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Archive for the ‘legumes’ Category

Music seems to be inspiring a fair amount of my cooking these days. No big surprise since I like to consider myself a dancer.

One of the most amazing groups to come out of Israel over the past few years is the Idan Raichel Project.  My Frenchie friend Lau did it once again — she introduced me to this collaborative a couple years ago and I find them utterly inspiring and a taste of the beauty of Israel.

- Raichel’s start in the army rock band – such a common career starter for many Israelis where compulsory conscription is a way of life

- His rare ability to bring together the different musical styles that have coalesced upon Israel, mixing and matching instruments and languages without the cacophony that sometimes exists in real life

- The sheer variety of his work, from mystic notes that seem to emanate from Tzfat to prayer and verses that might be heard at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem to reggae or electronica that could hold its own in a club in Tel Aviv to ballads that are universal anywhere in the world

For Israel’s 60th anniversary, Raichel was interviewed for the “My Hatikva”  project and speaks about his hope (“hatikva,” also the name of Israel’s national anthem) for Israel as a melting pot and land of immigrants while still maintaining tolerance for different cultural and religious identities.

The official video on the “My Hatikva” website is at http://www.myhatikva.com/MultiMedia.aspx?MI=68

When I learned that the Idan Raichel Project would be performing here in Boston, I booked my ticket and organized a group of friends to come with me immediately. I was just that excited (I don’t normally plan very far in advance!). And the concert last week did not disappoint.

The music performed was a mix of their prior two albums and their newest one that has a bit more of a global feel but is still distinctly Israeli. Despite the Project being named after him, Raichel seemed content to sit off to stage right, playing his keyboard most of the time and leaving most of the stage work to the three vocalists who not only sang but swayed, rocked, and even jumped to the music – not to entertain an audience, but because they really seemed to enjoy their work.

Musicians were also given a chance to shine — for example, the percussionist responsible for the water sounds in the following clip, Mei Nahar (“River Waters”), performed a several minute long solo on a few wooden bowls filled with water. The audience, judging by the silence that allowed us to hear (miked) water drops and rhythms played on the surface of water, was enraptured.

The  namesake song of Raichel’s third album, Mima’amakim – “Out of the Depths,” starts with what I have come to learn is a typical traditional Ethiopian melody (“Nah no nah no na’ay…”) that is emblematic of his earlier work and leads into a haunting song in Hebrew.

The concert last week and songs like this inspired  me to make a lentil dish that can go either Ethiopian or Yemenite depending on which spice mixture is used — berbere (which can be approximated with red chile powder and onions in a pinch) or cumin, respectively.

“Salata Idan” – East African Fusion Lentil Dip, the Yemenite Version

Salata Idan

Adapted from Gil Marks’ Olive Trees and Honey. In celebration of Idan Raichel’s artistry, bringing together the diversity of Israel’s people, and sharing our rich and varied culture with the world.

Makes about 3 cups. Best served at room temperature; flavor improves after ingredients mingle for a day or two.

- 1 C brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed (use plain lentils; save the fancy French de Puy lentils for when you want to make a salad (like the Ethiopian version below) of soup since these keep their shape nicely and do not break down as easily)

- 4 C water

- 1 bay leaf

- ½ t dried thyme

For dressing:

- ½ C tehina – I use Joyva, which is a pure puree of sesame seeds, many others contain chickpeas and other ingredients, so they are closer to tehina spreads

- ½ C lemon juice (2 lemons) + zest of 1 lemon (why not!)

- 1 C of fresh green herbs — my preference is a mix of cilantro and mint, but you can also use parsley

- 1 t kosher salt

- Scant ½ t ground black pepper

- 1 clove garlic (can substitute 1t garlic powder or 1t garlic salt and reduce regular salt if you don’t have fresh garlic)

- 1 t ground cumin

- 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

In large saucepan, combine lentils, water, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low; simmer until tender but not mushy, ~ 25 minutes.

Cooked lentils

Remove bay leaf, drain (if any water remains, especially if using de Puy lentils) and put in large bowl.
Add all ingredients to lentils and use mortar and pestle, potato masher, or (my personal favorite) immersion blender to smush the combined salad into a paste.

lentils and dressing

no need to make the dressing in a separate bowl...I just did it for illustrative purposes

Serve at room temperature with pita or fresh vegetable crudité. I made some toasted lavash crisps lightly sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt.

