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Good morning, GUSmentches!!!  I am so happy to be back.  I was able to get onto DKos via my Kindle while I was gone but had a hell of a time rec'ing, tipping and commenting on some diaries.  The GUS ones were impossible for some reason.  I did get a few comments, etc. in for our dear commonmass during his time of anxiety for his beloved, GreenMountainBoy02.  

Ok, I loved being with my Mom, even though we had a couple of political spats.  I am in the process of writing a long letter (hand written) to let her know how important she is to me.  I also loved preparing a luncheon for 2 monsignors (one who is beloved; the other, spoiled and rude), one priest, one seminarian and one of my Mom's best friends who has to deal with the priest . . . . bored yet????  I made beef strudel, grilled salmon, spinach salad, creme brulee and pavlova along with my always perfect Challah!!!  

A bit of stress in that the lower oven caught on fire (long story) and my Mom's good friend is a chatterbox who followed me everywhere while I was running inside and outside to cook.  I need no interference while cooking multiple stuff in a fire engulfed kitchen.

Lunch with my mother's sister (my favorite aunt) and her tedious husband (15 minutes negotiating a table at their country club (oy!) -- always happens).  My aunt is utterly hilarious and adorable.  She's 80 and looks 20 years younger.  

Ok, on to the important stuff -- who we are and some yummy recipes.

GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or thinking of quitting, please -- join us!  We kindly ask that politics be left out.  

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I get emails daily from different cooking sites -- some really awful and some great.  One is from PBS Food Extracts.  I love that site because they have some very interesting recipes and always quotes from Julia.  

"Among the keys to good cooking are knowing what you're doing, feeling comfortable with what you are doing, and doing it as well and as carefully as possible.." - Julia Child    
I prefer:  "Never apologize." -- Julia Child.

Well, today's email had the history of fried chicken on waffles!!!  Huh??  I had never heard of such a combination and now I want to try it on my picky friend.  Well, the recipe is from a marvelous blog, The History Kitchen by Tori Avery.  The story of the chicken and waffle recipe is there -- plus a recipe.  She also has another blog, The Shiksa in the Kitchen.  Oh, my!  A goldmine, plus her blogroll to other great sites.

Here's a few recipes from The Shiksa in the Kitchen and elsewhere.  I'll note where all the recipes can be found.

Tilly's Pastelles – Sephardic Jewish Savory Pies

Ingredients
3 cups water, divided
1 cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
6 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
2 lbs ground beef
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint (optional)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 egg yolks lightly beaten with 2 tsp water, for egg wash
Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 20-24 hand pies
Kosher Key: Meat

Directions:

In a large saucepan, bring 2 1⁄2 cups water, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Remove from heat and quickly stir in 6 cups flour, using a wooden spoon, until a soft dough forms.

Scrape onto a lightly floured surface and knead, using more flour if necessary, until smooth, pliable, and not too sticky.

Form into 24 balls about 2 inches in diameter (about 1 1⁄2 ounces each) and 24 balls about 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter (about 3⁄4 ounce each). Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, oregano, mint, if using, cumin, and paprika. The dried mint is optional. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce to very low heat and stir in the remaining 1⁄2 cup water and uncooked rice. Cover to cook the rice al dente, about 12 minutes.

Uncover, remove from the heat, and stir in the hard-cooked egg, parsley, 1⁄4 cup sesame seeds, and black pepper. Taste the filling; add additional salt, pepper and seasonings to taste, if desired (see my notes below). Set aside to cool completely.

Place oven racks in the upper and center positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using your floured hands, shape the larger dough balls into cups 2 1⁄2 to 3 inches wide and almost 1 inch deep. Return them to the prepared baking sheets as you work, about 1-inch apart.

Divide the meat mixture evenly between the cups, mounding it slightly.

On a lightly floured surface, use a lightly floured rolling pin or floured hands to roll or press the 1 1⁄2-inch dough balls into 3-inch rounds.

Cover each filled pastelle cup with a dough round, pinching the edges together in an upward motion to make a raised lip.

Brush the tops and sides with egg wash. Sprinkle the tops with salt and sesame seeds.

Bake until the pastelles are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes; switch the sheets halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature. This recipe is easily halved to make just a dozen pastelles.

