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Winter

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If you haven't noticed already, I love sesame.  Love might actually be an understatement, "am obsessed with" might be closer to the truth.  I would rather have something with sesame in it for dessert than chocolate.  In fact, when Emma and I found a sesame bar recipe in Nawal Nasrallah's book Delights from the Garden of Eden, I felt like I was in heaven.  I could make sesame bars instead of brownies for the rest of my life!  Anyway, though it is not a new discovery, it truly is a constant in my life and I wanted to share- Tahini Salad Dressing.  In the Winter, I exchange my lettuces and salad greens for kale.  I found a great salad mix at Whole Foods that is kale already chopped up and ready to eat, which is perfect for meals when you are in a time crunch.  I make a tahini dressing by mixing tahini with a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, water, and salt.  I don't have a direct recipe for this, because I just sort of mix it all together in a small bowl.  It is usually equal parts tahini and water, then a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and coarse sea salt. I also might add a teaspoon or so of Braggs Liquid Amino Acids, which is a great substitute for soy sauce.  I toss together the kale, sliced avocado, fresh pomegranate seeds, chickpeas (canned or sprouted), and thinly sliced red onion, and dress with the tahini. It is also really rich, and full of healthy fats.  I love the combination of flavors and textures that all of the ingredients provide, and the health benefits.  Sesame is full of calcium and protein; the kale is of course a great source of vitamins A, K, and C, and is full of fiber; the pomegranates are full of powerful antioxidants; and the avocado is another great source of fiber and vitamin C, and also has lots of potassium.  This is a powerful health salad that not only combats inflammation and oxidative stress, but also boosts your nutrients.  You know I will be eating this all Winter long.  

Recipe

This is a very healthy vegetarian dish full of Mediterranean flavor. Freekeh is wheat that has been harvested while still very young, and thus is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has a slightly smoky flavor due to the way the wheat is processed after harvest, so it pairs well with mellow flavors, such as beans and chicken. This recipe calls for cooking the beans from scratch, but you can also use canned garbanzos for a faster version.

For the Garbanzos:

½ cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked at least 4 hours

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic

1 sprig thyme

a few black peppercorns

 

For the Pilaf:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup yellow onion, small dice

¼ cup carrot, peeled, small dice

¼ cup fennel, small dice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

pinch of cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup freekeh, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes

2 cups vegetable broth

 

Short Sauce:

1 ½ cups fresh cilantro, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 cup parsley, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 sprig mint, leaves roughly chopped

½ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)

For the Garbanzos:

Drain the garbanzos of their soaking liquid.
Place in a medium sized pot and cover with about 3 cups fresh water. Add the rest of the ingredients (you can place them in a bouquet garni bag if you want) and bring the water up to a boil. Simmer until the garbanzos are cooked through. Drain, remove the aromatics, and set aside.

To Prepare the Pilaf:
Heat up the olive oil in a medium sized pot. Sweat the onion, carrot, fennel, and garlic until the onion and fennel appear translucent. Add the spices and a pinch of salt, and stir for another minute or two. Drain the freekeh of its soaking liquid and add it to the pot. Stir everything together so that the freekeh is well integrated, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently. Pour over the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 30 minutes. Add the garbanzos and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the wheat is cooked through. Keep in mind that these are wheat berries, so they will have a slightly chewy texture and will not be completely soft.

Make the short sauce by blending all of the ingredients together until coarsely chopped, you do not want a smooth puree. Spoon a bit of the sauce into the pot and stir to combine. Serve while warm.

Serves 4. 

This Freekeh and Garbanzo dish is healthy and incredibly delicious. We cook freekeh in a base of carrots, onion, and celery, and then at the end we stir in a "short sauce" of herbs and pine nuts.
Recipe

1 lb of cubed lamb

½ carrot, sliced in large rounds

½ onion, large dice

½ celery stalk, large chunks

Few sprigs of rosemary

Few sprigs of thyme

Pinch of hyssop

1 clove of garlic, smashed

Hard cider (about 1 cup)

A splash of oil

Salt and pepper

Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Put in a medium-large container. Add all of the ingredients, pouring over enough cider to cover the meat and a dash of oil. Marinate for 8 hours, or overnight. If you can, turn the meat over in the marinade, to make sure it is all coated well.

For the stew:
For the vegetables that you will cook with the meat, there are no specific amounts, but be reasonable. You are including 3 different vegetables, so don’t put so much of anyone that overpowers the others, or so much of all of them, that you can no longer enjoy the meat. As for size, keep in mind that you want to eat this comfortably with a fork or spoon, so don’t cut them too big.

