The Jew And The Carrot

Tanoreen's Lentil Noodle Soup with Greens

By Rawia Bishara

This hearty Palestinian soup known as rushtay is more commonly prepared by West Bank cooks than by those in Galilee; I learned how to make it from friends I met in Jerusalem. It is a meal in itself and a favorite among vegetarian patrons of Tanoreen. If you don’t have one of the greens on hand, just substitute more of the others. Don’t skip the squeeze of lemon near the end—it transforms the soup. Serve it with a few olives.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

3 cups brown lentils
1 tablespoon plus 1 pinch sea salt
1 cup olive oil
3 medium red or yellow onions or 5 large shallots, diced
1 poblano or other chile pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
41/2 teaspoons ground cumin
41/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
4 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 packed cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 packed cups chopped fresh spinach
2 packed cups chopped kale
2 green or plum tomatoes, diced (optional)
8 ounces fettuccini, broken in half
Juice of 2 lemons (1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Combine the lentils and a pinch of salt in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Cover with the lid and boil over high heat for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions or shallots, and chile pepper, if using, and saute until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, coriander and black pepper and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Toss in the celery, carrots and cilantro, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, kale, tomatoes, if using, 15 cups of water and remaining 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour in the lentils, return the broth to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more. Add the fettuccini and cook until al dente. Stir in the lemon juice followed by the teklai, if using. Serve hot.

Variation: For a gluten-free version, cut six 8-inch corn tortillas into 1/2-inch strips and use in place of the fettuccini or use gluten-free pasta.

Photo courtesy of “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking”.

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Tanoreen's Brussels Sprouts With Panko

By Rawia Bishara

Brussels sprouts were not part of the Palestinian kitchen when I was growing up. I discovered them here in the States and very eagerly tried to push them on my children. To that end, I did what any good mother would do—I pumped up their flavor by adding a little tahini sauce and sweet pomegranate molasses. It worked!

In fact these Brussels sprouts were so delicious that they made it onto the original Tanoreen menu and I’ve never taken them off.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Corn oil for frying
4 pounds Brussels sprouts, outer leaves
removed, cut in half
1 cup Thick Tahini Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
Pinch sea salt

Pour 1/4 to 1/2 inch corn oil in a large skillet and place over a high heat until hot. To test the temperature, slip half a Brussels sprout into the pan; if it makes a popping sound, the oil is hot enough. Working in batches, fry the Brussels sprouts, turning occasionally, until they are browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sprouts to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, whisk together the Thick Tahini Sauce, yogurt and pomegranate molasses in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the panko and stir constantly until the crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and remove the breadcrumbs from the heat. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to cool.

Place the Brussels sprouts in a serving dish, drizzle with the sauce and top with the panko crumbs. Serve immediately.

Thick Tahini Sauce

Tahini sauce, a smooth blend of toasted sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, is ubiquitous in Middle Eastern kitchens. It is the condiment. There is hardly a dish that isn’t enhanced by it.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups tahini (sesame paste)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 5 lemons or to taste (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Chopped parsley for garnish

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt and process on low speed for 2 minutes or until thoroughly incorporated. Turn the speed to high and blend until the tahini mixture begins to whiten. Gradually add up to 1/2 cup water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.

Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley. Leftover tahini sauce can be stored, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.

Photo courtesy of “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking.”

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Cooking the Book: 'Olives, Lemons and Za’atar'

By Naomi Zeveloff

Three years ago, I spent a month living in Ramallah while reporting a story on the Palestinian economy. Yet somehow, save for trips to the corner falafel joint in between frenzied interviews, I managed to barely sample Palestinian food.

When I returned to New York, my regret lifted the moment I walked into Tanoreen, a Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge. Chef and owner Rawia Bishara’s menu is inspired by her hometown of Nazareth, yet many of her dishes share DNA with the West Bank cuisine I missed out on.

Every time I go to Tanoreen, my vegetarianism flies out the window. My favorite item on the menu is the lamb-stuffed baby squash. The dish is elaborately flavored — the yogurt is sour, the spices sweet, the lamb gamy and the squash earthy.

This interplay of flavors is found throughout Bishara’s menu, and also in her new cookbook, “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar,” published this spring. The tome is as colorful as the cuisine it depicts, with photos of the Nazareth hillsides, family picnics and open-air markets. Under the heading, “The Pantry,” is a list of ingredients — pomegranate molasses, bulgur, mastic sumac and many others — essential for concocting the dozens of breakfast dishes, mezzes, salads, soups, stews, mains, pickles, sauces and desserts found inside the book.

