Mishloach Manot Goodies for Purim – Part 2

South African Crunchie Bars Dressed Up for Purim

As promised,here’s another recipe for another sweet goody that can go in your mishloach manot basket. Ask a South African about “crunchies” and they’ll probably ask you which ones you’re talking about. There’s the store bought, very delicious Cadbury’s milk chocolate covered honeycomb bar. The other “crunchie” you’ll find all over South Africa is a oatmeal, brown sugar bar that’s rich and rustic in  taste, and is very easy to make.

This one’s another one that can be made parev, using margarine instead of butter. The ingredients are as simple as it gets, and the taste is wonderful, and not overly sweet. If this one’s not sweet enough for you, you can add another half a cup of brown sugar. I like it especially because it’s not cloyingly sweet.

SOUTH AFRICAN CRUNCHIE BARS

Ingredients

1¼ cup butter/margarine

1 tablespoon golden syrup or honey (you can buy golden syrup in specialty food stores in Israel such as Meatland in Ra’anana)

2 cups oats (I use the quick cooking oats, but you can also use regular)

1 cup flour

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Mix the flour, oats and coconut in a bowl.

3. Cut the butter into pieces and melt over medium heat in a saucepan. When the butter has melted, add the syrup/honey and brown sugar and heat till it just starts bubbling. Then add the baking soda, stir through and remove from heat.

4. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir together making sure all the dry ingredients are covered with the butter mixture.

5. Line a medium-sized baking pan with baking paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the mixture into the pan with a spoon or the bottom of a metal measuring cup, spreading it evening across the base of the pan.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160°C (300°F) for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown, making sure not to burn the top.

7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and cut into bars – makes about 48 bars. Cool completely before eating otherwise the bars will crumble.

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Mishloach Manot Goodies for Purim – Part 1

Purim seems to creep up on us so quickly and while there are no special foods that need to be prepared for the traditional Purim seudah, we do need to busy ourselves with moshlochei manot. The Purim mitzvah of sending moshloachei manot (literally meaning “the sending of portions”) is a beautiful one, requiring us to send two items of food, each requiring a different blessing, to at least one person on the day of Purim. The reasons for this are to ensure that everyone has sufficient food for the Purim feast as well as to counteract Haman’s accusation that the Jews are a divided and scattered people.

Everyone wants to make their mishlochei manot a little special. I believe that there’s nothing more unique than adding some of your own home made goodies to the basket. This is part one of a series of recipes for yummy goodies you can add to your mishloachei manot. I will post my recipe for Oznei Haman in this series…

To ensure that your baked goodies don’t mess the rest of your offerings, take cellophane paper and cut small squares that are about three times the size of each bar or cookie, and wrap each one by twisting the sides together like a candy wrapper. This will make them look really pretty and will stop crumbs and goo from falling all over.

My first recipe is for a really delicious Peanut Butter Bar that tastes a lot like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’ve had this recipe for years, and resurrected it when my son complained that you can’t get Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in Israel. This reminded me of the recipe, which I dug up from my recipe archives. The advantages of this bar is that it can easily be made parev, there’s no cooking required, and everyone loves them. I had to work very quickly to get a picture taken because before I looked around, they had been devoured.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE BARS

Ingredients

¾ cup butter/margarine

2 cups petit beurre or Graham Cracker crumbs

340 g (12 oz) peanut butter

100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar

340 g (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate broken into pieces

How to do it

1. Soften the peanut butter in a microwave (optional but recommended) on medium heat for about 20-30 seconds, making sure not to melt it. Melt the butter/margarine and mix with the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar and the peanut butter. Spread the mixture evenly into an ungreased medium sized pan lined with baking paper, making sure the top is smooth and compacted. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

2. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (I take a medium-sized pot with about 2 cm of boiling water at the bottom, over medium heat on the stove, and place a smaller pot with the chocolate in in on top. Preferably use a saucepan, as it’s easier to use with its long handle. Do not let the top pot touch the water.). Keep stirring the chocolate over the water until it’s all melted. Spread evenly over the base. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

3. Using a sharp, heavy knife dipped in boiling water, carefully cut bars. (You can cut the bars before the chocolate is hard, but this results in messy bars. The extra effort to cut the hardened chocolate is worthwhile as the bars look much nicer.)

