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'Simple Pleasures' Drawn From Israel's 'New' Cuisine

October 30, 2008
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Janna Gur's The Book of New Israeli Food is a cookbook, a photography collection and a history lesson. This culinary cultural survey, a bestseller in Israel, will satisfy your appetite and your curiosity.

With recipes both light and sumptuous, most coupled with lush photography by Eilon Paz, just flipping through this book will make your mouth water.

From soups to salads to grilled meats and on to desserts, The Book of New Israeli Food offers selections for simple meals at home and for gatherings with family and friends.

Gur also includes special sections devoted to meals that are perfect for Shabbat dinner, and for the Jewish holidays.

Before diving into the recipes, take a few minutes to just glance through the pages and enjoy the beautiful photographs.

The following recipes are listed in the "Simple Pleasures" section.

 
Roasted Chicken Drumsticks in Carob Syrup

Carob trees grow everywhere in Israel, and their fruit, naturally sweet and rich in fibers and vitamins, is used to make a number of food products (even a chocolate substitute). Carob syrup, delicately sweet and dark, is a wonderful addition to salad dressings, marinades and deserts.

12 chicken drumsticks
6 cloves garlic, halved

Marinade Ingredients:

3/4 cup carob syrup
1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed coarsely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped coarsely
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make 2 to 3 incisions on each drumstick and insert a clove of garlic into each.

Mix the marinade ingredients, and pour over the chicken. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange the drumsticks on a rack and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until golden-brown and juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a fork.

 
Balkan-Style Stuffed Peppers

Being naturally hollow, peppers are perfect candidates for stuffing. Simple ingredients, minimal seasoning and straightforward preparation come together here to reproduce this Balkan favorite.

8-10 sweet peppers (preferably the light green, thinner variety)

Stuffing Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup oil
1 cup rice
9 oz. beef, ground finely
1 tomato, grated
3 Tbsps. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Baharat spice mix (recipe below)

Sauce Ingredients:

3 Tbsps. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch of sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the wide bases off the peppers to form lids and set aside. Remove and discard the white membrane and seeds.

To Prepare the Stuffing: Fry the onions in oil until golden, add the rice and stir until it becomes opaque. Add the ground meat and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the grated tomato, chopped parsley and spices. Mix well and remove from the stove.

To Prepare the Sauce: Put the tomato paste, garlic and spices in a wide shallow saucepan, add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.

Stuff each pepper to three-quarters its capacity (the rice swells during cooking) and arrange the peppers close together in the saucepan containing the sauce.

Spoon some of the sauce over the stuffing and cover each pepper with its lid.

Bring to a boil, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat. Cook for about 1hour until the rice is done (but not mushy). Occasionally spoon some of the sauce over the stuffing to prevent it from drying out.

 
Baharat Spice Mix

It is best to use whole spices, and roast and grind them prior to mixing; but quality ground spices can be used a well.

1 Tbsp. ground cardamom
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. ground allspice
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground dry ginger
1/2 Tbsp. ground nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients and keep in an airtight jar.

Bean Soup
Hot, spicy and immensely satisfying, this soup is best enjoyed with large helpings of white bread or poured over a bowl of steamed rice.

2 cups dry white beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
11/2 quarts chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 Tbsps. tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. crushed garlic
salt to taste

Rinse the beans, put in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Cook for 30 minutes, until partly softened, then drain. Return the beans to the saucepan, add the stock and tomato paste, and season with pepper, cumin, paprika and garlic.

Cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add stock or water, if necessary.

When the beans have softened, mash them slightly to thicken the soup.

Season with salt, add the chopped parsley or coriander and serve.

 
Couscous and Roasted Vegetable Salad

Couscous is a great base for any type of hearty and healthy meal. This dish will quickly become a family favorite. It should be served immediately.

1 lb. instant couscous, medium or coarse grain
1 eggplant, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 sweet peppers (one red, one yellow), seeded and cut into large chunks
10 whole cloves garlic
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsps. pine nuts
1 small bunch basil leaves, cut into strips

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Prepare the instant couscous according to directions.

Arrange the eggplant, zucchinis, peppers and unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Mix the olive oil with the salt, pepper and crushed garlic, and pour over the vegetables. Toss lightly to mix the sauce with the vegetables.

Roast the vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly.

Roast the pine nuts in a hot frying pan, without oil, until they are golden-brown.

Mix the couscous with the vegetables. Add pine nuts and basil, and toss everything together.

Sprinkle with more olive oil and serve immediately.

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