The recipes range from traditional fare like maftoul, or Palestinian couscous, (also featured in the “The Gaza Kitchen”) to experimental dishes such as brussel sprouts with panko. There are several simple recipes in the book, but some are more complex than meet the eye. The brussel sprouts, for instance, calls not for tahini but for tahini sauce (made by mixing tahini with garlic and lemon juice)— directions for which are found later in the book.

For my foray into “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar,” I decided to take the easy road. Instead of replicating my beloved baby squash — the book doesn’t have that exact recipe, but instead several that seem similar, like vegetarian stuffed vegetables or stuffed artichokes with meat and pine nuts — I opted for two simple dishes with ingredients I had at home.

The first was shorabit addas majroosh, the pureed lentil soup that is a mainstay in many parts of the Arab world. One of the great pleasures in making pureed soups is that they enable the otherwise fastidious home chef to be a bit lazy. Instead of fretting over how beautiful the carrots and onions would look in the final dish, I chopped them roughly, sautéed them with oil, coriander and cumin in a soup pot, added the red lentils, and let it all simmer. I then pulsed the mixture in a blender, and served it with lemon wedges, salt and pepper. The resulting soup was plain, but comfortingly so — perfect for the late winter Monday that I made it. Bishara’s recipe is meant to serve six to eight; I ate shorabit addas majroosh all week long.

My next try was salatet zahra, or cauliflower salad. The chopped cauliflower should be briefly boiled before it is roasted or grilled, leaving it with a soft interior and an almost crunchy exterior. After roasting, I tossed the cauliflower with tahini (though it called for tahini sauce) and pomegranate molasses and sprinkled it with chopped cilantro. (The recipe calls for parsley, but I had none on hand.)

Perhaps because I used a very nutty tahini, or maybe it was the crunch of the cauliflower, the dish reminded me a little of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My dining partner, on the other hand — much more an aficionado of Arab food than I am — declared it a success: an example “nouveau Levantine” cuisine.

I would make either dish again, but not before I scour the rest of the book. After my culinary oversight in Ramallah, I feel I have a lot to make up for.

Tanoreen’s Lentil Noodle Soup with Greens

Tanoreen’s Brussels Sprouts With Panko

Photo courtesy of “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking.”

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Mitchell Davis's Master Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

By Mitchell Davis

James Beard Foundation

This recipe is reprinted with permission from “The Mensch Chef: Or Why Delicious Jewish Food Isn’t an Oxymoron.

This is an approximation of the matzo ball recipe my mother always used. It is based on the one on the matzo meal box, but with a few important modifications to account for my mother’s heavy hand with the schmaltz and her inexact measuring technique. When it comes to making fluffy floaters instead of sodden sinkers, I’ve tried all of the tricks: seltzer, baking soda, and others. But the only thing that seems to make a difference in the finished texture is how you handle them. For floaters, it’s best not to let the mixture sit in the refrigerator more than 30 minutes before shaping. Whatever you do, don’t work too hard to the mixture into balls — rolling the matzo balls around for too long in the palm of your hands compacts and toughens them up. Instead, coax them into a spherical shape, and don’t be too OCD about it. Also, be sure to have the chicken soup simmering when the matzo balls are ready, so you can put them straight into the hot soup. That way they retain their texture after cooling.

Mitchell’s Chicken Soup

Makes 4 quarts, enough for 10 to 12 servings
1, 4 1/2 pound stewing hen or soup chicken, or 5 pounds chicken bones
3 chicken feet, claws removed (optional)
2 pounds yellow onions, about 4, roughly chopped
Top half of a bunch of celery, with leaves
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 small turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 point of star anise
1 whole clove
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 sprigs fresh dill, plus extra for garnish

In a 12-quart stockpot, place the chicken, chicken feet, if using, onions, celery, carrots, parsley, turnip, parsnip, peppercorns, star anise, clove, and salt. Add 5 quarts cold water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, skim off any scum that floats to the top. Set the cover ajar, turn down the heat to low so the liquid simmers, and cook about 2 hours, skimming occasionally, as necessary. Add the dill, if using, and simmer an additional 45 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and let cool.

