Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

Lemon Bars Recipe – Pucker Up Perfection

Once I perfected this in America. Bringing this to Israel, it has become a work in progress. This is my disclaimer for working with butter that I can’t quite decipher as being salted or not from the packaging (though I don’t think it matters much), an oven where the symbols for different functions has been rubbed off, baking with C conversions that just don’t reflect the F counterparts on this oven with uneven temperature increments….and so here is the basis, experiment in your own makeshift kitchen/oven that might be available to you if you’re lucky enough to have an oven in your apartment! Yes, in Israel the simplest things are always a challenge, that’s why we love Israel! :) Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
Crust:
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 cup sugar *if using meyer lemons, use 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar instead
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime or lemon zest
1/2 cup strained fresh lime or lemon juice
powdered sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS FOR BAKIN’
1. Place a rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
2. Line 8” square baking pan with aluminum foil
3. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter with sugar, vanilla, and salt
4. Add flour and mix just until incorporated. press dough evenly over bottom of pan
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is fully baked, well browned at edges, and golden brown in center
6. While crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a large bowl until well mixed, whisk in eggs, stir in lemon or lime zest and juice
7. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 F. Slide the rack with the pan out and pour the filling onto the hot crust bake for 20-25 minutes longer or until the topping no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped.
8. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan.
9. Lift up the foil liner and transfer the bars to a cutting board. if the surface is covered with a thin layer of moist foam (not unusual), you can blot it gently to reveal the zest.

Note: This recipe was passed on from a friend, the actual source comes from Alice Waters. Not sure if the recipe has been modified from her original. I own one of her books and everything in it looks amazing. Too bad the book is still in CA while I’m in Israel. Yes I live in two countries and have an identity crisis.

Kong Xin Cai Recipe (a.k.a. Ong-Choy, Water Spinach)

Kong Xin Cai literally means “hollow vegetable”. Kong by itself means “empty”, Kong Xin together means “hollow”. I finally got that clarified with mom, otherwise, I always grew up thinking this vegetable was “hollow heart” or “hollow stem”. If I looked at the Chinese characters, I could only recognize Xin to be heart, so it was hollow heart. If I looked at the vegetable, the eye-brain-mouth processing resulted in my calling it the hollow stem vegetable since that was its defining attribute. Regardless, if I walked into a disorganized Chinese market with mismatched, unlabeled or undecipherable labels, that was how I found this vegetable. But enough on the moniker since wikipedia explains it all under ipomoea aquatica. Now onto the easiest recipe ever for making this dish…

Servings: Approximately 4-6?

Prep and Cook Time: ~ 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Kong Xin Cai (as bunched from the market)
  • 5+ garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • oil
  • salt

Directions:

1. Wash the vegetable and get rid of bugs, bad leaves, dirt, etc.

2. Chop the vegetable into ~2 inch segments, separate the stems from the leaves for cooking.

 

3. Heat the garlic bits in a nice drizzle of oil that easily coats the pan and then collects a little at bottom of pan.

4. When garlic and oil are nice and hot to the point where garlic is just beginning to maybe brown, throw in the stems and cook down slightly, sprinkle with some salt.

5. Add the leaves to the stems and cook all together, sprinkle more salt all over and mix it all up. Stir every so often til everything is cooked through, plate and serve.

This is the simplest and healthy way to pretty much cook lots of different Chinese vegetables. Practice and adjust your cooking time until your stems still retain a nice little crunch and the leaves don’t become a gooey mess, but to each his own. Good luck!

One question remains though, does this vegetable exist in Israel? If not, is it possible to start an Asian vegetables kibbutz?

Why is Munich white sausage (weisswurst) white?

I read over 10 sites that came up on Google search about why Munich white sausage is white. None of them really told me the answer, but they did tell me how to eat this traditional meal. I obviously did not know the way to eat it properly (you either cut the casing lengthwise and eating the inside, or you cut the tip of the casing and suck out the meat bite by bite). I ate it by cutting it into bite-sized pieces like how I eat my good ol’ American hot dogs. It tasted ok, but I think I would prefer the usual pan-fried brats over this one that was cooked with hot water. Nevertheless, I was left with one question: What makes these white sausages white?

I went olive picking today and met an older Italian man named Giovanni from Germany who said white sausage is white because it is made from the meat scraped off closest to the bone. But it’s also unhealthy for you and he only eats it maybe once a year. I always thought pork was just pork and any part of the pig would be the “other white meat.” Unless anyone else has ideas, I’ll leave the story be, but one thing I do know — I think I met my sausage quota for the year.

The pretzel (breze) was also a traditional Munich side to the sausages, salty, crusty on the outside and super soft on the inside. The way they should be!

White Sausages

Munich White Sausages - the one interesting thing I felt I should try while wandering the Munich airport on a 5 hour layover.