This should yield 48-64 bars depending on how small you cut them.

Another one for the Slow Cooker: Beef Stew with Beer and Apricots

You know you’re in South Africa when you’re paging through a magazine and you come across a recipe for Braised Kudu with Beer and Apricots! And then the kicker is the note at the end of the recipe that says you can substitute the kudu with springbok or impala! I still laugh at this more than 10 years after I first saw this recipe during a visit to Cape Town, and brought it back home with me .

Needless to say, a meat substitution was required, so in went beef in place of the more exotic venison! While I have never tasted this stew with its originally designated meat, I can honestly say that it comes out beautifully with beef, and I really don’t think you need to take the extraordinary measures required to find kosher venison for this dish. I have made this stew on a pot on the stove and in the slow cooker. I love the slow cooked version, but the pot stew comes out tender and delicious as well.

So as we “enjoy” the last few weeks of real winter, slip this stew into your menus and enjoy a hearty main course that will put a smile on everyone’s face, especially the deer.

BEEF STEW WITH BEER AND APRICOTS 

Ingredients 

Beef Stew with Beer and Apricots

2-3 kg stewing beef  cut into large cubes (I use neck/tzavar – see diagram for a guide to beef cuts in Hebrew)

About ½ cup of flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of powdered garlic and sweet paprika

3-4 tablespoons oil

1 large onion peeled and sliced

4 carrots peeled and cut into 2-3 c, (1 inch) slices

330 ml (11 fl oz) beer (the darker the better)

500 ml (1 pint) beef or chicken stock (or enough to make sure the meat is covered)

100 g (3 oz) tomato paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

300g fresh or dried apricots (I always use dried because fresh apricots are seasonal in summer, when I don’t make this stew!)

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

How to do it

1. In a large skillet or pan, add the oil and heat up. Roll the pieces of beef in the seasoned flour and seal the meat in the hot oil, making sure all sides are sealed and lightly browned. Put sealed pieces into a large pot or the slow cooker. Add more oil to the pan if required to seal all the pieces. When you are finished sealing the meat, do not discard the oil.

2. Fry the onion and carrot in the oil from the meat until the onion begins to soften (about 4 minutes) and add to the meat.

3a. If you are cooking the stew in a pot, add the beer, stock and tomato paste to the meat, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours until the meat is tender, stirring every now and again.  Then add the sugar, mustard, seasoning and apricots and simmer for another 30 minutes until the meat is very tender. Stir in the parsley, add more seasoning if required and serve.

3b. If you are cooking the stew in a slow cooker, add all the remaining ingredients, cook for 8 hours on low or for 4 hours on high.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Serves about 8.

Pre-Purim Food for Thought from The Jewish Hostess

Purim is not far off so it’s time to think about decorations for the one Jewish holiday where entertaining isn’t only about food! Fortunately, Marlene Mamiye, The Jewish Hostess, is always on hand with wonderful ideas. She has kindly let me post her latest Purim post on my blog. If you live in Israel, you may not be able to get hold of everything you see here, but you will definitely be inspired. So get your decorator on, and check out Marlene’s Purim decorating tips and ideas. Thanks, Marlene, and Chag Purim Sameach!!

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Hi! My name is Marlene Mamiye from The Jewish Hostess and I would like to share with you a little about my Purim table setting preparations from last year’s holiday to save you from being a last minute hostess like me!

It was Thursday morning when I realized that I was so busy blogging about how everyone ELSE should be inspired for Purim, I couldn’t believe that I had no table setting,or menu plan of my own .

Here’s when a kid with a driver’s licence will come in handy.

I always say that secret to a pretty table setting is to LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!

