Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)

KoshariSo this dish is great for those that love carbs! Known as one of the national dishes of Egypt, you can find this inexpensive dish served on street carts throughout the cities. Note of forewarning, this recipe does call for multi-tasking and having several pots cooking at once, however, not much needs to be done to those pots once they are cooking away. I am also including a recipe for the spice blend used in this recipe. It is fairly simple to make and you can do it up in bulk and keep on hand for dishes that you want to add a Middle-East taste to. This recipe will serve 6, and the spice mixture in the measurements shown will make just less than half a cup of the blend, enough for this recipe and a few more dishes.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups medium grain rice
1 ½ cups brown lentils
3 cups small macaroni
3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (796ml) can crushed/pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon baharat spice blend (see recipe below)
¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Crispy Onion Garnish:
3 large onions, finely sliced
Oil for deep-frying
1 (540ml) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry it for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils under cold water and add them to another medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the salt and stir to combine. Strain any excess liquid if necessary.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente.

To make the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, baharat, salt and pepper to taste, chili flakes (if using) and red wine vinegar. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the crispy onions:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.

To Serve:
Add the rice, lentils and macaroni to a large bowl and toss to combine (or simply scoop out desired amounts of each onto the plates). Sprinkle a little baharat over each portion and serve topped with some of the spicy tomato sauce. Top with garbanzo beans, the crispy onions and another sprinkle of baharat. Serve warm.

Baharat (Middle Eastern Spice Blend)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1½ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and dry roast the whole spices/seeds (except for the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg) until they become very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, tossing regularly to prevent burning. Transfer them to a bowl and allow them to cool completely before grinding them in a spice or coffee grinder along with the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep stored in an airtight glass jar.

Citrus Dill Gravlax

GravlaxSo how can you be a kosher cooking blog having a week highlighting fish, and not touch on Lox? It’s a Jewish staple! Confession time… up until a few months ago I could not stand Lox of any kind. Even the smell or thought of it turned me off completely. Now I seem obsessed with it! I don’t like it… I LOVE it! Better late than never I guess!

Now I realize that Gravlax is not Lox. Lox is cured through smoking while Gravlax is cured in a salt/acid mixture. The tastes and textures though are quite similar. That, and you can make Gravlax easily at home… Lox, not so much (I’m not counting those that have their own personal smokers at home). This dish takes a while to cure, but in truth, very little effort to make. Trust me this will be a HUGE hit at your next party and your guests will be incredibly impressed.

Ingredients:

Gravlax:
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skin on
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
zest of 1 orange**
zest of ½ lime**
zest of ½ lemon**
1 ½ tablespoons tequila/vodka/gin (plus more if needed)
1 cup chopped fresh dill, divided*

Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

To serve:
Melba toasts or toast points
capers
sliced onion
dill sprigs

* Click here to learn about cleaning dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

For Gravlax: Heat the peppercorns in a small skillet over medium-high heat until spices are fragrant and seeds jump slightly, shaking skillet frequently, about 2 minutes. Crush spices in mortar with pestle or transfer to work surface, cover with kitchen towel (not terry cloth), and crush with mallet or bottom of heavy pan. Transfer spices to small bowl. Mix in salt, sugar, and the zests of the orange, lemon and lime.

Trim the fillet so that it is uniform in size. Using small sharp knife, poke 12 small holes through skin of both pieces of salmon. Rub ⅓ of spice mixture over skin. Sprinkle ⅓ cup chopped dill in bottom of 7x7x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dill. Pour the alcohol over the fish. Rub the remaining spice mixture onto the top of the salmon. Then press the remaining chopped dill into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto fish. Place a small plate or smaller dish on top of the plastic, so that it makes direct contact with the wrapped fish. Place some heavy cans on plate so that the fish is weighted down. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days, checking on it once or twice a day, and basting the fish with the juices produced by the curing process. On the second day of curing, slice off a small piece and taste it. If it doesn’t taste like it’s getting there, add a little more salt and/or alcohol on the fish.

For Sauce: Whisk mustard and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in chopped dill and salt. Season with ground black pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To Serve: Scrape spices and dill off both sides of salmon (some spice mixture will remain). Using knife with long thin blade, thinly slice salmon diagonally at 45-degree angle from top of fillet toward skin. Cut with a back and forth sawing motion toward the narrow end to remove a thin slice of fish. Start each succeeding slice a bit farther in from the narrow end; always cut at a flat angle to keep the slices as long and thin as possible. Serve with Melba toasts, toast points, capers, dill, onions and the mustard sauce.

Sauce 5 – Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise SauceHollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by an acidic component such as lemon juice, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly-flavoured foods. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup clarified butter (about 2½ sticks before clarifying)
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoon lemon juice (the juice from 1 small lemon)
1 tablespoon cold water
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce), to taste

Directions:

Heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Also, your clarified butter should be warm, but not hot. Combine the egg yolks and the cold water in a glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum) whisk for a minute or two, until the mixture is light and foamy. Whisk in a couple of drops of lemon juice, too. The water in the saucepan should have begun to simmer. Set the bowl directly atop the saucepan of simmering water. The water itself should not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the eggs for a minute or two, until they’re slightly thickened. Remove the bowl from the heat and begin adding the melted butter slowly at first, a few drops at a time, while whisking constantly. If you add it too quickly, the emulsion will break. Continue beating in the melted butter. As the sauce thickens, you can gradually increase the rate at which you add it, but at first, slower is better.

After you’ve added all the butter, whisk in the remaining lemon juice and season to taste with Kosher salt and cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce). The finished hollandaise sauce will have a smooth, firm consistency. If it’s too thick, you can adjust the consistency by whisking in a few drops of warm water. It’s best to serve hollandaise right away. You can hold it for about an hour or so, provided you keep it warm. After two hours, though, you should toss it — both for quality and safety reasons.

