April 1, 2011

The results are in…

Here is my menu from our sisterscooking cook-off.  For the appetizer course, I made roasted shallots with a honey mustard lemon sauce, sprinkled with chopped basil. I peeled the shallots, tossed with olive oil and a little kosher salt and roasted them whole on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven, turning every few minutes until they were golden brown and soft.  Then, I mixed mustard, lemon juice, honey, and olive oil (don’t ask about the amounts, I just poured in some of each) and drizzled over the shallots, topping with some chopped fresh basil.

For the soup course, I used the beef shoulder, kidney beans, carrots, leeks, shallots, red wine, horseradish, and paprika from our ingredient list. I also supplemented with a few other dried spices and water.  Here is what I did:

1. Cut the roast into chunks.

2. Make a spice rub with paprika, cumin, turmeric, pepper, ginger. Then coat the chunks of meat with the spice rub.

3. Brown the meat in olive oil in a soup pot.

4. Remove the meat and add chopped shallots and leeks. Saute until they get soft and a little brown.

5. Add about 3 tblsp horseradish and stir into the vegetables, letting it cook for a couple of minutes.

6. Add some red wine (probably about a cup or so) and reduce until almost dry.

7. Put the meat back in, along with carrots cut into large chunks, another cup or so of red wine and water to cover.  Bring to boil then cook on low until meat is soft, about an hour and a quarter.

8. Add 2 cans of red kidney beans and cook another 20 min or so.

That’s it!  It tasted pretty good, although I personally didn’t love the flavor combinations, the judge was favorably impressed (at least the judge who got to taste it)!

Finally, the main course was quinoa stuffed cornish hens with a honey lemon basil glaze, with a side of roasted honey-glazed carrots and parsnips.  I cooked the quinoa the normal way, and then mixed with sauteed leeks and shallots, raisins, and chopped basil.  I stuffed each cornish hen with this mixture. Then I made a glaze by mixing honey, lemon, chopped fresh garlic, and chopped basil and poured it over the hens (again, don’t ask about amounts!). I roasted the hens on a rack at 375 degrees for about an hour and a half, turning them once. 

For the side dish, I cut up the carrots and parsnips into sticks and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees until they were starting to turn brown and soft, then drizzled honey over them and cooked for another few minutes until they were glazed.

This was a lot of fun!  I’m looking forward to Round 2…


March 23, 2011

Let the Games Begin…

Sarah had a really good idea for a fun competition for us to do.  Kind of like the Iron Chef.  She suggested that David give us a list of ingredients and we each have to make a whole meal using just those ingredients.  Obviously, given the 6,000 mile space between us, it will be hard to judge whose food is better, but we will each write about what we made and the reviews given to it by those who taste it. Bonus points for anything that any of our kids eat!

David may or may not have taken his role a tiny bit too seriously…here is the email we recieved from him this morning:

Good morning contestants. I would like to introduce you to the official first round of the Six Thousand Mile International Pre-set Cook-off or STMIP-SC-O!! (applause)

The goal for tonight’s competition is to make a minimum of a three course meal only using the listed ingredients. Water, spices (dried), or cooking style may be implemented at your desire. However, any deviation from the program will result in immediate disqualification and public ridicule.

Once the competition begins you must complete all cooking in once session. And ALL ingredients MUST be used. Any additional courses or dishes will result in an increased score and will be looked upon favorably. Most of the rules were sent to you yesterday by the Contestant from North Jersey, so please review them before commencing. All cooking must me done in a Kosher style resting only on the Cooks Honor Code. Remember, this is only round one so pace yourselves.

Please contact the official international judge if you have any variance questions.

Todays ingredients are:

Cornish Hen
Beef shoulder
Garlic – not spice
Olive oil
Paprika – Moroccan
Red wine – royal wine (merlot or cab)
Fresh basil
Kidney beans
Lemon juice
You may begin shopping immediately and email the other contestant and the designated International STMIP-SC-O Judge upon the start of your cooking session.


All my best,
David – International STMIP-SC-O Judge

Wish us luck…not allowed to use any written recipes or google or any websites so I’m a little scared…

March 18, 2011

Green Goblin Soup

David’s mother makes a pureed vegetable soup that is very green and she calls it Green Goblin Soup.  The kids love it, so we call every soup whatever-color-it-is goblin soup and then they will generally eat it. 

I was in the mood for pea soup so green goblin soup it is!  I used the Epicurious app on my i-phone to find a recipe–I made a few slight adjustments to it (mostly for laziness reasons)–if you like a thick soup, then this is for you!  I actually added an extra cup of broth at the end because it looked like paste.  Eli was helping blend it and after I added the broth he said, “oh, now this looks like soup!”

