Kale, Bean, and Avocado Salad

This salad is a good way for me to eat my kale as I’m not a big kale eater. It is also very healthy and yummy, so what more could I ask for? I first had it in one of the farmers markets I used to sell at in South Florida. I was attracted to the salad because of its vibrant colors and its refreshing look. I was indeed a happy customer once I tasted it, and so I recreated it at home, with some tiny changes, and now I get to share it with you as well.

Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh kale, chopped into 2 inch wedges (leaves only)
2 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups cooked white beans
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into small wedges
1 large avocado, pitted and cut into 1 inch pieces
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
Salt

Heat the oil in a saute pan and saute the sliced garlic on medium heat, until garlic is starting to brown. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well. Allow all flavors to absorb for about an hour before serving.

Homemade Hamburger Rolls

This 4th of July you don’t need to settle for store bought hamburger buns. Here is a recipe that is very easy to make and is ten times better, flavor and nutrition wise, than the store bought buns.

My sister in Israel is the source for this great hamburger roll recipe. When it comes to baking she is my ultimate expert. She is actually a legit pastry chef (and a really amazing one) who graduated from the Cordon Bleu in Paris. So when she finds or develops a good recipe for breads and baked goods I have to have it.

I call these rolls hamburger rolls because this is how everybody knows them by but, really, you can eat them with anything. We do not eat meat at home, yet we get to enjoy these rolls pretty often with our favorite spreads or with a good homemade bean burger (in the picture) or other yummy concoctions. 

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Enjoy your burger and have a happy 4th of July!

Ingredients:
2 tbs dry active yeast
5 tbs sugar
2 lb all-purpose flour
2 cups lukewarm water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil

Preparation:
In a mixer bowl equipped with the hook attachment mix the flour, sugar and dry yeast.

While the motor is running, gradually add 2 cups water, the eggs, salt, and eventually the oil. Continue kneading for 7-10 minutes, until the dough detaches from the walls of the mixing bowl, but still sticks to the bottom.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and proof in a warm place until dough doubles in volume.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.

Punch the dough a few times to deflate it and divide it into 16 equal pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Space the buns out, leaving 4 inches between them. Cover with a towel and proof again until the buns double their size.

Brush the top of the rolls with some water and sprinkle your favorite topping (sesame, everything, salt, poppyseed…) 

Bake in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes, until rolls are nicely browned.

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Easy Rice Pilaf Tex-Mex

Sometimes you want to eat well but you don’t feel like thinking too much or spending time and effort in the kitchen. This is when this dish comes in handy. Not to mention that it is really delicious, so you don’t really need excuses to make it. I like to eat it as is, but it is a great side dish for grilled meats and chicken.

Ingredients:
3 tbs oil
2 cups rice
1 cup canned corn
1 cup salsa
2 cups water
Salt
Black pepper

Preparation:
In a medium pot, heat the oil. Add the rice and sauté it for a few minutes until the rice starts smelling nutty.

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, lower the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Roses

 A great gift for Valentine’s Day, these cookies look beautiful and are also very delicious. You can store them in airtight container for a week, but they are best when they are fresh out of the oven. On second thought, they actually need to cool a little so that you don’t get burned from the jelly…

Ingredients:
1 stick (100g) soft butter
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1 egg
2 cups (280g) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 oz (100g) chocolate chips
8 tbs (270g) strawberry preserves

Preparation:
Mix butter, egg and sugar together. Add the flour and baking powder and kneed to form a dough.

Divide the dough to three equal pieces. Roll out each piece into an 1/8” thick long rectangle, using a rolling pin. Spread 1/3 of the preserves on the dough and sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate chips. Roll the dough lengthwise to form a tight thin log. Slice the log into 1″ slices.

Place, face up, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Space the cookies and shape each one to look a little like a rose by pushing and pulling the rolled dough.

Repeat the process with the remaining two pieces of dough.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until cookies are golden.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Best Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

So now, with Thanksgiving behind us, well…almost…, I just want to eat light. Not so much diet wise, but more things that do not require heavy cooking. You know how sometimes you want something good to eat that’s not “food”? Today, after lunch, I had this unsatisfied feeling (although I enjoyed my lunch) that made me walk around the kitchen opening all the cabinets in search of something delicious that would calm me down.

This is, by the way, a recipe for disaster if you are trying to be on a diet. Anyway, I found in the fridge some plum jelly that I made about a month ago, and I planned on eating some with a spoon. But then, out of the corner of my eyes I caught a piece of pita bread that I left on the counter this morning (in a plastic bag, of course). As I was spreading the jelly in the pita, I recalled seeing a container of natural salted peanut butter in one of the cabinets. So I added that too.

Now, I must confess. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich was never one of my favorites. In fact, I am usually dismissive of it, because I’m a health food freak, and the original ingredients in this sandwich rub me the wrong way. Think about it. Artificially flavored, sugar-packed grape jelly, commercial peanut butter that has all kinds of hydrogenated oils and sugar in addition to peanuts! And that white, spongy bread…can it even be called bread?

But somehow the thought of real bread with the homemade jelly that’s made of just fruit and sugar (and not too sweet), and the saltiness of the freshly ground peanuts, made my mouth water.

And you know what? It was really gooooood!

So I guess I owe my fellow Americans an apology for dismissing the legendary, all-American, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or maybe I owe just half an apology.  After all, I had to figure out the right ingredients myself.

Mixed Nut Tart

If you thought you couldn’t give up your traditional Thanksgiving pecan pie for any other pie, wait until you try this tart. It is impressive and beautiful to look at, and from my experience over the years, it is the first dessert to disappear from the table.

The mixed nut tart doesn’t get soft and saucy like a pecan pie since it doesn’t use as much filling, and that is a big plus in my eyes. The amount of nuts used in the tart exceeds the amount of pecans used in the pecan pie, so the nuts really are the center of attention. The flaky crust is buttery and crumbles in your mouth like a good shortbread. The roasted and salted nuts make the tart crunchy and the variety of the different nuts is like a game of textures and flavors in your mouth. The caramel adds creaminess and sweetness but doesn’t overpower the nuts. It perfectly complements their saltiness. Texture wise, the caramel is more like a coat and a binding agent to the nuts. To sum it up, this mixed nut tart is THE perfect dessert for Thanksgiving or any other festive event (so says my hubby).

Use a 9” tart pan.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 cups plus 2 tbs (300g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100g) sugar 
1 teaspoon salt
6.5oz (180g) very cold butter
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
4oz (100g) butter
1/3 packed cup (80g) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (100g) honey
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
350g roasted and salted nuts

Combine the flours, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor, and process into a crumbly mixture. Add the beaten egg and mix it in, with short pulses, just until the dough is uniform, soft and not sticky. Do not over process or you lose the flakiness in the crust.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove from the fridge and let sit for 20 minutes. It makes it easier to roll out. Lightly flour a work surface.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll it around  the rolling pin and place it onto the tart pan. Press the dough gently into the indentations in the sides. Trim the edges. Place the pan with the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 360F.

Remove the crust from the freezer and place it immediately in the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust turns golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 320F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar, and stir constantly until the butter and sugar are completely dissolved. Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Add the nuts into the pot and mix well.

Top the crust with the nut mixture (including the sauce) and spread it evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until bubbles form in the filling. Remove from the oven.

Carefully, remove the tart from the baking pan when still hot. Once the caramel cools off, it hardens and “glues” the tart to the pan.

Serve at room temperature. You may serve the tart with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I love it as is.

May you all be blessed with good health, happiness, peace, and prosperity!

Happy Thanksgiving!