Archive for December, 2010

30
Dec
10

Blizzard of the Heart


New Yorkers are a funny bunch. We can get impatient, short-tempered; we often appear callous or indifferent as we rush into the routines and responsibilities dictating our lives. But hit us with a crisis, and the vast majority of our ethnically rich mosaic rises to the occasion like a collective consciousness of transcendent higher-selves, who when awakened, mobilize will, wit, limb and spirit admirably, to meet the challenges of the moment.

This blizzard appears to have caught not just the city short in resources and manpower, but somehow managed to plow right past that special NY spiritedness that historically carries us through such crises. The impediments seemed to get the best of us this time around. Perhaps we were self-involved with holiday vacation with family and friends… let’s hope so… Or maybe it was the Bloombergian wheels on the trucks pulling the tale spin round and round, or the peculiar molecular weighted heaviness of this particular snowfall that made this accumulation harder to bear.

In this Great Blizzard of 2010, it seems the collective response of our good citizens was a discordant tonal series of anger, frustration, malarkey, saturation and abandonment. Maybe we’re just tired of being tall-talked, clinging to endless loops of recorded messages that never answer the question, of new and improved stream-lined services that have composted public service into rotted marquis and escalating monthly fees.

Brooklyn, Wednesday noon, two days after the snow stopped...

As I navigated through the everestian snow peaks of my Brooklyn neighborhood in new water-resistant boots and smart REI like layers, I couldn’t recall a time when I’d seen our streets left so desolate in a snowstorm. Not a plow truck in sight or ear-shot, no heroic bus drivers braving the inclement weather to get the stranded to safety, no policeman-momentarily ticketing quota free, offering pedestrians a helping hand.

Wednesday afternoon, stuck tractor trailer blocking traffic both ways on Avenue J...

The few drivers I saw would rather impatiently honk their profanities from the safety of their heated vehicles than lend a helping hand. Bundled neighbors fended for themselves-unless they were lucky enough to land illegals to shovel the drive and sidewalks. (What a great time for a snow border round-up. Oh, that’s right, we’re naturalizing them all now, well thank goodness for that, or we’d never shovel out of this mess!). I didn’t see one car stop to give a cold-wet-tired citizen trudging through the mountainous sludge a lift, not even for a couple of blocks. Actually, most were lucky not to get run over by the zealot kings of the four wheel drive. Where were we?!?

Cars couldn't always stop on time...

I’m hoping I just caught some random off-moments, in my new water-resistant boots, (that, by the way absorb about an hour’s worth of wetness before becoming totally saturated. Hey, the label never promised water-proof, some truth in advertising, though made in China I concede), and that somewhere out there in our great metropolis, people were doing what New Yorkers are known for; riding the storm, answering calls of distress with aplomb, clearing the way and moving on with our lives. The rest, G-d’s sunshine will dissolve in time… until next time.

Thursday morning and another Brooklyn side-street... Didn't the snowfall stop three days ago?!?

The sinking feeling that perhaps we had devolved into “its every man for himself” – or that we’d collectively frozen others out of our hearts – left me icy and apprehensive and in a contemplative funk. G-d knows, we’d be justified. Our lives are really challenged these days. Take your pick: whole governments caving to terrorist demands, America losing it’s once lustrous stars of glory, freedom and the democratic way, economic pillars plummeting like Hollywood back-lots – swept away by winds of deceit and greed – a collapsing health care system where doctors’ Hippocratic oath has been Obamacized with a new. improved, hypocritic oath. (A preamble to future, real life, versions of Soilent Green?). Trust your doctor to help you find pathways to death in a time frame that works for the greater good of all! Or is it our jeopardized jobs that keep us feeling flighty and on edge- jobs that grow more mechanical and disinterested as we learn the more jolting personal side-effects of obsolescence, or is it the dissolution of social norms that are seriously compromising our families and values. Take your pick…we’re an American avalanche waiting to happen.

