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

Borsch(t)

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.

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.

Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Rou Mian)

Seared Beef Chunks
Water
Soy Sauce (the good stuff.. none of that die nasty junk)
Onions (lots)
Garlic (lots)
Ginger (goodly amount)
Star Anise
Pepper Corns
Spicy Chili Peppers
Carrots

Noodles
Spinach
Cilantro
Green Onions

Lets just start by saying that if you can do a broth with beef bones its better, but if not its still good.

Sear beef chunks then add to pot or slow cooker. Chop onions into thin strips. Chop garlic into large chunks. Add water, soy sauce, onions, garlic, and spices. Let cook for a long while. Adjust soy sauce, garlic, pepper, and spicy peppers along the way to taste.

Serve with raw spinach and noodles, and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

Few Tablespoons of Butter
Large Handful of Mushrooms (more for stronger flavor)
Few nubs of Garlic (again..)
Milk
Flour
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

In a sauce pan melt the butter, then add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute over low heat until the mushrooms are cooked down and the flavors are thoroughly saturated into the butter. Add flour until its thick and pasty. Slowly add milk while stirring over medium heat. Add milk and keep stirring until desired thickness.

Goes great over pasta or raviolis.

Homemade Ravioli

Meat
Egg
Parmesan Cheese
Onion
Garlic
Mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Pasta Dough

It’s all to taste really so no proportions. I used about a 1/2 kilo of beef, 1 egg, 1/2 bulb of garlic.. You get the idea. Savory.

Roll dough into large rectangle, then cut in half. Spoon meat into a grid.
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Dampen the areas in between meat if dry, then cover. Starting from one side so you can p push the extra air out, press in between each piece of meat to seal it in.
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After its all sealed, cut along the center of each groove to make individual raviolis.
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Boil in salted water with a drizzle of olive oil. These are large so I served 4 per bowl with a large scoop of pasta sauce.
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Also great to freeze for later.

Another fantastic sauce we used was a simple mushroom garlic sauce.

Corned Beef

Curing

2-3 Kilos Beef
2 Liters Water
2 Cups Celery Puree
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Salt
1/2 Bulb Garlic (pealed and smashed)
Pickling Spices

Heat a small portion of the water and dissolve salt and sugar. Combine the rest of the spices and then add in the remaining cold water and celery puree to finish the brine. Put brine and beef into a large air tight zipper bag making sure to remove all the air. Let sit in fridge for at least 7 days to cure, and up to two weeks depending on the thickness of the beef chunk.

After curing, remove from fridge then rinse the beef in cold water. It will look a little funky and green because of the celery so rinse well. It will clean up even more on the first part of cooking.

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Note: Discard all the spice material. It’s been sitting with raw beef so yeah.

Cooking

Put beef in a large pot with hot water that more than completely covers the beef. Slowly bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. DO NOT BOIL or it will get tough. After 30 minutes discard the water then cover with fresh hot water and simmer again, except this time for about 3 hours or until very tender.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

As above except add carrots, potatoes, and cabbage chunks about 30 minutes before done.

Reuben Sandwiches

Slice beef cross grained. Beef, Swiss Cheese, and sauerkraut on sliced Rye bread. Fry in butter like a grilled cheese or broil until bread is slightly crunchy. Add sauce of 1/2 mayonnaise, 1/4 mustard, 1/4 ketchup and a liberal amount of Tapatio. Fantastic.

Corned Beef Hash

Chopped beef, chopped potatoes, chopped onions fried in a pan with some butter. Top with a fried eggs, or drop raw eggs on top to cook just before done. Optional: garlic, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, hot peppers.

Pastrami

Cover with ground pepper then smoke. I’ll be trying this as soon as possible.

Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta (פסטה הביתי)

: : Firm : :
4 Cups Flour
6 Eggs

: : Softer : :
3 Cups Flour
6 Eggs

That’s seriously it. Start with a volcano pile of flour, then drop the eggs into it. Gently beat the eggs in the flour and start to blend with flour. Keep blending until its mostly together. Kneed the dough.. a lot. It’s really firm dough so its a tough job. Keep it up until its smooth and blended. Wrap air tight in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest.

After rested, cut 1/4-1/3 of the dough and roll out into a large flat sheet. Squarish is probably easiest to work with. Very lightly dust with flour every so often to prevent sticking.

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Once its rolled into a very thin sheet, fold it into a loose roll.

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Cut into strips of your desired width.

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Unfurl into pasta strings.

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Boil a pot of water with salt and a bit of olive oil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, drain and serve.

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Works great with pasta sauce. I suppose it could also be cut wide and used as lasagna noodles. I bet if rolled thin it could probably be used to make ravioli too! Definitely going to try that. Golly I love ravioli..