Strawberry-Blueberry Gazpacho, by Gayil Talerman

When visiting my big sister a couple of years ago, she made a strawberry gazpacho following a recipe from New York Magazine. I never had gazpacho before, but this recipe’s combined sweet and umami flavors was unlike anything I ever had before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it more than I thought. When I moved out of my parents’ house and had my own kitchen, I asked my sister for the recipe to try it again. I did not have all the ingredients and had others instead, so I improvised with what I had on hand. I added kiwi to increase the amount of soup made, used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and zhatar instead of thyme. I also added a tomato, since gazpacho is usually a tomato based soup and I wanted this recipe to have more of a tomato flavor. I prefer less spicy food so I omitted the tabasco sauce and due to time constraints, did not include the ingredients for toasted bread. I also did not have red or yellow peppers on hand, so I omitted them as well.

The next time I made this, I had blueberries on hand, as well as a lemon. Below is this recipe (the version I liked best), so this is the gazpacho recipe I stick to.

Strawberry-Blueberry Gazpacho

Equipment:

1 knife

1 blender

Ingredients:

1 carton of strawberries, hulled and diced

Half a carton of blueberries

One medium size tomato, hulled and diced

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

Half a can of tomato juice

Juice of half a lemon

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp zhatar

Salt and black pepper to taste

To hull strawberries: Insert a sharp knife near the leaves and cut around the stem in a circular motion. Draw out center core of the strawberry.

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Servings:

This dish can keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

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Spanish Tortilla, by Erika Lesser

When I was in the ninth grade, my parents took my brother and me on a trip to Spain. I remember eating a lot of lamb chops, French fries and oranges (just picked from trees growing in the city plazas), and there was one extraordinary lunch that overflowed with fried fish and garlic soup, but mostly I remember eating Spanish tortillas. Unlike tortillas in Latin and South America, which are generally made from corn or wheat dough, the typical Spanish tortilla is actually a type of omelet (or frittata, as the Italians would call it), most commonly filled with sliced or cubed potato. Spanish tortillas are a mainstay of “tapas,” which are small snack-sized dishes of all kinds that Spaniards consume with wine in the late afternoon and early evenings, before eating a very late supper, often at 10pm or even later.

I suspect that because my brother and I were too young and jet-lagged to stay up for a true Spanish supper, we ended up eating a lot of tortillas because that’s something all the restaurants already had prepared and ready to offer when we went to dinner at 7:30 or 8pm.

After that trip it was a long time before I learned how to make Spanish style tortillas, but after encountering them in restaurants in recent years, I remembered how much I liked them and decided to figure it out at home. It is fairly quick and easy to make and tastes great cold or at room temperature, so lately it has become one of my go-tos for picnics and potlucks. It travels well, can be cut into any size or shape, can be eaten as finger food or with a fork, and it pleases a crowd, so there’s never any leftovers to be packed up and schlepped home.

So I suppose this recipe represents me not only because it harks back to some of my formative childhood experiences with food; it also represents the simplicity and versatility in cooking that has become increasingly necessary to me as I try to balance work and family and still maintain some shred of a social life. Sure, it may be a social life that currently revolves around streaming Netflix, toddler birthday parties and once-in-a-season picnics in the park, but it’s better than nothing . . .

Buen Provecho!

Recipe

1 medium yellow onion, chopped in ½ inch dice

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

½ lb small white or red potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes

½ cup and ¼ cup olive oil

6 eggs

handful of finely chopped fresh parsley (optional), or other fresh savory herbs (such as oregano, marjoram, rosemary or thyme)

salt and pepper to taste

Technique

Warm a medium skillet (well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick, as long as it is oven-safe) over medium heat. When it’s approaching hot (you can hold your hand a few inches above the pan but not for very long), pour in ½ cup olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and potatoes, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, taking care not to let the potatoes stick or fall apart while being turned. Once the mixture begins to turn a light golden brown on all sides, add salt and pepper to taste, cover and turn the heat down to low. Let cook slowly for another 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender (the moisture from being covered will help steam them through). Scrape the mixture into a separate bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

At this time, preheat your broiler to HIGH.

