Time for a Main Course – Curried Chicken in a Pot

I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and this meant that one of the regular dishes on our table was curry. With a large population of Malaysian decent, curries are abundant in Cape Town, and I always have curry powder in my spice drawer and use it whenever I can.

Chicken curry and rice

Once I left South Africa, I encountered curries from other parts of the world, and of course, from India. One of the simplest chicken dishes I make is a classic Indian curry taught to me by the wonderful Telma from Mumbai. I have no idea what the history of this recipe is, all I know is that it’s a wonderful mild curry that’s unbelievably easy to make, tastes great and my kids love it. Need I say more.

I gave my son a plate of curry and rice and then I had to leave the house for a while. When I came back, I went to upload the pictures I'd taken in the kitchen and found that he had taken a picture of his very empty plate. I am taking it as proof of how much he enjoyed the curry.

When I first made this, I panicked a little when I put all the ingredients into the pot and saw that there was no liquid. Not to worry – the tomatoes melt in the pot and become the liquid in which the chicken cooks.

So with no further ado…

CURRIED CHICKEN IN A POT

Ingredients 

1 chicken cut into pieces (my family only likes dark meat, so I just get 2kg/5lb thighs, legs and wings)

3 onions sliced

5-6 cloves of garlic crushed

Fresh ginger (a piece about 3 cm/1 inch long) peeled and chopped as finely as you can

5-6 large ripe tomatoes (peeled if desired) roughly chopped (do NOT de-seed the tomatoes – you’ll need all the liquid of the tomatoes for the sauce)

A large handful of fresh chopped coriander

1 teaspoon of salt

Juice of half a small lemon

1 teaspoon curry spice (any will do)

Half a green chili pepper chopped (optional, if you want the curry to have a little heat)

5-6 potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces

How to do it

1. Add all ingredients to a large pot and cover and bring to the boil

All the in the pot before cooking

2. Turn down the flame and simmer for an hour or until the meat from the leg starts falling off, stirring occasionally .

Serve with rice

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Memories of Tuscany (or how not to cook pasta?)

I had the very special privilege of spending many hours of my first ever trip to Italy cooking in a kitchen in Tuscany, alongside the owners of a restaurant. It’s not what you’re thinking – it wasn’t one of those learn-to-cook-in-a-Tuscan-kitchen for tourists packages. Rather, I was in Italy as the manager of the under-12 Israeli national baseball team that traveled to Tuscany this past July to compete in a series of tournaments and this, oddly, is how I found myself cooking in a Tuscan kitchen.

Because an Israeli national sports team needs to eat kosher food, we were faced with a challenge. We did bring over 100 kg of cooked, frozen kosher meat with us from Israel, but we had to supplement this with side dishes. That mainly meant that lunches were a massive pot of  pasta with tomato sauce and cut up vegetables for the hungry players who needed their carbo-loading after and before games.

Most kindly, and to my joy, Andrea and Cristina Pivirotto, the brother and sister who own the Ironic Room restaurant that abuts one of the baseball fields in the town of Grosseto, allowed me into their kitchen to prepare the food. They were very amused by the set-up: I would finish coaching first base in the baseball games, then sprint from the field straight into the kitchen, throw an apron on over my baseball uniform and cook lunch in their hot kitchen that soaked up the Italian humidity and added some of its own.

Me, (center) with the wonderful Cristina and Andrea (not in the kitchen)

With the initial chaos of arriving in Italy with the responsibility of  14 young boys and some of their accompanying family members, only once I was standing in front of Andrea’s industrial stove with garlic frying and pasta boiling did the enormity of my situation hit me. I was cooking in a Tuscan kitchen, with a REAL Tuscan cook looking over my shoulder.  Nervous much?!

The exchanges that ensued were priceless. Between the five words of Italian I had managed to pick up, the ten words of English that Andrea had, and, thank God, the very useful English that Cristina was able to bring to the kitchen table, we managed to communicate. As I would cook the pasta, Andrea would watch the pot and tap his watch when it was “al dente time”. I would argue that, oh sacrilege,  us Israelis like our pasta cooked a little beyond al dente. I still can’t believe I was able to stand my ground, but Andrea vs 14 very hungry 11-year-old baseball players wasn’t a fair fight for him.

Then there was my joy of joys – the wonderful fresh herb garden behind the kitchen to which Andrea gave me carte blanche. He would even run out and bring me supplies when I mustered three of my five Italian words possibly not in the right order: “Basilico fresco prego”.

