Monthly Archives: July 2012

Baba ghanoush

I know this has a funny name, but for anyone who has never tried baba ghanoush do not let the name scare you.  This is a Middle Eastern dip/spread/salad that is made of eggplant.  It is often served as a starter to a meal, but can be used as a side dish as well. It is popular from Morocco to Israel and many countries have their own spin on it.

My recipe is adapted from a recipe my sister Kathleen got from her mother-in-law who happens to be from Morocco and Israel.  I have seen many different versions of this dish but the reason I like mine is, A – it is easy, B – you do not need any additional equipment like a food processor and C – it does not require babysitting the eggplant over an open flame.  The cook time is over an hour.  But most of the time the eggplant is just roasting in the oven and you only need to check on it every 15 minutes or so.

Because my version cooks the eggplant in the oven as opposed to over an open flame there is not really a smokey taste to the baba.  I personally do not mind, but if you want a smokier version you could either roast the eggplant over a gas burner or cook it on an outdoor grill using the same method I describe.  I will also forewarn you that you really get the taste of garlic and lemon in my recipe.  If those are not flavors that you particularly like you can always use half the amount I suggest.  I do strongly suggest taking the time to paste up the garlic so that no one bites down on a large chunk.

This is  a really easy recipe to double, triple or even quadruple if you are making it for a crowd.  I like to serve it with pita bread, pita chips, crudites, challah or as an accompaniment to meat or chicken.  It can also be made the day before you plan to serve it.

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cook Time:  60 minutes, plus 30 minutes cooling time

Yields:  4-8 servings

1 large eggplant, light in weight

1 clove garlic, pressed or very finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

½ cup light mayonnaise

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  Prick the eggplant on all four sides with a fork.

Place the eggplant into the oven on the middle rack.  Cook the eggplant for one hour total rotating it every 15 minutes.  Once the eggplant is cooked through it will appear deflated.  Set it aside to cool.

While the eggplant is cooking you can make the sauce.  Chop the garlic or press it.  Add a generous pinch of kosher salt to the garlic.  With the back of your knife mash the garlic and drag it against the cutting board to create a paste.

Place the garlic paste into a large bowl.  Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add the mayonnaise.  Add a few grinds of black pepper and stir everything together.

Refrigerate the mayonnaise mixture while the eggplant continues to cook.

Once the eggplant is cool scoop out the flesh from the inside, discarding the peel.  Place the eggplant into a strainer and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour so that most of the juices drain.

Chop the eggplant into small pieces and add to the mayonnaise sauce.  Mix well and serve chilled.

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Filed under Dip, Pareve, Vegetarian

Top Five Items To Keep In Your Freezer

I find that the best way to come up with quick, healthy and easy meals and snacks is to have a well stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  I have previously posted my top seven items to keep in your refrigerator.  So, today I am going to talk about the top five items to keep in your freezer.

I would love to say that I only buy fresh produce everyday for the meals I create.   The truth is I have to make a concerted effort to buy fresh produce once a week!  It is important to me that my family gets a good amount of fruits and veggies into their diet.  However, it is not possible for me to continuously shop for these items.  Even when I do have them on hand I never really know that I will be able to use everything I buy before it goes bad.  If there is anything I hate, it is throwing out food!  When I found out that frozen fruits and vegetables are almost as good nutritionally as their fresh counterparts I was sold.

Frozen Fruits – One of the great benefits of frozen fruit is that it is usually picked and frozen at the optimal time in their season.  Many fruits have a short season when they are really good.  Most fruits are not great year round, and if they are great then they are being flown in from half way around the world.  Frozen fruits allow you to enjoy your favorite fruits any time of the year.

My personal favorites are frozen berries and peaches.  I use them in smoothies, crumbles, tarts or sauces.  I also eat them plain with a sprinkle of sugar or served with some frozen yogurt.

Frozen Vegetables – You can pretty much be guaranteed that the vegetables were picked at the height of freshness and frozen.  This is a great thing!  The main reason I love frozen vegetables is because of their convenience.  Sometimes I do not have time to clean and cook the veggies that I want to serve.  This is when I rely on the frozen.  I also prefer frozen vegetables to canned as there is less sodium and no concern for exposure to the chemicals used to line the cans.  You also do not really sacrifice on texture as long as you cook them properly (meaning do not over cook!).

