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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

Vegan Gratin, purple potato,

Two years ago I published a recipe for a Jerusalem and chestnut gratin, it is one of my favorite recipes and a go to whenever Jerusalem artichokes are in season. This year I had a new challenge, as my friend became vegan I decided to make a different version of this fabulous gratin.I used purple potatoes, for their beautiful color, Jerusalem artichokes (also known as Sunchokes), shallots and pre cooked and packaged chestnuts. To replace the milk, cream and cream fraiche I used my new favorite creamer: Cashews! For the best cashew cream I soak them over night in water, and then puree to a smooth "milk", but if you are pressed for time place a handful (about 1/2 a cup) of raw cashews in a bowl of hot water, replace the water as they cool down, or keep on a low simmer for an hour - two. The nuts are ready when they are soft and juicy, then you can puree them in a blender. start with a little water and add more if needed, you want it to be thick, not runny.

ingredients:potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, chestnuts (cooked and peeled), shallots, thyme, cashew cream, paprika, salt, pepper, juice of half a lemon and bread crumbs 

 

pre heat the oven to 375 start by slicing all vegetable as thin as you can, then mix all ingredients but bread crumbs  in a large bowl.adjust seasoning and layer in the dish you intend on using for baking.  if you want to make distinct layers, you can mix the cashew cream in as you layer the vegetable, make sure it gets all the way in between the pieces and layers.sprinkle crumbs on top, cover and bake for 35 min, remove cover and bake about 15 min more or until golden in color.let the gratin cool down a little before digging in. 

enjoy!

 

 

Passover in NYC

It's been more than a month that I had 18 of my dearest friends and family gather in my Brooklyn apartment, for an evening of food, wine and lots of laughing.Passover has always been a very significant holiday to me, and one that I highly favor. It was also my grandmother's holiday so this year's celebration was, to me, in her memory.

We started by reading the Haggadah, but didn't read the whole thing, there was just too much going on and 20 minutes were plenty..

With the help of my good friends, Ben and Greg we worked out quite a feast: to start we had the traditional matzo ball soup, followed by a grouper and flounder ceviche, served on a base of eggplant cream:

Then we served an insane amount of food, fingerling potatoes in duck fat, crispy brussel sprouts, white rice with an accent of wild black rice and nuts, roasted root vegetables, herb roasted chicken and the star of the evening, Ben's braised leg of lamb served with parsley and horseradish puree.

The best part was the dessert, my sister made, in the spirit of our beloved grandmother, many kinds of fruit and vegetable shaped marzipan, and set up an incredible display, that was as beautiful as it tasted.

And Matt, with the help of Kayla, iced a hand full of hand shaped passover cookies for our enjoyment.

As you can see, I was highly excited for dessert...

This was a very happy passover, Thanks to this lovely NY family I got.

Ramps and kumquats

Its Spring (!!!) and with it comes a lovely selection of fresh fruit, vegetable and herbs. Just like these beautiful ramps. Ramps are wild leeks, they look a lot like a scallion with a strong garlic flavor and have a very short season, about 3-4 weeks a year. I had to get some, not really knowing what to make with it. kumquats are delicious tiny citrus, that has a tangy and sweet flavor. I have just bought both, without a plan on how to use them, along with a beautiful rack of lamb... Perhaps a chimichurri style sauce to accompany the lamb?

I Started by coring the Kumquats and dicing them small, then chopping up the ramps the same way, including the white bottoms.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest and a little of their juice, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and olive oil.

I then made a critical mistake, trying to get the mixture to be finely chopped, I put it in the blender, that wouldn't be so bad if I was holding back on the olive oil but I didn't, and once I turned on the blender the oil emulsified, resulting in a creamy sauce rather than a chimichurri... it was still delicious, but had a completely different look and texture from what I was going for.

It looked a lot like Guacamole.. but had a wonderful taste of a the green garlicky ramps, with a nice side kick from the kumquats.

Beef and Beans

Last week I was requested to make a Cholent at work, a Cholent (if you are not familiar with the term) is a slowly cooked mixture of beans, potatoes, meat, barley and sometimes whole eggs. The beans need to be soaked in water for a few hours prior to cooking, and so the first thing I did that morning, was to soak 1lb of mixed beans. 6 hours later, just as I was about to start cooking the Cholent, a man walked into the kitchen, carrying two large aluminum pans with, guess what?, Cholent.Now I have a pound of soaked beans, and clearly no need for Cholent...

