Chicken Soup (for the Soul) + Optional chicken pot Pie filling!

Chicken Soup (for the Soul) + Optional chicken pot Pie filling!

This is the year* for whole chicken experimentation for me. Prior to these past several months I had NEVER cooked a full bird. Thighs, breasts, legs, wings - yes, but the whole chicken as one? Never. I was intimidated. I mean [...]

Read More

Roasted Asparagus with Bacon

Roasted Asparagus with Bacon

Courtesy of "meal prep Sunday", I give you... the easiest most delicious Asparagus recipe known to man kind!! 

Growing up I was a freak when it came to veggies - broccoli was my crack. Carrots were my second in command, and all others third... except for asparagus. The only vegetable I was never excited about my mom making was asparagus. I mean, I'd eat it of course, it was green and a vegetable. (I never said I was a "normal" child). Now, if my mom prepared asparagus like this - I think carrots would be given a run for their money (Broccoli can't be touched ... It's on top that pedestal with a trophy in one hand and medal around it's tree-trunk neck).

I wasn't even sure if I should post this as a recipe since it is so straight forward, however, after living with several people that needed instructions on boiling water and making pasta, I thought "Hey, why not! I'm sure there are people that this would interest!" SO - hopefully my awkward internal dialog was correct. Please let me know. 

Back to business - try this on for size and let me know how you find it.

Serves: 2-3 people (or 1 if you are me)
Prep time: 3 minutes
Total time: 25-35 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb asparagus spears
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch pepper

*parchment paper
*baking tray

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Rinse the asparagus and cut the very ends off, the thick bottoms, not the tree-like tops.
3. Lay them out on a parchment lined backing tray. Make sure they do not overlap one another.
4. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and then place the bacon strips on top.
5. Pop them into the oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagi(?) and your preference for doneness. 

Roasted Head of Cauliflower with Za'atar and Tahini Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Tahini

So I went to Israel this Summer and had my first taste of za'atar and omg, I literally stopped in my tracks. I was standing out a counter in Tzfat and just starting asking everyone I was with- What is this?! What is in this dish?! It was probably my most talked about conversation throughout the entire trip. Naturally, I bought za'atar at the market in Jerusalem and have been tossing that spice into most of what I make- eggs, veggies, chicken- SO GOOD. But sadly, I'm running low on the stash I bought in Israel. However, I shall be making this recipe until all of the za'atar has been eaten!

This is so so super delicious and so so SO easy to make. Seriously. Like weekday dinner easy to make!!

But first - a lesson on za'atar:

There are several different varieties of za'atar that tend to vary with region, however, they are all based around the ingredient wild thyme with sesame seeds. Different regions incorporate different added seasonings like coriander and sumac, oregano and fennel. You can tell just by looking at the four different regional variations that they vary greatly. When I was in Israel I had no idea there was any variation- I was just told "Za'atar", the green vaguely marijuana looking herb with sesame seeds. 

I read much of the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi before I knew much about Za'atar beyond that it was delicious and I couldn't get enough of it. In their cookbook, they dedicated two pages in describing the spice that I found fascinating.

"Za'atar is part and parcel of the Palestinian heritage... Za'atar has now also become central to modern Israeli cuisine... Regrettably, za'atar has joined the long list of thorny subjects poisoning the fraught relationship between Arabs and Jews, when the Israeli authorities declared the herb an endangered species and banned picking it in the wild. Though a compelling argument was made about preserving the dwindling population of wild za'atar, the decree was taken without any form of dialogue with Arabs, who see it as a deliberate violation of their way of life" (Jerusalem 34-35). 

The importance of za'atar, the history, the tradition, is rooted in the Palestinian culture. The argument and heat is not over the spice but over their culture in reaction to the spice as integrated in Israeli culture.

This topic is QUITE fascinating. Let me know if you would like me to dive deeper into this conversation - I spent a semester talking about Palestinian foods and Israeli foods and their relationship and importance. Not a beautiful story, but a fascinating one.

 Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Syrian/Aleppo Za'atar as sold at Kalustyan's, the amazing spice market in NYC. 

Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Syrian/Aleppo Za'atar as sold at Kalustyan's, the amazing spice market in NYC. 

And now for the recipe... drum roll please...

