Red Lentil Tacos

January 31, 2012

Living in LA, I see how the Mexican influence is strong and vibrant. This city boasts countless Mexican markets and restaurants, even a Kosher fast food (MexiKosher). And that makes me quite happy because I love Mexican food. The dishes are so rich and tasty, and colorful too.

I constantly ask my housekeeper for her family recipes, eager to learn secret dishes that I can kosherize. But she keeps on reminding me that she's Guatemalan and that she doesn't like to cook. What a shame.

So I keep on perusing the Internet to find inspiration for the flavorful fare.

(I really should get the new Mexican Kosher cookbook.)

And I found a recipe that changed my cooking life.

Lentil Tacos!

Meatless, hearty, yummy, healthy tacos.

I love tacos.

So I made them and am sharing with much excitement.

These are different than your standard meat tacos, especially in texture, but they are packed with flavor and deserve your time for your next Meatless Monday (or Tuesday, or Thursday) night dinner.

stuffed baby eggplant

January 25, 2012

When I saw them I couldn't help myself. I grabbed these baby eggplants so fast you'd think they were my favorite food in the world.

Ironically, I borderline despise the taste of eggplant. (That was a slight exaggeration.)

But taste is unimportant when these mini violet fruits (yes, they are classified as a fruit) instantly prettify (yes, that's an actual word) the standard meat dish at my Shabbat table.

I was quite excited to make them and of course share.

I got inspiration for this dish from my Shabbat-hopping days in Syria -- um, Brooklyn where I was a guest in many Syrian homes. Syrian women love to stuff everything. They stuff semolina dough (kibe), onions, tomatoes, zucchini, grape leaves, artichoke, and of course eggplant.

And so the sight of these adorable eggplants prompted me to go home and concoct a new version of a traditional dish.

I was told by legitimate sources (i.e. my father-in-law and husband whom are both eggplant enthusiasts) that they came out succulent.

I hope you will try them.


Birthday Rose Cake

January 12, 2012

Birthdays are exciting occasions.

(Especially when it's my your birthday, but I won't go off topic...)

Lucky for me, December and January bring many loved ones' birthdays. Including D's birthday.

D is sweet, gentle and such a culinary perfectionist, it's scary. You will find her spending many nights hunched over, decorating her little honey semolina cakelets with sugared almonds. Almonds that sit atop, perfectly angled with each corner and expertly pressed down.

They end up looking so identical and uniform, you're scared to touch one. You even feel bad eating one since they come out so picture perfect. But don't worry, her culinary skills rival her decorating ones, and rarely are her cakes left untouched.

So what better way to show her our love but by making her a cake that so obviously represents her style?

 A rose cake,

delicate and pretty...

and pretty difficult to make!

I had first seen this cake at iambaker, a fabulous baking blog. She gives you detailed steps and instructions and makes it look oh, so effortless.

I really thought that I, the uninitiated cake decorator, can embellish a standard sponge cake with a few swirls (and unabashedly take the praise for its beauty). It didn't seem so difficult and offered such enticing results.

Well this is what it's supposed to look like.

And this is what I came up with after 3 hours of swirling, circling, removing crooked swirls, refilling icing bag, and trying just one more time to get it picture perfect. Though at last I gave in and gave up on that perfectly circular swirl with twisted sides and ideal texture that eluded me.

But it was fun, and D. loved it.

Happy Birthday to You!

Hearty Chicken Barley Soup

January 4, 2012

The end of the holiday season brings with it bittersweet emotions. Relief, on one hand, to return to the comfort of routine, yet yearning to experience the joy and companionship only gatherings bring. Well, it has taken me quite a number of days to ease back into the hum drum of life. And on these cold, January nights, when I long for coziness and comfort there's nothing like chicken soup to warm the soul. And clear never-ending runny noses.

Yes, chicken soup is the perfect prescription for a full post-festivities recuperation.

This recipe first made it's debut in my life when my mother prepared it for me post pardum. Chicken soup's inexplicable power to heal coupled with it's hearty, tender texture made it a quick favorite.

It is pleasurably easy to make, and quite open to your personal variations. My favorite part is that this soup constitutes a whole meal. Yep, grains, vegetables, and proteins are all included to obviate the need for a side dish. That gives it five stars in my book, deservedly.

So go ahead and nuzzle your noses in the steam, and breathe in the rich warmth.

To cold weather, chunky knitted socks, and yummy soups!

Enjoy winter.

(Yes, winter can be enjoyable)

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