Cabbage Puff Pastry Roulade

An easy and fun appetizer for a festive meal, that can also serve as a main dish with some salad on the side. This year this appetizer will be part of our Rosh HaShanah table. Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish new year and usually we celebrate it with different edible blessings. One of the main blessings is for us to be the head and not the tail or in other words we are wishing to be leaders and lead by example. The food which symbolizes this blessing is the head of a cow or lamb (cheek meat) and in some communities it is the head of a fish. This year, though, as we turned vegan, we can’t do either, so we decided to be creative and use a head of cabbage. Hence the following recipe. For more about Rosh HaShanah recipes check my Rosh HaShanah Blessings and Recipes.

Wishing a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all who celebrate!

Ingredients:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 tbs oil
½ cabbage head, thinly shredded
12 mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package frozen Puff Pastry sheets (2 sheets)
Sesame/nigella seeds (optional)

Preparation:
In a large saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the cabbage and keep sautéing, while stirring occasionally, until cabbage is wilted and slightly seared.

Add the mushrooms and the spices and give the dish a good stir.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered, until the cabbage and mushrooms are very soft, and all the liquid evaporated from the pot. If there are liquids left, remove the cover and raise the heat to let all liquid evaporate.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Defrost the frozen puff pastry at room temperature for about 40 minutes. The dough should be defrosted but cold enough to handle, otherwise it’s too hard to work with.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place one of the pastry sheets on a work surface and roll it out to a rectangle. Place ½ of the chilled cabbage filling in the middle of the sheet lengthwise, to create a cylinder. Fold the short side edges of the dough on top of the filling, then fold the top and the bottom edges, one on top of the other, to close the roulade.

Place the roulade, sim down, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and repeat the process with remaining ingredients.

You may brush the top of the roulades with egg wash and sprinkle sesame or nigella seeds on top.

Bake in the preheated oven until the roulades turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and chill for a few minutes before serving.

Gondi Nochodi

This recipe may look like Matzah ball soup, but it is actually a Jewish Persian dish, very popular among Persian Jews.  It is made of ground chicken and chickpeas.

Gondi, is perhaps the single most unique food to the Jews of Iran. While Persian Jews have over the centuries adopted the Persian cuisine in their kitchen (kosher style, of course), Gondi has been one of their few culinary innovations that they can claim as their own.

It is usually served as an appetizer together with Sabzi – raw green vegetables including tarragon, basil, mint, and radishes. In our home, we used to eat it as a main dish.

Ingredients:
5-6 oz roasted chickpea (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
1 lb ground chicken breast
2 large onions, shredded
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup canola oil or rendered chicken fat
4 tsp rose water (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
Homemade chicken soup (recipe follows) or 8 cups of good chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
In a food processor, grind the roasted chickpeas only until they turn into crumbs. Be careful not to over grind it. You don’t want chickpea flour. You may find chickpea already coarsely ground in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Do not buy chickpea flour. It is too powdery.

Place the chickpea crumbs in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients except for the chicken soup, and mix well by hand, until mixture is well combined.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken soup to a boil. If needed, add salt and pepper.

Make plum size balls of the chickpea mixture, and add them gently, one by one, to the soup. If the balls stick to your hands, use a small bowl with water to wet your hands lightly.

Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes.

Place 1-2 balls in a soup bowl, add some soup and serve.

IMG_1158

Chicken soup

2 lb chicken bones (necks, backs) or other parts
8 cups water
1 large onion, quartered
1 small bunch cilantro
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rings
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs chicken soup powder

Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, clean all the foam formed on the water.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, cilantro, and spices and cook for about an hour, covered.

Discard of the cilantro. You may use the soup as is to cook the Gondi dumplings in, or you may strain it, and have a clear broth for the Gondi.

