I really like unbaked cheesecake. It is impossible to mess up and I just really like dairy. When you eat a baked cheesecake (I like those too!) its just not as creamy and dairy-y as an unbaked one. This Israeli Cheesecake recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur. It is only a few ingredients and is perfect for Shavuot (and yes, I know Shavuot is not anytime soon but my husband asked for it).
This is a long recipe just to make rice but rather than as a side dish this rice is really the main event. Well made Persian Rice should have a crunchy rice layer at the bottom (or in this case potato) called tahdig. That is the difficult part you need to get to know your pot and stove to achieve this without under-browning or burning the bottom and to be honest for me its really hit or miss. I usually err on the side of under-browning but even if the tahdig is not perfect the rice is still great so I try not to stress myself out over it.
Israeli couscous is a children’s food in Israel but for some reason made its way on fancy menus in the US. But either way its little tiny round pastas and is very versatile. This recipe uses a popular Israeli/Yemeni spice hawaij as its main spice. You can make your own (there are lots of recipes on the internet) or buy it at any kosher supermarket. Just don’t get it confused with hawaij for coffee which is totally different.
When I was a kid the only way I ever liked eggplants was in eggplant parm or maybe rollatini at an Italian restaurant. Any other way it was pale, chewy, bland and just really gross. When I visited Israel though they cooked eggplants in dozens of ways and I must have ate eggplant at every meal in at least one variation. With tehina, with yogurt, fried, with tomato sauce, with feta, with oil and garlic, sabich sandwich, etc. The key is in the cooking so its not a rubbery bland mess. Either char it on the grill or under the broiler or fry it.
This recipe is a very simple eggplant dish to make as a side dish or appetizer. Scoop it up with some pita, eat with salad, or put it in a sandwich.
Annatto seeds may not be familiar to you but if you ever had that red Goya seasoning it has annatto in it for color. A lot of people use annatto to replace saffron for coloring but it has its own distinct smoky flavor when used liberally like in this recipe. It is also super cheap unlike saffron but will also give it a pretty yellow color.
Once you make the Annatto oil you can store it in a jar on your counter for several weeks and use it in place of regular oil when cooking.
This is one of my husband’s favorite things to have as a side dish. When he comes home with a giant grin and a huge bag of peppers I have to mentally prepare myself for burning the tips of my fingers as I peel them. Yeah…you can wait 5 mins and let them cool off but I have no patience.
You only need a few ingredients as its all about the fire. Here, my husband grilled the peppers but if you don’t have a grill you can put them under the gas broiler as I used to do in NY when I had an elderly but amazing gas stove. You can put them under an electric broiler but I suggest you keep the oven door ajar to keep it really hot (thank you Alton Brown for that tip). My mother fries them on the stove in some oil in a cast iron pot so there are many ways to do this. The point is the burn them.
I know hummus is en vogue now and here in the US it’s served as a snack with carrots and celery, and pretzels being dunked in the tub of hummus. However, in Israel it is an every day staple. People make beautiful plates of hummus topped with tehina, spices, olive oil, pine nuts, and parsley (I omitted it in this recipe because I was out). It is almost always served with pita for dipping and can be part of dairy or vegetarian mezze or served in a pita with grilled meats. Here I will show you how to make a really nice plate of hummus that is way more delicious than just straight out of the tub.