Lachmagine

Lachmagine is a classic mazza, a “small bite” Syrian Jews often eat before dinner. It’s kind of like a mini pizza, but instead of sauce and cheese we put tamarind and meat on it. It’s a staple in many homes on Shabbat and holidays.

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Charred Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is one of those amazing winter recipes. You can have it with noodles and cheese to make it a one-pot meal on a snowy evening. And it just improves in the fridge, so you can take leftovers for lunch! I had been thinking about making tomato soup with a can of tomatoes I had in my pantry when I watched Alex’s Day off. She combined fresh and canned tomatoes for an even more intense tomato flavor. Sure, her tomatoes looked better than the pinkish ones that I found in the supermarket, but after charring them on the stove and cooking them in wine, they really add some amazing flavor.

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Kalamata Tapenade

I had a jar of olives sitting in my fridge, waiting to be eaten. Sure, we could have eaten them plain, but we also had about 1/2 of a baguette waiting to get stale, so I thought it best to eat them together, before it was too late! I’m pretty sure this happens to everyone, doesn’t it? Naturally, I made an olive spread to spread on the toasted bread, which my genius husband suggested topping with cream cheese before adding the tapenade. Genius! So, you should do this too when you find yourselves in a similar situation and in need of a perfect midnight snack. Or appetizer. Or lazy dinner.

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Spiced Candied Cashews

So you know when you walk by those Nuts 4 Nuts carts in Manhattan and they smell so amazingly good that you finally cave in and buy them, only to realized that you wasted two dollars on something that smells 1000 times better than it tastes? Why do they not taste like they smell? I decided to take matters into my own hands. These subtly spiced candied cashews made my apartment smell amazing and they made my taste buds happy. Take that, nuts that you buy from a cart on the street (when you put it that way, I’m not so surprised…)!

I had all of these leftover cashews from when I made cashew chicken. I also wanted something to munch on. These candied cashews come together so quickly and easily (maybe 15 minutes), as long as you have cashews around, you’re good to go. Or else try them with other nuts. They’re very similar to the peanuts that Jessica made, but I played around with the spices and the sugars.

Candied Cashews

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment  paper.
  2. Mix the spices together.
  3. In a large skillet over high heat, mix the nuts, sugar and water. Stir frequently and bring to a boil. Continue stirring; the liquid should evaporate and turn into a syrupy consistency. This should take about 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the spices over the nuts and stir vigorously, letting the water completely evaporate, for about 4 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until the nuts are coated in the crystallized sugar.
  6. Carefully pour the nuts out onto the baking sheet to let cool.

Pink Pickled Turnips and Cauliflower

Happy birthday, Dad (December is a big birthday month for our family)!

And Happy Hanukkah!

When I read that we would be getting turnips and beets from our final farmshare pickup, I said Awesome, I can pickle the turnips, if only we had some cauliflower… And that Monday, when I went to pick up the vegetables, surprise! We also got to take home a head of cauliflower. So now I had to make these pickles!

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Meatless Mondays: Ades (Red Lentil) Soup

You already know we like to transform boring lentils into yummy meals. Here’s one of our favorite recipes, delicious and filling for a Meatless Monday!

Ades soup is a classic Syrian dish. These red lentils turn yellow when boiled, and often confuses people who’ve never seen the soup before (“Wait, I thought you said RED lentil soup. This is yellow!”). It’s an easy and comforting dish you can make on a chilly winter evening and that you can enjoy for lunch the next day. The first time I made this dish was in college, and my roommates were not to keen on tasting it (I don’t know why!). Lucky me! I ate a lot of soup that week.

It’s flavored with coriander and cilantro, one of my favorite flavors. If you don’t like cilantro, just use parsley instead. Or leave it out, this soup has enough flavor on its own. To add some extra flavor, use vegetable or chicken stock in place of the water.

Ades Soup, or Syrian Red Lentil Soup, adapted from here and some family traditions:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add oil.

2. When the oil is hot, add the coriander and let cook for about one minute.

3. Then, add onions and garlic. Add some kosher salt. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until onions soften.

4. Add the lentils to the pot. Mix and coat them with oil.

5. Add 5 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, mix flour with the remaining cup of water to make a paste. Add to the lentils.

7. Stir in the lemon juice and some more salt. Continue stirring over high heat until the mixture boils. Then, cover and cook another 15 minutes.

8. Add the cumin and cayenne. Mix well. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

9. Then add the cilantro. Serve with some lemon wedges and more chopped cilantro on top, if desired.

Grandma Sally Makes Keskesoon

Here’s something you should definitely put on your Shabbat menu for tonight: Keskesoon is not a complicated dish. In fact, it’s really just a pasta dish with chick peas in it. But no one makes it better than Grandma Sally, which is why we invited her to our kitchen JUST to make her specialty.

As you will see, the ingredient list isn’t so extensive. You probably have everything on hand, except maybe the teeny pasta, which you will find in most supermarket pasta aisles. Never seen it before? You probably just glanced over it because you prefer little stars in your soup than these crazy peppercorn shaped pastas. These are much better. The secret to this dish is toasting the pasta before adding the water. It adds a nutty flavor that you don’t ever associate with pasta, but just works. It also makes some of the kernels browner than others, which makes it prettier on the plate, of course.

Keskesoon was always a Friday night and holiday staple in my Grandma’s house. We ate in in our chicken soup instead of rice. We put sauce and meatballs (and eggy-surprise!) over it. We used it as a base for our Hamud, peas and kibbe, and kibbe mushroom. Basically, you won’t run out of ways to eat this stuff. Some people even enjoy it plain, and why not?

