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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

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.

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

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My friend Ben

My friend Ben cooked dinner last night, and I am so happy I got to eat it!Aside from being a talented chef, he is also one of the funniest people I know, an amazing LSAT teacher and all together a pretty awesome human being. Thank you, friend, for sharing your food with us.

Pasta with home-made mix herb pesto and lemon sauce, lamb meat-balls, sautéed spinach and arugula salad. oh my...

Brussels love

Last week while making brussel sprouts I was wondering how come I never tried to recreate my favorite brussel sprouts dish yet, that one I have every time I go to Alta, charred sprouts served with apples, pistachios and creme fraiche.Well, luckily It's still the season for brussel sprouts!

You will need about a pound of brussel sprouts, an apple (I like to use Fuji), 1/4 cup of apple cider, 1-2 tablespoon creme fraiche and a 1/4 cup pistachios, I used almond since I didn't have any pistachios. pre heat oven to 425°F Cleaning them is simple, if you cut the bottom part of the leg and therefor the bottom of the top few leaves they will come off easily. Then, cut them in half, length wise and add to a very hot cast iron with about 1 tablespoon of oil, a little salt and pepper, toss them around and place in the oven. I like to burn them a little, I find that it adds sweetness and a much-needed crispiness to this veggie. In the mean time, over a medium heat in a small sauce pan, reduce 1/4 cup of apple cider to about 2 tablespoon worth, slice half an apple to thin slices and cut to desire size and chop a hand-full of almonds.

Once the brussel sprouts are out of the oven arrange them in a serving dish, sprinkle the almonds/ pistachio over, mix in the apples and drizzle the apple cider reduction. top it off with some creme fraiche and that's it! enjoy this delicious treat.

french lentils soup

I promised Debbie about a month ago that I will make some lentil soup and put the recipe up, but this entire time I just wasn't inspired to cook any lentils, then I saw these green french lentils at the coop and knew that today is the day.

Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly and they don't require any soaking. Green lentils are usually the ones I go for, the french ones are more delicate and take longer to cook. all lentils should be rinsed and picked through for stones before cooking. Oh, and by the way, they will take longer to cook if they are combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last.

for the soup you will need: 1 medium onion, diced 5-6 cloves of garlic 1 medium carrot, sliced 1 stick of celery 1 small turnip 1 large potato 1 1/2 cup of lentils, picked and rinsed 5-6 cups of chicken stock or water 1 tomato, chopped 2 tablespoon cumin 2 tablespoon paprika 1 bay leaf salt and pepper 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice chopped parsley for garnish

start by sweating the onion, carrot, celery and turnip in 2 tablespoons of oil, add black pepper and a pinch of salt just to get some liquid out of the veggies, add garlic, potato and lentils. Add liquid, cumin, paprika and a bay leaf. bring to a boil and lower to simmer. cook for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the lentils you are using. Keep checking that there is enough liquid in the pot,  the lentils soak up a lot of liquid as they cook and the soup will slowly turn thicker, its up to you to decide how thick you want it to be. Taste a few lentils after the first 40 minutes and see if they are completely cooked and soft, make any adjusting to the flavor if needed, if the lentils are ready add the lemon juice, salt and the chopped tomato, cook for 5-10 more minutes discard the bay leaf and serve, garnished with chopped parsley.

eat your sprouts

As a kid, just like many, I didn't eat brussels sprouts, I'm not sure if it was the smell, the look or simply the name that made me abstain from it, either way it wasn't until recent years when I started eating it. One of the first times I truly felt like we might have a future was at Alta restaurant in NYC a few years ago, they were roasted and served with apples, pistachios and creme fraiche, as I'm writing these words I am wondering "how could it be that I have never tried to duplicate that dish?" Brussels sprouts get a delicious sweet flavor when caramelized and even slightly burnt, I like starting them in a hot pan and then finishing it in the oven.

