Thursday, July 15, 2010

I am baaack! Pasta salad days...

Hi all! It's been a looong while since I last posted. I've been going through some personal stuff and have been in a blogging funk....I think it is time that I snap out of it and get back to work :)

So.....pasta salad...Love it? Hate it or maybe you are one who can take it or leave it? I am one who can take it or leave it. I find pasta salads bland and flavorless, that is until I discovered this recipe. I am huge fan of antipasto and this salad pairs pasta and all the antipasto fixings. If you hate pasta salad or can do without it, you MUST try this one and I guarantee you will be a convert. It is a little time consuming to make but let me tell you, it is well worth the effort. The recipe was adapted from Americans Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I have added some marinated artichoke to it, because I love them you can also add olives if you'd like.

8 ounces sliced pepperoni , cut into 1/4-inch strips
8 ounces soppressata or salami, halved and cut into 1/4-inch strips
10 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 jar pepperoncini (12-ounce), drained, (2 tablespoons juice reserved), stemmed, and chopped coarse
4 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 pound spiral pasta
1 pound white mushrooms , quartered
1 cup shredded provolone cheese , aged
12 ounces roasted red peppers , drained, patted dry, and chopped coarse
1 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Place one paper towel on microwave-safe plate. Arrange pepperoni in single layer on paper towel. Cover with another paper towel and layer sopresatta on towel. Top with another paper towel and microwave on highest power until meat begins to render fat, about 1 minute. Set meat aside.

2. Whisk 5 tablespoons vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, pepperoncini juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl.

3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, return to pot, and toss with 1/2 cup dressing and remaining vinegar. Adjust seasonings, spread dressed pasta on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring remaining dressing to simmer in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool.

5. Add meat, provolone, roasted red peppers, chopped pepperoncini, basil, and cooled pasta to mushrooms and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cold Sesame Noodles

Every now and again I get a craving for cold sesame noodles.I remember the first time I had this dish, I didn't think I was going to like it at all, but with every bite I fell in love. The creamy sauce with all the crunchy veggies makes it for an amazing meal. These have a distinctive sesame flavor. I love these with bean sprouts. green onions, shredded carrots and cucumbers. I hope you'll give it a try. This recipe comes from Tyler Florence and like all the others I've tried from him, was spectacular!

* 12 ounces angel hair pasta ( I used udon noodles)
* 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons peanut oil
* 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal
* 1 lime, juiced
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
* 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 6 tablespoons hot water
* 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
* 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
* Fresh chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish


Cook the noodles in large pot of boiling unsalted water over medium heat until barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until cold. Drain the noodles really well and transfer to a wide bowl; toss with the sesame oil so they don't stick together. Chill.

In a blender combine the peanut oil, ginger, garlic, chili paste, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water. Blend. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce until well coated. Serve at room temperature or chilled; garnish with the sesame seeds, green onions, and cilantro.

Daring Bakers Challenge-Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. I love Tiramisu and I've always wanted to try making it. I was very excited about this challenge, as a matter of fact I've made it twice this month. Last week we had a potluck in the office and theme was Italian. What better dessert than Tiramisu. This one was a HUGE hit!!! I have to say, that there was no major issues for me with the recipe with the exception of the lady fingers, I could not get them to pipe the right size. I had a lot of variations in sizes, but I think it has to do with my piping skills than the recipe itself (the picture is of the best three) Since I've made the recipe twice, I've used the home baked lady fingers with one of the recipes and decided to use store bought for the other one. Thank you ladies for a GREAT challenge!!!

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar


For the zabaglione:

Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the mascarpone cheese:
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

For the Ladyfingers:
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm always on a hunt for great chocolate chip cookie recipe. My husband who does not have much of a sweet tooth, loves good Chocolate Chip Cookie. Since there is only a handful of sweet treats he enjoys, I always want to find a better way to make his favorites. Here is another recipe that got a raved reviews. We like crispy exterior and chewy interior, if you are after crispy cookie, this might not be a good recipe for you. I loved, loved, loved this one and I'm not even a chocolate Chip Cookie aficionado. The recipe comes from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before you get started, here are some tips, that might be helpful: Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored.

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.


Slow Braised Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly

So many recipes to try, so little time to do it in... Life had just made a turn to crazy in the past few weeks and even though I was doing well with cooking and taking picture of my creations, posting has proven to be a challenge. I'm going to try and make up for a lost time and post some of the dishes I've made recently, starting with Slow Braised Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly. So, pork belly is not necessarily on my diet plan these days, but I saw this recipe and couldn't resist. It's fairly hands off as the most of the time spent is braising in the oven. When selecting pork belly make sure there is as lean as you can possibly find it as the sauce will absorb most of the fat. If you feel that there is too much fat, refrigerate it overnight and remove the solidified fat from the top. The recipe calls for beer cider, not cider vinegar, so be sure that you use the right ingredient. I was able to find beer cider in liquor store fairly easily. The honey makes the sauce sweet on its own, but paired up with mashed potatoes balances the flavors very nicely.

