Thursday, May 30, 2013

Green Shakshuka & 'Cook in Israel' Cookbook Giveaway

So happy to have Katherine back in this space with her new project as the editor and photographer of the self published book, Cook in Israel, by Orly Ziv who is of a Greek, Jewish background. I have known a handful Greek Israelis growing up. The parents were from Saloniki (Thessaloniki) and the father was a World War II labor camp survivor. Back in 2011 Katherine was gracious to write a guest post and give us a tour of Mahane Yehuda Market, in Jerusalem, along with a Hummus recipe. Katherine lives now in the Southern part of Israel, where her husband is studying medicine, but often visits her home and stomping ground, NYC. Speaking of which, I was sad to miss her the last couple of times I was back in Israel, as she was visiting the States. I love Katherine's writings on her blog as well as the various publications she was published in. I almost squealed with joy when I saw she was sharing a green shakshuka recipe here, which I meant to post for years now. It was completely uncoordinated. Telepathic. It was faith. Hop below for a fascinating recipe and read.
Thank you so much to Shulie for hosting me on Food Wanderings today! Shulie and I have developed a relationship through our blogs and, specifically, through our Israel connection. Having lived in Israel for the past three years I’ve fallen head over heels for the food. I’ve been exposed to Jewish and Arab cooking from around the world, and have developed a much more nuanced appreciation for these international cuisines. Israeli food is becoming quite popular these days, but there still only handful fabulous English-language Israeli cookbooks on the market. Which is one of the many reasons I was so excited to work on a cookbook with Orly Ziv.
Orly is a dietician and nutritionist by training, and runs culinary tours and cooking classes through her company Cook in Israel. I first met Orly years ago while working on an article about culinary tours in Israel, and instantly fell in love with her cooking style and warm personality. When she approached me about photographing and editing her cookbook, I was over the moon. The project  - Cook in Israel: Home Cooking with Orly Ziv – has been a labor of love since we went the self-publishing route and so did everything ourselves. But our small team of three (myself, Orly, and the immensely talented designer Idit Yatzkan) dedicated countless hours to ensuring that every little thing met our exacting standards. I went to Orly’s home in Ramat HaSharon, just north of Tel Aviv, almost once a week to photograph the recipes. No food styling, nothing artificial, no fancy set-up: just a camera, tripod, natural light (with the occasional help from my Lowell Ego light on rainy days), and Orly’s delicious food.

The recipes in the book are all ones that Orly makes at home for her family. It’s a personal collection of simple, healthy dishes that are easy to prepare. They draw on Orly’s Greek-Jewish heritage as well as all the cuisines that are pot of the melting pot (or tossed salad – pick your metaphor!) that is Israeli cuisine.
The greatest perk of the job was of course being able to sample each and every dish in the book – and I can tell you honestly and without reservation that they’re all absolutely amazing. I’ve cooked many of the recipes myself as well, and lots are now in my regular rotation. Some of my favorites include fail-safe challah bread, a surprising herb and feta salad, a perfect shredded carrot and pecan salad that goes with everything – and this green shakshuka.

Traditionally shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce that hails from Libya and is popular throughout North Africa. It has become one of the adopted national dishes of Israel and can be found at every café in the country. A popular but less common alternative is green shakshuka, where the eggs are cooked in spinach instead of tomatoes. It’s fresh, healthy, and immensely satisfying and makes for a great breakfast, lunch, or light supper. It’s naturally gluten free (although it’s best served with plenty of bread for dipping) and is easy to make.

To check out another recipe from the book, see my recent Shavuot/Mother’s Day post with the recipe for Israeli-Style Cheesecake.

About the Book: Nutritionist, cooking instructor, and culinary tour guide Orly Ziv is pleased to announce the release of her first cookbook, Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration with Orly Ziv. Filled with 100 kosher, mostly vegetarian recipes accompanied by beautiful color photographs (including many step-by-step illustrations), the English-language cookbook shows that healthy and delicious home cooking doesn’t need to be time consuming or complicated.
Books can be ordered through her website at www.cookinisrael.com/book and can be shipped worldwide. They will be available on Amazon and as an e-book in the near future.

Cook in Israel Cookbook Giveaway:
1. Available for shipping worldwide to one lucky winner.
2. Follow @MartinelliEats on Twitter
3. Follow @foodwanderings on Twitter and share on twitter: "I have entered @foodwanderings 'Cook in Israel' Cookbook GIVEAWAY http://tinyurl.com/nhrtdro Shipped Worldwide."
4. Like Food Wanderings page on Facebook and share the giveaway if you are not on twitter.
5. Leave up to 4 comments letting us know you followed and what fascinates you about the eclectic food of Israel.
6. The lucky winner will be picked by random.org at midnight Thursday,  June 6th. Comments will be open until then.

