Sephardi Sabbath Eggs

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Typical for a Sephardi Shabbat (the Sabbath) lunch is a type of Cholent or Hamin which is a traditional Jewish stew. This Jewish stew was developed over the centuries to conform with Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. The pot is brought to boil on Friday before the Sabbath begins, and kept on a blech or hotplate, or placed in a slow oven or electric slow cooker until the following day.

There are many variations of the dish, and the one I grew up on is called Osh Sovo, which is a a rice based dish cooked with potatoes, carrots, beans and dried fruits. Reference to my Silk Road Vegetarian cookbook, to be released on May 20th which has the Osh Sovo recipe. In all variations of the Shabbat lunch, Central Asian Jews and Sephardi Jews adorned the Jewish stew with a side of whole eggs in the shell, which turn brown overnight. Some Sephardi communities cooked the eggs with the stew. My mother always made the eggs separate from the Osh Sovo with the addition of whole potatoes. The result is the egg whites become a rich brown color and the eggs develop a nutty, roasted taste. Here, I present my family recipe for Shabbat Eggs.

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 eggs with shells
3 medium sized potatoes, such as yukon
1 black tea bag in a sachet
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Place the eggs, potatoes and tea bag in a medium size sauce pot. Fill with water, an inch above the potatoes.Add the oil and the salt.
  2. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, move the sauce pot to a hot plate or a blech. It should cook through the night, up to 8 hours and no longer than 12 hours.
  3. Remove from water, peel the eggs and slice the potatoes. Serve in a bowl or platter. You may want to season with salt and pepper if that’s your preference, while I don’t.

Leek Soup with Dill Oil

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Growing up in Forest Hills, NY, there used to be a quaint french restaurant on the main street, called La Fondue. I think every week for months, on the weekends when I was 13 years old, I would enjoy my favorite soup – Onion Soup soaked in french bread and topped with overflowing melted burnt cheese. I stopped cold turkey and then restarted this onion soup obsession of mine when I was pregnant. Relax…. it was years later! I was craving onion soup like a mad woman on the edge. I can’t tell you why, but it settled the nausea. Probably something subconscious – like regression, fetal position, womb, soup…. get it ?  what ever, sounds psychological.

In any event, as you know (or not) I have been a member of a CSA for years now, so am always on the lookout for interesting recipes that speak to me. This soup does just that. It’s a Mediterranean version of my long lost love onion soup, only this version is made with leeks and is much healthier. Leeks originally came from the Mesopotamian region and yet somehow became the national symbol in Ireland. In Ireland, leek & potato soup is a staple in their diet. The leek soup presented here is also made from a leek and potato base, but then spruced up with some forest green dill oil, Parmesan cheese and toasted almond flakes for crunch.

I made the dill oil by pureeing fresh dill and olive oil, then used a portion of it in the soup base, and the remaining as a drizzle across the tops of the soup. Soup aside, the oil is also great drizzled on just about any kind of egg, or crackers with cheese and even as a base for a salad dressing.  Be sure to slice the leeks lengthwise and clean in between the leaves to make sure there is no dirt hiding. I regularly find pockets of mud layers in. It’s sneaky like that, and you really don’t want it in your soup. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I cleaned the leeks properly only to find myself chewing on grit later on. It’s especially embarrassing when I have guests over, and they are wandering if the grit is part of the meal. Thanks to 101 Cookbooks for sharing this recipe.

 Yields 8-10 servings

Ingredients

1 small bunch of fresh dill
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3.5 pounds ( 1.5 kg) leeks, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter
Sea salt
2 large, thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 1/2 cups (1.5+ liters) vegetable broth
toasted almond slices, for topping

grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions

  1. Use a food processor to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy emulsion. Set aside.
  2. Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and rinse well. You can slice the leeks lengthwise to get in between the layers.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 tablespoons of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up, 6 – 8 minutes. Now, stir in the potatoes and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring regularly, for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are very, very soft. If the leeks at the bottom of the pot are starting to burn, lower the heat and scrape the bottom of the pan when you’re stirring. Stir in the hot broth, and use a hand blender to emulsify. Bring back to a simmer, serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

It has been a wild few weeks now, which has resulted in me not being able to sit down and share some recipes with you. First off, it was Passover and I went down to Miami to spend the Seders with my extended family. We were 60 people on both nights of the Seders! It was a bit of a fiasco as everyone was singing out their own tunes at their own pace. Sounded like a singing audition where ever one is in their own world warming up their voices. It was a fun 2 nights, regardless.

