Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teaching Mom to Cook

Henry and I have long believed that, at some point in life, your parents become your children.  That's fine and we can deal with it when it happens but here's the scary thing:  we're the parents! 

Sometimes I see it when we're around the kids and we do or say something they think is idiotic (which is frequent) and they just look at each other and roll their eyes.  You know that look.  It's something like "did they really just do that?  Clearly they are starting to lose it."  They're probably thinking about what nursing home they're going to put us in and how in the hell they're ever going to get the basement cleaned out.  Whatever.

I will admit though, when Andy was home recently, I learned a few cooking tricks from him.  Lord, I hope he never reads this blog!  But as I mentioned before, he's got that food gene and he knows how to balance tastes.

Since he was keeping kosher for Passover while here (which meant no restaurants, bummer), he stocked my kitchen so he could prepare meals for himself.  I cringed when he brought home dehydrated minced onion.  He also brought something called "zahatar."  It's an Israeli spice mix, primarily with sesame seed and coriander.

One day he made himself a salad for lunch.  I wasn't paying much attention, busy doing whatever (probably making gefilte fish) so I didn't notice what he put in it.  Then he offered me a taste.

Holy crap, it was amazing.  It was crunchy, salty, savory, lemony, oniony and flat-out delicious.  What on earth did he put in it?

Turns out it was similar to a salad he had in Israel (he loves the place).  He recreated it.  I can't give you an exact recipe, but I can tell you what he put in it.  Make it according to your taste, but trust me (you can, I'm not skinny) MAKE IT!


Salad greens (he used heirloom lettuce leaves, slightly sturdier than mesclun mix)
Dehydrated minced onion, to taste
Pistachio nuts, to taste
Crumbled goat feta, to taste
Zahatar seasoning, to taste
Fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place salad greens in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and toss well to blend.  That's it.  Make it for 1 person or make it for 20. 

So much for my food integrity.  Those dehydrated onions turned out to be crucial to the salad.  Who knew?

Oh, and remember that macaroon recipe I posted recently?  He tweaked that one also.  He made it into a macaroon pie (again kosher for Passover) and he added orange and cardamom.  It didn't look pretty, but it sure tasted good! 


10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
20 oz. almonds (not roasted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 9 extra-large eggs)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon orange zest
Candied orange zest for garnish (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Lightly grease two 9-inch glass pie plates or baking dishes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat until smooth.  Set aside to cool.  In a food processor, grind almonds and sugar together (in batches) until very fine and almost powdery.  Place in bowl of electric mixer and add remaining ingredients.  Beat on low speed until just blended; do do overbeat.  Alternatively, you could do this by hand with a whisk or large wooden spoon).

Pour mixture into prepared pans and bake for 15-20 minutes.  It will still seem soft in the midde, but it will firm up as it cools.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.  Top with candied orange peel and whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 12-14

Well, if I do end up becoming their children, at least they know how to cook!

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