It’s probably more of a winter cold-weather soup and not so appropriate for the 80 degrees and sunny skies that we are happily having right now, but it’s good anyway.  Here’s how to make it:

First, heat up 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot:

Cut up the white and light green parts of one big leek and add to the oil along with one bay leaf.  Sautee for a few minutes (until David comes in to the kitchen and tells you if you don’t pay attention to the stove, the leeks will burn):

Add one cup of split peas.  This is the perfect task for a small boy dressed as Iron Man.

Next add 5 3/4 cups of vegetable broth.  I use the powder, which probably horrifies my sister.  If it didn’t cost an arm and a leg a box here, I would use the boxes of organic broth that they have at Whole Foods.  I miss Whole Foods! Anyway, this Osem stuff works for me (I can’t figure out how to rotate the picture so just turn your head!):

Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let it simmer, covered, for about 1/2 an hour until the peas are tender.  Here’s where I diverged from the original recipe.  Once the peas are tender, remove the pot from the heat, take out the bay leaf and discard it.  Add in a bag of frozen petite peas, thawed (You sould probably take them out of the freezer and put in a strainer to defrost before you start making the soup). 

Mix it all together and wonder for a second if it’s actually going to taste good because it looks kinda iffy:

Add 4 tablespoons of fresh dill (yes, Sarah, I actually used fresh dill and not dried!) and then use a hand-blender to blend it very well.  This is also a good job for a small boy who wants to help (and who is no longer dressed as Iron Man):

If it’s too thick, add a bit more broth.  Enjoy the yummy green goodness!!

March 16, 2011

Preserve your lemons, they’re all that’s left you

What do you do when you have…

1. A costco-sized bag of lemons

2. A rainy Sunday

3. A high-spirited two-year-old that likes to “help” in the kitchen

Obviously, you make preserved lemons! It is so easy, and they can be used in a whole bunch of different ways. All you do is cut the lemons in half and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Then pack them into a jar, squeezing out some of the juice into the jar as you pack them in. Then pour olive oil over the whole thing so they’re covered in liquid (a mixture of the lemon juice and olive oil). Close up the jar, shake it up, and put it in a cool place for 2 weeks.  After you open the jar, I think they keep for a while in the fridge.

Stay tuned for moroccan chicken with olives and preserved lemons for dinner this Friday night.  Also, I’ll give you a dollar if you know where the title quote comes from.

March 10, 2011

Comfort Food

In an effort to make my sister feel bad…I mean inspire her to write something…I am posting 2 days in a row!

Since it’s Winter (and I use the term “winter” loosely as it’s been sunny and in the 60’s-70’s here, other than today when it has been raining on and off), it is important to eat delicious comfort foods, such as Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I was really in the mood for that today, so I went to my favorite source and found this recipe.

I just made it now when I got home from work and it’s in the oven, so I hope it tastes as good as the recipe sounded.

I’m pretty sure my sister the food snob does not approve of tuna noodle casserole (unless it’s called something fancy and has fresh tuna not from a can and home-made pasta), but in a rare move for me, I grated my own cheddar to put in it! I’ll admit, that’s only because David bought all the ingredients and he actually goes to the cheese counter and gets good cheese while I would have just bought a bag of grated whatever they had.

Here’s proof that I actually grated:

And here’s what it looked like right before going in the oven:

And as a bonus, I took the leftover chunks of cheese, grated a little bit of them, mixed with cucumber and put some balsamic vinegrette on top and ate it for a snack…yum! And I may or may not have drunk (drank? drunken? what is the right word??) the dressing that was left in the bottom of the bowl.

March 9, 2011

Salmon for a Good Cause

I don’t know what my sister’s excuse is, but I haven’t written anything in a while because I haven’t actually cooked anything in a while!  I did finally cook yesterday so I have something to write about now…

Recently, a friend e-mailed that she was organizing meals for a local family-the mother has cancer and they are a family of 4 with two young children.  I was scheduled to make them a meal for today, so for once in my life I decided to be organized and make everything yesterday so that they would actually have the food on time.  She is avoiding carbs and loading up on protein, so I thought I’d make fish.

I often use www.allrecipes.com, a site that I started using when we first moved to Israel 3 1/2 years ago.  I hadn’t brought any of my cookbooks with me and I’m not good at making up recipes, so I was always looking online for good things to make.  That site became my go-to place.  I save the recipes I like in my e-mail, so I searched my e-mail for “salmon” and found a recipe for garlic salmon that I had actually never made before.  I bought 2 big filets and figured I’d make one for us too–glad I did as it came out great!

Here’s how it looked as I was making it-before I did anything to it:

After adding the spices (salt, pepper, garlic, fresh dill):

And the lemon slices:

I didn’t take a picture of it when it came out the oven, but it looked pretty and tasted great too!