I called South Africa immediately and I asked my second dad for his famous bean soup recipe, growing up I remember this soup as a special treat, it's perfect for cold weather, to eat while snuggling next to the fire watching the winter out of the window. Funny how subjective life is, today I know that those cold winters back home, weren't really cold, and that 40 degrees is a nice day if you are wintering in NYC...

Back to the soup now: 500 gr of pre soaked beans (preferably over night) 250 gr of beef or lamb meat, cubed 120 gr of tomato paste 350 gr fresh peeled tomatoes, cubed 15 garlic cloves, sliced 2 tbsp sweet paprika 1 tsp hot paprika 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp tumric 8 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp salt 1.5 liter water

If you have a pressure cooker now will be the time to pull it out and use it, I don't have one, which is why this soup was cooking for about a week (at least that's what it felt like, in real life it was about 8 hours).

Heat the oil in the pot you are intending on using for the soup, add the meat and sear it, add all ingredients BUT the beans along with 2 cups of water and stir well. Add beans and remaining of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, if using a pressure cooker you will have your soup ready in an hour. if not... oh well, good things are worth waiting for.

Served best with fresh bread.

meet the delicious monster

I came across this interesting looking fruit at the food co-op a few times before, and every time I picked it up and found myself puzzled from its appearance and the simple fact that it came with an instructions page.Last week I finally decided it was time to give it a try, so I took one home and placed it in a cup, bottom up, allowing it to do its thing.

The monstera deliciosa is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and supposedly tastes like a combination of banana and pineapple. The fruit must ripen and peel itself, as it contain oxalic acid, so you place it in a cup or jar and just wait. A day or two went by and then one morning it happened, the scale looking skin cracked open, exposing a white flash and releasing an addicting tropical scent.

This is the first time I have seen anything like this fruit, and I was fascinated by it. In the course of one day this little tropical monster peeled itself completely, exposing its white moist flesh and shedding, along with its green scales, hundreds of tiny black seeds.

When it was finally done, that evening, it was time to slice it up and see what this fruit is all about. We were all very curious as to how it is going to taste, the internet was telling up it taste a little like banana, pineapple, kiwi, jack fruit and mango... an interesting mix of flavors...

Once slices, it looked a lot like a cross between a corn and a kiwi with a very strong tropical odor. It was delicious, just as the name suggested, very sweet and very tropical, indeed a mix between a few more familiar flavors with a soft flesh. However after eating a few pieces from it, the mouth starts to tingle and you get that funny feeling that tells you not to over indulge. As the name suggested, once again, this is a monster we are talking about after all.

Tahini and Silan cookies

It's been months that I have been planing on making these cookies. It all started after I had Thini cookies at Sugar-Daddy in Tel Aviv earlier this year. I was talking about making these cookies for so long that it seemed like it wasn't going to happen.After looking up recipes online and in my cookbook collection and not coming up with anything that seemed promising, I tried to improvise... The first batch of cookies was too hard, so I added some butter and replaced a 1/3 of the spelt flour with almond meal. And here you go, a winner recipe, the cookies came out tasty and crumbly, perfect served with tea or on their own. So good! Thini is basically ground up sesame seeds and Silan is a date syrup, the combination of these two flavors is unreal. First thing is making sure you are using high quality Thini paste, I prefer Thini that comes from the middle east, it just seems to be better than any local brand I tried. The Silan should be as natural as possible, and without preservatives. 1/2 cup raw Thini paste 1/2 cup date syrup 8 tablespoon of butter (1 stick) 1 1/2 cup flour, I used spelt and almond meal, 1 cup spelt and 1/2 almond. 1/4 cup chopped pistachio cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla and a pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 355 (180 Celsius) Start by placing the thini and butter in a sauce pan over low heat, mix until well combined. In a large bowl mix the thini-butter paste with the silan, chopped pistachios, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cardamon and the salt. Slowly add the flour and mix by hand until a soft dough is formed. Using your hands, form small balls and place on a baking pan, since the dough is soft the cookies will spread, so make sure they are spread out.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until slightly brown and take out. Let cool before trying to move the cookies or they will fall apart. The cookies are extremely soft at first but they will harden as they cool down.

