Ropa Vieja with Fried Plantains

Ropa Vieja

Spotting plantains with Liz and Beth in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market was one of our most exciting, unexpected finds of the year. Plantains, which are indigenous to South Asia but popular throughout Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, don’t come up much in Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. And, while you can find Libyan, Yemeni, and Iraqi food galore throughout the country, Cuban restaurants aren’t exactly commonplace. Excited to purchase the plantains I bought two (yes, only two – what was I thinking?!) with no distinct plan but thoughts of frying them. Beth made some super awesome plantain chips with hers. Continue reading “Ropa Vieja with Fried Plantains”

Ranch Steak with Onions and Mushrooms

I’m not sure how it came up, but the other day my husband mentioned steak. We rarely eat red meat in Israel, not so much out of health concerns but because it’s pricier than poultry and tofu, and because even when we go out it’s hard to find a decent burger. I also haven’t taken the time to familiarize myself with the cuts of beef readily available here. I rarely grow tired of all the amazing things that can be done with chicken, turkey, tofu, and vegetables but suddenly a thick, juicy steak was on my mind. So I went to the grocery store and picked out the biggest, nicest looking steaks I could. When I came home I was able to do a little reverse research and learned (with the help of Google Translate) that I had bought a boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak, more glamorously known as Ranch Steak. Continue reading “Ranch Steak with Onions and Mushrooms”

Marak Kubbeh Adom, a Taste of Iraqi-Jewish Tradition

Prior to moving to Israel, I had never had Iraqi-Jewish cuisine. But in the brimming aisles of Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market there is an Iraqi-Jewish enclave with tons of restaurants serving traditional fare. Kubbeh (also called kibbe) is one of those dishes. It’s beautiful, it’s addictive, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had. Sort of a beet and beef-stuffed matzoh ball soup. Continue reading “Marak Kubbeh Adom, a Taste of Iraqi-Jewish Tradition”

The Art of Italian Cooking

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I barely knew my paternal grandmother, but through my father’s cooking I have always felt a connection to her. I have a blurry black and white photo of her whisking something or other that I hang in my kitchen wherever I go. And growing up my father’s go-to cookbook was always her tattered copy of The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Lo Pinto. Published in 1950, this cookbook is now out of print but you can find copies around (now everyone in my family has one; mine was a wedding present from my aunt, and is now one of my most cherished possessions). Continue reading “The Art of Italian Cooking”

The Comfort Equation

If they made an equation for comfort food, I’m pretty sure the base would be pasta + cheese. Now, don’t confuse comfort food with downright depression – the equation for that is pasta + cheese + bread and looks something like a Domino’s Pasta Breadbowl. It’s a thin line, I know, and one that Italian-American recipes are constantly on the verge of crossing. The classic pasta + cheese + sauce + (sometimes) meat combo is the perfect example; you can drown your sorrows or winter blues in a big serving of  cheesy pasta, but it’s not a cry for help. Continue reading “The Comfort Equation”

The Trials and Tribulations of Making Brisket in Israel

Up until now, finding familiar ingredients in Israel hasn’t been a problem. But for Thanksgiving, the most singularly American of all holidays, the ante was upped. While it would be interesting, a possible improvement even, to try to merge our new culture with our old, there is something about Thanksgiving that makes that difficult. I can see it happening over years, couscous replacing stuffing, borekas replacing rolls. But for this, our first Thanksgiving in Israel, we tried like mad to make it taste just like home. Continue reading “The Trials and Tribulations of Making Brisket in Israel”