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Halva & Ricotta Stuffed Figs

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous kosher foodie potluck, arranged by the talented Kim Kushner, author of The Modern Menu. It was such an honor to meet Kim and taste her delicious food! She blogged about our amazing evening under the stars here.

Kim set up the most beautiful tablescape on a rooftop in Midtown Manhattan (which also happens to be her husband’s office). With the help of Marzan Flowers, and other generous sponsors, the table was set with a rustic vibe and the most amazing swag! We were surrounded by the New York City skyline, the most incredible kosher food, and the who’s who of the kosher blogging world.

Since it was a potluck, each guest was required to bring a kosher dish (or two), all of which were laid out on a round buffet table. I made my malawach cheese pastries with tomato & schug dipping sauce, plus some incredible goat cheese popovers! Some of the other dishes included nachos by The Patchke Princess, creamy hummus, salmon, roasted veggie salad and pavlova by Kim Kushner Cuisine, fava beans by BeautyandsomeBeef, panzanella salad with cashew bread and s’mores caramels by KitchenTested.

We also had some famous kosher Instagrammers like @cookinginheels, @chefchaya and @theghettogourmet who brought drunken fish tacos with pickled onions, cronuts with nutella pastry cream and Asian quinoa lettuce wraps, respectively.

What has all that got to do with these AMAZING, droolworthy stuffed figs?! Well, BeautyandsomeBeef made the simple ricotta stuffed figs that inspired these halva-drenched ones! Check out these pics for a peek!

I’d heard of ricotta stuffed figs with honey before but I’d never tasted them until the potluck. I couldn’t believe how such a simple dish could taste so fantastic! Of course I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could make them even better…and then THESE happened.

And by these I mean the insanely decadent jewels of perfection you see here. Fresh seasonal figs stuffed with ricotta, dipped in silan and sesame, dripping with sweetened tahini sauce and finished with halva crumbs. Shall I get you a napkin?!

If you’ve never heard of silan before – hop on the silan train because it’ll take you to syrup heaven! Silan is a honey syrup made from dates. It’s got an intoxicatingly rich flavor that is so much better than whatever else you’ve been using! When mixed into tahini paste, it creates the most decadent halva sauce that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful! It’s interesting to note that when the Torah speaks of honey it is actually referring to date honey. Israel, the land of halva and “Milk & (Date) Honey” is what inspired this Middle-Eastern twist on a classic recipe!

Do yourself a favor and grab some fresh figs, before the season is over! 

 

Related Recipes:

breakfast quinoa with silan roasted figs
grilled cheese with figs and honey
holiday fig salad

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Spinach Falafel Burger

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

I’m pretty particular about how I like my falafel. And if you’re a true falafel lover, then I’m sure you are too! My first falafel rule of thumb is: it’s got to be GREEN!

Green falafel means it’s got a lot of herbs mixed in, which make them incredibly moist. If they’re too beige, they almost certainly have flour added, which makes them especially dry. The worst thing about dry falafel is that it gets stuck in your throat and you’re almost choking on the cardboard bits. YUCK.

That’s the other thing about falafel – it’s got to be fried. Baked falafel just isn’t the same! It’s the same thing with donuts. If you’re gonna have a donut, then have a donut. Just don’t bake it and squeeze the life out of the crispy fried donut dream.

And I’m not just saying it. I know because I put this recipe to the test – baked vs. fried. Sure the baked falafel patties were edible. A bit crispy, even. But they didn’t stand a chance near the uber crispy fried ones – with a moist and fluffy center and the crunchiest crust you’ve ever had.

You’re probably wondering where I came up with the idea of making spinach falafel. Well, I’ll tell you. My husband and I are both seriously averse to cilantro. It’s good that we’re on the same page about it, because otherwise we’d be having a fight every time I make Pad Thai. But there’s another issue too. My husband doesn’t like parsley either. And I do. So when it comes to dishes like falafel (especially green falafel), what’s a girl to do? Especially a girl with a cardinal rule of green falafel. She adds spinach (and sneaks in a little parsley!)…just don’t tell the hubby ;)

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Spaghetti Squash Shakshuka

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably know that I’ve been doing the Whole30 diet. Ever since I had baby #4 back in October, shedding the pregnancy pounds has not been easy. My go-to weightloss plan has always been The South Beach Diet, but it just wasn’t working for me this time around. I guess as we get older, our bodies change and what may have worked for us in our twenties, just doesn’t cut it during the big 3-0.

I had been seeing the Whole30 plastered all over Instagram and I was curious to see if it would work for me. My friend Melinda of Kitchen-Tested was raving about the diet, and after pushing it off for some time, I finally took the plunge! I chronicled my Whole30 diet via social media, sharing my meals for everyone to see. It held me accountable and made me feel like I had to stick to the program, or else I had a lot of people to answer to!

