Tomorrow at sundown, Israel celebrates her 60th birthday. In Israel, Flags will be flown from balconies; friends and family will get together for picnics; and all over there will be concerts and other entertainment.
Likewise, America's Jewish communities will be celebrating with parades, parties and gala events honoring the birth of the State of Israel, with both local and Israeli talent.
After the parades, bring family and friends home for a smorgasbord featuring the taste and essence of the Jewish homeland. All can be prepared ahead of time.
HEARTY LAMB AND VEGETABLE SOUP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic
- 2 cups frozen cut green beans
- 1 medium potato, cut in 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons mint leaves, packed or 2 teaspoons dried
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup crushed vermicelli
- Salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and lamb. Cook until lamb has lost its pinkness and onion is softened. Add the diced tomatoes, green beans, potato, chickpeas, tomato puree, bell pepper, mint, 1 tablespoon cilantro and 4 cups vegetable broth. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the vermicelli. Cook 7 minutes longer or until tender. Add more broth if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before serving, sprinkle remaining cilantro over.
Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 301 protein - 14g carbohydrates - 23g
fat - 18g cholesterol - 41mg sodium - 521mg
BAKED FISH WITH HOT PEPPER SAUCE (PAREVE)
Use a whole fish, cleaned and scaled for this version of a popular Lebanese dish.
The head is usually left on but eyes are removed. Fish fillets may be substituted if preferred.
- 1 snapper (about 2 1/2 -3 pounds) or other whole fish, gutted and scaled
- Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- Lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs to garnish
Wash fish thoroughly in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, cut two slashes (about 1 1/2-inches) on each side. Sprinkle inside and outside with salt.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Remove fish from refrigerator and pat dry. Reserve 1 tablespoon oil. Heat remaining oil in a large, preferably non-stick skillet. Fry fish at high heat, 3-4 minutes on each side to brown. Do not cook through. Remove and place in a baking dish.
Tip most of the oil out of pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic and cilantro. Fry over high heat for 1 minute or until the mixture is beginning to crispen.
In a bowl, whisk the tahini with 1/4 cup cold water. Whisk in the lemon juice and pepper flakes. Stir in garlic mixture. Pour over the fish covering completely. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until fish flakes are opaque when separated with a knife and sauce is bubbling. Garnish with pine nuts, lemon and cilantro. Serve hot.
Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 410 protein - 32g carbohydrates - 5g
fat - 31g cholesterol - 119 sodium - 403mg
CLASSIC HUMMUS (PAREVE)
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
This puree of chick peas and sesame paste (tahini) is served all over the Middle East, Stir the tahini well before using as it tends to separate
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, undrained
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Place undrained chickpeas, tahini, garlic and 3 tablespoons lemon juice in the food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, adding a little more lemon juice if needed. Season to taste with a little salt. Transfer to a shallow serving dish, swirling with a spoon. Pour olive oil in center, and garnish with parsley and a light sprinkling of paprika.
Serve with triangles of warm pita bread or carrot and celery sticks. May be made a day or two ahead.
Approx. nutrients per tablespoon: calories - 39 protein - 1g carbohydrates - 4g
fat - 2g cholesterol - 0mg sodium - 45mg
EGGS IN YOGURT GARLIC SAUCE (DAIRY)
Yogurt made with cows milk curdles when heated so must be stabilized as described below before using in this recipe
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 egg white
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried mint, crushed
- Fresh ground pepper
- 4 eggs
To cook yogurt: place yogurt in a small, heavy saucepan. Whisk the egg white with a fork until frothy. Blend in the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk into yogurt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, mint and scant 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown garlic.
Divide the yogurt mixture evenly between 4 custard cups. Break an egg into each dish. Top with the mint mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve hot.
Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 254 protein - 9g carbohydrates - 6g
fat - 22g cholesterol - 224mg sodium - 396mg
BASBOUSA (SEMOLINA CAKE) DAIRY
Makes 36 pieces
- 2 cups semolina (farina)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
- Blanched almonds
- Syrup: 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x12 inch (approx.) baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Sift the semolina with the baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the semolina mixture alternately with the yogurt.
Spread into prepared baking dish. Place almonds on top so that when cake is cut an almond will be centered on each piece. Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
While cake cooks, prepare the syrup. Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and bring to boil. Boil rapidly for 8-10 minutes or until mixture is syrupy. Cool. When cake is cooked, prick all over with a skewer. Spoon syrup over. Cool before cutting into squares to serve. Serve unsweetened whipped cream on the side (optional).
Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 140 protein - 2g carbohydrates - 24g
fat - 4g cholesterol - 19mg sodium - 35mg