The highlights of my days in Andrea’s kitchen was when he would take a sniff at my sauce, and smile and nod. Having scolded me for several other mistakes, I know he wasn’t humoring me; Italians and Israelis share a trait of being straight forward, which I love. So while the pasta may not have been cooked to Tuscan perfection, the sauce worked and the kids loved it too (and I promise to post my recipe in another post). And to have Andrea and Cristina’s seal of approval was the ultimate accolade. Cooking with the two of them around was beyond fun and I also learned a few things along the way. I wish I had been able to stay for longer to focus on cooking alone. But I will find my way back to their cosy kitchen in Grosseto to learn some more one day.

Hot and sweaty in the kitchen

I thought of Andrea and his tut-tutting last night when I made my favorite very quick pasta dish, and prepared the penne noodles, which I always try not to overcook, but also to make sure they aren’t too hard. I like a little bite in them, but they shouldn’t be too chewy. My rule of thumb for cooking pasta (Andrea, don’t read this) is that once the pasta starts boiling in the water, I start the timer, adding 1-2 minutes to the cooking time stated on the box.

My “recipe” for my hanging around at home pasta is so quick that the sauce I make is usually ready before the pasta is finished. It’s not a saucy pasta, rather the vegetables are sauteed together and break down and soften to create a wonderful accompaniment to the noodles. The ingredients can alse vary depending on what’s hanging around in your fridge, so have fun.

PASTA WITH SAUTEED VEGETABLES AND CHERRY TOMATOES 

Pasta with sauteed vegetables and cherry tomatoes

Ingredients

250 g penne, fusilli or elbow noodles (or any other hard noodle you like)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 red or yellow peppers sliced thinly into 2-3cm (1 inch) pieces

1 red or white onion quartered and thinly sliced

About 100 g (4 oz) ripe quartered cherry tomatoes (that’s about 12, but use more if you feel like it – the more tomatoes, the saucier the vegetables will become)

1 medium zucchini halved and sliced thinly (optional)

2 large cloves of garlic thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

How to do it

1. Cook the pasta according to instructions

2. While the pasta is cooking, slice the vegetables

3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions, peppers and zucchini, and saute until they start softening and getting some color.

4. Add the garlic slices and saute for another minute (or until you start smelling the garlic)

5. Add the tomatoes and saute for another few minutes, until the tomatoes start softening and getting some color.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste

7. Serve over the pasta and add finely grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Serves 3

The Most Amazing White Cake

When my youngest son turned six (seven years ago), I went into the kitchen and started baking my favorite quick chocolate cake, which I would bake for every birthday because it tastes good and takes no time to make. Mid-way through the prep, my son walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was baking a chocolate cake for his birthday. He looked at me with a very forlorn expression. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “You always make that cake. I want a white cake for my birthday this year.” Since I had never baked a white cake before and didn’t even know if such a cake existed, I wasn’t sure where this was coming from. But my son has never been very spoiled or demanding, so I was happy to see what I could do. So I consulted my first stop recipe  book – The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book – and behold, there was a recipe for a White Cake.

I baked the cake and it turned out moist and delicious. It instantly because a family favorite. I have been asked to bake this cake for school bake sales and other events as it’s just plain ole yummy.

White Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Fondant Cut Outs

This is a recipe for two layers or for one large disposable aluminium pan. You can reduce or double it, depending on your needs. I recently doubled it to make a large birthday cake for my friend’s daughter’s 18th birthday, filling the two layers with a mixture of whipped cream dulce de leche and icing the cake with cream cheese frosting (very decadent!).

I recently made a round two-layer version for my daughter’s birthday, covered it with a butter icing inside and out and added a fondant layer with cut-out flowers.

White Cake with Butter Cream Frosting and Fondant Decoration

This recipe also makes wonderful cupcakes, also iced with cream cheese frosting.

WHITE CAKE

Ingredients

4 egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1¾ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk

How to do it

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease two 20cm (8 inch) round cake pans or one 33×22 cm (13×9 inch) baking pan.

2.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds or till soft. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until  combined. Add egg whites to the butter one at a time, beating very well in high speed after each addition.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the mixer alternating with the buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.

4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan(s).

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. (For cupcakes, bake for about 15 minutes or until light brown.)

