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Monday, April 30, 2007

Lamb Kabob

Paula sent this one in. I never cease to be amazed how those not used to this dish consider it almost a delicacy. In the Middle East "Kabob" is really a basic staple and can refer to a myriad of different meats, prepared in a thousand different ways. By the way, I laughed when I read Paula's advice below about soaking the wooden skewers in water. We use them all the time, never soak them, and never had a problem. But then again - with Paula her kitchen might very well burst into flames! She writes:

I have jokingly asked for an outdoor kitchen. Of course in New England that would be difficult. I love to cook outdoors when the weather turns warm.

When I make Kabobs for the BBQ, I prepare theme the night before to allow the marinade to seep into the meat and vegetables.

Remember, if you use wooden skewers, SOAK them in water for half an hour before you fill them or they will go up in flames. Trust me, I have a sister who forgot to do this and we laughed while we watched the skewers disintegrate.

Lamb Kabobs



Paula sent the above picture in

Utensils You will need:
  1. Approx . 14 – 16 Skewers
  2. 2 Bowls
  3. Whisk
Ingredients:
  1. 1 1/2 Pounds of Lamb Cubed (approx 1” each)
  2. 4 Bell Peppers, mix of Red, Yellow and Green , seeded,cut into squares
  3. 14 - 16 Small Chili Peppers
  4. 1 Zucchini , unpeeled, cut into 1/2 “ circles or cubed
  5. 1 Yellow squash , unpeeled, cut into 1/2 “ circles or cubed
  6. 30 Pearl Onions
  7. 5 Jalepeno Peppers cut in half
Marinade:
  1. 3 ounces Zinfandel Wine
  2. 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  4. 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Basil
Variations:
  1. Add any vegetables you like
  2. Use store bought vinaigrette in place of homemade marinade
  3. Use Sherry Wine in place of Zinfandel
  4. Can be cooked in the broiler instead of grilling
Directions:
  1. Place the Lamb and cut peppers into a bowl and set aside
  2. Whisk the ingredients for the marinade until blended
  3. Pour over Lamb and peppers
  4. Cover and chill over night
  5. When you are ready cook them, arrange pieces on the skewers, alternate meat and vegetables. Plan 3 cubes of meat per skewer.
  6. Grill for 12 – 14 minutes, turning them frequently.
  7. Broil for 12-14 minutes

The really important thing about this recipe is the way Paula suggests to marinade the meat. That is obviously the trick in all these recipes. You can use any veggies you like, but the way the meat is prepared, as in all other meat recipes is the trick. Some use wine, I have a friend who uses Vodka actually. Others use some "secret family sauce recipe". But if you are doing real lamb, remember, lamb is a very tender meat and thus it will seep up all the marination very fast. Try not to use something which changes or hides the taste of the meat.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tzimmes (Jewish Casserole or Stew)

The following hit my email, and of course the first thing I say is "Oy Vey!".

Subject: A Request

Ted, there is recipe I'd love to find. During one of the memorable dinners at my college roommate's home, her Mom served a side dish called (I think) Carrot and Apple Tzimmes (sp?). I know this dish was sweet and had apples and carrots in it, but I've not found a recipe that sounds like the same thing I had at the Gonchar's house, and sadly my friend and her parents have passed away, so the recipe has been lost forever to me.

Here's your challenge: come up with a recipe that is an equivalent or a close one to it and I'll give you my eternal gratitude and a gold star for cleverness and know-how.

Nance
Well here we go Nance. Your wish is my command. But first some background. Tzimmes is a traditional Casserole made usually for Rosh Ha'Shanah - The Jewish New Year. Of course it is eaten all year around as well, but since the major part of Tzimmes is the fact that it is "sweet" and it is made sweet with honey, not sugar, it is eaten on the Jewish New Year. We traditionally dip our bread in honey from Rosh Ha'Shanah until the end of Sukkot (Tabernacles) a period of 21-22 days (depends if you live in Israel or outside of it) to show our hope that the new year that is coming will be sweet and full of blessings. Thus Tzimmes is an old-world recipe which is served during these times. Honey is the key.


Tzimmes is one of those dishes that belongs to the world that my mother and father grew up in. I can think of Tzimmes and Borscht as two of those dishes that whenever they are mentioned bring back really long gone memories of a different era and time. Of Rosh HaShanah meals and Sabbath meals colored by the forgetfulness of time and basking in an aura of laughter, warmth and love.

But enough nostalgia. As I said, the key to Tzimmes is "honey". It is a "sweet casserole" and if you do not like honey forget about real Tzimmes. Carrots and Apples are traditional for the Tzimmes, along with Sweet Potatoes (indeed Sweet Potatoes and Prunes are also part of the recipe) but one can use virtually any vegetable (or fruit come to think of it) in this dish. I should mention this is a great vegetarian dish as well. But since you asked - well here we go - Tzimmes for Nance. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Tzimmes and I really did not like most of what I could find on the Internet, but the following two pictures may give you an idea of what the dish should look like.

