Grilled Zucchini with Yoghurt Cumin-Lemon Sauce

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When you belong to a CSA, especially in the Northeast, at some point the CSA goes into overdrive with certain vegetables. In other words… it’s too much of a good thing.

In the beginning of the season, we get so much lettuce that I am thinking to get a rabbit to consume all these leafy greens. Then the next bout of vegetables that come in plentifully are zucchinis. It’s not like we get 2 or three zucchinis, we get 6 HUGE zucchinis at a time. This is the time you may want to fire up the grill and char those greens. That is the simplest thing to do, and when you combine it with a super uber cooling cumin yoghurt sauce, you’ll consume those green squashes in just one sitting. Zucchini has a tendency to be all water. So when you grill it, it shrinks. This is the case where size means nothing. So bring it on zukes and enjoy this deceptively easy dish that speaks volumes in flavor.

Grilled Zucchini with Yogurt Lemon-Cumin Sauce

Serves about 6

Ingredients

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon tahini
2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove finely minced
About 6 (each) zucchini, sliced lengthwise
4 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
Sea salt, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
¼ cup chopped mint

Directions

  1. Mix together the first 5 ingredients along with a pinch of salt and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside while making the vegetables.
  2. Heat broiler. Arrange vegetables in a single layer, cut side up on two baking sheets. Brush on both sides with 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. OR arrange coated vegetables on grill rack (over medium-high heat); grill vegetables 8 minutes or until just tender, turning once. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Place vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with chopped mint and dollop of sauce on top.

Swiss Chard Fritters

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If these fritters could be Persian, they would be called Kuku. Sounds like a funny name for a dish, but I am sure this dish existed before the English language was around. In any event, Kuku is a Persian Italian Frittata. Does that make sense? What I am trying to say, is that the western world knows this Frittata as an Italian dish, while the eastern world knows it as Kuku. So Kuku Sabzi, which means green Frittata is exactly that – made from leafy greens and herbs. This version is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and in it he combines Swiss Chard and feta cheese.

Straight out of a hot pan, Swiss chard fritters are crunchy on the outside, creamy in the middle and have the delicate flavor of Swiss chard, dill and parsley. Swiss chard fritters are a way to keep nutrient-rich greens in regular rotation in your diet without getting bored, and I sure need that right now because it’s snowing for the umphteenth time and I’m bored! You can treat these fritters like felafel and have some chummus on the side with it and a big leafy green salad. It just has that Mediterranean flair to it. Or just enjoy it as an appetizer.

Yields 14 fritters

 Ingredients

14 ounces (2 bunches) Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large eggs
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1/2 cup)
Sea Sat and freshly ground pepper, for taste
Olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chard and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from pot and drain well, patting leaves dry with a paper or kitchen towel.
2. Place chard in food processor with herbs, nutmeg, sugar, rice flour, garlic and eggs. Pulse until well blended. Fold in feta by hand. Add salt and pepper according to preference.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, spoon in 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each fritter (you should be able to fit three fritters per batch). Press down gently on fritter to flatten. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add another tablespoon oil to pan and repeat. Serve warm, with lemon wedges (optional).

Matboucha – Israeli Roasted Tomato Salad

Cooking a medley of tomatoes and red peppers for the Matboucha

I miss Israel. I was there this past summer for many happy occasions in my family. The main attraction was that my Italian cousin Jonny got married to Leor, whose an English Israeli. The common ground location for a wedding was naturally…. Israel.

Among the guests were my cousins from around the globe who came for the wedding – Thailand, Hong Kong, Italy, England, Los Angeles… and the list goes on. Seems like when God commanded his people to be fruitful and multiply, they took it literally. My family thought it meant to multiply in every part of the world, but what ever…. I digress.

A small fraction of my family that could fit into this photo. By the sunset. I am the one whose hand is on the man on the ground (my husband)

The other attractions were that we celebrated many big bash birthday parties in August. Seems like everyone was born in August. Again another reference to be fruitful…. There was my Italian cousin Suzanna’s Birthday party on the beach, then there was my Italian cousin Ronen’s Birthday party in a Hall where he pulled off a show for us. Like what I mean is that, he was the SHOW! He entertained us and sang to an audience of 200 people for 1 1/2 hours. And not to mention my Dad’s Birthday, or so we think. Back when he was born there were no birth certificates, so most likely his parents just made up a day. Sure, he was born in August. Why not, the weather is nice, nice time for outdoor parties. So…

The Ronen Show

With all this movement, the common meeting ground every morning for us 60 cousins that were OCCUPYING HILTON, was the Hilton Tel Aviv Breakfast. I promise you that you have never seen anything like this. Gourmet food – buffet style – non stop. There were every single kind off egg concoction you could think of, waffles, pancakes, seasonal fruits, granola, Israeli yogurts and cheeses, croissants…. got the idea. There was a lot of food.

Honey for breakfast… honey?

Among the list was my breakfast staple… Matboucha. May sound like throw up, but it’s actually so not. Matboucha is a mezze dish usually found in a plate with chummus and techina – Middle Eastern staples. Through out the years, Matboucha has become known as an Israeli dish of roasted red peppers and tomatoes. It is served cold and is considered a salad although I use that term loosely. It can be a base for many other dishes… like Shakshuka – another Middle Eastern favorite, Tomato Sauce, spread for a sandwich… just use your imagination.

So when my husband and I came back from Israel, nostalgic,  my good dutiful husband brought Israel to me. He fired up the gill and made us a matboucha. You can forgo the grill and just use the stovetop to grill the tomatoes and red peppers. The roasted caramelized flavors of the two just bring out the sweetness for this matboucha salad.

