appetizer

Matbucha

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Spring has sprung and for me, that means more salad.

So I got to thinking about that word salad, which I realize means so many things that I was never able to fit all of my salad recipes into a file folder simply marked “salad.” I had to sub-categorize them into files such as “grain salads,” “tomato salads,” “fruit salads” and so on.

Over the years I’ve made salads of all sorts. Some based mostly on greens and some that had no greens at all.

I’ve made beet salads, dinner salads, fish salads and quinoa salads.

I could go on. But really, there is no one way to describe “salad,” even though a dictionary might say something like “a mixture or raw and cooked vegetables served with dressing.”

No.

Because recently I prepared some Matbucha, which is in an entirely different salad category.

Matbucha is a “salade cuit” — that is, “cooked salad.” In fact the word Matbucha, is an Arabic word that means “cooked salad".”

Cooked salad may seem odd to Western thinking except for the fact that most of us actually eat lots of cooked salads, such as potato salad and egg salad too. We just don’t think of them as “cooked salads,” but that’s what they are.

Matbucha is a Moroccan dish, especially popular in the Moroccan Jewish community, which was once large and thriving in North Africa. When good numbers of Moroccan Jews migrated to Israel, they brought their love of this dish with them and it is now wildly popular in Israel too.

For good reason: Matbucha is vibrantly tasty, easy to cook and is ideal for Shabbat because, even though it’s cooked, you can serve it at room temperature. Use it as a salad course or as a side dish with dinner. I’ve always served it with hors d’oeuvre, as a topping for crackers or pita wedges (it works well with other Middle Eastern nibbles and dips such as hummus, raheb, baba ghanoush and so on).

You can make Matbucha 3-4 days ahead. That’s handy isn’t it?

Matbucha

  • 2 large red bell peppers

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped

  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 6 medium tomatoes peeled and finely chopped

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers, serrano pepper and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 30-35 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick.

 Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups

 

More Chicken Wings: Maple-Mustard

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In our family we don’t wait for Superbowl Sunday to feast on chicken wings. We eat them throughout the year, often.

In fact, I have an enormous file folder filled with recipes, maybe almost as many recipes for wings as for banana bread (and as everyone who reads this blog knows, I have a lot of recipes for banana bread!).

Here’s one of the latest versions. Eat anytime. Don’t wait.

Grilled Maple-Mustard Chicken Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings, separated into pieces

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion

  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • salt to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Wash and dry the wings and cut them into separate pieces. Brush with olive oil and grill, turning once, for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. While the wings are cooking, mix the maple syrup, mustard, chives, cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt to taste until well blended. Brush this glaze on the wings and cook for another 10-12 minutes, turning the wings occasionally and brushing with remaining glaze, until crispy and fully cooked.

Makes about 24

 

Tzatziki

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In my last post I mentioned that my New Year’s get-together is an all-day, all-hors d’oeuvre event. A dairy fest and, several hours later, a meat-fest followed, several hours later by dessert.

Some of the tidbits I serve are homemade, some not, some fancy, others plain, some elaborate, some easy.

This one is amazingly easy and you can to make it ahead, in fact, you have to make it ahead. It’s refreshing, looks pretty and fits in perfectly with some of the other stuff I’m thinking of serving: Herbed Feta Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives, Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Rollups, Herb and Cheese Gougeres (Choux Puffs), Fresh Tomato Puff Pastry Pizzas.

Happy New Year everyone.

Tzatziki (Cacik)

  • 3 cups thick, Greek style non-fat yogurt

  • 3 medium cucumbers

  • 1 large clove garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

Place a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer. Spoon the yogurt into the lined strainer and set it over a bowl. Let rest in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Place the yogurt in a bowl (discard the liquid that has accumulated in the bowl). Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop and discard the seeds. Grate the cucumber in a food processor or by hand. Strain the cucumber through a sieve, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. When the yogurt is ready, stir in the cucumbers, garlic, mint, dill, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.  Stir to blend all the ingredients thoroughly. 

Makes about 4 cups, serving 10-12 people.

 

Beet Tarte Tatin

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Every New Year’s Eve my brother and sister-in-law come over for the day, my cousins sleep over for a couple of days. We start our celebration early with a round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre. A few hours later we have another round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre.

No dinner.

We have dessert much later, near midnight. The anticipation of something sweet helps keep us up so we can watch the ball drop and then go to bed.

