Cranberry Orange Swirl & Nigella, Sesame & Pumpkin Seeds Challah

I hope you all had a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was all about challahs this holiday season. First I made my fluffy, 'cotton candy' dough with a cranberry sauce swirl. Cranberries are one of my all time favorite winter ingredients. I don't have many photos of that batch other than the round one and sliced cranberry one on Instagram, with Wizard, aka Wizzy, lurking in the background waiting to pounce on a slice. It was featured on challah hub on IG which was super fun. Ah, you can also see the texture, shot with my point and shoot, in the third photo here. I suspect I sliced it as soon as it came out of the oven. I couldn't wait.

Greek Gigante Bean Stew (Gigante Plaki) with Sunny Side Up

First came my obsession with the gigante bean. What to do with it came next. The marinated buttery gigante beans, one of, if not my #1 favorite bean, always lure me into the olive bar at the supermarket. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why you can find them marinated but never for sale, dry, anywhere. That is until I saw The Washington Post's Greek Giant Bean Stew with Lemon Honey Sauce. Though a fine looking dish, I think perfect as a mezze for a NYE party, I knew I didn't want to make it this weekend, LOL. I wished to make a more substantial tomato sauce based dish. In the process, I found out through the Washington Post that a new Mediterranean grocer, Mediterranean Way, in DuPont Circle, DC, carries the gigante beans. You don't have to coax me twice, I always look for an excuse to get into the city.
Little did I know that one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Balkan Cooking by Benny Saida, has the perfect recipe. I do hope someone someday would translate this cookbook from Hebrew to English. I really do. It's such a treasure trove. You might remember this Wintery Balkan Cannelini Stew I made from Saida's cookbook back in February, 2012. The title of the recipe in Hebrew was transliterated 'גיגאנטס פליקי'. It took a moment to sink in, 'Gigante (gigandes) Plaki'. Basically a Greek gigante beans in tomato sauce cooked on the stove and finished off in the oven.  The dish is served as an appetizer.

Savory Pie Crust Za'atar Cookies & How to Cheese Board

If you follow me on Instagram you probably know that we spent this past Thanksgiving in Boston. It was loads of fun, but I suspect that since we were on the road I didn't get my Thanksgiving cooking and baking out of my system. When I got back, I kept playing with pie crust, one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods. Yes, pie crust all on its own.
Sini Fulvi Drunken Goat Cheese
I fell in-love with Kate McDermott's (The Art of The Pie) butter pie crust dough. In order to achieve the flakiness, and some call it a shortcut, I grated the chilled butter into the flour using a big hole grater. Then I worked the dough from there as instructed. I also rolled out the dough at first as shown in the directions here before finishing rolling it out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin.
Humbolt Fog Grande
Since I really wished to highlight the flaky pie dough, I brushed it with a bit of egg wash and topped it with za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix usually made with thyme, marjoram, oregano, toasted sesame seeds and salt. Za'atar can be purchased online or at Middle Eastern grocers. Some main stream supermarkets may carry it as well. You can top the savory pie crust cookies with sesame seeds, poppy or any spice mix or seed your heart desires.

Masala Chai Sable Cookies

I don't bake as many cookies throughout the year as I should. It's curious given how religiously I have my afternoon tea since the beginning of the time of the dinosaurs. And tea has to go with a cookie (I dig me Laura Numeroff's children books with the enchantingly whimsical illustrations by Felicia Bond).

Persimmon Flan

Growing up my mom used to make flan. It's actually the only thing she made out of a packet and not from scratch. I believe I was the only one who devoured it. I don't think my five brothers and sisters really cared much for it. 

Mediterranean Pickled Turnips

Turnips, IMHO, together with rutabaga, are possibly the most boring root vegetables (sorry, turnips!), if it weren't for the pickled version which jazzes it up to an incredibly tasty, briny crunch. A great condiment in a pita with falafel or schawarma, or just in a plain ole' sandwich. It's also perfect as a mezze or a game day snack along with a cold beer. Besides, it just nice to make ahead and have these pinkish savory bites around the holidays.

Potatoes & Green Peas Samosas at The Kitchenthusiast

My Back-to-School Apple Fruit Roll-Ups post  kicked off my professional collaboration with KitchenAid. As I mentioned before, my kitchen counter is jam-packed with KitchenAid appliances so this collaboration came natural. Today, I am sharing a samosa recipe that is near and dear to my heart over at The Kitchenthusiast, The KitchenAid blog.