Though vulnerable and porous, we are a good people who need each other now more than ever. The power of who we are and what we can accomplish together is stronger than any challenges that present themselves. Our compassion will speak the loudest in the tales that our children and children’s children will retell till the end of time. Our humanity is our biggest asset as humans, and without it, we are but Babelian beasts uttering meaningless speech signifying nothing…

SYR

27
Dec
10

Last Week’s Broadcast and This Week’s Upcoming One


Last Thursday we had literally a last minute postponement by our scheduled guest. Rather than panic (mere minutes before taping!!) I had as guest the famed restaurateur (formerly of Lévana’s, in Manhattan; currently a partner at NoBo in Teaneck, NJ), kosher tour operator (partner at Presidential Tours),  Israel wine expert and all around nice guy, Sol Kirschenbaum. In spite of the fact I gave him no time to prepare, we had an interesting and fun show which you can listen to here.

Elizabeth Bland, Ph.D

This week we will be back to our to our regular spot on Wednesday at 8:00pm. Our guest will be Elizabeth Bland, who will discuss kosher cheeses from around the world. Who is Elizabeth Bland, whence her interest on cheese? As she explains on her own website:

 

My passion for cheese started in France where I first tasted raw millk. I continued my language studies and travels to Europe, and tried many cheeses along the way. I earned a Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin and speak French, Italian, and German.

I abandoned academia and worked in the cheese department at Central Market in Austin, Texas, and taught cheese classes at UT Informal Classes. Along the way, I became enamored with wine as well, and incorporated the “fruit of the vine” into my tastings. For years I catered cheese/wine parties and led tastings for groups.

She has written extensively on the subject of cheese for such publications as Cheese Connoisseur, Deli BusinessMY FOODSERVICE NEWS, Metropolitan Restaurant Times and others.

Ms. Bland is informative, she presents her subject with passion and wit. Please, listen in on Wednesday at 8:00pm on Jewish Radio Network. Click on the red “here” under the white “Radio,” then wait about 90 to 180 seconds for the application to start streaming.

CS

24
Dec
10

The Joy of Cookbooks


There was a time when cookbooks were written dry as a road map, the writing was limited to exact cooking directions, nothing more; in their current generation, cookbooks tell a story – besides presenting us with succulent recipes – we are regaled with personal anecdotes, or the various transformations of the specific dish, something about the region or culture that created it and so on. Quite often the result is very readable and interesting, even if you do not plan to make the specific recipe at the moment, there is something about it that catches your eye, excites your imagination and makes your taste buds salivate.

Food writing, differs from other types and yet it combines so many staple features of all the others. More than any other writing, however, it affords us huge insights into its author’s personality, interests, quirks, likes, dislikes and sometimes, personal life. Oft, you come away with the feeling you reunited with an old friend or that you just met someone you’ll love revisiting time and time again.

From books that trace Jewish influences on a specific country’s cuisine (like Joyce Goldstein‘s Cucina Ebraica), to books that bring us anecdotes, personal stories and more about the author’s or the recipes’ background (like Lévana Kirschenbaum‘s Lévana’s Table), or the incredible well researched Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods by Gil Marks (I’ve only seen a few random pages of the last, but I found it absolutely fascinating!!!), reading food writing – specifically kosher food writing - connects us with our past as a people, connects us with new friends we’d probably never have met otherwise, connects with our traditions. Yes, gentle reader, reading a cookbook is not what it used to be, there is a lot to learn from it – far more than how to prepare a flavorful dish. As Gil Marks so aptly puts it in his Encyclopedia:

Food is more than just sustenance. It is a reflection of the history, culture and values, and this is specially true of the Jewish people–a community that spans the globe. From Brooklyn to India and everywhere in between, Jewish food is represented by a fascinating array of dishes, rituals, and traditions.

Jewish cuisine is truly international. In every location Jews settled, they brought culinary traditions and also adapted local dishes modifying them to fit dietary laws, lifestyles and tastes. Unique traditions and dishes developed within the cuisines of North Africa, Europe, Persia, and the Mediterranean, but all are recognizably Jewish.

Enjoy your reading, gentle reader, and excite your taste buds.