Stain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Remove the cooked chicken meat and reserve for a chicken salad or something. Discard the other solids. Chill the soup and then remove any fat that coagulates on the surface. You can also freeze the soup. If you’d like, you can freeze the soup at this point. To serve, reheat until boiling and add some chopped fresh dill, if you’d like. If you want to add vegetables for garnish, cook carrots, parsnips, turnips and other vegetables separately in a little bit of the soup, and pour it all back into the pot before serving.

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Israeli Salads To Kick the Final Days of Winter

By Vered Guttman

(Haaretz) — For the interval between having filled ourselves with hamantaschen and stuffing ourselves with matza brei and matza ball soups, here are three light and airy end-of-winter salads.

Carrot ribbons with harissa aioli

This salad is a contemporary play on the classic Moroccan carrot salad. The carrots here are raw, and shaved into ribbons; the dressing is a homemade aioli mixed with harissa, a Tunisian hot pepper and spices paste available in health food supermarkets, kosher stores and Middle Eastern markets.

Serves 4

1 lb. carrots
1 egg yolk at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons harissa
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

1) Peel the carrots and shave them into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. This is easier to do when lying the carrots on a cutting board. Place in a bowl.

2) To make the dressing, put egg yolk, lemon juice and garlic clove in a small bowl and whisk well for 1 minute. While whisking constantly, start adding olive oil drop by drop (it is essential to add the oil very slowly) until the dressing is thickened and emulsified. Add salt and harissa to taste.

3) Pour dressing over carrot ribbons and mix gently. Mix in the cilantro. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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Bake Your Own Boozy Cocktail Hamantaschen

By Anne Cohen

What kind of genius came up with the idea that prunes would make a great cookie filling, to be eaten without fail once a year?

Whoever they were, they were wrong.

But have no fear! We have a new hamantaschen option for you this year, and it’s as delicious as a cocktail, without the embarrassment that goes with actually being drunk at your family’s Purim party.

Alison Barnett has come up with a series of cocktail-themed hamantaschen that make regular old flavors seem like a too-sweet, dry and cakey distant memory.

“[The] two main things we consume on Purim are alcohol and hamantashen. I decided to combine the two into a real fun and creative dessert,” Barnett told the Forward. Her flavors include: White Russian, Tequila Sunrise, Mojito, Whiskey Sour and Cosmopolitan.

A mid-day snack tasting session by the Forward’s staff saw some clear favorites emerge: Whiskey Sour, treated with suspicion at first glance because of the ominous-looking maraschino cherry embedded in the crust, was actually a surprisingly pleasant mix of almond-sugar crust and citrus filling — not too sweet, not too tangy; White Russian was, as expected, a smooth combination of Kahlua and coffee flavors (though the extra icing drizzled onto the crust was unnecessary). Finally, Tequila Sunrise packs a citrus kick strong enough to lift any remaining winter blues.

Barnett first started experimenting with the idea three years ago. This is her first year actually selling the final product (to order on Etsy, click here). $21 will get you a dozen of these goodies — try getting that deal at a bar.

According to Barnett, she’s already thinking up new flavors for next year’s round. Irish coffee, anyone?

Until then, try your own version of the Tequila Sunrise at home (and take a few extra sips on the side — we won’t tell).

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Shabbat Coconut Chicken Curry

By Leah Koenig

Martyna Starosta

Serve this curry ladled into bowls over steaming basmati rice or coconut rice (rice where half or more of the cooking water is replaced with coconut milk). If desired, experiment with adding different vegetables to the curry, like cauliflower, green beans or potatoes.

Serves 6

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ pounds broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 medium sweet potato (about ½ pound), peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving

1) Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onions, fresh ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, cayenne and cardamom, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes.

2) Add the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a simmer. Stir in the broth, broccoli, sweet potato and red pepper (it is okay if the vegetables are not submerged); raise heat to medium high, bring to a boil, then cover the saucepan, lower the heat to low, and cook until vegetables are just tender, 8–10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add the chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add browned chicken, coconut milk and 1/2 cup cilantro to the saucepan; raise heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then lower heat back to low and cook, partially covered, until vegetables are tender but not mushy, and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, and serve topped with more chopped cilantro.