Notes from Tori: I was only able to make about 20 balls of dough in each size, which equaled 20 pies total. You may have more or less depending on how your dough works out. Pie making is not an exact science! Next time I make these, I may spice them up a bit by using cilantro instead of parsley, as well as adding some cayenne and turmeric to the filling to taste. You know I love my spice! :)

Here's the web page which has marvelous step-by-step pictures.  Tilley's Pastelles

This next recipe is very timely (but late!  It was January 25th) and gorgeous, Tu B'Shevat Salad with Pomegranate Dressing.  It is such a wonderful celebration that I think it should last longer than a couple of days.  I am new to these marvelous holidays.  I love "New Year for the Trees."  I hope it is ok that I find it a holiday that should last through April here in Connecticut.
Tu B’Shevat, also known as “New Year for the Trees,” takes place on the 15th of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar (late January – early February on the Gregorian calendar). Tu B’Shevat marks the beginning of spring in Israel; it is one of four annual “new years” described in the Mishnah. It’s a time to celebrate the natural world. Gratitude is given for the fruits of the earth and everything that grows.

From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Click the link to see a beautiful picture of this salad and more history about the holiday.
Tu B'Shevat Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Salad Ingredients

    1 head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
    1 ripe pear
    1 sweet apple (Gala, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady work well)
    1/3 cup golden raisins
    1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds
    1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
    Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Pomegranate Dressing Ingredients

    1/4 cup pomegranate juice
    2 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: 6 side salad servings
Kosher Key: Pareve

Directions:

Place the torn butter lettuce in a salad bowl.

Chop the pear and apple into small chunks; keep the skin on, do not peel.

Add fruit chunks to the salad bowl along with the golden raisins. Toss ingredients together till combined.

Divide the salad between six salad plates. Sprinkle each portion of salad with sliced toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with edible flowers, if desired.

In a blender, combine pomegranate juice, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Blend for a few seconds to mix.  You can also use a whisk or immersion  blender.

Open the pouring spout on the top of your blender and turn blender on to medium. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil very slowly through the pouring spout into the dressing. It should take 60 seconds or longer to drizzle the entire quarter cup of oil.  You can also do this process with a whisk or immersion blender.

Pour thickened dressing into a serving dish. It should be a lovely pink color.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of dressing over each portion of salad before serving.

Mediterranean Olive Chicken

Ingredients

    3/4 cup chopped ripe green olives
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tbsp fresh lime juice
    1 tbsp crushed garlic
    2 tsp honey
    1/2 tsp lime zest

    1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if sensitive to spice, omit)
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    Salt and pepper
    4-5 lb chicken pieces, bone in, skin on
    1/4 cup white wine
    1 tbsp cornstarch

You will also need

    9x13 baking dish, plastic wrap, foil

Servings: 6-8
Kosher Key: Meat

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the chopped olives, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, honey, lime zest, red pepper flakes and oregano. Season the marinade with salt and pepper to taste-- you likely won't need much salt, the olives are salty on their own.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper (for kosher chicken, omit the extra sprinkle of salt). Place chicken pieces in a 9x13 ceramic or glass baking dish. Brush the pieces evenly with olive marinade.

Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to overnight (overnight is better).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the baking dish with foil. Pierce a few vents with a sharp knife around the outer edges of the foil.

Place the covered dish in the oven. Let the chicken bake for 80-95 minutes, basting periodically, till well cooked and tender. Remove foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking to let the skin get brown.

Transfer chicken pieces to a platter. Carefully tip the baking dish so that the pan drippings and juices gather in one corner. Use a spoon to skim off the clear liquid fat, separating it from the solid drippings. Discard the fat.
Pour the remaining drippings into a small saucepan along with ¼ cup of white wine. Heat the sauce slowly over medium.

While sauce is heating, whisk together 1 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water till smooth. Pour the cornstarch liquid into the saucepan and whisk till combined. Heat the sauce till bubbling and thickened.
Serve the chicken topped with warm sauce. Note: this recipe is kosher for Passover if you use Passover-approved products with a kosher hechsher.

