Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese and True Confessions

Spaghetti Bolognese or Ragu
                                                 
I have a confession to make. Yeah, I know everyone loves confessions. It must be our deep dark interiors that make us want those Oprah, Barbara Walters moments. Don’t get your hopes up. It is not that juicy. OK, already. It’s this simple. I’m not very good at taking care of myself. I’m a mother. Some mothers put everyone else’s needs first. I’m that kind of mother. In fact our PTO meetings could have been divided between those who couldn’t wait for their kids to leave and those who were dreading the day. Yes, I wanted them to spread their wings. Just not so far. (But I’m happy for them!)

And now, well, in these last few years, not only have they left home but my husband has done his fair share of traveling. And guess where I am? Yeah, I’m home catching rabbits and really all I’ve caught is a squirrel. (HE WAS NOT HAPPY.) And neither was I. Plus he ate all the apples and the rabbits are still munching on my hyacinths.

But let’s wander back. I’m not good at taking care of myself. I do put on dark under eye concealer every morning along with a touch of mascara and lip gloss, but let’s face it. Who’s going to see me? The dogs don’t care what I look like. I do make the bed. And I do this because? Well, old habits die hard. But what I’m really bad about is cooking for myself. I hate eating alone. The TV broke in the kitchen so I don’t even have that for company. (It’s pathetic, I know.) OK, a few nights-no big deal-but my husband is gone for weeks and weeks. And then he always tells me about all these wonderful meals he’s had. Well, I admit, I do want to know. Not cooking for yourself is not a good thing. When I think of all the single households out there it makes me realize that a movement should be started. Maybe we could all cook for each other. (I guess that’s the mother in me!)

I’m not the fast food type. Not even the healthy fast food type. Except you could take me for a noodle bowl, a banh mi, or dumplings anytime. But I have to drive a bit far for that. Yeah, it’s a bummer. Especially now that I’ve started this food blog. What’s a girl to do? This could be a good thing for me. It might mean I’ll have to start taking care of myself. Which yeah, I know the mantra, by taking care of yourself it means you really care about everyone else in your life because if you aren’t in good shape, where would they be? Well, I could tell you but I won’t. OK. I will try to do better. I promise. After all, I’m kind of liking this blogging thing. I mean in 25 more years my grandkids could be reading this stuff. But that’s a long time away and no significant others are even in sight. So, I guess I better just start with today.

Which leads me to this Pasta Bolognese that I made on a cold day in winter. It was good. And frankly would taste good today too, if I just got around to making it!

P.S. 25 years? I could be writing for 25 years? I just hope photography doesn’t take me that long to figure out.


Bolognese Meat Sauce  
1c chopped onions
3 cloves chopped garlic
3T butter
1 stalk chopped celery
1/4c chopped carrot
1 1/4lbs ground turkey  (Yes, you could use beef)
12oz Italian sausage (chicken or pork; preferably bulk, not links)
Salt
1c dry white wine
1 1/4c milk
1/8t freshly grated nutmeg
½ can tomato sauce
2 14oz cans chopped Italian tomatoes with their juice
Bay leaf, red pepper flakes, black pepper

Put onions, oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. When almost translucent, add garlic. Add carrot and celery and cook for two minutes.

Add turkey and sausage crumbling it with a fork. Add 1t salt and cook until the meat has lost its raw, red color. DO NOT LET IT BROWN. Add wine and turn up heat to medium high and cook until the wine has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Turn heat back to medium and add milk and freshly grated nutmeg. And rest of seasonings. I like my sauce on the spicy side so I add a good amount  of black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir a lot.

When milk has evaporated, add tomatoes and sauce. Stir well. When tomtoes start to bubble, turn heat to low. This should simmer with just an occasional bubble for 3-4 hours. Stir here and there. Correct for salt.

Cook your spaghetti al dente and serve.

 Invite your single friends over. They Will ask to come back. Additionally, I am told that you can only make  true bolognese in Bologna. My schedule is open.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuscan Beans and Potatoes Plus a Few Good Books

                                                                My Sweet Hyacinths

"The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution.” Paul Cezanne

 and the beginning of the novel “White Truffles in Winter”.

I am working in a room filled with the scent of lavender hyacinths. They scent my entire house and they smell like spring. It is a sweet smell that makes me feel pretty. They make me happy that I planted them and they make me sorry that I didn’t plant more. I put them in a vase that my son made for me in first grade that he covered in broken eggshells. My gratitude goes to Mrs. Atkinson for that Mother’s Day project that I still adore.