Tzimmes





Utensils You Will Need:
  1. Pot To Boil Water
  2. Oven Baking Pan or Aluminum Foil Pan
  3. Peeler
  4. Lots of Love
Ingredients:
*This should make enough for around 6 people.
  1. 1 Jar of Honey (Approximately 350 grams. - Approx. 12 ounces) A normal Jar of Honey or two will do. Depends on how much honey you want to use. I use LOTS!
  2. 8-10 Carrots
  3. 3-5 Sweet Potatoes
  4. 4-6 Apples
  5. One Lemon or One Orange (or you can actually use both)
  6. Olive Oil (didn't think I would forget OO did you?)
  7. One Tablespoon of Salt
  8. One Tablespoon of Cinnamon (if you like it!)
Directions:
  1. First we have to peel the carrots and sweet potatoes
  2. Now fill the pot with water to cover to cook the carrots and sweet potatoes and let them cook in the pot on the gas for at least 40 minutes. You want them soft but not mushy.
  3. Take them out and on the cutting board cut into slices. Not too thin not too thick.
  4. Cut the Apples up into slices as well.
  5. Squeeze the orange and/or lemon juice into a cup and add the salt to it. (sounds nuts but it works!)
  6. Now lay out the carrots, apples and sweet potatoes in the pan. Hey you - do it real pretty! Sheesh!
  7. Now pour the juice all over the laid out spread.
  8. Now sprinkle the Olive oil all over as well. Just a bit!
  9. Now open that honey jar and spread the honey out all over. Let it go. You want a sweet year or a sweet week or a sweet meal. Just go for it.
  10. If you are using cinnamon sprinkle on top.
  11. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  12. Put in your preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and leave it there for 30-40 minutes.
  13. Now take it out, take off the cover, and put it back in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius) for 8-10 minutes.
  14. Voila - Tzimmes!
Some people mix it all together to give it a look of a casserole. I like laying it out in the pan and letting it cook. Makes for a much prettier and appetizing looking dish that way. However, Tzimmes is really a casserole and thus mixing it together is much more traditional. Remember to lay it out so that apples, carrots and sweet potatoes are all spread out with each other. Do not put all the apples together etc. They should all be mixed in.

Serve it on a bed of romaine lettuce and it an appetizing dish for any meal.

This is fairly simple though it requires baking. If you like honey and veggies this is a dish for you. Some people add a bit of white pepper (though with honey I fail to see the purpose) and certainly prunes are used - but I loathe prunes. Enjoy Tzimmes, and may it always grant all of those who eat this dish, a year of sweetness and all good things.

Easy Slaw - Cabbage Salad

Paula writes for this one:

I have enjoyed trying to guess what rating our gracious host Ted will issue to my recipes. I am guessing this to be a two because of the prep work. Let’s see how close I am. This is best made ahead to allow the flavors to peek. It makes an excellent side dish to any BBQ.
Easy Slaw - Cabbage Salad


Utensils You will need:
  1. 1 Large Bowl
  2. Blender (or mixer)
Ingredients:
  1. 1 Head of Napa Cabbage, shredded (this is also called Bok Choy or any cabbage)
  2. 3 Onions , sliced thin
  3. 1 Carrot, shredded (should be approx 3/4 to 1 cup)
  4. 2 Tablespoons Soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  5. 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  6. 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
  7. 1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
  8. 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger
  9. 3 Tablespoons Red Chili Pepper flakes
  10. 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  11. 1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
Directions:
  1. Place Cabbage, Carrots and Green Onions in a large bowl.
  2. In the blender ( or use an electric mixer) combine all the other ingredients.
  3. Pour over Cabbage mixture and toss.
  4. Chill for at least 24 hours. This can be made at least 3 days ahead.

Nope this gets a one star. Just too simple. Mess is with the blender which is really a no-brainer. This is for the cabbage lovers among us. However, if you do not like cabbage, what one can do is simply substitute lettuce, (Romaine Lettuce would be preferable here) and the salad will be a great one just as well.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Glazed Lemon Loaf

We have not heard from Shrugged in a while...well here she is - back and ready with her baking genius.

I ran across a recipe for Lemon Bread the other day, and after I tweaked it a bit, came up with this recipe. 'Lemon Bread' was a misnomer anyway - it's much more like cake than bread, but it's baked in a 8" x 4" loaf pan, so it's not really cake either. It has about the same consistency and texture as pound cake, and can be served by itself or with ice cream. It also makes a nice treat to have with coffee or tea.
Glazed Lemon Loaf



Ingredients:

Batter:

1. ½ cup butter or margarine (softened)
2. 1 cup sugar
3. 2 eggs
4. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
5. 1 ½ cups flour
6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
7. 1/8 teaspoon salt
8. ½ cup milk

Glaze:

1. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2. ½ cup confectioner's sugar.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease one 8x4" loaf pan.
3. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter.
4. Beat in eggs and lemon juice.
5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Add flour mixture alternately with milk until all ingredients are combined.
7. Pour into prepared pan.
8. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
9. Remove from oven.
10. While loaf is cooling in pan, combine glaze ingredients – stirring until smooth.
11. Once bread has cooled for approximately 10-15 minutes, turn bread out onto a plate and drizzle with glaze.
12. Allow to cool completely – so glaze sets.
13. Slice into ¼-½" portions and serve.