Both preview and giveaway copies are provided by the author.

Green Shakshuka
Recipe by Orly Ziv, reprinted with permission from Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration from Orly Ziv
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients: 
3-4 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 spring onions, sliced (optional)
1 bunch Swiss chard, roughly chopped (leaves and stalks separated)
1 bunch spinach leaves, roughly chopped 
2 Tbs. white wine
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
4-6 eggs
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion, garlic, spring onions, and Swiss chard stalks until the onions are golden brown.

Add the spinach and Swiss chard leaves. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the leaves lose half of their volume.

Stir in the wine and cream and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat.
Break an egg into a small dish and gently slide into the pan. Repeat with remaining eggs, evenly spacing them within the pan.

Cover and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft (or to your preference).
Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese, if using, and serve with plenty of fresh bread.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Coconut-Meringue Chocolate Cake

There is so much I want to write here and really encapsulate the little things in my life. Thoughts, musings, my mishaps and happenings, but I got to sit down and write the odd and ends, the anecdotes, that are the center stage of my life. Meanwhile, I love baking late at night. I feel in the zone and inspired around that time. Besides, it does not take away from day light where I can be roaming around, somewhere outside, soaking in the sun, photosynthesizing. 
We are all here night owls, must be all that pinned up, abundance of energy stored from the rays during the day time. So it's no oddity, when on a whim, I decide to separate the yellow yolks from the whites, at midnight. Dusting of flour and cocoa powder all over the counter and then I worry about an organized swarm of ants filing tenaciously, making a B line, directly into my kitchen.
I cook so much but somehow it's not enough. Just recently I made three batches of meat Sambouseks, Middle Eastern meat turnovers, and just like dumplings, they were gone as they were coming out of shallow frying. Even the couple batches of banana oat pancakes, I froze, which was a first on a couple of counts, were devoured. Sagie is back in town from college for the last two weeks and I love every minute of it, but for god's sake though, where does my time fly to?! It's not as if he is a toddler, he is 20, which reminds me I met his dad when he just turned 20, ahhhh, time zooms by. Sagie's presence might not be the explanation to my time lapse riddle but it certainly explains how the food flies off the shelf here...but we can always eat cake, that I baked, last night, at midnight.
Coconut-Meringue Chocolate Cake
adapted from Cakes for Every Occasion by Nira Sheuer (in Hebrew)

Chocolate Cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons oil
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt

Coconut-Meringue:
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

Chocolate Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water
25gr (a little less than 2 tablespoons) butter

or

Cocoa powder for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a cake pan, flour and dust flour off while holding the pan upside down over the sink. 

Chocolate Cake:
Mix all the chocolate cake ingredients well and pour into the cake pan. 

Coconut-Meringue:
In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites for three minutes, on medium/high speed (6/10 setting), increase the speed to 8/10 and continue beating while gradually adding the sugar. Continue beating for 2-3 minutes longer on the highest setting 10.  Fold in the coconut flakes with a rubber spatula. Pour the coconut-meringue on top of the chocolate cake layer. Level with the rubber spatula or an offset spatula. 

Bake for 55 minutes. Let cool before removing from the pan.

Chocolate Glaze:
Add the sugar, cocoa powder and water into a small sauce pan. On a low heat dissolve the sugar while mixing. When the sugar dissolves and all ingredients are incorporated well, take off the heat and add the butter. Mix to smooth silky consistency until the butter completely melts. 

Pour the warm glaze on the cooled down cake or just sprinkle with cocoa powder as I've done (not pictured).

Cook's notes:
1. You can cut a circle out of parchment paper to line the bottom of the cake pan. Butter bottom and top of the parchment paper. The bottom, so it sticks to the pan. The top you flour after buttering and rid of excess flour as instructed in the directions above. Parchment papering the bottom makes removing the cake from the cake pan base easier.
2. There is a two step method of baking this cake: the cake portion at first for 20-25 minutes at 350F and then adding the coconut meringue  layer on top to bake further for 20-30 minutes at the same heat level.  I chose to bake both layers all at once as instructed in the recipe. 
3. You can fancy up the design of the meringue, pre-baking, just like here.

