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September 2016
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Tomatoes with Spicy Chickpeas

Tomatoes with Spicy Chickpeas

I made my usual trip to buy produce at one of our nearby farms and found piles of heirloom tomatoes, plump, juicy and ripe. Never able to pass on field fresh tomatoes, I purchased more than we could eat. A few days later, a friend gave us a bowl of Brandywine tomatoes. With such an abundance of sweet, juicy tomatoes I needed to get creative.

This was a delicious, satisfying lunch but requires flavorful, vine-ripened, sweet tomatoes.

Tomatoes with Spicy Chickpeas Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 pounds assorted Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 8 to 10 Romaine Lettuce Leaves
  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained*
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bittersweet Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

Method

Wash Romaine, pat dry and place in serving dish. Cut tomatoes into wedges and pile atop the Romaine. Place the garbanzo beans, olive oil, paprika’s, chili flakes and black pepper in a mixing bowl and toss together. Pour Garbanzo mixture over top of tomatoes and serve with feta cheese and flat bread. This was deliciously easy to make and very satisfying to the palate.

Tomatoes with Spicy Chickpeas

Tomatoes with Spicy Chickpeas


* I like al Waadi because they are a smaller variety.

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Fruit Granola Bars

Fruit and Oatmeal Bars

I wasn’t in the popular group when I was in High School and in fact my HS years were painful and frustrating. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, I was just odd and lived in a town that didn’t understand odd. I remember my freshman English class as a defining moment where my desire to please was lost in a world where I would not be validated or understood. How can this possibly relate to food?

My High School English teacher, really a nasty bit of a person, in some disjointed attempt to create a lesson plan assigned a plan to explore Granola. Over the weekend I explored the subject matter, not understanding the relationship between Granola and English; I found articles at the library about Granola and its history, and concocted my plan. My mom took me to the market where we purchased the requisite ingredients to create Granola. Oats, nuts, dried fruit
and honey and seeds. I created my first Granola and it was delicious! I wrote a short essay on how I created my recipe for Granola and summarized the information I found at the library.

On Monday, I took my creation to school expecting validation and an incredible grade for my learn by doing approach to what was a delicious outcome. Granola and a how to essay on it’s making. What I received was mocking and contempt from this mean woman who said “I didn’t want you to actually make the stuff!” She placed my paper in the wire basket on her desk and the bag of Granola in the brown, metal waste can next to it.

It is amazing that I ever cooked again! But I did and I also learned from my experience how to source a recipe, find out about the history of a food and how to create a recipe to my preference. I also learned that I could make a really good Granola.

Fruit Granola Bars Recipe Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
  • 2 cups rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup mixed seeds such as Pumpkin, Sunflower, Poppy and Sesame
  • 3/4 cup raw favorite Nuts such as Walnut, Almond, Pecan, Pistachio
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Grape Molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups mixed Dried Fruit such as Raisins, Ginger, Figs Cherries, Apricots, Papaya, Pineapple and Cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of Butter

Method

Preheat oven 350° Fahrenheit
Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Spread oats and seeds onto a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes. While oats and seeds are toasting combine grapeseed oil, butter, honey, brown sugar and grape molasses in saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Combine oats, seeds dry fruit and salt in large bowl, pour sugar mixture over oat mixture and mix well with wooden spoon. Press into the prepared pan with spatula.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool and remove from pan by turning onto a working surface or lifting with parchment paper. Cut into 1-1/2 by 3 bars and wrap.

These are seriously delicious, easy to make and will keep well for a few weeks if wrapped well.

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Lime and Yogurt Bundt Cakes

Lime and Yogurt Bundt Cakes

Lime and Yogurt Bundt Cakes

It was Mia’s Birthday and I wanted something a bit different than the traditional birthday cake. As her birthday is officially in Autumn, a pound cake might be in order, but the weather is still warm and I had a mountain of Persian Limes on my counter which were ripe and plump with juice. With a large container of yogurt in the fridge I was prepared for this Lime and Yogurt Bundt Cake. I chose to make single serving size cakes rather than a single large one and it made for a festive birthday treat.

