Thursday, September 5, 2013

Epilogue: Banana Bread Back in Boston

I got back to Boston like 2 weeks ago. Up until now, I haven't had the time to do some real baking back in my humongous kitchen.

I've been busy organizing some things with my fraternity, choosing my classes and settling in my new room. I even built my own bed (with my roommate's help), set up an AC in my room and hang up my posters.

Classes at MIT have already started. I'm starting my Junior year with two math classes, one CS course, one course in Economics and freshman biology.

The high Jewish holidays are here as well. Rosh HaShana was last night. Shana tova everyone!

Today, after six hours of classes and meetings with professors, I had the honor of organizing the first cider night of my fraternity. I'm a bit out of practice and some of the loafs came out a bit burnt. But some of the other ones came really well. Here's some pictures.

This is a loaf with some chocolate chips.
Delicious Banana Bread.
Some life updates: I want to start running. I recently watched Blue Jasmine (it's pretty good!). I've been biking a lot. I started reading "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. I just got a new UROP job this afternoon.

More importantly, I'm considering extending this blog somehow. Excitement everywhere!

I'm super exhausted.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This is the End

My trip to Israel is almost over, and so is this blog. As much as I'd like this to turn into the next "Julie and Julia" film (in which case I'd like Paul Giammati to play me), I don't think that my story is that interesting and I will probably delete this blog (whatever that means) sometime around December.

I spent the last three months in Israel exploring the culture through its food (in and out of this blog), its scenic routes and, above all, its people.

But this blog is about my culinary experience and what I made of it. Israeli food is certainly very different from (my experience of) American cuisine. It is probably healthier (although you have got to keep an eye on those carbs) and uses more vegetables and less meat (but Israelis do love meat, don't get me wrong). It is also interesting to see how here lettuce doesn't play a central role in salads.

I managed to surprise myself (and others) from time to time with some of the recipes, most of which I will try to incorporate in my everyday life. I came across ingredients I didn't even know existed and learned new ways to use some I've known for a while.

I discovered that eating is also about cooking and enjoying the process. On my way back from work everyday, I would ask myself 'what do you want to eat tonight?'. This certainly helped me reduce my anxiety towards dinner. Having the change to take some time off my day to prepare dinner and think about stuff was nice. I wish I had that time on my college life.

Cooking is also a great opportunity to socialize and meet new people. More often than not leaving the door of my kitchen open attracted people into whatever I was making. People would come in, ask about the recipes or the dishes and maybe even stay for dinner. There were also a couple of debates about how to make a great shakshuka. Discussing these things with people helped me learn more about them and about the dishes, too.

But ultimately, this whole experience was about showing to myself that I am capable of appropriately feeding myself (even on a tight-ish budget) and sharing this experience with my family and friends. So, thanks to all of you for following my adventures this summer (we hit almost a 1000 views!) and for supporting me all along this experiment, where I made a big deal about silly things like salads and sandwiches and pita pizzas.

It's been delicious!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Hardest Omelette. Ever.

Today I faced my second biggest culinary fear: the omelette (the first being the challah, ugh). The first time I tried to make it, I failed miserably and ever since I just turned all my breakfast egg projects into scrambled eggs.

I overcame this fear last night with a fantastic omelette. First, I googled 'simple omelette recipe'. This took a lot of courage as you can imagine. Then, I carefully read this recipe and made sure that I had all the necessary ingredients. As I was cooking it, I realized that the pan I was using was sticky, and that the egg was starting to get stuck to the pan. I freaked out and thought of breaking the whole thing up and making the omelette a scrambled egg, but I contained this feeling and skillfully unstuck the egg off the pan.

As my fillings I used tomatoes, sautéed onions, olives and freshly grated gruyere cheese. In hindsight, I may have had too much filling, which made it hard for the omelet to fold.

The final result was a fluffy, thick, delicious and healthy omelette. Here's a picture.
As I said, the filling was a bit too much and the egg broke a bit. But it was still pretty good.

The end of this culinary project is near, and I'm running out of ideas. 

Until the next post! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sausage Sauce over Spaghetti

For the first time in the summer, I made a non-vegetarian (aka normal) meal. I got some (simple) chicken sausages from the super market and decided to make something delicious. So, I googled sausage spaghetti and found this recipe.

Naturally, I didn't posses Italian sausages and Italian dressing, but I still made it work.
This was the whole meal. My salad has become extremely awesome and fundamental.

It was a bit tricky to get the sausages to cook uniformly, but I feel like I did a good job. I managed to prepare the entire thing in about 20-25 minutes. However, multitasking took its toll: I didn't simmer the pasta enough, and some spaghettis got stuck together. 

The sausages got brownish, but not uniformly.
Nonetheless, the meal was good, and it was nice to get some protein for dinner. I still have plenty of sausages, so I'll be using them frequently for the next couple of days. We'll see what I can do with them. 

This whole blog is sort of to coming to an end. I'm starting to reflect upon the things I've learned this summer about myself through cooking. I'll make a post of it sometime soon. 

Until the next post! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pasta Carbonara

As you may have noticed, pasta and veggie recipes are amongst my usual dinning options. Tired of the three pasta  recipes that I've done multiple times in the last couple of weeks, I decided to try something new.

So I googled 'spaghetti eggs' or something along those lines. I was trying to make something like Chinese rice but with pasta. Eventually, I came across this recipe. Pasta carbonara is pretty easy to make, takes close to no time and comes out great.
That was one hell of a meal.

Here are some pointers based on my experience:
  • don't make too much pasta. I made a lot, and it was way too much food. 
  • make sure that you don't overcook the eggs. This almost happened to me. 
  • throw in some olives there, too. Why not? 
  • don't hurl the butter at the frying pan. It will spit hot oil at your hands. This happened to me.
I sprinkled the dish with some fresh parmesan I got at the supermarket. Again, that's a super advanced pro chef move.
 I also made pancakes this morning, just because.
Yes, I wear socks and sandals. I know. That's extremely lame.

Until the next post! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shakshouka reloaded

A couple of weeks ago (weeks? wow), I posted about shakshouka. That time I used actual tomatoes to prepare this dish. Now, if I had a working stove, the tomatoes would have broken down and the shakshouka would have been saucier. This was not the case and the recipe came a bit more solid than expected.

This week I looked for recipes that used crushed tomatoes instead. Given the benefits I discovered from using crushed tomatoes over tomatoes to make pasta sauce, I figured the same would happen with shakshouka. The result: a much more shakshouka looking shakshouka. The recipe is here. I would like to highlight an interesting comment in the recipe. As you're cooking the egg, you should try to get the egg white to mix up a bit with the tomato sauce. This makes the dish more solid as well.

Saucier shakshouka.
Also, the pan I used last time was bigger. This time I was making shakshouka for 1, so I used a smaller pan.

I think this marks the end of the whole crushed tomatoes chapter.

Until the next post.

Monday, July 29, 2013

One for the Road

I spent this weekend with my sister, who lives in Modi'in. The plan was to do a (short) road trip through some parts of the north of Israel. Modi'in is closer to the center, so we had to leave around 11ish (in the morning).

In order to avoid stopping for lunch and losing time, my sister had the wonderful idea of making empanadas on Friday afternoon. An empanada is a kind of stuffed salty pastry usually filled with meat, egg or vegetables, and cooked either fried or baked.

So she got all the ingredients. We didn't exactly follow a recipe, so I'll just explain what we used (but I'm unsure about amounts). You should use about 1 onion, 1 boiled egg, half a cup of olives, some (??) ground beef, and the empanada disks. You will also need egg yolk for the end. Depending on whether you fry it or not, you'll need oil. The yield for this is about two dozens.

The recipe goes as follows. Chop up the onion into very small and thin pieces. I tried doing this, but just started crying in the middle of it. It was just too much. I have to say that I found newly earned respect for my brother in law for doing this without blinking. After you've manned up and chopped the onions, fry them until their transparent. Then throw in the ground beef (with some salt, sugar and paprika) until it is cooked.
This is sort of what it should look like.
Afterwards, let it cool down for a minute. Throw in the olives and the chopped up boiled egg. Then taste this. It should taste pretty awesome. 

Now, here's the tricky part. Take a empanada thingy, put some stuffing in it, and fold it. I don't know how. This is what it should look like (my sister did this one, mine looked terrible). 
Doing this is way harder than what it looks like.  
Afterwards, brush them with egg yolks. Then put them in the oven until they're golden or brownish. This is what it should look like. 

Some people like them fried better. I include myself amongst these, but my sister insisted in baking them. 

I wanted to make some here, in my dorm. However, I couldn't find the disks in my local supermarket. Maybe I'll get some from my sister's place and bring them back. 

In any case, I'm digressing a bit from the whole 'Israeli-cuisine' idea of this blog, but that's ok. Until the next post.