The best things in life are often the simplest ones. This is of course, also true for food. At friends’ Eliot and Rebecca’s last night, we had a great dessert composed of a winning combo: watermelon and fresh lime juice. Who Knew?
Turns out, watermelon has been around a long time. Packed with Vitamin C and A, and some good B vitamins, evidence of this fruit and plant has turned up in the Nile Valley as long ago as the Second Millenium BCE.
Mark Twain once said that watermelon was “chief of the world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.”
Science Daily reports that watermelon may have a viagra effect, which the Jerusalem Report covered last week (reportedly setting off an unprecedented surge in watermelon sales in a country that already appreciates the fruit for its other delights).
Did you know that we are in the midst of “National Watermelon Month”? (Neither did I). Made up of 90% water, it’s no surprise that it’s a summer favorite and a favorite for those of us trying to shed a bit of our winter insulation. But have you tried it with lime???
According to the very trusted (!) Wikipedia entry on limes, the name for these little citrus fruits is derived from the Perian, “limu”, and was introduced to Europe during the Crusades. There are of course, many kinds of limes, but they are also a great source of Vitamin C, and have an “antibiotic” effect.
In several villages in West Africa where cholera epidemics had occurred, the inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was determined to have been protective against the contraction of cholera. (Cholera is a disease triggered by activity of the bacteria called Vibrio cholera). Researchers quickly began to experiment with the addition of lime juice to the sauce eaten with rice, and in this role, lime juice was also found to have a strong protective effect against cholera.
So now, to the point:
Cut up some juicy watermelon into little chunks and squeeze fresh limes all over them. For a stronger flavor, you can zest the limes as well. It’s a refreshing, delicious and surprisingly nutritious way to end a meal (or begin one).
For specifics, see this recipe in the San Francisco Gate.
As part of our award-winning breakfast- I’m convinced the closer was Shira’s homemade pita.
Whole-wheat, warm and delicious, this pita was made from scratch (!) and was ready in under an hour. During the competition, we were given active yeast – the real deal (not the stuff in a paper packet)- and we’re convinced it made the difference.
The pitas puffed up right at the end – and clarified, there is no need for store-bought pita anymore. Try it. (Would be especially good with Eli Shem-Tov’s Chummus).
1 package yeast or 2-ish teaspoons active yeast
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 whole wheat flour
1 1/2 white flour
- Set oven to 500 degrees
- Proof yeast with lukewarm water and sugar
- Once yeast begins to bubble (15-20 min), add oil and honey; mix well
- Add both flours, fold and incorporate
- Knead dough for about 5-8 minutes
- Place in a warm place to rise for 25 minutes
- After dough has risen, break off handfulls of dough and form into pita circle/shapes
- Put each onto an oiled cookie sheet and let sit for 5 minutes on top of oven
- Bake pita for 4 minutes on each side; should puff up while in oven
Okay – had dinner last night at hands-down the best Middle-Eastern restaurant I’ve been to since I moved to NYC. Nestled on Third Avenue in neighboring Bay Ridge, Tanoreen is a must.
Owned by chef Rawia Bishara, who circulates the restaurant throughout the evening checking to make sure every table is happy and enjoying themselves, Tanoreen has been reviewed by the NY Times and listed in the “Best of NY” in New York Magazine on more than one occasion.
One of the great dishes we had last night was Muhammara – a delicious blend of walnuts, pomegranate and red peppers. While we can’t get our hand’s on Rawia’s recipe for it – here is Paula Wolfert’s (from the great website: Leite’s Culinaria), the author of “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Paula Wolfert’s “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean”
2 and half pounds of sweet bell red peppers
1 small hot chili pepper
1 and 1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup wheat crackers
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (If you search at the top of the page, I’ve included a recipe for this elsewhere on this site)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
Click here for directions.
A favorite. The best I’ve had was in Pe’ki’in, a village in Northern Israel, where Druze, Jews and Arabs live well together. Maybe that’s part of why the labane tasted so good. Plus, the drizzled olive oil and za’atar didn’t hurt either. Below, a recipe for homemade labane from Rina Perry from this website.
Thanks Rina! To read more about Peki’in – Click here.
1-1/2 Liters Yogurt (1% or 3 % fat)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil to cover the Labane
Put a sieve that is covered with thin cloth over a big bowl.
In a another big bowl, put all first 4 ingredients. Mix well and pour
into the sieve. Cover it and let it stand for about 12 hours.
I leave it overnight.
If the cheese looks a bit soft, tie the cloth loosely and let it hang over
a basin for another 8 – 10 hours.
Fill about 1/2 a glass container with olive oil.
With wet or (as I do) with oiled hands, create small balls and put them in
the glass container. If you need to add more olive oil do so, until the
cheese is covered. On top of all, I sprinkle some za’atar [a Middle-Eastern
spice; recipe for za’atar substitute in the groups archives. –rh].
Cover/close the container.
During summer I keep it in the fridge, even if the olive oil tends to
thicken and turn cloudy. In wintertime, you can leave it on the counter.
I take from the container only the small portion that I want to use, and
the rest I keep in its container.
Nana Rina, the Shem-Tov Matriarch, with 14 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren (so far!) was the first one to turn us all onto Iraqi food. We used to spend every Friday night at her and Baba’s apartment, eating Kuba Adom and playing “Go Fish” and Shesh Besth with her, and her clandestinely teaching us how to swear in Arabic. While Nana doesn’t cook for us anymore, it is surely her cooking and our cherished memories of those days that inspires us to keep eating the same dishes.
Here is a great video from Rachel, a cute Iraqi woman teaching us how to make Kuba Bamya.
Loving cute Moti!
Check out his website www.sooogood.org