CS

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23
Dec
10

The Kosher Scene on Internet Radio, Tonight


Last week, on Wednesday the 15th of December 2010, at 8:00pm, we did the first of our weekly radio shows on Rabbi Yaakov Spivak‘s Jewish Radio Network. Though normally we are scheduled for Wednesday evenings at 8:00pm, this week and this week only, we will be on tonight at 9:00pm because of a scheduling conflict.

Our first show had some technical glitches, which the engineer promised to correct by tonight (I could not always hear my guest, nor could the guest always hear me), even so, French trained, Washington, DC, based, acclaimed Pastry Chef and cookbook author Paula Shoyer proved to be very informative and delightfully entertaining, many listeners want her back. To listen to last week’s broadcast, please click here.

Tonight’s guest will be Jay Buchsbaum, Executive Vice President at the Royal Wine Corporation. His knowledge of wine types, wine history, wine making, etc, is encyclopedic as you will hear tonight. Some of you may already knew him, some may not, but everyone is in for a treat! So, please, give us a listen tonight at 9:00pm on Jewish Radio Network.

We have some very interesting guests lined up for the coming weeks, chefs, experts, authors and more. If there is someone you wish to hear interviewed let us know and we will do our best to schedule him/her.

Well, gentle reader, here we are hoping you’ll send us in your guest suggestions, we hope to see your comments soon and – above all – we hope you’ll be listening in this evening.

CS

22
Dec
10

Taba’at and Tov, The Meaning of a Good Ring


[Another interesting post on jewelry in the TaNa"CH, by a friend and faithful blog reader from Israel. CS]

A quick look at the Hebrew word for ring, Taba’at, reveals some interesting – even inspiring – connections with the rest of creation. The root of Taba’at is three letters – Tet, Bet, and Ayin. There are three other words in Hebrew that share the same root. One is Litbo’ah – to sink. A second is Matbe’ah – coin. A third is Teva – nature, creation itself. They have the same root – the question arises therefore – what do a ring, sinking, a coin, and nature all have in common??

To figure this out, we need to decide which word is primary. We can pick the most general encompassing term, Teva, nature itself. Teva, in the Torah’s eyes, is Hashem‘s imprint on the world, it is the effect of the Omnipotent on the planet, His creation. It is doubly interesting to note that the word the Boreh Olam – Creator - uses to describe creation in Genesis (1:3, 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:25, etc)  Teva, is Tov – good – two common letters of Tet and Bet, while Tiv, in modern as well as Rabbinic Hebrew, means character, or the psychological “nature” of a person.

The Tet and the Bet, together then, signify some essential sort of nature or imprint of something onto something else. “Teva – Nature” is the imprint of the Almighty on the world. What does this have to do with sinking? Sinking is quite literally the imprint of something going down into/onto something else. A boat sinking into the sea is being enveloped in it, it is making its imprint (however temporary) on the sea. If you sink into cement, your imprint stays there.

A matbe’ah – coin – is made by imprinting, sinking some pattern into a piece of metal. And finally… Taba’at. Taba’at - ring, is only translated as such because that’s what we see when we picture that kind of jewelry on someone’s finger. But the actual word, Taba’at, at least insofar as jewelry is concerned, should be translated as “imprinter”. Why?

There are several places in TaNa”CH, in the Bible, where Taba’ot are used. When they refer to jewelry, the word is always used to signify a signet ring – a ring with an imprint, used to sign documents by Kings. It wasn’t something he just wore on his finger. It was the royal seal – the symbol of his power – that the king would sink into the wax seal on official state documents.

But in the end, it all comes back to Teva, to nature. We can only hope to imitate Hashem’s imprint on the world by making our imprint on the world, our Taba’at, as Godly, as Goodly, as Tov, as possible.

Rafi Farber
Senior Marketing Manager, Zoara.com

21
Dec
10

Soups as Comfort Food – Part 3


There are myriad types of soups, while I never intended an exhaustive listing when we started this series, while I realize there are far more types than I’m ever likely to try, this series only deals with some of my favorites from among those I’ve tasted. In this, the final installment of the series we will again feature two soups.

We chose all these recipes both because of their taste and the ease of preparation.