Read through recipe prior to starting

Lime and Yogurt Bundt Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1-3/4 cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • Zest of three Limes
  • 1/2 cup Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Almonds

Method

Preheat Oven to 350° Fahrenheit

Grease and flour bundt cake pan or spray with pan release. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, lime juice, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla together with the yogurt until well blended; add flour mixture and zest and mix until smooth and all flour is incorporated into the yogurt mixture. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a tester or toothpick comes out clean when checked 1/2 way between center and edge of pan.

Remove cake from oven.

Syrup and Candied Lime Peel

  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1 Lime

Remove peel from lime and, with a sharp knife, cut white pith from back of skin and cut skin into fine ribbons. If you have a zester which cuts ribbons, all the better. lPlace ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer while cake is baking.

After removing cake from oven, using a spoon, pour syrup (reserving candied peel) on top of hot cake(s) and around edge where cake meets pan. Tap pan on counter and remove cake from pan onto a serving plate.

Glaze

  • 1 cup Confectioners Sugar, sifted
  • Reserved Lime Juice

Once cake is cool, drizzle glaze on top of cake, garnish with candied peel and almonds, and enjoy. (Yes, I forgot to garnish with the peel)

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Turkish Cheese Bread

Turkish Cheese Bread

Turkish Cheese Bread

Binnur’s Turkish Cheese Bread Recipe

Inspired by Binnur’s Turkish Cheese Bread, I set out to replicate this delicious, cheesy bread. On her site there really wasn’t so much a recipe as a how to so I started from scratch.

First, I made my Pizza Dough. My recipe is an easy to make, never fail, pizza dough which is perfect for one large pizza.

Pizza Dough Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 cups Warm Water
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Method

Activate the yeast by mixing it with the sugar and 1/4 cup of the water. When it begins to bubble and foam you know the yeast is active. Frankly, I never do this. I just mix the yeast, flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of my food processor, with the dough blade in place, add about a cup of the water and oil and pulse until a dough forms, adding additional water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. For me, I like a firm pizza dough.

Spray a large container with cooking oil, place dough into container, turn over to coat with oil, cover and allow to raise for at least 5 hours. This dough works well if made the day before and left in the refrigerator. The idea is that you really don’t want highly active yeast when making a pizza or it will get too puffy.

Turkish Cheese Bread Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yoghurt
  • 1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 4 tablespoons Butter
  • 4-6 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt

Method

Preheat Oven to 500° Fahrenheit

Pinch off golf ball sized pieces of pizza dough and flatten with hands or rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Spread the dough with yogurt and place on a baking sheet. Continue to do this until all the dough is used. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake until golden brown. About 15 minutes.

While the bread is baking, place butter in a small saucepan along with the garlic and cook over low heat until the garlic is tender. Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic as it will get bitter. When the garlic is tender, add the chili flakes, cayenne pepper and salt and stir together.

Remove the bread from the oven and spoon the butter mixture over the bread.

This was absolutely delicious with my glass of Stainless Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyards.

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Korean Style Pancake

Korean Style Pancake

Korean Style Pancake

I found a video on the net of a Korean woman demonstrating how to make Korean pancake. She was delightful and fun to watch and her pancake looked delicious. Her pancake is made of four cups of green onions, as one large pancake which is shared. After some research, I changed the recipe to suit our own taste and eating style. When most of us in western society think of pancake we are compelled by our culture to think of something sweet or at least covered with a sweet syrup and usually served for breakfast or brunch. But, I found this new treat, a Korean style pancake, which is savory and absolutely delicious. This delicious dish makes a wonderful lunch or appetizer. Easy to prepare and pretty good for you.

I make this in different ways and the combination of vegetables are easily changed to suit taste and what is on hand. Have fun and enjoy.