Some of the hors d’oeuvre I serve are fancy, some plain; some homemade, some from a package (like the Spring Valley or Hebrew National franks-in-blankets that everyone loves).

A while ago I read a blog post about Beet tarte tatins and was inspired to make some because they looked and sounded so appealing. I made up my own recipe, tried it a few times and decided that they would be perfect as one of the fancies at this year’s New Year get-together.

I wrote down whose blog it was, so I could credit her with the inspiration, but I can’t find the paper and forgot the name.

But — to that wonderfully creative person who alerted me to beet tarte tatin —- thank you.

Here’s my recipe.

Beet Tarte Tatins

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large beet (8-10 ounces)

  • 2 small chopped shallots or 1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • 1 teaspoon Mirin (rice vinegar)

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon crushed, dried rosemary (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary)

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 pound puff pastry

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a small amount of the olive oil to brush the insides of 6 muffin tins. Peel the beet and cut it into thin slices, then cut the slice to make them small enough to fit inside the muffin tins. Place the cut beet slices in a bowl. Add the shallots and toss the ingredients. In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, Mirin and brown sugar and pour the dressing over the beet mixture. Sprinkle with the rosemary and salt and spoon equal amounts of the beet mixture inside the muffin tins. Cover the filled tins with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven. Raise the oven heat to 400 degrees. Cut out 6 circles from the puff pastry to cover the top of the muffin tins. Place over the beets. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Carefully spoon each beet mixture from the bottom and turn it over onto a dish so that the pastry is at the bottom. Spoon any remaining beets that do not come up and place them on the tarte tatins. Garnish with the orange peel and serve (may be served hot or at room temperature).

Makes 6

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

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I’ve lived most of my life in Connecticut and so I am used to cold winters, snow and all that comes with it. I don’t mind really. I actually love the change of seasons and think it makes life more interesting.

But it’s those first days of chill that take some getting used to as we transition from summer’s heat and the gradual change of temperature when autumn comes..

Those are soup days.

I recently made this Roasted Red Pepper soup. It’s exactly what’s needed when the weather turns.

Also makes a good first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 5-6 sweet red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley plus more for garnish if desired

  • 1/3 cup raw white rice

  • 5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the rice. Add the peppers and stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender.

Makes 6 servings

Curry Kosher (Chicken Wings, et al)

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Back in the day, before so many modern kosher cookbooks hit the market (including my own Hip Kosher and The Modern Kosher Kitchen), anyone who was kosher and wanted to expand home cooking beyond the traditional family favorites would buy a cookbook and adapt recipes in accordance with kashrut.

Although it’s easier now to find contemporary kosher recipes, there is still a whole world of flavors, wonderful foods and good cookbooks out there that are too good to be missed. There’s still a reason to look beyond the obvious kosher cookbook market.

Recently I came across this book: Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table at my daughter’s house. The author, Kanchan Koya, is a Harvard-trained molecular biologist who blogs about the health benefits of spices at www.spicespicebaby.com and is also a chef-creator for www.Buzzfeedtasty.com.

I found the recipes in this book irresistible. Too good to be missed. They are interesting, intriguing and globally inspired. All include one or more of 15 spices that have health benefits (which she discusses in the book).

I made several of the dishes, changing what was needed for the kosher kitchen. The original recipe here included boneless chicken — I changed it to wings because my family likes them. The sauce contained yogurt, which I changed to coconut milk plus some lemon juice, to mimic the tart dairy taste. But the spices — unchanged. They are a fabulous tasting, intoxicatingly aromatic blend.

This dish was awesome. We gobbled it up, every morsel. The flavors are vibrant, satisfying, and perfect for autumn when the weather turns and there’s a chill in the air.

Check out Koya’s website. Lots of good stuff.

Btw, I was not paid for this post nor did I receive any book or benefit. I included a photo from the book showing the original recipe (photo credit to www.wayne-wong.com) so you can see how different it looks with the chicken wings.  

 

Curry Chicken Wings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • pinch or two of cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 12-15 chicken wing parts

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, optional

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir the ingredients into a paste. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the water, cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with chopped coriander or parsley if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Best Hummus

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Despite the fact that hummus is the most popular snack and you can buy dozens of different kinds in every supermarket, I still make my own. And every time, a different recipe, always trying for perfection.

I served a version seasoned with zatar and garnished with toasted pine nuts once for an election night get-together.

