Another Israeli classic, falafel should not be missed. At its best, a falafel sandwich has everything you might want in one bite. Crunchy chickpea balls, covered in creamy and rich tahini sauce, with some crisp cucumber and juicy tomatoes adding freshness, perhaps a dash of hot sauce for spice and bite. In falafel shops in Israel, you can add salads, pickles, hummus, even french fries, to make for an ultimate sandwich. I went for a more modest offering this time around, but I dream about the toppings that can be had in a real shop.
What do I need to say about hummus except that it’s delicious and everybody loves it? We couldn’t let Israel week pass without making up a batch. It’s so simple to make with a food processor.
I like to top mine with toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and paprika. This one has some extra tahini sauce in the middle too.
One of my favorite things about visiting family on their kibbutz, besides the family part, was eating breakfast in the dining hall. There were bins full of little crisp cucumbers and ripe red tomatoes, and I would grab a few on my tray, along with a hard-boiled egg, some super soft bread, and a cup of milky hot chocolate. Once at the table, you peeled and chopped your veggies, seasoned them with lemon juice and olive oil from little glass jars, a sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper, and breakfast was ready. I often try to replicate this meal, but it never tastes the same. I keep trying, though, because it’s such a great way to start the day, and makes me think of the special people that I used to share it with.
Shakshuka is a dish of eggs slowly poached in a spiced tomato sauce. Popular in North Africa, it came to Israel by way of Tunisian Jews and quickly became an Israeli favorite, served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, because it’s just so delicious. If you leave the eggs slightly runny, the yolk spills out into the rich tomato sauce, and the resulting liquid, mopped up with bread, is pretty much perfection.
I made it for breakfast, and went with an herb-infused, lighter sauce, which my 4-year-old declared “the best eggs ever”!
Check out Nadav’s meatball version!
Rice noodles are so versatile and a great pantry staple, I try to always keep a package on hand. So when I came across a recipe for pan fried-rice noodles with mixed vegetables and meat while researching Taiwan week, I was super excited to put my pantry supplies into action. Black vinegar adds a depth of flavor, and I happened to have some from a previous week, as well as another pantry staple, soy sauce. For veggies, I used what I had, which were peas, carrots, and scallions. I didn’t have meat, but I did have mushrooms, so in they went, too. A tasty, kid-approved dinner that will definitely make it into the week-night meal rotation!
Tave kosi is a delicious casserole of sorts. Browned lamb is cooked with garlic and oregano, rice is added and cook until just tender, and then baked, topped with a velvety layer of yogurt thickened with eggs and roux. The result is a homey and comforting dish that feels like it was made by an Albanian grandmother.
We really weren’t able to focus fully on the great culinary offerings of Nepal, because we were just so preoccupied by the earthquake relief efforts, and keeping up with the news. But we did spend some time yesterday in Jackson Heights, Queens, where a large Nepali community is rallying to raise funds and donations. Diversity Plaza has turned into an information and drop off center for the area, and it’s a great place to stop by and find out what’s really necessary for the areas most in need.
Last Friday, we announced that we would be exploring Nepal for the coming week, and were very excited at the prospect of going to some Himalayan restaurants and researching and cooking traditional recipes. And then on Saturday morning, Nepal was hit with a devastating earthquake. Updates are still coming in, but as of this writing, over 3000 people have died, and thousands more are injured or displaced. So before we even think about food, we would like to raise awareness, and help the people of Nepal who are suffering.
Arepas de choclo. Arepa de queso. Chuzo de pollo. Patacon con carne desmechada.
I’ve loved arepas de choclo since the first time I tried the sweet, buttery corn cakes on a street corner, late at night, in Jackson Heights, Queens, from The Arepa Lady. It was always a special treat to find her and wait on the often long line while each arepa was made to order.