January 23, 2011

Beef Stew

My sister sent me an email last night informing that it is my turn to post to our blog.  I am not an experienced blogger like Emily, as you can probably tell from the original and highly imaginative title of this post, but I do make a really delicious beef stew, so I will write about that.

Here in New Jersey, where it has been snowing almost constantly for the past month with no end in sight, beef stew seemed like the perfect friday night dinner to me.  An added bonus is that it makes the whole house smell unbelievably delicious while it is cooking. 

This recipe comes from Fine Cooking, which, if you’re in the market for a cooking magazine, is one of the best ones I’ve seen.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an issue that I haven’t made at least one thing from, and the recipes are usually not too complicated to follow.  So, here is the beef stew recipe, with some adaptations that I made for convenience (and because I realized halfway through that I was missing a couple of ingredients!).


One 3-lb boneless beef chuck roast ***definitely get the chuck eye roast, that is the best cut for braising. Also, the recipe calls for buying a whole roast and then cutting it up yourself, as opposed to buying the pre-cut packaged beef stew meat butcher shops sell. This is an absolute must for this recipe. You will get much bigger pieces that cook more evenly and are more satisfying to eat. Trust me, once you make a beef stew this way, you will never go back. (Emily warned you I was a food snob, right?).

Ok, back to the ingredients…

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (don’t get me started on extra virgin olive oil versus non-extra-virgin, or, gasp, vegetable oil…food snob alert again)

2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into half inch pieces (I left this out because I keep kosher, but if you don’t, I’m sure adding this will only improve the recipe)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 oz shallots (8 to 10 medium), thinly sliced, about 2 cups (you can substitute onions if you don’t have shallots)

2 tbs brandy

2 tbs tomato paste

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp herbes de provence (I didn’t have this, and honestly have no idea what this even is, so I just threw in a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme instead)

2 cups hearty red wine

1 14.5 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes (this was one of the ingredients that I realized too late that I didn’t have, so I just substituted about 3/4 of a cup of canned crushed tomatoes. Didn’t seem to make much difference).

4 strips orange zest (removed from orange with vegetable peeler)

1 lb slender carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

fresh parsley

1. Pull the roast apart along its natural seams. Trim off any thick layers of fat. Carve the roast into 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes and dry with paper towels.  Here is a picture of the cut up roast…see how big the pieces are?

2. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.

3. Heat the oil and bacon together (or just oil if you’re not using bacon) in a 7 or 8 quart dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned but not crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon. (If you’re not using bacon, skip this step, except heating the oil, do that).

4. Season the meat with salt and pepper ( I didn’t use salt, if you’re using kosher meat, you probably don’t need extra salt), and arrange the meat in a sparse single layer in the pot to brown. Adjust the heat so the beef sizzles and browns but does not burn. Cook until all sides are a rich brown, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with all remaining beef.

5. When all beef is browned, set the pot over medium heat, add the shallots, season with pepper, and saute until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the brandy and let it boil away. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbes de provence (whatever that is), stirring to incorporate, and saute for another 1 minute. Add the wine, stirring, and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge carmelized drippings, and bring to a boil.

6. Pour in the liquid from the tomatoes, holding the tomatoes back with your hand. Then, one by one, crush the tomatoes with your hand over the pot and drop them in.

7. Add the orange zest, and return the beef (and bacon, if using) to the pot. Add the carrots, bring to a simmer, cover and put in oven.

8. Cook the stew, stirring every 45 minutes, until the meat is fork-tender (all trace of toughness should be gone), 2-3 hours.

9. Sprinkle with parsley (if you want) before serving).

This stew tastes even better if you make it the night before you plan to eat it and let it sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors meld together.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but here  is what’s left after we ate most of it.

That’s it! Make some mashed potatoes or rice to soak up the sauce, pour yourself a nice glass of red wine, and enjoy!

January 17, 2011


I used to hate to cook.  I love eating and I love food, but I could never really be bothered to put in a lot of time and effort to make the food.  Somehow, over the past number of years that has changed and while I definitely am happy to order in or go to a restaurant, there really is nothing like a home-cooked meal and I often even find myself enjoying to prepare those meals.

My sister, on the other hand, has always liked to cook (at least I think so–she can correct me if I’m wrong since we’ll be writing this blog together).  And she’s always been good at it.  She’s a little bit of a food snob as I’m sure you will learn as we write this blog and she makes fun of me for using certain ingredients.

Now that we live 6,000 miles away from each other–she is in New Jersey and I am in Israel–we often end up e-mailing or talking on the phone about what we are cooking.  We like to get ideas from each other (I think I mostly get ideas from her and she tells me my ideas need some work) and then compare how things come out.  So we thought it would be fun to blog about it.  We will share recipes and pictures here and who knows where it will take us.

Enjoy reading and eating!