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. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Olive Tomato Sauce

This is a spin-off from the last post, where I made basil (read: parsley) tomato sauce. This time I felt like having olives in my pasta. So, I literally googled 'olive tomato sauce' and came across this recipe.

I did not compare it to the last recipe, but my guess is that it is not that much different. The addition of onions was good. The olives themselves were great because olives in this country are just awesome. I even grated some cheese that I had. Unfortunately, I didn't have Parmesan, and grating a single slice of cheese is kinda hard. However, again, it worked out just fine. 
I concentrated all of the sauce in the center for artistic purposes.
I still have some crushed tomatoes, but am quite unsure of what to make. I'm considering bologense sauce, but that would require me to get ground meat.

I also made cookies later that day. I finally got the hang of how my stupid toaster oven works. They came out fantastic, perfect timing and all.
This is just one of many batches of cookies that I made. The people living in my dorm certainly appreciated them.
Until the next post!

Monday, July 22, 2013


I think that the ingredient of the week (or the next few recipes?) (it's an official title now) is going to be crushed tomatoes. Apparently, this is sold. It saves a shit ton of time when you're trying to make pasta sauce. It brings down cooking time from like 2 hours to 20 minutes. It's amazing.

So all of this leads to this weeks experiment, basil tomato pasta sauce over 8-grain spaghetti. The recipe is here. It's extremely simple and convenient to do if you're doing something in the background (like, say, this). I also replaced the basil with parsley, because parsley rocks. Basil is cool too, but I just don't have any.

This was the end result. It was pretty tasty. 
I think I'll be experimenting with the crushed tomatoes a bit more this week, and see what else I can come up with.

Until the next post!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Challah bread and a lesson from Science

The eruption of the Pompeii. The Storm of the Century. Apollo 13. Paraguay's 2014 World Cup Qualifier campaign. Windows Vista. These are some tragedies of science and engineering. Today, we can add to this list whatever it was I tried to do in my kitchen.

If there's something that I've learned from science (SCIENCE!) is that we are not always right. Scientists have wrong hypothesis and make a lot of mistakes. Every now and then, scientific discoveries break whatever grounds we were standing on and introduce new perspectives. Today I learned that this can happen in the kitchen, too.

The idea was simple: make challah bread for a nice family dinner. The theory was simple: the recipe is here. The execution was nearly perfect. Look at the before and after pictures.

This is what it looked like before.

This is what it looked like after. Disastrous. This is what it should've looked like. 
So, the moral of the story is shit happens. I'll try again and repost later or update this post. Shabbat shalom.

Until the next post!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Onion Rings and the Google of Cooking

It's been a while since my last entry. I've been rather busy or out of town lately, and I apologize for this. I apologize to you, my beloved followers, who refreshed their windows 75 times a minute waiting for me to upload new things. However, now I'm back with more cooking and embarrassing myself.

Lately I've been somewhat uninspired in terms of cooking and making food. I've been remaking plenty of the dishes that I've already posted about (the pomodoro eggplant sauce is a true winner in those nights when I just come back exhausted) and improving them.

Today, I accidentally run into the most awesome website in the history of mankind. This is going to be my new homepage. Here's how it works. Type in what ingredients you have in your kitchen, get awesome recipes that use exactly what you have. Boom.

So, after carefully thinking about the few things I have, I came across some onion rings recipes. My brain was like "awesome idea! Totally go for it!". So, as I was skimming through the recipes, I noticed that most of them require a deep fryer, which I don't have. So then, I went to the actual google of things (Google) and came across this baked onion rings recipe.

It is easy to make and not as bad for your health as the deep fried version. The meal was completed with the usual side dish: salad and pita.
They look awesome. Tip: use cooking spray. I didn't have any so I dipped them in oil, sort of.

This just had to happen.
I'll try to post tomorrow to make up for some of the lost time. Until the next post!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Postcards from the Edge

I haven't been able to make anything new this week. I've been mostly out of town or out for dinner. Therefore, I decided to post some pictures of places I've been to recently.

Weizmann Institute Tour. 

