Try the Vegetarian Dish!

Since we already know about kosher if you read my last blog, we can focus on those of you who prefer to eat strictly vegetarian. As you can tell from some of my earlier blogs, I like to eat and healthy concerns are not a major priority for me. But out of respect to those who love to eat and eat healthy, I have prepared this blog especially for you.

I could go down the list of strictly Israeli-vegan foods I like such as cabbage strudel, soups full of veggies, or pomegranate topped cheesecake and sour cream apple coffee cake for dessert. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought you might want a few recipes I came across.

First, I once knew someone who absolutely hated green bean salad. His wife (and mother-in-law) had tried for year to get him to at least try it. Then he was invited over to dinner by a woman from the church (he thinks it was a conspiracy) and out of politeness (guilt?) he tried her green bean main course. He was surprised he actually loved it! So in dedication to this conspiracy and nutritional vegan breakthrough moment, here are the ingredients to that dish. Maybe you can use it on another unsuspecting soul!

1 – 1 1/4 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and dried

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

a pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) black pepper

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Before I move on to the second recipe, I want you to know that there are people who actually love lentil soup. There was a client who went to a restaurant to have a business lunch for the normal business meeting. The consultant ordered lentil soup because, as I found out later, the alternatives were less appetizing. The client told the consultant that while he had known other people to order the lentil soup, very few people actually liked it. Strange things can happen in the world of vegans!

As for the second recipe, this one is a dessert and has a lot of flexibility that goes with its preparation. One thing I know from experience is that many people who try recipes without knowing the person who actually makes them ends up getting frustrated because following the directions didn’t work for them. There always seems to be one thing that is forgotten or is missing, which as we all know can lead to disaster.

Caramel ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus a little extra to grease the pan

1 cup white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

water (¼ cup or less depending on weather, altitude, etc.)

pinch of kosher salt

Batter ingredients:

1/4 cup chestnut flour

OR

1/2 cup coconut flour

OR

1/2 cup flax meal

OR

½ cup almond flour

OR 3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (OK, not quite a full teaspoon)

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest (orange is ok)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

1 almost-over-ripe banana

⅓ cup orange juice (the fresher the better)

½ cup water

OK, so you are wondering where the directions are for these recipes? The truth is, I didn’t have the time to finish this blog, so I will put them up online in the next blog. I know it’s a tease, but I want you to come back!

See you next time with a full scoop!

The Secret to Great Kebabs

I want to start off by saying that there is often a misperception that there is only one type of kebab, and that is the famous shish kebab. (In Turkey it is spelled sis kebab.) The basic ingredients of a kebab are much like what people will put on a plate – meat or fish, potatoes, and vegetables. One difference is a kebab should be grilled to be a true kebab. The second is a kebab is both about the taste and the appearance. You line up the ingredients on a skewer (which originally was a sword) and then cook them over an open flame (a.k.a. a barbeque). Though this preparation and method often is credited to the Turks, it actually has its culinary roots in Greece.

Now actually there are two main types, the shish and the doner. You don’t hear much about the doner, but the major difference is that it is cooked vertically rather than being placed on a grill. If you have ever seen gyros prepared you have a very good idea of what doner kebab is like. In either type, cooking over an open flame is essential.

For those who never had the pleasure of eating a kebab, you don’t know what you are missing. The thing is, you can mix and match so many varieties of foods that it is impossible not to find a combination that will please your palette. But when you want to take taste to the next level you need to find exactly the right types of meat and vegetables, and create a secret mix of herbs and spices to saturate and glaze your meat and veggie combo. Many of the best kebab combos have been handed down from one generation to another. When you think about the many journeys Israelis have experienced during their heritage, it is amazing how any more than two generational recipes have survived.

Those who have held on to these culinary treasures say that the most important part of a great kebab in the keeping to the exact order and process of the preparation. Anyone can throw some ingredients together, but it is the careful planning and timing of adding and mixing each ingredient that makes a recipe stand out above all the others. Creating a flavor that is slightly greasy, with the right amount of rich spices is something I prefer. After cooking I prefer the final result to be a bit on the crispy side, but I can appreciate a kebab that is also softer but well-done on the inside.

If you are interested in making kebabs on your own, my advice is to not be afraid to experiment. Start with the kind of outside texture you want, then focus on the ingredients and work to mix them in a process that will give you the flavor you want while maintaining the outer texture. What is most important, if the greatest kebab chefs are worth listening to, is make sure you write down every detail of the process. You may even want to note where you purchased your ingredients.

So that’s the basics of kebabs and how you can get started making your own. But if you are not a grillmeister, don’t worry. There are plenty of places where you can get kebabs prepared for you – exactly the way you like them.