There are many ways to roast these little green beauties, some include the addition of bacon, pancetta, chorizo or other cured pork products, it sure does add some fatty goodness to the dish and if you chooses to use any of the above, start by rendering the meat for a few minutes to get some of the fat melted in the pan, then add to the same pan your cleaned and washed sprouts, cut in halves or quarters. If you chooses a vegetarian dish, heat up some oil and/or butter and throw them in on a medium-high heat, then add salt and pepper and cook for a 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pan in a pre-heated over, at 375° F, for about 10-15 minutes, or until brussels sprouts are soft and nicely roasted. you can add some roasted nuts once out of the oven, my favorite are sliced almonds but if I don't have any I'll use pine nuts instead. This simple dish can be easily adjusted to your liking, you can spice it up with some chili or serve with fresh granny-smith apple slices and some lite drizzle of honey or reduced apple cider.

Either way its hard to go wrong.

A two years old cake, goes up in flames.

On Christmas day I was invited to the Pacheco's to take part in their traditional Christmas feast. Soon as I walked in I was handed a glass of bourbon and egg-nog ,I was expecting a delicious meal and so I wasn't surprised to see turkey and ham, brussel sprouts, mashed potato, home baked bread and some stuffing on the table, but nothing would have got me prepared for dessert. A brown, mountain shaped cake was placed in the middle of the table, so far nothing extraordinary,and then our host started pouring whiskey right on top of the cake, now we are talking A LOT of whiskey, so at this point my attention was only on this cake.

As expected, after the liqueur came the match

Now let me tell you a little about this cake; it is at least 2 years old (no joke) and was made by the sister of our host, this cake is made of different fruit, plump up with whiskey and/or rum, steamed and then left to age for a few years, it was sitting in her fridge for at least 2 years and according to her "these will last forever". Oh wow, all I know at this point is that my taste buds are ready!

The cake was delicious! It was moist and fruity with a strong yet not over-powering flavor of the whiskey and was served with a light home-made cream.  I don't have the recipe since it was made in Ireland by a relative of a family I only pretend to be related, but it is might mean I have to join them on their next trip over.

happy holidays, braised fennel

fennel is one of the earliest food i can remember, it seems like it was always on our dinner table, for the most part served chopped, raw in a lemon dressing. i always liked the flavor of fennel and its hairy leafy part as well, it has that anise like flavor, and though i'm not at all into licorice i am very much into fennel.there are many dishes you can make with fennel, i have been dreaming on fennel ice-cream ever since someone at the coop was telling me about her experiments with an ice-cream maker, but on my plate today, something a little less time-consuming: braised fennel. braised fennel is delicious, charring it before you braise it will bring out some hidden sweetness and will take it to a much happier place.

i start by taking the tops off, saving the leafy part for garnish, then slicing it length wise in order to keep the bulb sort of intact, then i gently toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper and place it in a hot cast iron to grill it, flipping about 4 minutes in or when it turned brown, for a total of 8-10 minutes. if you need to work in batches do so, don't over-crowed the pan.

once all pieces are nicely charred place them back in the pan and add about 1/2 cup of white wine, let it boil for a minute or two and add equal amount of chicken or veggie stock, salt, pepper, some chili flakes, a few threads of saffron and the juice of half an orange or 1 meyer lemon. cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until fennel is soft.

garnish with some beautiful fronds.

Molasses spice cookies

Taking a baking sheet full of hot cookies out of the oven beats opening a package of cookies, every time!If you didn't notice it until now, I love simple recipes, it doesn't appeal to me to bake a cake that calls for 8 hours in the oven or that is so complicated you must follow a long list of specific directions. I like simple and delicious food, now that being said, I don't mind working hard for good food, I just believe that a difficult recipe does not necessarily produce a good meal. With those intentions I decided to bake some molasses cookies today, and as soon as the word cookies left me mouth and reached the ears of Tacuma, he started jumping up and down. That's it, there is no going back now...

* The recipe below is modified from a few different recipes I found online, Martha's recipe and Brenda hall's were the most influential.

Ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup  sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

Anna's earth apples (Pommes Anna)

For my birthday last week, I got a sweet cook book from my close friends  R and N: "Essentials of French Cooking" that is divided by the regions of France, and has an incredible selection of recipes, with classics like Coq au Vin,  Beef Bourguignon and Tart Tatin, as well as less known dishes like Blue Cheese and Walnut soufflé and Sausage and Choucroute (sauerkraut). Everything in this book looks amazing and everything calls for a lot of butter!! Today I finally decided to stop drooling over the pictures and cook a recipe from it. Looking at the selection of available produce in my kitchen, I decided to use the potatoes, I bought a hand-full of blue potatoes about a week ago and a fresh load of Yukons yesterday, and it was time to make something out of them.Pommes Anna- Anna's potatoes, is a potato gratin named after Anna Deslions by the Cafe des Anglais in Paris, it is tasty and easy and looks beautiful. Bon Apetit!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz/ 75 g)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb (750g) potatoes
  • salt and fresh black pepper

Directions:

  1. preheat the oven to 375° F (19o° C). Coat a 9" (23-cm) pie pan with 1 tablespoon of butter
  2. peel the potatoes, rinse and dry. Using the thin slicing blade on a mandolin or a sharp knife cut the potatoes into slices 1/8 " (3mm) thick.
  3. in a sauce pan melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until in foams and set aside.
  4. arrange some of the potatoes in a single layer in the prepared pan, overlapping them just slightly. lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the melted butter. Repeat the layering process with the rest of the potatoes.
  5. bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is crisp and golden, 45-60 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. run a knife around the edge of the pan, then place a plate over the top and invert the pan and plate together to unmold.

Since I didn't use 1 1/2 lb of potatoes they didn't go all the way to the top of the pan, which made it very hard to invert and unmold, I did, however, use a cake pan that opens with a spring, and simply opened it up and transfer the whole thing to a serving dish.

Fighting the cold - chinese style

As the weather in NY drops below the freezing point, soups seems to be the only natural thing to eat.I was told by my acupuncturist yesterday that I need to push out something that is still external , but may become internal if left untreated, and so I should eat a lot of Miso. According to Chinese tradition exterior diseases first affect the body surfaces that are exposed directly to the environment - the skin, the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs. The most prevalent exterior conditions are the common cold and flu, the sooner ones notices these conditions and take action, the more likely their interior progress can be reversed. Food that promotes sweating is recommended for treating such conditions - miso soup, ginger and peppermint tea are my favorite remedies.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste thought to have originated in China some 2,500 years ago. It is made by combining cooked soybeans, mold, salt and various grains and then fermenting them together for six months to two years. There are three basic types of miso: soybean, barley and rice, and 40-50 other varieties. Each type has its own distinctive color and flavor. Healing properties of miso: 13%-20% protein; it is a live food containing lactobacillus (the same in yogurt) that aids in digestion; it creates an alkaline condition in the body promoting resistance against disease. According to tradition, miso promotes long life and good health. In my miso soup I like using a lot of ginger and scallions, along with kombu, wakame, tofu and shiitake. Kombu (kelp) -  moistens dryness; increases yin fluids; softens hardened areas and masses in the body; helps transform heat induced phlegm; benefits kidneys; diuretic; anti-coagulant effect on the blood; is a natural fungicide; relieves coughing and asthma; soothes the lungs and throat; eradicates fungal and candida yeast overgrowths. Wakame - diuretic; transforms and resolves phlegm; high in calcium; rich in niacin and thiamine; promotes healthy hair and skin; soften hardened tissue and masses; tonifies the yin fluids; used in Japanese tradition to purify the mother's blood after childbirth. Tofu - benefits the lungs and large intestine; relieves inflammation in the stomach; neutralizes toxins. Shiitake

What a healthy, cold fighting soup this is going to be! *most of this information is based on the book "healing with whole foods" by Paul Pritchard Miso soup recipe Ingredients:

  • 10-12 cups of chicken stock or water - I prefer using chicken stock, got to give grandma's remedies some credit too.
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of dark miso
  • 1/4 cup dry Wakame, soaked in 2 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of Kombu, cut into small chunks (use scissors)
  • 1/2 pack of tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of bonito (or any other) dry fish flakes, optional
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ginger, at least 3-5 inch long, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, leg removed, cut in 4

Directions:

  1. in a soup pot, sautee garlic onion and ginger for about 4-5 minutes
  2. add wakame and the liquid it was soaked in and stir
  3. add mushrooms, 3/4 of scallions, kombu, tofu, bonito fish flakes and chicken stock
  4. bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, cook for about 30 minutes
  5. add miso, stir and cook for 10 more minutes
  6. serve hot with fresh scallions on top
  7. optional addition: hard-boiled or fried egg is a delicious addition to this soup.