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Chickpea Pizza with Harissa and Spinach

By Molly Yeh

Makes two personal pizzas

1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a few cracks of black pepper
1 cup water
olive oil, to coat the pan
About 2 tablespoons harissa* (this amount may vary depending on your taste and how hot your harissa is)
1/2 large onion, chopped and caramelized
1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

*For homemade harissa, I recommend “Jerusalem’s recipe. I like using Fresno chiles so that it’s not too hot, which means I can pile it on my pizza.

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Mayim Bialik's Vegan Cookbook

By Alix Wall

It probably was only a matter of time before Mayim Bialik put out a cookbook. The actress – who began her career as a child actor on “Blossom” and now appears regularly on “The Big Bang Theory” is also known for a few other things: her PhD in neuroscience; her advocacy of attachment parenting; her blogging for the Jewish parenting website kveller.com; her balancing act of working in Hollywood as an Orthodox Jew; and her diet.

One might assume she is kosher, which she is, but Bialik is also a vegan. Her journey to veganism, she says in “Mayim’s Vegan Table: More than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes From My Family to Yours” co-authored by Dr. Jay Gordon, began as a vegetarian college student, but she began cutting back on dairy when she realized her son was having issues with it from breastfeeding. What began out of practicality later morphed into embracing veganism for idealistic reasons, too.

This is not a cookbook with a capital C. It’s not a hardback, and unlike most Cookbooks these days, which have a photo of almost every dish, this one has a small photo section in the middle (with photos taken by Mayim’s friend Denise Herrick Borchert).

Her co-author, Dr. Jay Gordon, is a pediatrician who has been vegan for over 40 years. Bialik and Gordon spend the first third of the book explaining a vegan diet, why one should be wary of the meat and dairy industries, nutritional myths as they see them, especially when it comes to feeding your children — such as that children need milk — how to stock a vegan pantry, kind of like Veganism 101. They also say that they know most people won’t be as extreme as they are, but that any move toward a plant-based diet is the right step.

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Rainbow Cabbage Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

By Mayim Bialik

This colorful salad is delicious as a main course or side dish. The nutritional punch of colors makes it full of beta-carotene, calcium, and a bevy of vitamins. Arrange the ingredients alongside one another and drizzle with the dressing, or mix them all together for a mixed-up delicious rainbow of a salad.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons toasted sesame or sunflower seeds
6 cups red cabbage, roughly chopped (about 1/4 large cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled then shaved (using the peeler) into 2-3 inch strips
3 celery stalks, leaves removed, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
tahini-lemon dressing
4 ounces tahini
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Using a rimmed baking sheet, toast the seeds for 8 to 10 minutes, watching closely. You can also use a toaster oven until the seeds start to darken, or sauté them without oil in a small pan until they brown and become fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Boil 8 cups of water while you chop the cabbage. Slice cabbage in half through the stem. Slice each half in half again and chop roughly. Place the chopped cabbage into a strainer over your sink and pour the boiling water over it. Rinse quickly with cold water. Dry the cabbage roughly with a (dark-colored) hand towel or in a salad spinner.

In a large bowl, mix together the celery, pepper, cabbage, shaved carrot, and parsley.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Add enough water to make a dressing consistency. Add the dressing to the cabbage salad just before serving.

From Mayim’s Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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Dilled Chickpea Burger with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

By Mayim Bialik

No one will ever know these burgers are made of chickpeas, unless you tell them. Shallots, chickpeas, tahini, and spices are combined and sautéed to crisp perfection for one of the most satisfying veggie burgers we’ve tasted. Here we’ve stuffed them into pita pockets and doused them with yogurt sauce, but they’re just as wonderful with ketchup and mustard, or raw onion and a little hummus and Israeli Salad (page 81). These are thinner patties that should be cooked until crisp. Handle them as little as possible, and let them cook well on the first side before flipping. yogurt sauce.

Serves 6

1 cup plain vegan yogurt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, well-drained and rinsed
1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
About 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for oiling the pan

6 pita pockets or buns

To make the yogurt sauce, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir ­until blended thoroughly.

To make the burger, lightly mash half of the chickpeas in a medium bowl. Add the dill, shallots, bread crumbs, and lemon juice and mix well.

In a food processor, combine the remaining chickpeas, tahini, salt, pepper and cumin until smooth. Add to the mashed chickpeas, mix well, and form into six to eight patties.

Oil a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook the burgers until very crispy and dark golden on both sides, about 6 minutes. Don’t flip them too much! Drain on paper towels or brown paper bags on a wire rack.

Stuff the patties in pita pockets. Drizzle with yogurt sauce.

