Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Super Green Edamame Dip

I joined the edamame craze a little late in life but am now hooked. Lightly steamed and sprinkled with some salt they are just a delicious and healthy snack although I find it irritating that even after taking out the beans inside the shells retain their shape and I always think there is more left than there is but that is just my own issue. I liked the idea of making a lowfat dip out of edamame right away because it is different, vibrant in color and easy to whip up. The only issue is that I only found edamame in their pods not shelled so it took a while to shell  11/2 cups worth but I'm sure they sell them shelled somewhere. The flavor of edamame is pretty mild and so lots of garlic and lemon zest really adds a lot while the avocado adds texture and creaminess and the spring peas add sweetness. All in all, it was a lovely and different addition to my dip repertoire. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (boil or steam them lightly first)
1/2 cup green peas
1 small ripe avocado
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper

In a food processor, process the edamame and peas with the blade attachment. Add the avocado and the rest of the ingredients and blend a little more. I preferred the dip chunky but feel free to make it very smooth by processing it for longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shavuot Tortellini Salad

This is totally a fake post because I posted this tortellini salad recipe last summer but I was just in the shuk and saw BEAUTIFUL fresh tortellini and even in the supermarkets I have seen beautiful fresh packed tortellini that I thought this would be a great salad for Shavuot. I've tweaked my original recipe just a little by adding some additional cheese but trust me this salad is always a hit and is a perfect main dish/salad/side dish to your Shavuot meal. Even though you are eating pasta this salad isn't heavy at all so it is perfect for the warm weather. Feel free to switch up the vegetables if you want and you can even substitute ravioli if you can't find tortellini but I think the texture of tortellini is better suited here. Enjoy!!

1 lb (500 grams) cheese tortellini 
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
1 1/2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
1/2 cup black olives. sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup shredded parmesan

For the dressing:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup light olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place the blanched broccoli, tomatoes, scallions and olives in bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until well combined and pour over the veggies. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions and place with the vegetables. The warm pasta will absorb the dressing well.A few minutes before serving add the feta and top with the Parmesan. Serve the salad at room temperature or cool and re-season with salt and pepper before serving.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sweet Cheese Babka

I have said before that my favorite holiday to cook for is Shavuot. Being able to use butter and fancy cheeses in cooking makes me happy and I start planning my Shavuot menu weeks in advance. Unfortunately, this year I will not be able to dabble and create as much as I would like because I am swamped with catering but of course I had to find the time to come up with some new dairy confection. Last year was Tiramisu and that has become a classic Shavuot staple in my house now but this year I decided to channel my more traditional (read: heimish) side and go with babka. I grew up on chocolate babka and not just just the packaged Green's variety but I spent summers near a Heimeshe Bakery that made famous babka loaves that oozed chocolate deliciousness that we had every Shabbat though they cost a pretty penny. I've never actually had a cheese babka but the combo sounded great to me. Sweet yeast dough filled with cheese and topped with a crumb topping- yum! I made some to freeze and then baked some individual ones in a muffin tin to try out and I kid you not my husband and I were fighting over the last one (we compromised and split it.) Warm out of the oven and smelling like a bakery they were just heaven and they were delicious with a cup of coffee. I don't think I would serve this as dessert on it's own, maybe as a breakfast treat but either way heat it up slightly before serving for best results and you WILL NOT be disappointed. Enjoy!

For the dough:
5 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

For the filling:
1 cup farmer's cheese ( I used one package of Tuv Taam cheese)
1 1/4 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

For the topping:
1 Tbl milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

In a bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugars. Mix just to combine and then add the rest of the ingredients. Let the mixer knead the dough or about 3 minutes. Let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour, punch down and rise again for another hour and a half. Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the filling till smooth. Divide the dough in two and roll out each piece into a rectangle. spread the 1/2 the filling on each rectangle and roll up lengthwise as you would a jelly roll. Slice each roll into  about inch slices and lay them in a sprayed round pan so that there are no big spaces in between them.  You can make one very large babka with this by putting two layers of slices in a large pan or two small pans. To prepare the topping,  mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together and cut in the butter to make a crumb mixture. Brush the top of the babka with the milk and top with the crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes until light golden brown.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mexican Bulgur Salad

As Summer nears and the hot weather starts to descend  I just naturally start eating lighter foods. My stew, bisque and heavy soup recipes are put away to hibernate through the summer and the salads come out. Bulgur is a great grain with almost as many health benefits as quinoa. I actually was going to use quinoa in this salad but I ran out of it but feel free to substitute quinoa if that is what you prefer. This salad is light, tasty and relatively healthy and makes a great side dish to fish or chicken. It lasts a while in the refrigerator and in my opinion only gets better but make sure to serve it at room temperature. Enjoy!