Cooking with my father - part two

Its bone marrow time!About a year and a half ago, just a few days before I started working at The Breslin, I had dinner there with my father. Both of us ordered the bone marrow onion soup. neither of us was overly impressed and then he made a promise, that in due time he will teach me how to make what he was calling "real bone marrow". The time has finally arrived, and for my farewell meal he shared with me his bone marrow roasting recipe. Bone marrow is something I was avoiding for years, for obvious reasons, I like to Believe. It's fatty content always seemed unappealing to me. Then when I finally had some, I wished I have done so years earlier. When roasted correctly, bone marrow is the perfect companion for a nice slice of bread, scooped out and spread on a toast. finger licking worthy.

Starting by pre-heating your oven to a medium-high heat, place the bones in a baking dish, marrow part up, and sprinkle some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika.

place them in the oven for about 20 minutes, watching closely to ensure they aren't going over and melting into oil. You know they are ready when the bone is nicely colored and the marrow looks like it starting to char.

Cooking with my father

My father is an amazing cook, he's been a culinary inspiration to me for years. His cooking skills always amazed me, he taught me some tricks that are the direct result of him being an inventor and is the only person who I allow alluring me into eating foods I wouldn't dare considering.One of my favorite food games is asking him for one of his recipes. The ritual, is, with slight circumstantial changes, the same every time. It usually takes place over the dinner table, as I am wolfing on one of his delicious creations, I then, with a mouth full of food, ask him for the ingredients and he refuses to tell me what it is that was happening in his pots. then I ask again, and he, once more, says no. Then I give it a few minutes, just staring at him with anticipation. I can tell I'm getting close to breaking him down and so I ask once more. Usually that's where he tells me what he did and how, unfortunately I can rarely duplicate it. Last weekend was a whole different story though. I came home to spend the weekend with my family and had the extreme pleasure of watching him in action. We are so far away from each other, that those moments are truly rare and fill me up with joy. He was slicing beef fillet to about a 1/4 inch thick slices, then in a mortar he made a paste from Rosemary, sea salt, pepper and olive oil. The meat was then rubbed with the paste and set aside.

A heavy grilling pan was then wrapped in foil to avoid a ridiculously dirty stove top and the searing began. The meat goes in for a quick minute or two, on both sides and then comes out. Once all the meat is done he starts the sauce.

Now you might ask yourself why am I about to give out a recipe of a man who so strictly protects them, here's why: 3 months ago, just as I returned home, my father made this very same dish, he asked that I'll go get Moscato, and I did, only I got the bubbly version... He made it anyways, using the bubbly wine instead and that would have been it if it wasn't for the next time he decided to make it, this time using the wine he initially planned on using, the sauce came out different, something was missing, those bubbles did something to the flavor that didn't come through using the flat wine. Ha, what an incredible turn out to my little mistake! And so now I claim this recipe to be partially mine, and therefor can share it with the world. (also, i asked and he said it's fine...)

Back to the sauce now, on the same cast iron pan he used to sear the meat he now pours the wine, let it release all the flavors and adds butter, cream and lots of black pepper, if salt is needed it will be added a well. The meat goes back in for a quick second and then served.

Say Cheese

Its Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates God giving the Torah to the Israelites, and we celebrate it by wearing all white and eating dairy. That might seem odd, but somewhere, someone, had an argument good enough to make others agree, and therefore I wear white (actually I wore purple) and eat cheese. And I can't complain, as I LOVE dairy in most of its edible forms. Earlier this week I visited Liat and was handed a bag full of passion-fruit, different from most fruit, the best passion-fruit are the dark and wrinkly looking ones. I love Passion fruit, and it's Shavuot, what else was I to do? Short side story, while visiting Hawaii last year I was introduced to the local version of Passion-fruit, Jamaican Lilikoi, a yellow-orange colored fruit, that looks very much like the familiar passion-fruit, but is much sweeter. During that trip I became slightly obsessed with the idea of topping a cheese cake with this wonderful, delicious, tropical fruit, but that never happened. With the combination of the fruit in my bag and the arriving holiday the outcome was inevitable.

Passion-Cheese cake it is.