So, one of my kids waited in the car while I ran in to Lana’s fabric on Kings Highway to buy Zebra polyester fabric -$5.99 a yard cut into 54 inch squares- cost about $25.

I placed the 2 squares as diamonds side by side on top of my white cotton hemstitch tablecloth.

While on her way to Starbucks another of of my kids ran and bought me a pack of white paper napkins that look just like linen. $10.99.

She also bought grey luncheon napkins that we decided to fold over the white large paper napkins $4.99.

I also bought a silver chain trim from the fabric store to use as napkin rings. $3.99 a yard. Pretty- no? cost about $15.

(You can also use this napkin idea for your Passover seder.)

(Send me pics if you come up with any cool ideas!!!!)

This is how the back of the napkin should tie:

These sterling ice coffee glasses given to us a wedding gift by Aunt Sydelle and uncle Mosie in the 80’s. About 15 years later I realized that they were still sitting in the closet needing a good polish, so I decided to turn them into vases, and I haven’t stopped using them since! My daughter ran out and bought me the dendrobium orchids from the corner flower kiosk up the block, and I stuck these exotic masks that I ordered from from AnytimeCostumes for about $10 each into the “vases”.

So many of my goblets have broken over the years that I had to alternate clear goblets from Target with my pretty new blue goblets given to me as a Rosh Hashanah gift from my new “consuegra”- (Syrian word for my daughter’s mother-in-law.)

Lunch was not bad if I don’t say so myself.

Since the Purim Seuda is traditionally a meat one,

We had grilled chicken with kalamata olives and tomatoes on salad,

grilled minute steak roast,

wild rice with spinach and sauteed red peppers, plain white rice (for the kids),home made za’ata challah rolls filled with sliced turkey,

(let me know if you want any recipes……)

mini lahamageen,

mini kibbe, tehine, mini baked sweet potatoes,

pareve kibbe neye,

whole wheat mazor’s dough with meat hammentashen filling,

fried chicken (for the kids), and my sister Jeanette brought chicken tacos that got wiped out.

I hope that I have given you some Purim table and menu inspiration!

Trust me it will keep them coming back for more!

Please check out my site The Jewish Hostess for more table decor ideas and great kosher recipes!

The Cake that Tastes like Hell!

The Hebrew word for cardamom is “hel” and is pronounced “hell”, which naturally lends itself to all sorts of silly wordplay. So when I found this wonderful recipe for a Cardamom Sour Cream Cake in Rachel Allen‘s “Favorite Food at Home” recipe book, mirth ensued.

Firstly, finding a cardamom flavored cake in a recipe book by a Irish chef, was amusing to me. Seeing as cardamom is so prevalent in Israel and the Middle East, and, for those of you who don’t know, provides that distinctive perfumed taste in the locally popular Turkish coffee, I have decided to adopt this recipe as an Israeli cake.

So here’s one good reason to make this cake, besides its aromatic Middle Eastern flavor: It’s really quick and easy to make! I didn’t even take out my mixer as you shouldn’t over beat the batter, and there’s no whipping or creaming or over blending to be done. So within five minutes, you will have this cake in the oven.

The batter was quite heavy, so I was a little concerned. “I wonder how this will taste?” I pondered to my son. “It will probably taste like hell,” he answered without missing a beat. I walked straight into that one, didn’t I. Actually, the cake came out beautiful and moist, and the cardamom flavoring was far from overpowering. And the easy topping was the perfect complement.

In my experience, cakes that call for buttermilk or sour cream tend to be moist, and I am always glad to try them. This one’s no exception. So while it tastes like hel, it really doesn’t taste like hell at all.

Cardamom (Hel) Sour Cream Cake

CARDAMOM AND SOUR CREAM CAKE

Ingredients

Cake

1 egg

200 ml (6.7 fl oz) sour cream (minus 1 tablespoon to be set aside for the topping)

1 cup caster sugar

1½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom (hel)

Topping

1 tablespoon sour cream (that you had set aside)

About 1¼ cup of powdered (icing sugar)

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Line the bottom of a small 20-24 cm (8-9 inch) spring form pan with baking paper and spray the insides.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the sour cream and whisk to combine. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and cardamom and carefully blend together by folding the dry ingredients into the wet. Don’t over beat – the mixture should be a little lumpy.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (don’t over bake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool down before removing from the pan.

