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Jerusalem Hummus In Jars

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

I’ve got to hand this one to a favorite person and a favorite cookbook: Naomi Nachman, and “Zahav“, respectively. Naomi is a foodie friend who’s not quite at my stage in life. She just married off her first child and her youngest is about the age of my oldest. Naomi might be older but she’s got more energy than my five kids put together! She’s always the life of the party and her foodie calendar puts me to shame. She just wrapped her first cookbook, Perfect for Pesach, which I was lucky enough to get some sneak peeks behind the scenes (and test some of the amazing recipes!). She runs a Pesach catering business, a “Chopped” themed party service, writes for various publications and even has her own radio show, Table for Two on the Nachum Segal Network. I love Naomi’s positive energy and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Recently, Naomi managed to squeeze in a trip to Israel amid her crazy hectic schedule, and she brought me back some Hawaj from the shuk. I’d never tried hawaj before, but I knew that there were two types of the Yemenite spice blend – one for soup and one for coffee. The spice was so potent (everything from the shuk always is!) that my whole kitchen smelled of it, even through the Ziploc bag! I wanted to make the most of the spice so I thought about how I could use it to really let it shine. And it hit me – hummus basar!

I had never made meat hummus before, or any REAL hummus from scratch and I was excited to try! I went to the holy grail of Israeli cookbooks, “Zahav” to find the perfect recipe and of course Michael Solomonov’s did not disappoint. What I love so much about Zahav is that every recipe is approachable, and unlike some of the other cookbooks on Middle Eastern cuisine, Zahav is the least bit pretentious. The hummus I made from the book was by the far the best one I had ever tasted and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to store-bought. It is just a whole ‘nother ballgame.

What I learned from Solomonov is that hummus is so much more about the quality of the tahini than it is about the chickpeas. I always thought of hummus as a chickpea spread, but no. It’s a silky-smooth-sesame chickpea spread that will knock your socks off. You start by preparing silky smooth tahini that involves a brilliant garlic hack that I won’t share (buy the cookbook to find out what it is!). Then you take that tahini perfection and add loads of it to butter-soft chickpeas. Oh. My. God. is it good.

Zahav’s hummus recipe is a two step process, but I’ve simplified it here into one. I would definitely encourage you to try the original recipe at least once, but this makes a pretty good substitute. And please do me a favor and don’t put the amazingly pungent and flavorful hawaj-spiced beef over store-bought hummus because that’s like serving homemade shortcakes with canned whipped cream. Just no. And if  you’re feeling up to the task, try Zahav’s pita recipe and bake ’em up in mini to go along with these Jerusalem hummus jars. There’s really nothing quite like homemade pita to go along with homemade hummus.  I’ve made the recipe a few times already and it is super simple and incredibly delicious!

If this post hasn’t already compelled you to buy the cookbook, here’s an excerpt of a review I wrote after I got it:

“Michael brings the beauty of Israeli culture and cuisine to the forefront without the bells and whistles. He lets the food stand on it’s own, humble and beautiful, with clear, easy to fllow recipes that dont require millions of ingredients. And he’s not cheffy about it either….This guy isn’t cooking Israeli food because it’s trendy, he’s just doing what he loves and it comes through on every page. Even though he himself is not kosher….he acknowledges that the rules of kosher define the boundaries of Israeli cuisine and keeps all the recipe in the book (and in his restaurant) free of shellfish, pork and mixing milk and meat. In a culture that thinks that you have to be “treif” to be cool (especially so if you are Jewish), this man has my total respect). ”

Of course this Hummus Basar was made in jars in the spirit of Purim, but feel free to make this recipe and serve Israeli style, in a big bowl with lots of fresh pita for dipping! You can also make the hawaj beef and serve it over rice, it makes for a delicious side dish!

Related Recipes:

chestnut hummus with herbed pita chips
roasted garlic hummus with everything pita chips
chicken shawarma
farro grain bowl with Jerusalem pargiot
sweet tahini dip

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas, 5 Ways

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

I have been waiting to post this recipe for months! I kept trying different variations,  cooking temps and times until I found the easiest and most delicious version. I love this dinner because of how simple it is (duh) and because there is just so much you can do with it. I think the chicken fajita bowls are my favorite (because I’m obsessed with food in bowls right now), but the nachos are pretty addictive too.