It is customary for Bukharian Jews to wear a jomah during the Seder. Yes, you read that right, a jomah,  not a pajama, which is a silk brocade dress worn on festive occasions. My parents are posing the latest fashion trend – H&M – watch out! I am wearing an ordinary Chinese embroidered jacket, since I did not have my very own jomah to wear:-(

I came back to NY, only to fly back to Miami a week later, because subsequently my father became extremely ill and I went down there again to relieve my mother and brother of their hospital duties.

In the middle of all this, I found an amazing editor for a book I just finished writing called, “Spiritual Kneading for Rosh Chodesh” It’s about the significance of baking challah on the Jewish New Moon every month. I am afraid I wont be posting anything from that book here, because it’s all about challah – not OK for the gluten free community here.

On top of that, my publisher has asked me to buckle down and write out a marketing plan for my forthcoming cookbook “Silk & Spice: Recipes from the Silk Road for the Mindful Vegetarian” due out next Spring 2014. Although this was initially done when I wrote my proposal over a year ago, many things have changed since then, including my circle of foodies. So I had to revamp my marketing plan, which extended to my amazing circle on facebook. A big shout out to Mark Zuckerberg. I don’t know what I would do with out him.

Amidst all of this, I was in the mood to cook something really satisfying, as this winter or Spring – what ever you want to call it, just does not end. I wanted comfort foods. Something grounding and earthy.

Years ago when I was veering towards vegetarianism, Mollie Katzen was the IT person for hearty vegetarian recipes. She still is the Queen. I am just a Queen from Queens… (little humor needed when in crisis) I still turn to her recipes that never disappoint. I often make this quiche when I have a HUGE bag of potatoes lying around from my left over winter CSA season. Make use of the food processor to cut down on time for the crust. This potato crust quiche is moist and stays put together after cooking. Make sure you pick from the freshest cauliflower around, otherwise it alters the taste to mush.You could always experiment with different cheeses. Enjoy this quiche with a nice big leaf lettuce salad on the side. This recipe comes from The New Moosewood  Cookbook.

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

Serves 4

Ingredients

for the crust
2 cups grated raw potato (from 2-3 peeled potatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
¼ cup grated onion

for the filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 cup (4-5 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and generously oil a 9″ pie dish, so that your potato crust does not attach to your pie dish.
  2. Pull out your food processor with a grating disk. That will make for quick work grating each of the following separately: the cheese, then the potatoes, then the onion.
  3. To make the crust, place the grated potatoes in a colander and toss them with the salt.  Wait 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.  A salad spinner works well for this, or you can wring the potatoes out in a dishtowel.  Stir together the potatoes, egg white and onion in a large bowl, then pat the mixture evenly into your pie dish , building them up the sides to form the crust.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the crust lightly with olive oil and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and lower the temp to 375°F.
  5. While the crust bakes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper (to taste) and herbs and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the cauliflower and stir well to coat.  Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of water if the cauliflower begins to stick to the pan.
  6. Spread half the cheese over the crust and spoon the cauliflower mixture over, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Whisk together the eggs and the milk, then pour this mixture over the cauliflower cheese mixture.
  7. Bake 35-40 minutes, until set.

Kale & Potato Curry

We just celebrated Rosh Hashana in the sign of Virgo where attention to systems, health, details and routines are all up and in the lime light during this time. It is a time we renew ourselves and start over in this new year. Intentions and goals set during this time find energetic support by the newly born year.
I ended my year with submitting my manuscript to my publisher for my upcoming cookbook Silk & Spice: Mindful Eating for the Vegetarian from the Silk Road  due out in Fall 2013. It was a three year process to formulate and write my cookbook, and although I am ecstatic that it’s getting published, I am a bit sad that this project of mine is over. It was my companion for a long time. We cooked, tweaked and revised together until we got to perfection. I will write another post about the process of writing my cookbook.
For me, this Rosh Hashana is about introspection and food, and connecting them both in a way, where food can be used to grace ones life with Gods presence. I will be working on my next labor of love, Spiritual Kneading for Rosh Chodesh which is about taking the physical matter of dough and kneading it as a means to clear the mind and connect with God and your innermost goodness.