"salata Idan"

funny...it looks almost exactly like the dressing alone

To make the Ethiopian version: This is more of a lentil salad, so de Puy lentils will work better. Saute one onion and 1-2 seeded and minced jalepeño or other hot peppers in vegetable oil and add to lentils. Adjust dressing as follows – omit tehina and reduce lemon juice to 2 T.

***

And I’ll just leave you with one more video — a trailer of Tomer Heymann‘s documentary, Black Over White, about the Idan Raichel project concert tour to Ethiopia with a short exerpt of the song Milim Yafot Me’eleh (Words More Beautiful than These).

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cannellini bean spread with sun-dried tomato and basil

cannellini bean spread with sun-dried tomato and basil

Cannellini beans must be one of the worlds perfect foods  – their soft creamy texture barely encumbered by a thin shell, the outside barely distinguished from inside. A very close relative of the kidney bean, but more delicate. They are great warmed or cold with only a slight give when you bite it. Plus they have pretty good nutritional value, providing 15 g protein, 11 g fiber, and over 20% of the USRDA of iron and magnesium in a cup.

I’ve always been a canned bean fan for ease of preparation, but I recently decided to try reconstituting dried cannellini beans when I was making soup the other night. I did my research — how long to soak the beans in advance? How long to cook them? I found a few good online resources here (info on all beans, but cooking instructions are for pressure cooker), here, and here. Consensus seemed to be that cannellini beans need at least 4 hours soaking and then about 45 minutes to an hour to cook on the stovetop. My friend Julie, aka Yulinka, always adds baking soda to her beans to aid in digestion, so you can add this to the soaking liquid.

I soaked the little white beans no larger than pebbles for their allotted four hours and then some. Fretted when the wrinkled skin expanded faster than their insides so they looked like opaque white raisins. Breathed a sigh of relief when the insides caught up and the beans had tripled in size and started to look like the canned variety after about 2-3 hours. Tasted the post-soaked, pre-cooked version just to check the texture — yup, they definitely still need to be coooked. And then 45 minutes on the stove in 3X as much water and a few pinches of salt. Watched them like a hawk. 45 minutes came and went. Not ready yet. 1 hour, almost there. Step away for a moment. Beans split, thin skins separated from creamy centers. Disaster.

cannellini beans

Luckily I had a can of white beans to throw into the soup and refrigerated this tasty but ugly mess for another day and a little inspiration to hit.

This came soon enough when, even though I have already professed a distaste for sun-dried tomatoes, I decided to embrace my attempts at reconstituting dried foods and hope for the best. Worst case scenario, if I pureed everything together, it probably couldn’t be so bad.

The resulting white bean spread got the nod of approval from my downstairs neighbor/foodie cook and ardent recipe follower, Bruce and his always ready with a tasting spoon wife, Judy.

Italian-esque White Bean Spread

I have no idea whether this is remotely Italian, but cannellini beans are often used in Italian cooking and the classic tomato-basil combination evokes a caprese salad (sans mozzerella). Instead of reconstituting the dried tomatoes, you can use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and use the olive oil from the jar (if you have enough) which should be infused with that tomato taste. The cayenne gives the spread a kick at the back of the tongue that intensifies the longer the ingredients have to mesh.

Makes ~ 1.5 C and keeps for about a week refrigerated

1/2 C dry cannellini beans, reconstituted in 1.5 C water (~1C) or 1 can (15.5 oz)

5 sun-dried tomatoes (dried)

3T extra virgin olive oil, separated

zest and juice of 1 lemon (~1 1/2 T)

1/2 t cayenne pepper

2 T fresh basil (I used basil that I had frozen the last time I cut down my basil plant), or 2 t dried; can probably substitute other Italian herb to taste such as oregano or thyme

1-2 t kosher salt (to taste)

1/2 – 1 t freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Prepare cannellini beans. Rinse and sort beans (remove any stones and debris) and then soak at room temperature for at least 4 hour or overnight. Don’t worry if they get wrinkled initially – eventually the beans will expand to fill their  skins. Simmer beans in fresh water to cover for ~1  hour (or more) with a few pinches kosher salt. Don’t worry if they split because you’re going to puree them anyway! OR – use one can of beans, rinsed and drained.

