Archive for the ‘Useful Flavorings and Relishes’ Category
Sorting through my folks’ kitchen shelves before my Mom’s move, I discovered an old Jerusalem Post newspaper clipping. It was a recipe for pickle chips. I’d never considered making this, but it looked so easy that I had to try it. I did, and liked the pickles very much indeed. Now see if you like them.
The first few lines of the clipping had been cut off, so I can’t credit the author, but the date is Friday, June 30th, 1978.
Sweet & Tangy Pickle Chips
from the Jerusalem Post, author unkown
1 1/2 kg. – 3 lb. fresh, firm cucumbers
4 large onions
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 heaping tsp. ground turmeric
6 whole cloves
4 allspice berries
2 sticks cinnamon
3 Tblsp. – 30 grams – mustard seeds
optional: 1 -3 dried chili peppers. I used 1 tiny shatach pepper and it was enough.
Use a large pot for this preparation. The vegetables take up a lot of room.
1. Rinse, but don’t peel the cucumbers. Slice them into thin circles; set aside.
2. Peel and slice the onions thinly. Set aside.
3. In a colander or sieve placed atop a large bowl (to catch the juices), put down alternate layers of cukes and onions, salting each layer generously before adding the next.
Drape a towel over the colander to keep insects off, and leave the vegetables alone for 3 – 4 hours.
When you’re ready to prepare the pickles, do this:
1. Put all the ingredients from the sugar on down into the large pot.
2. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then reduce the heat to medium.
3. Add the cukes and onions. Simmer them for 3 minutes.
4. Pour the hot mixture into a large jar – put a wooden spoon in it first, though, to prevent it shattering. Cover and allow to cool.
5. Refrigerate for 24 hours. The pickles will then be ready, although they improve with a few more days in the fridge.
The pickles will stay crunchy and good for a long time. Not that they’ll stay around a long time: if your family likes pickles, they’ll love these. If you plan to keep extras in the pantry, please follow safe canning procedure.
When putting food up for emergencies, consider this recipe.
Do you like chutney? I do, both the mild kind and the hot, spicy kind. But if we’re talking about transforming apricots into chutney, I think it best to stick with ingredients that won’t drown the taste of the fruit. Mangoes have an assertive flavor and stand up to chilis and lots of onions very well – tomatoes, too. But for the true taste of peaches and apricots to come through in chutney, I stick with sweet spices.
NOTE: Israeli Kitchen has moved. You’ll find the recipe for Apricot Chutney on my delicious new blog:
All my old recipes are there, and some cool new ones, too. Hope to see you there!
While we’re on the subject of garlic…
Do you get the impression that I’m on the subject of garlic? Well, I do tend to get sort of exhilarated when the fresh stuff comes out. A few short weeks to cook with it and to buy lots for drying is all there is. After the season’s over, there’s only garlic imported from China.
For Shabbat I made some roasted garlic, mentioned below. Here are more precise instructions.
Wash three garlic heads and slice the rooty bottoms off. Then peel the first two layers off each one and set them to bake. Muffin tins are good for this. I placed my three bulbs in a little tin I had left over from Purim baking.
Here they are, drizzled with olive oil and well besprinkled with herb salt, pepper, and paprika.
The tin was covered in tin foil and popped into a medium oven alongside some other things that were roasting in there. About 40 minutes later, I poked a knife into one and saw that they were tender and ready.
I ate about half a bulb right out of the oven. Delicious. Here is the other half, smooshed and ready for other applications.
When using fresh garlic, you can just keep mashing the whole clove – central stalk part removed – and even the peels will be soft enough to eat. With dry garlic, you have to mash each clove and the meat will squirt out of the stem end.
Each bulb yields about 1 1/2 Tblsp. of soft roasted garlic.
I spread some of my garlic paté on challah.
Here are other things you can do with roasted garlic. You have to love the stuff, though.
* Stir a tablespoon into a pot of rice or quinoa before serving.
* Stir another tablespoon into the liquid part of your bread recipe. Proceed as usual, mixing in oil, egg, salt, flour, or however your recipe works. Garlic bread! Very garlic bread!
*Drop yet another tablespoon into soup. Just about any soup.Stir, allow it to simmer another 5 minutes, serve.
*For a wonderful bruschetta, toast your slices of bread, then spread a thin layer of roasted garlic on one side of each piece. Top them with a slice of tomato each and grill them for a few minutes. Or top with hot chicken livers. Or with leftover ratatouille.
The weather’s cool and we’re having late rainfall, but spring must have arrived in Israel. There’s green garlic in the shuk.
Usually by this time the shuk is overflowing with garlic
- woven into braids
- or just stacked in piles for discriminating shoppers.
