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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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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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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Preparing and Cooking a #11 Sinta

For those of us who have made aliyah, it is our first exposure to meat from the part of the beef forbidden to us by edict. It appears on menus in upscale restaurants, and is spoken of in hushed, reverent tones. Finding it glatt kosher/mehadrin is even more elusive. Even the name suggests a bit of guilty pleasure. I’m talking, of course, about sinta.

Before I continue, I want to make something clear: sinta is not tenderloin. Let me repeat that: sinta is not the beef tenderloin.

Wait, what?
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Miso fad: It’s the hottest ingredient right now, but you should love it anyway.

This venerable Asian ingredient is finding its was into every course from salads to desserts. Think of it as kind of like soy sauce paste, but it isn’t. You can find several varieties of miso in East West near Machane Yehuda. It’s as versatile as salt, really. I used it to make kimchee, on pasta, potatoes, and there’s a salad dressing recipe I had wanted to try. Now where did I read that recipe…

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/02/21/miso_fad_it_s_the_hottest_ingredient_right_now_but_you_should_love_it_anyway.html

Passiflora

PassifloraFirst, the common name: Passionfruit. So named for the five stamens representing the five wounds (or stigmata) that a certain someone received at the hands of the Romans during his crucifixion. The proper Hebrew name is שעונית (“shayonit”), but no one calls them that. So I usually refer to it by its common Hebrew name פסיפלורה (“passiflora”). Unfortunately, passio in Latin also refers to the same event.

Well, you can’t win ’em all.

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Spice Blends

In my spice class, I review close to thirty different spices. That’s about one spice every minute. And then I talk about a dozen different spice blends. And I preface everything by saying that I barely scratch the surface of the world of spice available to us.

Spice blends are an iconic representation of their respective cuisines. Garam Masala is unmistakably Indian, and anyone can tell you that Cajun spices are fiery. Ras Al Hanout (“Rosh Hachanut” the “Head of the Shop”) is a mixture brought to us by our brethren who were chased from their homes in Morocco. Jamaican jerk seasoning is sweet and hot. Chinese Five Spice balances the five flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and earthy.

Recipes for spice blends often handed down in families, jealously guarded secrets that are pitted against one another in competitions. Ironically, spice blends are the least consistent ingredients in an otherwise “authentic” dishes.

Like curry.

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