24 July 2013

Moroccan Style Meatballs - Polpetine Marocchine

I have been overseas working for sometime; I think it's about time I got back to work in the kitchen! I am leaving again soon (like in 3 days!) but, hopefully, I will have better access to a kitchen and therefore not remiss in my blogging. On to the food...

Moroccan Style Meatballs - Polpetine Marocchine

4 cups water
1/2 cup Water
Turmeric (to taste)
Harissa (to taste)
Sumac (to taste)
Dukkah (to taste)
Red Pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Red Pepper (fresh or dried flakes)
8 Cloves Garlic
½ white or yellow Onion
1 LBS Ground Lamb or Beef
1 LBS Chicken Livers
1 LBS Chicken Breasts
2 slices day old bread
1/2 cup Soffritto (1/2 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stick ALL minced)
2 eggs
1 can Chickpeas, Fava, or other bean
1 16 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
Chicken broth (enough for soaking bread)
Zest of two Lemons
4 tablespoons minced cilantro or mint

·         Pre-cook the chicken livers by sauté method with Soffritto and a bit of cilantro or mint.
·         Soak day old bread in chicken broth until soft. Squeeze out excess moisture.
·         In a large bowl, mix ground lamb/beef, lemon zest, eggs, and soaked bread.
·         Cut the uncooked chicken breasts into small pieces; grind in a food processor.
·         Bring the water, turmeric, olive oil, and spices to boil in a wide heavy pot. Add tomato and beans.
·         Crush cooked chicken livers by hand.
·         Add the processed chicken breasts, crushed livers, and Soffritto to the lemon zest - egg - ground meat mixture.
·         Form meatballs and place them in the ½-cup water while shaping.
·         Reduce the flame to medium, and cook covered 30 minutes.
·         Stir in the cumin and cook 5 more minutes. Check the liquid in the pot. If it is too thin, reduce on a high flame until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup.
·         Transfer the meatballs and their sauce to a platter. Sprinkle with mint or cilantro.
·         Serve with couscous, rice, or mashed potato.

12 December 2011

Hanukkah Doughnuts - Graffe - Sufganiot

Since it's that time of year again, I thought I would start posting the Hanukkah menu. I am kind of going in reverse order, desert first, so... here we go!

My Mamma always made her Sufganiot with potato, like the Neapolitan Graffe (in Napoli, Graffe are made during the Carnevale season). The addition of the potato gives the doughnuts an amazing texture. I am posting Mamma's recipe for all to see and hoping Mamma will not be angry I gave away her secret!

Hanukkah Doughnuts - Graffe - Sufganiot

1 Package Dry Yeast
4 tablespoons Sugar
3/4 cup warm Water
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 medium sized Potato, cooked and mashed
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) Butter or Pareve Shortening (depending on the meal plan)
Lemon Zest, to taste
Apricot, Sour Cherry, or Raspberry Jam
Powdered Sugar
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Cook the potato in either boiling water (do not pierce the skin) or in the microwave. Peel and mash the potato or put it through a food mill.
Mix together the yeast, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the water/milk. Let sit to make sure it bubbles.
Sift the flour and mix it with the remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks, potato, and the yeast mixture.
Knead the dough until it forms a ball. Add the butter or shortening. Knead some more, until the butter/shortening is well absorbed. Cover with a towel and let rise for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Roll out the dough into a log.
Cut the dough into rounds and form balls about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 inch thick. Let rise for about 30 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil to about 375°. Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, about 5 at a time. Cook them until they are golden, then flip them over. Drain on paper towels and let them cool. Dust the doughnuts with sugar (if desired) and/or poke a hole with a finger in the top of the Sufganiot and drop in 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

22 June 2011

Antipasti... più due!!!

In honor of the begining of summer, today you get two recipes for the price of one. Both are great salads you can serve either as antipasti or as a primo, or first course. Onward... Now, if you can find KOSHER Mozzarella di Bufala, I applaud you! I could not and I live in area where the Bufala is readily available. It might be sacrilege to my fellow Partenopei, but I used a locally produced (Kosher) Fresh Mozzarella. No, it’s probably NOT as good as the Bufala but at least it’s not Treif! If you are not Jewish, or don’t care about Kosher, USE THE MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA!

Insalata Caprese – Tomato & Mozzarella Salad of Capri
1 pound/500 grams of Mozzarella (di Bufala if you are not keeping Kosher) 
1 pound/500 grams of Vine Ripened Tomatoes 
1 bunch of Fresh Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Wash the tomatoes and cut out the green spot. Set the tomatoes on their sides and slice lengthwise so that they are about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat the slicing process with the Mozzarella. Wash the Basil and pat dry. Chop or tear the Basil into small pieces. Layer the salad on a large plate alternating between tomato and cheese. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil; add a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the chopped basil. Serve chilled but NOT too cold as this takes away from the flavors.

Serves: 4           Total Time: 10 min

This next insalata is a favorite of la Mamma. I am not sure why it is called Russian Salad; perhaps they brought it to Italy and forgot to take it back? In any case, if you are not a fan of the tuna (like my sister) leave it out. The salad is equally as tasty without it. I included it in the salad I made for visiting friends yesterday.

