Chipotle Barbeque Sauce

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homeade chipotle bbq sauce

homeade chipotle bbq sauce

My mother used to make her own barbeque sauce which in my childhood palate I thought it was the best on earth. Her recipe is still around somewhere but like many of my favorite dishes of my Mom’s I found my palate changed as I matured to prefer far more spicy and intense flavors.

I was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers “Will cook for Friends” to make this adapted version of her chipotle barbecue sauce. I prefer mine less sweet so cut out some of the sugars and altered a few ingredients. My Israeli friends will be disappointed by the lack of availablity of dried Chipotle pepper spice, but you may try to achieve something similar with smoked paprika and stove-top or grill roasting a red jalapeno first,and then frying it in the beginning with the onions and garlic. You could just add an equivalent amount of cayenne pepper, (that will give the heat but be less smoky). I brought chipotle powder from the US.

This recipe took me about 10 minutes to make and turned out hot and tangy, not too sweet.
Chipotle BBQ Sauce
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup ketchup
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup honey
1-2 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cumin

Cook onions and garlic in olive oil until clear. Add dry spices, fry briefly. Add remaining ingredients and simmer low a few minutes. Cool. Purée in processor and store in clean jar.

Tiramisu – Success!!

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stand-up tiramisu

stand-up tiramisu

I have tried making a number of recipes for tiramisu, step by step from the so-called “Perfecting Tiramisu” recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Dec. 2007 (maybe that’s the key…’perfecting’…). I’ve tried other internet recipes as well as a few from epicurious. I received advise from a pastry chef whose recipe was exquisite, his secret was mascarpone was largest portion, I remembered that but lost the notes he gave me.
Some are cooked over a double boiler, some raw. Whatever I tried the result was always the same ‘tira-me-soup’. I tried putting it in individual cups so the run off wouldnt be so obvious, I even tried adding a bit of neutral gelatine hoping for a firmer result which turned into a solid wobble of laughable tiramisu jello.

Finally after looking through all the recipes under tiramisu in Epicurious and reading the reader’s tips and remembering the chef’s advice I tried and succeeded with their suggestions to make one that worked with a few additions for improvement after reading between the lines. After one chill hour in the freezer and five more in the fridge it stood up to be served on its own plate and was as good as the one we had in Padua, Italy.

1 250 gram container of Italian mascarpone (if you dont have a digital scale and you are a serious cook, buy one!)
ladyfingers
1 cup of strong coffee (I use decaf)
1 tbsp of amaretto
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs seperated
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, insides scraped out
grated dark chocolate for decoration

In a mixer blend for 2 minutes the egg yolks, sugar and mascarpone. Add the vanilla bean insides that you scraped out.
Clean bowl and whip attachment thoroughly and whip egg whites until very firm and stiff. Fold the two previous mixtures together. Clean bowl and beater again and whip the whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Fold gently into mascapone mixture you just folded before.

In a seperate flat dish pour one cup of coffee and add amaretto tbsp. Take each lady finger and dip briefly on each side, moving quickly in seconds and dont let them get drenched, they should be somewhat dry in the middle. Place a row of the lady fingers on the bottom of a glass bowl, 8 inches, square or round since the ladyfingers will be pliable. Pour half the now readied mascarpone and egg mixture over the ladyfingers, repeat process with one more layer of lady fingers on top. Pour remaining half of mascarpone over top layer of ladyfingers. Decorate with grated dark chocolate. Put in freezer for one hour, chill in fridge for 5. Will serve at least 8 dinner guests.

Sweet Chili Sauce

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I love getting inspired from magazines like Cook’s Illustrated, websites like Food and Wine, and cooking shows on the food channel. I rarely follow any of their recipes without making changes, sometimes to the point that it becomes totally my own. I was watching a show I love, “Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course” on a rather cold, dreary and boring holiday day off. An hour before dinnertime I started becoming famished with every amazing recipe he presented featuring my most loved ingredients, chilis and spices.
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He made a wonderful sweet chili sauce condiment that I figured I might have a few of the ingredients in my fridge and cupboard, anyway launching from his idea, I created my own version.

