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Kvetching and Kooking: A Vegan Middle East Feast

Kvetching and Kooking: A Vegan Middle East Feast

Welcome Chef Rossi, chef and artist, to the GirlieGirl Army family where she will be making us kvell with her new column exclusively for us called “Kvetching and Kooking;”

I like mashed potatoes in June.  I like to barbecue in mid Januaryeee … so sue meeee. La la la laaaa …  Well, my little peppercorns … I cook to the beat of my own culinary drum, and so should you! What better way to declare your independence than by cooking up your own personality?   As for moi, well, let’s just say my sense of food is a whole lot like my sense of fashion: wise, weird and wonky. After all, dumplings, I grew up in the ’70s, so my idea of a fashion statement is a pair of vintage black vinyl pants, with big boots and a Led Zeppelin T-shirt. Throw into that mishegas the fact that I was raised by a 5-foot-tall, 5-footwide Yiddish-a mama, and you’ve got OY VEY IS MEIR up the tuchas!   But my point is, do your own thing! Be one with your inner chef child! Sauté kimchi and serve it over grits! Go retro! Embrace Las Vegas in the ’50s or New Jersey in the ’60s .. hmmm, well, same thing, actually.   And while we’re on the subject, remember when salad bars always had that super pickled bean and string bean salad? I miss that salad!! Where is that salad?!?   But enough about me. I thought we’d start off this first kvetch rant with some easy access, simple middle- eastern recipes.   Remember how much I suffered to create these for you, not that you care or ever visit or write … OY VEY! And away!

Simple and great Israeli salad

Imagine my surprise when at long last I made it to the land of milk & honey expecting Moses, to greet me with bowls of Israeli salad and couldn’t find an Israeli salad to save my life!  That is until I realized that DUHHH in Israel they don’t call it Israeli salad, they just call it salad, or Arabic salad and it’s everywhere. There were lunch places that only served two things; Arabic salad and hummus oh and French fries? ! Seems French fries are Jewish! Who knew??! What follows is a simple recipe for this great all-purpose salad. Just dice up your fave kind of cucumber. You can go traditional with Persian cucumbers but I like English cucumbers. Do the same with equal amounts of fresh ripe tomato and red onion. Toss the whole shebang in enough virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice to coat well, season with salt and pepper and mix in a huge heaping plop of fresh rough chopped parsley. Some folks like to add diced bell pepper, some add mint or cilantro, some add sliced scallion. I love em all.

Heavenly hummus

Okay my darlings yes you can make your life easier by using canned chickpeas but if you have the time and CHUTZPAH go with dry chick peas and soak in water overnight. Then boil those babies until they are soft. Here is the kick, drain them and save the water! Puree a few coffee cups full of cooked chick peas with a few shots of the cooking liquid, add the juice of two lemons, a heaping plop of minced garlic, several heaping plops of tahini, salt, a good pinch of ground cumin and in the end a nice drizzle of virgin olive oil.

Green lentil salad with charred veges

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Oh my darlings I love this salad with just about everything except ice cream. Buy green depuis lentils. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt and bay leaves. You’ll want enough water to cover your lentils so maybe 1.5 times the amount of water you had lentils. When water is boiling throw in your lentils and return to boil, then simmer until lentils are soft but still have some crunch to them, maybe 20 minutes. Drain the lentils and while they are still hot- drizzle well with either white balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar. Both are fabulous. Then drizzle again well with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile back at the ranch, you can mix in all kinds of things. I love diced or sliced onions, bell peppers. Carrots are nice too! Sometimes It throw in the veges raw, sometimes I char them or roasted them or grill them. Float your boat my dears! I always make this a day ahead and keep chilled, you may need to add some more vinegar and salt the next day, those lentils just drink it up! Remind me of myself in July!

Have a delicious day my darlings!

Rossi- yes she only has one name- has been a writer for many publications, such as “The Daily News,” “Time Out New York” and “Mcsweeney’s” to name a few. She is the writer of the “Eat Me” column for “Bust” magazine and hosts her own hit radio show on WOMR and WFMR in Cape Cod called “Bite This”, now going into its 8th season.   She has been featured on “The Food Network” and “NPR” and has just completed her first edible memoir “The Devil and Mrs. Goldstein!”   As the owner and executive chef of “The Raging Skillet” a cutting-edge catering company known for breaking any and all rules, she has earned a reputation as the one to call when it’s time to do something different. & are here online homes.

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