Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vertical Garden in Portland

(www.nytimes.com)

There is no Israel connection to this post, outside of me now living in Israel after growing up in Portland, and there is no real food connection either. Regardless, I thought this plan to grow a 200 foot vertical garden on the side of a federal building in my hometown of Portland, Oregon was too cool not to post on the blog. Check out the article here.



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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Erez Komarovsky Workshop

Eggplant salad
Roasted Eggplant Salad

Last weekend I was able to attend a cooking workshop led by Erez Komarovsky. Erez is the same Erez behind the successful chain of Lechem Erez (Erez Bread) stores throughout Israel. Erez leads a variety of different workshops at his beautiful home in Matat, located in the Upper Galilee near the Lebanese border. He has incredible views of the Galilee and has an impressive organic garden full of broccoli, swiss chard, no less than five kinds of sage, beets, kohlrabi, and much more. I never though kohlrabi had much flavor, but eating it picked straight out of the ground made me realize how incredibly sweet the vegetable can be if grown right and eaten freshly.

swiss chard
Swiss Chard

Upon arriving at his home you are greeted by the smells of several different fresh baked breads that have just come out of his stone oven. There were delicious roasted eggplant, roasted tomato and roasted pepper salads along with a massive bowl of homemade hummus to eat. Before the workshop even starts Erez makes sure you’re pretty full.

After the tour of his garden, where I had the best kohlrabi of my life, we were led into his downstairs kitchen where we gathered around a long table and eagerly anticipated Erez’s cooking demonstrations. The specific workshop that day was breads and soups. He preceded to make a garlic confit bread, a jerusalem artichoke bread, a pumpkin seed and leek challah, a spicy asian soup with a pumpkin and leek stock, a beef and bean stew, and finally a leek, artichoke and garbanzo bean soup. All of the breads and soups were really tasty and the workshop was very inspiring. I posted the garlic confit bread recipe, which was the highlight for me.

soup and breads erez
Hummus and leek soup, variety of breads

Erez is extremely knowledgeable not only about bread recipes, techniques, and all things bread, but about Israeli and Galilean cuisine in general.  Seasonality is a strong theme in his cooking, hence the heavy use of leeks throughout the day. This focus on local and seasonal ingredients is something I try to model my style of cooking after as well. The workshops last 4 to 5 hours, and I highly recommend trying it out.


Galil Olive Orchard Erez 
Galil Olive Orchards
 hummus erez
Homemade hummus

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Garlic Confit Bread

garlic confit bread








The latest post on the blog is about a memorable cooking workshop I participated in last weekend, led by Erez Komarovsky. The theme was breads and soups, and one recipe in particular stood out. I’m posting the recipe according to what I observed from Erez. Have fun baking and I hope it tastes great for all those that try.

Garlic Confit Bread

Ingredients:
½ kilo organic whole wheat flour
½ kilo bread flour – high gluten
25 grams wet yeast or ½ spoon of dry yeast
3 spoons brown sugar
*¾ cup garlic confit
1 ½ spoon salt
1 ½ spoon rosemary
3-3 ¾ cups water

Instructions:
1. In a big bowl mix the flour and yeast.
2. Add water and start mixing and kneading for several minutes.
3. Add brown sugar and continue mixing and kneading until all together you’ve been kneading the dough for approximately 8 minutes. It is important not to knead for too long.
4. Add chopped rosemary and mix into dough. Add garlic and mix gently into dough as to not break the cloves. Add the salt and mix in as well. Continue kneading the bread very gently another 3-4 minutes.
5. Add 2 spoonfuls of the garlic confit oil. Mix into the bread.
6. Cover bowl with a nylon covering/trash bag and let sit for 2 hours. Keep outside of a fridge only if cold, otherwise in fridge.
7. Without touching the bread more than needed, lay out it as one long mass of dough on a floured surface.
8. With a cutter, make two inch wide strips.
9. Place baking paper on an oven tray and flour if dough is still sticky.
10. Take 4 strips of the dough and line next to each other. Press ends together and lay over a rosemary sprig on the oven tray.
11. If the tray is big enough add another set of 4 strips pressed together.
12. Place a nylon/trash bag back on the bread and let rest another 1 ½ hours.
13. Preheat oven to 230 C.
14. Flip dough so that the rosemary is on top of the bread now.
15. Before putting the bread in the oven place 8-10 ice cubes in the bottom of the oven to create steam. The steam will keep the bread moist and soft as it bakes.
16. Place the tray with bread in the bottom third of the oven.
17. After 20 minutes lower temperature to 180 C. Cook for another 20 minutes.
18. After the 20 minutes open the oven door to let out any remaining steam. Continue baking for another 10 minutes. This will create a crispy crust.
19. Serve and enjoy!