I went to the library this week. I love the library. In fact, when I die I think I would like to be buried in the library. There are so many books I want to read and I know I will never finish them all. It is a great place to search for cookbooks and then you can try them before you buy them. I found one to share with you but first I want to tell you about the great book I read.

The title of the book is: White Truffles in Winter. The author is N.M. Kelby. The subject of the book is Escoffier. The plot is about Escoffier and his many loves including his wife, his lovers, and his food. Ohhh, I don’t think I could have resisted this man. Though the book is fictional it is based on his life. And let me tell you-do not read this book if you are hungry for food or love. It is sensual in many ways. I could inhale this book. I haven’t read many books that truly dazzle all senses at the same time. I’m going to read it again before I return it. And in case Mrs. Atkinson does find this blog; I know this is not In proper book report form. But, alas, I am not in first grade anymore.

And that brings me to this cookbook aptly titled “Cooking with Les Dames D’escoffier”. No I did not plan this. I highly recommend this cookbook written in 2008. It is written by women chefs who must be speaking to me. In the last week I have tried several recipes from this book and have been pleasantly delighted. Maybe it is because I am lonely and reading about food makes me feel full-in many ways. But no-the truth is that this is a really good cookbook written by many famous women chefs. You will like it. And you will eat from it. And I will share this recipe from the book with you. I love potatoes and beans are healthy so it became my dinner on Saturday night. Of course you could add a piece of chicken or fish or meat or even a fried egg, but the dogs and I were happy with it just as it was.

And now I must go call my neighbor, the rabbit catcher. I have a live trap that I don’t know how to set and I am damn tired of watching all these rabbits eat my sweet hyacinths.



Tuscan Beans and Potatoes

2lbs new potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
1/4c olive oil
½ stick butter
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2t salt plus more if you want it
1/4lb pancetta finely diced
1 1/2c chopped shallots
1 1/2c chopped red onions (I used white)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 c beef broth (I used chicken)
12 fresh sage leaves chopped
Fresh black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Pat potatoes dry. Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. (Or cook in 2 batches or 2 skillets). Add potatoes and sauté over moderate heat, until potatoes are golden on all sides about 25 minutes. When the potatoes are just about done add garlic and salt. Stir and then transfer potatoes to a paper towel to drain.

Add pancetta to skillet sautéing over medium heat until crisp. Add shallots and onions, reduce heat to medium low and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add reserved potatoes along with beans, broth and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently until hot. Spoon onto plates and sprinkle with sage garnish and drizzle with oil.

Before you eat figure out how to take a photo of beans and potatoes that looks appetizing. I tried!

                                                           Inhale!

                                                                   Photograph and Eat!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Mom and Martha Mervis's Coffeecake

                          My Mom's and Martha Mervis's Coffeecake

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti


A few weeks ago I went home. Well, not really home, because it wasn’t where I grew up. But when I see family it conjures feelings of home.  The occasion that brought me back? The first family wedding of the third generation. Oooh, that makes me feel old. It was a happy time with a chance to renew all that ‘hood stuff. You know: sisterhood, brotherhood, cousinhood, familyhood. It was good and soothed my soul.

In our family events always begin and end with food-glorious food. Our family may not agree on everything-actually probably not much-but food is the one thing that is often a uniting factor. (I guess that is mostly true…)We started the weekend with a comforting catered Greek dinner and quickly began the next morning with a luscious brunch. My mother planned and executed with panache. Of course; that is her style. It is my mother that gave me a love for food and entertaining. I’m not sure what she liked most- the food or the entertaining or the attention that it always brought. And my mother had a way of creating attention. Imagine growing up in a small town in Illinois where the most gourmet dinner was Wally’s, The Little Corporal, Jaenicke’s Root beer stand (Oh, those sauce buns with onions) and Monical’s. OK-Wally’s had great Steak and Shake style burgers, the Little Corporal had good French toast and Monical’s, the best pizza. (Oh my, I wish they had a Colorado branch. I still dream of it.)

