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It’s that time of the year again! Planning, baking, buying the plates and decorations, buying costumes (or making them for artistically inclined) and all the whirlwind of Purim.

This year, my eldest wanted to show off the recipes learned in his cooking class, which included Green Tahini, Olive Tapenade, and salty cheese cookies. So we decided to have a (mostly) savoury Mishloah Manot this year. We added some butter cookies so that my younger son would also feel part of it (he brought home a recipe for them with sugar and cinnamon) and the traditional chocolate balls that we make with my SIL’s family. The final menu was:

Whole wheat mini-pitas
Green tahini
Olive tapenade
Salty cheese cookies
Butter cookies
Chocolate balls (with butter instead of margarine)

We put them in ecological plates made of palm leaves and wrapped them in ecological bags. We added a picture of the Kids holding a “Happy Purim!” sign (note to self: next year the sign should be “Happy Purim from the leftoverRecipes Family!” and save us writing it on each one 🙄 ) The results was really cute (if I do say so myself 😉 ). In addition the kids donated money personally in the synagogue before hearing the story of Esther in the synagogue. I went to a women’s reading of the story which was very pleasant. I actually dislike the story for reasons I won’t get into here, but it’s always nice to get together. All the family delivered the Mishloah Manot in costume, and the kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly. We capped it by inviting the extended family to a BBQ lunch which was tasty and fun.

And then we collapsed 😀

Actually, we had more friends coming in in the afternoon and had another informal party for dinner. Exhausting but really, really fun. It was a great Purim.

And now for (part of) the recipes:

Green tahini:

1 cup cold water
2 cups sesame paste (tahini)
one bunch parsley leaves, chopped fine
1/4 cup lemon juice
one minced garlic or to taste
salt to taste

Mix water and tahini until white. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add more water if desired to get a smoother consistency.

Olive Tapenade

1 jar kalamata olives, or other olives
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh coriander
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
6 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
ground black pepper to taste (I put in two dashes)

Put everything in the food processor and mix until desired consistency.

Whole wheat pitas

As I mentioned before, some of our best friends don’t eat sugar or white flour. We went together to a “slow food” cooking workshop for whole wheat sugarless cooking, and one of the recipes were these whole wheat pitas. It answered a question I always wondered about – how do you get the pocket in the pita? Apparently, you don’t. You just roll down the dough and put it in a really hot oven, and the yeast takes care of the rest. I made a tryout batch before Purim and all the pitas got a great pocket. Typically, the actual Purim batch did not 😕 I think it was because I didn’t knead the dough enough, it was a HUGE amount of dough as we made 3 times the basic amount!

Ingredients (8 pitas or 16 mini-pitas)

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups water, room temperature (or slightly warm is also OK)
1/2 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 tbsp honey or date spread or puréed dates
1/2 tbsp, heaped salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix flour, water, honey or dates, and the yeast and knead for a few minutes ( I used a mixer with a dough hook). Let rest for 20 minutes. Add salt and olive oil and knead until dough is flexible (a bit sticky is still OK). This is probably where I skimped when doing the 3X Purim batch 😐 Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise one hour in summer and two in winter, or until doubled in size, or until you poke a finger in it and it doesn’t immediately start to fill up again (one of the methods will work 😉 ).

Before rising

Take out the dough on a floury surface and pat it a bit to get out any bubbles and split into 8 (or 16) equal parts (I weighed it so that it would be equal). Let the dough balls rest another 15 minutes.

Resting…

Preheat the oven to 230 °C (or higher). Put a tray in the oven, upside down (so the pitas will be at the highest point of the tray, without overhanging edges). Cover with baking paper.

Roll down each ball into a circle 15 cm in diameter for full pitas, or until a few mm thickness.

Home made circles

Home made circles

Throw the pitas into the oven (2 big ones or 4 small ones at a time) limiting as much as possible the time the oven is open so as not to lose the high heat. Bake for 3-5 minutes until pitas look like full balloons (really cool!) .

Balloon time!

Balloon time!

Remove from oven and place between two clean kitchen towels to cool slowly (or eat immediately 😛 ). Continue with the rest of the dough.  Freeze any pitas that aren’t eaten immediately. To defrost, warm in the microwave 20 (mini)-40 (pitas) seconds while wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.