*Garlic Confit Recipe
Ingredients:
20 (can do any amount you want) heads of garlic
Olive Oil

Instructions:
1. Peel the garlic cloves and put in a stove pan
2. Pour olive oil into the pan until the garlic cloves are completely covered and add a small additional amount
3. Cook for 30 minutes at the lowest heat possible. It is important the oil doesn’t boil because it will burn the garlic.
4. You can store the garlic and oil together or separately in the fridge for several months.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

NBC's The Office and the Tel Aviv restaurant scene

I'm in the middle of watching the latest episode of The Office, but had to take a break to write this post because of the following lines of dialogue.

Michael Scott to potential buyer of Dunder Mifflin: "I got us reservations at Cooper's Seafood. You like lobster? You have had lobster before, right? They make the best Maine Lobster in the world. You'll love it."

Dwight Schrute (in a computerized robot voice): "Mul Yam in Tel Aviv is better"

Wow! A Tel Aviv restaurant made it into US pop culture! I'm guessing one of the writers had a memorable meal there.

The Mul Yam Chef and a lobster (www.ynet.co.il)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Savor Israel in 2010

Happy (belated) New Year from Savor Israel

I am personally very excited for Savor Israel in 2010. We have a lot of culinary tours already planned, and hope to schedule even more. There will be new restaurants, recipes, wines, and other foods to try out. My Aunt is coming in a few weeks, and my parents are also coming for a visit in a few months time. A big thanks to everyone that is following the blog, joined our Facebook group and Twitter feed, and provides general support.

There are quite a few new posts that I put up today. Make sure to check them all out for reviews of good and unique restaurants, new recipes, and the latest Israeli culinary news.

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Haiti

As everyone's hearts go out to the people of Haiti I thought to post some recipes of typical Haitian dishes. In addition to donating to organizations helping with the relief effort, we should try to incorporate some of Haitian culture into our lives. Try out these recipes I adapted from RecipeZaar.

Haitian Chicken with pikliz (www.foodgps.com)

Haitian Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce

This spicy chicken dish is full of local flavors typical to Haiti. Serve it over rice and alongside the pickliz vegetables in the recipe below.

Ingredients
1 medium sized chicken, cut into 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs
1 large onion – thinly sliced
1 scotch bonnet pepper or other very hot pepper – finely chopped
6 garlic cloves - minced
3/4 tomatoes - peeled and diced
3 tablespoons sugar (brown or demerara)
3 limes or lemons
Salt
Pepper
Vegetable oil – 2 to 3 tablespoons

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Wash chicken well & pat dry. Then rub each piece will with lime or lemons and season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large pan or pot heat oil and when hot sear chicken pieces skin side down until they have a nice golden color. Add the onion and peppers at the same as the chicken.
4. Combine in a bowl the garlic, sugar, tomatoes.
5. Remove pan from heat and drain excess oil, onions and peppers into the tomato mixture.
6. Place the chicken in an oven pan and cover with the tomato mixture. Cook for another 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
7. Serve the chicken and sauce over rice accompanied by pikliz vegetables.

Pikliz Vegetables

Pikliz (spicy pickled) vegetables are a staple of Haitian food. These pickled vegetables are served at almost every meal and are very spicy!

Ingredients
6 scotch bonnet peppers or a smaller amount of larger very hot peppers
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage or shredded cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot or shredded carrot
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion or shredded onion
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
8-10 peppercorns
3 cups vinegar

Instructions
1. Cut the off the tops of the peppers, and roughly chop
2. Place the peppers and the rest of the ingredients in a quart size jar.
3 Add the vinegar, close jar tightly, and let sit 24-48 hours before serving.

Notes: Refrigerate after opening the jar. The pikliz will store for several months.

