Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Alameda Jewish Chef Series -- and a Riddle -- What Looks Like Hummus, but Is Not? Plus a Pickle Pepper Tongue Pleaser

My January 9 column in the j. Bay area Jewish newsweekly was about a series of chef talks, demonstrations and tastings at Temple Israel in Alameda. Please click here to see the article, the chefs and schedule and contact info.

The article was accompanied by recipes adapted from Linda Hillel, a participant in the series and a former cooking teacher and recipe developer. The Miso-Tofu Tahini Spread recipe reflects not only her family’s Iraqi roots but the time they spent in Japan, where Hillel was raised, as well as her interest in soy foods. It has a rich, full, savory taste and would work well as a dip or sandwich spread. (But since it looks so much like hummus, you may want to warn potential eaters it isn't garbanzo beans; it does taste different.) The easy pickled-pepper recipe goes back generations and was a regular part of the family’s meals in both Baghdad and Tokyo.

Miso-Tofu Tahini Spread
Makes a generous 1½ cups

8 ounces firm tofu
1⁄3 cup tahini
2 Tbs. red miso
½ tsp. minced garlic
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. za’atar
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

Rinse and drain the tofu. Break up the tofu into chunks as you place it in a food processor or blender. Add the tahini, miso, garlic, lemon juice, za’atar, and pepper. Purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in the parsley. Serve as a dip with chips, pita bread and vegetables, or spread in fresh pita bread with some chopped Vinegar-Pickled Peppers (see below).

Vinegar-Pickled Peppers
Makes about 32 pieces

2 cups white vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
2 whole dried red chile peppers
4 medium green bell peppers

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, cayenne, and chile peppers in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into 3⁄4-inch strips. Trim the membranes. Taste the vinegar mixture for a balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.
Adjust the seasonings to taste. Add the pepper strips, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and have turned olive green. Set the pan aside and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer the peppers to a glass jar, cover with the liquid, put the lid on the jar and refrigerate. Once chilled, the pickles are ready to use as a condiment as is or can be chopped and added to tuna, egg or sardine salads. They will keep for several months in the refrigerator.


The newpaper version of my j. column shows off a new photo of me by Bonnie Burt. The online version still features the older "deer in the headlights" photo. Watch for the online make over!


Neen said...

Yum. Are you going to the cooking class offered by an Israeli chef at Netivot Shalom in Berkeley next month? Might be up your alley...

FJKramer said...

Don't know about it -- if you have info you can email me through my profile