Archive for the 'kosher middle eastern cuisine' Category

23
May
12

‘Ataiyef – Syrian Blintzes?


Geila Hocherman‘s blog made it’s very promising debut yesterday featuring a recipe for incredibly delicious blintzes, thus I was inspired to look for alternative recipes from cultures other than my own or Geila’s Eastern European one. I wanted something different, or at least a different way of making the equivalent of traditional Ashkenazi blintzes. For many years I’d heard of Syrian ‘Atayef  and finally I found a recipe in Poopa Dweck‘s Aromas of Aleppo.

‘Atayef – Stuffed Syrian Pancakes

‘Ataiyef is not your ordinary Sunday morning pancake. Filled with ricotta cheese, deep-fried, dipped in chopped pistachio nuts, and topped with shira (Fragrant Aleppian Dessert Syrup), it is more like a five-star dessert. Aleppian Jews eat ‘ataiyef on happy occasions such as engagement parties.

these pancakes are one of the dairy foods customarily eaten during Shavuot (feestival of the giving of the torah). King Solomon’s “Song of Songs,” particularly the words “honey and milk are under your tongue,” inspired this dish. the sweetness of shira shares a symbolic connection with the sweetness of Torah, which the Jews received on Shavuot. ‘Ataiyef is also served on Hanukkah because it is fried, and thus symbolizes the miracles of oil celebrated on that holiday.

While this recipe offers a way to make the batter from scratch, you may find commercial pancake mixes more convenient than homemade.

Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup vegetarian oil
  • 1 cup shira (see below*)
  • 1 cup pistachios shelled, blanched, peeled and finely chopped (see below**)
  1. preheat a griddle pan over medium heat. wipe the pan with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  2. Combine the flower, baking soda, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and 2 1/2 cups water to the mixture. stir the mixture until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps.
  3. Make the pancakes by pouring water, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto the griddle. Shape the batter into 3-inch-wide pancake, much like a thin crepe. cook on one side only. remove the pancake, when bubbles appear on its surface. keep the cooked pancakes by covering them with a clean towel.
  4. Place 1-teaspoon ricotta cheese in the uncooked center of each pancake. Fold the pancake in half and pinch the sides firmly closed. Fill the pancakes as quickly as possible so they do not dry out. (At this point, the pancakes may be frozen for later use.)
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil until it sizzles upon contact with a drop of water. Deep-fry the filled pancakes in the cold shira. Dip the point of each pancake in pistachio nuts. To ensure a crispy texture, place the pancakes on a tray in a single layer; do not stack or cover them.

Variation

For a non-dairy version, combine 2 cups firmly chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and substitute for the ricotta.

Yield: About 4 dozen pancakes

–OoOOoO–

* Shira – Fragrant Aleppian Syrup

This simple syrup is a component of so many Aleppian desserts that it is a fixture in Aleppian refrigerators. The addition of rose or orange blossom water imbues it with an exotic flavor for which the Middle East is renowned.

When preparing shira, it is important to get the right consistency. For some Syrian sweets, a thicker syriup may be necessary. To thicken the syrup, keep it on tn the heat a a bit longer; if it is too thick, add some water and simmer again. when pouring shira over hot pastries, the syrup should be cold so the pastries stay crisp.

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water
  1. Combine the sugar, lemon juice, orange blossom water, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the syrup slides slowly down the back of a spoon.
  2. Allow the syrup to cool. use immediately or pour into a glass jar and refrigerate. it will keep for up to2 months.

Note

All helou recipes use orange blossom water, rose water is used for other sweets.

Yield: 2 cups

–OoOOoO–

** Shelled, blanched and Peeled Pistachios

The tin, edible skin of the pistachio can easily be removed from the nut by blanching it. Cover shelled pistachios with boiling water and let them stand for 4 to 6 minutes, then peel off the skins.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! I most certainly will… my mouth is watering already.