2 tablespoons butter or oil or a combination of the two (you will probably need more, so keep it on hand)

½ quince, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks

½ carrot, cut into medium-sized chunks

½ sweet potato, cut into medium sized chunks

½ parsnip, same as carrots and sweet potatoes

Lamb meat, drained from marinade

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Cider (enough to cover the stew ingredients)

Rosemary, Thyme, Bay leaf,  and black pepper (tied in a bundle or in cheesecloth)

Heat the butter/oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. I love Le Creuset pots for making stews. Every woman must have one.
Add the quince, carrot, sweet potato, and parsnip and cook stirring occasionally, until they gain some color. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
Toss the lamb meat with the flour and coat evenly.
Heat up more fat in the pot until very hot and add the meat. You only want to add enough meat to cover the bottom of the pan, so that you can brown each side well. Don’t poke at it or turn it over too soon, or it won’t create as much flavor for the stew. You might have to do this in a few different rounds. Each time, wipe out the pan and add more oil.
Once you have browned all of the meat nicely, deglaze the pot by pouring in a few tablespoons of cider, just enough to wet the bottom. Scrape up the brown solids stuck on the bottom of the pan and add all of the meat and vegetables back to the pot. Pour in enough cider to just cover the ingredients. Add the herbs. Bring the liquid to a bare boil, then let it simmer quietly for 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat is falling apart at the touch.
That is it!!!!

December 22, 2009   |   0 comments
Tags: Entrees, Soups and stews, Winter
Cooking Show Video

These little free form tarts are made by filling a tahini crust with quince compote. They are tiny and sweet, with a hint of sesame. When you make these tarts, you poach the quince over a long period of time, which leaves you with a beautiful quince scented syrup. You can use this to top yogurts and cheeses, or as a pink-hued syrup to sweeten cocktails.

December 22, 2009   |   4 comments
Tags: Desserts, Fruit, Mediterranean, Winter
Recipe

This salad is called the Gypsy salad because it is a melange of flavors, textures and ideas from around the world.  Blood orange, arugula, and fennel from Europe mix with jalapeno and avocado from Mexico.  Cumin, mint, and dates from the Middle East come into play as well.  Many of these ingredients, like dates, have traveled from their origin, and are now part of new cultures.  It is like us, a gypsy that never stops traveling.  The measurements are not exact, we trust that you add how much you want of each ingredient, and enjoy the journey that it takes you on.

 

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and outer layer removed (if bruised)

1 handful of baby arugula

1 handful of dates, pitted and sliced in quarters

a few kalamata or Moroccan black olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, halved and pitted

1 sprig of mint

Small handful of parsley

a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

2 blood oranges (you can substitute regular oranges or cara caras here also)

1 lime (kaffir limes welcome!)

1-2 Tablespoons sherry or rice wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of cumin and salt

 

Slice the fennel in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice each half horizontally.  Transfer to a bowl and combine with the arugula.

Add the sliced dates and olives. 

Thinly slice the jalapeno.  If you are sensitive to heat, finely mince it, but if you like more of a bite, slice it in small horizontal strips.  You only need a 1/4 of the pepper or so.

Roughly chop or tear the herbs and add to the bowl. 

Keep the avocado meat in the skin and score with a knife in long vertical slices.  Use a spoon to get under the meat and scoop out the slices over the salad bowl. 

For the dressing, zest the oranges and the limes with a zester or microplane over the salad bowl.  You will only need a little bit of the lime zest and about 1/2 of one of the orange's zest.  Slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, removing the skin and pith.  Next place the oranges, one at a time, on the cutting board and slice off the skin and pith (without going to deep!) to reveal each segment.  Working over another small bowl, slice out each orange segment carefully, allowing the juices to fall into the small bowl, and then add the segments to the larger salad bowl.  When you have finished slicing the oranges, squeeze out any excess juice into the small bowl.  Juice the lime into the bowl as well.  Stir in the cumin, vinegar, and olive oil and whisk to combine (you can just do this with a fork). 

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. 

Add the crumbled walnuts. 

Serves 2. 

This salad works as an appetizer, but it also goes beautifully on top of grilled fish like tuna or mahi mahi, or atop a grilled chicken breast. 

 

 

 

Recipe

Casseroles are a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. We combine leeks and eggplant, which are often paired together in Greek cooking, along with fusilli pasta and turkey meat for a comforting, yet healthy dish. We use the Mastiha resin as a spice in this dish.  Although it is optional, it is a fun spice to add to your International pantry, and adds a unique nuance to the dish. See note below for details.

Olive oil (about ¼ cup total)

2 large or 4 small leeks, dark green parts removed

1 medium eggplant

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, boiling

½ cup grated Manchego cheese

200g cooked fusilli pasta

1 ½ cups leftover turkey meat

½ teaspoon ground Mastiha powder* (optional)

Salt and Pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut a slit down the length of the eggplant. Peel the garlic and slice vertically into thin slivers. Insert the garlic pieces into the slit in the eggplant and lightly brush all over with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Bake the eggplant in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until it is completely cooked through and the flesh has shrunken in from the skin. It should look deflated and sink when you poke it with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into a sieve set over a bowl and drain of the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl, along with the garlic and a pinch of salt, and fork mash it until it is well blended.

