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Posts Tagged ‘mint’

Finally, the holidays are over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love inviting, and cooking, and visiting people I don’t see that often, and the excuse to be with extended family. But the problem of having three major holidays in one month is that by the end, you’re just dying for a bit of basic routine. And don’t even get me started on the how the kids act during two weeks at home. Also, I tend to forget that I gave birth a few months ago, and still not sleeping more than 4 hours straight. My baby girl, who is sweet, strong and intelligent, absolutely refuses to take a bottle. My husband manages to feed her about 10 cc, but no one else can even get close. So the obvious solution of having my husband feed her during the night so I can actually sleep is out. I’m beginning to get an attractive zombie look, and when people see me the first thing they say is either, “Are you all right?” or “You look exhausted”. Just boosts for my ego, every day 😕

Still, I enjoyed cooking. For Rosh Hashana the undoubted star was the lemon chicken with green rice. I usually don’t make this for Rosh Hashana as it is traditional to serve sweet foods (may you have a sweet year) but my husband asked for this, so I made it. Of course, he doesn’t touch the chicken. But he loves the rice 😉 This is a one pot meal, where rice loaded with fresh herbs is placed at the bottom of a sauteuse pan, chicken pieces are arranged on top, and covered with herbs and preserved lemons. This is all cooked until chicken is done. The results are fragrant and delicious.

I made preserved lemons once, but I use them only for this dish and it wasn’t worth it. So what I do now is use pseudo preserved lemons: Lemons sliced and de-seeded (but with the peel) sautéed in olive oil and salt until tender. This gives the preserved lemon taste without waiting for three weeks or buying special ingredients. You can also make extra and add to salads or sauces.

Chicken with green rice and preserved lemons

Based on the recipe from Derech HaOchel (Food’s Way)

“Preserved” Lemons

One lemon, sliced thinly with the peel, de-seeded
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 tsp of salt

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté lemon and salt on medium heat until lemon is wilted and tender. When tasting, lemon should be salty and mildly sour, with no bitterness. If bitter or extremely sour, add more salt and sauté another few minutes.

“Preserved” lemons

The dish

1 1/2 cups long grain rice (I use classic Persian rice)
1 onion
1/4 bunch each of parsley, coriander, spearmint (nana in hebrew) and dill
1 carrot
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper or to taste
1 cup water
3 chicken legs and thighs, without the skin (I use TevaOf, chickens without antibiotics and fed vegetarian food)
4 tbsp preserved lemon, diced or one “preserved” lemon, sliced
about 6 garlic cloves, minced.

Mince onion, carrot and herbs in a food processor.

Minced herbs

Put 3 tbsp aside. Mix the rest with rice, oil and salt and pepper. Place in a sauteuse, leveling the rice. Pour water on rice. On top arrange the chicken pieces in one layer.

Chicken on rice

Mix preserved lemons with remaining herbs and garlic. Cover the chicken pieces with preserved lemon mixture.

Before cooking

Cover and cook on a low fire for 1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked.

The result – divine!

After cooking

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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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