Korean Style Pancake Recipe Ingredients

Vegetables

  • 2 cups Zucchini, julienne
  • 1 cup Spring Onion, julienne
  • 1/2 cup Mushroom, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Red Pepper, chopped
  • Cooking Oil (I use Grapeseed)
  • Sesame Oil

Batter

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
  • Water

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Red Onion, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeno Chili, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Seed
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

Method

Crack egg into a measuring cup, add soy sauce and fill to 1 cup with water. Add flour and mix well into a smooth batter. Add vegetables and mix gently until covered with batter. The vegetables should be lightly covered not heavy on the batter. Set aside.

Mix dipping sauce ingredients together in small bowl and set aside.

Heat skillet and add a couple of tablespoons of a clear oil such as grape seed oil. Turn heat to medium and add vegetable mixture and spread evenly to about an inch thick in a single large pancake. Alternately (my preference) divide into four individual pancakes.

Cook until the pancake is golden brown and then add a teaspoon of sesame oil to the pan near the edge of the pancake. Lift the edge of the pancake and allow the sesame oil to flow under the pancake. Turn the pancake over and cook the reverse side. Once you turn the cake over pat it down with the spatula to make certain the bottom gets fully cooked and crispy. Add a bit of additional oil as needed.

Remove pancake to serving plate and serve with steamed rice and dipping sauce. This is an incredibly easy, wonderfully delicious and satisfying meal.

Korean Style Pancake

Korean Style Pancake

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Pork Sausage Patties

Mia and Sterling love sausage and so I decided that I would make some that was a bit better for them than the high fat, high sodium products available at the market. Quick to make and high on flavor, they enjoyed my new treat for Sunday breakfast.

Pork Sausage Patty Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Pork
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed Fennel Seed
  • 1 teaspoon Bittersweet Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Method

Mix all ingredients together an form into patties, or stuff into links or use in bulk. I sampled and the test taste, while I really don’t like sausage, was delicious!

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Vegetable and Hummus Pizza

Vegetable Pizza on Pita Bread

Vegetable Pizza on Pita BreadClick for Larger Photo

Petra Mediterranean Restaurant has amazing pita bread! Really, the food is great but the bread is incredible! Of course, hot, freshly baked bread is always delicious and this is Petra’s calling card. I almost always stop by Petra’s when I’m in San Luis and have a grilled vegetable sandwich on a freshly baked pide. Very often I also buy a stack of bread to take home to scoop up Hummus or Labneh or to make Vegetable and Hummus Pizza on Pita Bread.

This is a seriously delicious, easy to prepare, healthy and delicious light meal or snack. Adjust ingredients or swap vegetables to your liking and enjoy. Vegetable and Hummus Pizza are a great meal to prepare on the grill.

Vegetable and Hummus Pizza on Pita Bread Ingredients

  • 2 Summer Squash, mixed
  • 2 vine ripened Tomatoes
  • 1 red Onion
  • 1 red Pepper
  • 3 Pitas
  • 6 tablespoons cup crumbled Feta
  • ΒΌ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Hummus
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • Black Pepper and Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Crumbled Red Pepper

Method

Slice squash in 1/2 inch thick rounds and/or strips and place in bowl; peel red onion and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices and place in bowl; slice red pepper into 1/2 inch thick rings and place in bowl; pour 1/2 of olive oil over vegetables, add salt and toss gently.

Cut tomatoes in half, remove seed pocket, slice in wedges and place in bowl with 1/2 of olive oil.

Place vegetables on hot grill. Grill squash about 4 minutes on each side. Grill onions about 5 minutes, rotating once. Grill tomatoes about 5 minutes rotating once. Remove vegetables to place and cover with foil to keep warm.

Warm pita on the grill about 3 minutes each side. Once warm, remove the pita from the heat and spread with 1/3 cup Hummus. Divide vegetables and arrange on pizzas. Top with 2 tablespoons crumbled Feta. Bon Apetite!