Wipe any sticky or burned bits out of the skillet and warm again over medium heat. Crack the eggs into another bowl and add salt, pepper and parsley, and whisk lightly with a fork. Add the ¼ cup olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom and sides. Pour half of the egg mixture into the skillet and tilt to coat the bottom evenly. Quickly and gently add the potato mixture on top of the eggs, spreading into an even layer across the whole surface of the eggs. Then pour the remaining egg mixture on top of the potatoes and tilt the pan again so the eggs flow into the pockets and crevices between the potatoes. Let cook on the stovetop for another 2-3 minutes so the bottom sets, and then put the skillet in the broiler for 2-3 minutes to set the top. As soon as the top is set and light golden, pull the skillet out and let cool on the stovetop for a few minutes. When the tortilla is no longer piping hot, gently slide out of the skillet (make sure it will dislodge by first sliding a thin spatula underneath in a few spots) onto a serving plate.

The tortilla can be served hot, warm or room temperature, or it can be covered (once cooled) and refrigerated for up to one day. Cut into wedges or cubes just before serving. Goes well with Spanish sherry or any type of light dry wine!

 

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Ilana’s Original Recipe: “Chock-Full of Chumus”

My dish that I have created is an egg and chumus recipe called “Chock-Full of Chumus”. Firstly, I eat hard boiled eggs with chumus all the time because it is easy to make and tastes great. Every holiday party that I used to have at my house, my mother’s friend would always bring deviled eggs, which is hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise and egg yolk mixed on the inside. So, I got the idea for my original recipe from that dish. I decided to try filling the inside of the egg with a mix of chumus and egg yolk instead of the mayonnaise. In my opinion, the combination of egg yolk and chumus is such a perfect blend that I do not add any extra salt or pepper to it. The only thing I do add is a sprinkle of paprika on the top because it makes the eggs look more presentable. The one thing I love about this dish is that it is very nutritious. Eggs have many benefits for the body. For example, they are a great source of protein, the good fat such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and they contain a lot of B vitamins, along with many other vitamins and minerals. Chumus, like eggs, is also rich in protein, the unsaturated fat and some vitamins and minerals. This dish is undeniably a healthier alternative to deviled eggs and that is why it represents me. Aside from the fact that I love eating eggs and chumus together, I constantly try to find healthier alternatives to foods that are not as good for you.

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Ingredients:

–          4 eggs

–          6 tablespoons of the original chumus

–          Paprika

*This recipe makes 8 eggs

*1 egg yolk = approximately 1 ½ tbsp. chumus (adjust to taste)

Directions:

  1. Fill a pot of water with the eggs and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil uncovered for 25 minutes.
  3. Run eggs under cold water until cooled.
  4. Peel the eggs.
  5. Refrigerate for a half an hour.
  6. Take eggs out of the refrigerator and cut them in half.
  7. Take out the yolk from each egg and put into a separate bowl.
  8. Mash the egg yolks with a fork.
  9. Add the chumus to the egg yolks and mix.
  10. Fill the egg whites with the chumus and egg yolk mixture.
  11. Sprinkle paprika on top of each egg.
  12. Enjoy!
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Original Recipe- Banana Fritters by Kimiko

Growing up there was always fruits in my kitchen. My mother always made sure my brother and I ate our daily dose of fruits. I am glad she did because it started a love for fruits that I still have today. One fruit that always seemed to be in abundance in my house was bananas. Usually by the weekend there would be two or three that did not get eaten and were beginning to turn brown. My mother does not believe in wasting food so she would use the banana to make fritters. My mother started making banana fritters when she was a teenager for her younger siblings. She continued to make them for my brother and I as a breakfast treat on weekends.