From Mayim’s Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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Mayim Bialik's Winter Vegetable Risotto

By Mayim Bialik

Risotto is often hard to mimic as a vegan dish because it calls for lots of Parmesan and butter to create its creamy taste and consistency. This recipe re-creates all of that, using a combination of almond milk, tahini, and a touch of nutritional yeast. The result is a sophisticated risotto, which we pair with carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash. You can use any vegetables on hand, though, including diced asparagus, zucchini, or other squash.

Serves 6

1 medium-size carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium-size parsnip, peeled and diced
1 (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 1/2 cups vegan vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup onion or shallot, chopped
1. cups uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (rice or soy milk works, too)
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon mirin (see Kitchen Tip)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2) Place the carrot, parsnip, and squash in a large bowl with the rosemary. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy.

3) In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the stock and wine and heat to simmering. Lower the temperature to a simmer.

4) In a large nonstick pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and rice and saut. for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the rice starts to be toasted.

5) Add 1 cup of the simmering broth-and-wine mixture to the rice and cook, stirring continuously, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring as it is absorbed. It will take about 20 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed and for the rice to become tender and creamy.

6) Add the almond milk, tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and mirin and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the roasted veggies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Kitchen Tip: Mirin is a sweet rice wine. If you can’t find it, you can use dry sherry or white wine with a pinch of sugar.

From Mayim’s Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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King Solomon and the Olive Trees

By Miriam Kresh

Miriam Kresh

It’s Hanukkah, and we’ve been hearing a lot about olive oil. But consider the olive tree; its noble wood and generous shade; its gnarled beauty; its fruit, and the pungent oil pressed out of that fruit.

A trip to the Galilee brought me to Druze villages where residents traditionally make their living from the olive harvest. My guide was Nivin, a young Druze woman. We drove past modern olive groves planted against green hills. She indicated where to stop, at the edge of another olive orchard. This one’s trees are 2000 years old.

They thrive on winter rains alone, and for this reason, the ancient farmers spaced them well apart, making room for each one to receive sunshine and moisture without competition. It was a cool, blue afternoon, and we walked between the great, silent trees with a certain awe. They had been set down into that soil as flexible saplings when Solomon’s Temple still stood.

The trees continued to grow slowly throughout the centuries, making new wood that curved outward, so that each tree’s heart was exposed, or curved back towards the mother tree so that a wooden hollow was formed that’s big enough for an adult to stand in. And those ancient trees are still producing fruit. Their branches were so heavy with sun-warmed, blue-black olives that they bowed almost to the ground.

As we walked through the orchard, Nivin told me a Druze folk tale, about the olive and King Solomon. King Solomon had the supernatural power of understanding all living creatures’ languages. He would leave his palace to walk through fields and forests, conversing with beasts and plants, gathering and distilling their wisdom. For this, all natural beings loved him. When the great king died, nature went into mourning. The trees deliberately shed their foliage, so that their bare branches rattled sadly in the winter gusts. But not every tree did this. To the disgust of the others, the olive stood in its full glory of green and silver leaves.

“Why aren’t you mourning the passing of Solomon?” the trees asked the olive. “Don’t you care? Look at us. The mulberry, the almond, the oak — all our greenery has fallen to the ground. Everyone can see how sad we are. Yet you are indifferent. You haven’t shed one leaf. Where’s your heart?”

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Hanukkah’s Femme Fatale Made Cheese

By Dahlia Abraham Klein

Dahlia Abraham Klein
taken for her upcoming cookbook, Silk Road Vegetarian; Gluten Free and Vegan Recipes for the Mindful Cook.

I know what you are thinking…. the Hanukkah story had a femme fatale?? When you think of Hanukkah you probably think of how the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks in a revolt that recaptured the Holy Temple. And once the Maccabees did, the first order of business was to light the menorah in the Temple, but very little oil was found and would only last one day. The miracle of Hanukkah was that the little vile of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted 8 days. It is for this reason that we eat foods fried in oil (typically olive oil because it’s a characteristic of the Land of Israel). What you may not know is that there is an underlying story of events that led to the victory of the Maccabees and it all started in the town of Bethulia, in the Judean Desert with a woman named Judith.