As part of our program, we recently had a tour of the Weizmann Institute. The campus is rather spread and large, and the tour was long and exhausting. However, the history of the institute is very rich and interesting.

The first stop was the Seiff Laboratory, which was the first building devoted for research. This was done before the Weizmann Institute even existed. There, Chaim Weizmann himself conducted his experiments and research. They have turned his laboratory into a small museum.

Weizmann's Laboratories in the Seiff Building.
 We also had a nice view of the (old) particle accelerator in the Physics department. We did not go there.
Particle accelerator.
 And finally we went to the Garden of Science, which is an outdoors science museum open to the public (but not for free). It features a lot of fun and cool experiments that are easily explained by well-known scientific facts. Most of them related to either optics or physics in general. Nonetheless, it's worth a walk.
Entrance to the Garden of Science.
Paper Festival, Rehovot.

For some reason, Rehovot decided to host a paper festival this year. The festival took place on a big public park near the main shopping mall of the city. It featured many artists that presented their works on paper. Naturally, this exhibition was for them to showcase the products they sell. It also had some entertainment for little kids.

A big fish made out of paper. There were plenty of animals like this out there.

An Israeli Flag made of paper

Alice, from Alice in Wonderland

A giant paper flower embedded on an actual tree.

Mitzpe Ramon.
Mitzpe Ramon is a small city in the south of Israel.

What is so special about it? It has a unique natural crater. That is to say, a crater that was formed by the Earth's geological processes.

It is also in the middle of the desert and offers many hiking routes for those who are adventurous and fearless.

In addition, it has the largest alpaca farm in the world outside of South America. Basically, they exported alpacas from Peru and somehow got them to adapt to the different weather.

Finally, it also has a small museum dedicated to the memory of the first Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Unfortunately, he passed away (along with six other American astronauts) during the landing of the Columbia expedition. Interestingly enough, he changed his last name to Ramon because he really loved the desert and the crater in Mitzpe Ramon. So that's part of the reason they have a museum there.

I will just finish the post with a collection of pictures from the landscapes in the desert. Here they are:

A view form the top of the crater.
A camel, kneeling down.

A view from the top of a small hill we climbed on our Friday hike.

A view  from this place called 'the carpentry' in the middle of the crater.

Until the next post (with pictures of food, hopefully)!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hummus Tuna Melt

(This happened a couple of days ago, but just forgot to publish it. Now I have some time on my laptop)

I just realized that it would have been really fun if every post had a math reference for a title. Just for the record, the one for this post would have been "The Substitution Rule".

Today I spent about an hour and a half playing Ultimate with some people from the Weizmann. The game was a lot of fun, and made me realize that I have to get in shape. When I got back here I was exhausted from all the running, so I looked for a quick recipe that would satisfy me.

I really only had tuna, hummus, veggies and bread. So there weren't a whole lot of options. I googled "hummus tuna" and came across the following tuna melt recipe. Melts are sandwiches made of some made ingredient and cheese. The basic concept is that you put the two things together, plus some other stuff and then put it in the oven or grill until the cheese has molten. This recipe though suggests to make the sandwich open faced (i.e., use only one bread).

I made some salad while the thing was getting cooked. It has palm hearts. HA!

Fine. So making the sandwich and everything is super easy and simple. Now, why would I have called this post "The Substitution Rule"? This is how I saw the list of ingredients: 

·        15 oz of tuna in water, drained

·         ¼ cup finely chopped red green pepper

·         1 shallot, chopped

·         ¼ cup chopped parsley

·         2 Tb drained capers

·         ¾ cup hummus

·         2 Tb Dijon mustard

·         Juice of ½ lemon

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         8 slices of rye bread

·         16 small slices of tomato

·         8 pieces Dill Havarti cheese
I also threw in some olives. Also, the tuna I got was weird. It was like a tuna cream. It had the color of salmon and it smelled and tasted like tuna, but it was weird. 
 I finished it all with a whole lot of watermelon, which is awesome in this country and not-surprisingly refreshing.

Until the next post.