More recipes next time!

Note: I started writing this last week, around Purim. I finished it now, as it was a really hectic week. The recipes are still good, though 😉

 

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There’s fast food, which is over processed and full of sugar and salt. There’s slow food, which I suspect was originally just home made food from scratch, but has now become very slow food: Food that you have to soak overnight, and then dry naturally, and then cook for hours, and then let rest, and perhaps refrigerate again before you eat it. Tastes great, but really, can you picture a working mom doing this? (Of course, maybe I just haven’t found the right recipes yet). So my take is freezer magic food.

I don’t always (read: never) have the strength and patience to start mincing vegetables to create, say, a healthier pasta sauce. I do not have the patience to peel and crush garlic. So I make do with ketchup? No. I make do with Freezer Magic.

Things that are always in my freezer:

Chopped onion. Whenever I need to chop an onion, I chop two (usually using the food processor because of the tears :)) and stick one in a bag in the freezer. Keeps for months.

Chopped onion, carrot and celery. I buy a bunch of celery, and use half. The rest I chop (in the food processor) with onion and carrot, put in bags in portions, and freeze. A great base for sauces, soups and casseroles.

carrot, celery, and onion, and chopped parsley

Gedunskeskimuse (probably spelled wrong, shortened form: gedunsk). German for “vegetables in their own juice”. This is stewed tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers. Whenever I have some of these vegetables getting old in the fridge, I stew them with a pinch of salt and freeze them. Great as a pasta sauce base or alone; sauce over rice or couscous, etc.

Minced garlic: I put everything in the food processor, move into a jar, cover with olive oil, and freeze. Easy peasy.

Garlic... and a lot of garlic peel

Leftover food that I froze – great as a quick meal (I brown bag my lunch during the week, so that’s important)

Schnitzels – my husband makes schnitzels wholesale. We usually freeze about half in two-schnitzel portions.

Stock – any leftover chicken soup, liquid from cooking vegetables, gravy.

Lemon juice cubes – I juice a number of lemons and freeze in ice cubes.

Bread – I bake most of my own bread in the bread machine. I usually slice half and put in the freezer, and the other half eat fresh. Yummy.

Chopped herbs: Fresh basil, celery, oregano, mint, etc. Just chop it, stick it in a bag (or double bag) label (very important!) and freeze.

Chickpeas: Whenever I’m feeling particularly thrifty1 or paranoid2, I make chickpeas from dried chickpeas in bulk and freeze in 1 cup portions.

Chickpeas & Gedunsk

So that makes dinner a snap – defrost gedunsk, mix with unsweetened yogurt for a great pasta sauce. Or use celery, onion and carrot as a base for Bolognese. Or take some schnitzels out of the freezer. You get the idea. Same with Shabbat meals – so much easier when you’ve got the base already doen and your herbs on hand. Almost like…magic.

My Freezer

Close up

Close up


Thrifty: 1 kg of dried chickpeas costs 16 NIS. I made half a kilo which came out to be 7 cups cooked chickpeas =>0.875 NIS per cup. 1 can of 560 gr ~2 cups costs 6.5 NIS => 3.25 NIS per cup more than three times as much.

Paranoid: There is periodically some scare about Bisphenol A in cans. The summary as I see it: Everyone agrees that BPA leaches into food from cans. FDA claims these amounts are harmless. The treehuggers cite 100s of articles showing that such amounts casue various diseases in mice. The spectics point out that mice aren’t men in this respect: BPA in humans is quickly broken down and goes out in the urine, while in mice it is retained. Therefore, these mice research articles aren’t worth a thing. The treehuggers came back with another article, showing correlation between high BPA in human urine and higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. The sceptics say – correlation is not causation. I agree, in this case, because it seems quite obvious that the actual progression could be: lots of BPA in urine->eat a lot from cans->eat less healthy food in general->higher risk of heart disease. This does not mean that BPA is dangerous. However, to be on the safe side, I’m trying to cut back on cans. Nothing major – some things can only be found in cans, and I have no intention of giving up tuna or Heinz baked beans. But things like chickpeas which can easily be cooked at home…

Love Food - Don't Waste!

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