Archive for April 13th, 2010

13
Apr
10

Israeli Food Blogs – Part 3


Finally I found a recipe for a pareve potato bread. I always wanted to taste potato bread!

From Israeli Kitchen:

The recipe for this delicious, light bread came from  Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery. Browsing through that book is a pleasure. I start reading for fun, absorbed in food history, almost hearing Ms. David’s distinctive, elegantly British voice, and then hit the recipes. Oh, those crumpets and muffins, those brioches and yeast buns!

Every time I go through it, another recipe catches my eye. This time, it was potato bread. Ms. David took old recipes and adjusted them to her modern English kitchen. Here in Israel, I took this recipe and did the same.

One of the adjustments I made was to keep this loaf pareve (containing neither meat nor milk). Ms. David suggests using a mixture of warm milk and water for the liquid. Note: there is no fat nor commercial sugar in this bread.

Potato Bread

1 large loaf

Ingredients

White flour: 450 grm or 3 1/2 cups

Salt: 20 grm. or 2 tsp.

Warm, dry, mashed and sieved potato: 120 grm or 1/2 cup, firmly packed. One medium-sized potato should do it.

Yeast from fresh cube: 15 grm. or 1 Tblsp.

Water, warm: 280 grm. or 1 cup plus a little less than 1/2 cup

Method:

1. Boil the potato, in its skin, till it’s quite soft, but not disintegrating.

2. While the potato is cooking, put the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water. Allow it to dissolve.

3. Measure 3 cups of flour into a bowl and add the salt to it.

4. When the potato is done, drain it and bring the cooking pot back to the stove, shaking it over the flame to dry it out well. Remove the potato to a dish and let it cool just enough to handle. I didn’t peel my potato, but if you want to, go ahead. Mash it and force it through a sieve to eliminate lumps in the dough.

5. Rub the sieved potato through the flour as if it were fat for a pie crust, till the potato is “thoroughly amalgamated.”

6. Make a well in the center of the potatoey flour and pour the yeasty water in. With a spoon, throw flour from the sides over the liquid and mix it in.

7. Keep stirring and mixing. You will get a loose, sloppy dough. Don’t let that worry you, just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise. Between 2 and 3 hours later, it will look like this:

8. Knock it back and sprinkle in, a little at a time, another 1/2 cup of flour. Lightly knead, or fold and stretch the dough till it’s a cohesive mass. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes. Both of these parts are important: you let the dough rest to absorb the new quantity of flour, and the damp towel is there to keep the top crust a little moisturized lest you get a crust too hard to cut.

Preheat the oven to 425° F 225°  C.

9. While the oven is heating, shape the dough into a loaf. You can place it into a loaf tin or leave it free-form. What I did was shape the loaf on a floured sheet of baking paper and roll the paper back and forth a few times under it. The normally bottom, seam side stayed up on purpose to let the loaf open along the seam – instead of slashing the loaf on the top side.  Let the loaf rise till light – again, covered with a damp towel – another 20 minutes or so.

10. Spritz, or brush the loaf with water.

11. Bake it for 45 minutes.

Cool on a rack. Wait till the bread is entirely cool before slicing into it. In fact, it’s better the next day. Good to eat plain or toasted; good for sandwiches; good for croutons. Just darned good bread.

[Photo by Mimi from www.israelikitchen.com].

The taste was super delicious, the aroma as it was baking and as it come out of the oven… ahhh… The above quoted blog is further proof you need not be a professionally trained chef, with years of experience, to create delectable food!

CS

13
Apr
10

Israeli Food Blogs – Part 2


Over the years I’ve tasted many variations of tcholent (tchulent if you are of chassidische background), some tasted superb even if they were sometimes exotic. Baroness Tapuzina – a food blog I read voraciously – offers a Sephardic variation on the theme. Like Food Bridge, this one also offers a small glimpse into the life and personality of its author.

[All photos in this post are the property of Baroness Tapuzina.]

Israeli Hamin, North African Shahina and Dafina, Iraqi Tabit, Yemenite Taris, Hungarian Solet, Kurdish Matfunia, Ladino Haminado, German Shalet and Eastern European Cholent or Chulent are all words for a Shabbat slow-cooked meal that has been made since at least the 12th century and possibly as far back as ancient Egypt in many households except my own. Whatever you choose to call it, hamin originates from the ban on lighting a fire or cooking during Shabbat, since these are considered to be forbidden forms of work. However, it’s permitted to start something cooking before Shabbat starts, so provided the heat is kept low enough, it’s possible to start cooking the hamin on Friday afternoon and have a nice tender slow-cooked meal for lunch on Saturday.