Ingredients

2 lbs Tomatoes
1 lb red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, quartered
3 dried chilies (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Place bell peppers on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350°F until the skins have browned. Alternatively grill them or use the stovetop and place them on the grills.
  2. Submerge tomatoes in boiling hot water for 10 minutes or until the skin falls off.
  3. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds.
  4. Cut tomatoes in chunks.
  5. Peel the skin from the bell peppers and remove the seeds and stem.
  6. Cut bell peppers in chunks.
  7. Add all ingredients to a soup pot and pour oil over top.
  8. Bring contents to a boil, then turn down to a medium heat.
  9. Cook covered for 2 hours.
  10. Remove cover and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  11. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  12. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

Sweet Potato Latkes

Who said that latkes has to be made strictly from potatoes? Although it’s a custom that came from
East Europe. Being that potatoes was the main crop, potatoes were used and then fried in oil, symbolic of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.
The word “latke” itself is derived (via Yiddish) from the Russian/Ukrainian word meaning “patch.” I suppose that the latke is patched together with some flour and eggs, and that may be how the name was derived. I love the Yiddish language… somehow the words they come up with sound so slapstick.

On the last week of the CSA I belong to,  the farm delivered sweet potatoes. Although the word potato is in sweet potato, it originated in Central America, no where near Europe. Although it is believe that Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe. In any event, now that you got a little culinary history,  I thought of making latkes with these and spicing it up with some curry. After all… I am a Mizrachi (Eastern Jew) Jew and I have to add my own personality to these. I also like the fact that eating something orange, that almost looks like a flame, illustrates the “Festival of Lights” with savory, aromatic and melt in your mouth deliciousness.

I made a batch of these for a Chanukah party I was invited to, and it’s a good thing I took these photos before I took them, because they were gone within 5 minutes flat. That’s how good they are. This recipe is inspired from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

Makes 16 pancakes

Ingredients
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled (3 medium sized sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup All-Purpose Gluten Free flour
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Rice milk or soy milk
Light olive oil, for frying

grated sweet potatoes
flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices
Dollop of batter to form latkes in olive oil

  
Directions

  1. Grate the sweet potatoes in a food processor fitted with a grating disc.
  2.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and rice milk to the dry ingredients to make a batter. Add in the grated potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist, but not runny. If it is, then add a little flour.
  4. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet. Drop a tablespoon of mixture to form the latkes. Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side. They should form a golden crust on the outside and be moist on the inside.

Muhammara ~ Syrian Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

I am on a roll with peppers. What can I say… who can resist fire roasted peppers in the summer when the grill is going. Broiling peppers releases the natural sugars, which makes this hot tamale a winner for many recipes.

A little while back, I took a culinary class led by Jennifer Abadi at The Natural Gourmet Institute. We made a host of dishes from the famed Silk Road. One of them was this Muhammara dip. It is addictive!! So much so that I had to make it again.

Muhammara also pronounced mhammara, which means red color — originates from Aleppo, Syria, and is quite popular in the Middle East. It is a spicy red pepper dip, easy to make and can be served warm or cold. I suggest serving it with crusty bread or fresh veggies.

What makes this dip unique is the unusual combination of spices and ingredients that are used.

For instance, pomegranate molasses provides a unique sweet and sour taste, which makes it a signature dish. Long before the modern day beverage POM existed there was pomegranate syrup which originated in Persia. The savory blend of tangy pomegranates and roasted red peppers mix with ground walnuts and our unique blend of spices to create this nutty and irresistibly exotic spread.
Makes: about 3 cups (6 to 8 servings)
Ingredients
For Dip
1 pound red bell peppers (3 medium) or 1 (24 oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers (1 cup, drained)
3 cups walnut halves
5 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon water, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1  teaspoon ground cumin
1  teaspoon sea salt (if using fresh peppers), or to taste (if using roasted peppers from a jar)
For Serving
extra virgin olive or walnut oil
crushed, toasted walnuts
thick and crusty bread or vegetable crudite
Directions
1. If using peppers from the jar, skip down to step #2. If using fresh peppers, rinse
thoroughly under cold water. Preheat the broiler (on “Hi” if using an electric oven), and
place the peppers, on a baking sheet or small baking pan and set under the broiler. After
about 12 to 15 minutes (skins should start to blacken and wilt), turn the peppers over and
broil the other side an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Keep turning and rotating the peppers
until all sides blister. (Note: It is good if they turn black as you will peel these thin skins
off, and the char will give a smoky flavor and you can grill this on the fire if your prefer).
Remove from the broiler and let cool until lukewarm. Peel the thin skin from each pepper
and discard.
2. If using peppers from the jar, drain liquid and place into a small bowl. Cover with cold
water and soak the peppers, 1 to 2 hours, changing the water frequently to flush out the
excess salt and vinegar. Drain well.
3. Place walnuts in a large skillet and begin to brown over high heat for about 2 minutes.
Lower to medium heat and shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, continue to dryroast the walnuts until dark brown on all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat
and pour onto a large plate or baking pan to cool completely to room temperature. Set
aside . cup for the garnish when serving.
4. Put roasted and peeled peppers, the3 cups of toasted walnuts, garlic cloves, and water into a food processor and pulse to combine.

 

 

5. Add the tomato paste, olive oil, walnut oil, pomegranate syrup, cumin, and fenugreek (if
desired) and process until very smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Taste and add the salt (if using freshly roasted peppers) or to taste (if necessary when
using the jarred peppers).
7. Serve at room temperature drizzled with olive or walnut oil, pomegranate syrup and toasted
walnuts.