Cake Recipes:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baking with Heritage: Brötchen (German Hard Rolls) by Magnolia Days

My next introduction in the Baking with Heritage series is to the superbly talented Renee from Magnolia Days. Magnolia Days encapsulates what I imagine Renee to be: the loveliest, kindest Southern Belle. Born and raised, and to this date living in Georgia, with some jaunts around the world while she was young. I am so happy that social media allows us the luxury of meeting people that otherwise we might have never met in our lifetime. It also introduced me to the charms of Southern Foods and its people that will win your heart over. Renee is an avid baker and a gardener. I adore her Homemade oatmeal Wheat Bread and the heirloom German spaetzle she shared recently.

Hello! I'm Renee from Magnolia Days. I am honored to be here on Shulie's beautiful blog. When she asked if I wanted to contribute to her Baking with Heritage series, I jumped at the opportunity. I believe it is important to preserve family heritage through traditions and food. I am half-German and the culture has been a part of my entire life. My dad met my mom when he was stationed in Germany during the Korean war. He fell in love with her and all things German, especially the food.
Shulie asked if I had any family bread recipes. Unfortunately none my German family members were or are bread bakers so I didn't have a family recipe to share. I thought of which bread would be a representation of my family. The first one that came to mind is Brötchen which are rolls. They have a hard outside and soft inside. My dad loved them. He really enjoyed the fresh baked ones my uncle would get whenever we visited him in Germany.

Brötchen is popular all over Germany and is often eaten for breakfast with butter and jam. It is also served with lunch and dinner. Thousands are baked every day and folks like my family get them hot and fresh at the bäckerei (bread bakery not to be confused by konditori which is for sweets).
This was my first time making rolls. It was a great learning experience. I channeled my German heritage and did my best. I do need to improve my roll shaping skills. All I need is more practice and I know I'll be making these rolls time and time again. With each batch I will think about my dad and my German family. That is what celebrating heritage is all about. You keep the memories alive and pass them along to future generations. Thank you very much Shulie for inviting me to be a part of your Baking with Heritage series. I cherished each moment of baking the rolls and thinking of my family in the process. Thanks to you I have baked the first of many German breads.  

Brötchen (German Hard Rolls)
Recipe adapted from About.com
Makes 24 rolls (or more if made smaller)

For the sponge:
2 cups bread flour (unbleached recommended)
1 1/3 cups cold tap water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

For the dough:
All of the sponge
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached recommended)
1 1/3 cups water, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the sponge:
In a large bowl, mix the flour, water, and yeast until it is smooth and without lumps. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let set on the counter overnight (8 to 24 hours).

To make the rolls:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the sponge, 4 1/2 cups flour, water, and yeast. Knead for 8 minutes at a low speed (as recommended by mixer manufacturer when using a dough hook). Add additional flour as needed until the dough "cleans" the sides of the bowl (doesn't stick to sides).

Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. The dough should be smooth but slightly tacky. Adjust with additional water or flour as needed.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough with the oil. Place a damp towel over the bowl and let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half and form each into logs. Cut 12 pieces from each log. Let pieces rest for a few minutes. Shape pieces into balls and place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Cover sheets with a damp towel and let rolls rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Position 3 racks equally in the oven. Place a metal pan on the lowest rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees F while the rolls are on the final rise.

Use a serrated knife or razor blade to make a small cut or slash on the top of each roll. Place rolls in the oven. Pour 1 cup of water into the pan on the lowest shelf and immediately close oven door.

After 2 minutes, spray the sides of the oven with water. Repeat spraying twice in 2 minute intervals.

Bake rolls for 15 to 20 minutes turning the baking sheets once for even browning.

Transfer rolls wire racks. Enjoy the rolls while they are warm and crispy.

Rolls can be frozen. Re-heat frozen rolls in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Baking with Heritage series:
A Romanian Flatbread with Roasted Tomatoes

An Argentinian Tortitas Negras - Little Black Cakes 
Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Smokey Salsa

What I love about Mexican cuisine is that the ingredients, used in this North American country, are so similar, to popular ingredients in the Indian sub continent's cuisine. Both tomatoes and jalapeños were domesticated in and are indigenous to Mexico. Tomatoes are blundered in some controversy though. Some say they are indigenous to Western South America from Ecuador to Northern Chile and Galapagos Islands. Some believe they were cultivated first in Peru and others believe in Mexico. However, there are no controversies attached to the origin of jalapeño.

