Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crispy Pita Points

Pita points, dolmas, tabouli, & hummus
Recorded July 27, 2011, after many decades of making them.
white pitas
olive oil 
coarse salt
granulated garlic
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread a little olive on the hot surface. Refresh each pita with a light mist of water, place top down on the hot surface, and grill for about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Turn over, and grill another 2 minutes. Remove and dust lightly with salt and granulated garlic. Cut each pita into 8 points with a sharp knife, and serve immediately. Great as platform for range of dips and salads, or with a mezze platter. Hint: A trigger sprayer filled with water is often handy in the kitchen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tzatziki (Cucumber-Yogurt-Garlic Sauce)

Recorded July 11 2000; revised July 24, 2011.
1 c plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated
2 T olive oil
2 t mashed garlic
1 t kosher salt, divided
1/2 t dried dill weed
1 to 3 t red wine vinegar
Mix grated cucumber with a 1/2 t salt. After 10 minutes press the cucumber through a sieve to shed excess water. Make a paste of garlic and salt and add it to a bowl. Stir in the oil, and then the yogurt. Stir in cucumber, a 1/2 t of salt, the dill, and vinegar until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Thin with a bit of milk if too thick but the sauce should not be runny. Chill and serve.
Great on felafel, a topping on cottage cheese, on a pita sandwich or as a dip for crispy pita points.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shiitake Mushroom and Leek Risotto

Prepared July 23, 2011. This method is much easier than the classic preparation. Rather than add the liquid a bit at a time and stir, you add it all at once, and stir it at the end. The product rivals the more labor-intensive method. Note the high ratio of liquid to rice. Some batches of rice may need even more than this. If not creamy enough, add a bit more stock at the end and stir.
4 T olive oil, divided
1 cup of dry shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted
3/4 c sliced leeks, white part only
4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 T minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine
2 T brandy
3 c hot chicken stock + 1 c of the reserved mushroom stock
1 t salt
1 T mushroom powder
1/4 T freshly ground pepper
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
To reconstitute the mushrooms, put them in a bowl and pour 2 cups very hot water over them, cover and set aside to cool. Trim and discard the tough stems from the mushrooms [Hint: good kitchen shears make short work of this]. Chop into bite-size pieces. Heat a 12 inch metal skillet over medium. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the mushrooms and leeks. Saute until the vegetables are nicely browned. Stir in the rice and the last tablespoon of oil. Cook with frequent stirring until the rice is lightly colored. Add the sprigs of thyme, the garlic, the wine and brandy. Heat until most of the liquid is lost. Add the salt, pepper, seasonings, and ALL the hot stock. Mix well, lower heat to a fast simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the Parmesan. 
Pairs nicely with thin slices of roast chicken breast or pan-roasted salmon filets. Serves 6.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuna Salad

Recorded January 15, 2001. On toasted country white, topped with crispy lettuce and extra mayo with chips on the side. The perfect summer lunch or light supper. Add a cup of chilled cream of asparagus or cauliflower soup, to make a more substantial meal. It also makes a great base for a classic tuna melt.
2  7-oz cans white albacore tuna, water pack
14 oz celery, finely chopped in food processor

1 T lemon juice

1/8 t Louisiana pepper sauce
1 t celery seed
1/2 t white pepper powder
1 t dry dill weed
1 T dry minced onion

about 1/2 c mayonnaise
Squeeze water out of tuna using can lid. Finely chop in batches in a food processor. Process the celery and mix it with the tuna and then mix the seasonings in. Fold in the mayonnaise. Pat down level in bowl, cover tightly and chill. Makes six sandwiches.

Note: Reserve canning liquid (fish stock) as cat treat. Call out, "Treat". If your cat is within earshot, she'll come running.

Tabouli (Bulgur Wheat Salad)

Breakfast: Tabouli, Pita Points, Hummus, & Dolmas
ecorded 4 July 2000. [Hooray for Liberty!]
Tabouli makes a nice light summer lunch or snack, or as part of a mezze platter. Delicious way to add whole grains to our diet. Get the whole benefit of the grain that way.
1 c bulgur wheat, coarse 
scant 2 c water
1 t salt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely diced
1 ripe medium tomato, seeded, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, cut crosswise
1 bunch of flat or curly parsley, trimmed of stems, and chopped fine
about 1/3 c mild-flavor olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (reserve some)
salt to taste
Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in bulgur, cover and let stand until cool. Spread in large bowl and refrigerate. Gently combine the chilled bulgur wheat and the vegetables. Drizzle on two-thirds of oil, and gently toss to coat. Squeeze on lemon juice, mix, taste for seasoning, adding salt, lemon juice and oil as needed. Serve chilled with pita points crisped in olive oil and dusted with garlic powder as a tasty snack.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Super Soap Bubbles

Trail of bubbles from a large hoop
Developed as a compilation from multiple online recipes. Finalized in August, 2014. This recipe makes big, persistent bubbles. They are not edible, of course.