Prepare sun-dried tomatoes. Option 1 (quick method) – microwave 5 tomatoes in 2T olive oil for 3-4 minutes in 1-minute increments (handle carefully because oil will be hot). This will quickly infuse the oil with the intense tomato flavor. Allow to cool to room temperature and then cut tomatoes into thin slivers — I found kitchen shears easier to use than a knife. Option 2 – soak tomatoes in boiled water for 15 minutes (don’t over soak), drain, cut into slivers, and either soak in olive oil, or use as is.

sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted using Option 1; note infused olive oil

sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted using Option 1; note infused olive oil

Add tomatoes and infused oil to beans in a large bowl. Zest lemon over bowl and then add its juice. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and herbs, ideally basil. Use immersion blender to puree and add additional olive oil to attain desired consistency.

Serve with baguette or pita.

white bean dip

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loads of kale

There has been a lot of talk about CSAs – community supported agriculture – in the world at large and in the Jewish community. For example, check out the past few Hazon Food Conferences and their The Jew and the Carrot blog.

I first learned about CSAs when my good friend, Meira, the source of the  pretzel chicken “nuggets” recipe, joined a CSA in New York and cooked interesting dishes with her fresh local vegetables. She always introduced each dish with, “I got this squash/cabbage/spinach from Eve, my Jewish female farmer.” She really seemed to feel a kinship with her farmer, especially after going to some sort of outdoorsy event way out on Long Island and driving past the Garden of Eve farm!

So, I was excited when my own local community decided to partner with a CSA. But I was also a bit apprehensive. Sure, there are a lot of pros – supporting local farmers and guaranteeing their livelihood, getting in tune with a more agrarian life (and a little reminder of the importance of the harvest in Jewish festivals), eating fresh (and almost entirely organic) produce, etc. And my friend Laura, whom I call “farmer Laura” since she will be be spending the summer as an ADAMAH Fellow — is organizing the CSA partnership and was quick to point out some of the logistical virtues partnering with this particular farm — Heavens Harvest — notably that they provide timely recipes that incorporate that week’s harvest and pre-pack everyone’s share (or half-share for couples or three-tenth-share for those single people out there…they’ve even thought of us!) which is apparently a vast improvement over other CSAs that have you bag your own which can take forever.

Despite all of these benefits, I was worried about one con – the loads and loads of kale that I would very likely be stuck with at the end of the season.

See, apparently kale is a very hearty leafy green and grows when other veggies can’t quite make the cut. So if the weather is really bad, kale will dominate.

Of course, I have never cooked kale. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten kale.

But, I’m open to new things and in preparation for joining the CSA, I decided to buy some kale and make something with it. In case I needed a push over the edge, the label on the rubber band around the kale was written in French, calling the leaves chou vert frisé. I once had a boss who could convince me to do any menial task by telling me, “it’s French…you’ll like it.”

So I bought some curly green cabbage and tried a recipe on a card near the grocery store entrance.

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

Based on my experience, I think I’ll be joining the CSA…

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps


Adapted from Whole Foods Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup recipe card.

Makes ~ 5 cups soup or 4 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1-2 t thyme (to taste)

1-2 t oregano (to taste)

5 C ersatz chicken broth (i.e., parve chicken soup powder + 5 C water)

4 cups packed chopped kale (i.e., 1 bunch, chopped)

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced; or 20-25 baby carrots cut into thirds

1 small can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes

1 small can (14.5-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Parmesan crisps (see recipe below)

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion ~3 minutes until softened, then add garlic and cook together another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1t of each herb and carrots to pan and mix.

Add tomatoes, broth, and kale and mix a few times. Cover saucepan and allow kale to steam until tender, ~5 minutes.

Add drained cannellini beans when kale tender. Keep on heat until parmesan crisps finished to allow beans to warm.