Gondi is served with a plate of fresh green herbs such as basil, tarragon, mint, and sliced radishes.IMG_2324

Corn soup Mexican Style

I was in the mood for a flavorful chunky soup to accompany our taco dinner. Mexican style sounded good, so I winged it using stuff I have at home. It’s really an easy soup that only takes 10 minutes of preparation. And it comes out delicious. We enjoyed it so much so now we have a new keeper.

Ingredients:
2 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans sweet corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced
3 cups water
2 tbs chicken soup powder
½ tsp thyme
1 tbs ground coriander seeds
Salt
Pepper
1 cup chopped cilantro
Plantain/tortilla chips (optional)

Preparation:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion until golden brown.

Add the corn including the liquid, the diced tomatoes with the juice, the chipotle, water, and spices.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Using a hand blender, partially blend the soup, leaving almost half the content chunky.

Add the chopped cilantro and top with some crunchy plantain or tortilla chips before serving.

Watermelon Rind and Bean Curry

Throwing food is something I try to avoid as much as possible. Almost everything we buy gets eaten or used this way or another. In this case, I’m referring to watermelon rind. Did you ever think it was edible? I didn’t think about it until a few months ago when a friend brought me some mysterious preserves she made. I couldn’t figure out what she could possibly had used to make the preserves. I was very surprised when she finally revealed her “secret” ingredient – watermelon rind. I enjoyed it, but when it was gone, I moved on with my life and completely forgot about it.

Yesterday, I brought home a watermelon. My husband cut it and placed the wedges in a special container, and we were left with a big amount of the rind. Just before we were about to dump it in the compost bin, my son reminded us of those preserves we all enjoyed, which gave me an idea. Try and make a savory dish using the rind as the main ingredient. I decided to go completely untraditional and use unconventional combinations of ingredients and flavors, and got some inspiration from a post I found in the blog Sumptuous Spoonfuls.

I think my creation came out pretty good…

Ingredients:
Sauce:
2 tbs minced fresh ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 tbs palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
2 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs soy sauce
5 tbs Thai masaman curry paste
1 15oz can coconut milk
4 tbs chopped cilantro
2 tbs Thai fish sauce (optional)

5-6 cups watermelon rind, peeled and cubed
3 tbs oil
3 cups cooked beans (I used pinto beans)
8 medium baby Bella mushrooms, sliced into thick slices

Preparation:
In a medium bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the watermelon cubes. Sauté for 6-7 minutes over high heat, stirring the watermelon occasionally. The watermelon should be lightly seared and wilted.

Add the sliced mushrooms, the beans and the sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 more minutes.

Homemade Corn Tortillas

When we go out to eat, we’re always on the look-out for small Mom and Pop, hole-in-the-wall places where the food is authentic and usually of a much better quality than the big chains. However, unfortunately for us, although we may very much enjoy the meal, we can’t stop thinking that we could easily make some of the dishes at home and they would taste just as good. And when we try at home, and the dish actually comes out the way we like them, we don’t feel the need to eat out anymore (unless I don’t feel like working). Sometimes it feels like shooting myself in the foot…

When it comes to Mexican food, which we all love, there are some staples that we’ve already mastered at home, such as guacamole, salsa, and pico de gallo, and our own bean, fish, and meat fillings for tacos. Thank God there is so much more to Mexican food than just tacos. It gives us a reason to leave the house and enjoy other dishes that we don’t make at home. Until recently, the only obstacle to having our own perfect taco dinner at home were good corn tortillas. All the store-bought corn tortillas I’ve tried aren’t as good as the tortillas you get at decent Mexican restaurants. So I decided to try and make corn tortillas at home.

I prepared in advance for making tortillas at home and picked a day when I wasn’t super busy, thinking it would be a big project. But it wasn’t. I used Bob’s Red Mill masa harina, and followed the recipe on the back of the bag. It was so easy to make and we enjoyed it so much, that I have decided to make it more often.

