25 July 2011

Interesting Summer Dishes

*Eclectic Israeli Dining ... in your own home with Janna Gur

Photo: Daniel Layla (from "Fresh Flavors from Israel")

Chicken Patties with Swiss Chard, Leeks and Celery

Use beef or chicken, fried, grilled or steamed, served on a bed of rice or couscous, or even stuffed in a pita, meat or chicken patties are the very epitome of Israeli home cooking. In this light recipe, chicken patties are cooked in a fragrant, slightly sour broth brimming with leafy greens. (serves 6-8)

The Sauce:
3 tablespoons oil
2 leeks (white part only), cut into large chunks
1 bunch celery (stalks and leaves), cut coarsely
1 bunch Swiss chard (stalks and leaves), cut coarsely
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups clear chicken soup or stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The Patties:
500 g (1 lb) ground chicken
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Salt and white pepper

Prepare the Sauce: Heat the oil in a large wide sauce pan and sauté the leeks for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the celery and Swiss chard and continue sautéing for 5 more minutes. Add sugar, lemon juice and chicken soup, season with salt and pepper, and cook on low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Prepare the patties: While the sauce is cooking, mix the ingredients for the patties and knead well. Form small patties, slide into the sauce, cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait 10 minutes before serving.

*Chocolate & Zucchini offers interesting

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tomato, juice and seeds removed, diced
one clove garlic, chopped thinly
salt, pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
fresh cilantro

In a medium mixing-bowl, combine the rice, egg, spring onions, tomato, and garlic; stir until well combined. Season generously with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the rice mixture from the fridge. Use two tablespoons to form patties (about 3 inches in diameter) with the mixture, and transfer them into the skillet. Cook for five to eight minutes on one side, or until browned, then flip carefully with a spatula and cook for another five minutes on the other side. Serve immediately with fresh cilantro.

*Horseradish Spiked Red Potato Salad
from the Gluten Free Goddess

2 to 2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
Sea salt
1/4 cup fruity tasting extra virgin olive oil, as needed
4-6 tablespoons apple cider or rice vinegar, to taste
1 smallish red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1-2 teaspoons dill, to taste
1 teaspoon caraway seeds – optional

Wash and cut up the red potatoes, toss them into a pot of salted fresh water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain well.

Pour the cooked potatoes into a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Toss to coat and to soften the edges of the potatoes pieces a bit. Add the diced onion, horseradish and toss to distribute. Taste and season with more sea salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Add the chopped parsley, dill and caraway; mix.

Taste test. Add more olive oil or vinegar, sea salt or herbs. Serve warm. Remember chilling potato salad will subdue its flavor considerably. Taste test after chilling, add more seasoning if needed. Serves 6 to 8. Optional – add sour cream or mayonnaise.

*Elanas Pantry has a Dairy Free & Luscious
Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup dark chocolate chips

Place coconut milk, eggs, coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix.
Blend thoroughly until smooth and well combined. Briefly blend in chocolate chips, so that they are smaller pieces. Process according to the directions of your ice cream maker garnish with unsweetened shredded coconut if desired.

*All photos from each of the recipe websites
** All recipes are Gluten Free (except for the Couscous, Quinoa can be substituted) and Dairy Free

20 July 2011

This Year, Maybe ...

Walking down the sloping tree lined street, still feeling the depth and passion of the Rabbi's words about Yirmiyahu HaNavi, sadness slowly encircles me. Why so much tragedy, why so much suffering? A gentle breeze comes, scented with blossoms of healing fragrance. The air this evening is intoxicating and consoling.

Could this be the same coolness that accompanied the men of
Yehuda as they fought a relentless battle against the multitudinous and fortified Sancheriv's army?

Was this wafting air the same that guided
Yehoshua's scouts as they spied out the Land prior to bringing our ancestors across the Yarden? These early pioneers coming to claim their inheritance, the soon to be Shevatim of HaShem's nation on earth.

Is this the moist air that blessed and refreshed the early settlers as they fought the Jordanian army attacking them? Had these same inheritors been reincarnated into the Jews who selflessly cleared the Hula swamps? These European wanders returned to their
Yerusha and prepare the future Jewish Homeland for G-d’s children?

In layers of earth beneath this Rehavia street paved in the 1920’s, I envision covering thousands of battles fought for survival. My feet slowly pass over millions of ancient footsteps that went along this same path. The thoughts of our Jewish People and their long shadow of tragedy flows though the evening air. The sensuous aroma contrasts with the images of clashing swords, sand and dust. A capsule of time-travel. As I try to hold onto the images they keep becoming fainter and then fade into the glow of the evening’s moon. The combination of the Rabbi’s vivid details surrounding
Yirmiyahu captured my imagination and and set the scene for my short walk through centuries on the way home

Tuesday is a fast day and heralds the apex of the sizzling summer. Hot and humid and heavy with meaning. I don’t welcome the message, but I do feel comfort in the warmth of the sun. Nothing compares to the stimulation of living in Jerusalem, where every stone, tree, and the earth under your feet have a story of its own.

tzom of the 17th of the month of Tammuz foreshadows the approaching days known as the “Three Weeks,” building in intensity to its culmination on the 9th of the month of Av, called Tisha B’Av. Biblically, the saddest interval of the Jewish calendar. It always weighs heavily on my mind and emotions. A timespan swollen with denial, death, and persecution. One would think that after many years of reliving this, one’s emotions could glide through this sorrow. But no, each year the words of Eicha and its images return, to remind us of the spiritual pain, when our glorious Temple was destroyed. Our devastated and crushed people were dragged into the golus to wander through civilizations that are no more.

Once we have relived our shame, we are soothed by the nehama of Menachem Av and the
Haftorahs of consolation. Solace from Neviim that yet again Jews will return to our ancient Land. Children and old people will once again sit in its parks, the Temple will be rebuilt IY"H, and we will be embraced openly by G-d once more for all the world to see.

A recent wildfire in the Jerusalem forest sent billowing smoke into nearby streets and homes. People were evacuated. The acrid smell of the air from the smoke and fire made its way into Rehavia and filled my nostrils with a pungent aroma as if I were once more experiencing that 70 CE catastrophe. An instant of reflective fear, a flash of fright and I became attached to mourning our national calamity.

I have come Home, and now my eyes behold the rebuilding and flourishing of Yerushalayim, the city rising from its ancient ruins, blooming with precious children and vibrant life.

I don’t know why the Israelis I see and meet on the streets of Yerushalayim merit such a revelation. With their very lives they are the fulfillment of the prophecies. With their very lives they are rebuilding. The commentators of the Talmud, Sanhedrin, Prophetic Writings describe the era before Moshiach arrives. And say that this generation will be the reincarnation of those who stood at Mount Sinai. Where there is much holiness there also exists much
tumah, says the Torah. Deception is needed to confuse the evil forces so that the holiness can blossom under the nose of the Sitra Achra, so to speak. This is why it says we blow Shofar on Yom Kippur, to confuse the Satan. Therefore, beneath the seeming zenus (immorality) are neshomas waiting for Hashem to call them to teshuva so that the Geula can begin.

So it is during these hot, humid and profound days, a vision of the rebuilt Har HaBayit is granted to some on Shabbos Chazon, this year the 6th Av, Shabbos Devarim. I will await a glimpse of the future Temple and the coming of
Moshiach Tzidkeinu.