Judith was a pious woman who had a plan to save the Jews by pretending to surrender to an Assyrian general, Holofernes. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was seized and the Jews could not practice their religion. Judith used her beauty and charm to ingratiate herself onto Holofernes. She brought him her homemade cheese and wine (nothing like food to a man’s stomach) and went back to his tent, for “something something”…. Or so he thought.

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The Cook Behind America's First Yiddish Cookbook

By Gianna Palmer

Several years ago, while on a walk with his dog, John Lankenau came across a tombstone leaning against a fire hydrant on Manhattan’s East Fourth Street. Most of the writing on the tombstone was in Hebrew, but not the name: Hinda Amchanitzky.

Lankenau rescued the tombstone from the sidewalk and went looking for answers: Who was this woman? Where was she actually buried? With the help of a genealogist, New York Times reporter, and New York City’s commissioner of records, the facts emerged. Remarkably, Amchanitzky was the author of the first Yiddish cookbook published in America. A copy of her book is archived in the Library of Congress.

The tombstone was reunited with its proper grave in Staten Island in 2011, over 100 years after Amchanitzky died. Though the peculiar circumstances surrounding her misplaced gravestone made modern headlines, Amchanitzky was certainly no wallflower in her lifetime.

“She was something of a mover and a shaker,” said Jane Ziegelman, a food historian and author of “97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement.”

Ziegelman’s sense that Amchanitzky was likely a “local East Side celebrity” stems from the fact that Jewish women living on the Lower East Side at the turn of the century had essentially one place to look for new recipes: Amchanitzky’s “Manual of How To Cook and Bake,” which she self-published in 1901.

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Taste Testing Isa's Vegan Harira

By Alix Wall

Vanessa Rees

My dinner guests thought this would be an excellent stew to have on hand for weeknight dinners at home. It’s savory, hearty and filling and has a “stick-to-the-ribs” kind of quality. Check out my full review of “Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week” here. Cooking Note: I didn’t detect the saffron here, the paprika and cinnamon overpowered it, so I’d save it for another time. And I recommend a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Harira with Eggplant & Chickpeas

serves 8 to 10
total time: about 45 mins, active time: 20 mins

Harira is a Moroccan noodle soup, served during Ramadan to break the fast. It’s aromatic and slightly spicy, and this version is made thick with eggplant and lentils and studded with a few chickpeas swimming about. Now, if I just invented this soup out of the blue, and someone told me to put noodles in it, I would think we were on a cooking reality show and that someone was trying to sabotage me. But the noodles make it. This soup is a meal on its own. As you can imagine, you might not have the energy to cook a million dishes after fasting. This gets the deed done in one pot. The eggplant really just disintegrates into the soup, to give it a meaty thickness. In traditional harira, lamb is used for that purpose, but, you know.

I had an existential crisis trying to figure out if this recipe should go in the soup or the stew section, and so I went on a spiritual journey and decided, soup. My spiritual journey basically involved looking at fifty other cookbooks to see how they classified it. The soup thickens a lot as it’s left to sit, what with the noodles, so thin it out with water when reheating. The saffron is expensive and thus optional.

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Egyptian Breakfast: Ful Medames With Fried Eggs

By Leah Koenig

leah koenig

The wine in this dish is an unexpected and nontraditional addition, but it adds delicious flavor. Don’t worry about drinking before noon — the alcohol cooks out before the beans touch your plate. Serve with pita for mopping up the sauce.

For the Beans:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 15-ounce cans fava beans, with their liquid
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley, for serving

For the Eggs: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 4 eggs

1) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5–7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes.

2) Stir in red wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3–5 minutes. Add fava beans with their liquid and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium low, cover pan and simmer until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering until liquid thickens and reduces by about three quarters, 8–12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, then remove from heat. Taste and add additional salt and red pepper flakes, if desired.

3) Make the eggs: Brush the vegetable oil around the bottom of a medium pan set over medium heat and let warm. Crack each egg into a small cup, then gently slide the eggs into the pan. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until the whites are firm and yolks are still soft, 3–4 minutes.

4) Divide beans and sauce between bowls or plates and carefully top each with a fried egg, a drizzle of olive oil and chopped fresh parsley.

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Shabbat Meals in Vienna: The Emperor’s Embarrassment

By Anna Goldenberg

wikicommons

When I started grammar school in my hometown of Vienna at the age of ten, Christian religion classes were part of the schedule. As a Jew, I was allowed to opt out and spend the two hours a week doing my homework in the school cafeteria. This peace only lasted a few weeks into the school year — until the religion teacher asked if I wanted to hold a presentation on Jewish holidays and practices for her class.