One of my biggest rules of dieting is to eat well. If I munch on salad greens every day, I feel deprived, miserable and hungry! On the other hand, when I take the time out to prepare a satisfying meal, I feel full and I don’t end up with cravings. Three meals a day becomes more than enough and I don’t feel the need to snack in between.


And so, each day, I challenged myself to come up with exciting recipes and dishes. Omelettes certainly became boring over time, so I turned to one of my favorite dishes – shakshuka. I prepared jalapeno shakshuka, marinara shakshuka and even meat shakshuka! But I really hit the jackpot with this incredible spaghetti squash shakshuka. The strands of spaghetti squash coated in runny egg yolk is so spectacular, you feel like you’re eating something so indulgent – and you are!

Dishes like these carried me through the Whole30 without a single mistep. I originally went on the diet to lose weight, but I never imagined the amazing after-effects that 30 days without sugar, dairy, carbs, legumes or alcohol would bring. Yes, I lost 8 lbs, but even better than that was that my sugar-cravings all but disappeared and I never feel the need to snack anymore. I eat when I’m hungry – and I eat well, but that is all! I feel so in control of my eating habits, and I don’t crave that added drizzle of honey or the teaspoon of sugar that I once did. In fact, just a few days after I completed my Whole30, I spent Shavuot with friends where I was surrounded by dairy delicacies and delicious dishes of all kinds. When I tried to eat a salad that had a sweet salad dressing, I was so overwhelmed by it’s cloying nature that I literally could not swallow it. There is no question that the Whole30 changed my taste towards food and my attitude as well. I much prefer savory to sweet now, in fact I plan to continue following the Whole30 diet until I lose another 20 lbs. After that, I will transition to a Paleo diet (the Whole30 is based on it, it just has more restrictions).

One of the other great outcomes of the Whole30 diet, is something I could have never imagined. When I began posting photos of all of the delicious meals I was preparing, the requests for recipes poured in. At first, I shared the recipes under the photos, but after a few days I realized, why don’t I just compile a 30-day meal plan? And so, without much ado, my Paleo ebook was born! Writing a cookbook has seemed so far away for the longest time – and a real, physical, turn-the-page kind of cookbook might be. But this ebook has allowed me to share over 100 recipes without nearly as much work as a hardcover book would be. I am still working on the last bit of edits and recipe testing, but the ebook should be available within the next 2 weeks! Stay tuned for more details in my upcoming posts and look out for the #Paleoebook hashtag via social media. I think I smell a giveaway.

 

Related Recipes:

baked portobello shakshuka
quick and easy marinara shakshuka

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Sachlav Rose Water Pudding

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Sachlav (also pronounced sahlab, salep, or saloop) is a popular warm winter drink in the Middle East. Even though I spent an entire year living in Israel, this light rose water pudding made it past me somehow and my first taste of it was actually in a restaurant in Brooklyn, named Bissale. I was reminiscing about my Bissale experiences in this recent post, and the fragrant rose water drink just came back to me.

I thought a rose water scented pudding would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is told that Mount Sinai was covered in roses at the time the Torah was received, so many communities have a custom to decorate their homes and synagogues (as well as Torah scrolls) with roses. Persian Jews even refer to this holiday as the Feast of the Roses and in some Sephardic synagogues, it is customary to sprinkle rose water on the congregants.

Rose water, which is made by steeping and distilling fresh rose petals in water, is featured in many Sephardic desserts and pastries. It can be purchased at most Middle Eastern and specialty food stores.

Sachlav was traditionally made with ground orchid tubers called sahlab. The tubers of the orchid were dried and ground up to create a fragrant powder that thickens the milk into a pudding. Nowadays, cornstarch, which is cheaper and easier to find, is used to thicken the drink. Sachlav is usually finished with a touch of orange blossom or rose water, but some prefer to forgo the fragrant waters and garnish it with coconut, cinnamon and/or nuts and raisins.

Sachlav is usually served in the winter, like a Middle Eastern hot chocolate. Personally, I have a weakness for hot pudding (I always eat chocolate pudding boiling hot, right out of the pot) so I’m good eating it all year long. If you prefer a cold pudding, you can set the sachlav in the fridge, and serve it up like traditional malabi.

So what’s malabi? It’s a cold rose-water-scented milk pudding, that is pretty similar to sachlav, except it’s usually garnished with raspberry syrup and pistachios. If you’d like to turn this recipe into malabi, simply pour into serving glasses, let cool and then refrigerate until set. You might want to garnish it with my strawberry rhubarb compote for a seasonal garnish that would compliment the rose water really well.

1 year ago: pesto & goat cheese crostini
2 years ago: sundried tomato olive tapenade

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