Saturday, January 30, 2010

Caramelized Tofu with Rice Noodles

We had quite the bizarre weather here in Tel Aviv today. Despite it being January, warm and dusty air filled the city and we decided to stay home in bed. Around mid-afternoon we started to get hungry and cooked up this light summery (and weather appropriate) dish of tofu and rice noodles. This delicate sweet-sour-spicy dish also makes a great "take it to the office" lunch.
Ingredients (makes 2-3 portions):

For the caramelized tofu:
300 gr tofu
4 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sugar

For the noodles:
250 gr cooked rice noodles
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped red chili
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped coriander

The Recipe:
Prepare the tofu. In a large bowl, mix the soy sauce with the sugar. Slice the tofu into 1cm slices and add to the bowl. Mix well, making sure the tofu slices are completely covered in thee soy sauce mixture.
Place a grill plate over very high heat and wait until it is very hot. Place the tofu slices on the hot grill plate and grill for a 5 minutes on each side. Lower the heat and let grill until the tofu browns. Set aside and let cool. When the tofu cools, slice into 1cm slices.
For the sauce, fry the garlic and chili in the vegetable oil for a couple of minutes in a small pan. Add soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil and let cook for another 2 minutes.
Throw the chopped coriander, tofu and cooked noodles into a large bowl. Add the sauce and mix well.
Serve in personal bowls with a slice of lemon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bitter Lemon Jam

A few weeks ago, we came back from a weekend brunch at E+D's overloaded with lemons straight from their lemon tree.

We sat staring at a huge pile of lemons and decided: we will make a lemon jam experiment. We asked ourselves: lemon jam?
The result turned out to be a bit bitter since we threw the lemons in with the peel intact. It goes very well with meat or on bread with sesame paste.

We ended up making a very large amount of jam (since we dragged home so many), storing it in glass bottles in the refrigerator.
This recipe should be enough for one jar.

1 cup lemons, cut into four and then sliced, with the peel
1 parsimon, cut into four and then sliced
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cloves
3 tbs white wine

The Recipe:
Place the ingredients in a pot on medium heat, stirring often.
When it starts to thicken remove from heat and pour into a sterilized jar. Close well, and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

In order to store the jam for a longer period of time we followed Dorie Greenspan's advice on canning.
Another great canning information source is Saving the Season.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tortilla Espanola, Potato Omelette

A Spanish omelette, Tortilla Espanola, is a very tasty and comforting dish. The simple mix of eggs onions and potatoes becomes a thick savory-sweet treat. The recipe is a bit tricky though, as it calls for some acrobatic abilities involving a flipping of the dish. All you need really is a large frying pan, a lid and a little practice.

We adapted the recipe from "Party Food"  by The Joy of Cooking cookbook series.

The Ingredients:

500 gr red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm thick slices
1 large onion, sliced into 3mm thick slices
6 eggs, lightly beaten
olive oil
ground black pepper

The recipe:

First fry the onion with 2 tbs olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When soft (about 15 minutes) remove to a large bowl.
In the same frying pan over high heat fry the potatoes with 1/5 cup olive oil. Cook until they become golden brown, and make sure to toss them while they cook. This is to prevent them from sticking together as much as possible. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels but keep the pan and oil for later use.
Now mix together the eggs, fried onion, 1/2 tsp salt and some black pepper. Add the potatoes and mix well.
Back to the frying pan, re-heat the oil. Pour the mixture into the pan and immediately reduce the heat to low. DO NOT Touch the omelet. Let it comfortably cook until it is 3/4 ready, only shaking the pan from time to time to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan.
Now comes the tricky part. Slide a metal spatula under the omelet, making sure to free it completely from the pan. Place a lightly oiled plate or a lid on top of the pan, big enough to cover all of it. Now, with both hands, quickly flip the pan so that the omelet transfers to the lid part. Put the pan back on the stove and slide the omelet in. Cook for another few minutes until ready. (You are now a flipping master)
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Roast Beef

We were very surprised at how easy it is to make a good roast beef. It's all about using a good piece of meat and a tasty marinade. The rest is nonsense. We weren't exactly sure which part of the cow to order, so we asked the butcher for some help. He handed us with a large and handsome piece of sirloin (2 kg)) which later turned out to be tender and tasteful. Inspired by whatever we found in our refrigerator, we made up this incredible recipe for the roast:

Ingredients (for 2 kg of sirloin):

3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbs fresh sage, chopped
3 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbs whole black pepper grains
2-3 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tbs honey
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine (optional)

The recipe:

Preheat the oven to 160 C.
Mix all of the ingredients together and then spread the mixture on the meat to cover all sides.
Place the meat in a roasting pan with the fat part facing up and stick a meat thermometer. (We added some garlic and carrots to the tray. It's not a must but they cook so well with the roast's juices...)
Using the thermometer is important. It helps with getting the meat exactly how you want it done (rare 60 C - medium 70 C).
Stick the pan in the oven and let cook for about 1.5 hours. No need to touch it, only check occasionally to see it reaches the preferred temperature.
When it's done, take it out of the oven and let sit covered in foil for 20 minutes more.

That's it! The roast can keep in your fridge for up to a week, and it even gets better with time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lobios Chorba, Georgian Red Bean Soup

A few weeks ago we promised I and Y to treat them to a birthday dinner whenever they choose. Last Friday they took us up on the offer and we delivered a mezze feast consisting of no less than 15(!!) different dishes. It also gave us the opportunity to try out a large variety of new recipes.