I had never heard of this dish until I moved to Israel. I remember my grandmother telling me how she and my great-grandmother would make challot at home and take them to the village baker to bake on Friday morning, but she never mentioned making this stew and my great-grandmother, who died when I was 19 years old, never made it for Shabbat, so I have to assume that this dish was as unfamiliar to my family as was gefilte fish.

Growing up in the Deep South, baked beans, pinto beans, and blackeyed peas were all readily available, but not a very popular staple in my house. My mother loved all of these, but I always thought they were disgusting. So when I saw cholent for the first time, it reminded me of refried beans or baked beans, two dishes that I really disliked. I tried it once at the house of one of my relatives in Israel, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it again. However, one day I was discussing my dislike of cholent with Mimi of Israeli Kitchen and she told me that there are many different types of cholent, some without beans, that I should try.

I started doing some research and found that there are Sephardic versions that use chickpeas, bulgar, rice, and even couscous instead of the European versions that use white beans (also called navy beans) or barley, like the ones used in cassoulet. The Ashkenazi ones used beef, goose, and duck while the Sephardic ones used beef, lamb and chicken. This dish is supposed to be a complete main course in one pot, so it also can contain stuffed goose necks, chicken necks or stomach.  If you are Ashkenazi the stuffing is likely to be some variation of flour, bread crumbs, chicken, goose or duck fat and potatoes; if you are Sephardi, it is more likely to be minced meat and rice flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cardamon and allspice.

The hamin may also may contain dumplings. Kurdish Jews make a cracked wheat and semolina dumpling that is stuffed with minced beef or lamb; Moroccan Jews serve a large fragrant dumpling made with a mixture of ground nuts, minced lamb, mince beef and bread crumbs, flavoured with sugar, black pepper, mace, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

For my virgin hamin, I found an interesting recipe from the master chef of cholent, Sherry Ansky, a food writer who is passionate about this slow-cooked dish, so much so, that she devoted an entire book to the subject, punctuated by stories from her own life about the role different types of hamin and cholent had played for her. I chose to make a root vegetable hamin with asado or short ribs and goose drumsticks. This recipe does not contain the dreaded bean nor the much loved slowed eggs that I also loathe. I started by browning the meat and the vegetables in a large frying pan and then did the next stage of cooking in a large soup pot, and only after that moved all the ingredients to a very large clay pot, but if you have a large enough Dutch oven or Pojke, then you can just do the whole job in that one pot. You should cook this for about 20 hours, including the one hour it cooks on the stove top.

Since I never prepare a heavy Shabbat lunch, I decided to make this Thursday night and serve it for Shabbat dinner. It is a bit unconventional, but it worked for us. This hamin is delicious and I have been converted. I am going to wait a few weeks, but I would like to try another hamin. I see an Iraqi Tabit in our future or maybe one with pitim or maybe one with pasta……

Don’t plan any activities after lunch because you will probably be too heavy and bloated to even move from the table.

Printable recipe here

Root Vegetable Hamin made in a Clay Pot
Adapted from a recipe in Hamin by Sherry Ansky
Serves: 6-8

2 kilos (4lbs) veal or lamb osso buco (I used short ribs)
1 kilo goose drumsticks
10 whole shallots, peeled
2 heads of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
3 to 4 celery stalks, chopped
2 celery roots
2 parsley roots
4 to 6 small turnips
1/2 (1lb) kilo Jerusalem artichokes
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 -3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
3 medium tomatoes chopped or 250g crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 to 7 potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2-3 small sweet potatoes (optional, instead of some of the potatoes), peeled and cut into thick slices
Water to cover

Peel and cut the turnips, celery root, parsley root and Jerusalem artichokes into large cubes. Place the root vegetables and celery in a bowl and set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Brown the meat and goose drumsticks, in batches, on all sides, and set aside in a bowl.

Add 2-3 more tablespoons of oil, reduce the heat to medium and saute the whole shallots for 3-4 minutes. Add all of the root vegetables except for the potatoes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the paprika, cayenne, black peppercorns, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and stir a little more.