Well, my mother kept Julia Child’s cookbook in her cabinet. It was stained and well used and truthfully I can’t ever remember her making anything for us from it, but I am sure her many dinner parties benefited. Now, my mom and I have very different styles when it comes to cooking. She likes to dirty every dish. I try to use as few as possible. She tries recipes over and over before she serves them. I figure what the hell? She likes anything with bones (osso bucco, chicken wings, ribs, etc). I don’t like meat. She was one of the first to take Chinese cooking lessons when someone offered them in our small town and she’s always had a passion since then for it. I love Chinese but prefer Vietnamese. My mom loves kitchen gadgets and I’m a minimalist. I remember the day she brought home the fish poacher. This giant pan had to fit over two electric burners and evenly poach a fish. I’m not even sure fresh fish could be bought in our small town at that time. Of course, I don’t remember eating that meal either. But that fish poacher still hangs above her kitchen island as a testimony to her expertise. I could go on and on but let it suffice to say my mom gave me a love for food and all that comes with it.

In general we ate pretty standard fare. Beef was a big staple in our home as my grandfather was a grocer and butcher. It was common to have a roast one night and a steak the next and a burger on another. But we mustn’t forget the soy sauce chicken. We had a lot of that cooked under the broiler. These meals almost always contained a head lettuce salad and usually a fruit salad. The big thing is that almost every night we ate dinner together as a family. And that is probably one of the greatest gifts my mom gave me when it comes to food. I believe in a family dinner and I continued it in mine. Yes, I believe it to be true that food helps us remember our past and many family meals are a good thing to remember.

But now it’s the weekend And I’m tired of writing, so let’s finish with dessert. It is a simple, but scrumptious coffee cake that my mom made for our brunch. It came from Danville, Illinois from a friend of my grandmother’s-a Martha Mervis. (I never knew her, but I love that name.) Below is how my mom sent it to me. Typed! Which means it is really old. An heirloom recipe. The other amazing fact is that it is my Uncle Mike’s favorite which means it must have been typed by my grandmother because I’m not sure that my mother would know what her only brother’s favorites were.

 All right! On with it! Make this cake. The entire hood agreed-It was delicious!





P.S. How'd I do, Mom?


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mezze or Middle Eastern Appetizers



Assorted Meze

                                                           Dig In!

Mezze, tapas, hors D’oeuvres, appetizers – all are meant to whet your appetite. Frankly, they are often my favorite part of the meal. A good restaurant or host knows that these set the tone for what’s ahead. The better, more exciting they are lets the diner anticipate what is yet to come. Are the appetizers more formal or casual? Are they eaten with a fork and knife or your fingers? Many things come into play here and often I am happy to have a meal of just the starters. Truly, some of these dishes are often the most creative on a menu and when combined with a salad or soup one can easily have enough to fill one’s tummy.

The other day I served my friends a mezze lunch. These are middle eastern appetizers that are meant to be the beginnings of a meal often followed by grilled meats or other courses. In my case I am so happy just to combine the different salads, cheeses, nuts and pastries that anything more is too much. Mezze are a simple, fun way to entertain. Creativity is key here as is a variety of tastes and textures. And since most foods are served at room temperature there is no last minute cooking which is great for the host!

This is what I served:

Feta Pastries, Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Muhamarra, Olives, Turkish Salad, Israeli vegetable salad, feta and goat cheese, fresh Grilled tandoori bread and zatar (a middle eastern spice mixture composed of thyme, sesame seed, sumac and salt often used to dip bread in. I love it!)

For dessert we had mint tea, kadaif and dates with walnuts and pistachios.


We could have had more. We could have had less. Whatever-it was fun and good. Easy and Quick. And you too, could do it! Keep in mind that the olives, cheese, dates and nuts, and the bread from Diyar International Market in Aurora are all purchased ahead. You could buy some of the salads, too but since this is a food blog I will give you some recipes. (sorry, Diyar has no link. This is a great place on

Parker Road if you live in Denver. They are baking almost all the time which means you walk out with giant, hot bread that must be eaten on the car ride home. They give you so much though that you will have plenty for your meal. And ethnic groceries are a passion of mine so you will hear more on these later!)

Feel free to add falafel or tahini or  pickles. There are zillions of eggplant recipes. In fact there are just a myriad of items to add to this meal. But keep it simple and easy. That way you make a great host with the ability to greet your guests with open arms. And that my friends, is what mezze are all about.


Baba Ganoush

3 eggplants (Charred until the skin is black over a grill or a gas flame.)
4T olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Chopped parsley to taste (up to 3T)
And feel free to add plain yogurt or mayo or tahini if you would like this creamier.