A lot of thought went into this recipe, including what type of chicken to use. I’m not a fan of skinless roasted chicken breast because it’s just. so. dry. Chicken thighs, on the other hand, are pretty impossible to mess up. Even if you overcook them a little, their fat content keeps them super moist. I also decided to keep these whole for roasting, because cutting them into strips would dry them out. Like I said, lots of thought people, lots of thought.

I’ve also tested this recipe with store bought fajita seasoning (which has added cornstarch, soybeans and wheat) and my homemade version won by a landslide. I love that this recipe is “clean” so if you choose to trash it up with homemade tortilla chips, no one is judging you :)

Related Recipes:

bunless fajita dogs
tortilla crusted chicken fingers
grilled chicken shawarma salad
grilled chicken salad with jalapeno honey mustard dressing

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Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

I’ve been loving playing around with Instagram stories these days. It lets me post a step by step cooking tutorial and it’s just. so. fun! Last night I made Asian soup bowls with a richly flavored broth and a variety of vegetables for a make-you-own bowl dinner. I posted a play by play on my stories and the feedback was amazing!

I made these stuffed acorn squashes last Friday, using some of my leftover bacon-wrapped turkey from Thanksgiving. I posted a story as I made them and I got lots of requests for a formal written recipe. I managed a quick photoshoot, even though it was a hectic Friday and do I even need an explanation? I mean just look at these?!

I really love the idea of making this after Thanksgiving with some leftover turkey, but if you don’t have any, just leave it out and keep it vegan. With or without the turkey, this is a beautiful side dish that’s perfect for the fall, winter, holidays or just a weeknight cozy dinner. I put a poached egg over some leftover rice and lemme tell you….sooooo good!


Related Recipes:

apple and sausage stuffed butternut squash
za’atar roasted kabocha squash with silan
turkey roulade with five minute stuffing
unstuffed mushrooms

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Farro Grain Bowl

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Life with five kids has thrown me for a loop. They always say #3 is hard, maybe #4 too. But #5? I’m ex.hau.sted. Baby girl is still 3 months old, so I know we’re still in that needy (ie. nursing every 3 hours) stage, but man, it’s tough! I still won’t give up blogging though, because after five years of creating and sharing, it’s become so much a part of me. You guys, are part of the family.

Thank G-d for some stored posts that never made it to blog like this farro grain bowl. I don’t know why it’s been sitting in my archived photos for so long because dang is it beautiful. And oh so tasty! I’m all about grain bowls right now. Ok I’m all about any food really (breastfeeding!!), but there’s something about being able to throw in a little of this and a little of that to create something so satisfying.

I’m a huge fan of grain bowls because there are endless options, and it’s basically just an excuse to throw a bunch of leftovers into a big dish and call it fancy! I’ve started to make them for lunch a lot, using whatever leftovers I have in the fridge. I can usually find some quinoa (I like to cook it up in the beginning of the week so I can add it to salads, yogurt and mains) or leftover rice and I pretty much always have some cooked chicken on hand. There’s also plenty of veggies to choose from, plus some hard boiled eggs, cheese, and roasted beets. So basically I’ve got my grain bowls made, I have to just make ’em!

So, how do you build a grain bowl? Well, you can try and stick to a specific cuisine (like this Middle Eastern inspired bowl) or you can keep things simple. Just follow this basic outline:

How to Build a Grain Bowl:

Grains (rice, farro, quinoa, couscous, barley, wheat berries, millet)
Raw or Cooked Veggies (carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers, beets, peppers, zucchini)
Raw or Sauteed Greens (spinach, arugula, kale, radicchio, cabbage)
Protein (tofu, edamame, chickpeas, surimi, chicken, poached egg, cheese)
Dressing (pesto, miso, tahini, salsa, peanut sauce, soy sauce)
Garnish (seaweed, avocado, nuts, pickled veggies, scallions, fresh herbs)

I probably would have added some sauteed beet greens to this bowl, if I had had them, but the flavors were amazing and went together really well. The chewy farro, sweet beets, smoky chicken, crispy chickpeas and crunchy pomegranate seeds really complemented each other – both in texture and flavor. Of course the tahini didn’t hurt either, and the pomegranate molasses just put it over the top.