Small batch:
1 fl oz (30 g) liquid soap (Dawn® dish-washing liquid works well)
3/4 fl oz (30 g) light corn syrup
16 oz (0.5 L) water
Large batch
4 fl oz (125 g) liquid soap
3 fl oz (125 g) light corn syrup
1/2 gal (2.0 L) water   
Place water in a suitable container. Stir in the corn syrup, and then gently stir in the dish soap. Avoid foaming. Use of a digital scale makes measuring the amounts easier. Transfer to a rimmed dinner or pie plate. Dip a commercial bubble wand or fashion your own from coat hanger or similar wire.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Breaded Veal Chops

Recorded July 11, 2011. Based on a reconstruction of Dorothy Magid's method. Because she kept a Kosher kitchen (as least as long as Gramma was alive), she used rib chops. This prep used a pair of lovely thick loin chops.
vegetable oil
1/2 c yellow onion, polar cut
2 loin veal chops, about 3/4 inch thick
1/4 c AP flour, lightly salted
1 egg beaten with 1 T of water, lightly salted
1/2 c matzoh meal, lightly salted
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Season the chops well with salt and pepper. Coat lightly all over with flour, and shake off excess. Coat well in egg mixture, and then coat thoroughly with the matzoh meal. Let dry 15 minutes on a rack. Meanwhile, heat oil about 1/8 inch deep in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers but is not smoking. Add the onion, and fry slowly until tender. This seasons the oil. Move aside and add each chop; they should sizzle busily. Fry about 4 minutes undisturbed on one side. When nicely browned, turn and continue cooking for a few more minutes until done through. Do not overcook or meat will be tough.

Spicy Cheese Tortilla Crisps

Recorded July 11, 2011. Saw this many years ago at a summer party, but can't remember where. Easy, fast, and tasty. Serve them hot. They cook quickly.
2 6 to 8 inch flour tortillas
2 oz shredded Mexican cheese mixture
sprinkle crushed red peppers
Preheat a toaster oven to 425 degrees F. Place a tortilla onto a metal pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese, and then sprinkle on a fat pinch of pepper. Not too much, because the hot cheese amplifies the heat. Bake about 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to bubble. Cut into points and serve immediately. Repeat for second tortilla.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crushed Lentil Soup

Developed from a recipe published January, 2008 in Raleigh, NC News & Observer. Often served in Middle Eastern homes as a first meal when breaking the fast of Ramadan, it can be quickly prepared and carries light but substantial nourishment, flavor, and aroma. Do not substitute other lentils for red lentils because red lentils 'crush' easily when cooked.
3 T olive oil + some for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T tomato paste
1 t ground cumin
1 t chile powder
1 t ground coriander
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly-ground black pepper
1 c red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock

2 c water
juice and zest of half a lemon
3 T chopped cilantro
In a three-quart pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Add onion and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper and chili powder, and saute for 2 minutes longer. Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a fast simmer, then partially cover pot and adjust heat. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or a food processor, puree half the soup and return it to the pot. The texture should be somewhat chunky. Stir in juice, zest, and cilantro and serve. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and a light dusting of cumin. Serves four, with warm loaves of pita bread on the side.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: Baba Ghannouj Restaurant - Every Morsel Delicious!

Met my youngest for lunch at the restaurant located on the outskirts of RTP in one of the malls that crowd the corners of NC-54 and NC-55. Bit of a run from West Durham, but had a "pay 8, get 16" Groupon to motivate the drive.

Naturally, we sampled the buffet. Some of the best Middle Eastern food I have eaten, and I grew up on the stuff. 'Nuff said. Nice folks too. Baklava! Save room. Plenty of veg choices. Tender savory meats. Outstanding hummus. Can't eat better.

Location: 2105 NC-54 E. Unit B. Same center as Meineke Muffler. NE corner of NC-54 and NC-55.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lox on a Biscuit

Recorded July 2, 2011. This easy, fast appetizer was invented by Laura about 10 years ago. It combines lox, cream cheese, and freshly baked frozen biscuits. A Jewish Southern snack. By a New York State farm girl. What a country!
3 frozen biscuits (such as Pillsbury® Buttermilk)
4 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox)
4 oz softened cream cheese
1 oz thinly sliced red onion (optional)
1 T capers (optional)
Bake the biscuits following package directions. Let cool, and split each. Spread the insides heavily with cream cheese. Place four small pieces of lox on each half. Top with optional onion and a few capers. Cut each half into four pieces. Makes 24 bite-size snacks. They go fast! Bake extra biscuits just in case.