And speaking of goodness, I just made this Kale & Potato Curry dish utilizing Falls’ typical produce, which shines on your face like a warm summers day with these golden potatoes. If you want to make it ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it, leave out the yoghurt and add it at the last minute, just before serving.

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
l ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
l ½ teaspoon ground cumin
l ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cardamom pods, smashed
4 medium potatoes, cut into bite size chunks
1 cup plain (full-fat) yoghurt
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
small handful of almonds, cashews or pistachios, toasted and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Separate the kale from the stalks and roughly chop the leaves.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and saute until just golden.
  3. Meanwhile, pound the garlic, chili and ginger together with a pinch of salt to a paste. Add to the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Tip in the rest of the spices and stir for a minute or two.
  4. Add the potatoes and chopped kale and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, so that they are well coated with the spice mixture.
  5. Pour in enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Add the kale, stir and cook until just wilted.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, tomato puree and some of the hot liquid from the curry.
  7. Remove the curry from the heat, stir in the yoghurt mixture, return to the heat and warm through very gently (if it gets too hot, the yoghurt will curdle). Stir in most of the cilantro.
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Scatter over the toasted nuts and remaining cilantro, then serve with rice.

Lemon-Mustard Kale and Roasted Potatoes

Kale is considered one of the oldest forms of cabbage, and native to the eastern Mediterranean, researchers believe it may have been grown as a food crop as early as 2000 B. C.

Slice potatoes for roasting
Season potatoes with salt and pepper and layer with sliced onions. Drizzle with olive oil.

In order to properly prepare kale, make sure to remove the tough stem.  To do so, run your knife down either side of the center stem, pull to remove, and discard.  Then, coarsely chop the leaves into ribbons or pieces. Secondly, be sure to cook your kale until tender, but not overcooked.  This can take a little bit of getting used to, because kale takes a lot longer to cook than most greens due to it’s thickness. When it’s tender and turns a bright green, it’s usually done.

Saute Kale

Now to this salad – which is more like a meal with the potatoes gently tossed in olive oil and roasted with sliced red onions, giving it a sweet tinge. A perfect light lunch as the weather turns colder and you need the nutrients of kale to keep your immunity strong. The kale is tossed with the potatoes, forming hefty servings once portioned out onto your plate. I like how the potatoes are a little crisp on the outside, yet not hard like a potato chip – the insides were still moist and a bit fluffy. Mixing it with tender greens coated in that tangy lemon dressing is a nice way to round out the dish. Simple, clean and a fantastic way to get in utilize my CSA share.

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound kale
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, onion slices and 1 tablespoon oil – season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spread mixture in a single layer between two baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Place into the oven and roast, flipping the potatoes and onions over halfway through, until the potatoes are brown and crisp, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Trim kale and slice leaves into large pieces – rinse well and drain, leaving some water clinging to the leaves.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest and mustard.
  5. In a large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high. Add garlic – cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in mustard mixture, tossing well to coat – cook just until heated though. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and toss with the roasted potato mixture to serve.

Kale Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

So what happens when you have leafy Tuscan kale, and some small potatoes? You’re two-thirds of the way to an uncommonly satisfying salad. Some olive oil, vinegar and a dab of mustard, and a one-two-three dressing for them is done.
This salad was brought together by tossing the potato mixture with the kale, forming rather hefty servings once portioned out onto our plates.  Mixing the heartier potatoes with tender greens, coated in that tangy dressing, was a nice way to round out the dish. This is a simple, clean and a fantastic way to utilize produce of the season for a satisfying meal. This mustard dressing unexpectedly emboldens kale and potatoes with its creaminess and tart richness.

Ingredients

2 pounds small potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound kale, coarse stems discarded and the leaves washed well and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion

Directions:

  1. In a kettle combine the potatoes with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, bring the water to a boil, and simmer the potatoes 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are tender.
  2. Transfer the potatoes with a slotted spoon to a colander, reserving the cooking liquid, and in the reserved cooking liquid boil the kale, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the kale in a sieve, refresh them under cold water, and squeeze them dry in a kitchen towel.
  4. In a bowl whisk together the mustard, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it emulsified.
  5. Quarter the potatoes and add them to the dressing. Add the kale, pulling them apart to separate the leaves and the scallion and toss the salad well.