Slow Braised Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly


* 3.5 lb (Organic) pork belly, with rind removed but the fat on
* 2 large white onions, peeled, halved and sliced
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Braising Liquor:

* 1 qt Beer cider
* 5 oz Clear honey
* 1 Beef stock cube
* 1 Star anise
* 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
* 4 Sprigs fresh thyme
* Sea salt


1. In a frying pan, dry-fry the onions until caramelized.

2. Heat an ovenproof cast-iron pan. Season the pork belly and dry-fry on both sides, fat side first, until golden brown, ensuring that all sides of the meat are sealed. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for 3-5 minutes. (Most of the fat should have been released during this stage.)

3. Preheat the oven to 350°c.

4. Lay the onions on the pork fat residue in the ovenproof pan and cover with the pork belly.

5. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the braising liquor. Pour over the pork belly and cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

6. Occasionally remove from the oven and baste the pork with the reducing sauce, this will help to build up a lustrous glaze when finished.

7. Remove from the oven, lift the meat out of the pan to rest for 10 minutes and set aside. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon.

8. Carefully reduce the remaining liquor to the consistency of a sauce.

9. Serve with olive oil mashed potatoes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chinese New Year-Dan Dan Noodle Soup & Gift

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is commonly called "Lunar New Year", because it is based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival.

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most.

This year is specially important in our house because is the year of the TIGER. My husband was born the year of the Tiger. Tiger year is traditionally associated with massive changes and social upheaval. Therefore, 2010 is very likely to be a volatile one both on the world scene, as well as on a personal level. The horoscopes say (for those of you who believe in that sort of thing) that those compatible with the Tiger — the Dragon (ME) and the Horse in particular — may also find 2010's erratic circumstances inspiring them to ever bolder action, and ultimate success. With that I hope you have a GREAT TIGER YEAR!!!

I almost forgot...For a few months now I've been wanting to get new self scraping paddle attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and couple of days ago my LOVELY HUSBAND surprised me with one. I was so excited I had to tell my friend about it...She listen and said that I act as if he's given me diamonds...LOL Is there anything better than a man who listens to his wife's needs and wants??? I'll take him over diamonds any day!!!

Dan-Dan Noodle Soup

* 1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
* 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for serving
* 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* Kosher salt
* 2 half-sour dill pickles
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
* 4 scallions, finely chopped
* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
* 8 ounces ground pork
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 to 4 teaspoons Chinese chili oil, plus more for serving
* 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
* 9 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles
* 1 medium head bok choy, sliced crosswise


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Pulse the sesame seeds in a mini food processor with 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt until powdery; set aside.

Prepare the stir-fry: Quarter, seed and finely dice the pickles and put in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the garlic, ginger, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce and the broth in a third bowl. Mix the pork with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon salt in another bowl. Place the four bowls by the stove.

Place a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, then the pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until cooked but not dry, 4 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet; stir-fry the pickles for 1 minute. Add the garlic mixture and fry 30 seconds. Add the broth and boil until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Divide the broth among bowls and drizzle with the chili oil and vinegar.

Meanwhile, add the noodles and bok choy to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 2 minutes. Drain and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Season with salt, then divide among the bowls. Top with pork and sprinkle with sesame powder. Serve with more sesame and chili oil.

Daring Cooks Challenge:Hummus, Pita, Grilled Chicken, Falafel, Tzatziki etc.

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

The challenge is to prepare a Mezze table including, but not limited to, homemade Pita bread and Hummus. Mezze is a bunch of small dishes served all at once. It can be served as appetizers before a meal, or as the meal. I loved this challenge and enjoyed trying new recipes. Hummus is one of my very favorite things.

Pita Bread
Somehow, I am missing a picture of a pita bread...that's strange!

Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
- 2 teaspoons regular dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita)
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C). Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.


Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
- 2 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- a big pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment)

Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Middle Eastern Grilled Chicken

For the marinade

* 1 cup plain yogurt
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

* 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

For the sauce

* 1/3 cup plain yogurt
* 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves, or to taste

* 1 small red onion, sliced thin
* 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tomato, minced
* 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted lightly
* 6 whole-wheat pita loaves


1 cup Greek-style (2% or nonfat) yogurt*
1 cup 1/4-inch cubes English hothouse cucumber
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus additional for drizzling
2 tablespoons chopped shallots

Mix Greek-style yogurt, cucumber, dill, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, shallots, and 3/4 teaspoon crushed aniseed in small bowl; season tzatziki generously with salt and pepper. Chill.

My Favorite Falafel

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Chopped tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Diced green bell pepper for garnish
Tahina sauce
Pita bread

1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.

3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.