But it was only today that I saw the first tender, purple-streaked bulbs. I’ll wait another week for the really big ones, then I’ll buy the 10 kg. that sees me through most of the year. I’ll hang my garlic up in the porch and convince everyone that we really love the way our apartment smells like salami.
One of my favorite things to do with green garlic is infuse it into a pungent, peppery olive oil, together with fresh oregano or za’atar. I can’t tell you how delicious salads are, made with this oil.
In the above photo you see some dried sprigs of the round-leaved za’atar. It just finished for the season. The narrow-leaved variety, which is what I infused in oil, looks like this:
You must have a very clean, very dry glass jar at hand. Put a lot of green oregano or zaatar in it, and up to a whole head of fresh garlic, its tough outer membranes removed. Vary the herb as you wish, as long as it’s fresh and green. Then pour good olive oil over the herbs and garlic, to cover.
Push a chopstick or a knife through the oil to displace any air bubbles, then screw the lid on the jar and put it away in the fridge. The oil tastes good after a few days, and will stay good for about a month, gettting stronger the longer it sits. It’s important to keep it refrigerated to avoid spoilage. Also, use only a clean, dry spoon to remove oil for use.
In fact, today I made two oils, the one above for salads, and a hot one for cooking. The second oil had a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger root which I’d sliced, a handful of fresh, coarsely chopped garlic, and a couple of tiny shatach chili peppers.
A little of that ought to keep the heat high, I think.
Tender new garlic is a treat that I use with abandon. All too soon, it dries and the delicate, slightly sweet flavor becomes more pungent. Peel away the first tough layers of skin, flexible now but becoming papery as the bulbs dry out. Then you can:
* Anoint a few bulbs with olive oil, paprika and cumin, or thyme, then wrap them up in tin foil and roast them. Or tuck them into the pan in which you’re roasting a chicken. Roasted fresh garlic is food for princes. How do you eat it? Push the root end of each clove with the flat of a table knife, and the meat will slip out of the stem end. Spread the garlic paté on whatever’s on your plate that takes your fancy. Some people adore roasted garlic on challah, some like to cover their roast chicken with a thin layer.
* Crush a few cloves with za’atar spice (the dried kind, with sesame seeds in it) – add salt, dip your bread into it.
Confession: a favorite springtime snack of mine goes like this: I crush the garlic, scrape it into a small dish, and stir olive oil into it. Then I’ll add salt and pepper and eat the whole thing with a pitta. I defy any vampire to get me after that.
* Slice it thickly – lots of it, from half to a whole bulb – and layer it into lasagna or a casserole.
* Make garlic butter with it. Allow the butter to become a little soft, add crushed garlic and some lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix it well, cover, and allow the butter to mellow for an hour before using. No measurements given because it all depends on how much butter you’re making and how garlicky, lemony, or salty you like it.
* Garlic soup is light, warming, and a good base for other soups. Make a light stock from an onion, a washed but unpeeled potato, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, a ripe tomato, parsley (or nettles), and salt. The vegetables should be sliced thinly. Simmer this for an hour or a little longer. Strain the broth. To this clear liquid, add all the cloves from a cleaned head of fresh garlic, a sprig of thyme (1/4 tsp), a small bay leaf, 2 Tblsp. olive oil. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove the garlic cloves and bay leaf and serve steaming hot, with buttered toast triangles.
A fancy touch is to roll out some frozen puff pastry and cut it out to cover oven-proof soup bowls. Ladle a serving of garlic soup into each bowl, cover the bowls with circles of puff pastry, and put them in the oven to bake. It’s fun to break the crust and push it into the soup – tasty, too.
If you find yourself with a stalk or two of fresh garlic, peel away the first, dirty layers of it and put it in soup. It’s not for eating, just for flavor, like bay leaves.
Winter is a good time to make stock. A few mornings ago I put up a chicken stock and left it simmering on the stove while I went out to run errands in the rain and the wind. By evening, when I returned all cold and grumpy and achey and feeling sorry for myself, there was the most appetizing aroma in the apartment. I walked straight to the stove and drank a cup of stock just as it was, right out of the pot. Immediately I felt warm again. My bad mood and aches fell away from me and I was able to smile at my family. Mineral-rich stock is a powerful ally to health, keeping immunities up and hastening recovery from illness any time.
With good stock ready at hand, flavorful home-made soups, sauces and gravies are a snap to prepare. You can go from strained, clear stock to Greek avegolemono soup, or velouté sauce – or good old American gravy – in a matter of minutes. In fact, some of the batch I’m cooking up right now is going to make up the gravy for a savory turkey pie. Classic recipes call for veal and beef bones, but having fallen into the Israeli way of eating more poultry and less beef, I find that turkey or chicken stock works very well.
The basis for today’s stock is turkey necks. At another time I might have used chicken wings or the carcass of a large roasted chicken. But peering into my freezer, where I’m always finding delightful surprises, I discovered a tidy kilo of turkey necks. I must have put it away for stock.