Serve with parmesan crisps or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

122-cropped

Parmesan Crisps

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Spread ~1T of parmesan cheese in ovals on parchment (1T per oval)

Parmesan crisps, uncooked

Bake in oven 5-7 minutes — WATCH VERY CAREFULLY –  these can burn really quickly. Remove before your smoke alarm goes off (like mine did the first time I tried this!).

Parmesan crisps, baked

The crisps will peel very easily off of the parchment paper.

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not quite clotilde

windowsill herb garden

I mentioned early on that Clotilde/Chocolate & Zucchini is one of my inspirations for starting this site. When I am hungry, I often look to her site for ideas, and one of my favorite foods to cook when it’s cold outside is squash. It is the epitome of autumn and winter.

A few weeks ago, I ran a search for squash on C&Z, and the first recipe that came up was Salade Tiède de Potimarron et Haricots Blancs/Warm Hokkaido Squash and White Bean Salad (until she posted another recipe yesterday: Brussel Sprouts with Onions and Squash Seeds). I’ve looked at the recipe so many times and have been jealous of her stories of wandering through the streets of Paris, buying exotic ingredients in the markets, and overhearing fascinating conversations in chic cafes. Ahhh…Paris.

But, I figure…what am I waiting for? The albeit brief Boston thaw is ending, it’s cold again, and I’m super hungry. I have an acorn squash that I bought yesterday. It may be the most common of the squashes around here but it’s a pretty little creature nonetheless…so, I took a few pictures harnessing my inner Clotilde (“Hello, Gorgeous!“):

Acorn Squash ("Hello Gorgeous!")

Then, I created a little bit of atmosphere.

Fireplace

And since I had all the ingredients including fresh rosemary from my windowsill herb garden, I got to work recreating Clotilde’s recipe with a host of short-cuts, getting from cutting board to plate in 45 minutes (though I still have dishes in my sink!).

And then a taste. Indian-style spices co-mingled with the sweetness of squash, the scent of Middle-Eastern orange flower water, heartiness of the beans and slight bite of the rosemary. A surprising melange of flavors that work so well together, especially on a cold night in front of the fire.

Not quite Clotilde, but pretty damn good!

Now, what to do with the acorn squash seeds? Maybe I’ll roast them like pumpkin seeds…

Quick Warm Squash and White Bean Salad

Quick Warm Acorn Squash and White Bean Salad

Adapted from Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate & Zucchini (Salade Tiède de Potimarron et Haricots Blancs/Warm Hokkaido Squash and White Bean Salad).

Serves 2

For squash:

1 medium-sized acorn squash

2 t crushed garlic (I used garlic in a jar)

drizzle olive oil

1 t balsamic vinegar

1 t curry powder or ras al hanout (a Moroccan spice mix)

dash salt

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Cut into 8 slices and remove skin with vegetable peeler. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss with remaining ingredients and put on baking sheet into oven for ~40 minutes until tender and slightly browned, stirring half-way through.

For beans:cannelini beans with rosemary

1 can of cannellini beans

sprig of fresh rosemary

kosher salt

Drain and rinse beans. Put in small pot, with rosemary and pinch of salt; cover with water and simmer on low for ~20  minutes. Try not to let them get mushy. Drain beans and remove rosemary sprig.

For dressing:

1 T almond butter

2 t olive oil

1 t orange flower water

1 t balsamic vinegar

fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper

fresh cilantro (optional)

Make dressing: In a medium bowl in which you plan to serve salad, mix together all ingredients except salt and pepper. Thin with a drop or two of water if necessary.

Compose salad: Add beans to dressing and toss gently. Add squash and agian toss gently. (I did not toss very gently and you can see that I squashed the delicate beans…and squash <groan>.) Add salt and pepper if necessary and cilantro if desired (I forgot). Serve.

QUICK UPDATE: ADJUSTMENTS TO MAKE FOR A CROWD

-  for squash: 2 large butternut squash (~6 lbs); quadruple squash ingredients (but curry/ras al hanout to taste); will need 2 cookie sheets for baking

- for beans: 2 cans beans

- for dressing:

1/4 C almond butter

3 T olive oil

1 T orange flower water

1 T + 1 t balsamic vinegar (though, I add a little extra)

fine sea salt and freshly ground  pepper to taste

fresh cilantro (optional)

- otherwise, follow directions as above

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