Ingredient: ground cumin

Israel and Hummus

I went to Israel last year. I was on a fabulous Women’s trip that was a little sight seeing and a lot of spiritual education. How could it not be spiritual with 260 women? The trip is based in Jerusalem and there are lots of day trips throughout the country, to Masada, Tel Aviv and Tsfat, among other places. When I left for Israel, I was armed with my laptop and fork. I was going to blog about my spiritual journey and surely the amazing food that would accompany it. Well the best laid plans as they say. I should have made sure to have comfortable dancing shoes and sweat mopping towels.

Our first stop was Tsfat, in the north. It was amazing and beautiful. There were 260 women dancing together and drinking on the northern coast. We were served Israeli salad and hummus with huge, fresh made pitas. We were served beautiful pickled vegetables that had just the right amount of tart and sweet. The entrée came and it was salmon encased in fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. It was served with simply grilled sweet potatoes and mushrooms. We were tired, hot and hungry and the meal did its job to satiate us. When we were thirsty we had cold water. When we thought we couldn’t stay awake even one more moment, there were fireworks and cold Goldstar beer. And then more dancing and singing, hugging and crying. What an amazing night! And I wrote all about it.

Thanks to chefs like Ottenlenghi, the rest of the world is experiencing Israel’s wonderful food scene. When you walk through the open markets in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem the vibrant colors and aromas are intoxicating. Lunch on our first day was the most amazingly authentic and delicious falafel. I had it loaded with pickles and cabbage and tahini with hummus and French fries. It was exactly what I wanted in an Israeli falafel.

This year my husband will be going on the men’s trip. I’ve done my best to tell him where to go for the best falafel and hummus. To not miss the hidden wine shop in Tsfat. He will find that the shashuka at the hotel is a great way to start each morning and that even Israel has great Chinese food.

Of the 30 different hummus’ I ate while I was in Israel, I came home with this recipe. It is the best one I had and I love the tang of lemon.

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Hummus
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Hummus
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a large pot with shallots, salt and dried pepper (I like to add a whole peeled carrot, sweetness, but its optional). Cover with cold water by one inch. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two.
  2. Drain, but reserve the liquid. Discard all but the chickpeas.
  3. Puree about half the chickpeas in a food processor with 2 Tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the garlic and remaining chickpeas and continue to puree.
  4. While pureeing add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and spices.You may add additional cooking liquid if needed, but don't let it get runny.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with fresh, warm pita.
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Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

My daughter had mononucleosis the last two weeks of the school year.  This certainly caused a lot of stress in our home.  I spent quite a lot of time on the phone with teachers and counselors trying to get extensions, exceptions and retakes arranged.  As a result, I was given the unique task of videotaping my daughter’s culinary I final.  You may think, “How fun!”, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

I have taught both my daughters to cook, but not in a formal, culinary, way.  It was always, watching me cook, or making some “family” recipe or something special. I have never approached teaching my daughters to cook  from an instructor perspective, but now I was being asked to watch another teachers work.  It was eye opening to say the least.

I do not want to admonish the teacher, at all.  I have never taught 40 kids at one time. Nor do I ever want to. I spent the hour of videotaping, biting  my tongue.  I wanted to rescue her from mistakes.  I held my breath, terrified that she would cut her finger off, as she moved the knife towards her, rather than away.  Did she wash her hands as often as she should have? Did she change cutting boards? Is that dice bite sized? It was daunting!

#2

By the end of this week, she had received her grade and ended the year with an B in the class (good thing!) and a high B on the final.  It just goes to show that, as parents, we are much harder on our kids.  I am proud of the work my daughter did.

The recipe she cooked was for Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice.  This project was originally assigned as a group project.  Since my daughter wasn’t in class, the recipe was written without her.  When I tasted the recipe, I thought it was good, but could use a little refinement. The photo is of the original recipe, then I offer my changes.  Happy cooking and remember to practice your knife skills!

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Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Ingredients
Servings: dinner entrees
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over a medium high heat; add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring. Reduce heat to medium flame and add tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with cayenne, curry, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. Stir in reserved tomato juices.
  4. Add the chicken, potates, and stock; Simmer and stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon Chicken mixture over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve Hot
Recipe Notes

There should be plenty of juices that have thickened from the potatoes.

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