Now as an adult I continue to make them on weekends. My mother approves of them but does not think they taste as good as when she makes them. I enjoy making this dish because it involves simple ingredients that I always have in my house. Also it’s a great way not to waste fruits. To me this dish means great childhood memories and fun new memories of trying to get my fritters to taste like my mothers.

Ingredients

 

  1. 2 ripe bananas
  2. 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  3. 1- teaspoon of baking powder
  4. 1 egg
  5. 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  6. 1/3 cups of brown sugar
  7. Milk (as needed)
  8. Canola Oil (for frying)
  9. Maple Syrup (optional)

Kitchen Tools/Equipment

1. Non-Stick Pan

2. Hand mixer

3. Bowl (for mixing ingredients)

4. Measuring utencils

Directions

  1. Mash 2 bananas in a bowl
  2. Add flour, egg, baking powder, brown sugar, and vanilla extract
  3. Mix with hand mixture and add small amounts of milk until the mixture is a “pancake batter” consistency. Do not over add mix, this will cause the batter to become runny.
  4. With a heated non-stick pan add canola oil.
  5. Use a 1/3 measure scooper to scope out the banana batter and place in the pan.
  6. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Add more oil if needed.
  7. Drizzle maple syrup on finished fritters. (OPTIONAL)
  8. Enjoy

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 15-20 min

Serving Size:  12 medium banana fritters

Storage: Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3-5 days. Personally, I enjoy them warm, but they can be eating cold.

 

 

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Original Recipe: Pumpkin Pudding with Nuts and Dried Fruits by Anca Pop

I created this pudding inspired by my friend’s pumpkin kasha recipe. Pumpkin is one of my favorite fruits because it reminds me of fall, my favorite time of the year. Because it comes in many varieties, pumpkin is a very versatile fruit used in food preparation. It can be cooked in sweet or savory recipes such as pies, pancakes, puddings, breads and soups, or roasted by its own in the oven and served with sugar on top, one of my mother’s favorite dishes.

Pumpkin is a good source of antioxidants, minerals (copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus) and vitamins (A, C, E and B complex). Even though its peak season is in October, once harvested it can be stored for a couple of months in the refrigerator. Some pumpkin varieties and canned pumpkin are available all year round. My friend Irina simmers and purees pumpkin and mixes it with white rice, steamed milk and sugar. I modified this recipe using brown rice, nuts and dried fruits. This dish represents me because I believe in the benefits of wholesome foods. It doesn’t take much time or special skill to prepare, and I think it is a light but nutrient-rich dish that suits most palates and tastes. For best results I use sweet pumpkin, but any variety works as long as some sort of sweetener is added.

Ingredients:

1.5 lb. pumpkin

1/3 cup brown rice

1/4 cup walnuts (chopped)

1/4 cup pecans (chopped)

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup cranberries

Agave syrup (optional)

Mint leaves for garnish

Preparation:

1. Wash the pumpkin thoroughly, cut into 2 inch pieces, remove and store the seeds. Simmer the pumpkin in one cup of water until tender to fork. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander. Another method of cooking the pumpkin is in the oven by placing the scraped pieces on a baking sheet for approximately one hour at 350 F. The seeds can be washed, salted and baked separately as a savory snack. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel and puree the pumpkin in a food processor.

2. In the meantime cook the brown rice in 2/3 cup water. Bring the water to a boil, add the rice and cover the pot. Cook to low intensity flame for about 30 minutes without stirring. Let the rice cool.

3. Mix together the pumpkin puree, brown rice, nuts and dried fruits, garnish with the mint leaves and refrigerate.

4. Sweeten to taste

Can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Serves 8 people.

 

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Original post – Garlic Challah

Garlic challah

by Hadasa Levilev

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Challah: A yeast-leavened bread that is usually braided or twisted before baking and is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Shabbath and holiday.

Challah is significant to me ever since I started eating real food. Whether home baked or bought this is something that my family has at every Shabbath and holiday meal. As I grew up I tried to create a healthier version of it. I am constantly trying new recipes and comparing them just to find the right consistency, a soft and light texture. It can be challenging when using whole grain flours which makes the dough heavier. I generally use whole wheat or spelt, and still get a wholesome product.