Bernaise SauceBéarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is a rich, buttery, aromatic sauce featuring shallots, tarragon and crushed black peppercorns. It’s one of the most amazing sauces to serve with a grilled steak. If you will be serving this sauce with meat, and you keep kosher, instead of using butter, you should use margarine so that the sauce remains pareve (non-dairy). This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup clarified butter (about 2½ sticks before clarifying)
4 egg yolks
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon*
1 tablespoon chopped chervil (or parsley)*
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce), to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

Heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Also, your clarified butter should be warm, but not hot. In a separate saucepan, heat the vinegar, shallots, peppercorns and half of the tarragon to a simmer and reduce until the mixture is nearly dry (au sec). There should be about two tablespoons of liquid remaining. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum). Add the egg yolks and whisk for a minute or two, until the mixture is light and foamy. The water in the saucepan should have begun to simmer. Set the bowl directly atop the saucepan of simmering water. The water itself should not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the egg-vinegar mixture for a minute or two, until it is slightly thickened. Remove the bowl from the heat and begin adding the melted butter slowly at first, a few drops at a time, while whisking constantly. If you add it too quickly, the emulsion will break. Continue beating in the melted butter.

As the sauce thickens, you can gradually increase the rate at which you add it, but at first, slower is better. After you’ve added all the butter, strain the sauce into a new bowl, stir in the chervil and the remaining tarragon. Season to taste with lemon juice, Kosher salt and cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce). The finished béarnaise sauce will have a smooth, firm consistency. If it’s too thick, you can adjust the consistency by whisking in a few drops of warm water. It’s best to serve béarnaise right away. You can hold it for about an hour or so, provided you keep it warm. After two hours, though, you should toss it — both for quality and safety reasons.

* click here to learn how to properly clean tarragon, chervil and parsley.

Chantilly SauceChantilly Sauce

The Chantilly Sauce is a classic sauce made by adding stiffly whipped cream to a basic Hollandaise sauce. Sometimes called Mousseline sauce, it can be served with seafood, vegetables or poultry, or, sweetened, on crepes and other desserts. The Chantilly Sauce can also be made with whipped egg whites instead of whipped cream. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Hollandaise sauce
½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks, then fold it into 1 pint Hollandaise sauce. Serve right away.

Sauce 4 – Basic Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce 1This is a traditional tomato sauce that I have adjusted to reflect a kosher kitchen: meaning that the salt pork and ham bone have been removed, and substituted with an equal amount of olive oil and the use of a beef marrow bone. Should you wish to make the sauce pareve, or vegetarian, you can leave out the bone all together. This recipe will make about 4 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups veal or chicken stock
1 beef marrow bone
Kosher salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
——– For Sachet: ——–
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 fresh parsley stems
8-10 black peppercorns, crushed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Tie the sachet ingredients into a cheesecloth sack using a piece of kitchen twine. In a heavy, oven-safe Dutch oven, bring the olive oil up to temperature. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add the tomatoes, the beef bone (if using), the stock and the sachet. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven. Simmer in the oven, partially covered, for two hours. Remove from oven. Remove sachet and bone and purée sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Season to taste with Kosher salt and a small amount of sugar — just enough to cut the acid edge of the tomatoes. Serve hot. If not serving the sauce right away, keep it covered and warm until you’re ready to use it.

Creole SauceCreole Sauce

Creole sauce, also referred to as creole tomato sauce, and sauce piquant in New Orleans, is a Creole cuisine, Bahamian cuisine and New Orleans cuisine sauce made by sautéeing vegetables in butter and olive oil. It is used in the American south and in Bahamas. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe above)
¾ cup chopped onions
¾ cup chopped celery
½ cup diced green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Zest of 1 lemon*
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, oregano and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf, season with the salt, pepper and cayenne and serve right away.

* click here for my tips on zesting lemons and other citrus.

spanish sauceSpanish Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce with a spanish flair can also be refered to as a sofrito – which in Spanish cuisine, consists of garlic, onion, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. While there is no paprika in this recipe, the additions of the the mushrooms and olives add a nice earthy and salty kick. This sauce is great on meats and poultry, or even just over pasta. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped onions
¼ cup diced green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce (or another hot pepper sauce), to taste
½ cup olives (black or green), sliced

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions, green pepper and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with the salt, pepper, Tabasco and olives, then serve right away.

Mango Chutney

Mango ChutneyStrangely enough, I’m not a huge fan of mangoes, but I find I LOVE mango chutney. I think it’s the sweet, spicy balance that it adds as a condiment that gets me. This chutney will go great with the Samosas that we made the other day, or even non-Indian foods. You’d be surprised how well a little dab of chutney goes with cholent! This recipe makes about 3 cups of chutney.

Ingredients:

4 green (under ripe) mangoes – peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 ½ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 cardamom pods
4 cardamom seeds
1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 cup distilled white vinegar
5 black peppercorns, crushed

Directions:

Place the mangoes into a large pot. Crush the ginger and garlic using a mortar and pestle until they become a smooth paste (or be all fancy and use the food processor for a faster easier time of it!); stir the paste into the mangoes. Stir in the sugar, and season with salt, red pepper flakes, cumin seed, cardamom pods and seeds, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Stir to blend, and then cover the pot. Leave the pot sitting out at room temperature overnight.

The next day, place the pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and peppercorns; cook for 1 more minute. Remove the whole spices as best as possible (as they can be unpleasant to bite into). Cool before using. Keep stored in the fridge when you’re not using it.