Cauliflower-
1 head of cauliflower
1.5 teaspoon of za'atar
1.5 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped (~1 teaspoon)

Tahini Dressing*-
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic (~1/2 teaspoon)
pinch salt

 UHOH. I did not realize how awful these pictures were when I took them. *cover monkey eyes emoji*

UHOH. I did not realize how awful these pictures were when I took them.
*cover monkey eyes emoji*

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a parchment lined baking tray.
2. Cut the stem and leaves off of the cauliflower head.
3. In a small bowl mix the za'atar, olive oil, salt, and garlic and liberally coat the entire head of cauliflower.
4. Pop the sucker into the oven for 30 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients
6. Serve cauliflower warm with the dressing drizzled on top or on the side to dip in.

*3/2/1 ratio of tahini/water/lemon juice is a great place to start. 

Roasted Sliced Cauliflower Tahini Dressing Za'atar

Pressure Cooker Holiday Brisket

 Don't worry, no bacon was used in the making of this dish ;)

Don't worry, no bacon was used in the making of this dish ;)

Are you tasked with preparing the brisket for break fast on Yom Kippur this year?

Are you dreading it because A) it makes your house smell delicious for 5 hours while you're fasting?
Or B) you'll be at temple all day and hate leaving your oven on while you're out?

Well I have the solution to your woes!

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement for Jews and on that day you fast; from sunset the previous day to sunset on Yom Kippur that always follows Rosh Hashanah, the new year. Normally when you make brisket you put it in the oven for several hours. A 3lb brisket could take 5+ hours to cook, therefor you are either leaving your stove on while you are at temple or smelling up the whole house with wonderful brisket smells for 5 hours while you cannot eat… (self inflicted torture if you ask me). This solution gets the job done in MAX 2 hours from start to finish. GIve it a go! And yes pressure cookers are scary and loud you might need moral support of someone else ;)

 

Total time: 90-120 minutes
Hand on time: 30 minutes
Severs: 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs brisket (mine was actually 2.8lb)
    (Had to cook in two pieces because too big for my pressure cooker wompwomp)
  • 3+1 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil, separated (an oil that does not oxidize at high heat)
  • 3 small onions thinly sliced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons + ¼ teaspoon (separated) fresh cracked salt rubbed on meat
  • ½ teaspoon +¼ teaspoon pepper (separated) fresh cracked pepper rubbed on meat
  • ½ large can (3 oz) tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated (about 1 ½ teaspoons grated)
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ½-1 cup water

Instructions:

1. Make sure that most (not all) of fat is trimmed off. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and rub salt and pepper on meat

2. Ghee in pan on low heat, once melted add sliced onions (I did this in the pressure cooker pot to save on cleaning pans- the worst!)

3. Cook onions for about 20+ minutes (I only had patience for 20 minutes, ha) You want the onions to be lightly browned- or at least translucent.

4. While the onions are cooking, mix your tomato base. Combine tomato paste, grated garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ginger powder, onion powder, garlic powder and beef stock.

5. Once onions are cooked, add the tomato mixture and mix well. Add ½ cup of water. If it is not runny, add more water. (You don’t need it to be as thin as water, but you do want it to be runny).

6. Add the bay leaf and brisket.

7. Turn the burner on high and wait for the pressure to release. Then turn your burner on low so that the contents remain at a simmer. *Follow your pressure cooker instructions!*

8. Pressure cook for about 40-45 minutes (for 1 ½ pounds, probably about 80 minutes for 3 pounds).

9. After 40-45 minutes, turn the burner off and wait about 10-15 minutes for the pressure to automatically release.

10. While the pressure is releasing naturally, put a cast iron pan or a stainless steel pan in the broiler to heat up.

11. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee or avocado oil and place the meat (without tomato sauce) on the pan.

12. Put the pan with the brisket in the broiler for 2-4 minutes. Flip brisket and again broil for another 2-4 minutes.

This might sound more complex than "dump everything in a pan and leave it in the oven for the day", but I swear it's worth it!! Also, you could totally skip steps 10, 11, and 12, however it just gives the meat a bit of crispness which I love. Do you! Whatever way you prefer!

ENJOY.

 

Pro Tip: Make extras!! This brisket is even better the next day! It is egggggsellent with eggs for breakfast as well as sautéed greens for lunch. For reals.

Brisket and Eggs
Brisket and Green Beans and Kale
Music Note

Music on the menu for
Pressure Cooker Holiday Brisket*:

*One might disagree with this song choice as it is quite peppy, happy, and all "celebration of good times" even though Yom Kippur is quite the opposite since it is the day of Atonement and reflection of the not so good things we may have done during the past year. Well Atone during the day and all the days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and then listen to this jam while you break fast and begin to look forward to all your upcoming awesomeness. Ok? Ok! 

Thumbs up