5. Mix together the topping ingredients and make sure it’s not too runny but will just ooze down the sides of the cake (add more powdered sugar if necessarily.)

Quick Fix Sticky Wings

When you’ve grown up in a home where entertaining meant making sure that there was enough food on the table for the visitors to have thirds and take home doggy bags as well, then you’re probably like me, and continue to cook huge quantities of food when you entertain. What this means to me is that I am always looking for quick and easy ways to make additional dishes that can supplement the large quantities of food I am already preparing for my guests.

If I am concerned about whether kids will eat the main course, I supplement it with chicken wings . Kids love them, and so do the adults. Here’s one way to make them that’s really easy and doesn’t fail. This is one of the times that I indulge myself in using a prepared ingredient – sweet chili sauce. I love this sauce in chicken as it offers a combination of sweet, spicy and sticky and tastes good. These wings takes minutes to prepare (not including cooking time) and everyone loves them.

Sticky Wings

STICKY WINGS

Ingredients

About 20 wings

½ cup sweet chili sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

A few drops of sesame oil (optional)

½ cup chicken stock (or less – just enough to make sure there’s enough liquid to coat all the wings)

How to do it

1. Mix the chili sauce, soy sauce, oil and stock in a bowl. Add the wings and mix together, making sure all the wings are covered with the sauce. Marinade for at least 6 hours

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

3. Put the wings and some of the sauce into an oven proof dish and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil, turn the heat down to 190°C (375°F). Bake for another about one hour, turning the wings every 15 minutes, until they are cooked and sticky.

Pasta e Fagioli: Hearty Taste, Hearty Memories

Not only Rafael Nadal has an Uncle Tony. When I was growing up in South Africa, my best friend Marianna’s father, also one of my parents’ closest friends, was Uncle Tony (very common back then to call parents’ friends “uncle” or “aunty”). I have the strongest memories of hanging out in their kitchen with Marianna, while Uncle Tony nursed a massive pot of  pasta sauce made from fresh tomatoes, which had sun ripened on their kitchen window sill. He would let the sauce to simmer for hours, walking past it every now and again to give it a loving stir and a taste.

Uncle Tony immigrated to South Africa from Italy after World War II, and brought to our little provincial outpost a sorely needed injection of authentic Italian cooking. A meal at their house involved huge helpings of mouth-watering pasta, accompanied by Uncle Tony, fussing around the table, never sitting down, and making sure that everyone was eating more than their fill: “Eata sum mora,” he would say in his thick Italian accent. And we did.

Besides his classic fresh pasta sauce, one dish that he taught my mother to make was Pasta e Fagioli, (pasta and beans). This hearty, peasant-style pasta dish filled with beans and the holy trinity of Italian vegetables, became a staple in my house. When I came to live in Israel, I didn’t bring the recipe with me, because, I didn’t bring any recipes with me, and it seemed that this dish was to become a thing of the past! But when received a gift of the classic vegetarian cook book “The Vegetarian Epicure”, in it was the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli. Rediscovered, I followed the recipe and it was perfect, conjuring up the exact taste and aroma that took me straight back to Uncle Tony’s kitchen,  in Cape Town in the 1980s.

Pasta e Fagioli

I make this dish regularly in the winter as it’s such perfect comfort food. It does involve a little work and more than one pot, but the result is a very filling and satisfying pasta with lots of nutritional value.  Many recipes have this as a soup dish, but I prefer serving it as a less liquidy side or main dish.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Uncle Tony.