*Miso, Kombu, Wakame and Bonito flakes can be found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets.

Birthday celebrations!

December 7th was my birthday, I am now 28 years young!My lovely lover Tacuma, arranged a wonderful surprise party in our house and cooked up a delicious sit down dinner to 17 of my good friends and family. In my celebratory excitement I didn't take any pictures, I will tell you, however, that he made some unbelievable lamb chops, two whole roasted chickens, green cauliflower casserole, mac and cheese, and with some help from our friends we also had a green salad, bok-choy, some cucumber-lemon-lime sake and mulled wine, and for dessert a strawberry shortcake and biscotti. What a feast!!!

Thank you friends for coming and celebrating the day I came to be and thank you Tacuma for being in my life. I love you all !

Chicken with Chestnuts and Couscous

When food that I love is in season I buy it all the time and I try to cook all sorts of dished with it. Chestnuts, as I mentioned before, are high up on my "favorites" list, they are great in savory dishes, desserts and also just roasted with nothing but salt. Their rich and creamy texture is delightful and when I have some around I can't stop eating them. For the last few weeks I have been buying them in abundance with the intention of roasting, peeling and freezing them so I can have some even when the season is over. I say "with the intention" because the truth of the matter is that I have been cooking them more then I have been saving them, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if the result is dishes like this one. This recipe comes from a book by the Israeli chef: Israel Aharoni.

Ingredients: serves 6

  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 6 chicken legs, separated to thigh and drumstick
  • 1 onion, diced roughly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • fresh ginger about 1 inch long, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • salt and fresh black pepper
  • 500 gr Chestnuts - in the recipe he uses jarred chestnuts, I used them fresh, roasted for 30 minutes and peeled.

Directions:

  1. In a wok, heat up the oil, Sautée the chicken and brown it nicely on all sides. Remove from wok and put aside
  2. add the onion, garlic and ginger to the oil and Sautée for 5 minutes
  3. place chicken back in the wok and add soy sauce, wine, sugar, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  4. cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. add chestnuts, stir and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the chestnuts are soft

Easy and delicious.

You can serve this with rice or quinoa, I used couscous, hand rolled by my grandmother, Miriam, who I believe is one of the only people that still hand roll their couscous. It is a long, long process but you will never hear her complain, and I won't complain either, it is the best couscous one can eat, and I am thankful to still have 1/2 a pound in my freezer.

Bon appetit!

Butternut squash Pie

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and so I will have an excuse to use my new KItchenaid I made my first squash pie yesterday. Squash and pumpkin pies are not as popular in Israel as they are here, in face the first time I had one was probably two or three years ago. Needless to say I fell in love immediately and now that I know how easy it is to make I finally have an excuse to buy all sort of funky looking pumpkins and squashes.

yum.

Below is the recipe, modified from a pumpkin pie recipe, found on Allrecipes.com

Ingredients (makes 2 pies)

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3 cups mashed, roasted butternut squash
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Prepare pie crust by mixing together the flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour, add 1 tablespoon water to mixture at a time. Mix dough and repeat until dough is moist enough to hold together.
  3. With lightly floured hands shape dough into a ball. On a lightly floured board roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. With a sharp knife, cut dough 1 1/2 inch larger than the upside down 8 to 9 inch pie pan. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it right side up on to the pie pan. Unroll, ease dough into the bottom of the pie pan.
  4. In a large bowl with mixer speed on medium, beat squash with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into a prepared crust. Bake 40 minutes or until when a knife is inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.