Slice your eggplants open and drain the juice. You just want to scrape out the flesh which I find works very well with a spoon. Try not to get the charred particles into the eggplant. Put into food processor with garlic. While motor is running pour in oil and lemon juice to blend this into a puree. Add other ingredients as you see fit. This is an absolute fave of mine because of the smokiness of the eggplant and because I love garlic. Everyone must have a taste because even if you are not an eggplant fan, you will like this!

Muhammara (a Roasted red pepper and walnut puree with pomegranate syrup)

1 ½ slices old or toasted whole wheat bread
3 red peppers roasted and skinned
1 c walnuts
3 cloves garlic
1-2T pomegranate molasses (not juice! This is thick like molasses.)
Juice of ½ lemon
1/2t cumin
6-7T olive oil
Siracha hot sauce to taste (not authentic for this but it works!)

Put all ingredients in food processor except olive oil and hot sauce. Blend until a puree forms. With motor running slowly drizzle in the olive oil until a smooth paste is formed. Add your hot sauce to taste. This can be served with pita or romaine leaves.



Israeli Fresh Vegie Salad (There are zillions or recipes for this so feel free to improvise. Israelis use more peppers, cucumbers and lemons then anyone I know. I don’t think I ever saw a lime!)

2-3 ripe tomatoes or leave them out
½ -1 cucumber (I like the baby cukes or the European ones)
1 pepper, red or green
1-2 garlic cloves
2 scallions
2T chopped mint, dill, parsley , cilantro or a combo
1 lemon juiced and with grated rind
Salt to taste

Chop your veggies. Israelis seem to like little chops. I like bigger. Whatever you decide just keep them about the same size. Stir in garlic, scallions, herbs and lemon juice.



                                                         Hummus with Tandoori Bread


That is it. It is a weekend. Have your friends over. Have some mezze. Have some FUN!



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kadaif or Middle Eastern Cheesecake


St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. I did not see a rainbow or find a pot of gold. However, I did make a delightful new dessert that glistened with honey which may be as close as I ever get to a pot of gold. A friend came over on Sunday to see the photos of my trip and I decided to make a Middle Eastern Spread. Just the mezze (appetizer) part-after all, us girls have to watch our figures. This is a great, healthy way to eat and a super simple way to entertain. And of course eating salads helps to justify dessert.

Our Mezze
But those salads will have to wait. I want to tell you about my Kadaif. The easiest way to describe this dessert is that it is what I would call a Middle Eastern cheesecake. There are several ways to prepare it all of which were new to me. I adapted two recipes and I have to say it was fun trying something that I had no idea if it would turn out. My efforts were a success and my friends that took the cake home must have agreed. If you are having a Middle Eastern meal this is an easy, but exotic dessert that has a honey syrup similar to baklava but tastes richer because of the cheese. Many middle Eastern groceries sell kadaif in the freezer section but if you can’t find it shredded wheat cereal would make a good substitute.

Kadaif can also be made with a nut filling or as individual pastries. It can be made with the shredded pastry as the bottom crust also, but one recipe I found used cous cous as the bottom and top crust. I decided to use the cous cous as the bottom layer and the kadaif noodles on the top. It was a good decision on my part and that is the recipe I’ll give you today. Imagine if you will, a silky, little salty cheese filling with a crunchy topping coated with a lemon honey cinnamon syrup. Not bad, huh? Yeah, that’s what my friends thought, too.



Kadaif
Serves 12
Active Time: Abut 30 minutes
Ingredients:
1 C CousCous
2 C Boiling Water
1/2 C Butter melted
1 lightly beaten Egg
pinch of Salt
1 ¾ c Ricotta Cheese
6 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
½ package of kadaif (about 80z)
½ C butter melted
1 1/2 C Honey
Pinch of Saffron (Optional)
Pinch of Cinnamon (optional)
1/2 C Water
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Chopped pistachios for garnish

10” Springform Pan
Directions:
Put couscous in a bowl and pour boiling water over. Stir. Leave to soak for up to 30 minutes until water is absorbed. When absorbed stir well with fork to break up lumps. Pout melted butter over and then stir in egg and salt. Put this in bottom of pan. (This is your crust. It is a soft one.)

Preheat oven to 375.

Now Combine Cheeses and 2 T of honey. Spread on top of Couscous.

