Friday, April 26, 2013

Life and Times of Afghan Jews from Babylonian Captivity to Modern Times

This video is on the Afghan - Bukharian community that has roots from the Babylonian Exile. My family is part of this traveling pack that moved from country to country along the Silk Road. They started in Babylonia and then moved to Persia, Bukhara, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. There is so little information on Afghan Jews, although at their peak there were 40,000 Jews thriving economically in an Muslim country as Jews.  The men were all travelers, trading and expanding their cultural repertoire. So happy to see many photos of my parents that I have never seen before.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

It has been a wild few weeks now, which has resulted in me not being able to sit down and share some recipes with you. First off, it was Passover and I went down to Miami to spend the Seders with my extended family. We were 60 people on both nights of the Seders! It was a bit of a fiasco as everyone was singing out their own tunes at their own pace. Sounded like a singing audition where ever one is in their own world warming up their voices. It was a fun 2 nights, regardless.

It is customary for Bukharian Jews to wear a jomah during the Seder. Yes, you read that right, a jomah,  not a pajama, which is a silk brocade dress worn on festive occasions. My parents are posing the latest fashion trend - H&M - watch out! I am wearing an ordinary Chinese embroidered jacket, since I did not have my very own jomah to wear:-(

I came back to NY, only to fly back to Miami a week later, because subsequently my father became extremely ill and I went down there again to relieve my mother and brother of their hospital duties.

In the middle of all this, I found an amazing editor for a book I just finished writing called, "Spiritual Kneading for Rosh Chodesh" It's about the significance of baking challah on the Jewish New Moon every month. I am afraid I wont be posting anything from that book here, because it's all about challah - not OK for the gluten free community here.

On top of that, my publisher has asked me to buckle down and write out a marketing plan for my forthcoming cookbook "Silk & Spice: Recipes from the Silk Road for the Mindful Vegetarian" due out next Spring 2014. Although this was initially done when I wrote my proposal over a year ago, many things have changed since then, including my circle of foodies. So I had to revamp my marketing plan, which extended to my amazing circle on facebook. A big shout out to Mark Zuckerberg. I don't know what I would do with out him.

Amidst all of this, I was in the mood to cook something really satisfying, as this winter or Spring - what ever you want to call it, just does not end. I wanted comfort foods. Something grounding and earthy.

Years ago when I was veering towards vegetarianism, Mollie Katzen was the IT person for hearty vegetarian recipes. She still is the Queen. I am just a Queen from Queens... (little humor needed when in crisis) I still turn to her recipes that never disappoint. I often make this quiche when I have a HUGE bag of potatoes lying around from my left over winter CSA season. Make use of the food processor to cut down on time for the crust. This potato crust quiche is moist and stays put together after cooking. Make sure you pick from the freshest cauliflower around, otherwise it alters the taste to mush.You could always experiment with different cheeses. Enjoy this quiche with a nice big leaf lettuce salad on the side. This recipe comes from The New Moosewood  Cookbook.

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

Serves 4


for the crust
2 cups grated raw potato (from 2-3 peeled potatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
¼ cup grated onion

for the filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 cup (4-5 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and generously oil a 9″ pie dish, so that your potato crust does not attach to your pie dish.
  2. Pull out your food processor with a grating disk. That will make for quick work grating each of the following separately: the cheese, then the potatoes, then the onion.
  3. To make the crust, place the grated potatoes in a colander and toss them with the salt.  Wait 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.  A salad spinner works well for this, or you can wring the potatoes out in a dishtowel.  Stir together the potatoes, egg white and onion in a large bowl, then pat the mixture evenly into your pie dish , building them up the sides to form the crust.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the crust lightly with olive oil and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and lower the temp to 375°F.
  5. While the crust bakes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper (to taste) and herbs and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the cauliflower and stir well to coat.  Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of water if the cauliflower begins to stick to the pan.
  6. Spread half the cheese over the crust and spoon the cauliflower mixture over, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Whisk together the eggs and the milk, then pour this mixture over the cauliflower cheese mixture.
  7. Bake 35-40 minutes, until set.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

There are times, when not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes looks are really deceiving and I think that could be a good thing. If everything looked as it seemed there would be no mystery. Mystery is needed to seduce and to entice curiosity. That being said, let me address this picture before anything else. I wish I could blame the appearance of this meal on my lack of camera skills, or that it was having a bad "vegetable day" (Ha, Ha... ok I thought that was cute) however it's just no beauty.

In spite of its less then stellar looks (poor thing) this peanuty coconut curry cauliflower dish tastes divine on a bed of brown basmati rice doused with raita, lemon slices, toasted slivered almonds, fresh or toasted coconut, raisins and sliced cucumbers. Shew.... Try saying that all in one breath. Pick your choice. This time around I chose coconut flakes.

This recipe comes originally from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I have modified some of the ingredients and recipe techniques to not only give it more protein and less carbs, (I do like to watch my figure;-) but to mimic authentic Indian cuisine. Sauteing the spices before the onions, creates the foundation for this dish and intensifies the flavors even more. And I definitely like intensity.

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

Serves 6

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt 
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, reserve some for garnish
1/2 cup lightly toasted peanuts
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup water (more, as needed)

1 large cauliflower, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into coin medallions
1 cup cooked chick peas
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet and add the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground cloves, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper.  Once the mustard seeds start to pop,  (less than a minute) stir in the onions and salt. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. In the meantime, in a blender puree the peanuts, sesame seeds and shredded coconut with water. If it's too thick, add more water. This should have the consistency of a thick paste.
  3. Then add cauliflower and carrot and mix well. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, then add the paste. Mix well. Cook, covered, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, stirring every few minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the chick peas, and lemon juice, and cook a few more minutes. Taste to adjust salt, and serve hot, with rice and condiments.

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