Israeli White Bean Soup

photo-9Shabbat dinner always felt different from the rest of the week.  The differences were small, my mother bentched licht covering her head with whatever was nearby, sometimes even grabbing a dish-towel, the table was covered with an embroidered cloth, challah replaced rye bread, roast chicken was served, and my father said Kiddush.  On Saturdays life went back to normal but that feeling of Shabbat lingered in the air.

As the week winds down, after a full work-week, it’s sometimes hard to plan, shop, and prepare for Shabbat.  That’s what makes those hardy one pot meals like Cholent, Tabit, and Hamin, so attractive.  Instead of serving it for lunch, I often make one of those dishes and put it in the oven early Friday morning to serve for dinner instead.

Tonight we are having some of our children’s Ramah friends over and my plan was to make a one pot dinner.  I thought I would try something new so I chose to make Sofrito from the Jerusalem cookbook, a one-pot chicken and potato dish, cooked slowly in its own juices on top of the stove.  Then I decided to make a pot of turkey meatballs in a cumin-scented tomato sauce.  When I left for the market there was a chill in the air, and so I decided to come home and make a family favorite, a pot of Israeli bean soup.

My one pot dinner has turned into three pots, and with all of them simmering slowly on the stove top, it does feel different, and for me, that’s what Shabbat is all about.  Hope yours feels different too.  Shabbat Shalom.

Israeli Bean Soup

1 pound small white beans, rinsed well

1 large brown onion

1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

2 Tb olive oil

8 cups chicken broth or water with 1 Tb chicken bouillon

Chop onions in a small dice.  In a large soup pot, sauté onions in olive oil till translucent, but not browned, for about 5 or 6 minutes.  Mince garlic and add to onions and cook for another minute or two.  Add water/chicken broth and beans and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook for about one hour.  Then add salt, pepper, and tomato sauce and cook till beans are tender about another 1 1/2 hours.  Adjust seasonings and serve.  Serves 6.

Enjoy,
Irene

 

 

 

 

 

PB&B Smoothie and Bimbambam – A Special Guest Post

David here. Meaning the middle child. As in, Irene’s. You probably don’t know this, but I’m something of a foodie myself. More of a critic than a chef, but let’s just say that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to food. Like usually when my mom cooks something and I’m not overly enthusiastic about it and she gets mad and says it’s delicious and asks me what I think is wrong and then I tell her, she almost always agrees with my assessment.Image

My opinion in the kitchen is generally respected, but no one likes to admit it. It might be a middle child quirk. Anyway, my moms a fantastic mom, an even better cook (that’s a compliment, right?), but most of all, the best blogger this family has ever produced! I was inspired by my mom and bamitbach to create my own blog, thisistorah.com, which is not at all like bamitbach but my mom says it’s pretty good so I’m happy.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk food.

Even though I’m pretty good at criticizing food, I’m not very good at making it. So my recipes tend to be, let’s say, functional. Here are two of my favorite low-budget low-time high-calorie dishes, the type of thing I like to eat after I’ve been playing squash for an hour and am about to fall down from fatigue but alas need to go to work. So I need protein, carbs, “vegetables,” etc.

1) I don’t always drink smoothies, but when I do, I prefer a Green Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. I drink lots of these when it’s hot outside, especially after a bike ride or a game of tennis. Hits the spot. The “Green” refers to the color (as opposed to environmental impact) which is due to the vegetable/protein powder I use. There are literally lots of protein and vegetable powders out there, so if you’re enhancing your smoothie with these I recommend going to the store and asking someone to help you figure out which one best fits your needs. I don’t like to eat vegetables, so I go for a green one that makes me feel better about my diet. My father-in-law introduced me to Amazing Grass (no, this product does not contain marijuana) which is working pretty well for me right now. Slight seaweedy aroma, but nbd. Also, I can’t stress enough how important the ripeness of the bananas is. If you think you can just throw a banana in any state of ripeness into the blender and come out with a great smoothie, you are sorely mistaken. I use bananas that are brownish, just before they turn soft and squishy.   

2) The second is a new creation that I’m finding very useful; I like to call it Bimbambam (my version of the Korean dish bibimbap). Very quick, filling, and relatively healthy. Basically an egg and couscous dish. Fits my meat-reductionist lifestyle quite well.

So, here are the recipes! Thanks Mom, for letting me write whatever I want on your blog!

