An Israeli Dinner

This is a post I’ve been waiting to write for weeks. The crisp fall weather has followed the rains of last week, and I’ve been doing lots of cooking. One of my favorite pass-times is collecting recipes, and because the Israeli population hails from all over the world, I’ve included a mix of cultures in this lovely dinner. I belong to a great Facebook group, Israeli Foodies. Last week a post popped up about a lady who sent her husband (both English speakers) to the store to buy flour. Since everything is written in Hebrew, he grabbed a bag in the baking aisle that looked like a bag of flour. Much to the wife’s dismay, it was a white granular substance, and she hadn’t the foggiest idea what it was. So she put a picture of the bag and the product on the board asking what the heck Hubby had bought, and how she could use it. It turns out it was semolina (cream of wheat), and a flood of delicious recipes came forth from the readers. I’ll be sharing a soup using semolina, and a cake. To note: for those keeping Kosher, the cake has yogurt, so put this dessert aside for a dairy meal. For all of the others, enjoy a special Shabbat dinner!

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Marak Kubbeh Adom: Red Kubbe (MidEast Meatball) Soup  serves 6-8

This recipe uses semolina to make the meatball dumplings. The red of the soup is from beets, giving it a gorgeous color as well as its distinctive and delicious taste. It is a winter staple here, and is of Middle Eastern origin, eaten for Shabbat and can be a meal in and of itself.

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 large, diced brown onions
  • 2 1/4 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Dough:

  • 6 cups semolina
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 1/3 – 3 cups water

Soup:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium beets (roast first in 400* oven, 30 min, let cool, peel & cut into wedges)
  • 5 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 4 medium zucchinis, peeled, cut into 1/2 -3/4 inch thick circles
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp chicken soup powder (in America, you can substitute the water for boxed Trader Joe’s    Chicken Broth)
  • 5 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Preparation:

To make the filling, heat the oil in a medium pan, add the onion and sauté until just browned. In a medium sized pot, cook the meat until well-browned. Drain any grease. Add the parsley and onion to the meat. Stir in the spices and cook until the liquid evaporates. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

For the kubbeh, stir together the semolina, salt, and oil. Slowly add the water, mixing with your fingers until you get a soft dough. DO NOT KNEAD!!! Separate the mixture into about 50 balls. Flatten each ball, placing a large spoonful of the meat mixture in the center and closing dough around the meat. Refrigerate the balls until the soup is ready!! The kubbeh can be frozen on a baking sheet at this point and reserved for later use, if you want to make a half sized pot. Once frozen transfer to an airtight container, and add frozen balls to next batch of soup, just cook a bit longer…

To make the soup, heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté onion until golden, then toss in the celery and zucchini and cook until just soft. Add the beets and tomato paste, and spices, stirring well. Then add the chicken stock or water and chicken powder, your choice (as stated above. We have absolutely NO canned or boxed soups here, so I freeze stock in advance).Cook about 10 minutes to a boil, then stir in sugar and lemon juice. Turn down to a slower boil (not rolling). Carefully drop semolina/meat  balls into the hot soup, adding as many as will fit in comfortably without crowding. Lower heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

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Baked Chicken with Mustard, Onions & Apples , serves 6

This is more of an Ashkenazi recipe, coming from France/Germany areas of Europe. The silan gives the Israeli flavor, and is a date syrup, kind of a cross between maple syrup and molasses, but much milder. I adore it!!! And hope you can find it outside Israel. It’s worth the search, and can be used oodles of ways…

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 brown onion, peeled & sliced
  • 3 medium, Red, cooking apples, cored and sliced into wedges
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • sea salt, pepper
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard, deli style with coarse grains
  • 2 Tbsp silan (date syrup, my new favorite!!!) or honey
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves

Preparation

Oil the bottom of a baking dish, then put down a layer of the sliced onions, and scatter apple slices from two of the apples on top. Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs. Place on top of the onion/apple layer. Drizzle a small stream of the olive oil on top, sparingly. Salt and pepper to taste. In small bowl, add the mustard and silan or honey (silan is THE BEST, if you can find it outside of Israel) and 1 tbsp minced sage. Pour on top of the chicken. Scatter remaining able slices on top, and sprinkle the rest of the sage. Bake, covered, at 325*F (160*C) for 40 minutes, then unwrap and let bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

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Tamar’s Fall Veggies, serves 6-8

I developed these recipes myself. I love using fresh seasonal produce, and putting a lot of colorful sides on the table. Fall is the best, because the colors are just so rich and festive! Although there are a lot of items I just cannot find up here, because we only eat seasonally what is available, there are still lots of new products on the stands at the shucks and markets from which to choose.

Regal Red Cabbage Medley

Ingedients:

  • 1 medium red/purple cabbage
  • 2 red apples, cored & sliced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges, separated
  • 6 carrots, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt, fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • pinch ground cumin
  • pinch ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Melt coconut oil in bottom of large pot. Add onions, carrots,& apples to sauté until just tender. Add in cabbage. Sauté uncovered, stirring every few minutes until a bit limp. Add in vinegar, sugar & spices. Stir well. Cover and let simmer until ready to serve.

                                   “Orez Hodoo”  Indian Rice

This is my tribute to the recently discovered and immigrated Bnei Menashe tribe. Get this: a few years ago, the descendants of the actual Biblical tribe of Menashe/Manassah were discovered living in India!!! They spoke Urdu. They looked Indian. They dressed Indian… but they had Torah scrolls, and kept the Sabbath. DNA testing was done, and the whole tribe was asked to be resettled in Israel. They live on a mountaintop 10 minutes from my house. People!!!! This is another fulfillment of a 5000 year old prophecy. The tribes are coming home!!!! If this doesn’t testify to the existence of G-d, I don’t know what does. Anyway, here is my tribute to the Indians: “Hodoo,” in Hebrew. The name “Hodoo” is another whole story I’ll save for later-

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled, sliced into thin slices, then halved
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala spice

Preparation:

Melt coconut oil in bottom of yet another medium/large pot. Add onions and sauté til tender. Add in water and salt, along with the rice and corn kernels.  Bring to a full boil.Add spices. Cover, and let simmer on low about 30 minutes. After half an hour, open pot and fluff up the rice. Should be fragrant with the spices and very yellow… Deeeelish!  Great for leftovers with shredded chicken in tortillas, too.

 Persian Semolina Cake

In the 1970’s when the Shah of Iran was deposed and the Ayatollah Khomeni rose to despotic control enforcing strict Shariyya law, most of the country’s Jewish and Christian population fled to safety in America or Israel. This is a recipe of Persian origin using that granular substance, we now know as semolina. The rose water perfumes the cake like nothing else. Find it in the MidEastern store. Some US stores now carry it. Please check it out. I use it in so many things, and is actually a breath of spring/ fragrance of heaven. The cardamom in the glaze complements the whole amazingly well. Even though I’m gluten free I had to try these semolina recipes, and they do not disappoint. A must-do!! Thank you, Sonnia, for the recipe.

Ingredients: (Cake):

  • 2 cups semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup rose water
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds (can be omitted)

(Syrup):

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350* (180*C). Combine semolina and oil. Add remaining ingredients (except almonds). Grease baking dish (I use a tube pan with removable bottom).  Pour in mixture and smooth with spatula. Arrange almonds in rows or concentric circles, depending on pan. Bake for about 1 hour.

Prepare syrup towards end of cooking time. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Remove cake from oven. If sheet style, cut into squares. If tube pan, leave intact. Pour syrup on top of cake while both are still hot.

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