Nir and Guy arrived at my home early Sunday afternoon, carrying shopping bags filled with fresh groceries they had just purchased at the local Persian market. Although we hadn’t met before, these young Israelis, full of personality and charm, quickly made themselves at home. Promoting their company, Puzzle Israel, (which provides a unique approach to touring) they come to the U.S several times a year offering cooking classes and demonstrations.
The class was hands-on, and with everyone participating we all had a good time. There was a station in the kitchen for the meat dishes and a station in the dining room for salads and dessert. The menu included freshly baked Foccacia, chicken liver stuffed mushrooms, salmon ceviche salad, cabbage salad, and eggplant rolls filled with ground beef. Dessert was a dish of baked bananas with a biscuit Halvah topping.
When I asked Guy how he expanded from culinary arts to the touring industry, he said “cooking is the best way of making connections.” How right he is.
Stuffed Eggplant Rolls
2 globe eggplants
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, not too lean
1/3 pound Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 purple onion, finely diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the eggplants to a 1/4 inch thickness. Layer slices on a greased cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over both sides. Bake for about 20 minutes until slices are golden brown and tender but do not overbake. In a bowl, combine ground beef with dates, onion, salt and pepper. After eggplant has cooled, place about 1 Tb of mixture on edge of each slice of eggplant, roll up and layer in greased baking dish. Place in 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Serve hot.