Last evening, at a cooking demo by Chef Lévana Kirschenbaum, I tasted her incredibly flavorful and very simple to prepare…

Aduki Bean Burdock Soup

Ingredients

  • 12 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 bay leaves, or 1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 2 cups aduki beans
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 large zucchini, cut in large chunks
  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 1 large piece burdock, peeled and cut in large chunks

Directions

  1. Bring all ingredients to boil in a wide heavy pot.
  2. Reduce to medium and cook covered for 1 hour.
  3. Cream the soup with an immersion blender.
  4. Adjust texture and seasonings.

If you do not have, if you cannot find burdock, you can substitute almost anything else. In spite of her recipe calling for burdock, Lévana – just to demonstrate the versatility of her recipe – used kale stalk instead

If you are like me you probably never heard of burdock before…What is burdock? For its culinary and medicinal properties look it up in the Wikipedia. Meanwhile, as the article says:

the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wrote in his journal, in 1896, about a tiny shoot of burdock he saw in a ploughed field, “black from dust but still alive and red in the center … It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it.”

For another of Chef Lévana’s superb soup recipes check out Quick Black Bean Chocolate Soup

To end this series I chose to adapt an Emeril Lagasse variation of the classic French Onion Soup on the Food Network :

Gratinee Lyonnaise (Lyon-style Onion Soup)

[adapted to conform with kashrus]

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 8 cupspareve soup stock
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
  • 1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Port wine (optional)
  • Finely chopped parsley, garnish

Directions

In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cognac. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Be careful as the cognac may ignite.

Add the soup stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the soup for 45 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, toast the bread slices until light golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Preheat the broiler.

When the soup is ready, divide 1/2 of the toasted bread slices between 6 individual ovenproof serving bowls or crocks and top with 1/2 of the grated cheese. Ladle some of the soup among the bowls and top with the remaining toasts. Ladle the remaining soup among the bowls and top with the remaining cheese. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Optional topping:

In a small bowl combine the egg yolks and Port and whisk to thoroughly combine. Pour some of the mixture evenly among the soup bowls, stirring in around the edges so that it is incorporated into the soup. (The heat of the soup will cook the egg yolk and this will thicken and enrich the soup.)

Garnish the top with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

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Soups as Comfort Food – Part 2

Soups as Comfort Food

20
Dec
10

Roast Chicken with Citrus and Aromatics


While nice presentation might increase the appetite for a specific dish, there are certain classics that will always be welcome even without the fancy looks. As you will see from the photo, this dish could have been fancier looking, but as you read the recipe you come to realize that it is very flavorful and superbly aromatic and needs no time wasted in making look good what you know will taste good!

From the Restless Chipottle blog: (to make this recipe kosher, I just changed the butter to margarine)

Roast Chicken with Citrus and Aromatics

Ingredients

  • 1 5-6 lb whole chicken
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs culinary lavender
  • 1/2 tbs cardamom
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted margarine, softened

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Place rack in roasting pan.
  3. Mix the cardamom, lavender, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup margarine and shape into a ball
  4. Clean chicken thoroughly inside and out and pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Cut the orange and lemon in half and place in the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Add the rosemary sprigs and the margarine mixture.
  7. Melt the remaining margarine and rub over skin of the chicken.
  8. Salt and pepper the skin.
  9. Place in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until done. Bast several times by spooning pan juices over the bird.
  10. Remove contents of cavity and discard.
  11. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Serves 6

The lavender and cardamom, give this recipe a bit of a Sephardic feel. I can almost see it as a refreshing variation of Moroccan Chicken Tadjine. I’ll have to make it tonight, I can just imagine what the aroma will be throughout the house. I could even pair it with a Duvel beer or a Blue Moon Belgian Ale. Either one will nicely complement the citrus taste…MmmMMmmmmMMmm!

CS

19
Dec
10

Matbukha and Shakshuka


[When it comes to Moroccan dishes, there is hardly anyone who can come up to the level of Lévana Kirschenbaum. If you get the impression that The Kosher Scene looks up to her, well... having attended so many of her Monday night cooking demos, we truly do! Last Friday we posted 3 recipes for Shakshouka, frankly, that series could not possibly be complete without Lévana's take on the subject. CS]

Cooked tomato salad: Matbukha

Gluten Free, Pareve

This is one of our Moroccan favorite dishes, a sort of comfort food for ex-pats and honorary Sephardis alike: See how they mop that sauce with their bread! Shakshuka is nothing more than Matbukha with eggs scrambled into it and served as a main course, and gets its funny name from the Arabic word for “scramble.” Sometimes tomatoes get too expensive; in this case, it would be OK to use canned diced tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers, washed, cored, and seeded
  • 2–3 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, or 8 plum tomatoes, diced small (settle for 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, liquid and all)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Slice about ¼ inch off the pointed end of the head of garlic, leaving the cloves exposed.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil onto the garlic and the peppers, place them on a cookie sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and the peppers are charred (the peppers might be ready a few minutes before the garlic).
  4. Press the cloves out of their skins while still warm and mash with a fork.
  5. Peel the peppers and cut them into thin strips.
  6. In a heavy wide-bottom pot, bring the tomatoes, oil, and paprika to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium, add the roasted garlic and peppers, and cook covered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. All of the water should evaporate, and the oil will resurface (if you neglect this step, you will not get the desired look and texture but a glorified tomato sauce).
  8. Add the freshly minced garlic and the salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Let cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Use a slotted spoon to serve so the oil stays behind. This will keep for up to two weeks.

Variation: Shakshuka

Gluten Free, Pareve

Stir 8 eggs into the Matbukha, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon, and cook just a few more minutes until the eggs are barely set. If you would rather end up with a more pristine look, leave the eggs whole, break them one by one, and set them over the mixture, close but not touching, and cook covered on a low flame until they look barely set.

Serve hot, alone, or with a good whole-grain bread, or on a bed of cooked (canned OK) white beans (except on Passover!).

Makes 8 servings.

CS

17
Dec
10

Shakshuka


When I lived in Israel, I discovered the Sephardic cuisine. Growing up in Uruguay, I had occasional eaten over by some of my Sefaradi friends but never encountered most of the delicacies I found in the Holy Land. One of this discoveries was Shakshouka, therefore I felt compelled to scour the web in search of easy recipes for it.

What is Shakshouka, you ask? Wikipedia describes it as:

Photo from: Wikipedia

Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة‎; Hebrew: שקשוקה‎) (also shakshukashaqshuqa) is a dish from Maghreb consisting of eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices (often including cumin, turmeric, and chillies), and usually served with white bread.

[..] Shakshouka is now a staple of Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Somali, and Yemeni cuisines, and is also popular in Israel, where it was introduced by Tunisian Jews.

And here is the Wikibooks recipe for Shakshouka:

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons of frying olive oil
  • One tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • One large sweet red pepper diced
  • One Chili pepper (red or green) diced
  • 6 ripe tomatoes diced
  • Ground fresh black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 eggs

Procedure

  1. On a high flame, heat the oil for about half a minute.
  2. Add the paprika and blend well.
  3. Add the garlic and peppers, and turn to low flame. Cook for about ten minutes – until the peppers have slightly softened.
  4. Add the tomatoes and spice it with salt and pepper and then blend it.
  5. Bring it to a boil, taste it and if necessary – add spices to get the taste refined.
  6. Makes six dents in the mixture. Into each dent put an egg yolk, and spread the egg whites around.
  7. Continue to cook on low until the egg whites have coagulated.
  8. Serve the Shakshouka with black bread and fresh parsley.

From the Spanish language blog: Absolut Marruecos, we bring you this authentic Morrocan recipe:

Photo by: Absolut Marruecos

shakshuka con huevos

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 grated onion
  • 7 ounces water
  • 36 ounces tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon green pepper, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 eggs

Directions

  1. Sauté onion in very hot oil until just golden.
  2. In a pot add the water, tomatoes, let it boil for 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate pot cook the rice.
  4. Add the parsley, salt, pepper and green pepper.
  5. Carefully break the eggs one at a time and drop on the tomato pot.
  6. Cook for about 40 minutes on medium flame.