Another positive of frozen vegetables is the price.  They are often a lot less expensive than the fresh.  Frozen spinach is the best bargain around as it takes pounds of fresh spinach to make one box of frozen!

Some of my favorite frozen veggies are asparagus, green beans, edemame, broccoli, peas, corn and spinach.  I use them in side dishes, salads, soups and quiche.  They also can be great steamed and on their own.

Frozen Yogurt – I could eat ice cream every day of the week.  However, that is probably not the best idea for my waist line.  A nice compromise for me is frozen yogurt.  It is lower in fat and calories than regular ice cream and also has all those great cultures.

There are some really good quality frozen yogurts out there that really satisfy my craving for something creamy and delicious.  I like all kinds of flavors, but my favorites are probably anything chocolate or Stoneyfield Farm’s Vanilla.  You can actually see the vanilla bean dots going through the vanilla yogurt!

I will chop up a banana, or peach or throw some berries in the bottom of a bowl and top it with the frozen yogurt.  If I really want to be decadent I will drizzle some buckwheat honey on top and add some chopped nuts.  It is the perfect guilt free sundae! Frozen yogurt is a great snack in the summer when the weather is hot and you just want something cold and creamy.

Veggie Burgers – There are so many great types of veggie burgers on the market today.  Where they were once poor substitutes for a real burger, I really think that they have evolved.  There are some that mimic beef or chicken made of soy proteins.  There are others that are more “veggie” and made up of mostly vegetables.  They are a good source of lean protein and a major convenience food in that they normally take 1 to 2 minutes to heat up in the microwave.  There is always the option to cook them on the grill for a more authentic feel.

My favorites these days are the Bombay Veggie Burgers by Dr. Praeger (they are spiced beautifully!) and the California Veggie Burger from Morningstar Farms.  They have real pieces of avocado in them – yum!  You can serve them on toasted whole grain bread or on a bun for a healthy lunch or dinner.

Vodka – I am not a total lush, but I do like to keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer.  Of course vodka is just fine outside of the freezer, but I really like it ice cold.  Because of the alcohol content you do not have to worry about it freezing.  It is however, the perfect temperature for some celebratory shots, mixed drinks or martinis 🙂

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Mojito Mango Granita

This month is the first month I am participating in the Joyofkosher.com Kosher Connection Link Up for Kosher food bloggers.  Every month we will have to come up with a recipe based on an ingredient or theme that has been selected.  I am really excited to be participating in this – see link below!  This month the theme is a frozen dessert.  I immediately panicked because I am really not a great baker and dessert is not my forte.

Since it is summer, I thought of some of my favorite hot weather flavors .  To me, a drink that is synonymous with summer is a mojito.  I love this refreshing minty cocktail served in a chilled glass over ice.   This year my dad’s mango tree has been producing some of the sweetest, tastiest mangoes I have ever eaten.   I decided to come up with a mango mojito!  This is the kind of dessert that is right up my alley – no baking!  It is an excellent parev dessert, refreshing snack on a hot day or palate cleanser in between courses.  You can make it with or without the rum.  It is delicious either way!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 – 6 hours freeze time
Yield: 6 – 8 servings

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup mint leaves plus extra for garnish
4 cups mango juice
Zest of 1 large lime
2 – 3 large limes
½ cup white rum (optional)

Pour the water and sugar into a sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar.  As soon as the sugar is dissolved, set it aside to cool.

Chop the ½ cup of packed mint leaves extremely fine either by hand or in a mini food processor.

Zest one lime (green part only).  Add the chopped mint, zest and juice of 2 large limes (3 if they are not giving off a lot of juice) to a large bowl.  Add the sugar syrup, mango juice and stir well.  Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan that is safe to go into the freezer.

Place the pan in the freezer.  Scrape the mixture every hour to break up the ice crystals.  After 4 to 6 hours (depending on your freezer) the pan should be all ice crystals.

Serve in a bowl or glass with a sprig of mint and slice of lime to garnish.




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Filed under Desserts, Pareve, Vegetarian