3 sweet pablano chilis
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp. sea salt
black pepper
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil
juice of half lemon
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
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In small saute pan saute minced garlic quickly, without burning. In a mortar and pestle or food processor crush cilantro, salt, sauteed garlic with the oil and chili flakes, balck pepper to taste and brown sugar. Chop finely the pablano peppers, mix together soy sauce, lemon, vinegar and remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil.

Let condiment sit in the fridge to meld flavors. Use as a dressing for fish, hummus, however you might use bottled sweet chili sauce.

my chili sauce on salmon

my chili sauce on salmon

Chicken Livers with Drunken Onions

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Chicken liver with drunken onions over potato mash

Chicken liver with drunken onions over potato mash

I’ve always loved liver. Organ meats, heart, kidneys, were all part of our family diet, I liked them so much I didnt realize they are the cheapest meat buys. My favorite restaurant has a recipe called “liver with drunken onions” and although I couldn’t possibly get the recipe for theirs, I like how mine turned out. This is best served on a bed of fresh mashed potatoes, like the classic liver and onions on mash. Except for the mashed potatoes which the labor intensive part is peeling, this dish takes about 18 minutes.

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5 May Cafe/Bar, Mahaneh Yehuda, Amazing Food, Tiny Kitchen

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A friend of mine once said what she loved about Israeli shops was that “they have a lot of stuff in little tiny spaces”. Space is still an expensive commodity in the major cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
In the restaurant world a variation of the formula of small=big applies in that Israeli’s seem to feel almost invited to cram into tiny restaurants, especially if there are already a number of people there.

Tiny Kitchen @ 5 May

Tiny Kitchen @ 5 May

I love the tiny little places that succeed on great food and intimate surroundings, like being in a culinary womb. Many of the nation’s most successful coffee bar franchises started as tiny, less than 70 meter spaces, for instance Aroma which was birthed on a tiny corner of Hillel and Rabbi Akiva and Cafe Jo in Tel Aviv.

But in this post I want to honor my favorite of most amazing tiny space restaurants, 5 of May, on Etz Chaim St. in shuk Mahaneh Yehuda. The true honor here is that the kitchen is so tiny any foodie would bemoan their culinary fate having to try to produce something in it. It consists of a tiny space possibly just over a meter wide with oven, hotplate, sink and cutting area.
Nevertheless not only does 5 b’Mai deliver the cozy intimate atmosphere that probably seats about 14 inside and out, but amazing food.

Breakfast Sabiche

Breakfast Sabiche


My favorite dish is the breakfast Sabiche. Sabiche is a fried eggplant dish with vegetables and tahinia usually offered in a pita. 5 b’Mai’s breakfast Sabiche is a wonderful salad base with tahina dressing which includes a 3.5 minute egg, cubes of fried eggplant and underneath pickled lemon rind for acidity. Breakfasts include two beverages, a hot beverage and freshly squeezed choice of citrus juice.
Every menu item I’ve had or asked to be created for me has been excellent. THey also offer brioche as part of their morning pastry continental breakfast offerings.

brioche & cafe

brioche & cafe


Although I have only been there midday (breakfast is served longer than usual) I have heard from one barman that they are only closed for about four hours each day, in the wee morning.

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Intense Gingerbread

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gingerbreadAfter years of waiting, it was supposed to be a birthday present, then a house gift to me for Rosh Hashanah, then a hanukkah present, then the New Year passed (2012, 2013) until finally I became inspired by a hard fought battle with the Target hand mixer brought from the US and marched down to the appliance store and bought my KMix like any other Israeli on “teshlumim” (payments). Like any major purchase, being in sales myself, I do deep research before a major purchase and decided on the Kmix rather than the popular Kitchenaid.

kmix post-unwrapping

kmix unwrapped

I can’t say I’m a great baker, but the machine has proved itself for other whippables and mixables, like mashed potatoes, whipping cream, and especially in kneading dough, I had been straining my most beloved food processor’s dough functions. My man, who is the quality tool collector loves it since he had been by default assigned the mashed potato battle.

