Monday, March 18, 2013

Honestly, a New Feature on Product Testing

To be honest, Blog Appetit gets a fair number of samples and I may share my thoughts on social media and with friends, or incorporate the products in recipes, but I haven't really taken the time to spell out the good (and bad) of the samples I receive as well as the new-to-me products I buy.

Right now, I'm still working out the mental kinks on a savory tea and contemplating what to say about a new chia seed pasta.  Watch for those posts relatively soon.  There will be more posts periodically reviewing food and cooking products, sometimes in length and sometimes very briefly, but always very honestly.

So look for these posts or search them out via the labels/categories on the right hand column called "Honestly - Product Reviews."

To kick off this feature, I want to give a shout out to Satori Cheese, who sent me a great gift pack of the company's BellaVitano cheeses awhile ago. I nibbled a few and found them very tasty (especially the ones rubbed with merlot and espresso powder -- that's two different cheeses by the way).  I had turned pretty much vegan by then, however, and didn't use them recipes.  Everyone I served them to seemed to like the basic cheese and some enjoying the flavored rubs.  My husband liked the plain (non rubbed) one best.  The red wine won honors as top flavored cheese.  Those who tried the espresso rub either loved or hated it.

Satori has some flavors that I've been unwilling to sample (the limited edition pink peppermint cheese, for example), but the wine and espresso were hits for me. 

Photo credit:  Agence de presse Meurisse‏ [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Disclosure:  Satori Cheese samples were provided free of charge

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Adding to My Suggested Links Section

I have been remiss in updating my long-neglected links section.  My lack of attention to my blogroll is especially shameful since I so enjoy clicking through other blogs' links to discover new favorites.

One of these days, I'm going to give it a complete overhaul, but for now I just wanted to introduce you to Anna Mindess's blog East Bay Ethnic Eats.  Even if you don't live in the area roughly bounded by being east of San Francisco and west of the Sacramento River delta, you'll find lots of interesting stories about food and the people behind it on Anna's blog.  You can read more about her and where else you might find her writing here.

(Oh, and I promise to revitalize the links section soon.  And if you are looking for my recommendations in the future, look for the link to the links in the right hand column of Blog Appetit.)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Taste of Judaism - International Jewish Food Beyond Chicken Soup and Gefilte Fish -- Recipes from My Talks

Messot Wot on Injera
Sunday I give my last in a series of lectures/tastings on international Jewish food sponsored by Jewish Learning Works.

Thanks to the JLW and to Peninsula Temple Sholom and Temple Sinai for hosting me for these programs.

I hope to post some of the info I talked about in the presentations soon, but for now I'll leave you with the recipes.  To see more on what I have written about what is Jewish food, the history of Jewish food and my Jewish recipes, please click on the Jewish label on the list of categories on the right side column of the blog.

I prepared three recipes for the tasting, a Syrian kibbeh (bulghur pie) dish (which is not my recipe and not posted here, check out the wonderful cookbook  A Fistful of Lentils for more info), an Ethiopian lentil stew and a Persian herb omelet.  Below are the stew and omelet recipes which are my interpretations of regional specialities. 

Messor Wot – Ethiopian Lentil Stew
Serves 6
This is my adaptation of a traditional lentil stew.  Berbere is available from some specialty markets and on line.  See my post at for a substitution and other Ethiopian inspired recipes.  Cooking time is approximate.  Sometimes lentils will take longer to cook.  Works well made in advance and reheated.

2 red onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. plus 2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/3 to ½ cup berbere
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
½ cup olive oil
4 cups water
1 lb. lentils (green or brown supermarket style)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt

In a large, heavy pot over medium high heat, add onions (with no oil or other fats), cook until translucent and soft (about 5-10 minutes).  Stir if needed or add a bit of hot water if browning. Do not let brown or burn.  Add garlic and 2 Tbs. tomato paste.  Stir well and cook for a few minutes. Add berbere, ginger and cardamom. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, adding hot water if needed to keep from sticking or burning.  Add oil, stir well, cook for 5 minutes.  Add lentils, mix well. Add 4 cups water.  Bring to simmer. Cover and simmer until lentils are soft and falling apart, about 35-40 minutes. Sauce should be thick and not at all soupy, but add hot water if needed.  Add remaining tomato paste, pepper and salt. Mix well. Let cook a few more minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.  Serve with green salad with injera (Ethiopian flat bread), millet or rice.
Baked Kookoo
Baked Kookoo – Persian Egg and Greens Omelet
Serves 4-6
Normally this omelet is fried, but I like this version with less oil and less fuss.  It doubles well, just use a larger baking pan.

1 cup cooked spinach
2 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing pan
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped leek (light green and white part only)
¾ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
6 large eggs, beaten
1/8 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Squeeze and drain spinach. Chop. Set aside.  Grease 8x8” glass baking pan with oil.  Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet.  Sauté onion and leek over medium high heat until softened.  Add parsley and mint, sauté for a moment and then mix in spinach.  Stir until well mixed.  Sauté until any excess liquid from the vegetables has evaporated.    Take off the heat to let cool slightly.  Mix turmeric, salt and pepper in to eggs.  Stir in vegetables until well combined and pour into prepared pan.   Bake until set and cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Eggs will have pulled away from the edges of the pan, be firm but still springy and slightly puffed and lightly browned. If desired, after about 20 minutes of baking, lightly sprinkle top of omelet with paprika.