From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

The following recipe is usally made with rice and lentils.  Tori adapted it to quinoa.  Read the link at the end of the recipe -- she really is a fountain of information as to the history of dishes.  I'll be spending days reading the archives of this blog and her History site as well.
Quinoa Mujadara

Ingredients

    1 cup brown or green lentils
    2 cups quinoa
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
    1 1/2 tsp cumin
    2 bay leaves
    2 strips lemon peel, each about 2 inches long
    2-3 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
    Salt and pepper
    Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or mint for garnish (optional)
    Greek yogurt for topping (optional)

Total Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: 8
Kosher Key: Pareve

Directions:

Rinse and sort the lentils, removing any small stones or impurities.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 2 tsp salt to the boiling water, then add the lentils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the lentils till they are tender, but not soft or mushy (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and drain, then rinse in a colander with cold water.

Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer for about 2 minutes.

In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil till hot enough for frying. Add the lentils to the pot along with the cumin, 1/2 tsp salt (if you are watching your sodium intake, use 1/4 tsp salt), and 1/2 tsp pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the rinsed quinoa to the pot and stir. Reduce heat to low.

Rinse out the other saucepan where you cooked the lentils and pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. When the water in the saucepan boils, pour it over the lentils and quinoa. Stir. Add bay leaves and lemon peel to the pot and bring all ingredients to a boil. Cover the pot. Reduce heat and let the quinoa steam at a low simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the little tails release from the quinoa seeds. Remove from heat and leave the pot covered for 5 minutes longer.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Fry the onion slices over medium heat until they are soft and nicely caramelized.

When the quinoa is done steaming, remove the bay leaves and lemon peel and fluff the mixture with a fork.

Serve topped with the caramelized onions and chopped parsley or mint. Add Greek yogurt, if desired (dairy). You can substitute melted butter for olive oil, if you like. If you do this, please keep in mind that the dish becomes dairy rather than pareve.

From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Kasha, Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Kugel

Ingredients

    5 cups Spanish or other sweet onions peeled and diced
    1 ½ cups canola or toher vegetable oil
    8 medium tomatoes sliced thin (about 10 cups) or 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
    5 tablespoons salt
    4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    4 large carrots peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
    3 medium turnips (about 3 cups)
    1 large eggplant diced
    2 cups French lentils
    8 cups water
    1 ½ cups whole kasha
    3 large whole eggs
    1 1/3 cups vegetable stock
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    2 tablespoons fresh thyme

Directions

    Put the onions in a sauté pan with 1//2 cup of the oil. Sauté slowly, until the onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the fresh tomatoes in a mixing bowl. Toss with ½ cup oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the salt and a teaspoon of the pepper. Place in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the juice has evaporated.

    Toss the carrots, parsnips, turnips, and eggplant in a bowl with the remaining ½ cup oil, 2 tablespoons salt, and 3 teaspoons of pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender, but not mushy.
    Put the lentils in a saucepan with 6 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, uncovered, or until tender.

    Put the kasha in a bowl. Beat 1 of the eggs and add to the kasha, coating it well.

    Heat a heavy 6-cup saucepan and add the kasha. Stir continuously until toasted about 1 to 2 minute. Add remaining 2 cups cold water and cover. Simmer, 10 to 12 minutes, or until the kasha is tender but not mushy.

    Mix the onions, the roasted tomatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, eggplant, lentils, and kasha together in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 eggs, vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons more salt, crushed red pepper, and remaining thyme.

    Place in a greased 9 X 13-inch baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until light-golden brown and firm to the touch.

From Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America via PBS: Food Extracts

My all time favorite Jewish chef, Joyce Goldstein.  I could sleep with her cookbook, Saffron Shores, which I have used here before.  Every page is a work of art.  I realized I marked just about every page so, I pulled out the papers and then just randomly open to a page and think about cooking.

Joyce's Saffron Shores is an incredible collaboration with Arab chefs with cuisines around the Mediterranean.  These cuisines share ingredients and I find it so fascinating that something as simple as amazing food can unite cultures.  I can't recommend this cookbook enough.  

Pumpkin Squash and Chickpea Soup with Fresh Coriander

In Moroccan and Tunisian Jewish kitchens, there are numerous versions of this hearty classic, a bean and pumpkin soup.  Some cooks use dried favas or white beans instead of chickpeas.  Some omit the greens altogether and some add meat.  This is a stick to your rib dish and can be a full meal when paired with bread or a salad.