White Cake

6. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting with desired frosting.

7. Frost with cream cheese frosting

Frosting the White Cake

Do salads mix with winter? Sure! Try my Quinoa Salad

As winter begins to set in (for those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere), I am sure that I am one of many whose appetites change towards more hot food, and away from cold salads and fresh vegetables. But I do have a few salads that work well in the winter because they are a little heavier than their summery counterparts, but are still healthy and a great accompanied to any hot dish.

When I discovered quinoa a few years ago, I was an instant convert. I’ve never been a huge fan of bulgar wheat, so I rarely made the heartier bulgar-based salads as a result. Quinoa changed all this for me. After experimenting with it, I decided to combine it with roasted and fresh veggies to make a salad with tons of flavor from the roasted vegetables and that requisite crunch from the fresh ones.

Quinoa sucks in liquid, so I make a lot of the citrus dressing for this salad. Because this salad is so hearty, I really like it for the winter. The vibrant colors of the vegetables also brighten up the table.

This is a great option to have on your table for vegetarians, as it’s really filling and tasty. It also keeps very well in the fridge, and tastes great leftover. This recipe is good for about 6-8 side servings.

ROASTED VEGETABLE AND QUINOA SALAD WITH CITRUS DRESSING 

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad in a Citrus Dressing

Salad Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 red peppers cut into quarters (without the white bits)

2 carrots cut lengthwise into 6ths and cut down the middle again

2 zucchinis cut lengthwise into 6ths and cut down the middle again

1 large onion cut into 6ths and cut down the middle again (make sure the onion doesn’t fall into pieces, otherwise it will get burned in the oven)

1 whole head of garlic

2 Israeli cucumbers diced

2 pickled cucumbers diced

About 10 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

Dressing Ingredients 

Juice of half a small lemon (about 2 teaspoons)

Juice of half an orange

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

How to do it

1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

2. Prepare the quinoa (I usually heat a little olive oil in a small pot and saute the quinoa for a minute, adding 2 cups of boiling water. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and let the quinoa simmer until all the water has cooked away. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa cool down.)

3. Place the cut up peppers, carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic head on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and greased with the olive oil and put on the middle rack of the oven. Sprinkle a little more olive oil over the vegetables as well. Roast for 20 minutes and then turn the peppers, zucchini and carrots over using tongs,and roast for another about 15 minutes or until the peppers start to get black. (Don’t turn the onions or they will fall apart)

4. Remove the vegetables from the oven and put the pepper pieces into a small plastic bag and close the bag. After about 20 minutes, you will be able to easily peel the skin off the peppers.

5. Chop up all the roasted and vegetables into small bite-sized pieces (discarding any papery, dark onion slices); and add to the quinoa, along with the chopped fresh vegetables.

6. Mix the dressing in a jar with a lid that closes well by adding all dressing ingredients plus the roasted garlic, which you squeeze out of the top part of the head. If you find this difficult, take a serrated knife and slice the tips of the garlic cloves off and then squeeze – it’s just like squeezing toothpaste. Shake the dressing very well and taste for flavor. Pour over the salad and serve.

Double Dipping

Anyone who was of sitcom-watching age in 1993, knows all about double-dipping, the phrase made famous by George Costanza in Seinfeld, when he lost his cool at a date’s cousin who puts his chip back into the dip bowl at a wake. I’m not going to be giving instructions here on how  to add your own germs to dip, rather, in this season of hosting guests and making lots of food for entertaining purposes, I think it’s time for that old favorite, the dip, which is quick to make and staves off the hunger before any meal. For this post, I’m sharing two dips – my double dip.

For the past 12 years, I have been a member of a book club. The rules of entertaining at the meetings are clear: No more to be served than a cake, dip, cut up vegetables and chips. This eliminates the need to “outdo” the previous month’s hostess, and works well to reduce pre-meeting organizational stress. I prepare two of my favorite dips each time I host. The first, Onion Dip, is embarrassingly easy and yet is always demolished. I always get asked for the “recipe” and I blush to reveal it. The other is slightly more work, but is delicious. It’s a sun dried tomato dip that I adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten. In her inimitable way, she uses “one million” percent fat Philadelphia cream cheese; I have taken it down several notches and use either 5% or 3% cream cheese (I use Strauss’ Symphony cheeses) and I use low fat mayo.