PASTA E FAGIOLI

Ingredients

1½ cups dried navy beans or any small beans

¼ cup olive oil

2 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic

4 peeled carrots

3 stalks celery

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Salt and ground black pepper

1 large can (800 g/28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes

500 g (1 lb) shell macaroni

Chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

How to do it 

Soak the beans overnight

1. The night before, soak the beans in 6 cups of water in a large pot.

2. The next day, add the ¼ cup olive oil, bay leaves, garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the beans are tender (this can take from about 45 minutes up to 2 hours – it’s important to check and make sure they are cooked through.) Once they are cooked, drain the the beans and save the liquid for later use. Throw out the bay leaves and garlic.

Onions, carrots, celery: The Holy Trinity of Italian cooking

3. Chop the carrots, celery and onion into small pieces and in a large skillet or wok, saute them in hot olive oil. Add the crushed garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and allow to saute until the carrots are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

4. Dice half of the tomatoes and add to the skillet. Cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

Sauteed and seasoned vegetables

5. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni until just before al dente (about 1 minute less than recommended on the package). This is important as the macaroni continues cooking later on in the dish, and will soften further.

6. Dice the rest of the tomatoes. Add the vegetable mix, the macaroni and the rest of the tomatoes to the bean pot. Then add about 1½ cups of the bean liquid you set aside, as well as the juice from the tomatoes. Mix gently, add extra seasoning to taste, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Note: Save the remaining bean liquid for use in heating up any leftovers.

Putting it all together

7. Pour into a large serving dish and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese if you wish.

Serves about 8.

The Most Outrageously Delicious Soup

I have just finished making a new recipe – Roasted Pumpkin, Chili and Coriander Soup – which I found in an old food magazine I’d schlepped back from South Africa over 10 years ago! When I tasted it I nearly cried – not because it was a disaster (I don’t publish my disasters, and I do have them) but because the flavors in this soup are just so unbelievable. The eastern flavors lift the pumpkin to new heights and bring an incredible zing into your soup bowl.

I highly recommend that you drop everything you’re doing and go out to buy the ingredients for this soup and make it now! I know this sounds obnoxiously pushy, but I can assure you that you will not regret taking my advice.

I’m not writing another word – straight to the recipe!

ROASTED PUMPKIN, CHILI AND CORIANDER SOUP

Ingredients 

Roasted Pumpkin, Chili and Coriander Soup

1½ kg (3½ lb) pumpkin, peeled and cut into even sized pieces

3 large onions peeled and quartered or sixthed (I know there’s no such word, but in my world it means cutting it into six segments – this should be a word, if quartered is one…)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic crushed

2 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger

1 green chili de-seeded and finely chopped

400 ml (13 fl oz) coconut milk (one can)

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 teaspoons fish sauce (½ teaspoon salt, only if you can’t find fish sauce)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander leaves

How to do it

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

2. Line a roasting pan with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil just to cover. Place the pumpkin and onions on the tray and season with salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes, turning over the pumpkin once in the middle, until the pumpkin is cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, add the olive oil and saute the chili for a minute over medium heat. Then add the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute or two, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add the coconut milk and stock. Mix, turn off the heat, cover the pot and remove from the hot plate. Leave the pot for a few minutes so the flavors can infuse with the stock and coconut milk.

4. Remove the vegetables from the oven (removing the very top layer of each onion piece as they are usually papery) and transfer into the stock pot, pouring any juices into the pot that have accumulated in the pan. Add the sugar and fish sauce and mix. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat, allowing the soup to simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.

5. Add the coriander and allow the soup to cool down for a few minutes. Then liquidize the soup till smooth.

Serves 6-8

It’s gotta be Jewish ‘cos it’s cabbage!

There’s something about cabbage that conjures up my Eastern European, Ashkenazi “culinary” roots. My earliest memories of traditional Jewish cooking involved stuffed cabbage, hot borscht with cabbage, and pickled cabbage.  I have always loved cabbage, and these particular cabbage dishes are among my favorites when it comes to my own personal culinary heritage. And as soon as I get a chance, I will post a recipe for the hot borscht with cabbage, which I think is one of the best soups there is (even though I am alone in that opinion in my house).