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Miriam’s Kitchen – Jewish-Indian Cuisine

clip_image002

Some of the starters (http://miriamskitchen.beer-sheva.gonegev.co.il/)

A few weeks ago I had the chance to experience one of the more unique dining options in Israel. In a moshav (small town) called Nevatim, halfway between Beer Sheva and Dimona, there is a restaurant called Miriam's Kitchen. Nevatim is known for its large Indian-Jewish community, and Miriam's Kitchen serves Indian food typical of the Southern Indian city of Cochin. Most of Cochin's 3000 person Jewish community moved to Israel in the 1950's bringing its rich culinary history to the country. Influenced by Iraq, Yemen, and a variety of Indian influences Cochin's food is one of most interesting and diverse the country has to offer.

Miriam's Kitchen is what the name implies. Miriam cooks you food made in her kitchen and you eat in her living room. Tasty chapattis, garbanzo bean dishes, fragrant rice, roasted eggplant and more greet you as the first course to the meal. This is followed by Kube, Dosa and spicy chicken cooked in coconut milk, amongst others. For someone unfamiliar with Indian food the new flavors, textures and smells will be an eye opening experience. Even those that know Indian food well will appreciate the authenticity and flavor.

While the food is most definitely the highlight of the meal, a close second is Miriam's husband Nehemia's stories about the history of the Jewish community in Cochin. Extremely passionate about his community, Nehemia speaks about the historical origins of the community to their present state in Israel. Both Nehemia and Miriam are happy to talk about the techniques and ingredients used in their dishes and genuinely enjoy providing meals for the visitors that arrive.

clip_image004

Miriam (http://miriamskitchen.beer-sheva.gonegev.co.il/)

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Hummus Wars, Part 83

If you've been following this blog you know that the Lebanese seem to view it as a matter of utmost national importance to establish hummus as being of Lebanese in origin. They've filed lawsuits trying to gain legal recognition of this assertion, and a few months ago the largest bowl of hummus ever was made by a group of Lebanese chefs. Well...it’s not the biggest bowl anymore…

A group of chefs in the Arab town of Abu Gosh, just outside of Jerusalem, have made a bowl of hummus twice as big as the previous Lebanese record holder. If you thought that this would definitively end the hummus wars, you would be wrong. Word has already leaked that the Lebanese are planning an even bigger bowl of hummus. I only hope one day that the issue of which country has the bigger bowl of hummus is the main diplomatic row between the two countries.

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Adora

I know I've claimed that Irit is possibly my favorite restaurant in the country, but there is strong competition for this title from Adora. Founded in the last 5 or 6 years by the relatively young chef Avi Biton, the restaurant has quickly risen the ranks to be one of Tel Aviv's top restaurants. Outside the food being really, really good and creative, one of my favorite things about Adora is the inspiration for the food. Chef Biton tries to blend classical French techniques and dishes with ingredients, influences and dishes from Israel and the Middle East.

clip_image002
Foie Gras Baklawa (http://www.rest.co.il/sites/Default.asp?txtRestID=5985)

One of the best examples of this, and possibly the restaurant's signature dish, is the Baklawa covered Foie Gras. Baklawa is a sweet desert made from layers of phyllo dough covered in honey and pistachios. Chef Biton wraps a piece of foie gras in phyllo dough, perfectly cooks it, and then drizzles the dish with honey and pistachios. I'm not a good enough writer to try to describe how good it is. Trust me, its delicious, and, in my opinion, a must have dish for non-vegetarian/vegan and against eating foie gras visitor to the restaurant.

clip_image004
Eggplant falafel (http://www.rest.co.il/sites/Default.asp?txtRestID=5985)

A second dish worth writing about is the eggplant falafel dish. As you can see in the picture above, the dish appears to be three beautifully fried falafel balls. Once you bite in you realize this is a unique take on the classic regional food. Instead of ground of garbanzo beans one finds roasted eggplant inside. Only the outside of the dish is the garbanzo bean mixture and it is the perfect coating to the soft roasted eggplant. The "falafel" is served with a nice yogurt sauce and tasty sprout salad.

Adora is also very reasonably priced, making the restaurant one of the best places for value in the city. I'm already thinking about my next visit.

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