Thinking about making your own grain bowl? Here are some other fun combinations!

// cauliflower rice + fajita spiced peppers + black beans + avocado + salsa dressing + fresh lime
// quinoa + roasted squash + sauteed kale + feta + pumpkin seeds + almond butter dressing
// couscous + roasted eggplant + tomato + red cabbage + hard boiled egg + harissa dressing
// sushi rice + carrots + cucumber + sushi grade tuna + edamame + fried egg + sriracha + soy sauce

Have you ever made a grain bowl, or seen one you like? Share the combo with me in the comments below! I love to get inspired with new combinations!


Related Recipes:

chicken shawarma
grilled chicken shawarma salad
za’atar roasted chickpeas

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Stuffed Cabbage Bolognese

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

A couple of months ago, the kosher culinary school that I attended sadly closed down. I remember bumping into another alumni and we shared our disappointment in the school’s closing. “Do you realize,” she said, “that our diplomas aren’t going to be worth anything anymore? Don’t you care?” I thought for a minute and realized, that no, I didn’t care, because it wasn’t really worth anything to me to begin with.

Being a Chef isn’t something you learn and file away in a drawer. It’s something you become, irregardless of schooling. A true chef never stops learning. They are constantly honing their skills, reading, watching and improving. I don’t need a piece of paper to show that I went to culinary school. The love that I put into my dishes, the effort that I put into my technique and the taste of the finished product is all a testament to my knowledge and understanding of food.

And still, I have a hard time calling myself a Chef. I have so much more to learn. I’ve never worked a restaurant kitchen. Never smoked a piece of meat. Never butchered anything. OK – never butchered anything correctly. Forgot how to break down a fish. Have yet to make a Thanksgiving turkey. Chef? I think not.

I so strongly believe this, that in the hundreds of cooking classes I’ve given around the country, I refuse to wear a Chef’s jacket and wear an apron instead. I feel like I’m a cook, just like my audience, and we’re learning together.

It’s this attitude that has allowed me to learn about interesting dishes and techniques, not necessarily from other Chef’s, but from average cooks. I’m always open to chatting about food and recipes, and hearing what’s cooking in other people’s kitchens. I’ve come home with amazing recipes from people I bump into in the supermarket, or on the train. I belong to lots of Facebook cooking groups and I love to browse through the Pages and see what’s cookin’ in other peoples kitchens.

Alas, and getting back on track here… that’s precisely how this recipe happened. I saw a recipe for an unstuffed cabbage with noodles made by Danielle Cooper Lader on the What’s for Supper Facebook page and it looked so amazing that I had to try my own version! I used my Bubby’s amazing cabbage & flanken soup recipe as my starting point and just went from there! It’s kind of a cross between lokshin and cabbage and stuffed cabbage, both popular Hungarian dishes that I grew up eating. And you know me and mashup recipes. This one is a winner!

In five years of blogging, this is my first time posting on a Saturday night, I just really wanted to get this up for you in time for the seconds days of the Chag! Soooo much easier than stuffed cabbage, and dare I say even more delicious. Chag Sameach!

Related Recipes:

Bubby’s cabbage soup with flanken
Passover stuffed cabbage
how to stuff cabbage
spaghetti squash bolognese
veal marsala bolognese

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Grilled Chicken Salad with
Jalapeno Honey Mustard Dressing

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

It was one of those nights, after many days of eating the wrong foods (read: fried, takeout, you-name-it), when I decided I needed to eat a salad for dinner. Luckily, we always have a stash of oven grilled chicken in the fridge (see my super easy recipe below!), so I just threw together whatever I had in the fridge and pantry and this salad was born. I’ve been making this dressing forever, so that wasn’t exactly an afterthought, but it turned out to be the perfect compliment to the composed salad dish.