I was the only Jewish kid in a year of 70 students, and one out of a handful in a school of roughly 400 10- to 18-year-olds. I was proud of my family’s history, being a grandchild of four Holocaust survivors who managed to make peace with the nation that persecuted them. I felt special to be part of a minority. In my juvenile idealism I also had the strong need to lecture my pre-pubescent classmates, who I hardly knew at that point, about the diversity of religious beliefs in the world and the universal message of tolerance. I saw the presentation as an opportunity to gain school-wide fame as the Jewish Mahatma Gandhi.

There was only one problem: I didn’t actually know very much about my religion. The experiences of my grandparents had left them — to put it mildly — disillusioned with religious belief. My parents didn’t connect much with tradition, either. The high holidays and Shabbat were celebrated in a secular fashion. The whole family came together for dinner most nights anyways, so Fridays really weren’t that different. There were candles and blessings and wine and the occasional yarmulke, but I was usually more occupied with arguing with my cousins and indulging in the copious amounts of mostly Austrian food like beef broth soups with noodles and goulash.

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Cooking Jamie Geller's Fast, Fresh Family Recipes

By Alix Wall

courtesy of Joy of Kosher

“Would You Make This?” is a sporadic column where personal chef Alix Wall evaluates a new cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing them with friends and asking what they think of the results.

I have to admit that I had no idea who Jamie Geller was before receiving “Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes” (published October 15, William Morrow). When I read she’s known as the kosher Rachael Ray, I thought “okay, so she’s meant to appeal to the masses who don’t like to cook much, and don’t mind relying on some pre-packaged ingredients to get out of the kitchen faster.” That’s exactly right. Geller refers to herself as The Bride Who Knew Nothing, and says she can’t get out of the kitchen fast enough. That sounds a bit odd for someone who’s since become a kosher food celebrity, but never mind. Her books are for people who don’t love to cook, but need to feed their families, and want to do it reasonably well.

Every kosher cookbook has its multiple versions of roast chicken, brisket and kugel, as this one does. And, I skipped right over the sugary kugels and anything with marshmallow. Let’s see how the kosher maven handles some dishes not traditionally found in a kosher cookbook, I reasoned. Which is how I came up with fish tacos, corn cilantro cakes and cherry pies.

I warned my friends, a Bay Area power couple (their description), that we’d be eating an unconventional Shabbos meal of fish tacos. They were game.

While Geller’s corn cakes call for frozen or canned corn, amazingly, fresh was still available in our farmers markets, which is another reason I chose this dish to try. Also, I liked that it went along with my taco theme. I chose the cherry pies not only because I can never get enough cherries, and didn’t know one can buy them frozen.

The corn cakes involve mixing corn kernels with corn meal, a bit of flour, some optional hot sauce, eggs and a few other ingredients and then lightly frying them and serving them with an avocado “aioli.”

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Taste Test: 'Artisan Jewish Deli's' Stuffed Cabbage

By Alix Wall

caren alpert

Along with making my own pastrami, I was excited to test Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce (though I know them as stuffed cabbage) from Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman’s “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home”.

This is a dish I grew up on; my Russian-born grandma made it all the time. And when I thought about it, given that she died in 2002, and stopped cooking much before that, and my mom never made it, I realized I probably hadn’t eaten it in over 20 years.

Ground beef is mixed with onion, barely-cooked white rice, garlic, parsley, raisins and eggs, and rolled into blanched cabbage leaves, and then baked in a tomato sauce.

The amount of brown sugar in the tomato sauce had me guessing that I would find the dish too sweet, and I did. However, biting into it provided such a sense of nostalgia for my Babushka’s cooking that I could overlook it, especially since this is how the dish is traditionally made.

“I can see why my ancestors would have made this,” said Sam, one of our friends who tasted the dish at a Shabbat dinner at our house. Unlike the Reubens, she felt this was much healthier and more balanced. She felt it was solid, get-you-through-the-winter kind of food.

Our other guest Adam appreciated that for Jewish food, it was low on carbohydrates, and didn’t have to be smashed between two pieces of bread. Additionally, he happens to love cabbage. “I think cabbage gets a bad rap,” he said.

He too thought the sauce was too sweet, and would have preferred taking it into a more savory direction, perhaps with some Worcestershire sauce.

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