Bullfrog Bagels - The Jewish Irish Connection

Late morning, a couple of Fridays ago, I ventured off to Bullfrog Bagels for my monthly gig over at the Jewish Food Experience. I love this sort of little adventure.
Jeremiah Cohen & Abby Sexton of Bullfrog Bagels

In Season - Grape Kiwis at Next Step Produce

As I mentioned in my Edible DC: Bread Furst post, I've been writing and photographing some articles and posts for a few online and hard copy magazines, newspapers and clients. If you missed them, two of them were published here (I'm verklempt!!) and a super fun story, with my voice coming through here.

Levinsky 41's Apple Pomegranate Artisanal Soda

One and a half year old, Levinsky 41, a bright artisanal soda shop, nestled in the historic Levinsky Spice Market, in the shadows of the old bus station in southern Tel Aviv.

The Jewish Mac & Cheese; Pineapple and Raisins Noodle Kugel

Ok, I'll spare you the history lesson. You can google how pasta came to the Jewish world. I've touched on the subject a tad here.

The Washington Post: Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast Traditions Around the World

A sea of white saris flutter in the fleeting breeze, a quick reprieve amidst the October heatwave just outside a high school gymnasium in Ashdod, Israel. Chairs lined up outdoors, along the wall of the rented gymnasium, for the overflowing worshippers.

Gefilte Fish & Moroccan Spicy Fish for Rosh HaShanah 5775

Nearly 70 years old, Avigdor Brueh, the executive chef at the Hilton Tel Aviv, orchestrates a gigantic kitchen, which serves hundreds, flawlessly, year-round. During Rosh Hashanah the Hilton, with its many regulars—some who have come for the last 30 years—and new guests alike, serves approximately 500 guests at table service.

Edible DC: Bread Furst Bakery

In the last couple of months, I've been writing and photographing some articles and posts for a few online and hard copy magazines, newspapers and clients. Two of the articles are for the newly re-launched, Edible DC magazine. Edible DC is a part of Edible Communities, an "editorially rich, community based, local food publications in distinct culinary regions throughout the United States and Canada" as so eloquently written on Edible Communities website.

The Kitchenthusiast: Back-to-School Apple Fruit Roll-Ups

I am super excited about my new professional gig, contributing from time to time to the awesome KitchenAid blog, The Kitchenthusiast. My kitchen counter has been flooded with KitchenAid appliances for over two decades now so the new collaboration is a no brainer. I have written in the past about dehydrated apples but never got around to posting about fruit roll-ups. For developing this super simple recipe I used the KitchenAid diamond blender. I received the complimentary blender just in time, since I gave my old KitchenAid blender to my son, who is in college, to make his post work-out protein shakes and smoothies. Head over to The Kitchenthusiast to check out the recipe for this super healthy snack and my post. Just in time for apple fall harvest season and back to school snacks.

Russ & Daughters Cafe; Act II

Taken by Shulie Madnick on the iPhone
I have reminiscently written about the Russ and Daughters shop here and hereThe recently opened Russ and Daughters Cafe on Orchard St. is act II to the carry out 100 year appetizing shop on East Houston St. on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

Peach Falooda (Faluda) - An Indian 'Bubble Tea'

Indian falooda is a little known drink here in the US. It's a cross between a drink and a dessert. A milkshake of sorts. Traditionally, it's made with milk, some sugar, rose syrup, vermicelli noodles, basil seeds, a pinch of cardamon, a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts as a garnish. If you are relatively new here to Food Wanderings, I try to avoid tree nuts due to allergies. Here I gave it my own seasonal twist?

Zahav Restaurant: The Gold is in the Lamb

Photo by Mike Regan courtesy of Zahav Restaurant
When the food trend movers and shakers predicted that the cauliflower is going to be the new brussels sprouts, they must have been thinking of Chef Michael Solomonov's fried cauliflower mezze with labne (strained yogurt), chive, dill, mint and garlic sauce.

Oven 'Fried' Buffalo Chicken Wings

I can't even tell you how often I made these oven 'fried' chicken wings over the years but I never get around to sharing them here. Something about summer though, makes me want to make these easy to toss together wings even more often. Now with The World Cup in Brazil (Go USA!) you won't believe how many batches we devoured during the tournament and we still have the round of 16 to go.