2 cups bulgur
4 cups water
1 can corn
1 jalapeno or green pepper, diced
1 large red onion diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, sliced
4 tomatoes, de-seeded and cubed
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbl cumin
2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Put the bulgur in a bowl and season with salt. Boil the water, pour it over the bulgur and cover it until all the water is absorbed-much the way couscous is made. Whisk the vinegar, oil, garlic and spices together and dress the salad while it is still warm.  Add the vegetables and beans and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for about an hour to let the tastes meld together.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

I have never liked chummus. In fact, I always used to joke that I was almost denied my Israeli citizenship because I don't like chummus and I don't like hiking, two crucial parts of Israeli culture. But I've been seeing around the blogosphere different takes on the traditional chummus that really appeal to me and this is one of them. Anything with sweet potato is good in my book and sweet potato chummus sounded good enough to eat up with a spoon. This recipe may sound weird but the sweet potato is really very subtle and lends just a little sweetness and lots of health factor. I made this spicy using hot paprika because I think the combo of the sweet and spicy is a winner but if spicy isn't for you than use regular paprika. Either way this is sure to be a new, fun and interesting chummus to add to your dip repertoire. Enjoy!

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 can chick peas
2 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup tehina paste
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl brown sugar
2 tsp good quality cinnamon
1 Tbl ground cumin
2 tsp hot paprika
salt and pepper

In a food processor, process the chick peas with the garlic, lemon juice, tehina and oil. Add the cinnamon, brown sugar, cumin and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Remove from processor and mix in the sweet potatoes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Veggie Chili

This is one of my favorite things to make for a quick, healthy and flavorful dinner. Chock full of beans and veggies it really fills you up without guilt and with very little fat. When I'm in America and I have access to good quality soy meat crumbles I add that as well but that is just a bonus because it's delicious without it. The best thing about making chili without meat is the ability to top it with sour cream. The spicy, hot chili topped with sour cream is the ultimate combination. Usually I make a whole Mexican dinner out if it serving it with tortillas and lots of toppings like salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce and tomato, and shredded cheddar. It's fun (and messy) to eat and easily feeds a crowd. Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbl olive oil
1 can roasted green chili's (Trader Joe's makes this) or use one Jalapeno diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 large zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans in spicy tomato sauce (they sell that in Israel, not sure about America- substitute plain kidney beans instead)
1 can corn, optional (I usually don't put it in)
3 Tbl hot sauce ( omit if you want a milder chili)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot saute the onion, garlic and chili's in the olive oil until the onion softens. Add the carrots, peppers and zucchini  and saute another two minutes Add the crushed tomato, tomato paste, water, hot sauce, cumin and chilli powder and season with salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add the beans and corn. Let it simmer for half an hour until the flavors meld well together. You want the carrots and zucchini to still have a little bite to them for added texture. Enjoy!
                                                         Admittedly, not the greatest picture...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Orange Balsamic Glazed Beets

Beets are one of those foods that I avoided my whole life except in the form of horseradish on my gefilte fish. Deep down I think I've always known they were good but I may have been traumatized from pre-Pesach borscht as a kid. A few weeks ago in a spur of the moment decision that has changed my life ( a little over drama can't hurt anyone) I bought some beets. Unsure of what to do with them, I decided to simply peel them, wedge them, sprinkle on some salt and a little olive oil and throw them in the oven. I actually totally forgot they were in the oven for about 2 hours and when I remembered them I thought all would be lost and my beets would be toast. Turns out, forgetting them was the best thing I could do to them. They were DELICIOUS- so tender but still with a little bite to them and UBER sweet. We gobbled them up before they could make it to the dinner table. For my next forage into beet-hood I decided to get a little more daring. Balsamic vinegar and Orange made into a glaze and poured over roasted beets was the idea and it turned out fabulously. Just enough tang from the vinegar which also enhanced the beets sweetness. YUM! Just remember to wear gloves when you are dealing with the beets so you don't stain your hands. Enjoy!

6 beets, rinsed and unpeeled
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tsp sugar
zest of one orange
Juice from one orange

Preheat your oven to 400 and place the beets on a tray. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour to an hour and a half until a fork can pierce it easily. Let the beets cool. Once the beets are cool you can easily peel off the skins with your hands. Cut the beets into wedges and set aside. In a sauce pan bring the vinegar, sugar, orange juice and zest to a boil. Cook until the mixture becomes slightly thick and syrupy. Toss the beets with the vinegar mixture and serve.