The Lobios Chorba, is a hearty bean soup that is a bit tangy and is very good for a cold evening. Since we had many more courses to go, we served it in small coffee cups (not in the pictures).

We adapted this recipe from "The Georgian Feast" by  Darra Goldstein:

1 1/2 cups dried red beans
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 carrot. peeled and chopped
2 leeks, sliced thinly
3 tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 small minced hot pepper
ground black pepper
6 sprigs each of parsley, coriander and dill, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

The recipe:
Simmer the beans with water, bay leaf and 1 tsp salt on low heat until tender (about 2 hours).
Meanwhile, saute the onions, carrot and leeks in the butter until soft.
In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic with the remaining salt.
When the beans are soft add the sauteed vegetables, garlic, hot pepper and black pepper. Simmer for 15 more minutes, then stir in the minced herbs and vinegar and serve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oat Porridge With Pecans And Honey

Eating porridge for breakfast has lately become a routine for us. It is a healthy and filling way to start a lazy chilly morning. Today we tried this extremely simple and tasty recipe which we adapted from "The Healthy Kitchen" by Shaily Lipa Angel and Orly Pely-Bronshtein.

Ingredients (for two servings):
1 cup whole oats (the real thing - not Quaker!)
2 cups skimmed milk
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp lemon zest
shelled pecans for garnish

The recipe:
In a pot, bring the oats, milk, honey, lemon zest and dash of salt to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the porridge is thickened, stir occasionally.
While the porridge is cooking, toast the pecans in the oven (180c) for 5-10 minutes, but be careful not to burn them.
When the porridge is ready, transfer to serving bowls, sprinkle with pecans and hope this morning never ends.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Olive Oil Muffins

We tried a recipe from "The Smitten Kitchen", a food blog with spectacular pictures we follow. It's an easy recipe which turns out good and simple.


New Year's Gefilte Fish

Here's a recipe we adapted for new year's eve from another excellent and famous cookbook we sometimes use: "The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden. Roden has traveled far to collect traditional recipes from Jewish homes around the globe. The result is a historical masterpiece on Jewish cuisine with an abundance of successful recipes.
Gefilte Fish was traditionally served as stuffed fish skin with chopped fish inside. Today only the stuffing is prepared by poaching fish balls in fish stock and serving them with stock jelly and carrot. It's not difficult work, but it takes a while as these balls need to go through several procedures.

The Ingredients:

(for the stock)
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 fish heads
2 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper

(for the fish balls)
1 medium onion
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
white pepper
75 gr matzo meal
1 kg fresh water fish fillets, skinned. Try to get carp for this. We used a mix of cod and halibut, but the balls didn't turn out firm enough.

The Recipe:
Put the stock ingredients in a saucepan, add 2.5 liters water  to cover the fish. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

For the fish balls put the onion, eggs, salt, sugar and pepper in a food processor and blend to a cream. Pour into a bowl and stir in the matzo meal. Next, cut the fish into pieces and mix in the food processor, making sure it is finely chopped but not paste. Add the fish to the eggs and matzo meal, mix well and keep covered in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.
Shape the mixture into fist size balls with your hands wet, lower to the fish stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then take the balls out and arrange in a serving dish in one layer. Reduce the fish stock and strain it over the fish. Finally decorate with the carrot slices.
Leave to cool overnight in the refrigerator to let the jelly to form.

Gefilte Fish on Foodista

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Geogian Chicken with Herbs

Did we mention we like Geogian? Well, here is another recipe we adapted from "The Georgian Feast" cookbook. It's a very simple and tasty dish, but the leftovers will be even tastier for lunch the day after. 

2 tbsp butter
One 1.5 Kg chicken cut into pieces (with skin or the chicken will turn out dry)
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped
8 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Generous 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (prsley, coriander, tarragon, basil, dill)
1/8 tsp dried hot chili
Ground black pepper

The recipe:
Melt the butter in a very large pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides.
Stir in the chopped onions and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook covered for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes longer before serving. 

Georgian Spreads

Georgian cuisine has recently become one of our favorites (it is also especially excellent when you share a meal with a happy Georgian crowd and a few shots of homemade vodka). A basic dish served almost every meal is Mkhali, a garlicky walnut spread with herbs and always mixed with some sort of vegetable. Lucky for us we have a recipe in "The Geogian Feast" cookbook by Darra Goldstein, which we own, and that turns out so good it makes us go "wow" each time we taste it.
This recipe uses beets for the vegetable part, but regarding which vegetable you use, the options are endless. We tend to adapt it with something new every time.


500 gr beets (on different occasions we also used spinach, celery and cauliflower)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried summer savory (if you can't find it - use dried sage)
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp red wine vinegar

The recipe:

First prepare the beets. The best way is to bake them in the oven until they get soft (1-2 hours). You can also boil them but then the beets lose a great deal of their taste. We usually steam them in a steamer which also works well for other vegetables. This makes the process quick and the fresh taste of the vegetable is preserved.
While the beets are cooking, grind the walnuts, garlic and salt finely. Then, add the fresh herbs and continue grinding to make a fine and smooth paste (very important). Transfer to a bowl.

When the beets are soft, peel and grate them in a food processor. Mix the beets with the walnut paste and stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste. The Mkhali should be slightly tart and you might want to add a bit more vinegar.
Keep in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving, but serve at room temperature.