodles

40 g (1½ oz) dried wakame

3 small cucumbers (Israeli) peeled and very thinly sliced

2 small red peppers very thinly sliced

A large handful of bean sprouts

(Optional) About 100g (4 oz) firm tofu (add the amount according to your taste)

How to do it

1. Add the noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and stir. Bring the water to the boil and let the noodles cook for 1-2 minutes. Taste them and just as they have softened, remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Tip: I break the noodles into shorter strands so they’re easier to eat.

2. Place the dried wakame in a medium-sized bowl, fill with cold water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then drain well, squeezing out any excess water. The wakame will more or less quadruple in size.

3.  If you are using tofu, cut into into small cubes and marinade it in the dressing for at least an hour before you assemble the salad.

4. Mix the wakame, noodles and all the vegetables (and tofu) in a salad bowl, and add the dressing, mixing it all through well. Allow the salad to sit for at least 2 hours before serving – the longer it sits, the better the flavors will be. This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Serves about 8.

Keep warm with hot fruit crumble

Fruit crumble

Fruit crumble with apples and plums served with whipped cream

A hearty winter meal is best ended with a warm fruit crumble.

I’ve tried lots of different versions of fruit crumbles, crisps, buckles, cobblers, but I always come back to the one I’ve been making for what seems like forever. I’ve cobbled together (yes, a shameless pun) a recipe using a recipe from The Joy of Cooking for the crumble part. You know how the book has those two red book-mark ribbons? Well, one of my two ribbons is permanently placed between the pages of this recipe because it’s what I most use this book for. I use my own fresh fruit filling recipe,  which you can vary depending on the season and your preferences. My advice is to always use apples as a base because they are nice and tart and aren’t too watery, so maintain a good consistency. Then add your favorites – strawberries, plums, peaches… To finish it off, serve this with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream of sweetened whipped cream, and send your guests home desperately needing a nap!

This recipe works very well as a parev dessert as well.

HOT FRUIT CRUMBLE

Ingredients

5 cups peeled and very thinly sliced green apples (for variation, cut down apples to 3 cups and add 2 cups of peeled and thinly sliced ripe plums or peaches, or sliced strawberries. For strawberries, slice ahead of time and let them sit in a strainer for about an hour to get rid of excess liquid)

1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups packed brown sugar

1½ cups flour

1½ cups quick cooking oatmeal

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

How to do it

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter/margarine.

3. Add the sugar, flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix together well.

4. Spread half of the crumble mixture on the bottom of a medium-sized ungreased oven-proof dish, and pat down so the bottom of the dish is fully covered. Then spread the fruit over the crumble. Top with the rest of the crumble mixture, spreading it evenly over the fruit.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve warm. Serves about 8.

It’s Thanksgivikkah – pumpkin, meet potato

Pumpkin potato latkes for Thanksgivikkah
Pumpkin potato latkes for Thanksgivikkah

Pumpkin potato latkes for Thanksgivikkah

Next week, for the first time since 1888, we get to light Hanukkah candles on Thanksgiving. The next time we’ll get to do it… 2070 according to Chabad, and some pessimists say it won’t be for another 70,000 or so years. Either way, this year is a once or twice in a lifetime to go Thanksgivikkah crazy and make… pumpkin latkes! OK, so this may not be the culinary event of seven millenia, but why not?

In honor of this meeting of worlds, traditions, events and gastro-rituals, I threw together this recipe. I wasn’t sure if it would work – pumpkin is rather watery and can cause problems when added to a mixture that you’d rather not see running with liquid. The secret is in the flour… don’t skip it! Also, as you know, I hate frying and see no need to not bake these in the oven – easier and less fattening too. But if you feel the need to maintain the Hanukkah tradition of soaking all you eat in hot oil, skip the oven stage and fry them instead in hot oil as you would regular latkes.

If the picture is less than glam, it’s because my family grabbed them hot off the baking pan and demolished them before you could say “Maccabi Pilgrims!”