CS

02
Aug
11

POM Wonderful!


I learned at a very tender age that “Have it, it’s good for you!” would inevitably refer to something that tasted very bad. Fast forward a couple of decades (OK, OK so it’s more than that, I confess, I confess!) and  I’m a fan of Pom Wonderful because  it’s actually “good for you,” delicious and refreshing.

Delicious, refreshing, good for you

Pomegranate juice has a great concentration of antioxidants, various studies say it is similar to red wine, purple grape juice and black tea. Preliminary research has shown that it may reduce the danger of various types of cancer, it may reduce serum cholesterol and protect arteries from clogging. In the summer I like it as an ice cold drink, but it is a very popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It is also used as a marinade for grilled meats.

Since we are in the Nine Days and meat may not be eaten, I thought it appropriate to bring you a delicious fish recipe, which I adapted from Perfect Jewish, by Elizabeth Wolfe-Cohen, published by Parragon Books.

Photo from: Perfect Jewish, page 106. - Copyright by: Parragon Books, Ltd.

Stuffed Oven-Baked Trout with Pomegranates

Yields: 4 servings

  • 4 Whole trout, about 10 to 12 oz each, cleaned, scaled, rinsed and dried
  • vegetable oil for oiling
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
Stuffing
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and skinned
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 4 tablespoons POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe pomegranate
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare the stuffing. heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium high fire. Add the onion and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  2. Stir in the pistachios, cardamon, POM Wonderful and the remaining oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. With a sharp knife, slice off the top of the pomegranate. Cut the thick skin into 6 wedgesand pull apart into sections. Carefully scoop the seeds into a small bowl, removing the skin membranes and reserving any juice. Add about three quarters of the seeds to the stuffing and stir to combine.
  4. Oil a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the fish. Season fish to taste with salt and pepper, inside and out. Cut into the fish’ skin diagonally 2 to 3 times on each side. Spoon one quarter of the stuffing into each fish. Arrange in the dish.
  5. Drizzle with the melted margarine. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the flesh flakes when pierced with a tip of a knife. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with the remaing pomegranate seeds and juice.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

03
Feb
11

Yummy Grill


It may be small and unpretentious, but don’t let that fool you. This hidden jewel, Yummy Grill (543 Kings Highway – off East 4th; Brooklyn, NY; Tel: 718.375.7557), serves up delicious food featuring Cavcasian and Israeli cuisines.

A partial view...

Chef/Owner Eli Hizkiyahu graduated, as Chef, from Israel’s famed Tadmore Hotel School in Herzliya. He arrived on the American shores about 19 years ago and made a successful career using food as his canvass. From fashioning Tfillin out of watermelons, to birds about to take off in flight – out of fruits and vegetables, he’s done it all as he travelled the length and breadth of the US plying his trade of food decoration at numerous catered and private affairs. About 9 months ago, Chef Eli and his wife opened up their current venue.

My companion RN and I stopped by for lunch, recently. She started out with a Lamb Soup…

Lamb Soup

It was nicely presented, spicy and very savory; in fact, it could have served as a complete meal by itself. It contained a few lamb bones, slivers of lamb and rice. Excellent! She described it as perfect comfort food for a winter day.

I started with an Avocado Salad. I have never been a fan of avocado, but the taste of this one was exceptional. Colorful, nicely but subtly spiced, it contributed to change my mind about avocado.

We then shared a platter of Baby Lamb Chops

Baby Lamb Chops

They were tender, juicy and had a very attractive aroma; came with a side dish of mixed Grilled Vegetables, consisting mostly of mushrooms, onions and peppers grilled to perfection.

We followed with a plate of Baby Chicken Kebab…

Baby Chicken Kebab

Tender, juicy delicious, it also came with those superb Grilled Vegetables (we just couldn’t enough of them!). All was served us in whimsically shaped but practical china, a delight to the eye. I washed it down with an Israeli malt. RN finished her meal with a delightful Tea w/Nana (mint leaves), while I had a coffee.