Especially if you have a bread baking machine this is a great recipe. This does not take a long time though you have to remember the glaze at the end. I happen to love anything with lemon it... You can buy my soul with a great Lemon-Meringue Pie! I like this recipe, but expected no less from Shrugged. I vacillate between 2 & 3 stars for difficulty, but since the batter takes work, there is baking and timing invloved, am going to give this one a three.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Chicken-Rice Roger

Nancy sent this one in. Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen seems to have lit the fire in her kitchen! She writes:

I have an ancient cookbook titled "The I Hate To Cook Book". It looks like the Dead Sea Scrolls: it's a paper-back with brown, crispy pages which are crumbling at the edges and more than quite a few of the recipes have large grease stains on them (shows you how wonderfully often they were referred to). I checked the publishing date and it reads 1960! I know...I'm as old as Methuselah.

The recipes in this cookbook are about as easy as you'll ever find, so if you are in the category of "cooking for dummies", this particular recipe will please you no end. This recipe is one that was so popular that I even took it to weekend get-aways with my husband's cousin and her husband. We two women stayed up all night chewing the fat, and when we saw the morning light sliding through the Venetian blinds in the kitchen, we took the partially devoured chicken out of the fridge and finished it off while cold. You have to be a bit crazy to try that last part, but here is the warm version:

Note: To make this recipe Kosher I have substituted olive oil for the butter called for in the original recipe, and since I have been preparing this recipe for 40 years, it has also been tweaked in a couple of other places over the years (I use more onion than a couple of tablespoons, for heaven's sake, and I added some garlic!)

Chicken-Rice Roger

Utensils:

1. 9" x 11" Shallow Baking Dish
2. Measuring cup
3. Measuring spoons
4. Chopping Board
5. Sharp Kitchen Chopping Knife
6. Aluminum Foil to cover pan while baking

Ingredients:

1. 2-1/2 pound frying chicken (or 2 packages frozen breasts or thighs, thawed)
2. 3/4 cup uncooked rice
3. 1 medium onion, chopped
4. 2 cloves of garlic, peeled (of course) and chopped
5. 2 Chicken-Bouillon cubes dissolved in 1/-3/4 cups water (if you like to get fancy, use chicken stock)
6. Two 3-oz. cans of mushrooms (I often use fresh sliced mushrooms, instead....that is, if I'm not pressed for time)
7. 1/4 cup of Olive Oil (I'm guessing at this) so go easy with the Olive Oil
8. Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

1. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour to coat.
2. Brown the chicken in about 1/4 inch of safflower or other veggie oil. Don't cook it all the way through....just lightly brown it.
3. While the chicken browns, put the rice, salt, and pepper in a greased casserole. Sprinkle the rice in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.
4. Strew the chopped onion and garlic on top of the rice.
5. Do some of the same strewing with the cans of mushrooms, juice and all
6. Arrange the chicken artfully on top, pour the bouillon over it, and drizzle the olive oil on it.
7. Cover it with aluminum foil
8. Bake at 350 degrees F. (180 degrees Celsius) for an hour.

The rice is awesome in this dish. The chicken juices drip down on it and the onion and garlic and mushroom pieces flavor it deliciously.

Well you have to do the rice and make the chicken, so we are going to leave this at a 3-star for difficulty. But for those who want to get it all done together, chicken and rice, this is a good recipe to start with. Takes some planning and certainly a watchful eye on the oven. But is well worth it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

No-Bake Non-Dairy Raspberry Pie

Paula thinks we are going to give her a one-star here for difficulty...shhh...let us see how well she did with this recipe. She also gives us a personal view of her insane kitchen and cooking methods. Well here is what the insane cook sent Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen this time and once again we enter our Pie Fight!


Paula Writes:
Kids In The Kitchen

While I’m packing up my kitchen for the upcoming move, I have come across many things that made me smile at the memories. I have 1 daughter, 12 nephews, 1 niece, 2 great nephews and a great niece. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I wish to share just a few special stories.

A few things to keep in mind when allowing your children to help in the kitchen.

1) There will be a much larger mess to clean up in the end, but the bonding will more than make up for it.

2) You will be giving your child/children skills to survive on as they grow

3) You will create some very interesting dishes and feel giddy when you actually like them

4) Things will burn, boil over and spill. You will laugh until you cry, in a good way.

5) Sometimes peanut butter on marshmallows with raisins IS a complete meal, especially when you cut them into cute shapes.

6) Be careful with hot surfaces, sharp objects (I have cut my thumb nearly off), and hot liquid.

7) Laugh and have fun

My nephew Bobby, who is now a grown man, spent much of his childhood with me. He used to love to cook with Auntie. I recently came across his little, battery operated electric mixer, child sized measuring cups and wooden spoons, cut to his size, and small mixing bowls. When he was a toddler, he would sit in his high chair and cook along with me. I would give him flour, sugar, water and raisins and tell him to make Irish Bread for me. Of course, we ended up with more of the ingredients on the floor but the smile on his little face was something I will never forget... As he grew, his cooking skills became enough to fend for himself when needed.