Then return all of the meat to the pot and stir everything together. Pour on enough boiling water to just cover all of the ingredients and add the thyme, bay leaf, sage, and rosemary. Reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook for one hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 90-100C (195 – 212F).

Add the potatoes and garlic, add a little more salt to taste, cover the pot tightly and put it in the oven until lunchtime the following day.

Sounds great! I’ll have to try it this coming Shabbos, though I’ll use a slow cooker or crockpot (on low heat) rather than the oven. When I make my own recipe I use flanken meat, pastrami, kishka and add a bar of Yemenite jachnun to the beans (which I soak in water for, at least, 8 hours), Vidalia onions, potatoes, garlic and tomato sauce with lots of spices.

CS

13
Apr
10

Israeli Food Blogs – Part 1


I constantly look at blogs from around the world for interesting recipes. Why blogs? Because not only renowned chefs can make memorable dishes. Imagination, love of food and talent in combining the right ingredients are what is important. Israel, as the melting pot of Jewish cultures from all over the planet, has many sites dedicated to ethnic food for every taste. Today I will look at three blogs, I read religiously. The writing and the photography are quite good, the recipes at times unusual, the results always delectable!

These blogs give descriptions of places, of life, of people and recipes. They reveal at least as much about the bloggers as they do about each post’s subject.

From Sarah Melamed‘s Food Bridge:

[All photos in this post are the property of Food Bridge.]

The Cook from Agrippas Street

by Sarah on April 12, 2010

agrippas street, Jerusalem

It is on this street in Jerusalem, lined with shops, alleyways and cafes, that Aviva Ben Yoseph, was born and raised in the early years of Israel.  Her cookbook is not only a wonderful compendium of her mother’s Sephardic recipes but a tribute to her and glimpse of a culture that has all but vanished with time. The author recreates the smells and flavors emanating from her mother’s tiny kitchen and the bustle and noise from the nearby Mahane Yehuda shuk, with the help of photographs depicting life years ago and of Agrippas street and the shuk as they are now.

Mahane yehuda, Jerusalem

mahane yehuda, Jerusalem

Her recipes are an amalgam of Middle Eastern and Sephardic cooking, some of them handed down from mother to daughter, other recipes perhaps influenced by neighbors and friends.  The wandering Jews of the Middle East had a propensity to travel more than their Arab compatriots often searching for a safe haven or better economical conditions. It is for this reason that many Jewish recipes reflect their travels and deviate from the standard. In Aviva’s cookbook there are kubba recipes from Iraq, Syrian style stuffed onion and cheesy Turkish bureks.

Meatballs with bulgur

Meatballs with Bulgur

This is a recipe from Aviva’s book and an easy way to incorporate bulgur into dishes besides the ubiquitous tabouleh and fried kibbeh. Although this is a Turkish influenced recipe, the addition of coriander is definitely not Turkish as it is an herb rarely seen in Turkish cuisine and very difficult to obtain there.

500 grams [1.1 lb] ground beef or lamb

1/2 cup fine bulgur

1 onion, coarsely grated

1 cup chopped parsley

1 cup chopped coriander

2 eggs

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon salt

Wash the bulgur and let stand for 10 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

With your hands create flat meatballs and fry in enough oil so it comes half way up the meatball. Fry on one side and then the other. Serve with fresh tomato and cucumber salad.

*Agrippas Street is named after the grandson of Herod the Great, the brutal King of the Jews who had a penchant for killing his wives and living an extravagant lifestyle (somewhat like Henry VIII of England), relics of which can be seen in his palace in Masada. His grandson Agrippas inherited his excessive spending habit and fled Rome to escape his debt, later to become the King of Judea. His image and namesake is preserved on ancient coins and two thousand years later, it is the main thoroughfare  to reach the Mahane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem, the biggest shopping area in the city. I think Agrippas would have liked that.

Not only does Mrs. Melamed’s writing and photos bring the sights, the sounds and the smells of Rechov Agrippas to life – even from a afar – but they fill the reader with a strong appetite for the particular recipe.

While living in Israel, I often walked through the alleyways of Jerusalem; I’ve been on Rechov Agrippas and the above post brought back some great memories. Good food, good memories… can anyone ask for more?

CS




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