Insalata Russa - Russian Salad
Ingredients:2 Eggs, boiled
3/4 pound New Potatoes, peeled (optional), boiled and cut in quarters
1 cup French Green Beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Fresh (or Frozen) Peas
1 cup Fresh Carrots, diced or julienned
5 oz-150 grams of Albacore Tuna packed in Olive Oil, drained (optional)
4 tablespoons of Mayonnaise, recipe follows
2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
4 Pickles, diced
8 olives, Black or Green, cut in half
1 tablespoon Capers
1 tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Dill, chopped plus a bit more for garnish
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place the eggs in a small saucepan and boil for about 4 minutes. Set aside. In another saucepan, cook the potatoes until they are tender but not soft. Drain and set aside. Do the same for the peas, green beans, and carrots. Ensure the vegetables are not overcooked; they should be tender but NOT mushy. Meanwhile, dice the pickles herbs, and olives.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, crushed garlic, herbs, and tuna, if using. After the vegetables have cooled for about ten minutes, add them to the mayonnaise mixture along with the pickles, capers, and olives. Blend all ingredients together gently. Top with the sliced boiled eggs and a bit of dill. Serve at room temperature.

Serves: 4           Total Time: about 50 minutes

Maionese – Basic Mayonnaise
2 Egg Yolks
3 -4 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Pepper, to taste

Place the egg yolks in a bowl. Using a hand mixer or food processor, add a bit of the lemon juice and process until combined. With the motor still running, gradually add the olive oil, a few drops at a time, until it begins to form a thick emulsion. Add the remaining oil in a very thin, slow stream until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is thick. Add lemon juice to taste and season with salt and pepper (if desired). If it seems a bit too thick, thin it with a bit of water. If you are concerned about salmonella, look for pasteurized eggs.

11 June 2011


I was asked by a friend how to make proper “garlic bread;” evidently, all she could find on the web was vile recipes that used margarine (WHAT?!?!), oregano, garlic chunks or powder, etc. I thought perhaps she was on the wrong planet. Then I realized most Americans do not know that, in Italy, Bruschetta is the name for “garlic bread.” Not that junk you may have had here with tomato sauce smeared on it... Bruschetta is just plain old toasted bread with garlic. Crostini, however, usually have cheese, tomato, or other veggies on top. So, to help my friend (and the rest of you!) here it is: proper “garlic bread!” This is usually eaten as an antipasto, NOT with the meal, as it can be overwhelming.

Bruschetta – Garlic Bread
8 – 10 thick slices of Italian bread
4 cloves Garlic, cut in half
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Toast or grill the bread until golden on both sides. I prefer the bread to be a bit more brown but that is individual taste... adjust to your liking.
Rub the toasted bread with the cut garlic cloves on both sides.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Drizzle the hot oil over the toasted bread. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place the bread o a warm platter and serve immediately.  
Servings: 4                   Total Time: About 15 minutes

10 June 2011


We are getting close to the end of the Antipasti; just two or three left... I think. Anyhow, in any book written about Italian Jewish cuisine will have these little fritters in it. Where they REALLY came from is anyone’s guess. Somehow I doubt that these were served in Jerusalem... probably just a nice way to tell cooks that they are Jewish in origin. Remember, if you don’t like anchovies, you can always fill them with mozzarella instead. If matzo meal is hard to come by, use flour. However, whatever you do, DO NOT use instant polenta. Tip: Add one of the 4 cups of water to the polenta before cooking and you will have virtually lump free polenta!

Rebecchine di Gerusalemme – Plenta & Anchovy Fritters
1 cup Polenta
4 cups Water
12 – 16 Anchovies packed in Olive Oil
Canola or Vegetable Oil for  frying
1 -2 Eggs, beaten
Matzo Meal or Flour for dredging

Combine polenta and one cup of water in a bowl or measuring cup. In a saucepan, bring the other three cups of water and salt to a boil. Add the polenta water mixture. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking occasionally. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring often until thick and no longer grainy (to the tongue), about 30 minutes. If it’s too thick and still grainy, add a bit more water. Poor the cooked polenta into an oiled shallow baking pan (about 1/2 inch thick) to cool.
Meanwhile, place the undrained anchovies in a skillet and warm them over low heat (about 5 minutes). Do not overcook or burn them. Just warm the anchovies until they are soft. Place the warmed anchovies in a small dish. Mash them into a kind of paste.
After the polenta is completely cool and set, using a biscuit cutter or a glass (about 2 -3 inches in diameter) cut the cooled polenta into rounds. Spread half of the rounds with the anchovy paste (or a piece of cheese, if using). Top them with the remaining rounds.
Poor the Canola/Veg oil into a large sauté pan to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over a medium – high flame until it reaches 375 degrees F.
Break one of the eggs into a bowl and beat until blended. Spread some Matzo Meal or Flour on a board and, working with a few of the “sandwiches” at a time, dip them into the beaten egg and then dredge in the Matzo/Flour.
Slide them into the hot oil a few at a time, turning once, about 4 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Serve warm.

