Tabbouleh with a Twist

Tabbouleh is an Arabic dish comprised of bulgur and fresh herbs and vegetables. It is served as part of a mezze (Middle Eastern appetizers) and can also accompany many dishes as a refreshing side dish. I decided to give the classic tabbouleh a small twist, by omitting the cucumber and combining it with a salad that my grandmother used to make to accompany heavy meals. The salad included roasted eggplant, parsley, tomatoes, lots of garlic and lemon juice. Combining these two dishes together worked very nicely. The dish has some bright flavors of garlic, lemon and salt, and I love it!

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Ingredients:
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 medium eggplants
2 large tomatoes, diced
6-8 small cloves garlic, minced
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon (or 1 ½ if you are me)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, about 3 inches above the bulgur, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain to remove excess water.

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Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler or on the grill. Poke the eggplant with a knife in several places to prevent it from exploding when on the grill. Let the skin get charred, then turn the eggplant 90 degrees and roast until charred. Repeat the process until the eggplants are well charred all around. Remove from the heat and leave on the side to cool.

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When cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat of the eggplants, using a spoon. Chop the meat on a cutting board. I also like to chop a little bit of the charred skin. It adds a great smokey flavor to the eggplant.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix together. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the bulgur to absorb the flavors.

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Vegan “Feta Cheese”

I was very skeptical about vegan cheeses that try to mimic real cheese. I’ve tried a few of them and wasn’t at all impressed, to the point where I decided it wasn’t worth the effort looking for substitutes. I just needed to learn to live without cheese. It was all good until I came across this “feta cheese” recipe in an Israeli vegan blog. Feta cheese was one the things I most regretted not eating anymore since becoming vegan. I LOVE feta cheese. So when I came across this recipe I had to give it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised. It is delicious!! Is it feta cheese? No. But it tastes and feels like cheese and it is salty and tangy enough to satisfy my craving for feta cheese.

So without further ado, here is the recipe. If you are a vegan who happens to love feta cheese, this may hit the spot.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups (145g) almond flour
45g raw cashew nuts soaked in water for 5 hours
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup water
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 ¼ tsp salt

Preparation:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a smooth puree.

Place a colander in a slightly bigger bowl and drape a cheese cloth over the colander. Pour the puree into the cheese cloth. Tie the corners of the cheese cloth together to make a sack, and suspend over a bowl for 12 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat an oven to 350F.

Grease a baking dish with a tiny bit of oil, then untie the cheese cloth and gently place the ball of cheese in the baking dish, face down.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cheese becomes golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks, if it lasts that long…

We like to use it as a spread or crumble it over a salad or any other dish.

It is really surprisingly delicious!

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.

My Sister’s Amazing Sandwich Rolls

My sister is a pastry chef, and she is REALLY great at baking. Everything she bakes is amazingly good. She happens to be a wonderful cook as well. Today I’m posting her recipe for Israeli sandwich rolls. These rolls are the kind we used to buy every morning at the grocery store when we were kids in Israel and made sandwiches to take to school. Soft and slightly chewy, and always so fresh…I’m not sure if you can find these rolls in the U.S. I haven’t seen any in all the years I’ve been living here.

Ingredients:
1 kg (2 lb) all-purpose flour
2 tbs dry active yeast or 50g baker’s yeast
5 tbs sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbs salt
1 egg for egg wash (optional)

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

If using baker’s yeast, dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of lukewarm water. Let it develop for 5 minutes. Add it with the liquid in the next stage.

While the motor is running, gradually add 2 cups water (or 1 ½ water and the yeast mixture if you used ½ cup water for the yeast) and oil. Add the salt at the end and 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 it doubles in volume.

Preheat oven to 350F.

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

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

Roll each piece of dough into a 10-inch-long rope and tie it in a knot.

Place knots on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and space them out, leaving 4 inches between knots. Cover with a towel and proof again until knots double their size.

Bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes.

Textured Soy Protein (TSP)

Textured soy protein (TSP) is a by-product obtained from extracting soybean oil. The pulp is separated from the oil and is extruded in the form of dehydrated chunks of fiber with a spongy texture that slightly resembles meat texture. TSP is made of soybeans but it may also contain wheat and gluten. It contains 50% protein in its dry form, and 16% protein after rehydrated, and is therefore considered a great substitute for meat.

Textured soy protein can be found in the shape of nuggets, flat strips, or flakes. Its flavor is pretty bland. Given that its texture is dry and spongy, it can absorb a lot of liquid and take on the flavors added to it, so it can imitate beef, chicken, pork, fish, or any other flavor you wish to add to it.IMG_7794

The recipe below is a pretty successful attempt to substitute soy nuggets for beef. My traditional recipe for beef croquettes calls for ground beef, but since we have become vegan in my family, I decided to recreate the recipe with non-animal products. Soy nuggets seemed like the best way to go.  They can be found in Asian and Indian grocery stores, and in health food stores.

To prepare it for use, TSP should be rehydrated. It needs to be soaked in hot liquid (water, soup) for about 30 minutes, then drained, and all liquid should be squeezed out of it. Then it is ready to be used in a dish. For the following recipe, I soaked my soy nuggets in boiling water.IMG_7724

 

Soy Croquettes

Ingredients:
2 cups dry soy nuggets
2 tbs ground flax seeds
8 tbs water
1 cup parsley leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tbs chicken flavored soup powder
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Preparation:
After soaking, draining and squeezing all liquid out of the soy nuggets, place them in a food processor and pulse to create crumbs resembling ground meat. Move to a large bowl.IMG_7725

In a small bowl mix the ground flax seeds with the water and let rest for a couple of minutes, until it becomes eggy in texture. Or, if you eat eggs, you may lightly beat 2 eggs.

Place the onion, garlic and parsley in the food processor and chop thinly.IMG_7726

Transfer to the bowl and add the flour, the spices, and the flax seeds (or the beaten eggs).

Using your hands, mix all the ingredients to a cohesive mixture.

Form croquettes the size of a ping pong ball and flatten them a little.IMG_7730

Heat oil in a large skillet and fry the croquettes for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

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I tried adding the fried croquettes to a Persian stew that I made (something I used to do with beef croquettes). The stew came out delicious, but the croquettes fell apart. So I think it’s better to just eat them fried with some other things on the side.

Enjoy!

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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.