I know that dips and crudites are very 1970s, but somehow, whenever I put out a platter, it all gets gobbled up, so why fix it if it ain’t broke?!

ONION DIP 

Onion Dip

Ingredients

200 ml (7 fl oz) 15% sour cream (you can use the higher fat sour creams as well)

1 tablespoon onion soup powder

How to do it

Mix ’em well and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. That’s it, seriously!

Multiply the quantities according to need. The dip in the picture is a triple quantity.

SUN DRIED TOMATO DIP 

Sun Dried Tomato Dip with Cut Vegetables

Ingredients

About 125g (4 ½ oz) sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained

200g (7 oz) 5% or 3% cream cheese

3 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and process until smooth

Serve both dips with cut up vegetables and/or potato chips.

The Parasha of the Lentil Stew

In this week’s Parasha, Toldot, we read one of the better known Bereishit stories in which Esau sells his birthright to Yaacov for a bowl of lentil stew: “And Jacob gave Esau bread and a stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and arose and left, and Esau despised the birthright.”  Looking beyond the interpretations of the sages, I have to think that that must have been some lentil stew for it to have changed the entire course of Jewish history. 

I cannot possibly assume to know what was in that stew. On her website, “The Shiksa in the Kitchen“, Tori Avey has done some in-depth research to come up with a very authentic recipe that aims to replicate the ingredients of the time.

I have taken a little more license. My recipe for Indian Red Lentil Soup (Dahl/Dal) was clearly not what Yaacov served his brother, but I did suspect that had Esau tasted this aromatic lentil soup, he would just as quickly have sold out. My concession to the details of the parasha is that this recipe uses red lentils, and we read that the stew was indeed red.

This recipe was given to me by a wonderful and caring woman called Telma from Mumbai, who enriched my culinary repertoire.

RED LENTIL SOUP (OR AS I HAVE IT WRITTEN ON MY RECIPE ‘TELMA’S DAHL’)

Ingredients

1 ½ cups small red lentils

Red Lentils

3 onions

Fresh ginger root peeled

1 medium sized green chili

3 large potatoes cubed

3 tablespoons oil

3 cloves of garlic crushed

1 carrot

4 peeled fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon chicken soup or vegetable powder

Salt to taste

1 400 ml (14 fl oz) can of coconut milk

1/2 cup fresh chopped coriander

How to do it

1. Place in a large pot the lentils, potatoes, crushed ginger (I use a piece of ginger that’s a little bigger than the size of a walnut) one of the onions diced, and the chili (remove the seeds and the white parts, and work with gloves on for this part).

2. Cover with water (till about 2-3cm/1 inch above the lentils) and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked (they will pretty much disintegrate – don’t worry, that’s the point). Turn off the heat.

3. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and brown the remaining two onions that you have quartered and sliced. Add another helping of fresh ginger (same quantity as before) and then the garlic. Once the garlic is slightly colored, remove from the heat and add to the lentils.

4. Peel the tomatoes by soaking them in boiling water for about 5 minutes and then the skins should slide off easily. If the skins don’t split open by themselves, poke a sharp knife into the tomato and that should start the process. Remove the core (hard part in the middle) and mash. Add them to the pot.

5. Peel the carrot. Once you have peeled the outside layer off, keep peeling the carrot from halfway up the carrot to the end, going around the carrot. This way you will get very thin short slices of carrot. Keep going until you reach the core and then stop and peel the other half of the carrot in the same way. Add the carrot slices to the pot.

6. Add the soup powder, coriander and coconut milk to the pot and bring to the boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Tip: You can add extra water if it is too think and you want to serve as a soup.

Serve hot as a soup or over rice as a side dish.

If you give a mouse cooked cabbage, it’s going to want some corned beef with it…

This morning I posted my sweet and sour red cabbage recipe onto my recipe pages and I figured I’d stop for the day. Then I got ansty and started to feel like the mouse from Laura Numeroff’s wonderful children’s book  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and if you have young kids and have never read it to them, I highly recommend it), desperately needing to then post my Corned Beef recipe. Because, really, the two are an edible marriage made in heaven. So, with apologies to Laura Numeroff, “If you give your readers a recipe for sweet and sour red cabbage, they’re going to want some corned beef to go with it.”

This is another recipe from my late mother-in-law. I buy the pickled brisket (I don’t pickle it myself) and I always try to get a large piece, because it feeds a lot of people and leftover corned beef is wonderful on sandwiches or just on a plate! I also love making this for Shabbat as it doesn’t need to be served hot, and that’s a plus. It also freezes really well after it’s sliced.