This is the kind of recipe I love. About three minutes of preparation, then go about your business and let time do most of the work. Although this post calls it Turkey Neck Stock, you can use the meat and bones of other poultry, beef, or lamb, either cooked leftovers or raw. Add layers of flavors as your taste dictates. The basic vegetables remain the same.
Turkey Neck Stock
Yield: about 1 1/2 liters
1 kg. turkey necks
1 onion, washed but not peeled
2 celery stalks, washed, trimmed and chopped into thirds or quarters
2 garlic cloves
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into quarters
1 tomato, halved
1 bay leaf
1 parsley root or a parsnip (parsnips are rare here)
1 Tblsp. of apple cider or balsamic vinegar
A dollop of good soy sauce
A handful of papery onion skins
Optional ingredients to add at the last hour of the cook: a few dried mushrooms, a pinch of thyme or marjoram
Optional to add at the last half-hour: parsley or coriander leaves, nettles or other wild edibles. If using, cover the pot now so that the goodness of these fragile leaves won’t evaporate out. This is also the time to add small amounts of other vegetables you like but which won’t stand up to long cooking, like zucchini.
Notes before beginning:
The onion skins give a deep color to the broth and add valuable nutrients.
My turkey necks were frozen, so I put them in water to cover and started the cook, adding more water and the other ingredients when the necks had thawed out. When using fresh meat – not necessarily raw, it can be the bones and pan juices from cooked meat – just put everything into the pot together.
Don’t allow the stock to boil at any time. The bones won’t release their nutritious elements if they cook in boiling liquid.
No salt goes into the stock. You’ll be straining the stock then using it as a base for other dishes that will need additional salt. Kosher meat and bones have some salt in them anyway.
Put all the basic ingredients into a big pot and cover them with enough water to submerge everything.
Bring the liquid up to a simmer, then keep the stock on the lowest possible flame, so that the water barely moves.
Skim off the greyish matter that forms on the surface of the broth. It’s harmless enough, but the stock will be cloudy if it’s not removed. You’ll need to do this once in a while over the next hour or two. If’ I’m organized enough at night, I start the stock while I’m fixing dinner, skim it once in a while till I go to bed, then leave it undisturbed till morning.
Once the scum has stopped forming, set the lid over the pot so that it’s partly uncovered, and walk away. The longer it cooks, the better. I like to leave it alone till the vegetables are very tender and the meat separates from the bone easily. This takes about 6 hours. You’ll know that the stock is approaching readiness when a fine, appetizing odor perfumes the kitchen.
When you’re satisfied that the stock is done, remove it from the flame and let it cool down. Strain it through a sieve. Put aside what you’ll be using up presently, and freeze the rest. It will keep up to a week in the fridge.
You may want to remove any fat from it before freezing by chilling it and spooning the fat off. Turkey necks have almost no fat on them, so I won’t be doing that today, but if I were using leftover roast lamb or duck, I certainly would.
So what am I going to do with this liquid treasure?
- Part of it will be the base for gravy in a savory pot pie.
- I’ll add a piece of two of chicken plus a fat slice of pumpkin, some cilantro and some salt to the rest, and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour. That will make the rich, golden Shabbat soup that my family loves.
- At least a couple of cups will go down the way I drank stock the other day – out of a teacup, standing right there by the stove.
- I could refrain from drinking stock as if it were tea and keep it for cooking rice instead of using plain water.
- Or make a small amount of sauce to spoon over steamed vegetables.
- If there’s some stock left over, I’ll freeze it by half-cups and cupfuls. That’s the most effective way. You won’t need to pull out and thaw a whole quart of the stuff for a recipe that only calls for half a cup.
The meat can be taken off the necks and added back to the strained stock. But I think I’ll make it into kreplach filling this time.
The photo below shows some of the stock’s gelatinous layer, which comes from the bones and gives the liquid a rich mouthfeel. Apart from how good for your hair and fingernails and joints all that good stuff is.
This article expands on the medicinal properties of well-made stock.
Most jams, chutneys, flavored vinegars and pickles benefit by maturing over a month. So around Tu B’Shvat, I start organizing preserves for Purim baskets. Since the weather’s still cool, it’s convenient to make the year’s supply of jam for the family, too. Over time I’ve found a routine: around springtime, strawberry jam and apple or pear chutney – later on, apricot jam and mango chutney. That’s enough for our home needs and gift-giving. Of course if some fantastic new recipe catches my eye, I’ll try it, halving the recipe first to see if it’s going to be popular around the house.
Another appreciated Purim gift is liqueurs. Few of my friends venture to buy anything but chocolate liqueur or a really ghastly banana concoction you see at weddings occasionally – but all love a slender bottle of limoncello or strawberry liqueur. It’s so easy to make liqueur: all you need is to put together fruit, sugar, and vodka.