My daughter has no interest in the kitchen, despite having grown up in the insane kitchen and having her own appliances to work with. She preferred a tool box like daddy’s complete with hammer, nails, wood and a level. Once in a blue moon, she will say “Mommy, let’s make something. Of course, even if it’s late at night, I don’t refuse. I so want her to find a love of the kitchen. This past Saturday, Hailey and Bobby were hanging out in the kitchen with me, before I knew it, they both had started cutting up fruit, shredding cheese and dicing up veggies with me without even realizing they were cooking. We laughed and chatted for a few hours and the result was a great meal.

Brandon is my seven year old nephew. He loves to help me in the kitchen and reminds me of the times I spent with Bobby. Brandon’s favorite is Banana Bread. Each time he visits, he will ask if we can make it, even when I have no bananas. Recently, we took a short vacation together, I being the person I am, always make sure I have accommodations with a kitchen. Yes, even on vacation! I took Brandon to the market with me. He passed all the pre packaged treats and headed for the produce. Imagine how proud I was of this seven year old wonder as he picked out fresh fruit because he wanted to cook with his aunt and make a fruit salad. I guess after many times watching me, he felt confident enough to pick out the perfect melons and such.

I enjoyed sitting with him and talking while we made that evening’s dessert. I feel anytime a child spends in the kitchen is a life skill’s learning experience.

Some will have a natural ability; others will find it an effort. It does not matter, either way; they will gather enough information to prepare a healthy meal while creating wonderful memories along the way...

Ta-Da!

This is sure to get me a rating of one.. since there is NO BAKING!! and this is delicious and low fat.

Summertime calls for many meals to be served outdoors. I will try to gather some fairly easy pack and go meals to share with you.

No-Bake Non-Dairy Raspberry Pie




Utensils You will need:
  1. One Bowl
  2. One Electric Mixer
  3. One Spoon
  4. Rubber Spatula
  5. A great book to read with all the time you save in the kitchen
  6. A tall tree to sit under while reading.
Ingredients:
  1. One Chocolate Pie crust ( store bought, yes, I cheat on occasion but can produce a recipe for a homemade crust)
  2. 1 Package Sugar Free Instant White Chocolate pudding mix (do not prepare, just mix in dry)
  3. 1 Cup Nonfat Dry Milk (Carnation instant for instance) *Make sure the "milk" is labeled non-dairy otherwise you will turn this into a milk recipe!
  4. 1 Cup Water
  5. 2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  6. 2 Cups Lite Non Dairy Whipped topping ( such as Cool Whip or store brand)
  7. 1 – 2 Pints Raspberries (slice ½, reserve the rest for garnish.) (quantity depends on personal taste, this insane cook loves berries)
Variations:
  1. Substitute Vanilla Pudding or Lemon
  2. Add or exchange berries with Blueberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, Blackberries
  3. Add Sliced Banana
Directions:
  1. Pour Water into bowl
  2. Add Dry Milk and Pudding
  3. Mix well to blend
  4. With rubber spatula, fold whipped topping into mix
  5. Fold in Marshmallows
  6. Fold in Berries
  7. Garnish top with whole Berries ( you can use multiple berries for brilliant color)
  8. Cover loosely and chill for an hour.
*Just a note here - Remember to put it into the crust! Me thinks Paula forgot that itty bitty piece of information!


O.K. Sheesh we will give it a 1 star. But it is easy and sounds delicious. And I love berries all types. Be careful what type of milk substitute you use - if you are aiming for a "parve" (non-dairy) pie.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Nancy submitted this one as well, which is on a new track for Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen. We don't get enough recipes like this one! And I really thank her for making the adjustments to keep it "kosher". She writes:

Right now in Pennsylvania spring is beginning to introduce some warmth to us, after a winter of strange excesses of climate changes: very cold snaps followed by very wet periods which produced much flooding.

As my youngest son Jacob and I were enjoying our first day out in the sun in our rather ragged looking backyard, I said, "Jake, I am now thinking of chilled summer soups. I can't wait to start making them. How about you? Do you want me to get some together already?"

He immediately agreed, but said the first one had to be my specialty, Cucumber soup. Having just showed him this super new blog I discovered (Help! I Have a Fire in My Kitchen!), he suggested I post the soup recipe. So here it is, with some adjustments to make it Kosher.

This is a super soup for summer days on the patio. Even my grandchildren (most of them, that is) like it. Be prepared for a few more of these chilled soup recipes in the future. I love to share them.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Ingredients:

  1. 3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
  2. 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  3. 1 leek (just the white part and a small amount of green), well-washed and chopped. Leeks get very sandy, so it should be washed carefully.
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 3 cans of vegetable broth (or veggie stock, if you're a purist)
  6. 2 Cups of buttermilk
  7. 2 Cups of plain yogurt
  8. 1 teas. powdered Cumin
  9. Salt and white pepper to taste
  10. Chopped mint leaves for garnish

Directions:
  1. Pour the three cans of veggie broth in a deep pan with all the chopped veggies and the cumin.
  2. Cook for about 20 minutes at a slow simmer until the veggies are tender.
  3. Puree' the soup in a blender in small batches (I say small because you don't want hot soup splashing on you)
  4. Mix in salt and pepper and chill the soup for an hour or so.
  5. Using a whisk, mix in the buttermilk and yogurt, and chill the mixture again until you can't wait to serve it, or until it is refreshingly c-o-o-o-l.
  6. Sprinkle some chopped mint on top of each bowl of soup. I also like to put a light sprinkling of ground cayenne pepper on the surface of the tureen of soup before serving. You can see what a fiery food lover I am.
  7. Enjoy.

