Saturday, October 07, 2006
All About My Jewish Cookbooks and a Turkish Greens, Potatoes and Mushroom Stew
The Well Fed Network's Paper Palate site has published my roundup of my favorite Jewish cookbooks. (Please see update note below)
I really put those books through their paces this current Jewish holiday season. My menu ended up featuring the foods of the Turkish Sephardic Jewish community. A large reason for that was in remembrance of a friend who was of Turkish Sephardic heritage who was a wonderful cook.
From Olive Trees and Honey I read up on some of the Turkish holiday food traditions. I also made some wonderful pumpkin pastries called borekas from that book. I took a number of ideas from a variety of cookbooks and added my own touches to create a Sephardic chicken soup with vegetables and matzoh-fafalel dumplings. From the Book of Jewish Food I adapted a recipe and created a chicken and black-eyed pea dish for my main course. I also served a vegetarian main dish of greens, potatoes and portobello mushrooms which was inspired from a traditional Turkish recipe. My version was adapted from the book Vegetarian Turkish Cooking by Carol Robertson. My recipe is very different from hers, but she deserves credit for sparking my imagination.
As part of a mezze or appetizer plater I served small hot-sweet pickled cherry peppers stuffed with hummus (chickpea dip). Noah made apple pie for dessert. Now, apple pies aren't traditional Turkish Sephardic food, but apples are a European tradition for the Jewish New Year and Noah does like making apple pies, so that's how that came about.
Here's my greens stew recipe. It is very flavorful and flexible. You can use other types of greens and it can be a main dish or side dish.
Turkish Greens with Potatoes and Portobello Mushrooms
Serves four as a main course, more as a side dish
Olive oil or olive oil spray
2 large potatoes, peeling optional, cut into 1" chunks (I used yellow finn, but regular baking potatoes work well)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds of portobello mushrooms, wiped cleaned, stems discarded, black gills cut away (see note) and cut into 1" chunks
2 pounds of fresh mixed greens washed and cut into large, bite size pieces (I used a mixture of chard, collard and turnip, but you could use beet, spinach, mustard or kale as well)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup of vegetable stock or water
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
First roast the potatoes. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking pan with olive oil or oil spray. Add potatoes. Brush the potatoes with a bit more oil or use spray. Sprinkle with red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Put in oven and roast until cooked through and browned, turning potatoes occassionally. This should take approximately 45 minutes or so.
While the potatoes are roasting make the stew. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large saucepot with a lid. Add the onions and saute for a minute or two until beginning to soften and then add the garlic. Saute to until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Add the mushroom chunks and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the greens. Mix well with the mushrooms and saute a minute or two. Add the sugar and the vegetable stock or water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and put lid on pot. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until the greens have cooked through. Taste and correct seasoning. (Add more sugar if the greens are too bitter, more salt and pepper if they are too bland.)
Prepare the tomatoes. Toss the tomato chunks with oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
When the greens are cooked, assemble the dish. Put the greens and mushroom mixture in a large serving bowl. Add in roasted potatoes and toss until combined. Top with a wide ribbon of the tomato salad mixture as a garnish.
Note: Portobello mushrooms have dark brown-black gills under the cap. These gills darken any stewed mixture they are in. To avoid this, simply slice the gills off the underside the mushroom caps after you remove the stems. This is an optional step, but I do it whenever I want to avoid the coloration issue.
Update: All the Well Fed Network/Paper Palate links are now defunct, however, you can view the Jewish cookbook post via the Way Back Machine.