While on a dream vacation in Greece I got a call about a Kosher food company focused on bringing kosher food from the Balkans to the US and Israel and around the world. What a crazy coincidence. Once back home I decided to follow up on that call and bring that information back to you. There’s nothing like olives and wine from Greece experienced in Greece but the next best thing is to try some of that at your own kitchen table.
On this episode you’ll meet Moran Birman, Consul for Public Diplomacy with the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. I met Moran a little over a year ago when he connected me with Gil Hovav, Israeli food critic and entrepreneur. This time I had the opportunity to talk with Moran about a food topic of special interest to me, Food Diplomacy. It can be a weighty subject and Moran and I barely scratched the surface. It’s so interesting to think about food as a creative art, as a critical human need and at the same time, the important role it can play in world politics, I hope you enjoy our conversation in this episode. Be sure to check out the recipe for Moran’s favorite Israeli go-to snack: M’sabacha.
chilies, pine nuts, cumin, paprika, sumac, cilantrooptional toppings
1juice from one lemon
The night before you intend to make the hummus, put chickpeas in a bowl and cover with 3-4 quarts of water. Soak chickpeas at room temperature overnight. In the summer, keep the bowl in the refrigerator.
The next day, drain chickpeas, cover with about 4 inches of water, add baking soda, and bring to boil over medium high heat. Skim foam with a large spoon, lower heat, cover and cook for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally (this will help remove the skins), until chickpeas are very soft and almost falling apart. Remove skins if they float to top.
When chickpeas are cooked, turn off the heat and keep on the stove so it stays warm.
To make tahini sauce: Mix tahini, lemon juice, cold water, salt and cumin with a fork or a whisk until smooth. You might have to add more water or tahini if it doesn't get smooth. A dd some water, one tablespoon at a time and blend until smooth. If it's too watery, add tahini, one tablespoon at a time and blend until it reaches the right texture. (Note: This sauce is great on its own on bread or as a dressing!)
Move about 1/2 cup of the ready tahini sauce to a bowl.
Add about 1/2 cup of the warm chickpeas using a skimmer on top of the tahini sauce.
Quickly mash the mixture with a potato masher or a fork, until most of the chickpeas are mashed.
Top with olive oil and your favorite toppings. Enjoy with pita, bread or on its own.
I’ve heard about Eli’s Cheesecake for years, and not because I live in Chicago. When I knew Shavout was coming up I thought it would be the perfect time to see if I could get an interview with Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake. It turned into a great conversation with Marc, learning more about this company and their cheesecakes. I even had the opportunity to talk with Maureen, his wife and co-creator of their amazing cookbook: Eli’s Cheesecake Cookbook- Remarkable Recipes from a Chicago Legend. Warning: you might want to have some cheesecake handy, it will be difficult to listen to the episode and not have some at the ready … just saying.
Check out the giant cheesecake below- it was made in Chicago and traveled all the way to Washington DC for President Obama’s Inauguration in 2013.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, grind the almonds, sugar, and salt. Process until the mixture becomes moist and crumbly.
Add the melted butter and process again until thoroughly combined.
Grease the pan(s). Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan(s).
To set the crust, bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl to prevent lumps from forming.
Add half of the sweetened condensed milk to the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl and continue beating on low speed for 1 minute more, until the mixture is smooth and creamy and free of lumps. Repeat this step with the remaining sweetened condensed milk.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Slowly add first the whole egg and then the egg yolks to the bowl, one at a time. After adding each, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue beating on low speed for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is fully incorporated.
Add the vanilla to the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low speed for 1 minute, until the vanilla is jus incorporated into the mixture. The mixture should be well blended , but not over-beaten.
In a heavy 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, water, and salt. Stir with a spatula and cook for 1 minute, until the salt is dissolved and the corn syrup has melted.
Sprinkle the sugar into the saucepan, taking care to cover the bottom of the saucepan as evenly as possible. Do NOT stir. Cook, using a pastry brush dipped in water to lightly wash down the sides of the pot, for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture begins to caramelize. (Brushing the sides of the pan prevents the formation of sugar crystals.)
Once the mixture becomes a light amber color, immediately remove from the heat and add the warmed heavy cream to the saucepan. Stir with a heatproof rubber spatula scraping the sides and bottom of the pot and making sure to fully incorporate the cream into the caramel, until the mixture is fully combined.Note: Be careful at this stage, as the caramel is extremely hot and the cream will bubble up and release very hot steam.
Transfer the caramel to a medium heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes; the caramel will thicken as it cools.
Cheesecake overall Instructions
Prepare the Toasted Almond Crust in a 9-inch springform pan. Follow the recipe as directed.
Prepare the Flan bater. Follow the recipe as directed.
Preheat the oven to 280 degrees F. Generously grease and flour the springform pan. Fill the springform pan with the Flan batter and place it on a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven, directly on the middle shelf. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is slightly firm to the touch and jiggles in the center (this is a shallow cake so it shouldn't soufflé much.) If a the end of the baking time, the cake is starting to soufflé but still has a loose center, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Refrigerate for 1 hour to cool the cake completely.
Loosen the cheesecake from the springform pan by sliding an offset spatula around the inside ring. Remove the springform pan from the cake and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight before decorating.
Prepare the Salted Caramel. Set aside while still warm, but not hot.
Pour the Salted Caramel on the center of the cake. Using the back of a wooden spoon or a silicone offset spatual, spread the caramel evenly over the top of the cake, being careful to to spread over the cake's edge.
While the caramel is still warm, press the toasted almonds into it. Work quickly! As caramel cools, it becomes less sticky and decorations do not adhere as well. Sprinkle with the sea salt crystals.
Transfer to the freezer for 2-3 hours before slicing.
Slice the cake with a thin, non-serrated knife that is dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each slice. Serve immediately or store in the freezer well wrapped for up to 3 months.Eli's Trading Secret: Toasting the almonds in this recipe at a low temperature for a long time produces a deeper, richer flavor.
This incredible cheesecake recipe might seem a bit complicated but in the end – totally worth it! Be sure to read over all the instructions before you begin. For those used to making cheesecakes you’ll see the procedure is a bit out of the ordinary which is what makes Eli’s Cheesecakes so special.
Passover is here and what better way to get into the season of matzo than time to talk with writer and cookbook author, chef and inventor of Matzo Crack, Marcy Goldman! Marcy is my first Big Schmearguest from Canada. We had a great time talking about Jewish food in Montreal and of course learning more about Marcy and her new cookbook: The Newish Jewish Cookbook. Be sure to listen to the end of the episode so you can hear about the many things Marcy does that are food related (she has a lot more cookbooks you’ll want to check out) and some other interests she has that you might find quite interesting. I love discovering new people with a passion for Jewish food and it’s great fun to share it with all of you.