Green Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Recipe

2 Bananas, perfectly ripe!

1 heaping spoonful (or more) of peanut butter (I use PB&Co Smooth Operator, because it’s smooth and sweet)

4 ice cubes

A bit of honey (or maple syrup)

Some cinnamon

Milk (cow or soy or almond)

Amazing Grass powder (as much as you can tolerate, I guess. I put about 3/4 of a scoop)

Variations:

1) Sometimes I add a full cup of yogurt, if I’m feeling extra hungry. When I do this I reduce the amount of milk and adjust quantities appropriately. I like using coconut Greek yogurt.

2) Turn the smoothie into a milkshake by adding ice cream. Delicious. If you do this, I recommend leaving out the vegetable powder. You sort of have to decide what type of smoothie you’re going for…

3) of course you can add berries, like fresh or frozen blueberries.

 So basically put all the ingredients into a blender and liquefy. Cleaning the blender is a pain, so I throw it into the dishwasher or put some soap and water into it and blend that until it’s clean. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I put in the peanut butter I try to get it right in the middle, after I’ve put it the bananas and ice, so that it isn’t resting against the side while I add the other ingredients. This prevents a significant amount of your pb from ending up smeared on the side of the blender (as opposed to in your smoothie).

Image

 

Bimbambam Recipe

Near East Roasted Garlic Couscous (or whatever you want)

3 eggs

Fresh Salsa (I like Whole Foods)

Hot Sauce (lately I’ve been using Cholula)

Variation: you can sauteed vegetables to add to the mix, like spinach or something.

Make the couscous according to the box’s instructions. Put about half of it in a bowl. Fry the three eggs and put them on top of the couscous. Add salsa and hot sauce. Enjoy.

 

Sweet and Savory Hot Wings

photo-6Christopher Columbus High School was considered one of the top performing schools in The Bronx, but to be perfectly honest that was not why I chose to go there (although I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have considered it if it had a poor reputation.)   The real reason was that I had just spent three years in an all girls middle school, and had no desire to go on to an all girls high school. Enough was enough.

Looking back I realize that the co-ed aspect of my high school experience wasn’t significant.  The most important lessons I learned had little to do with boys or academics, and everything to do with the people I met and their approach to life.  For the first time I found myself among students and teachers who were passionate, engaged, and involved.  There was Mr. Dubow, whose love of the French language was contagious.  Miss Silberstang, the art teacher who inspired and pushed me to do better on a daily basis, Miss Pakula, an English teacher who also taught drama, and whose encouragement and good nature appeared to be endless, and Mr. Tannenbaum, who taught me Hebrew in a way that I had never experienced in all  my years of Hebrew school.

I had a friend who suddenly and secretly flew to Moscow to participate in a protest on behalf of  Soviet Jewry.  I met students who were active in Zionist organizations and were strongly committed to living in Israel, some who were Betarniks and others from Hashomer Hatzair.  For the first time in my life I met drama students, and art students ,who like myself, spent hours working on portfolios.  I met students who cared about the world, and teachers who cared about us.  Both inside and outside of the classroom, I learned that passion was a great motivator.  It’s the lesson that I still try to remember each day.

Recently I found out that Christopher Columbus is closing its doors, the result of  poor academic performance and low graduation rates.   I am sad that other students won’t experience what I experienced during my years in a great high school, in a great neighborhood, in a great borough.  Goodbye, Columbus.

Goodbye Columbus (a poem in the Anchor Yearbook of 1973 )
“…. May every season…winter, spring, summer or fall….add new phases to your life, when you will more vividly remember saying hello rather than goodbye….”
The foods I craved most during my high school years were pizza, hot dogs with sauerkraut, and black and white cookies.  I  still eat those same foods on almost every trip back East, but in recent years we have been introduced to hot wings, and they have become a family favorite.
Sweet and Savory Hot Wings
2 dozen wings cut in half or the same number of winnetz, which is just the little drumstick part of the wing.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
5 Tb pareve margarine
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Season wings with salt and pepper and place on cookie sheets in a single layer. Bake at 475 till crisp on one side and then turn over and continue baking.  Total baking time is about one hour.  In the meantime, melt margarine over low flame and mix in large bowl with sriracha and brown sugar.  When wings are done toss them in the  bowl of sauce till well coated.  Reheat before serving for about 10-15 minutes.  Serve with a pareve ranch dressing.
Enjoy,
Irene

2013 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Thank you for following me this past year.  Hope to try new things in the “new” year.  I promise to keep you posted.

Here is an excerpt from Word Press.  The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.