Simple and easy - two stars for difficulty. This shows a great combination of veggies and milk into one great sounding soup. I also like Nancy's choice of spices. It sounds like she really knows what she is doing in the spice and veggie department. Hopefully, Nancy will submit more recipes. But she better watch out for Paula! I get the feeling it would be one hell of a restaurant if these two ever set up shop together!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Barbecue Fish & Some Meat As Well

We just did a BBQ post, Grilled Chicken Pieces, but since today was Israel's Independence Day, known as "Yom Ha'Atzmaut" and since this year we did the traditional Israeli BBQ, well, why not? It is cooking is it not? So some of the kids got together, we trudged down from my house to the Valley Of The Cross, which is an extension of a Jerusalem's equivalent to "Central Park" which is called "Gan Saker" (not "Gan Soccer" as some think the name is!) and set up the good old BBQ.

Now any Israeli will tell you that trying to find an empty place to set up a BBQ in a park in the city, is an impossible deal. BUT, it happens to be that everyone gravitates to the grass in Gan Saker and few even walk the extra few minutes to the Valley Of The Cross which in itself is a large area full of meandering paths. I walk Rainbow there all the time, when I am trying to work out something in writing. She runs and romps, I talk to myself, and most people who see a frisky Golden Retriever with an owner who is mumbling to himself, keep a fair distance, and don't bother me! (See it pays to be crazy sometimes!)

So first a bit of geography & history. The Valley of the Cross is so-named after the Monastery of the Cross which resides there and was built originally in the 11th Century.

The Monastery of the Cross takes up a great deal of the Valley and its land is walled off and though the wall is small and can easily be climbed I have never seen anyone violate the borders of the Monastery. You can read up a bit on the history in Wikipedia and here is just a bit of history about the Monastery of the Cross.

Between the Rehavia district of Jerusalem and the Israel Museum is the Valley of the Cross. Out of the olive-trees in the valley, on Hayim Hazaz Boulevard, rises the massive fortress-like bulk of the medieval Monastery of the Cross (Arabic Deir el-Musalliba). According to the legend Lot came to live here after being separated from his daughters and planted cedar, cypress and pine seeds, which germinated and grew together to form the tree from whose wood Christ's cross was made. From this legend - which no doubt reflects an ancient tree cult - the monastery takes its name. Its early history is obscure. In Greek Orthodox tradition it was founded by the Empress Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, during her visit to Palestine. According to another tradition Constantine gave the site to the first Christian king of Georgia, Mirian (d. 342), who then built the monastery. Certainly there was a close connection over a long period between Georgia and the Monastery of the Cross, which had the same significance for the Christian peoples of Transcaucasia as the Georgian monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos. During the Crusader period and the subsequent years of Muslim rule, until the 18th century, the monastery remained in Georgian hands. In the 16th century there were 365 monks' cells; in the 18th there were still 220. When, after the decline of Georgia in the latter part of the 18th century, the monastery found itself in financial difficulties it passed into the hands of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, to which it still belongs. Valuable Georgian manuscripts are now preserved in the library of the Patriarchate. A few years after the foundation of the University of Athens the Greeks established a college here in which priests of eastern origin could pursue general and theological studies. The college, the first director of which was a Greek monk named Dionysios Kleophas, continued in existence until the First World War.
And here are a few pictures of the Monastery and the Valley. If you look closely you can see the Valley is surrounded on one side by the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament and The Israel Museum across the street.)





Monastery Of The Cross



Public Pathways In The Valley Of The Cross Park With Knesset In Far Background



Public Pathways In The Valley Of The Cross Park

Now we are done with history and geography down to the food on this holiday. BBQ is simple. We bring some steaks, some Kabab, some hotdogs (though the real dogs ate the dogs!), some burgers, some chicken wings and a fish for my non-meat-eater son. And we bring the handy portable BBQ, with coals, some fluid, a lighter, lots of Coke, some water, Watermelon, some Humus and Voila - a BBQ Picnic on Independence Day.

I already did the chicken wings on the BBQ in Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen in the post as mentioned, Grilled Chicken Pieces. Truth be told my children love the taste of BBQ meat so making a barbecue is a no-brainer.

The one thing you should not forget if you travel and use a portable BBQ, is to bring just one or two BBQ spices along. Most of the time the meat or chicken or fish does need it. Now most people do not think of BBQ'ing a fresh fish if they are not out fishing. However this is quite tasty and really great. And it really takes just a small bit of planning (which I passed this time only 50%). But I will give the Fish BBQ Recipe in full, and take it or leave it.





My son, went to the marketplace, "Machaneh Yehuda" and went to the fish stall and told the guy he wants a cheap fish that tastes good when BBQ. He bought a fish called in Hebrew "Musar Yam" also known as "Ayit HaYam" - which is called a "Meagre Fish" in English. (So help it is also known as a "Jew Fish" which I assume it is because it is a "kosher" fish.) The following is how it should be cooked on a BBQ - and I thank my oldest son, Amizorach, for reminding us about the silver foil. This my son, Avdiel, cooked for himself, (he is the no-meat person), and said he loved it. You will need a bit more patience than we had, but then again, in our family patience is just one of those qualities that is not in the genes.

