Where’s Lisa?

I was in Arizona last week for a few days thanks to the generosity of my big sister. We had a lovely time and there was avocado EVERYWHERE! Well, that and turquoise. So while I wasn’t cooking, I was enjoying some good food – Southwest style. One of the dishes I had that I really enjoyed was a Quinoa Veg Chipotle Bowl with Grilled Chicken. I tried replicating it when I returned and had planned on posting it here, but the sauce/seasoning is still a work in progress. But to give you an idea so you can look forward to the post sometime in the next month, there was roasted corn and sweet potato, black beans, sweet peppers and kale over a bed of quinoa, with marinated, grilled chicken breast and a chipotle sauce. I had it twice in four days, so that should give you an idea of how good it was.

But now my thoughts are all turned to next week and the coming holiday of Pesach – my favorite – both for the story of slavery to freedom and for the food. It’s essentially a story of hope and the chance of renewal and who doesn’t need that? And even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it means Springtime.

I look forward to this holiday every year and I give a lot of thought to the Seder and of course to the food throughout the week. I just ordered my fish to make Egyptian fish balls in a savory tomato sauce and my meat will be delivered next week. I only need to prepare for the first Seder this year since my niece and nephew are making the second Seder. But Matthew and Frances will be here so I want to make sure that I will be cooking everyone’s favorite meals for the rest of the holiday.  I have purchased my 10 Plague finger puppets and I have frogs galore. And no Seder could be complete until the Afikomen prizes are handed out. I don’t have a crystal ball but I’m pretty certain that my godchildren will win those prizes!

This coming weekend, I will begin to bake my cookies and you will have posts for my delicious Almond Florentine cookies (Frances’ favorite) that are from a recipe by Mandy Patinkin’s mother and good enough to eat all year. I will also make an orange spice cookie, chocolate “meringue” kisses, almond macaroons (the BEST!) and possibly an Iraqi Cardamom cookie. For my son, I will make his favorite flourless chocolate hazelnut torte. No one suffers at my house.

As wonderful as the desserts are, though, we still need an actual meal. The Egyptian fish balls are the starter followed by my brisket cooked in a delicious sauce with my matza salad on the side. The salad is basically a form of Fatoush but made with Shmura (it means guarded) matza. My version has cucumber, Kalamatos olives, capers, sweet peppers and chives that are quickly tossed in EVOO over heat for a few minutes. If I’m not serving a meat dish, I also add some crumbled feta cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about this.(My favorite) If there are any leftovers, you will find me nibbling it for breakfast the next day if I didn’t have midnight munchies.

The rest of the meal consists of side salads or salatim. Kohlrabi is a wonderful – and in my opinion – under-used vegetable. I make a simple but lovely salad of thinly sliced, peeled kohlrabi seasoned with lemon or lime, cumin, salt, pepper, lots of cilantro and EVOO. It has to marinate for a few hours and it produces a crunchy, refreshing salad. When looking for Kohlrabi, try not to choose bulbs that are too enormous as they tend to be tougher. I’ll also have a recipe for beet caviar. Okay, so it’s nothing like caviar, but someone had to give it an inviting name and this is what they came up with. The ingredients are surprising and the result is a wonderful spread that is great any time of the year – especially with Vodka!

So stay tuned – I haven’t disappeared and will return with lots of great recipes to share.



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