Take kadaif and mix well with ½ c melted butter. Tear it into threads and make sure each one is coated well with butter. Press this on top of cheese. Bake about 45 minutes.

Now take your honey and saffron or cinnamon, if using, and the water and put in pan. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5-7 minutes. You are making a light syrup. After you take off heat, stir in lemon juice. Chill this in fridge or freezer but do not let it solidify. It needs to be cold when you pour it over your warm kadaif. This keeps your kadiaf crunchy.

After baking your kadaif for 45 minutes, turn the oven up to 450. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top of your kadaif is golden. Now immediately pour cold syrup over kadaif. You can serve it warm if you like or you can let it come to room temperature. Sprinkle with pistachios. They look and taste good. This will stay good and crunchy for about 4 days if it lasts that long. Mint Tea is the traditional accompaniment.
Kadaif


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chocolate Chip Therapy Cookies (Thanks to Alton Brown)



ALTON'S CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Chocolate Chip Therapy Cookies (courtesy of Alton Brown)

Today my husband left. He went to South Africa – for business. He used to travel to China but he decided that wasn’t far enough so he decided to go further. That wasn't nice, was it? I am already missing him. after a great weekend in Phoenix for a family wedding he had one day to get ready to go. It was VERY last minute but his trips usually are. (In case you are wondering, South Africa doesn’t require a visa for 90 days or less. Good thing for him.)

I am bummed. So I decided I needed therapy. Cookie therapy. Now don’t start thinking what is she going to do with all those cookies. My son is still around but he is skiing. When he comes back I will give some to him to take back to school and he will also drop some off with my daughter. I may have one - or maybe two. Three? Anyone’s guess. But I have a challenge with my mom that we both can lose 10 pounds for the kid’s graduation in May. It is public now Mom, so that makes it official. Can we do it? Stay tuned…. I better take a long walk tomorrow.

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. Growing up my mom made the kind on the back of the Nestle’s wrapper. You know- the tollhouse kind. They turned out thin and crispy and never lasted more than two days in our house. Over the years thanks to Mrs. Field’s, I’ve decided I prefer the thick and chewy kind. After trying many recipes I’ve decided my favorite is Alton Brown’s. http://www.foodnetwork.com/ I’m not sure how many cookies he tried to get to this one, but this recipe has my vote. Every time I try a different one I am always disappointed. I really need to change my mindset and never try a new recipe if I am happy with the one I have. But I guess that’s human nature, isn’t it?

So-his recipe calls for bread flour. I won’t give you a chemistry lesson but it has higher protein and is made from a hard winter wheat. It also calls for melting the butter and chilling the dough. Other  than that it is pretty basic. The hardest part is the chilling of the dough because you have to wait so long to eat them. And yes, I think it does make a difference in the taste and texture. The dough will also be very hard when you take it out of the fridge so use a metal spoon to loosen it. (For more tips check out my page on cookie making secrets.) www.thisishowicook.blogspot.com/p/secret-baking-tips.html

So go ahead. Try them. You know you want to. I won’t tell you how good they are. See for yourself. After all, a little therapy never hurt anybody.

Alton Brown’s Chocolate Chip (Therapy) Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter melted
1/4c sugar
1 1/4c brown sugar
1 egg
1egg yolk
2T milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4c bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda.
2c semisweet chocolate chips (I also love the Ghiradelli bittersweet chips in these and I also add about 1/2c white chocolate chips because my daughter likes them)
1/2c chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (toasting really brings out the flavor in the nuts)


Put melted butter and both sugars in mixer. Mixture should look like thin peanut butter after creaming on medium speed for a few minutes.

Add egg and yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Slowly stir in flour mixed with baking soda and salt.

Add chips and nuts and mix well. Taste. After all everyone likes raw cookie dough. Now cover and chill. Hide it well in the fridge. No cheating.

After about 24 hours preheat oven to 350. I use a measuring tablespoon to put them on to ungreased baking sheets. Do not crowd. All cookie bakers need to know this.

Notice cookies are the same size and spaced far apart.





Bake 10-11 minutes. This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies. Remove cookies from sheet to wire rack and cool.  (Well, some of us may forget this step.) Write me and tell me how good they are. You can tell Alton, too.


P.S. I like this font, do you? And if you must know I had a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with a sun dried tomato light cream cheese Spread. Lettuce and onion, of course. The dogs liked the turkey.