I made a double batch, planning on freezing or refrigerating some of the tortillas for another time, but before I knew it, they were all gone. Even my youngest son, who would not touch store bought tortillas, had three of them and asked for more. Success!

Just a side note – when I tried to make tortillas again, I bought masa harina at a Mexican grocery, thinking that it would probably taste better than Bob’s Red Mill. I was wrong. Not only didn’t it taste better, but also it was stickier and harder to work with. So I’m back to Bob’s Red Mill. The recipe here works for this flour. If you buy masa harina of a different brand, follow the instructions on the package instead, for best results.

Corn Tortillas – makes 12 tortillas

Ingredients:
2 cups Golden Masa Harina Corn Flour
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups Hot Water

Preparation:
Mix salt into the masa harina corn flour. Slowly pour the water into the dough to get a good consistency. The dough should be firm and springy when touched, not dry or sticky. Let rest for about an hour, covered.

tortilla balls

Preheat a griddle or a cast iron pan. Divide the dough into 2 inch balls.

Press each dough ball between two pieces of waxed paper. You can either use a tortilla press, or if you do not have one, use a heavy skillet or a heavy dish instead. Just make sure that your ball of dough is placed between two pieces of wax paper so that it doesn’t stick to the dish or the work surface.

tortilla flattening

Place the flattened dough on a hot griddle or in a heavy pan, and cook until the top of the tortilla starts to look cooked, about 30-45 seconds. Flip to the other side and heat for a few seconds.

tortilla cooking
tortilla pile

Pile the tortillas on a plate, and cover with a towel. Serve them warm with your favorite variety of fillings such as grilled fish, sautéed ground beef, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, etc. Corn tortillas tend to dry very quickly, so you should eat them while they are still fresh and warm, or place them in a sealed bag and freeze.

Israeli Chocolate Cake

Israeli chocolate cake Yonatan

Every Israeli home has its own version for this simple chocolate cake. This cake is the ultimate cake for children’s birthday parties, because it is chocolaty and yummy, and at the same time very simple to make, and not very challenging to the kids’ taste buds. I got this recipe from a friend of mine, years ago, and ever since it has become a permanent resident in our home, especially on birthdays. The picture above is from Jonathan’s 6th birthday (already 12 years ago???!!!!)…

Ingredients:

round 10’’ (26cm) baking pan, or 12 ¾’’ X 9’’ (32cm X 23 cm) pan
7oz (200g) butter
7oz (200g) bitter sweet chocolate, broken into cubes
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup Manischewitz wine (or port wine)

For the chocolate sauce:
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons coco powder
4oz (100g) bitter sweet chocolate, broken into cubes
4oz (100g) butter

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 360F (180C).

Place the butter, the chocolate, and the sugar in a large glass bowl. You don’t want to use metal or plastic bowls because they are not microwave friendly.  Place the bowl in the microwave and nuke for 2 minutes on high heat, to melt the ingredients. Remove from the microwave, and using a whisk, mix the ingredients until you end up with a smooth mixture.

Add the eggs, one by one, to the warm mixture, whisking constantly, to prevent the eggs from cooking.  When mixture is smooth, add the flour and the baking powder, and mix well. Add the wine and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a well greased baking pan and bake in the oven for about 25-35 minutes, depends on the oven. The cake is ready when a wooden toothpick inserted to the middle of the cake comes out clean, with some crumbs on.

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate, sugar, water and coco powder, over low heat. Mix constantly until mixture is completely smooth and remove from the heat. Add the butter and mix it in, until it is completely dissolved and incorporated in the sauce.

Pour the sauce on the cake and using a spatula, spread it to cover the whole cake.

If you want the sauce to only cover the cake, cool the cake completely before glazing it with sauce.

If you like the sauce to be partially absorbed in the cake, add to the saucepan an additional 3 tablespoons of water, when making the sauce, before adding in the butter, to make it more liquid. Pour the sauce on the cake while the cake is still hot.

Israeli chocolate cake