Quick Bites: Barley Risotto

Dinner one night a couple of weeks ago was a barley risotto cooked with red wine (Merlot), with sauteed onions and mushrooms, diced pumpkin and seared portobello mushrooms. The chiffonade is Melissa, an herb I failed to grow this past summer in my garden.

I like to use pearl barley as an alternate risotto grain because it gives off a nice amount of silky starch, and remains al dente. It also has flavor to add to the dish.

This is very similar to a popular appetizer that we served at Abagail’s in Cedarhurst when I worked there. This isn’t meant as an homage. This is me kicking that dish’s culinary ass. (And that’s me resenting a $0.50/hour raise)

Today’s Lunch: Shiva Surplus

Technically speaking, it was breakfast, not lunch, but you’ll forgive me.

My wife lost her father over the chagim, and has been sitting shiva. We are blessed with a wonderful, close-knit, and caring community who have been overwhelmingly successful in their efforts to stuff us to the gills.

With this surfeit of food, I have a number of new food elements in the house that I can tinker with and recombine to make new and delicious things to eat, without letting anything go to waste.

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Meet Kubo, the Pitaya

Israel, as you know, has a large, arid region known as the Negev. And, as you probably know, Israel has this on-again, off-again relationship with the planet, where they mostly hate us unless we’re doing something helpful, like solving agricultural dilemmas, either through irrigation (Africa in the 50s), genetic selection (disease-resistant crops), or plain old common sense (hydroponics improvements).

So along comes plucky Israel and sends agricultural engineers to visit a bunch of other desert climates, and says, “What grows here, and can we grow it in Israel?”

Hey, how about another cactus fruit?

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Pumpkin Bread

The other day, I made pumpkin puree. With over a kilo of the stuff, now I have to find some things to make with it, right? Well, never fear, I’ve come up with a whole bunch of ideas for how to use it. The only question is whether time will allow for it all.

The first thing I’ve prepared is Pumpkin Bread. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. And I didn’t even use Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Go figure.

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Homemade Pumpkin Purée

Libbys_pumpkin[1]Remember this pantry staple from your childhood? Sure you do. During the long summer months, there it was, staring back at you every time you opened the pantry. Waiting, patiently, until the leaves turned a riot of colors and your breath came in small puffs in the chilly winter air. Then, in an almost hallowed ceremony, the can opener would slowly wind its way around the surface until at last, it would reveal the contents it had been secreting away all year…

Rusted sludge.

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Mmmm… Refreshing

So as you can tell, I’ve been working on cleaning up the site. At first I was only going to switch to a responsive template, but pretty soon I was working up a new logo, iconography, color scheme…

I like it. It’s clean, crisp, modern.

As with any site it’s a work in progress, but I’ve been through most of the site and it seems like everything is working and accessible.

Please let me know if you come across anything that isn’t functioning the way it should. I’m always open to suggestions, and both compliments and critiques are welcome. Not that I’m fishing for either.

Of course, if you have technical questions on how I did something, I’ll be happy to share, since this is (one of) my technology testing site.

Preparing and Cooking #5 Minute Steaks

Do you miss cutting into a nice piece of juicy, steak? Well, before you reach for those ridiculous hockey pucks they call “steak” in this country, or shell out a couple hundred shekels for ribeye roast, put a #5 Minute Steak Roast in your cart and fire up the grill, cause we’re having steak for dinner tonight!

Yeah yeah, there’s a big fat piece of gristle in the middle. So what?

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Kashering Liver

Of all the organ meats, liver is the most popular. Don’t ask me why. But, as the organ responsible for filtering blood, there are certain steps you need to take to make it edible, since we aren’t allowed to eat blood. The procedure for making kosher liver edible is not particularly complicated. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do that would make it unfit for Jewish consumption. And, of course, there are no absence of expert opinions on how to do it.

Oh boy, now I’m stepping into the thick of it, aren’t I?

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Preparing and Cooking #5 Flatiron Steaks

At every meat counter and in every freezer in supermarkets throughout Israel, consumers are offered the exact same cuts of meat, helpfully numbered. As I’ve discussed previously, there are many, many ways to butcher meat, but because local livestock is still in such small demand, we have to rely on what we are sent from South America. So instead of having cuts of meat that we might readily recognize from our respective countries of origin, we are left with what has been preordained as the ‘Israeli’ cuts of meat.

Then there’s the odd notion in household cooking that the form in which one receives a protein is the form in which it intended to be cooked. Therefore a whole chicken is cooked whole, fish fillets are cooked as fillets, and a roast is meant to be cooked whole. Well, I reject that idea.

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