The recipe is easy as can be, but it is made with an Israeli soft cheese that doesn't have an American equivalent... You can buy it in Israeli/Jewish supermarkets if you really wanna give it a go or use kwark or fromage blanc instead.

For the dough base: 1/2 cup (100g) sugar 2 cups (280g) AP flour 3 egg yolks 200g cold butter, diced

mix all ingredients together until a uniform dough is formed, placed in a buttered baking dish and shape to make an even base.

Bake on medium heat (180°c, 350°f) for 30 minutes. once the dough is baked scrape it with a fork to make crumbs, cool down and place in an air-tight box.

For the cheese cake, mix 500 ml heavy cream and 1/3 cup (70g) sugar whip to form a thick cream, then mix in 500g white cheese (Israeli soft, white cheese, should be drained in a cheese cloth over a bowl, in the fridge, for at least two hours prior to mixing in the cake), and some lemon zest.

once the base is completely cool, pour the cheese mixture over the dough and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.

Before serving let stand in room temp for 15 minutes, then, either sprinkle with the crumbs or top with passion fruit, or berries.

8 balls for our independence

Tuesday was Israel's independence day, a day of joy and celebrations, one that comes immediately after the saddest day of the year, memorial day.
Independence day was always close to my heart, as a child it involved putting flags up on our house and car, performing on the main stage, watching the fireworks, folk dancing and partying into the night. it is also THE day for BBQ, every corner, every tiny piece of grass turns into a spot to place your burning coals and barbecue. it's a huge meat-fest, all over the place. Since I am not much of a steak eater I made a quick stop in Yafo the day before and bought some veggies, walking through the small market I spotted these beauties. Score!!

To fill the need for some meat on this glorious day of beef eating I stuffed them with rice and beef, some pine nuts and parsley, and spices (salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cinnamon). To avoid undercooked rice make sure you cook it beforehand. the ratio of meat and rice depends on your liking, I used 1lb of ground meat to about 2 cups of cooked rice, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, fried onion and garlic.

Empty the inside of the zucchini with a small sharp knife and a teaspoon, make sure not to cut too deep into the skin, try to leave at least 1/4 - 1/2 an inch of meat on the inside, then stuff them but don't press it in too much, so it remains airy.

Then place them all in a pot with tomato sauce, start with garlic and onions, add tomatoes, a bay leaf or two, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, spicy paprika, tomato juice and a little parsley. bring to a boil, them simmer for about an hour and a half, I sometimes finish it all in the oven for an hour.

Served with some sour cream, Israeli style, thick and full of flavor, and some tasty bread.

There is nothing I like cooking better than stuffed 8 balls. Nothing. Enjoy.

Jerusalem's finest bread

it's been months since I updated this blog, not because I wasn't eating but mostly because I haven't been cooking at all, with an exception of one meal that led to a night of Tequila and booty shaking.If you know me you know how rear it is for me to go more than a few days without cooking, it's now getting closer to be two months... but I am still eating, and photographing it !

A recent day trip to Jerusalem will be a good place to start, we made two stops, first at Russel's Bakery where I spent a few hours shaping loaves and learning a little about the process of bread making that I am so deeply interested in. Then, the Iraqi market where we had some delicious food before buying a ridiculous amount of vegetable, with a clear intention to cook. so far I made one salad consisting of a tomato, a cucumber and a radish.... but it's only been 3 days so there is still hope.

Russel is a native South African that decide to learn the art of bread making and traveled the word to study recipes and techniques. He opened a small bakery and shop near the Shuke in Jerusalem, and everyday before 4am he starts cutting and shaping, baking and loving his bread. A true artist and an inspiration.

Shaping loaves. * picture by Yossi Tabul

Russel is working a two hand rolling.

What a way to spend a day off! Thank you Russel for letting me get my hands dirty and play with some walnut dough.

Gimme some Kobe... beef

On our way from Hiroshima to Kyoto we decided there is no logical reason why we wouldn't stop in Kobe for lunch. Sure it's raining and cold, it's out of our way and the lunch special is more than $50, but it's Kobe we are talking about, Kobe, as in the place where people massage cows to keep their meat perfectly marbleized. oh,  it sure was...Our chef started by grilling some garlic on the skillet in front of us, then set up our plates so they were directly on the skillet to keep warm.

Next came the beef, and my, was it beautiful..

