Category Archives: sides

An Ode to Simplicity: Watermelon & Fresh Lime Juice

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?

//epicurious.blogs.com)

Watermelons (from http://epicurious.blogs.com)

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???

Delicious Limes

Delicious Limes

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.

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Filed under Breakfast, desserts, Israeli, Middle-Eastern, Salads, sides

Homemade Whole-Wheat Pita in a Flash!!

As part of our award-winning breakfast- I’m convinced the closer was Shira’s homemade pita.

shira.jpg
Shira!

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).

Ingredients
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

Directions

  1. Set oven to 500 degrees
  2. Proof yeast with lukewarm water and sugar
  3. Once yeast begins to bubble (15-20 min), add oil and honey; mix well
  4. Add both flours, fold and incorporate
  5. Knead dough for about 5-8 minutes
  6. Place in a warm place to rise for 25 minutes
  7. After dough has risen, break off handfulls of dough and form into pita circle/shapes
  8. Put each onto an oiled cookie sheet and let sit for 5 minutes on top of oven
  9. Bake pita for 4 minutes on each side; should puff up while in oven

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Filed under Appetizers, Bread, Breakfast, Israeli, Middle-Eastern, sides, Snacks

Muhammara: Red Pepper, Pomegranate Molasses and Walnut Dip

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.  

Rawia Bishara

 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”

 

Ingredients:

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. 

 

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Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash

 Please check out a favorite blog of mine: 101 cookbooks.com. In a big rush today – but wishing all the Americans (and Canadians in America) a Happy Thanksgiving!

Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash

If you are pressed for time, opt for a lightly or semi-pearled farro (actually easier to find in some places), which will cut the cooking time for the grains down to about 20 minutes. Barley, both hulled and pearled, would make a nice substitution if you are having trouble finding farro. Also, I found the beautiful red spring onions at the farmers’ market but regular red onions will work well, and will be much easier to find.

2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
5 cups water (or stock)
3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large red onion cut into 1/8ths
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted
3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (or more olive oil)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.

While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Toss the squash and onions every 5-7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides. Remove from the oven, let cool a bit, and mince just 1/2 of the red onions.

In a large bowl gently toss the everything (except the goat cheese) with the toasted walnut oil (or olive oil). Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary. Serve family-style in a simple bowl or on a platter garnished with the goat cheese.

Serves 6 – 8 as a side, less as a main.

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Fancy Bourekas: Phyllo Triangles with Basil, Zucchini & Pine Nuts

This recipe is for when you have a little bit of time on your hands – and I promise, it’s worth every second. If you haven’t worked with phyllo dough before, remember that patience is a virtue. I used olive oil instead of butter – and much less than the recipe called for. A pastry brush is helpful to have on hand, and garnishing the ‘bourekas’ with sesame seeds is a nice touch. You can use the oil to glaze the bourekas, or a beaten egg will do nicely as well. These are great for a dinner party – and truly impress. I brought them to a tapas party last year and they went quickly.

I got the recipe from Epicurious.com. Click here to see it on the site.

Ingredients

12 ounces zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 chopped onion
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup packed grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 egg
6 sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
Sesame seeds

Preparation

Toss zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain zucchini well; roll in kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add zucchini; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in basil, parsley and garlic; add wine. Cover skillet; simmer 3 minutes. Uncover; stir until any liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer zucchini mixture to large bowl and cool. Mix in both cheeses, then pine nuts. Season filling with salt and pepper. Mix in egg.

Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface with 1 short end parallel to edge of work surface (keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel.) Brush phyllo sheet lightly with butter; cut lengthwise into 3 equal strips, each about 4 inches wide. Place 1 generous tablespoon filling at bottom end of 1 strip. Fold 1 corner of phyllo over filling. Repeat folding down length of strip as for flag, brushing twice with butter and forming triangle. Place pastry on prepared baking sheet; brush with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets and filling. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic and chill.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush pastries with egg white. Sprinkle pastries generously with sesame seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

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Filed under Appetizers, Links, Middle-Eastern, sides, Veggies

Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro

This one is care of Jessica Monty of Bikram Yoga NYC. It’s easy to make, healthy and delicious. Perfect for the upcoming US Thanksgiving – or just a cold Canadian winter day.

Click here to see Jessica’s Website.

Enjoy!

 

Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro:
This recipe is an eye-operner for those who find sweet potatoes cloyingly sweet or who are tired of eating them smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar. Japanese sweet potatoes, with their pale flesh and delicate flavor, are a treat if you can find them.Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 limes
butter and salt, optional

Directions:
1. Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them whole, in their skins, at 375 until tender.
2. Wash and chop cilantro leaves.
3. When sweet potatoes are done, slit open the skin and place on serving plate. Season with salt and dots of butter, if you like. Then squeeze fresh lime juice all over, and shower with cilantro leaves.

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Kasha with Sauteed Onions and Portobello Mushrooms

It’s deceptively sunny outside – still very cold. A quick (less than 15 minutes) meal or side, kasha is robust, nutty and healthy and warms you up.

Mark Bittman writes, “Buckwheat is the hardiest of grains, because it isn’t a grain at all but a grass related to rhubarb.” (Who knew?) “It grows where true grains do not, in the poor soil and bad weather of northern Europe and central Asia. It’s healthy, it’s cheap, it’s easy to cook and it has flavor.” Done. That satisfies enough criteria for me. It’s high in fiber and potassium and low in sodium, and is low on the glycemic index. I added sauteed portobellos to add some taste to it.

The above picture, of kasha, is from a great food blog (which also has some notes on making kasha). Check it out : Blue Kitchen

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 1 cup kasha
  • 2 cups stock (I used veggie)
  • 1 large cooking onion, diced
  • 3 handfuls of diced portobellos
  • a bit of canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix beaten egg into kasha, along with salt and pepper taste
  2. Toast the mixture in a deep skillet or pot for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups stock, bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat. Cover.
  4. In a separate saucepan, sautee onions until brown in canola oil with salt and pepper; add mushrooms
  5. Once kasha is done, add the onion and mushroom mixture – fluff and eat.

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