In celebration of the final payment this week and pre-passover indulgence plus craving I decided to make gingerbread, a favorite childhood memory food.  Neither mother or grandmother were great bakers, but they did make date bread, gingerbread and apple pies (3 trees in backyard) regularly. I love spicy food and wanted to make a version more to my taste, I adapted this one from Epicurious. If watched carefully, it turns out moist and wonderful, for the high altitude here I added a bit more flour.

Intense Gingerbread

5 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup demerra sugar
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in tbsp. of very warm water
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
baking pan 8x8x2

lemon zest strips
whipped cream
(a non-dairy version can be made without milk, using water or a milk substitute and a quality neutral flavored oil)
Preheat oven to 325F. or 160 C. Grease and flour pan. After melting butter I dumped all the ingredients in my mixer and turned it on high until blended. Mixture is a bit runny for a cake, but turns out, trust me. If you live in a lower altitude you can decrease flour to 1 cup and 1/8 of flour.
Bake closely watching, mine was done to moist perfection in 25 minutes.

Dress with whipped cream and a few decorative strips of lemon zest.

 

 

Post-Valentine’s Chicken Pot Pie

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We did go out for Valentine’s day, but the day after my hubby had some major dental work and I made something that was complicated but not too chewy, lots of work but a labor of love…note the heart on the pie.

Chicken pot pie is one of those highly chemical looking mass produced foods in the States that come under many varieties and labels, I haven’t checked the labels lately but imagine most have fats and MSG.  Making your own from scratch can be a bit of kitchen labor but the outcome is a big pie that you can make uniquely your own!

Chicken pot pie with heart

Chicken pot pie with heart

1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup small frozen peas
1 pound of raw chicken breasts cut into cubes
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3/4 cup msg free broth
2/3 cup milk (or just additional broth from your chicken vegetable mix if you want to avoid milk)
salt
pepper

double pie crust recipe (see my blog entry sweet potato quiche) for 9-10 inch pie plate

Preheat oven to 225 C or 425 F
Prepare pie crust or thaw out frozen variety if you’re not concerned with the quality of frozen crusts
In a saucepan put raw chicken cubes, celery and carrots, cover with water, not excessively and cook until chicken is done and veggies are soft but not mushy, 10-15 minutes. Drain liquid and save. You can use the broth from this for your bechamel below.

Brown onions in butter until translucent. Add flour, salt and pepper to your taste (I’m generous with pepper) with wire whisk, pour in liquids and simmer until it thickens, whisking. Pour this bechamel over the chicken and veggie mix, add fresh chopped parsley and frozen peas.

Pour mixture into pre-prepared pie crust and cover top with top sheet of crust using a fork all over the top to pierce to let steam escape.

Bake 15 minutes at 425 then reduce oven to 350 F or 185 C. Pie is done when crust is golden brown.

Sea Bass with Tomato-Caper sauce on bed of Pistaccio Pesto Linguine

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I was watching a local travel show and the two women featuring an Alpine ski weekend in Solden, Austria dined at a nearby restaurant with a locally acclaimed chef who stated, “Because we are close to the Italian border, our cuisine here has been influences by Italian flavors.” Watching the ingredients and a few brief shots of the chef preparing this dish I created my own.

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Pesto:
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese
1 lemon
1/4 cup pistaccio nuts
pepper
salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Begin with preparing pesto sauce ahead of time in a food processor. Juice lemon andput all ingredients and blend. If too thick add more olive oil. You can store it in the fride for a few weeks if you don’t use all

Tomato Sauce:
1 clove garlic minced
100 gram tomato paste (or two large tbsp. American)
sprinkling of dried oregano and basil
2 tbsp. small capers

Fry minced garlic in olive olive, add herbs, add tomato paste and blend. Pour in 2/3 cup of water, bring to a simmer. When sauce is prepared add half capers.