As a side note, I am in the midst of writing a piece about how food plays a role in cultural identity and some of the issues I raised above touch just a smidgen the larger subject matter, speaking of controversy. That is for another time as I wish to keep this post short and sweet (with a touch of spiciness! :)

I know Cinco de Mayo has come and gone, but I have meant to post this easy recipe for years now. Especially after a reader requested my version on Food Wanderings' Facebook page. The timing could not have been better as early summer BBQs are already in full swing with this pleasant spring weather, not to mention graduation parties and end of the season sports dinners, just to name a few.

I have been making this version for years now, as a condiment, especially for soccer team dinners where Jonathan grills outdoors the beef and chicken I marinate overnight for fajitas. In the last three years, now that S is in college, we brought Mexican catering a la Madnicks up to PA, where S's UMASS club soccer team travels to a tournament each year.

I use Roma tomatoes. They have a sweet undertone. Some jalapeños are spicier than others. This time I roasted four, they were surprisingly pretty mild. Use caution though, you might need only one or two, depending on how fiery they are and your tolerance, or lack thereof, to heat. As I always say, adjust and make this recipe your own.

This is a great make ahead salsa. It tastes better cooled after being refrigerated overnight at the least. The salsa keeps refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to a week.

Smokey Salsa
4 Roma tomatoes
1-2 jalapeños
1/2 small onion
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
Handful or less cilantro (see photo)
Juice of 1/4 lime
Salt or to taste

Turn on the broil setting on your oven. Line a large roasting pan with foil and spread the tomatoes, jalapeños and onion on the pan. Roast for few minutes until charred on one side and flip with a large stainless steel spatula. Roast for a couple of minutes longer and take the jalapeños out as they will roast quicker. Continue roasting the tomatoes and onions for a few minutes longer. Take out of the oven and let cool. Stem jalapeños and slice the stem side off of the tomatoes. Add the onions and garlic to the food processor and whizz to a very rough chop. Add the tomatoes and jalapeños and give a couple quick pulses. Add the cilantro and give an additional couple of pulses until the desired consistency is reached. Add lime and salt to taste and refrigerate overnight.

Cook's note:
If you do not like charred skin you can peel the tomatoes and jalapeños prior to whizzing them in the food processor. If you choose you don't have to roast the vegetables at all or roast just the ones you wish to. I sometimes make this salsa raw. Just adding all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse to the desired consistency.

Some Related recipes:
Broccolini in Avocado Dressing
Mango Chutney
Harissa
Horseradish and Beet Relish
Matbucha - A Moroccan Spicy Tomato Relish
Green Chutney
Majdool Dates and Tamarind Chutney
Fig Chutney

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Broccolini in Avocado Dressing & Grated Hard Boiled Eggs

We've been mainly bumming around this weekend. Jonathan has been traveling quite a bit recently and been sneaking in naps, in between all the errands, and long to do list. He decided on mowing the lawn on Sunday but not before he checked the weather forecast. It's been two weeks since he mowed the lawn last and it's already looking like brush in the jungle. Images of Sherpas and machetes crossing my mind, and yes, the mosquitos and a plague of cicadas are soon to arrive. For the time being the gnats are being a major pest but honestly we've been enjoying a really pleasant spring-like weather, so no complaints.
While Jonathan stepped out to bring his car to the garage, around the corner, for inspection, I decided to cook everything Ottolenghi. I love his column in The Guardian. I haven't seen identical recipes in either Plenty or Jerusalem. I find the dishes to be restaurant worthy. Sophistication of taking something familiar and giving it a twist that only he can do with such brilliance.  As much as we like to dine out, we love even more dining in, so I decided on making these dishes at home, and have a weekend long Ottolenghi marathon. Besides, we do not live in London.
The original recipe is with asparagus. I changed it a tad. I didn't have horseradish, so I added to the avocado dressing a small slice of jalapeño. I also blanched the broccolini for 3-4 minutes, instead of 1 minute as the recipe says, and drained quickly under cold water. I didn't char or grill them after. I added all the dressing ingredients into a food processor including two pinches of cumin seeds, maybe 1/4 teaspoon total, if that. I didn't wish for the cumin to overwhelm the dish. I didn't add any cream. Come to think of it, I forgot to garnish with parsley but the dish was still mighty delicious!

I should add, that not in a million years would I ever consider to make avocado dressing, sauce or a smoothie, for fear of oxidization, until I came across this recipe. It is indeed an avocado mayonnaise-like and maintains a fair pale-ish green color.

Related Ottolenghi recipes:
Savory Sesame and Fennel Cookies
Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds