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Thursday
Sep062012

Hungry Sam Goes to Law School; Makes Parmesan Puff Pastry Pinwheels

BAM. Hope that picture whets your collective appetite. But first, the news.

In case you hadn't heard -- and why would you have -- I am embarking on another adventure. Not, as over the summer, to destinations international; rather, I am now a law student.

Ayuh -- as they say in the land of my birth. Maybe I'll do food law. Lawyer for the chefs. Representing contestants on Hell's Kitchen in their suits for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

What this means for you, dear reader: Mostly I'll now have an onoing excuse when I'm late with posting some new delicious recipe. I'll try not to sound like a broken record.

This may also mean that my posts will have less of a "what to make when you have tons of time on your hands" flavor and a bit more of a "fast -- cheap -- awesome" vibe to them. AND SO, in that spirit:

Parmesan Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Mustard and Genoa Salami! (Click through for recipe.)

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug152012

Food in Israel: Beyond Hummus

Not long into You Don't Mess with the Zohan, the (really very funny) Adam Sandler movie about the Mossad superagent who quits to become a hairstylist in New York City, there's a great scene in which the agent's father, while mocking him for his new life plan, spoons hummus into his coffee, stirs, and drinks.

He seems to enjoy the café au garbanzo, which shouldn't surprise us, because throughout the scene we see him eating vast quantities of hummus on everything, including scooped directly from the bowl on his glasses.

This isn't far from the truth. And it's fun to tease my Israeli friends about this national cicerphilia (a word I just made up by taking the Latin word for chickpea, 'cicer' and tacking on 'philia').* What makes this so enjoyable is they often don't quite get the joke and become frustrated. They say: "What is this joke? What is this? We have more foods than just hummus!"

It's true, though. This long-winded digression (progression?) gets me to the point of the story: Food in Israel is often superb, always fresh, and more than just hummus. 

Now, to be clear, "food in Israel" is not the same as "food on Birthright" (for those unaware, Birthright is the free-of-charge trip to and tour of Israel for young Jews. I've just returned from staffing a trip). Food on Birthright is generally ok, but nothing special (it's a free trip, after all, and we're mostly eating in hotels).

But then, you hit some restaurants after Birthright (I extended my trip). Here's where the magic happens:

1) Burgers in Israel are Unbelievable

Just, unbelievable. The quality of the meat is the highest, whether because it's kosher (it is) or because the Israeli palate expects it I'm not sure. The meat is so fresh and so much effort has gone into the process that I have few concerns about ordering rare. Buns are freshly made and clearly superior. Toppings are diverse, fresh, and creative. What a treat -- when in Israel, eat a burger.

2) Try Lachuch -- If You Can Pronounce It

Lachuch isn't Israeli; it's Yemenite, which brings me to another point. I'm not sure there's such a thing as Israeli food. Instead, there's just Middle Eastern food to which all the various Middle Eastern nations lay claim, and occasionally sue one another over. Hummus, tabbouleh, baba gannouj, tahini -- it's a shared heritage that no one wants to share. Israel deals with this phenomenon by just adding the world "Israeli" or "Jerusalem" to the front of everything (e.g. "Israeli salad," "Jerusalem Pine"). 

The point! Lachuch is awesome. It looks, sort of tastes, and is cooked like a crepe, although it's leavened, it would seem. The lachuch I tried, made by an insane Orthodox Jew in Tzfat (see above; he also tried to sell me a drink he claimed was made from coca), was stuffed with a blend of fresh-grated goat's milk, sheep's milk, and cow's milk cheese with tomatoes and herbs. Pretty incredible.

More awesome stuff after the jump!**

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul302012

Goldstar: Israeli Beer of Champions

Image via Flickr, Courtesy Achi Raz http://flic.kr/p/tJdi

The following post was written last week from a cafe in Istanbul. I was unable to actually post it, however; I promise the thoughts are just as fresh one week later.

Dear Hungry Friends,

As I might have mentioned, I'm out of the country and have been for going on three weeks now (two in Israel, one in Turkey). When I return there will be many pictures, of halvah and pistachios, Turkish delight and Turkish coffee, shwarma, falafel, baklava, and lychees.

Until then, let's talk about Israeli beer. Specifically, Goldstar. You know, the better of the two options.

Ok, that's not precisely true -- you can obtain a number of different types of beer in Israel! Like maybe five types. But unless there's an underground microbrew industry I'm not aware of, it's pretty much Maccabee or Goldstar for widely available Israeli brew.

And my friends, Maccabee sucks. I don't think I've ever seen anyone order it, except when the bar/hotel is out of everything else.

Then we have Goldstar, a so-called dark lager really no darker than a Yuengling. Unlike Israel or Israelis, the beer is simple and uncomplicated and rather easy to take in large doses (I joke, Israeli friends!). It really is pretty good, even better from the tap, and there's little that's more refreshing after a long day in 110 degree heat.

But the cool part is this: based on the label and my five minutes of research prior to writing this post, Goldstar started brewing in 1950. That means that something like two years after Israel declared independence, with a still-tiny military, far too little infrastructure, barely enough water to farm, and without a single ally in the region, in fact, with its neighbors committed to their destruction, some Israelis got together and said, "You know what our number one priority should be right now? Brewing beer."

No matter your politics, you have to respect that.

I'll be back in the You-Ess-of-A soon enough, and will then regale you with my eating adventures. Until then, stay Hungry!

Wednesday
Jul112012

Ginger Peach Sangria: Because I Owe You Something Summery

I'm hammering out a quick post today, a) because I owe you something summery and delicious, and b) because in fewer than 24 hours, I'll be on a plane to Newark. Then to Tel Aviv. Then, 15 days later, to Istanbul. Then, in rapid succession, to Tel Aviv, New York, and Atlanta. Then, 14 days later, to Maine. Then, six days later, back to DC. Then for a weekend in Ocean City, MD.

Then the next day, law school starts.

Hahahhahahahahaha.

While I'm traveling, expect the occasional mini post featuring grainy pictures of Turkish kahve or falafel. Until then, enjoy this recipe for Ginger-Peach Sangria!

Yes, I know this isn't a superb photo. I think I made up for the noise by going artsy and blowing out the colors and upping the contrast. It almost looks like a photo of a watercolor. Or maybe a watercolor of a photograph. You tell me if it still looks delicious. Recipe after the jump!

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun192012

RECIPE: Pan-Seared Salmon with Mustard-Caper Butter

After my last post and its radical, unwarranted departure from the realm of the sane, I thought I'd share with you a nice, straightforward recipe post.

This here fish is a dish I whipped up last Saturday evening, exhausted from a day spent cycling and swimming, with just enough energy remaining to make something tasty.

Behold: Pan-Seared Salmon with Mustard-Caper Butter Sauce!

Looks good, doesn't it? Want to hear a secret? IT TOOK 10 MINUTES.

I didn't even start it until the rice was almost done. So for my readers who want a very fast, very easy, particularly delicious way to look like a brilliant chef come dinner time, I recommend clicking through for the recipe!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun042012

Post-Apocalyptic Cooking: Some Tips to Get You Started

As we all know, the End is Near.

Image via Komo News, www.komonews.com

Not the zombie apocalypse -- the CDC has reminded us that zombies aren't real. Yet.

I'm talking about the REAL End Days -- the moments leading up to the Eschaton, the final judgment for all people. Why is the world ending? You might ask. I'll tell you: I don't know.

But the Internet has made it quite clear that it probably definitely will. According to the interwebs, common symptoms of the apocalypse may include:

-Collapse of social institutions, such as kickball teams and celebrity chef cooking shows

-Nuclear winter

-The destruction/hacking/solar flare burn-up of the power grid

-Universal health care

-Extreme food shortages

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that my friend Joanne, who blogs far more delicious food and far more frequently than I over at fifteenspatulas.com, would have received a letter from a reader suggesting he was appalled my friend doesn't own a solar oven or a 30-year supply of food.

I am inspired, then, to add to the useful apocalypse related news and tools on the Internet by providing my beloved readers with this post (full list after the jump):

Post-Apocalyptic Cooking: Some Tips to Get You Started

Click to read more ...

Monday
May142012

Papayas are in Season: So Marinate a Flank Steak!

By a conservative and rough measure (Google Maps), I have traveled over 19,494 miles between March 22 and May 28. That's 78 percent of the circumference of the earth. WHAT.

I have been to 13 states on 6 business trips and 3 personal trips, stayed at about 9 different hotels, celebrated a buddy's wedding, and eaten hibachi with a bunch of high school prom-goers (funny story*). Now I am home. For now.

My returning-home ritual includes, of course, a thorough shopping trip to restock my kitchen supplies. Now, I don't think I'm making any radical claims when I say it's best (and cheapest) to cook with fruits and vegetables when they're in season -- and Everyday Food magazine told me papayas are in season.

So, I went out and bought a papaya, using some Googled instructions (my smartphone is my friend) for picking a good, ripe fruit. And find one I did -- my papaya was enormous, heavy, soft, and delicate, with a flowery aroma. After cutting off the rind, halving it, and scooping out the seeds, I pretty much went to town on the delicate meat, eating spears of bright red juicy goodness until I was pretty much sick of papaya.

Then I was like, "Hey. I still have half a papaya."

So obviously I marinated a flank steak in papaya. Recipe after the jump!

Click to read more ...