Ample portions, superb flavors, and very reasonable prices… isn’t it time to visit Yummy Grill?

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

02
Nov
10

Thank You!!


Photo by: Aquafornia

How time flies! When we started (on November 2nd, 2009) we were not sure if we’d still be blogging a year later. Would we get any regular readers? Would anybody really be interested in our thoughts? Could we say something, could we sound different, from far more established bloggers and existing websites? A 171 posts and a later later, we realize our hopes are slowly materializing. Most of the exhibitors we spoke to, at last week’s Kosherfest, had heard of us; an impressive number of them had actually seen and read these pages here and abroad.

We constantly meet people who follow our musings regularly. As beginning bloggers, who wondered for how long we would be able to post once or occasionally twice a week, we suddenly find a lot of material that interests our readership. We’ve been told our writing styles are refreshing, our photography mouth watering. Even non-Jewish publications and blogs have noticed us. But I must confide in you, IF we are any good at what we do it is only because we love our subject matter… we are foodies!

During this past year, we’ve sampled some of the top kosher eateries, (from Chinese to Middle Eastern cuisine, from Japanese to French, to Italian, to American, to Fusion, we’ve tasted them) met some amazing chefs – people full of creative energy and an uncanny understanding of the nuances of flavor. We’ve learned and continue learning a lot, about food, about wine; above all, as we forge new relationships with chefs, with restaurateurs, with manufacturers of kosher products, with cookbook authors, with winemakers around the world, etc., we are often told personal stories that prove that even those who excel at their craft are just humans like the rest of us. What drives them to succeed? What fuels their drive? Simple, it is their passion for food, their passion to prove that kosher need not be a second class cuisine. Yes, cooking kosher, manufacturing kosher products, may be a bit more challenging… but, it is precisely those challenges that spur them on, that excites their creative juices. Kosher has come a long way!!!

But what SYR and I are most grateful for, gentle reader – what helped us the most – were your suggestions, your words of encouragement.

What lies ahead is exciting, we plan many a contest for this upcoming year and are at this very moment negotiating the prizes. We plan on bringing you guest posts by well known Chefs, as well as outstanding recipes from professionals and from housewives who almost daily improve, create, or adapt delicious new dishes. We will also bring you reviews of amazing new products. And, of course, we will continue to review kosher restaurants and often we will write about our revisits to favorite eateries.

Right now and until November the 18th, we are running a contest based on recipes from any of Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design series. Send us your best photo of any of Susie’s 900 plus recipes and you may win her latest cookbook: Kosher by Design Teens and 20 Somethings, meanwhile you can download the complete recipe index at: http://bit.ly/KBDrecipeindex. Email us your best to:

kosherscene@gmail.com

Our first year was productive and we are proud of how we grew, but there is so much more to accomplish. Thank you, gentle reader, we could never have gotten here without you.

CS

06
Oct
10

Moussaka!!


In our everlasting quest for great recipes, especially for some of our favorite dishes, we often come to a point where it’s hard to decide which one would be better. That, however, was not the case when we were looking for Moussaka. Irene Saiger, on her superb Bamitbach blog, posted a winning recipe:

Photo by: Bamitbach

Moussaka

Ingredients

  • 4 globe eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 4 onions, diced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 tsp each of ginger, turmeric, cumin and paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten

Directions

Drizzle about 3 Tbs of olive oil on a cookie sheet and pre-heat sheet in a 350 degree oven. Peel and slice eggplant, 1/2″ thick, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a single layer on cookie sheet till soft. Turn eggplant slices over and bake other side. (you can fry the eggplant if you prefer but this is a much lighter version) Heat 3 Tbs olive oil in a large heavy pot and add 4 finely diced onions. Saute till golden. Add ground chicken, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon, continue breaking up ground chicken till seasonings are incorporated and meat is lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and cilantro to chicken mixture and cook for about 20 minutes over a low flame, stirring frequently.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish and cover the bottom of the dish with half the meat sauce and add a layer of eggplant. Repeat this so that you end with the eggplant on top. Beat 6 eggs and pour over dish. Bake about one hour, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven.

