Labneh

A friend from the Galilee area came to visit a bit ago and told me about some of the foods they’ve been eating while meeting with people in the Arabic villages in the area. One that intrigued me to try was Labneh. It’s very simple to prepare and is versatile in it’s flavorings.

– Yogurt
– Cheese Cloth (or other meshed cloth)
– Herbs & Spices

Set a cheese cloth in a strainer, or suspend it in a jar with a rubber band. Fill with yogurt and put in the fridge for a couple/few days. The liquid will filter out.

This was filled to the top, so quite a bit of liquid will filter out.

The remaining becomes more solid and soft cheese like.

Chop some herbs to mix in. I used green onions and the tops of fresh garlic. And by fresh I mean fresh.. like just pulled from the ground. The tops are basically green onions with garlic taste.. awesome.

Mix it all together and you get a little bit of awesome that is great on crackers, pita, as a sandwich spread, etc.

The taste before the herbs is very light and neutral. So as you can imagine it could be flavored in a variety of ways. Here are some I’ve been thinking about.

– Mustard greens and Dill
– Cinnamon, Vanilla, dash of sugar
– Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary (Garlic Herb bread anyone?)
– Cilantro and Parsley
Za’atar and Olive Oil

Borscht

This is Ukrainian style borscht taught to me by our dear friends Vova & Luba. Be prepared, as I was not, to make a really big pot. Vova says “You can’t make a small pot of Borscht”. So there you have it.. make lots!

Start with a big giant pot and:

1 Kilo Pork
1.5 Kilo Pork Bones

Trim and fry pork fat in large pot until most of the oily fat comes out, then fry cubed pork until seared and slightly browned.

Finely chop or food process then add in:

2 Carrots
2 Onions
1/2 Bulb Garlic
1 Hot Pepper

Add in pork, bones, tomato paste, spices, and lots of water.

770 g Tomato Paste (basically lots. “Borscht should be really red”)
Paprika
Black Pepper
Basil
Salt
Sugar

Bring to boil for 20-30 minutes, then add in:

9 Potatoes – Large Cubes (“peeled because you feed the peels to the pigs and it makes them taste better”)
1 Beet – Peeled Small Cubes

Cook for another 30 minutes or so, then add in:

1 Cabbage – Chopped

Let cook for 5 minutes then add in:

1/3-1/2 Bunch Fresh Parsley Chopped (we actually used cilantro here, but they said parsley adds a better flavor)
1 Bunch of Fresh Dill Chopped

Let cook for 5 minutes more then serve with Sour Cream and more chopped Dill and Cilantro (Parsley?), and some nice dark rye bread with garlic bulbs and salt.

Fen Si Noodles

Bean Noodles
Ground Meat
Cabbage
Soy Sauce
Chili Garlic Sauce
Water

Cover bean noodles in cold water and let soak to soften.

Fry ground meat until fully cooked. Add chopped cabbage and cook until softened. Add soy sauce until a bit saltier* than you would eat as is. Add a few spoons of chili garlic sauce. This is largely determined by your taste and how spicy* you want it to be.

Set heat to very low. The soaked noodles will now be softened, but not cooked. Drain them and add them to the meat. Thoroughly mix the noodles with the meat until all the noodles are covered with sauce. Add enough water to help the sauce fully cover all the noodles, and then cover and turn off the heat. The extra water and steam will cook the noodles… it doesn’t take too long.

*Note: The noodles absorb quite a bit of the saltiness and spiciness, so I usually season the meat quite a bit stronger than I would if I were just eating the meat.

Chili Garlic Sauce

Garlic – 5-6 cloves
Chilies – 10-12
Vinegar – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Shallots – 2
Sesame oil 2-3 tbsp
Salt to taste

Loosely chop chilies and garlic, then “roast” in a pan with a little bit of sesame oil. Add in the chopped onion and keep it going until softened.

Add everything into a food processor and blend until fully blended and chopped. Add extra salt, vinegar, and sugar to taste.

Spanish Rice

2 Cups Rice
1 Large Onion
3-6 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Small Container Tomato Sauce
Pepper
Oregano
Butter

Chop onion and garlic, then fry in a pan (or the rice cooker pot) in butter until softened. Add in oregano, pepper, and rice and fry until some of the rice starts to slightly brown. Transfer to rice cooker pot and add tomato paste and chicken broth. Cook until tender. Alternatively, leave in the pan and do the same, cooking covered on low until tender.

Vanilla Pudding

3 cups milk
3 tbsp corn starch
3 egg yolks
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, curb starch, salt, and most of the milk in a pot and cook on medium low until thickening.. Stirring constantly.

Mix egg yolk and remaining cold milk. Add in small amounts of hot mixture at a time to set eggs. Add to pot and cook until thickened. Add in butter and vanilla.