Ingredients:
2 large filets of Mediterranean sea bass, one side with skin
butter
olive oil
leaf oregano

After sauces are prepared begin boiling linguini to be served al dente. While that is about 1/3 ready, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan with olive oil. Add the two filets and pan fry until filets are browned on both sides and fish flesh white and tenderly flaky, not dry. When close to done add a few oregano leaves to season.

When linguini is al dente drain and reserve a little bit of pasta water, about 1/2 cup. back in the pan you prepared it in return linguini and add half or more of the pesto dpepending on how much pasta you made until pasta is covered and green. If it seems dry add some of the pasta water and combine. Place on serving platter.
Place filets over the bed of pasta and pour tomato-caper sauce over and decorate with other tbsp of capers and a few of the fresh oregano leaves.

Inky Black Pasta with Seafood Sauce

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morelli pasta My local shop for ‘all things not kosher’ has been selling a line of flavored Italian pastas called Morelli, made in GMO free Italy. My favorite is the one featured here in the photo, but when he was recently out I decided to try the black pasta which derives its inky color from squid ink.

I searched the internet for recipes for black pasta and adapted one that I found for myself.  Most of the recipes I found used seafood, but after trying and tasting the pasta at home for the first time; I had it before in a seafood dish in Miami, I now believe its an interesting pasta for any sauce, the flavor is not a seafood flavor, but the look is dramatic.

Seafood squid ink pasta

Seafood squid ink pasta

Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari and truffle oil

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Avjar – Shakshuka fusion

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Avjar is a Croation condiment antipasti with basic mediterranean elements, not unlike Turkish salad in Israel. It’s fundamental ingredient is roasted eggplant, another staple in Middle-eastern/Mediterranean cuisine.

roasting eggplant

roasting eggplant

I was always a little intimidated by the process of roasting the eggplant, a friend’s grandmother when I was much younger showed me how she directly put the eggplant over the gas burner and I thought “this looks easy, but scary”.

Shakshuka is an Israeli breakfast staple found in kiosks all over the country, kept warm on a wide circular electric cooker. It’s a cultural favorite that is offered any time of day in Israeli homes, eggs cooked over a tomato-pepper based sauce.

I decided to make a dinner entree fusing the two related dishes and dress it with spiced ground beef and tahini sauce.

Begin by roasting eggplant over the fire, place aluminum foil around burner to catch mess of eggplant skin flakes.  When eggplant is fully roasted, skin should be charred and pull away from the eggplant flesh which is now soft and yellowish in color. Leave stem on and set aside to cool. Later peel off charred skin and use eggplant flesh in recipe.

Ingredients:

roasted eggplant flesh

can of chopped, peeled, seeded tomatoes

small yellow onion

garlic

green pepper

1 pound ground beef

tahini paste

parsley

2 garlic cloves

Cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika

egg

Recipe:

Fry chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until clear and cooked through, add green pepper and cook until soft, add chopped charred eggplant flesh. Add tablespoon of smoked paprika, teaspoon of cumin and teaspoon of cinnamon and juice of half lemon. Add canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, you now have the base of my version of Avjar.

Fry ground beef in olive oil adding a tablespoon of shwarma spice. Fry until cooked through. In a blender as a side condiment pour raw tahini sauce in blender, add lemon and water and a clove of garlic to individual taste. Blend in some parsley sprigs and salt to taste. Sauce should have an almost pourable consistency.

Over simmering Avjar base crack open a few raw eggs and let simmer, covered until poached.

Serve dish with hamburger mix and tahini on side with crusty bread. Can be a great vegetarian dish without the ground beef addition.

avjarshakshuka