My family really only eats this with meat meals. We always make it pareve, and with oil. When I consulted Deal Delights (the red one) for the recipe, I was surprised to find how different their recipe is from ours! Theirs calls for about 6 tablespoons of butter, and baking it in a dish with grated cheese on top – keskesoon, mac and cheese style, sounds awesome. They also spell it keskasoon. I guess since it’s not an English word there is no one proper way to spell it. One day I will have to try that version, but for now I’m sticking to our traditional way of eating and spelling. How does your family make keskesoon?

Keskesoon, recipe adapted from Grandma:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box acini di pepe pasta, #44
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Salt

Directions:

1. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil.

2. Open the can of chickpeas. Drain and rinse.

3. When the oil is hot, add the pasta. Swirl and mix, making sure each piece is coated in oil. Stir constantly until toasted.

4. Add the water and the chickpeas.

5. Bring to a boil, then lower, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

Meatless Mondays: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

I admit that I don’t love the cold weather. People take up so much more room on the subways with their puffy winter coats on! But with the cold weather comes some delicious winter treats, and one of those is butternut squash. They’ve been prominent in supermarkets ever since Sukkot, and I’ve made soup with them, roasted them, and added some the pot pie. But now it’s time to add another cold-weather favorite to the mix, apple cider. I love warm apple cider, especially from the farmer’s market near Columbia on Thursdays. Yes, I schedule my grad school classes around apple cider, who wouldn’t?

So welcome winter with a totally-fitting-for-a-main-dish-salad on this Meatless Monday!

Anyway, I couldn’t pass up on this salad recipe that calls for a salad with teeny little butternut squash chunks and a warm dressing made with apple cider. The dried cranberries can’t hurt either. Usually I don’t like walnuts. I never buy them, and I never add them to my brownies or baked goods, unless my mom is coming over. She thinks walnuts make any cookie or brownie infinitely better. They actually add a nice crunch to this salad, and an extra texture, which I like. This salad has crispy lettuce, soft butternut squash, chewy cranberries, and hard walnuts. What more can you ask for in a salad? Oh, a warm dressing, obviously.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette, adapted from Ina Garten:

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, which I don’t have in my pantry – you can use red wine, too)
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (I omitted these)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to 1/4 cup, about 6-8 minutes.

2. Off the heat, add the olive oil, Dijon, salt, and pepper.

For the salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 pounds, if you have a scale)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
  • 4 ounces lettuce, I used mixed baby greens. Ina used baby arugula.
  • Some Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. On a half sheet pan, combine the butternut squash, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the squash becomes soft and begins to brown.

3. When the squash has been roasting for 15 minutes, add the dried cranberries to the sheet pan.

4. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and add the roasted squash and cranberries, and walnuts.

5. Spoon dressing over the top until just moistened. Toss well. Serve with a shaved Parmesan cheese.

Basil Green Goddess Dressing

I don’t usually make creamy salad dressings. I usually make just a simple vinaigrette. While leafing through Barefoot Contessa at Home for the millionth time, this salad dressing really caught my eye, and I knew I had to try it. It has a wonderful basil flavor and a nice creamy texture. You don’t need many vegetables to make this salad extraordinary. Just lettuce, maybe some avocado and tomato. The dressing is enough to make just lettuce seem special.

I don’t have a blender. But don’t worry, this dressing was still easy to make, using my immersion blender and the measuring cup that comes with it. Actually, that might have made the task a bit easier. Not only was I able to measure the ingredients in the cup, I also stored the dressing in it and didn’t have to dirty an extra dish! Not owning a dishwasher makes you really think about that one extra cup, bowl, or spoon.

Ina’s recipe for this dressing suggests serving it with Bibb lettuce and a few tomatoes. I happened to have had some romaine lettuce in my fridge, so I just used that. I think a crispy lettuce is just perfect for this dressing, so don’t go pouring it over your baby arugula (or if you try it, let me know).

This is a perfect way to use up some of the basil in your summer garden if you’re sick of making pesto (or you just don’t have enough basil to make pesto). It’s also a good creamy salad dressing for the winter, though. Which is when I like it best.

I’ve actually never made regular Green Goddess dressing before, which is made with tarragon instead of basil. I’m not such a fan of that flavor, and I happen to love basil, so my guess is that I’d like Ina’s updated version better. She also added anchovy paste, something I don’t stock in my pantry. If you want to add it, add a teaspoon.

Not only is this a good salad dressing, but since it’s thick you can use it as a dipping sauce for veggies, a perfect mid-day snack!

Zeke, who usually doesn’t eat any salad, went back for seconds of this one.

Basil Green Goddess Dressing, adapted from Ina Garten. I halved the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts only (6-7 scallions)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:

1. Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Add the sour cream and process until smooth.

3. Pour the dressing over salad and serve.

Marinated Beets

I have been making these beets every time I picked up beets from my csa, and I’m sorry for not sharing with you sooner! They are simple to make, you already have the ingredients in your pantry (I hope) and you make them one night and eat them throughout the week. I like them plain, but you can also add them to salads.

Beets are really healthy! That’s why The New York Times featured them in “Recipes for Health.” So you should make these as a healthy snack. No more potato chips for you! Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t bad-mouth potato chips; they don’t stain my hands red when I handle them! And they’re crunchy and addictive and delicious. But so are these.

Marinated Beets from The New York Times

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beets, scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, divided
  • salt to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Put the beets in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1/4 cup of the vinegar and the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until beets are tender.
  2. Remove from heat and add garlic to the pot. Let cool.
  3. While cooling, combine the remaining vinegar and the sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Without draining the pot, remove the beets from the pot, peel the skins off and cut into wedges.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup of the beet liquid and the garlic into the vinegar and sugar mixture. Toss with the beets and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the garlic and serve, or cover and store in the fridge for up to a week.