Serves: 6 - 8                            Total Time: about 2 hours

03 June 2011

So, my Grandmother is a huge fan of the Smoked Whitefish. I guess it’s an Ashkenazi thing... we never ate smoked fish much, mostly because we have always lived next to the coast and fresh fish has always been plentiful. My Mamma used to make a version of this classic dish with fresh cod. everyone loved it with the exception of my sister who refuses to eat fish... go figure!
In any case, the term “whitefish” refers to several species of fish, particularly cod, whiting, and haddock, but also hake, pollock, and others. Whitefish is also the name of several species of Atlantic freshwater fish (so the use of the two-word term 'white fish' is less misleading) commonly used in Ashkenazi Jewish cooking. These cheap (and adaptable) fish are used for a number of purposes: poached for Shabbat, ground into gefilte fish, or smoked.
Whitefish is sold either whole or filleted. It can be found in most Jewish delis and gourmet markets. I am lucky; I have Ali’s inexpensive Kosher-Halal grocery around the corner. Any decent market of that nature should have it too! Serve this chilled as a Schmere with toasted Italian bread, cream cheese, sliced onion, cucumber, and radishes. Or stuff it into a tomato and garnish with dill. For a Pareve meal, use all mayonnaise; mayonnaise recipe follows.

Insalata di Pesce – Whitefish Salad
2 lb. whole or filleted whitefish (Cod, Haddock, Hake, Whiting, Pollock) OR 2 lb. whole or filleted whitefish, smoked
1/3 cup plain Greek Yoghurt or Sour Cream (or sub 1/3 additional mayo)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Celery Stalks, minced
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

If you purchased fillets, remove the skin, skip ahead to “Step 2.”
Step 1. Peel the skin from the whitefish. It should come off easily. On each side of the fish, you will see a centerline running from tail to gill. Using a fork, pull the meat outward from that centerline, following the diagonal grain of the meat. This will help you avoid the tiny bones that are sometimes caught in the meat.
Step 2. After the fish has been cleaned, flake the meat in small pieces into a bowl. Check for bones as you go. If you notice any bones, remove them and discard. Once the meat is in the bowl, shred it with a fork and your fingers. Remove any additional bones you might have missed. Add mayonnaise, yoghurt, celery pieces, dill, and chives to the whitefish and use the fork to blend. Season the salad with pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste.
Serves: 6 - 8 Total time: about 45 minutes

Maionese – Basic Mayonnaise
2 Egg Yolks
3 -4 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Pepper, to taste

Place the egg yolks in a bowl. Using a hand mixer or food processor, add a bit of the lemon juice and process until combined. With the motor still running, gradually add the olive oil, a few drops at a time, until it begins to form a thick emulsion. Add the remaining oil in a very thin, slow stream until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is thick. Add lemon juice to taste and season with salt and pepper (if desired). If it seems a bit too thick, thin it with a bit of water. If you are concerned about salmonella, look for pasteurized eggs.

26 May 2011


So, today I am taking advantage of the abundance of the Fava bean. The are everywhere (in California, that is)! I do not know anyone who does not like either of these recipes. My sister prefers the second one with the smaller Borlotti beans but, I like it either way. Use the fresh beans if you can but canned Fave will work just as well. For the first recipe I used fresh beans form the farmer's market; the second recipe I made with canned "Mid East" brand beans. The "Progresso" and "Westbrae Natural Organic" brands are NOT GOOD; I have found the beans so hard as to need more cooking time! Fava beans should be slightly soft but NOT mushy. Try to get the beans either fresh or purchase an imported brand from the Mid East (Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, etc). בְּתֵאָבוֹן or Buon Appetito! 

Insalata di Fave - Fava Bean Salad No. 1

About 3 pounds of fava beans in their pod
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ small spring onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
½ cup mint leaves, sliced into fine ribbons
1 preserved lemon, peel only, chopped OR zest of 1 lemon, removed in strips and minced
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Strip open the pods and shuck the fava beans, removing them from their white, fuzzy nests. Drop the beans into a pot of salted, boiling water for a minute or so until the pale outer skin wrinkles and splits. Drain the beans and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove the peel by slitting one end with a small knife or thumbnail and pinching until the glossy green seed pops out. Set the beans aside in a medium serving bowl.
Make a vinaigrette by shaking lemon juice and olive oil together in a small jar with a tightly fitting lid. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle enough of the vinaigrette over the beans to coat them generously. You may have enough vinaigrette left over for another salad.
Add minced onion, mint, and preserved lemon or lemon peel, and feta to beans in the serving bowl and toss again. Add more dressing as needed and adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve at room temperature.

Both recipes serve: 4          Total Time: about 20 minutes each

AND...  Insalata di Fave - Fava Bean Salad No. 2
2 - 15 oz cans Fava Beans
1/4 Onion, chopped OR 2/3 cup Spring Onion, chopped
3 - 4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Olive Oil
6 – 9 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar (adjust according to taste)
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme or 1 teaspoon Za'atar
1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust amounts according to taste. Let ingredients sit in the fridge for about 1-2 hours to let the flavors mingle properly. Remove about 30 minutes before serving. Best served at room temperature.