Halva Stracciatella Ice Cream

Two years ago, I turned up my nose at the sound of this new to me trend, the halva ice cream. Endomela (in Hebrew: None-Like-Her), an ice cream shop in Acre, Israel, owned by the infamous Santa Claus like bearded Uri Jeremias (nicknamed Uri Buri), was among the firsts leading the trend.

Rosa Mexicano's Guacamole

When I wrote 'Shakshuka; A Food Memory' and Indian Shakshuka - Poached Eggs in Curry Sauce I mentioned my dad's entire cooking repertoire consisted of two dishes total. He always made one or the other, on Friday afternoons, to carry us over till dinner time. The first of the dishes was the shakshuka but the second was the guacamole.

Simply Roasted Asparagus in Olive Oil, Lemon & Za'atar

I wreck my brain about asparagus. I know you must be puzzled, why?! Asparagus, you must think (You must! :), is a majestic, European native, perennial ingredient, why the frustration?! Truth be told I just want to fancy it up, but I always come back to square one, roasting it in the simplest form with a touch of olive oil, salt and lemon. Not even freshly ground black pepper. This method and bare bone seasoning purely highlights the tenderness of the ingredient. Especially now that it's in season and the green, purple and white spears appear all over at farmers markets.

DC Eats & Food: My Favorite Dining Out Spots: The Red Hen

'DC Eats and Food: My Lunches with Jeanne' series morphed into ' DC Eats and Food: My Favorite Dining Out Spots.' I don't really do sponsored or unsponsored restaurant reviews in this space. I do however from time to time feel compelled to share my favorites and dining out thoughts.  I will visit a place at least twice. More often than not when I go the second time around, as in the case of one taco joint and another higher end place, I am not as excited as the first time around (insert a sound byte). In The Red Hen's case, I remembered the dishes to be excellent. When I went back this past weekend, I was surprised that they were even better than my recollection.

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

Shavuot, the Holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah (Old Testament) on Mt. Sinai, is a little celebrated Jewish holiday in the diaspora. I won't get into the traditional aspect of the holiday here but would like to share the unorthodox way we celebrated the holiday in Israel. In the 'hoods', and I believe widespread throughout Israel, people will throw buckets of water at each other. On rare occasions someone will get egged but it has no significance whatsoever to the holiday, probably started by a hoodlum (hoodlum; so old school!). If I happened to be out and about that day, my objective was to swiftly make it from point A to B and back, without getting soaked by a bucket or a water balloon or worse, egged!

Boozy or Virgin Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Popsicles

Yes, from time to time, though on rare occasions, I do take to drinking. I am not a sloppy drinker. At least I don't think that I am. I don't slur my words, but I am very light on my feet, and burst out laughing hysterically only after a couple of sips. This past Mother's Day, I was thinking, hmm, strawberries?! They are in season. How lovely would it be if someone made me a strawberry daiquiri. Only thing, I was alone. Though this video that was texted to me by my husband made me happy on Mother's weekend alone, which made me think of this song.

Smashed Indian Spiced Baby Potato Medley

This smashed Indian spiced potato dish is a super easy, packed with flavor, southern Indian dish. It does not take many ingredients. Truth to be told, while I recently obsess over curry leaves and they do add to the dish that distinct Indian flavor, I usually do not have fresh curry leaves just idly laying around in the house. Shops also don't carry curry leaves consistently, so more often than not, I leave them out of the dish. There are many slight variations to this dish. Some add 1-2 dried red chile and let them sizzle in oil, together with the seeds. I don't. Every slight variation changes the flavor profile of this dish which makes this dish all the more interesting. I guess that is why cooking isn't a science but an art.

Mufleta - A Moroccan Yeast Pancake

While we all are suffering from matza fatigue by the end of Passover, the Moroccan Jewish community is all ablaze with excitement for Mimouna.

Classic Coconut Macaroons; Perfected

This post is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of NJOP. All opinions are 100% mine.

This year's Passover falls on the eve of April 14, and in the US, the holiday is celebrated for 8 days. Passover is a celebration of the Israelites freedom from slavery under the pharaoh's rule. A celebration of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, through the Sinai dessert, to the holy land, over 3,000 years ago.