When Mia Cooks, adds an interesting variation:

Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped bell pepper
  • 4 to 5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup veg broth
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • coriander/cilantro leaves
  • Vegetable oil

Actually, it’d be better if you boil the tomatoes and then peel and chop them. But I forgot….heck, ok, I was too lazy.

  1. In a pan, heat a tbsp of vegetable oil.
  2. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and veg broth.
  4. Add the peas and corn as well. Season with salt and chilli powder.
  5. Simmer and allow to cook till the corn and peas are cooked and there’s some liquid left.
  6. Break the eggs into the base.
  7. Break the yolks with a spoon, cover and simmer. If you like your eggs runny, remove it well under a minute. I don’t, so i let it cook for 2 minutes till it firmed up. Add chopped cilantro and serve with bread.

Enjoy gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

16
Dec
10

Cooking Pasta: Debunking the Myth


Part of coming of age and the endless struggle for self is the establishment and ascendance of individual truth, honing mind and temperament, discriminating fact from fancy, empirical evidence from legend and myth.

I thought I had arrived in so many ways and then reality hit me like a flung wet noodle against the wall of my existence. We’ll save for another venue all the charming folktales of my youth soberly and maturedly dispensed with. But there I was, sitting pretty on the comfy wine colored couch, reaching for a bleached white conch shell that sits atop a wicker woven basket poised for reminiscence, aside other brilliant priceless colored stones, crystals, odd shaped rocks and shells randomly picked for their momentary significance and tangible recall. As I held the conch to my ear, I heard the voice of my nine year old neighbor and friend – Batya – herself clearly establishing her own unique truth sets, say:

- You know, that’s not the sound of the ocean you’re hearing, that’s just the echo of the air in the shell.

- What??? That can’t possibly be true, I know it’s the ocean, the waves of the very ocean that the shell came from.

I was not going to let this cute but clearly misinformed enfant terrible wreck my personal objects de time machine recall. Of course, we did what sensible people  do in such circumstances, we checked Wikipedia online.

I shouldn’t have, I know it now….. there are certain life mysteries that are best left alone… but there it was, the total deflation of spirit and romance and everything that’s right with the world….”What you are actually hearing is the sound around you vibrating as an echo in the air within the shell.” Who the heck needed to hear that, to know that? Great! Take the technicolor out of my universe… Hey, absolute reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. I know a butterfly flitting it’s wings impacts the climate at  the opposite end of the globe, and I know with the ten percent of my brain operational part of my brain that yawning is contagious, chicken soup cures a cold and that the five second rule applies. So maybe being primordial isn’t such a bad thing… No such thing as fairy dust?!?!?!? P’shaaaaaawww! What a world, What a world!!!

So talking about cooking pasta. Here I was thinking I had reached maximum maturity when I learned that al dente is très chic, that the “if it sticks” rule really does work and that salt in boiling water is a good thing along with a few drops of oil, so that the pasta doesn’t stick. When I really pay attention, I even cover the pot after its come to a boil and let it stay on low simmer.

Anyway, here are a few things I’ve learned since. Feel free to write in and further debunk my myths.

  1. Use a one to four ratio of water to pasta – four parts water to one part of pasta. Pasta needs room to cook.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for each gallon of water.
  3. Bring it to mighty bubbling boil, and then let it simmer for a minute or two till done.
  4. Don’t add oil… get this: oil makes the pasta slick and then all the wonderful sauces can’t adhere to it.
  5. Furthermore, after you drain the pasta, don’t rinse it. The starchiness too is a binder for whatever you will be adding to your pasta dish. The only exception is when you are making a cold pasta salad, then it is preferable to rinse the pasta first.

See? Some things are worth knowing after all. By the way, that gum I swallowed approaching the shiva house… seven years until it dissolves. Well what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? Right?

Stir Fry Beef on Penne Pasta (adpated from 6ix Passions)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into strips
  • 1 lb beef, cubed
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 broccoli florettes
  • Mango Salsa
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the penne pasta al dente (cooked through, tender, but still offering some resistance to the bite).
  2. Stir fry beef with Spanish red onion, mushrooms, red peppers and broccoli
  3. Toss on the pasta with mango salsa.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh parsley

Enjoy!

SYR

Stir-Fry Beef on Penne Past




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