If you’re an avid follower of mine, you already know that I post almost everything I eat on Instagram (whenever people stop me in the street to ask me what I’m up to foodwise, I just tell them to follow me there, ‘cuz I post just about everything that goes into my mouth!!), so when I whip together a healthy salad for dinner, I try to plate it up nice and pretty, you know, #eatingfortheinsta. So I fanned out my avocado all  fancy and stuff, and the recipe requests poured in. Next thing I know, my inbox is filled with pics of this salad – all composed and perfect, and this recipe-afterthought became an instant sensation.

The dressing is a hit in it’s own right, and lots of readers have told me it’s become a family favorite. So…I finally decided it was time to blog about it! As a recent text message from a reader reminded me, not everyone uses Facebook or Instagram, so I gotta think about the readers that just come here for the good stuff. Rikal, this is for you ;) !

If you’re not a fan of composed salads (salads that have been neatly arranged on a platter, like this), then just go ahead and and mix everything up in a big ‘ole bowl. I promise it’s just as delicious!

Happy Grilling you guys! Check out the links below for lots of other grilled chicken salad recipes that are perfect for summer or when you get that healthy-eating-binge!

#eatingfortheinsta!

Related Recipes:

grilled chicken shawarma salad
grilled marinated chicken
Asian chicken salad
sesame linguini with marinated chicken breasts

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Charoset London Broil

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I recently spent a couple of days in Miami. Aside from my (almost) daily breakfast at Zak the Baker, I made sure to head to Sarah’s Tent, a kosher grocery in Aventura. Sarah’s Tent is a well stocked market with a great deli, but that’s not what I went for. I went for the Israeli imports, specifically, kosher Lotus Biscoff spread, also known as speculoos or cookie butter.

If you fly Delta, you may notice that they give out individually wrapped biscuit cookies made by Lotus, but sadly, I always pass on them and go for the kosher pretzels. El Al, however, offers up the Israeli-manufactured version of the biscuit, which is, in fact, kosher. I went through my kosher speculoos phase a little while back when my local kosher supermarket carried the biscuits (which I turned into these buns, these pancakes and this party mix), but I’ve since moved on to the spread – which is the most decadent cookie butter of your dreams – and is pretty hard to get your hands on with a kosher certification. I once made my husband travel all around Jerusalem to bring me home a prized jar, and I savored that butter like no ones business, one spoon at a time!

BUT – back to the recipe at hand. As I was strolling through the aisles of Sarah’s Tent, I noticed a jar of Israeli-made charoset and I was intrigued. As an Ashkenazi, I had never tasted the “real” stuff, made with dates, apples, walnuts and wine. I brought home a jar and sadly, I was quite disappointed with the flavor. It was sitting in my fridge last week as I rummaged through, looking for ingredients to make my london broil – and then it hit me. Why not marinate my meat in it, with some red wine, and make a Charoset london broil. Alas, the beef came out of the oven smelling divine, but I did not like the flavor. Putting a condiment that I did not like on it’s own on beef, only made the beef taste like the jarred stuff – and well, it was just off. But the idea was a strike of genius! I had posted a photo of the meat on Instagram (if you don’t follow my Friday food fests, you must!), and requests for the recipe started pouring in! So, I decided to come up with a homemade variation on the Charoset London Broil idea, and the results couldn’t have been better!

The meat marinates in a mixture of traditional charoset ingredients of red wine, walnut oil (in place of walnuts), silan or date honey (in place of dates), some grated apple and a pinch of cinnamon. After I cook up the meat perfectly medium-rare, the marinade gets cooked up thickened and tastes just like – you guessed it – charoset! This delicious Passover dish is a must, whether your Sephardic or Ashkenazi (like me!). Give it a try!

Related Recipes:

“everything” london broil with red wine reduction
French roast with dried fruit
Kosher meat guide: cuts and cooking methods

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Salami Quiche

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks here at BIB, with lots of Purim demos, cooking classes and recipe writing! I always say that calling myself BUSY IN BROOKLYN was like a self-fulfilling-prophecy, because when I started this blog I wasn’t half as busy as I am nowadays. But busy is good and I am so thankful for it! Except when all that busying around turns into a sinus infection, and my recipe testing is put on hold because I can’t taste anything! I had amazing plans for a new hamantasch this week, but my taste buds won’t cooperate. And even though I can barely lift my head off my pillow, I’ve got my third demo this week in a couple of hours! So, I THANK GOD for this amazing recipe that I developed for a local magazine’s Purim issue last year, so at least I have something to share!