In the recipe that I will share with you there is honey instead of sugar, whole grain instead of white flour, and no eggs for those who are vegan! The most unique part is the whole garlic cloves filled in the center, providing delicious and exquisite taste! And the loaves are shaped round which is a little different than the traditional shape.

The sparlic dip that accompanies this bread is mouth watering! The bowl usually gets cleaned out when I serve it at home.

Spelt-white whole wheat garlic challah

Ingredients:

  • 5 ¼ cups warm water
  • 9 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar or 1 cup honey
  • 16 cups of flour (any kind works, I used 8 cups spelt & 8 cups white whole wheat)
  • ½ cup soymilk
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Head of garlic pealed (basically the more the better/as much as you prefer)

Directions:

    1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water with 2 Tbsp sugar/honey (from the amounts listed above). Let poof for a few minutes.
    1. In a bowl put flour, sugar/honey and salt. Mix gently until combined.
    1. Add yeast mixture and let sit for a few minutes.
    1. Add the rest of the warm water, and soymilk.
    1. Knead until it starts forming dough.
    1. Only then, add the oil very slowly while kneading, until it is all absorbed. By now you should have smooth dough that is not sticky.
    1. Continue kneading for approximately 20 minutes.
    1. Turn Challah into a large greased bowl, grease top of dough and cover with moist towel.
    2. Let rise 2 hours (try to avoid pressing it down, if overflowing gently push it back in.)
    1. To shape flatten out a piece of dough (size of a tennis ball) into a round shape, put 5-7 garlic cloves in center, you may cut them in half to spread them out more. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt on top of garlic. Cover garlic layer with a round flat piece of dough, and pinch the edges of the top half and bottom half together. With a knife lightly crisscross on top.
    1. Let rise for 25 minutes
    1. Optional: Brush with egg.
    2. Bake on cookie sheet on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Sparlic dip

  • Head of garlic minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh/dried parsley
  • Salt to taste

Mix all in a bowl, let sit a few minutes for flavor absorb.

Variations

For traditional braided shape

  1. grease a 8 1/2″ loaf pan and sprinkled cinnamon & sugar on the bottom
  2. Braid dough as show
  3. Brush with egg and sprinkle sesame seeds on top
  4. Let rise 25 minutes
  5. Bake on 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Yields: about 8 medium loafs

Freezes really well

Best to heat before served.

Reference:

Levilev, Hadasa (2012, August), “Garlic Challah”.

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Original Recipe: Vodka Cookies

From as young as I can remember, every Christmas, me, my dad, and my sister all made these cookies together.  My dad got this recipe from his mom and I’ll probably pass it on eventually as well.  To me, this is a cookie that has nothing to do with Christmas in the ingredients, but when I think of Christmas, it is this cookie.  This is also my first memory I have as far as cooking something on my own, or being part of a cooking process, so these cookies symbolize a lot to me.  Oddly enough I’m not really a big dessert person but if you put these cookies in front of me I have to eat at least one.  Usually more.

You can substitute almost any of the ingredients in this recipe, white chocolate for chocolate, cranberries for raisins, add a little peanut butter, and somehow they always taste great (I have tried all these variations also, the holidays are a good time to make food and eat until you fall asleep).  I haven’t tried substituting in wheat flour yet but that’ll probably be this Christmas now that I think about it.  If you add wheat flour that means you eat more and feel not as bad about eating as so many cookies I think.  That makes sense.

 

Vodka Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

12 oz chocolate chips

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup seedless raisins

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup vodka

 

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  Cream the shortening and sugars in a separate bowl.  Beat in the vanilla and eggs.  Mix the flour into the wet mixture and then add in all the remaining ingredients.  (This recipe makes rather large cookies so you can use smaller amounts in the oven if you want for this part) Drop 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie on an un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a pre heated oven at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until brown.

 

Serving size: 16 large cookies.

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