Enjoy!

SYR just told me she’ll make this dish tonight for dinner, hmmmnn… I just hope she’ll be kind enough to let me taste the leftovers tomorrow. I always made moussaka with lamb, this one should not only be cheaper but the difference in taste will be a welcome variation. Enjoy!

CS

30
Aug
10

Sason Grill


Any faithful reader of this blog knows we have never reviewed pizza joints or take out places of any kind; we always confined our reviews to restaurants AND, even then, only to those establishments we could really rave about. So how come, today, I am reviewing a take out place? Why the sudden break from The Kosher Scene‘s usual practice? Truth be told, I never intended to deviate from our ways, however…

Yesterday afternoon, I passed by Sason Grill and the aroma emanating from the place (I’ve been blessed, or cursed, with a very strong sense of smell) suddenly made me hungry. It’s a tiny place, located on a side street off Brooklyn’s Avenue J (1012 East 15th Street; Brooklyn, NY 11230; Tel: 347.307.6647; under the hashgocho of Kehilla Kashrus), off the main street and very easy to miss. It looks extremely unpretentious, hardly enticing, but… don’t let appearances fool you!

Their menu includes only four items: Shawarma, Schnitzel, Falafel, and Hamburger. I ordered a Shawarma Sandwich Platter.

Juicy shawarma on the spit...

It came with two falafel balls, fried potatoes (cut Argentinian style, papas fritas we call them), and grape tomatoes on the plate – and a pickle, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and tehina with the shawarma inside the pita – as you can see below:

Shawarma Sandwich Platter

The shawarma, made from fresh baby chicken meat, was very juicy; spiced liberally to give it that Middle Eastern flavor of cumin, etc, it was unusually delicious. I got a selection of the three house sauces: chimichurri, olive and tehina. All three made fresh in-house. The best part about this unexpected feast was, surprisingly, its low cost. Though it certainly lacked the presentation I’ve become accustomed to, it more than made up for it in flavor. I know I’ll be back again and again. Next time, I’ll even bring SYR with me.

CS

26
Feb
10

Olympic Pita in Manhattan


Olympic Pita(58 West 38th Street; New York, NY 10018; Telephone: 212.869.7482), provides proof positive that a restaurant in Manhattan can provide good, wholesome, food without being expensive.

Olympic Pita, at its Manhattan location

I was there on a recent Sunday and the presentation was simple, the taste very good, the atmosphere warm and inviting.

I started the meal with a very unusual sushi roll, Sabich… It consists of hard boiled egg, pickled cucumbers and eggplant. No fish of any kind! Very tasty and imaginative adaptation of a traditional Iraqi dish.

I also had their 5 Sampler Mezze, it included israeli salad, fried eggplant, tabouli, Moroccan carrot and matbuha. Each of these was excellent.

I followed with a Beef Eye Steak.

Beef Eye Steak

It was tender, juicy, somewhat smoky and absolutely delectable. I also had their Shawarma, which comes wrapped in rice and paper to look like a pair of exotic flowers. These two were succulent.

I also had an Iraqi Style Beef skewer.

Iraqi Style Beef skewer

A very aromatic ground spiced beef, nice tasting, tender and juicy.

I also had the in-house Lafa (an oversized, thin pita) which I managed to photograph while baking.

My Lafa being baked

There, on the left side wall is mine. I got it piping hot! Those middle easterners know what’s good! I washed it all down with a glass of very good red house wine.

Though it is located in midtown Manhattan, the prices are very Brooklyn. The food was unpretentious, but the quality, the taste, went far above their price range. No fancy French or Italian names here, merely standard Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare. I will most definitely be back.

CS




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