Rice Krispie Treats Recipe – Remembering Grandma

I was talking to an Israeli while living in Israel for 10 weeks and he’s never heard of rice krispie treats! Hmm, I sense a new market niche for this snack in Israel and I think it’d be pretty easy to make them kosher. :) I should open up a cafe in Israel and introduce these to Israel.

Every time I think of these delectable treats, I’m reminded of my grandma as she’d often stay up late and help me make rice krispie treats for bake sales when I was a little girl. Grandma was a truly amazing woman and on October 29, 2012, she went to be with the Lord after 91 years of life on earth.

The story of her life is truly remarkable - a simple village girl, widowed at 22 while pregnant with her second son (grandpa died on the battlefield during WWII), she had little money of her own, no education, and raised two sons who became doctors, bravely traveled the world, moved to a new country in her 50s, adapted easily, became the ultimate Taiwanese-American grandma, became Christian, and had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met and took care of her grandkids and relatives and friends with the same love and concern as she had for her sons, never asked anything of anyone in return, a farmer’s market extraordinaire, she cooked and cooked and cooked, and the stories go on.

Today, we had a memorial service to remember her. I am deeply humbled and thankful to have had such a grandma (or ah-ma as I always called her) and every time I make rice krispie treats, I will always think of her.

So here’s the recipe for how I like to make Rice Krispie Treat Balls:

 Step 1: Follow the recipe printed on the marshmallows bag or rice krispie treats cereal box.

Step 2: Dump out the final mixture onto a big sheet of wax paper or similar unsticky surface (i.e. silpat).

Step 3: Wear plastic disposable gloves and pull golf-ball sized handfulls of rice krispie from the pile you just made and form it into little balls. Make sure to lightly handle and just form them so they stick together. If you compact them too much, they will be become like rocks.

And there you have it, rice krispie treat balls that are easy for guests to eat!

I love you grandma.

What is kosher in Israel?

Practically anything and everything you’d want or need is kosher in Israel. Today we learned in Hebrew class that even the postcard stamps in Israel are kosher. In Israel (and only in Israel) they use kosher glue on the back of their stamps just in case you use your spit to place the stamps on your mail. That is definitely a detail I would have never even considered! Sbaba! (hebrew slang definition: cool!)

There are pigs in Israel.

In response to my last post, I am happy to report that I found some pigs in Israel. They came from London…and somehow border control didn’t catch them.

I totally forgot about these tasty gummies that can only be found at Marks & Spencer in the London. But for Percy Pig, it’s not just about a cute little pig trademark logo. It’s all about the pork and for those who can’t handle the pork, they feature a kosher “veggie” version where the gelling agent consists of pectin versus pork gelatine.

Having somewhat of a gummy fetish and being a huge fan of Haribo and all things gummy, I never really thought about where gelatine comes from. Haribo never labelled their ingredients so specifically and starts off with corn syrup, sugar, gelatine…. Percy Pig’s ingredients are sugar, glucose syrup, sugar, pork gelatine…. For some reason, reading “pork gelatine” in the ingredients makes my tummy feel a little funny and now I’m more inclined to eat the kosher version. Perhaps deep down I have some Jewish blood in me after all and I’m reminded why ignorance is bliss. (At least my dentist will be happy to hear that I may end up cutting down on the gummy intake after all this.)

Upon further investigation, it turns out Percy Pig has his roots in Germany. Now that makes you wonder if it’s really about the pig or if there’s more to this story…maybe I’ll head to the pig-farming kibbutz in Israel and do some further investigations.

Percy Pig

Are there pigs in Israel?

As I was flying into Tel Aviv from Germany, we were served dinner on the plane. “lamb or poulet?” the stewardess asked. Not sure what poulet was, some sort of chicken apparently, I opted for lamb. The label on the lamb had “NO PORK” stamped on it. Uh oh…no pigs in Israel? No bacon, sausage, ham…say goodbye to standard fare in the American breakfast.

When I landed, I asked some people if there were pigs in Israel, or if they ever saw any pigs. So far, answers have all come back negative. I will be keeping my eyes out for any pigs on a kibbutz somewhere.

I wonder if they ever heard of Charlotte’s Web? Perhaps that book is sacrilegious here?

Lamb

Lamb...it's what's for dinner.

Chips vs. Crisps

Hands down, the UK has the best selection of chips (or crisps) as they call them here. (“Chips” in the UK = fries in the US. Hence if you order the classic “fish and chips” it’s not going to come with a side of Lay’s or Fritos.) Sure you can argue its all about the same potato and the same kind of crunch but these chips are amazing!

Once upon a time, I came to the UK to hang with amydoug while they were in Oxford…Amy worked and Dougin worked on his scripts of sorts. We had our own advenutures back then visiting Wales and Llandudno…but since then we made it a point to try every Walker’s crisp flavour we came across.