CORNED BEEF 

Slicing the corned beef very thinly

Ingredients

2-3 kg (4.5-6.5 lb) piece of pickled brisket

2 stalks of celery

2 medium onions roughly sliced

3 bay leaves

1 small stalk of fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 whole cloves of garlic

Cold water

1/3 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons vinegar

1/3 cup brown sugar

How to make it

1. In a very large pot, place the beef, onions, celery, bay leaves, garlic and rosemary.

2. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

3. Turn down the flame and simmer slowly for 4 hours.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

5. Mix the ketchup, oil, mustard, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to the boil while stirring. Turn off the flame once it’s boiled.

6. Transfer the beef into a roasting pan that you have sprayed with non-stick spray, and evenly pour the sauce over the top of the beef. Tip: The sauce sticks to the bottom of the pan, so I recommend using a disposable aluminium container to bake the beef in.

7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sauce starts browning.

8. Cool and slice with an electric knife.

Serve at room temperature, and prepare my sweet and sour red cabbage as a side dish!

Delicious Parev Zucchini Cake – Perfect for After the Turkey

When you think zucchini you’re not likely to think cake, but here’s one that unusually has this green vegetable as its main ingredient. My late mother-in-law Betsy used to make this cake all the time, and it was one of my favorites. It has that delicious winter spicy taste that I think goes perfectly with a Thanksgiving meal, and most importantly for that post-Turkey dessert, it’s parev. It may not look gorgeous, but it’s moist and tastes wonderful.

This recipe makes one large cake or two loaves that serve about 16. I also halve it and bake it in a 24 cm round pan when I don’t need to feed lots of guests. You can also prepare them as muffins. Another advantage: It freezes well, so make it today and freeze it, so you can save time on your Thursday cooking.

ZUCCHINI CAKE 

Zucchini Cake

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1¾ cups sugar

2 cups grated zucchini

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons cinnamon powder

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

2. Grease two 20x10cm (8×4 inch) loaf pans or one 28 cm (11 inch) spring-form pan.  Or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

3. In a mixer, beat the eggs and add the oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

4. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit, if using, and stir into the egg mixture.

5. Divide the batter into prepared loaf pans, muffin cups or pour into the baking pan.

6. Bake loaves for 45-55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Living in Israel is About Eating Salad

If one foodstuff comes to mind when you think about eating in Israel, it has to be salad. From a tourist’s first encounter with the Israeli hotel breakfast buffet and its abundance of salads; to the array of first course salads in traditional Israeli restaurants that fill you up even before the meat hits the table; to the fresh vegetables that are mandatory at every table in every home, this is salad country.

While to most westerners, salad means fresh lettuce, cucumber and tomato covered with dressing, or taking it to its extreme, coleslaw, for Israelis, salads range from the chopped Arab salad to grilled eggplant, to spicy tomato salad, to hummus and even to a hot salad of stir fried fresh vegetables.

Served with fresh pita from the oven, or delicious sweet challah at the Shabbat table, the following Israeli salads are two of my favorites that I make on a regular basis. Both are based on home made tehina, which is very simple to make, and tastes so much better than the store bought version. The first is the classic Baba Ghanoush, eaten in various forms all over the Mediterranean Middle East (recipe from my brother-in-law Dov). The second is a roasted pumpkin and tehina salad.

For both these salads, you need to prepare tehina by following the instructions on any container of raw tehina (I’ve included instructions in my recipe below as well). In Israel, you can buy raw tehina in any supermarket. Abroad, you can find it in stores that stock health food products and possibly very large supermarkets. My recipes for these salads (as for most salads) are not scientific, as the proportions of vegetable to tehina are a matter of taste. My proportions are about one third tehina to two thirds vegetable. If you prefer the salad to taste more strongly of tehina, adjust it so the salad is half-half. Also, raw garlic is very strong, so you can reduce the amount to half a clove or increase it if you are a garlic fan.

BABA GHANOUSH 

Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients

1 medium-sized egg plant (the eggplant should be firm and smooth)

1/3 cup of raw tehina

About 1/3 cup of cold water

1 small clove garlic

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt to taste

How to do it

1. Rinse and dry the eggplant and place it whole on a tray in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 30-45 minutes until very soft or until it bursts or a fork slides through the eggplant easily. (Cooking time will depend on the size of the eggplant as well, so keep checking after 30 minutes.)