You all know that I’ve taken on a BIB tradition to share a salami recipe every year. I once heard that people have a tradition to eat salami on Purim because it is hung, like Haman (!!!). Who knows if it’s true, but it’s definitely fun. And it was especially thrilling when my DRUNKEN HASSELBACK SALAMI went crazy viral two years ago (I can’t believe it’s so old!). I always meet readers at demos, or even on the street who tell me that it’s become a weekly tradition for them. I just love that!

For this year, here’s something a bit more homey and family-friendly for your Purim meal. I’m sure this will become a staple in your family for the holidays too. Happy Purim!

Related Recipes:

drunken hasselback salami
beer battered salami chips with beer mustard
salami chips with dijon dipping sauce

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Veal Marsala Bolognese with Turnip Noodles

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

It’s almost New Year’s and stigmas aside, I really want to get back into healthy eating. The December donutfest threw me off the wagon, and I’ve been having a hard time getting back on! I’m back to the “I’ll start tomorrow”,  or just after the weekend, or my favorite, “Monday is a new day”. Except Monday comes and goes and it’s already time for the ball to drop.

So here I am, heading into New Year’s Eve and I’m renewing my commitment to pull out my spiralizer and eat more veggies and less carbs. Who’s in for the ride?

We’ll start with these turnip noodles and this amazingly rich bolognese made with veal (my favorite protein), mushrooms and marsala wine, a twist on the classic chicken marsala.

I’m a big fan of marsala (it’s got wine and mushrooms, hello?!), but bolognese? Not so much. Classic bolognese is made with ground beef (not my fave) and dry red wine, and the good stuff is usually simmered for hours. Truth be told, I usually just make my split-second bolognese by browning my beef and adding store-bought marinara, which is probably why I don’t like it very much. My kids, on the other hand, love it over spaghetti with a side of zoodles. It’s by go-to whenever I need a quick and easy dinner, and eating it over zoodles makes it guilt-free too.

But I’m marinara’d out. I use it for my 2-ingredient lazy meatballs, my quick and easy shakshuka, my cheesy zoodle marinara and so much more. I wanted something different so I decided to create a bolognese that’s marinara-free. Something not so heavy, but rich and tasty, and oh so delicious. I hit the nail on the head.

Not only is this veal bolognese amazingly rich and satisfying, it’s virtually guilt-free when served with spiralized turnip noodles, a nice change from the overdone zoodles. Looks like January 2016 is going to be healthy and delicious indeed. Happy New Year!

Related Recipes:

spaghetti squash bolognese
melt-in-your-mouth veal meatballs
veal shepherds pie with celery root mashed potatoes
caraway roasted turnips

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Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

I have a confession to make. I used to be afraid of chicken. And I don’t mean of eating it.

Yes, you read that right. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t too fond of helping in the kitchen, and when I had to make chicken, lets just say it was an ordeal. I always wore gloves, but sometimes the chicken got the better of me and I would throw it into the sink, terrified that it would come to life and leap at me.

I mean, do you blame me? Look at that chicken sitting there all pretty. It looks so…well…human.

It took a few years, but I got over my fear. And just time in time for this GENIUS homemade crispy rotisserie chicken hack.

I can’t take credit for this stroke of brilliance. All credit goes to Justin Chapple, the senior editor of Food & Wine Magazine, who’s Mad Genius Tips constantly blow me away!

When I saw a short clip of this easy bunt pan rotisserie chicken on Instagram, I was all over it. I made it for Shabbat that week, and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s my husband’s favorite way to eat chicken, and we always fight over the crispier-than-ever chicken wings!

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s super healthy and indulgent nonetheless. You feel like you’re eating fried chicken (it’s that crispy!), but without those extra calories. It also makes a great one-dish meal when you add potatoes or other veggies.

Related Recipes:

lemon & garlic whole roasted chicken

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