Vegetable Pizza on Pita Bread

Vegetable Pizza on Pita BreadClick for Larger Photo

Vegetable Pizza on Pita Bread

Vegetable Pizza on Pita BreadClick for Larger Photo

Vegetable Pizza on Pita Bread

Vegetable Pizza on Pita BreadClick for Larger Photo

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Basic Marinara Sauce

Vine Ripened Tomatoes

Wine Suggestion – Medium Red such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, Burgundy or Merlot

I can’t resist a fresh, delicious, vine-ripened tomato and so when I am not growing my own I visit a local farm and purchase them. My favorite farm lies in a little valley which is always warmer than the rest of our coastal climate and host to a great selection of produce, my favorite being the tomatoes. Usually they have bags of “softs” which are sold in bulk at a bargain. Softs from the farm means that the tomatoes are ripening, on the vine, faster than they can be sold and so they sell them very inexpensively to dump them. Vine ripened tomatoes are the best and surpass what most people generally understand as tomato. They are sweet, juicy and really full of tomato flavor. Vine ripened too long and the flavor is marvelous and they make great marinara!

This sauce is so easy to make, and taste great. A few steps, a little time and you have superior pasta sauce which is healthy and inexpensive. My whole 5 quarts of sauce cost me about 7 dollars or about 18 cents a serving and with a fraction of the sodium of the national brands some of which contain 50% of the recommended daily limit this makes it a winner for me.

Basic Marinara Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • 10 pounds fresh, Vine Ripened Tomatoes
  • 1 head Garlic
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon dried Oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried Chili Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Anise Seed
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

Method

Blanche the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute and then scoop out and place in cold water. The skins will burst and be easily removed from the flesh. Core the tomatoes, chop and place in 6 quart stock pot. Chop onion and place on tomatoes, crush garlic and add to pot. Add oregano, sugar, tarragon, anise, basil and wine to pot, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 40 minutes. Run a submersion blender through the pot until the sauce is smooth but still chunky. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes un-covered. The goal is to reduce liquids, blend flavors and yield a rich, thick sauce. Again, taste and adjust seasonings and finally add the salt; if you are accustomed to purchasing pre-made spaghetti sauce you will probably need much more salt than is called for in this recipe.

Oh the incredible aroma throughout our home and I am satisfied just tasting this sauce. My yield was about 4 quarts of Basic Marinara Sauce to which I added a can of mushrooms. Mangia!

Other Photos

Freshly Blanched Tomatoes

Freshly Blanched Tomatoes

Basic Marinara Sauce

Basic Marinara Sauce

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Rugelach

Apricot Rugelah
When I was a kid, my mom would take the extra pie crust from a pie she was making, roll it out, butter it and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. She would then roll it up, cut it into pieces, and bake it for a wonderfully delicious treat. Crispy, caramelized sugar and cinnamon on the ends of flaky little rolls surround a tender buttery center. My grandmother and her mother, my great-grandmother would do the same. I loved those tasty little rolls of cinnamon goodness. Those were times when people regularly baked and such things as box or refrigerator doughs simply did not exist. My grandmother made the very best short pastry there was and so it was no small trauma when as an adult she changed her recipe completely.

As I began to cook as a child I discovered similar treats in my copy of grama’s Hutterite Women Cookbook. The recipes in the Hutterite cookbook called for a dough called Schnetke which was very similar to pie crust. Again, a short crust was filled and rolled with various fillings, cut and baked.

Similar to our little pastries are the Rugelach which I believe are an Ashkenazi Jewish creation. Short pastry stuffed with wonderful fillings such as nuts and spices or jams. It is not uncommon to find Rugelach in today’s supermarkets or big box stores but the best will come from your own kitchen.

This rich and flaky cream-cheese-based dough, is easy to make and nearly foolproof, can be filled with anything from fruit jams and chopped nuts to dried fruit and cinnamon-sugar. I have filled mine with a mixture of dried apricots and almonds and buttered the dough with a wonderful apricot jam. An easy to create treasure that utilizes a few quality ingredients to tantalize the taste buds with old world charm. Yum!