THANKSGIVIKKAH POTATO PUMPKIN OVEN BAKED LATKES

Ingredients

700-800 g (1½ lbs) pumpkin

2 medium sized potatoes

2 eggs

¼ cup of flour (you can also use whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

3 tablespoons oil

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

2. Cut the pumpkin into 2-3cm (1 inch) thick slices and place on a lighly oiled and baking papered baking tray. Roast for about half an hour or until the pupkin is completely cooked through and slightly browning. (You can do this a day or two before and store in the fridge).

3. Grate the potatoes (not finely) and rinse them in water to get rid of the starch. Place them in a colander to drain – leave them to drain for about half and hour (at least).  Squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands.

4. In a mixing bowl combine the potato, pumpkin (which you mash up with a fork), eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using).

5. Place a piece of baking paper on a large baking tray and spread the oil on the paper evenly. Drop about one tablespoon of the mixture on the paper and flatten it a bit with the spoon or a spatula and tuck in any loose strands of potato so they don’t burn. Squeeze any excess egg mixture out of the batter before you drop it on the tray.

6. Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn over each latke and bake for another 15 minutes or until both sides are browned (you don’t have to add more oil – there will be oil left on the paper).

6. Place the latkes on a double layer of paper towel to dab off any excess oil.

Makes about 20 latkes.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce or with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Berry coffee cake – a real winner

Berry Filled Coffee Cake

Berry Filled Coffee Cake

My book club ladies were over last week. After 14 years of being in the same book club, it’s important to shake things up when it comes to the cakes I bake. So I looked for something different to make, and the result was worth the experiment.

I found a recipe for a fruit coffee cake (not coffee flavored, rather a cake one eats with coffee…). Many of the recipes for coffee cakes that I’ve tried have been on the dry side, and if you don’t eat them when they’re hot, they stick in your throat. This one doesn’t fall into that category, I’m please to say, and earns a place on my blog, especially because it was just as moist and delicious the following day when eaten cold.

I took the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, but I had to make a few adjustments to the original because the quantities were a little wonky. What’s good about this recipe is that you can use lots of different fruits. I had a container of frozen blackberries in the freezer that I needed to use up, so I did, and it was great. I love the combination of a tart fruit with a sweet cake. And the color combo is easy on the eyes.

There are a few stages in making this cake, but I think the result is worth the extra effort that goes into a non-one-bowl cake. I wouldn’t post if I didn’t.

FRUIT FILLED COFFEE CAKE

Ingredients

1½-2 cups  sliced, peeled apricots or peaches; chopped, peeled apples; or blueberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup  water

¼ cup  sugar

2 tablespoons  corn flour

2 cups  all-purpose flour

1 cup  sugar

1 teaspoon  baking powder

½ teaspoon  baking soda

1/3 cup  butte

2 small eggs, beaten

¾ cup  buttermilk

1 teaspoon  vanilla

¼ cup  all-purpose flour

¼ cup  sugar

2 tablespoons  butter

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

How to do it

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the fruit and the water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer covered, about 5 minutes or until fruit is tender (for apples this may take longer). (If you are using berries – fresh or frozen, you will not need to simmer them – just bring to boiling.) Then mix the cornstarch in a separate cup with a couple of tablespoons of cold water until it’s smooth and has no lumps. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and quickly stir into fruit. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more and set filling aside to cool a little.

Berry filled coffee cake

Second layer of batter on top of the berries

2.Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). In a bowl combine the 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the 1/3 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

3.In another bowl combine egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until just combined – the batter will be lumpy. Spread half of the batter into 24cm (10 inch) round baking dish that’s sprayed with non-stick spray). Spoon the fruit over the bottom layer and gently spread spread it evenly over the batter. Drop remaining batter in small mounds onto filling.

4.In a small bowl stir together the ¼ cup flour and the ¼ cup sugar, and an optional ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in the 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over coffee cake. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Berry filled coffee cake

Crumb topping

Serve warm and if you’re feeling decadent, do serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A Respite from Rosh Hashana Overeating with Salmon

Asian Aalmon

Asian Salmon

This year, Rosh Hashana is a doozie – two days of chag and then Shabbat. What this means in a nutshell is a lot of eating. The number of meals ahead of us from Wednesday evening until Shabbat is over is better left uncounted. So much to cook and so much to eat begs for at least one simple and light dairy meal to be added to the mix.