Utensils Required:
  1. BBQ
  2. Silver Foil
Ingredients:
  1. One Fish (In this case the "Musar Yam" or "Meagre" as it is known in English) - Make sure it is cleaned and you had the entrails removed. Otherwise you will have to do this yourself.
  2. One onion
  3. 1-2 Peppers (remember our last post about Peppers in the Picadillo - Ground Beef & Sauce Recipe? Well here you will need the normal peppers.
  4. A smidgen of Garlic Salt
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 Lemon
  7. Olive Oil
  8. One crazy Golden Retriever who thinks the fish and meat and all that work was being done for her and we are cooking her supper! (Just kidding - the dog is totally optional!)
Now remember, folks, this is not going to be a great gourmet fish. But it is going to taste great for those BBQ days.

Directions:


  1. Lay out the fish in the silver foil.
  2. Sprinkle a smidgen (I love that word) of Garlic salt on the fish.
  3. Cut the lemon and squeeze around half of it over the fish.
  4. Salt as well.
  5. Cut the onion up, place a few small pieces inside the fish.
  6. Cut a couple pieces of lemon (not like in the pic, but take the skin off and put them inside as well)
  7. Cut the peppers up and put them around the fish.
  8. Sprinkle some Olive oil around.
  9. Salt a bit again.
  10. Cover the fish with the foil and put on top of coals that are heating at an even rate already.
  11. After around 10 minutes turn the fish over.
  12. 10 minutes later check the fish see how hot it is and if it the juices are all in the foil.
  13. Turn over again 5 minutes on each side.
  14. Voila! Real tasty fish. ENJOY!
Here are some pictures....food and otherwise. I cannot resist. Just some of the kids....





The hard working children!



The crazy Golden Retriever.



Finally the non-meat eater does his stuff!



At least there was something for me to eat!

And may all that celebrated Independence Day have done so in joy and happiness. For in the end, when all is said and done, our small country, with all its mistakes and foibles, continues to be one great place - the land which we can call home. Chag Sameach and may we all live to celebrate many more days of joy and laughter and whoever we are, wherever we are - always know the feeling of freedom in our own home.

I am going to leave this at a two. BBQ away from home takes planning and schlepping. Why? Hey it is easy right? BUT you try doing this with a crazy dog, a few crazy kids, one child who wants to "use your lighter" while the other waits for food, and the rest look off into the wild yonder! I dare you! So I give it a two but it should get a FIVE (plus free valium!... :)

Picadillo - Ground Beef & Sauce Recipe

This arrived as a comment, but since it is a full blown recipe - I am going to post it here. This one is from Nance, who lives in Pennsylvania, US and runs a new blog called Writing Late In The Game. She writes:

Here's a hamburger recipe from Mary Hemingway (or so the cookbook said) who mentioned that it was Ernest's favorite Cuban dish. It quickly became the favorite of my entire family. I've been making it often for about 40 years. The ingredients sound as though they'd make a weird combination, but it turns out to taste marvelous, and it is easy to do and gets put together and cooked quickly.

I don't know whether this is Kosher, or not, but a Jewish friend of mine ate it at a church supper one time and loved it, so hopefully it is.

Nance
PICADILLO

This recipe calls for Pimientos to be stuffed in olives. It could be confusing as "Pimentos" is a term that is used to described Peppers. These peppers can be hot or just plain veggies. (In Israel they are available almost year round and are fairly inexpensive.)



However, I am sure this recipe refers to the specific Pimento which is known as the Cherry Pepper, as you can see from the picture below, as this is usually the type of "Pimento" stuffed in olives. (Especially since this a Hemingway recipe as they are found in Spanish olives!)



Pimento - Cherry Pepper and Olives in Jar Stuffed With Pimento

Ingredients:
  1. 1 lb. ground beef
  2. 1 small sweet green pepper
  3. 1 small sweet red pepper
  4. 1/2 Cup raisins, plumped briefly in warm water to cover. (Drain before adding.)
  5. 1/4 Cup green olives stuffed with Pimientos
  6. 1 med. onion
  7. 1 large can chopped tomatoes and juice (or you can use fresh)
  8. 1/3 Cup red wine
  9. 3 cloves of garlic
  10. 1 small Serrano or JalapeƱo pepper (optional)
  11. 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  12. salt and pepper to taste


JalapeƱos Peppers



Serrano Peppers

Directions:
  1. Brown ground beef in olive oil with chopped red and green sweet bell peppers.
  2. Chop onions and garlic and small hot pepper (if desired)
  3. Add to frying pan and cook until transparent and pepper is tender.
  4. Add plumped raisins, olives, tomatoes with their juices, wine, salt and pepper and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
  5. Serve over hot steamed rice.

As far as I can tell it is kosher as long as the ground beef is kosher. This sounds absolutely delicious, though one must be an expert in peppers! Gets a two for difficulty, as it truly is easy to prepare but one must get all the ingredients together. Nance we want more repcipes! Keep it up.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some Non-Recipe Thoughts & Announcements

Iam often awed at the number of wonderful emails and comments left at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, which of course makes all the work in keeping the blog interesting and funny worthwhile. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to comment or just stop by - and especially those who catch some of my awful spelling mistakes. I really do appreciate the corrections so keep it up!