Rugelach Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose Flour
  • 8 tablespoons cold Butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces Cream Cheese, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice-cold Water
  • 1/2 cup dried Apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated Sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons Apricot Jam
  • 1 large Egg White
  • 1/4 cup Almonds, coarsely chopped
  • For Finishing

  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon sliced Almonds

Method

Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add water to drip cup on top of processor and pulse until the mixture comes together when pressed. Divide dough into three pieces, form into a disk, place on a plate and wrap with food wrap. Refrigerate dough for several hours.

Mix finishing ingredients together and set aside.

In a small bowl combine apricots, sugar, and cardamom and set aside.

Ready to Assemble and Bake
Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with pan release spray. Set aside.

Lightly flour a pastry board and roll one piece of the dough into an 8-inch circle (approximate is fine). Cut the dough into wedges, dividing it first in half, then into quarters, then into eighths. Brush with jam and add a spoonful of the fruit and nut mixture to the wide portion of the wedge. Roll each rugelach into a crescent shape, place on baking sheet. Brush with egg white, and sprinkle finishing mixture. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, any leftovers can be frozen for a month or stored in an airtight jar for up to a week.

Additional Photos

Roll the dough and cut into 8 wedges

Spread the jam over the wedges

Spoon the filling on the wedges

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Marouch Restaurant, Hollywood, CA

Marouch Vegetarian Plate


Not far from downtown Los Angeles is a restaurant I had heard about called Marouch. Mia and I were planning a trip to the flower market a few weeks ago and decided to give Marouch a try.

Marouch is in a small strip mall on Santa Monica Blvd at N. Edgemont. When we first arrived to this small, unimpressive center I was a bit under-whelmed. This mall, like many others is anchored by a 7-Eleven with a laundromat on the opposite end. Resolved to try this new restaurant with great reviews we wedged our car into the tiny lot and found our way inside.

We arrived at Marouch at about 2 in the afternoon so it was no surprise that it was not busy. We were immediately greeted and seated at the table of our choice and served water and menus.

The menu is extensive and covers all the Mediterranean delights and the staff is friendly and accommodating. I ordered the Vegetarian Combination which contained all my favorite Middle Eastern foods – hommos, baba ghanouge, tabbouleh and falafel. Each plate on the menu is available in three sizes ie. Sandwich, Medium and Large. I ordered the medium and OMG it was a huge portion of unbelievably delicious food! The baba ghanouge was tender and gently smoky and nicely contrasted with pomegranate seeds, the hommos creamy delicious with a touch of lemon and finished with olive oil and green onions but the very best of all was the falafel. The falafel are perfectly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside and the very best I have ever eaten. Truly, my only problem with this meal was that I could not eat more of it!

The owner of the restaurant found out that we had traveled specifically to visit his restaurant and joined our table for a bit. He was a wonderful man, proud of his restaurant and the food he served. He told us that he wanted to introduce his wife to us but that she was away buying eggplant, a job she does daily, so that she could freshly roast them for the baba ghanouge. She didn’t permit anyone else to pick the produce and her painstaking process was evident in the food. I inquired about the delicious falafel and he told me the secret was that the falafel were ground to order and then fried. Wow!

Marouch’s food is fresh and delicious. The menu is large and will accommodate any of your Middle Eastern desires comprising Lebanese and Armenian treats. Our wonderful host ordered us a platter of Baklava and pot of mint tea both wonderfully prepared. As we sat there, stuffed, trying to eat the baklava and so delicious it was impossible not to, we continued our discussion with our host who found out my son’s favorite dishes and ordered them for him to go. This amazing, hospitable man made the restaurant warm and inviting and he insist his wife makes certain the food is fresh and delicious. Can’t wait to return.

Marouch Restaurant
4905 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323-662-9325

Website: Marouch Restauant

Additional Photos

Marouch Labneh

Marouch Falafel

Marouch Hand-made Baklava

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