If you’re looking for a ridiculously quick, easy and very delicious main course, here’s a recipe for a side of salmon with light Asian flavors that is in constant demand in my house. I’m glad it is because it takes minutes to prepare and in less than half an hour it’s cooked. Try to find a nice meaty piece of salmon and make every effort not to overcook it. Don’t forget that the delicate flesh of the salmon will continue to cook a little on the hot baking tray after  you’ve removed it from the oven, so remove it in plenty of time.

Add this to your repertoire and I guarantee that you’ve be making this over and over again.

ASIAN SALMON

Ingredients

1 whole fillet (side) of salmon (about 1 kg/2 lbs)

4 tablespoons Mirin

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

How to do it

1. Line a large oven baking tray with tin foil – make sure the foil is large enough to wrap around the whole salmon with space to spare. Place the salmon in the middle of the foil

2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl till combined and pour over the salmon. Gather up the sides of the foil, leaving space above the fish so the fish can steam when cooking. Seal all the sides very well. Leave to marinade for 10-15 minutes or even up to an hour.

3. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350ºF).

4. Bake the fish in the oven for 20 minutes. Then open up the foil and allow the fish to cook for another 5 minutes so the top can caramelize slightly. Do not overcook – test the fish by sliding a fork into the meatiest part of the fish and if it’s still just slightly under-cooked in the middle, remove the fish and let it sit for a few minutes before serving. Save the sauce to spoon over the fish when serving.

Serves about 5 as a main course.

Gumbo in a Pot for that Summer Chaos

Kosher Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo served with Rice

The summer vacation is now starting to weigh heavy on all us parents. Let’s face it, as much as we love having our kids around, trying to keep working, getting them ferried around to their various venues of entertainment and cooking many more meals than usual is tiring. This is when the “meal in a pot” comes in handy. Even if it’s not always child friendly, it means you can make something delish for the grownups in no time, and throw a schnitzel in the oven for the young ‘uns on those days where you’ve just run out of steam.

This gumbo is one of my husband’s great “one pot” finds. Living in Israel exposed me to the joys of okra, or bamia as it’s known here, which is a main ingredient. While I am a huge proponent of “fresh, fresh, fresh”, this is one of those veggies that is a bit of a pain in the rear end to deal with fresh, and the frozen version is just wonderful and super easy to use. This also ties in with the “easy meals for summer” concept. So use the frozen version and make your life easy. This is a recipe from the local chef and author Gil Hovav, who has made it his life’s work to eat his way through the back alley restaurants of Israel in his search for really authentic local cuisine. Try this out and taste one of the gems he’s discovered.

CHICKEN GUMBO WITH OKRA

Ingredients

6 skinless chicken thighs cut into the thighs and legs (it’s important to have them skinless)

Black pepper and salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

500 g (1 lb) okra – if they’re small, leave them whole otherwise cut into bite sized chunks

2 medium sized onions chopped

4-5 garlic cloves crushed

1 red or green pepper chopped

2 stalks of celery chopped

2 large ripe peeled tomatoes chopped

2 cups of chicken broth

1 teaspoon spicy paprika or 1 teaspoon paprika + ½ a teaspoon cayenne pepper

500 g (1 lb) chopped spicy chorizo or cabanos sausage (small bite sizes)

How to do it

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and seal them in 2 tablespoons of the oil that you’ve heated in a large pot, Remove the chicken and saute the onion until it’s transparent. Then add the garlic and saute for another minute making sure it doesn’t burn.

2. Add the pepper, celery, okra and paprika (and cayenne pepper if using) and stir over a medium heat for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and continue to stir every now and again for about 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in a small pot, (I know it’s another pot, but it’s small), mix together the remaining oil with the flour, cook over a low flame, stirring, until the mixture takes on a light brown color – do no burn.

5. Add a little of the chicken stock – about a ¼ cup - to  the flour mixture, mix and then mix it in to the pot with the vegetables. Add the rest of the stock and the chicken pieces and bring to the boil, reduce the flame to low, cover and simmer for about an hour. If the liquid starts to disappear,, add a little more water to the pot to get a stew consistency.

6. After it’s been cooking for an hour, add the pieces of sausage, cover and simmer for a further 30-40 minutes on low heat.

Serve on rice.

Serves about 8 people.