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp ground cinnamon
sugar to taste (optional)
Leaves from 1 or 2 bunches swiss chard, cut into strips (reserve stems, freeze, with other veggie scraps for veggie broth later on)

In a soup pot, combine the chickpeas, onion, carrot and squash or pumpkin.  Add the broth and half of the fresh coriander.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes.  Pass through a food mill.

Reheat the soup and season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and sugar, if using.  Rinse the chard thoroughly, drain and put in a large saucepan with the rinse water clinging to it.  Place over medium heat and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Drain well.  Add to the soup and heat through, stirring often to prevent scorching, thinning with water as needed.  Sprinkle with the remaining coriander.  Serve hot.

The Widow's Peppers

A signature dish of the Sephardic Jews, stuffed vegetables are usually filled with meat, meat and rice, or just a savory rice mixture, but this recipe uses a bread filling.  Daisy Taieb, in Les fetes juives a Tunis and Andree Zana-Murat in La cuisine juive tunisienne,  both recall this recipe, named for a legendary widow who was too poor to use meat but made a great dish with frugal ingredients. [apologies for the missing diacritical marks because I'm too lazy].

8 green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh bread crumbs, oaked in water and squeezed dry
3 tablesps chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 tsp ground caraway
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 hard cooked eggs, diced
2 eggs lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Carefully cut across the top of each pepper and reserve the cap.  Scoop ou the seeds with a sharp paring knife.  Boil the shells for 5 minutes in lightly salted water.  Drain well.  In a bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients to make a filling.

Stuff the filling into the peppers.  Place the peppers in a baking pan (dish) and add 1 inch of water.  Cover and bake until peppers are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Ajlouk d'Aubergine
Haouri's Spicy Eggplant Puree
Over the years it has been my pleasure to cook alongside Tunisian chef Abderrazak Haouari who lives on the Island of Djerba.  Although he is not Jewish, he is well acquainted with tunisian Jewish food.  Aunique colony of Jews resided on Djerba, and it is the site of the oldest continually active synagogue in the world.  Because of Haouari's friendship with Paula Wolfert, he has been an active participant at many Mediterranean conferences sponsored by the Culinary Institute of America and the American Institute of Wine and Food.  I have been happy to act as his sous-chef for many meals and have learned a great deal about Tunisian flavors by tasting food with him.  (One time during Ramadan, he fasted while he cooked and I was the person who seasoned and tasted the food.)
Although he uses one head of garlic in this dish, you may want to cut back to 6 cloves.  Raw garlic and harissa have quite a kick.  Incidentally, the name ajlouk refers to Tunisian Jewish mashed vegetable dishes.

3 globe eggplants
1 fresh hot red pepper
1 small head garlic, cloves separated, peeled, chopped, or fewer cloves to taste
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 to 3 tblsps harissa (see recipe below) or to taste
1 tsp ground caraway
7 tblsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Preheat the broiler or heat a stovetop griddle over high heat and broil or cook the eggplants and red pepper, turning occasionally, until soft.  Or, bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven until soft, turning occasionally.  Peel the eggplant, remove the large seed pockets, mash the pulp.  Peel, seed and finelely chop the red pepper.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggplant, red pepper, garlic, lemon juice, harissa, and caraway.  Stir in the olive oil and season with salt.

Great with toasted pita or on other veggies – use your imagination!

Harissa

Harissa is a hot pepper sauce that can be made with fresh, roasted or dried peppers.  You may purchase it in paste form in small jars or tubes, but it is easy to make.  To serve it as a sauce, thin it with olive oil and a little lemon juice.  

4 large red bell peppers seeded, de-ribbed and cut into pieces
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tblsp ground coriander
1 tblsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1 ½ to 2 tsp cayene pepper
1 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil as needed

In a food processor or blender puree the bell peppers.  Strain, pressing on the solid with the back of a large spoon.  You should have about ¾ cup of puree.  Tir in the garlic, spices and salt.  Add oil for spoonability.

Note:  You can also make this harissa with roasted red bell peppers and roasted fresh hot red peppers.

Alternate Harissa

3 dried ancho chili peppers, soaked in hot water for 1 hour3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsps cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground (optional)
1 tsp salt
cayenne pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for filming

Drain the peppers,  In a blender combine the peppers, garlic and seasonings.  Puree to a paste.  Pack in a sterilized jar and film the top with olive oil.  Seal and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks.

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