2. Let the eggplant cool down, then peel it, and shred and chop it into small pieces. (If there are hard parts nearer the stem, don’t add them. Only use the soft parts of the eggplant.) Place in a strainer and let the excess liquid run off. I give it a squeeze with my hands to get as much liquid out as possible.

3. Prepare the tehina: In a bowl, mix the tehina, lemon juice and crushed garlic. Slowly add the water, mixing until you get a thick, but slightly runny consistency (you don’t want it to be too runny, as the eggplant is watery; but it should be runnier than hummus…). Add the chopped parsley and salt to taste. Note: You can serve this on its own or with hummus as well. To serve it on its own, make it a little runnier than you would for this salad, adding a little more water.

4. Mix the eggplant into the tehina.

Serve with pita, challah or any bread you love.

ROASTED PUMPKIN AND TEHINA SALAD 

Roasted Pumpkin and Tehina Salad

Ingredients

500g (more or less) of fresh pumpkin

1 tablespoon olive oil

Tehina (as above)

How to do it

1. Removing the skin, cut the pumpkin into medium sized cubes (about 8 cubes) of about the same size and place them on a baking paper lined baking tray, that you have greased with the olive oil.

2. Bake in a 180°C (350°F) oven, turning the cubes around every 20 minutes or so to get an even roast on the pumpkin. Remove when the pumpkin is very soft and is browned on the outsides. This usually takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour.

3. Prepare the tehina as above.

4. Shred the pumpkin with a fork or chop it with a knife and mix it into the tehina.

Serve with pita, challah or any bread you love.

By special request – Apple Pie for Thanksgiving

My friend Ann stopped me at shul yesterday and asked me for the recipe for my Apple Crumb pie so she can make it for Thanksgiving. This is a real winner, in the literal sense of the word. A few years ago, my community organized an apple pie contest, and this pie won first prize.

While there area few stages involved, including making your own pie crust, you don’t have to blind bake it, so it’s not too long in the preparation and there’s nothing too complicated to do! Serve this warm with vanilla ice cream, and watch your guests melt! I prefer making this with butter, as it always tastes better, so only use margarine if you need the pie to be parev.

(Sorry no picture yet – I haven’t made this for a while. I will update this week)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you Americans out there.

APPLE CRUMB PIE

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)

Crust

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsalted butter/margarine cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons cold water

How to do it

Mix flour and salt. Using a pastry blender (or two knives) cut the butter/margarine into the flour until you get a rough dry texture – like crumbs. Add the water one tablespoon at a time mixing it in with a spoon. Add just enough water to make the particles stick together (Note: don’t use too much water – they butter will be enough to keep the dough together. At the end, even if you think there isn’t enough water, just gather all the remaining dry ingredients into the dough with your hands to make a ball, but don’t handle it too much as this will harm the flakiness of the pastry later on.)

Press the dough into a 9 inch Pyrex pie dish, or any similar size low-sided dish. Work the dough across the bottom of the dish outward from the middle, evenly spreading it down onto the dish by working it with your fingers. Then work the dough up the sides of the dish, until the remaining dough rises above the sides. The dough should not be too thick (about 3-4mm thick – but you don’t have to measure!). Trim the overlapping dough by running a knife along the rim of the dish, and neaten up the edges with your finger so the dough is smooth.

Set aside.

Apple Filling

Ingredients

5 cups peeled, cored and very thinly sliced green apples (yellow apples also work)

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/3 C brown sugar, firmly packed

¾ cup all purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsalted butter/ margarine

How to do it

Combine sugar and cinnamon and apples. (Note: Make sure you slide the apples very thinly – no thicker than 2mm – to ensure that they bake through properly. It takes a little longer but it’s worth the extra effort) Mix well so that all the apple slices are separated and covered with the sugar mixture. Pour apples into the prepared pie dish.

In another bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut the butter into this mixture (as with the pastry) until the mixture is crumbly. (Note: If it starts clumping together, don’t worry, just separate the clumpy bits into smaller pieces when you spread it on the apples. It may not look perfect, but it will taste good.) Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the filling.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. You can test that they apples have cooked by sticking a toothpick into an apple and making sure it’s not still hard.

If possible, serve it when it’s still warm. It also reheats really well. Enjoy!