Fresh Yogurt

Homemade yogurt: 

IMG_1280

This was an easy cooking project and one I plan to make again. I didn’t allow my milk to “ferment” for a full 12 hours but definitely will next time as I prefer a tart and tangy yogurt. I also went for the Greek version so I strained my mixture overnight and wound up with a thick, rich and creamy yogurt. This version was almost akin to a velvety, mild fresh cheese so I think it would work well for desserts. Now I have an excuse to whip up some lemon curd and make parfaits!

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When Your Israeli Husband Craves Falafel …

My husband will happily eat chicken out of a can.

He likes kokoretsi — squiggly lamb intestines roped around a melded mush of  lamb heart, lung and brain.

He has slurped down not one duck testicle, but two.

Needless to say, the man is not a picky eater. But when it comes to his beloved falafel, he is almost impossible to please.

But I think I managed to woo him!

Falafel Fixings

Falafel Fixings

 

Nothing, he says, compares to the falafel he grew up eating in Israel. And he’s right. He’s taken me to eat falafel in Tel Aviv and Netanya, and I have yet to find a match in the states. It’s not the actual falafel itself that is such a standout, it’s the smorgasbord of gorgeous salads that accompany the meal. I was not prepared for the onslaught of salads that were placed on our table during our first meal in Tel Aviv. I was so surprised by the sheer number that I actually counted them up. We were served 23 different salads. Yes, 23.  Twenty three different ways to prepare eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, lemons, avocados, beets, cabbages, carrots and greens. We stuffed our pitas full of the salads, ate some off the top, and re-stuffed. And re-stuffed. And re-stuffed. It was healthy and delightfully satisfying — “fast” food at its best.

Sizzling Falafel

Sizzling Falafel

So, that was my challenge last week — to make falafel and an array of salads to please our palates. I certainly didn’t create 23 different salads, but I did manage to turn out 5 salads plus a tahini sauce, not to mention softly-boiled eggs and freshly fried falafel. It was quite a bit of work the first time, but the salads kept beautifully so turning out leftovers on a weeknight was easy. Not much beats a delicious meal and a happy husband.

The Falafel Bar

The Falafel Bar

 

Recipes:

Falafel

Beet Salad

Roasted red pepper salad with harissa

Israeli salad: Finely chop the following and mix with lemon juice and salt and pepper: red onion, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, fresh mint and/or parsley

Eggplant salad: thinly slice and grill eggplants. Stuff into pita with everything else

Onion salad: thinly slice red onions. Toss with mint, lemon juice, salt and sumac

Tahini sauce: whisk tahini with lemon juice and warm water. Salt and pepper to taste

 

Slow-Roasted “Melted” Tomatoes (Pomodori al Forno)

This is one of those recipes that people ask me for over and over again. It’s incredibly simple and the finished dish is so versatile. The tomatoes are wonderful simply with chunks of bread or paired with fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese.  You can also toss the tomatoes with greens for a salad or with pasta for a spectacular main course. If you’re making this outside of tomato season, use the best quality canned tomatoes you can find.

DDtomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (or more) olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved length-wise and seeded
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced Italian parsley or basil

DIRECTIONS

  • 1

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil into 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn tomatoes over and bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate when soft, about 15 to 45 minutes longer.

  • 2

    Layer tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkling garlic, parsley and or basil over each layer, reserving oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temp 2 hours. Cover and chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temp before serving.

    Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Wilted Red Cabbage

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large fresh sage sprig
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/2 of large head)
  • Splash or two of sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted caraway seeds

Preparation: 

Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced red onion and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in bay leaf, sage and dried crushed red pepper. Add sliced red cabbage and vinegar and cook until wilted and tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add more vinegar to taste and sprinkle with toasted caraway seeds. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Roasted Cauliflower

Don’t be afraid to try the garlic with this dish. Whole, roasted garlic cloves have a very sweet, mellow flavor.

Ingredients: 

1 to 2 heads of cauliflower, separated into florets

1 to 2 TBSP olive oil

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

Several whole garlic cloves, peeled (optional)

Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss all ingredients together except the cheese. Spread in one layer on a cookie sheet and roast, stirring occasionally until tender and starting to caramelize, approximately 30 minutes. If using cheese, sprinkle over cauliflower and return to oven to finish roasting, another 10 minutes or so. Enjoy!