Perhaps a decade later the tradition will continue…but lets just hope the metabolism is even better at this point…about a decade later. :) Time will tell. But it was sure nice to munch on during a wet intermittently thunderstormy summer stroll along the Thames river in the small suburbia type town of Kingston upon Thames with the Sacewicz’. Besides, it’s practically “law” that it’s impossible to gain weight while you’re travelling so you are allowed to eat anything and everything. At least in all my travels over many moons, I’ve eaten to my heart and gut’s content and I’ve stayed pretty much the same size since I was in high school!

Today, I found two at the local Sainsbury’s:
1. Thai Sweet Chilli
2. Caramelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar

Have you found other interesting flavours? If so, please let me know via a comment below so I can keep an eye out for it!

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One-dish-wonder: Paella

Whenever someone says I’ve perfected a recipe over the years, it makes a bell go off in my head…I want to know your secret recipe! For Mama Su, that’s her amazing mochi’s, tea eggs, sponge cake, and yo fan…after 20 years of trial and error (where I had to consume lots of the unpleasant errors), you definitely want to know those recipes. But today is not the day for those recipes.

The only tricky thing about secret recipes is the chef often cooks by their gut versus an actual recipe…having made it so many times.

Alas, I attempt to capture Nancy’s paella today…and will leave the freestylin’ up to you so one day it becomes your one-dish-wonder too. I guess we all get to put our signatures on our dishes and that’s what makes them even tastier. (Technically, this is dish requires 2 pots to make, so not exactly a one-dish-wonder, but close enough…you get the picture).

Servings: Approximately 6-8

Prep and Cook Time: ~ 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 3 Fresh sausage links (i.e. chicken varietals)
  • 1 Red bell pepper, slivered
  • 1/2  Large onion, slivered
  • 1/2 Large onion, uncut for seafood stock
  • Garlic, minced
  • Mussels (a healthy 2 handfuls)
  • Shrimp (a healthy 2 handfuls)
  • 3 c. Rice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Saffron (cheaper alternative includes a mix of turmeric, paprika, and cumin)
  • Cilantro
  • White wine
  • Olive oil

Directions:

1. Boil your seafood broth in a pot with 1/2 a big onion, mussels, salt and pepper.

2. Chop your bell pepper and onion in slivers. Chop the sausages into bite-size chunks.

3. Stir fry the onions and minced garlic in a big pot with olive oil. When fragrant, add bell peppers and stir it up, add more oil if needed. Add the sausages. Add some salt and pepper and let it all cook until the veggies are soft and the meat is cooked through.

4. Add shrimp to the seafood stock pot and let it all boil up. Remove the seafood from the pot when shrimp is pretty much cooked through (about 90% done) and let it cool a little and peal the skin of the shrimp (if it has some). Note: I was the sous-chef for the night and had the job of peeling shrimp. It was HOT when I did this, so you may want to peel the shrimp before you cook it. I’m not sure if that makes the shrimp more tough to cook without its skin, but anyway, you can decide what order to do all this based on your preference).

5. Add three cups of rice to the main pot and add 3 cups of seafood stock to the main pot. Note: If you want to make less, use less rice and keep water to approximately equal parts with the quantity of rice. It’s up to you how you adjust your rice to other ingredients ratio. Stir it up and add some more salt, pepper, and saffron spices (or cheaper alternative of turmeric, paprika, and cumin blend), a splash of wine and let it cook up. Stir every so often so it doesn’t stick to the pot. Add more seafood stock as necessary until the rice gooey glue-iness is to your liking. When the rice is almost done, stir in the shrimp and mussels, and add more seasoning to taste.

6. Take it off the heat when all is mixed in and flavors are to your liking. Stir in fresh chopped cilantro if you’d like and serve! The quicker it’s served, the better, or it gets even more gooey-gluey over time instead of a more Nancy-preferred thick watery-ness. Buen provecho! (as they say in Spanish).

Paella is served! Buen provecho!

Beverage Pairings: Blood Orange Soda (or on special occasions, a drink of clear nature containing fresh mint leaves is a nice complement).

Da Bing

Based on personal experience, it seems the Chinese scallion pancakes can refer to the da bing (big pancake), xiao bing (small pancake), zua bing (pull-apart pancake), tsong yo bing (onion oil pancake)…but it all boils down to the same essential ingredients of flour, water, scallions and oil. I believe it just depends on the method which probably has to do with geographical origin (i.e. Northern China, Southern China, or any regions or provinces in between and around China) that determines the delectable outcome. This particular da bing was a delicious treat made by my neighbor that even had some black pepper rolled into the dough and was coated with sesame seeds. Spicy! It’s not every day the Lord blesses you with neighbors that share the joy of cooking where it goes beyond just borrowing a cup of milk or sugar when you happen to run out mid cooking. :) No recipe to share on this one though…you’ll just have to pay a visit to my neighbor.