Starting by rendering some fat to grease the skillet and slicing the meat into pieces according to fat content, our chef was a skillful and accurate man, and we were salivating with our mouths open. Really.

Since $50 only gets you so little beef we had some tofu and vegetable grilled along side it, as well as some delicious fried rice that was made last, so it fills up only the little spaces in our stomach, those tiny cracks between the chunks of meat.

Both the rice and the sprouts were grilled in some fat, and to add some flavor he used all the access fat that was cut off the meat at the beginning. fried rice with tiny cubes of Kobe beef fat. Delicious!!

This was by far one of the best meals I had in the last month.

okonomiyaki, a very special "pancake"

While in Hiroshima we had to try the local specialty, Okonomiyaki. It starts as a crepe with a mountain of veggies and some meat on top, the vegetable slowly shrinks and then it's flipped and placed on a bed of noodles, then an egg and to finish it up, the special home-made sauce. Even better than the end result was sitting down to watch the long process of preparing this delicious food.

the udon factory

We are so hungry, driving through Fukuoka looking for a place to eat when we notice a spot that looks like it's popping, the parking lot is full, there is a line inside, this gotta be worth it.
An Udon factory, from start to finish, where they make the dough, cut the noodles, boil and portion, then you choose your size (Large please!!), get your perfectly soft-boiled egg and pick your deep-fried toppings from the buffet-like display.
Delicious, perfected udon, like no noodle I tasted before

udon
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it's 5 am, let's go watch the butchering of a yellow fin tuna

It's 5 am, we have been singing karaoke since 11pm, our voices are done, our eyes are half shut. It's windy and cold and we really want to stay inside, but we said we are going to do it, so we did.Tsukiji market is huge, it supplies the majority of the world's fish and seafood, and though it is fascinating to walk through it and watch the men as they clean and slice, load their carts and speed through the narrow aisles, it also raises some serious questions about regulating fishing in Japan. It takes watching the amount of fish and seafood on display for one to ask themselves how long before there is no more fish to catch? And are we going to stop before it's too late? I would be lying if I said I wasn't standing there mesmerized by the colors and admiring the precise cuts and clean technique of the working, rushing men of Tsukiji. We spent about an hour and a half walking through and watching, there wasn't much talking, if anything an occasional wow! or ooohhhh... Handling fish is definitely an art form, especially when it comes to giant 100-150 lbs tuna, 5 minutes from start to finish, with a knife that is longer then my legs and is sharp as sharp can be, one cut length wise, two cuts to separate the spine, and voila !!!

These are some pictures from the butchering of yellow fin tuna in the biggest fish market in the world. As my jaw drops in admiration I make a little prayer that these sights won't be just a tale to tell our kids and grand-kids.

yakitori, everything one can wish for, grilled, on a stick

After a few hours of shopping at Kappabashi (restaurant supply and knife galore district) and a few more hours spent at ishimori (the #1 saxophone shop in japan) we met up with some friends for yakitori. Yakitori is marinated,grilled, everything you can dream of, on a stick. These pictures tell the rest...

kampai

fried octopus

scallions, peppers and yellow beans

squid legs

beef fat and onions

chicken meat balls and beef hearts

tofu

shiitake

sukiyaki, or, an endless pot of unbelievable deliciousness

After a not so long, yet tiring day of walking around Kamakura and visiting the shrines and statues we came back home to the best meal I had in Tokyo so far. Sukiyaki is made by placing cast iron pot in the center of the table. Into the pot goes some fat... as it renders you add some onions...

sake, sugar, soy sauce and some water.

The broth is now ready and we can start adding in the goods; tofu, shiitake, enokitake, greens, potato noodles, scallions and beef. Cook it all together and as you pick your food out of the pot you dip it in raw egg then eat it. It is so good!

I want to eat skuyaki everyday!!!!

As food come out of the pot and into our stomach fresh food goes into the broth, more and more and more until you think you are done, then, a little more and we are done.

sashimi

Yesterday we met up with the family for lunch near the famous Tsukiji market. Tsukiji is the biggest whole sale fish market in the world and it supplies about 50% of the world's fish and seafood. Clearly when dinning in tsukiji one should eat some fish. So we did. And it was the freshest fish I ever had.

Two cuts of tuna, salmon, crab, scallop, makarel, shrimp and eel.

yum.