Ido not see a great many votes coming in for the Cake Recipe Contest. So get your friends and family to vote for you. You can find instructions on how to vote in the post: Great Cake Recipe Contest - Voting Is Now Open. You all should vote and get everyone to vote in this contest. Remember voting is open to all, you did not have to submit a recipe to vote in the contest. So lets get going folks!

Lest you think I do not pay attention to my email at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen here is something that crossed my inbox today which I think is worthy of putting up here even if does have nothing to do with recipes.



I am from an old old old (should I say that again?) old school where unless given a real good reason otherwise, one should respect the elders in one's life. They are a source of wisdom and knowledge that often there is no substitute for. Perhaps that is a very old fashioned view, and certainly I do not think that every elderly person is nice or wise. A person who is old, is just like one who is young. They are people. Not objects. Not things to be discarded and thrown away. They have their own personalities, and just like all other human beings, an elderly person can be nice, wise, interesting, mean, jealous. In short age does not either make a person a "person". However, we would be remiss in our duty as those who populate this planet if we simply discard the elderly.

Therefore, when an email came through, letting me know that at a website, ElderAbuse.org, they had written up Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen I took a look at the blog. Maybe they highlighted Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen cause they wanted to call me an old codger! But seriously folks, I think this blog, ElderAbuse.org, is extremely important to read. It may teach all of us a thing or two about the elderly and just what is happening to them in our "youth oriented society". I know that since this past week was Holocaust Remembrance Day a great deal of the media focused on the elderly Holocaust survivors and their sometimes very difficult financial conditions. Go take a look at ElderAbuse.org. You just may learn something.

One final announcement. Humor is Humor is Humor. Recently I have been with friends and heard some truly funny dating stories. Once one person started, it seemed that everyone had two or three of these stories in their mind, and they made me roll with laughter. So I got to thinking. (I can think sometimes - albeit rarely.) And I figured we would try a blog on the subject. If you want to submit a story or just read what others are writing mosey over to Dates Out Of Hell and read the submission rules there.

Here is the quote from the header on the blog:
Remember the guy who took you out and spent more time on the cell phone than talking to you? Or that woman who suddenly started singing an opera out loud in the middle of the restaurant? Got to love Blind Dates too! Are you 18 to 80? Single, Divorced, Widowed? Perhaps you are happily Married now but still remember the dating scene and some of those crazy dates you had? Dates Out Of Hell is the place for you to share these stories! Join the fun. And read all about the great DATES OUT OF HELL!
I would love to hear your stories there as well! Check out Dates Out Of Hell!

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Heart Of The Artichoke

Some like them; some hate them. Some consider it a true delicacy; some feel it is just not worth the effort. They can elicit "oohs" and "ahh's" and they can illicit a "yuck". They must be carefully chosen, tenderly held, slowly and delicately discovered and with a great deal of patience and work their soft, willing heart just may be revealed. Or they may prick you suddenly with hidden thorns.

Much like the one you love isn't it? Much like how we sometimes feel when we are lucky enough to fall head over heels in love.

Such is the Artichoke. Simple and easy to make, and yet one of God's creations that for some reason was given many allegorical qualities to remind us of life and love. (The word "Artichoke" seems to have come from the northern Italian word "articiocco," referring to its pine cone shape.)

Many settle for purchasing the artichoke heart. Many will buy frozen artichoke pieces. And yet the artichoke in essence is so easy to make and such a wonderful delicacy it would be criminal not to just put up the method of making it in Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen.

Here in Israel, one should buy artichokes during the spring when they are in season. To be sure they are sold for a few months but at the end of the season they are hard and unforgiving. But if purchased at the beginning and middle of the season they are really a great delicacy and serve as a wonderful entree to any meal.

In my family we eat Artichokes whole, and I will explain how. So first down to the actual preparation.

How To Shop For Good Artichokes:


As in the pictures in-season Artichokes should be green. They should also be soft to the touch. The leaves should be soft when you pick them up in the stand. They will always have some bruising - this is normal. This does not mean, and I say this from experience, that towards the end of the season you should stop buying them. However, the green, soft artichoke always tastes best and is easier to make.

Utensils Required:

  1. One large pot (required)
  2. One Steamer (an alternate way to make them - which is placed on top of the pot)
Ingredients:
  1. 2 or more Artichokes (can be as many as you like or as many that will fit in your pot(s)
  2. One whole lemon per pot
  3. One teaspoon of salt per pot
Directions For Steaming:
*This will usually be used to just eat the artichoke hearts but can be used to eat the whole artichoke. This is NOT my recommended way of making them.
  1. Cut half the lemon and put in pot filled 3/4 with water.
  2. Put the salt in the water as well
  3. Place the artichokes and remaining half of the lemon in the steamer (which is nothing more than a large strainer that goes on top of the pot and acts as a basket for the food.)
  4. Begin to boil the water for around 30-45 minutes and turn the artichokes over every 15 minutes or so.
  5. You may need more time at steaming. Just see how the soft and pliable the artichoke is getting and watch the color of the leaves.
  6. Take out and serve with dip (we will get to that in a bit)
Directions for Boiling:
*Many people do not know that even the short stalk on the artichoke can be eaten when boiled correctly and tastes as good as the artichoke. Try this, for it is simple and easy.
  1. Put Artichokes in an empty pot. (Do not cut the stems off - these can be eaten as well!)
  2. Fill Pot with water. (Artichokes float but there must be adequate water in the pot.)
  3. Cut lemon with the salt and place in the pot.
  4. Bring to a boil and then place on medium flame.
  5. After around 15-20 minutes you will see the green leaves (stems) get dark. Turn them over in the water so the Artichoke cooks evenly. Be careful. That water is HOT!
  6. This should be done for at least 60 minutes. I am sure you can overcook Artichokes though I have never done it. I always leave them cooking for a total of 90 minutes.
  7. Take out and serve with dip!


Artichokes Cooked & Ready
(Notice the change in color)

Serving Artichokes & How To Eat Them:
  1. To eat an artichoke you must peel away away the outer part to get to the heart. However these too can be eaten with dip. But first is first. Once the stem/leaf is eaten for whatever it offers up you must have a receptacle on the table where people can deposit the artichoke leaf. Otherwise it gets messy. So place a large soup bowl or nice bowl (or two) depending on the amount of guests, in the middle of the table telling people to put their discarded leaves in it. If you have 6 people eating artichokes these bowls are going to fill up real fast.
  2. The artichoke stem or leaf has a soft part on the bottom. As you get closer and closer to the heart the area which can be eaten, the soft part, slowly inches up. Each leaf, when peeled away can be dipped or eaten plain on the bottom (where you tore it off).
  3. As you get closer and closer to the heart of the artichoke you will find a bit more thorns on the tips. Careful. Obviously don't eat those!
  4. The outer later around the heart is appealing, soft and tender and white. Do NOT be fooled. These contains thorns - protecting the heart of the Artichoke from pain that others would give it. (Sound familiar? Sure as hell does to me!) Eat with caution and slowly!
  5. Ahh! The heart of the Artichoke. Soft, tender, pliable. The gift of the creation. The center of its being. Eat with delight.
  6. Don't forget the stem. It cooked enough it is also soft and ready to eat and tastes even better than the Artichoke itself.
There must be 10,000 different dips offered for Artichokes. Mostly are simply re-inventions under a different name of Salad dressings. A Thousand Island or vinegar based salad dressing goes great with Artichokes. Go according to your likes and dislikes. I will post in the near future a quick and easy to make Artichoke dip.

For your information. On Passover we ate the Artichokes without any dip whatsoever. Everyone loved them.

Easy to make. Easy to serve. Makes for a great entree and allows for conversation. By the way, if you are hosting people you are not familiar or friendly with, this is a great entree to serve as an icebreaker. Allows for eating, laughter, and people to be themselves. Cuts through the formal "ice" of meals real fast - and yet is an elegant dish to serve which shows you care about your guests. In Israel though, during season, Artichokes are fairly cheap. I assume in other places of the world they are somewhat more expensive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Great Cake Recipe Contest - Voting Is Now Open

Admit it! You all thought I forgot about it! HAH!

Great Cake Recipe Contest



Voting Procedure:
  1. Anyone who wishes to can vote!
  2. One vote from each email address (You can only vote once from one email address)
  3. You can vote for your own recipe
  4. Sign your name to your email - PLEASE
  5. Due to the fact that I was late with this Voting will be open until May 15, 2007 closing at May 15, 2007 @ 11:59 EST (determined if need be by Email header)
  6. It is legitimate to tell your friends to vote for you, family members etc. But ONLY ONE VOTE SET (1st, 2nd, 3rd Place) from one email. An email which has more than one set of votes will be disqualified.
  7. Email MUST be sent to the following email address (click on icon to open your email client):

  8. Email should be in the following format:
  • Email Subject: Great Cake Recipe Contest Vote
  • Email Body:
  • First Place: Put the title of the Post here
  • Second Place: Put the title of the Post here
  • Third Place: Put the title of the Post here
All Entries for the Great Cake Recipe Contest Can Be found by Clicking on the icon below:

Great Cake Recipe Contest

Remember all votes must be sent to the following address:


Since Beth, one of our favorite people asked for the list to be put up here, even though this is a GREAT DEAL OF WORK (sheesh!) I must comply! Click on the recipe name and you will get to the post about the recipe. This list is NOT in any specific order!
  1. The Cake For Any Occasion - Cake Recipe Contest
  2. Maple Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  3. Tu Bi'Shvat 7 Biblical Grain & Fruit Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  4. Chocolate Mousse Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  5. Hot Milk Sponge Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  6. Sour Cream Coffee Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  7. Peanut-Butter-Cup Cake w/ Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting - Cake Recipe Contest
  8. Salad Dressing Cake
  9. Super Easy Black Forest Cake - Cake Recipe Contest
  10. Four-Layer Strawberry Torte, AKA Wimbledon Fortnight Cake - Cake Recipe Contest

That is it.... Happy Voting!
(If a recipe does not appear on the list - email immediately!!!!)