Slow Roasted Short Ribs in Pomegranate Juice

— by Michelle Kemp-Nordell

Over the years, I have shared many recipes for slow cooking. This stems from my dream, to have an outdoor brick oven for making pizza, bread and clay pots, filled with some slow-simmering concoction. Slow cooking takes me back to my childhood: I used to watch my great-grandmother make lovely baked goods, stewed fruits, and gooey, browned chicken, which she made in a crusty old enameled pot that she brought with her from Germany in 1935.

Oma used her body and soul to make plum cakes, lebkuchen, butter cookies, spiced plums, and stewed figs. She did not have any food processor, and thus made everything from scratch. Her hands and arms were the whisk, wielding a wooden spoon. She knew when something was mixed enough, and did not concern herself with weights and measurements. She never bothered worrying about the oven temperature — she always knew when it was as hot as it should be. She made everything by sight, touch, taste, and feel.
I was thinking a lot about Oma while I was preparing my mise en place (setup) for our Rosh Hashanah dinner. I felt her watching over me, reassuring me that I had enough onions, garlic, and carrots, and telling me that I should be careful not to burn anything. It is at times like this, especially when I am making an old family recipe, that I wish I could bring Oma back here, for just a few hours, to give me pointers on how to not make butter cookies spread out, or so that I can ask them if I made their dish to their standards.

Slow Roasted Short Ribs in Pomegranate Juice
Adapted from Eli Landau and Haim Cohen

  • 6 pounds short ribs, cut into sections
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 8 small shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic separated into cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups of pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the short ribs, and brown them on all sides. Place them on a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the pomegranate juice, chicken stock, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the meat, bring to a boil, and then cover the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Place the pot in the oven for approximately 3 1/2 hours. Occasionally baste the meat.
  6. When the meat is cooked, almost falling off the bone, place it on a serving platter. Return the pot to the burner, and cook the sauce down until it thickens. Pour some sauce over the meat. Sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.

Michelle Kemp-Nordell is the creator of Baroness Tapuzina. She is a foodie who grew up in a “house of weird vegetables.” Follow her adventures as she experiments with exotic vegetables from her garden and spices from around the world.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Sweet Spices, Lime, and Green Chilli

— by Michelle Kemp-Nordell

When it is hot and steamy outside, we don’t want to have a big heavy meal. On Saturdays we usually have brunch consisting of bread, cheese, a frittata or omelette, and a salad. This Saturday, I finally served two dishes I made from the Plenty cookbook, written by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi.

Full recipe after the jump.
One of the dishes I made was butternut squash, that I roasted with freshly ground cardamom and allspice, and served with wedges of fresh lemon (I couldn’t find any limes in the market). I prepared a dressing of yogurt and tahini that was light and refreshing, and had a completely unexpected mixture of tastes. You can serve this as a meze (appetizer) with other salads, a first course, or a side dish.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Sweet Spices, Lime, and Green Chilli

  • 2 whole limes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons raw, unflavored tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces coriander leaves or chopped chives
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim off the limes’ tops and tails with a small paring knife. Dice the limes. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and set aside.
  3. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Cut each half, top to bottom, into 1/2 inch thick slices, and lay them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Place the cardamom pods in a mortar, and use a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and pound the seeds into a rough powder. Transfer to a small bowl, add the allspice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, mix, and brush over the butternut slices.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Peel off the skin, or leave it on if you prefer.
  6. Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water, and a pinch of salt. The dressing should be thick, but runny enough to pour. Add more water if necessary.
  7. To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt dressing. Spoon over the lime pieces and their juices, and scatter the chilli slices on top. Garnish with the coriander or chives, and serve.

Michelle Kemp-Nordell is the creator of Baroness Tapuzina. She is a foodie who grew up in a “house of weird vegetables.” Follow her adventures as she experiments with exotic vegetables from her garden and spices from around the world.

Iraqi Date Purim Pastries

— by Michelle Kemp-Nordell

Chag Purim Sameach everyone. This year, I added a new cookie for my mishloach manot that I am giving to my neighbors. I have wanted to try to make Iraqi date cookies ever since I first tried them a couple of years ago after finding them in a local greengrocer near my office. I was so happy when I found Maggi Glezer’s recipe. The recipe looks complicated, but the cookies are actually very easy to make and even easier if you can find ready-made date paste. You should be able to find a package or two at a Middle Eastern store. The ready-made filling is just pure dates without any added sugars of fillers. Ba’abe are flaky semolina pastry cookies filled with pure date puree. The sweetness of the dates is all that is needed for this delicious cookie. Besides being a Purim food, they are perfect for afternoon tea.

Full recipe after the jump.

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World, by Maggie Glezer

For the dough:

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cups semolina flour
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling:

  • 2 packages date filling
    • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sesame seeds to coat

Prepare the dough:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Place the dough in a bowl.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Heat the dates and oil in a pan until they are warm to the touch.
  2. Knead them together until they form a paste.

Assemble the cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll out the dough.
  3. Cut out circles with a glass.
  4. Place a walnut-sized amount of date paste in the center of each circle.
  5. Take another circle of dough, and cover the date paste.
  6. Flatten it with your hand, and pinch the edges shut.
  7. Dip each cookie in the beaten egg.
  8. Dip in sesame seeds.
  9. Place the Ba’abe on a baking sheet.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes, until light golden brown.

Michelle Kemp-Nordell is the creator of Baroness Tapuzina. She is a foodie who grew up in a “house of weird vegetables.” Follow her adventures as she experiments with exotic vegetables from her garden and spices from around the world.

Comfort In A Bowl

Photo: Michelle Kemp-Nordell

— by Michelle Kemp-Nordell

Winter has finally reared its head here in Israel.  All I could think of was making comfort in a bowl.  First, I made us a big pot of hearty chicken soup which nurtured Mr. BT and me through the cold-flu episode. It healed us, warmed us, and comforted us as it always does. Good old chicken soup.

When I finally had the energy to cook again, I decided to make the second best comfort in a bowl recipe: polenta.

Soft polenta, stirred clockwise with a wooden paddle over a low flame.  Served with sauteed White Button mushrooms, King Oyster mushrooms, homegrown Cavolo Nero (black leaf kale) from my garden, and creamy Gorgonzola cheese.  Life can’t get much better than that!

More after the jump.

Black leaf kale

Polenta with Mushroom, Leeks, Cavolo Nero, and Gorgonzola

For the polenta:

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta (not instant)

For the vegetables:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek, pale and green parts only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of Cavolo Nero, Kale, or Swiss Chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 package White Button or Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 2 large King Oyster mushrooms, cut in half and then cut lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3.5 oz. Gorgonzola Dolce

  1. Place the water and salt in a large saucepan over a low flame. Immediately add the polenta in a steady stream while stirring constantly in a clockwise motion to avoid lumps. Stir every few minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is thick, approximately 30-40 minutes. The polenta should be soft and creamy, not grainy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and Cavolo Nero. Saute until the leeks are slightly soft and barely golden, about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the mushrooms, cooking until they are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the leek mixture and the white wine to the pan. When the wine is cooked down slightly, add the chopped thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the polenta has finished cooking, crumble in half of the Gorgonzola and mix through. Place the polenta on a large platter and form a well in the center. Place the mushroom mixture in the well and crumble the rest of the Gorgonzola on top.

Michelle Kemp-Nordell is the creator of Baroness Tapuzina. She is a foodie who grew up in the “house of weird vegetables.” Follow her adventures as she experiments with exotic vegetables from her garden and spices from around the world.