No more than three please.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hot Fudge Cake

Hot Fudge Cake

 I love Friday. Though I never have any weekend plans I like to believe I’m entitled to lay in bed and read the paper. And oh, that feels so good. But my weekend starts with Friday night and I usually try to make a comforting dinner. You know-to start things out right. So when I got home from Israel I didn’t find much in the fridge. However I did find a clean house and clean dogs- which is much more important- at least to me.

Gooey Goodness

That made me want to make the nice man who accomplished these things and more importantly kept my dogs alive, something nice-something comforting-something luscious. I didn’t have any eggs and when I don’t have eggs I resort to this cake. This is a cake I’ve made since college. It is an old fashioned cake. Well, I guess by now it is just an old cake. But you will like it. It is simple and satisfying and you get to eat ice cream with it.


Out of the oven

Hot Fudge Cake

3/4c sugar
1c flour
3T cocoa
2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2c milk
1/3c melted butter
1 1/2t vanilla
1/2c packed brown sugar
3/4c sugar
4T cocoa
Handfuls of chocolate chips
1c coffee
1/4c rum

Ice cream or Whipped Cream

Heat oven to 350. Butter an 8 or 9’ pan.

In large bowl mix together 3/4c sugar, flour, 3T cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla. Stir until somewhat smooth. Spread into pan.

Now for the fun part. Sprinkle on the sugar. Then the brown sugar. Then the cocoa. Then the chips. Go ahead add a little more. You know you want them. What the heck, add some nuts too if you’d like. Now take your coffee, mixed with the rum and pour it over the top. DO NOT STIR! Bake for 35 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool briefly and then spoon into dessert dishes or directly into your mouth. Don’t forget the sauce that is at the bottom of the pan. And thank your husband for being such a nice guy.





Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freekeh - The Green Wheat of the Middle East


Freekeh
Maybe you have heard of freekeh, but I hadn’t; that is until I went to Israel. My friend turned me on to it and with a name like freekeh I guess turned on is apropos. I googled it on the web and came up with quite a few articles about it but I guess I haven’t gotten out much since 2009 which is when these articles started showing up on all the health food blogs. Oh, what is it? It is a grain and probably the next hottest grain compared to quinoa.(If you’d like more info this lady has a good report and more links to recipes – http://nutritionunplugged.com


The man at Machane Yehuda Market that sells spices and freekeh.

Actually, it is green wheat. It is harvested while still young and then burned to extract the kernels when it is then polished and ready to eat. Well, I guess that is it in a husk. It was mentioned in Leviticus as being the first grain to be offered as a sacrifice in the spring. And because it was burned it has a distinctive smokey taste though not overpowering. You cook it like you would any grain; rice being the closest cooking method. Besides being satisfying it is also very healthy. Tons of protein and lots of whole grain. It would be a great substitute for any couscous, quinoa, barley, rice, bulghur dish you know of. It takes well to any seasonings and it is easy and quick to cook. You don’t even have to soak it. Hot or cold-you decide. And I’ve heard that Jamie Oliver likes it. (There you have it!)

 I guess you can find it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s- but well I brought mine home from the source. I can’t read very well so I didn’t quite understand the US Customs rules about bringing in foods with a plant nature. Does that include spices, too? After all, it had been a long night on the plane which hindered my understanding. C’est la vie. Of course security did confiscate my sweet smelling Israeli violet lotion that I bought for my mother and inadvertently put in my carryon. So, if you get some jerk in the Philadelphia airport that smells good and is wearing plastic gloves than I guess you found him. All I can say is that the Israeli security let it pass and well, I know who I’d trust more when it comes to security.

Now let me present freekeh to you- think of it as a spring offering.


Saute vegies and add the freekeh.

Freekeh

2T olive oil
½ c chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 diced jalapeno pepper
1 handful chopped walnuts
1c freekeh
2c chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2t cumin
Cilantro to garnish

Raisins or apricots would also be good!

Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper  in olive oil. When they start to sweat stir in the walnuts. Brown them just a little. Stir in the freekeh. Let cook a minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cover. Check after about 20 minutes. It should be done but if you want it softer add a bit more liquid and cook a little longer.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro. Raisins or sliced dried apricots stirred in would taste great too. Think of this as any pilaf recipe because all you have to do is substitute the grain. I served this with grilled fish seasoned with sumac. My husband wanted more.


The freekeh is delicious but I love my new Armenian Pottery bowl.