I've made hummus using dried chick peas and canned.

One year the guests at my annual Break-the-Fast declared that year's hummus the best they ever tasted.

But apparently last year's Break-the-Fast version topped even that! 

So here is the recipe: easy to make, terrific for entertaining, for snacks, as a sandwich spread. Perfect all year, perfect for break-the-fast.

 

Lemony-Garlic Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas (about one pound)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 2 large cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • cayenne pepper to taste (I use 1/8 teaspoon)

  • chopped parsley, optional, about 2-3 tablespoons

  • zatar, optional

  • pita bread or chips

Drain the chickpeas but reserve the liquid. Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika, zatar, salt and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until you reach the texture you like, adding 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid if you prefer it smoother and softer. Spoon into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with optional parsley and zatar. Serve with pita bread or chips.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Tropical Salsa

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In our family, Mother's Day involves a cookoff. Everyone participates in some way. We pick a theme, some people cook, some set the table, some help clean up and so on. Then we all eat what we have cooked and everyone wins a prize for something, like: best looking; most delicious; most unusual.....

It's been so much fun over the years and we all believe it beats going to a restaurant which, because it's a holiday, is usually crowded and noisy and the service awful.

This year's theme was "dips."

My son-in-law and one of the grandkids made a hot French Onion Dip; one daughter and granddaughter made a spicy Red Pepper Dip; another daughter and child made a chocolate dip for dessert.

It was all awesome.

This was my entry, which got the award for "most refreshing" and "most attractive" as well as "most perfect for summer" awards.

It's so easy to make too.

Also, it really is perfect for summer.

And it is actually refreshing and attractive.

So -- for summer company or just for yourself, try my award-winning Tropical Salsa. Serve it on Father's Day. Or July 4th!

By the way, this is also a good side dish with grilled meat, poultry or fish and can be used to top a hamburger.

Tropical Salsa

  • 2 cups diced fresh papaya
  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lime peel
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt
  • corn chips or other favorite chips

Place the papaya, mango and avocado dice in a bowl. Add the jalapeno pepper, lime peel, lime juice and cilantro and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve with chips.

Makes about 3 cups

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

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Among the delicious foods I feasted on on our recent trip to Eastern Europe were these: white asparagus, which is in season NOW. In the U.S. too. 

I found these beautiful spears at Fairway and prepared them exactly as I had them for dinner one night in Vienna.

Yes, these were dinner.

Ok, ok, I had a few rolls with a lot of butter too.

And strudel with schlag for dessert.

If you've never tasted white asparagus, you are in for a treat. They are milder and sweeter than the green ones and take a few minutes longer to cook because they are usually thicker. But, if you can't find these, use regular green asparagus (adjust cooking time depending on thickness of the spears).

 

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 pound white asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 hard cooked egg yolk, sieved or mashed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Remove the fibrous bottoms of each asparagus spear. Poach the asparagus in lightly salted water for 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness, or until tender. Drain under cold water and set aside in a serving dish. Whisk the olive oil and wine vinegar together until well blended. Add the tomato and egg yolk, stir and pour over the asparagus. Toss to coat every spear. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4 servings

Brussels Sprouts, Kumquat and Avocado Salad

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My daughter Gillian recently gave me a box of kumquats and I was really tempted to candy them, but candied kumquats are the kind of thing I can't stop eating once I taste the first one, so, no. Not now. Maybe when I lose a few pounds.

I looked around to see what else I had in my fridge and cupboards that I could use with the kumquats: a few Brussels Sprouts, a couple of avocados, some cheese, and came up with this salad (I made half with cheese, half without.) 

Perfect -- plus healthy and low-cal -- use for kumquats.

Perfect for Passover as a symbolic dish of "bitter herbs/greens."

I usually don't save salad overnight because it becomes soggy. But this was so good that I kept it and even with its discolored avocado chunks it made a most delicious lunch item.

Brussels Sprouts, Kumquat and Avocado Salad

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 18 kumquats
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion or 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts, optional

Shred the Brussels sprouts in a food processor and place in a bowl. Cut the kumquats in half, remove and seeds and chop the fruit coarsely. Add to the Brussels sprouts. Add the onion. Peel the avocado, cut it into bite size chunks and add to the salad. Add the cheese, if desired, and toss gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar and maple syrup and pour over the salad. Toss to coat all the ingredients. Add the crushed red pepper and nuts, if desired, toss. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4 servings