Strawberry Farro Salad with Goat Cheese

I am documenting here a photography project I was working on in collaboration with California Strawberries. I was hired to photograph a recipe and provide California Strawberries with some images. With strawberry season upon us, I wished to provide Food Wanderings' readers, here, a glimpse into the photos and a link to this fantastic healthy recipe.

Masala Chai Ice Cream

I never developed a taste for Indian masala chai while growing up. On those rare occasions, when my mom had a moment, relishing a long drawn sip of freshly brewed masala chai, I would watch her, puzzled.

Call it Roti, Call it Chapati; Exploration of Indian Flatbreads

When my son was in kindergarten, I borrowed my grandmother's hefty stone flour mill, and bought a bushel of wheat grains at the Shuk (market) in Tel Aviv for show and tell at his school's International Day. At the time, we had left our home in the DC area for a short stint as ex-patriots in Israel. It was coming full circle for me, living back home, where I was born and raised.

Sullivan Street Bakery, Doughnut Plant & Thanksgiving Weekend Highlights in NYC

This post is way overdue. We have since made another trip to NYC which I wrote about here and more writing soon to follow.

So most of you already know of our epic trip to NYC over Thanksgiving weekend (2013). Epic is a real stretch since we were traveling with Wizard, our beagle, who at the time was in need of spinal surgery. His hind legs, in particular, were numb from pinched nerves and displaced spinal discs. Poor Wizzy was not himself, but medicated. We met up with our son who came down from UMASS Amherst to spend the holiday weekend with us. As it turns out, S has many college buddies who are from NYC and nearby in NJ. He went to an Indie concert with his friends and helped babysit Wizard when Jonathan and I were off on our food wanderings.

Challah by Breads Bakery & Some "NYC meets TLV" Writing

Breads Bakery: NYC meets TLV

On a bustling lunch hour at noon on a Wednesday, a snail like line of preschoolers were putting their plastic caps on, to cover their heads, before getting a behind the scenes look at Breads Bakery. This was the third school tour at Breads Bakery on this chilly, wintery day. The open door policy and warmth of Breads Bakery makes sense once you meet the Israeli owners Gadi Peleg and Uri Scheft.

North African Lettuce Chicken: Illustrated by Alex Savakis

Today, I wish to feature one of my all time favorite illustrators, Alex Savakis. You might recall Alex illustrated the Food Wanderings' banner for my site. Since then we've become good friends. 

Baked Freekeh Meatballs & Freekehlicious Grains & Cookbook GIVEAWAY

2014 began with a fun and healthy project. This has been in the works a couple of months now. I helped develop this Freekeh Meatballs recipe (shown above) for my client, Freekehlicious, and photographed it. I was super delighted to see Freekehlicious debut on Dr. Oz this past Monday serving these high in protein and fiber and low in glycemic index Freekeh Meatballs. You can catch the Monday "Toxic Acid Takedown: Fighting inflammation" episode featuring freekeh as one of the foods for detoxing for the new year on Dr. Oz's site. Find the baked and super delicious Freekeh Meatballs recipe and my photograph on Freekehlicioius' site here. The recipe also appears on Dr. Oz's site here. Many congrats to the ladies at Freekehlicious for making this super grain a 2014 detox and healthy living must.

DC Eats & Food: My Lunches With Jeanne: Mini Food Crawl: Boqueria, Astro, GBD, Etc.

Jeanne and I arrived in DC around 11am. Way too early for my taste to have lunch but the idea of fried chicken and doughnuts really appealed to Jeanne. Did I mention she is a skinny momma?! As I mentioned before, Jeanne loves everything pork too. I wonder why I chose her as my food wandering companion?! Go figure. She might have altogether chosen me for all I know, and here I thought I held the reins. Speaking of which, she is the one steering the wheel. Navigating DC like a pro, even after a decade long absence, living in San Diego.

Bagels - The Beginning: A Perfect Crust, Chiffon Crumb

Bagel making seemed daunting to me at first, but it is simpler than I imagined. I dedicated half my Saturday to the project and got into the groove. A two step process of boiling and then baking is very similar to pretzel making. From time to time, I burst into self satisfied high pitched giggles or witchy shrieks as they must have sounded like to my guys here. The touch and feel of the dough in its different stages was sensational. I was happy doing my own thing. Hypnotized. Entranced.