These things require packaging, so if you want to surprise and impress your circle with a fabulous yellow tomato jam or a kiwi liqueur, now’s the time to shop for jars and bottles. Just remember that foods with vinegar in them corrode metal tops, so chutneys and flavored vinegars need containers with plastic tops. For a finished look, I like to print out labels identifying the product, with the date and a brief Purim message and just glue them on, or make tags to attach. But I’m not going to go all artsy-craftsy on you right now. I want to talk about …
Apple and Walnut Chutney
yield: 3 cups – 750 ml.
450 ML. – 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
225 grams – 1 1/2 cup sugar
4 Granny Smith apples
3 medium onions – 2 cups chopped finely
110 grams – 3/4 cup raisins
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger root, or dried powdered
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or a small piece of chili pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, broken
1. Measure out all the ingredients.
2 . Peel, core, and finely chop the apples and onions.
3. Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
4. Add all the other ingedients except the walnuts.
5. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, till most of the liquid has evaporated and the chutney thickens.
6. Stir the walnut pieces in.
Store in warm, sterilized jars. This chutney will keep 1 year. Once opened, keep it in the fridge.
This is such an easy dish. You don’t need to make a lot, just choose two or three colors of ripe bell peppers. Have ready a handful of basil leaves, olive oil, 1 clove of garlic per pepper, salt and black pepper. If basil isn’t in season, a dusting of oregano does very well instead.
Rinse your peppers; slice them into wide strips.
Sauté them till they are tender, over a medium flame, in olive oil. Stir once in a while to prevent scorching. This should take about 15 minutes.
Peel and chop the garlic coarsely. Add it to the peppers and stir again. Let the garlic cook in the scant juices of the peppers, but keep a sharp eye on it so it won’t burn.
Season with herbs and salt and black pepper.
In 2 or 3 minutes more, it’s done.
Serve these savory, colorful peppers warm or cold as a piquant note to your meal. Or layer them into a sandwich with feta cheese and a fat slice of ripe tomato. Or make bruschetta with slices of toasted bread and serve as an appetizer.
Pickled vegetables in vivid colors decorate all our food, from falafel eaten out of hand to restaurant tables set with good china and cloth napkins. And there’s a good reason for that. The gem-like colors attract your eyes, then the sharp aroma of vinegar and salt rises up and makes your mouth water. You reach for a few slices of spicy, orange pickled carrots , or green cucumber well brined with garlic – some purple eggplant shiny with olive oil – some olives, in all of their black, green, or brown beauty – and munch. All of a sudden, you’re really hungry.
I discovered all kinds of uses for lemons when I moved to my present apartment. Come winter, the lemon tree in the common yard is loaded with bright yellow, juicy fruit. Having gotten tired of concocting sweet things from the lemons, I discovered a surprising way to use them in savory dishes: preserved in salt. Now I like to lay a slice of pickled lemon on top of a stew about 20 minutes before it’s done cooking; serve quarters of them in a little bowl to accompany lamb chops; chop slivers of them to mix into salad; stir-fry some and scatter them over fish.
The first of the following recipes was taken from Elizabeth David’s Spices, Salt, and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. It’s the recipe I usually use. The second comes from Claudia Roden’s Book of Middle Eastern Food (1974). This book has an updated version from 2004, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I haven’t made this recipe, but intend to for my next batch of preserved lemons. You can hardly go wrong with recipes by Claudia Roden.
NOTE: Israeli Kitchen has moved. You’ll find the recipe for Pickled Lemons on my delicious new blog:
All the old posts and recipes are there – and new ones, too. Hope to see you there!
Fern, of Life on the Balcony, asked a simple question about the Ethiopian spiced ghee, Nitter Kibbeh. My reply was so long it became a new recipe worth an entry of its own.
I haven’t checked this recipe with an Ethiopian, but took it from “Olive Trees and Honey” by Gil Marks. The cooking instructions are mine.
To make niter kibbeh, remove the foam from the surface of the clarifying butter. Wait a little, don’t skim as the foam forms, but let it coagulate and harden a bit. It’s just easier that way. Then add:
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. peeled fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. powdered cardamom seed or four whole seeds, crushed
1 stick of cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. ground fenugreek seed
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
Cook the herbs and spices gently for 40 minutes, uncovered. Keep the heat as low as possible: don’t allow the garlic and onion to fry and turn brown. When the liquid is clear, turn off the flame and let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool down.
Strain the niter kibbeh and discard the flavorings.
Compared to Nitter Kibbeh, samna is almost plain. After removing the slightly hardened foam from the ghee, add 2 Tblsp. fenugreek seeds and cook for 40 minutes. Cool and strain as above.