Meanwhile, slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse out the dirt well, making sure to get in between each layer. Slice the leeks in thin strips horizontally across.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sweat the leeks until cooked through and completely soft, seasoning with some salt along the way, about 15 minutes.
You can make the vegetables up to 1 day ahead of time and keep them in the fridge.

Once you have your leeks and eggplant ready, you are ready to put the dish together.
In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter and once it begins to froth a little, add the flour. Stir the flour and butter on medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, without letting it brown, to cook off the flour flavor. This mixture is called a roux.
Slowly pour in the boiling broth, whisking it into the roux as you pour. Once the broth is all in there, keep it at a simmer and let it thicken and reduce slightly. Add the grated cheese, followed by the prepared eggplant and leeks, pasta, and leftover turkey meat. Season with salt and pepper and Mastiha, and stir everything together. Pour into a 9x13 inch casserole dish and top with the grated Parmesan.
Set under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes until the Parmesan melts and browns.

Serves 8-10 people.

* Mastiha is a resin from the island of Chios in Greece. It has a lovely piney/camphoric flavor that goes beautifully with eggplant and leeks. You can purchase it at mastihashopny.com

Recipe

This recipe is a winner all around.  It is warming, healthy, and delicious.  We have made this on several occasions, and have always gotten requests for the recipe.  Feel free to add other vegetables and herbs as you see fit. 

2 cloves garlic

2 scallions

½ medium onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or creamed coconut*

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted and cooled

2 cans lite coconut milk

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cubed

1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, medium dice

1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish: fresh cilantro

Combine the garlic, scallions, onion, and ginger in a food processor. Grind until they form a smooth paste.
Heat up the coconut oil and/or creamed coconut in a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot. Add the paste to the oil and fry for a few minutes on medium-high heat, stirring well.
Add the curry powder to the frying paste and cook for a few more minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk and add the mustard seeds. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn down to a light simmer, and stir in the tomato paste.
Add the pumpkin and red pepper and simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender.
Stir in the garbanzos and let simmer for a few more minutes.
Turn off the heat and serve over rice, garnished with cilantro.

Serves 4

*Creamed coconut is a Caribbean product that can be found in some specialty markets.

Recipe

Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto:
4 cups fresh Dinosaur kale, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup Kale cooking liquid (see directions)
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted

Bring a pot of water to boil with a big pinch of salt. Add the kale and boil for about 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain the kale, reserving at least ½ cup of the cooking liquid. In a food processor, chop the garlic and kale, and then add in the olive oil and cooking liquid in a stream. Blend until the kale breaks down into a pesto-like sauce. Finally add in the Parmesan cheese and pepitas, and blend a little bit more until the sauce is smooth.

Recipe

This salad is a powerful cold preventer. In addition to being full of Vitamin C and keeping us healthy during the Winter, it is also beautiful and lifts the spirit. Freshly ground coriander and fresh mint leaves add some light aromatic notes reminiscent of the Middle East.

Ingredients:
1 grapefruit
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 navel orange
1 cara cara (or another navel)
1 kiwi
1 T of olive oil
½ tsp. coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 T agave nectar or honey
4 leaves of mint (from 1 sprig), finely chopped

Using a sharp paring knife cut the ends off of the grapefruits and orange, and then slice the peel and white pith off, avoiding taking out too much of the fruit flesh.
Set up two bowls; one can be the serving bowl, and the other will be the work bowl. Over the work bowl, slice around the membrane of each section of the grapefruit and fruit, gently pull out the segments, and place each them in the serving bowl.
After all of the segments have been removed, squeeze out excess juice from the membranes into the work bowl.
Peel the kiwi with a vegetable peeler or the paring knife and then slice it into long wedges and add to the serving bowl.
Pour the olive oil over the fruits and sprinkle on the ground coriander.
Strain the excess juice from the work bowl, about ½ cup, into a small sauté pan and heat it up a light simmer.
Stir in the agave nectar, and let the juice reduce slightly. Take off the heat.
Pour the warm liquid over the fruits and then stir in the chopped mint.
Gently toss and serve.

January 22, 2009   |   0 comments
Tags: Breakfasts, Desserts, Healthy, Salads & Dressings, Winter
Cooking Show Video

This natural cold care recipe is easy and elegant. We use ruby red grapefruit, cara cara oranges, kiwis, honey, mint, and coriander in our recipe. You can use as many heirloom citrus varieties that you wish. Because of its beautiful color combination you can serve this at a formal brunch, as well as just casually at home.

January 22, 2009   |   4 comments
Tags: Breakfasts, Desserts, Healthy, Vegetarian, Winter