When I was growing up, the cabbage in question was almost always white cabbage. But when I came to live in Israel, I discovered that red cabbage was extremely popular here, especially in salads. In fact, the one dish I’ve always made with red cabbage is my sweet and sour cabbage, has been met with astonishment from my Israeli friends, many of whom had never seen cooked red cabbage!

Curried Red Cabbage Slaw

So to my recipe…for Rosh Hashana, my friend Gili bought me one of the best gifts ever: “The Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking” by Marlena Spieler. This is a massive collection of Jewish recipes – some more traditional, others seem to just be good recipes that are kosher. All in all, it’s a wonderful and eclectic mix of recipes, and whatever I have tried so far has worked well. What I love about her Curried Red Cabbage Slaw is that it combines the red cabbage of Eastern Europe with the tangy curry flavor I grew up with in South Africa to create a fun and easy salad to make. You can make it dairy with the yogurt, for a creamier taste or you can leave out the yogurt for the parev version. I have significantly reduced the sugar she suggests, but if you prefer it sweeter, go ahead. With its robust flavors, this salad goes really well with meat dishes.

CURRIED RED CABBAGE SLAW

½ a head of red cabbage thinly sliced

1 red pepper thinly sliced

½ a red onion thinly sliced or chopped

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup plain yogurt (optional)

½ cup mayonnaise or ¾ cup if you aren’t using the yogurt

¼-½ teaspoon curry powder (the strength of different curry powders vary, so if the curry powder is very strong, use less)

Salt and ground black pepper

How to do it

1. Combined the cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves and pour over the veggies. Cool.

3. Mix the yogurt and/or mayonnaise, curry powder, salt and pepper and mix into the salad.

4. Leave to sit for a few hours and drain off excess liquid before serving.

Serves about six.

Just before the winter starts winding down, slow cooked ribs

As February moves along, little hints of spring pop up. The days are longer, the sun is shining a little more and my allergies are starting to rear their ugly heads! Till the end of March we will still have enough cold days to justify keeping the slow cooker on the counter top for making those filling comfort foods.

My friend Naomi told me she had made ribs a few weeks ago, and this inspired me to do the same. So off I went to the butcher and got 3 kg of asado ribs, which are easy to find in Israel in supermarkets and at all butchers. Asado also works beautifully in chamin/cholent. Then I found a recipe in Sharon Lurie’s Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife, a recipe book out of South Africa with, as the title suggests, a heavy emphasis on meat. I made her Tuscan Beef Ribs, and with a few adjustments to suit my family’s needs, it was a winner.

Slow Cooked Ribs - not beautiful but very delicious

My adjustment for next time is regarding frying the meat before putting it in the slow cooker. She says that it’s important to fry the ribs so you can deglaze the pan and use that liquid in the slow cooker afterwards. The pan I use is a good non-stick pan and as a result, there’s no residue, so no deglazing. The dish turned out delicious anyway, mainly because of the ingredients in the sauce and the slow cooked meat. So I am skipping the frying part – who needs the extra oil anyway?

One comment: Asado is very fatty and you’ll see when you cook it. So you can make this ahead of time, let is cool and skim as much fat off the top as you can. Because this meat cooks slowly and is quite fatty, it is very tender and reheats beautifully. Mine went onto a hot plate for Shabbat and the family demolished every last morsel.

TUSCAN BEEF RIBS

Ingredients

3 kg (7 lb) short ribs (asado) cut into 5-8 cm (2-3 inch) pieces.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic crushed

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely

A handful of fresh basil leaves chopped

A  few fresh oregano leaves chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)

1 800 g (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes

100 g (4 oz) tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ cups red wine

2 bay leaves

How to do it

1. In a large skillet or wok, saute the onions in the olive oil until golden. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds then add the parsely, basil, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and wine and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

2. Place the ribs in the slow cooker, add the bay leaves and pour the sauce over the top.

3. Cook on low heat for 8 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can place the ribs and sauce in a deep roasting pan and bake covered at 150°C (300°F) for about 4 hours, basting every now and again.