Mushroom Lasagna

Wow, it’s been more than a year since I don’t post single recipe or review. I am the worst procrastinator ever in the world. There is always an excuse – I am tired, I have too much work, I have a new job,  I have to do errands,  I want to do so many things and can’t focus on a single one. The excuses are infinite :)I’ve said to myself a million times that I will be more consistent posting recipes and every time it comes to the same. I get back on track all excited and after a while, I stop.

This time I’ll be honest with myself. I don’t know how many times I will be able to post. For me once a week would be ideal – but let’s be real; juggling between a full-time job, working on other small projects and trying to start working out again it’s hard but not impossible. Let’s see how frequent I will be this time lol – it’s all about building a routine!

Now, coming back to the recipe – Lasagna for me equals ground beef. Lately, when I eat too much meat consecutively my stomach does not feel that good. I guess the Israeli vegetarian – vegan effect is hitting me!

I don’t think I will ever become vegan nor vegetarian but my meat intake is less than before. Israeli food (mainly in Tel Aviv); you can find a lot of vegetable based dishes. If you are either vegan or vegetarian – it’s so easy to find amazing and delicious restaurants here! 8% of Israelis consider themselves vegetarian and 5% as vegan.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and let’s all eat less meat in our diets to make a better world!

Recipe

  • 3 packages of 12/8 ounces of crimini mushrooms
  • tomato paste (I do mine home made)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 fresh basil leaves
  • ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 300 grams of shredded mozzarella
  • parmesan cheese
  • frozen spinach
  • lasagna noodles
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Chop mushrooms in thick cuts; dice garlic and set aside. In a large pot pour olive oil, toss in the garlic and basil leaves – cook until the edges of the garlic are burning and toss in mushrooms – season with salt and pepper. While cooking the mushrooms you will notice that a lot of water will be coming out of them. When mushrooms are cooked, take out the water and set aside.

Defrost the spinach and dry them in a towel paper; I also squeezed them to drain the water out. Let it dry while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Pour in the pot the tomato paste and cook thoroughly for around 25 minutes, let the mushrooms soak in all the flavors from the sauce (yummy!). Leave it very low fire and stir occasionally. Quickly in a small bowl whisk one egg with ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Now it is time to assemble the layers! I do it in this order: mushroom sauce, ricotta mixture, spinach, shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese and a lasagna noodle. I did this until I reached the top of my pyrex and got 4 layers. My last layer I top it with a lot of mozzarella and parmesan (yes, I am a cheese lover).

Place into oven for 45 minutes in 130C covered in aluminum foil, when there are 5 minutes remaining; take the cover off and set the oven in broil mode. You will get the cheese a bit burnt (I love the crispy edges). Take out from the oven and let it rest for around 5 minutes, cut into slices and serve!

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Kalamata Restaurant

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A few weeks ago I met with my friend Alina Vinik from Pictures Talk for a stroll around the Old City of Yafo and a nice lunch in Kalamata restaurant. It was an amazing sunny day; those days when the sky is totally blue and no clouds in the horizon. After a stormy week it was great to get a nice weather treat.

Alina and me met in order to play with our new cameras and their settings, it was great! We walked around the alleys in the Old City, took pictures from the mediterranean sea and ended up having a nice lunch in Kalamata; a mediterranean restaurant. Kalamata is located in the Kedumim Square with an amazing view. For a nice touch try to go before sunset and order a table next to the window!

We ordered the Arabic ceviche which is totally different to the “traditional ceviche”. It is packed with cilantro, has chopped radish and yogurt sauce. For main dishes we ordered fish kebabs and crab gnocchis with shrimps. 

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What do to with leftovers: Frittata!

 

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This weekend was great; starting my Thursday with girls night out bar hopping around Tel Aviv. Friday I had a great afternoon around Yaffa with fellow blogger Alina Vinik from Pictures Talk (next post :)) and ending  it with a nice barbecue at Dadi’s apartment.

On Saturdays Asaf and me prepare ourselves late brunch with whatever we can find in the fridge. Maybe I’ve said this on my previous posts but Asaf is the best improvising with leftovers! This time it was my turn to show off. We hate throwing away food and try to use everything before it goes bad. I made a frittata this time; we had it with toasted bread and haloumi cheese on the side.

Ingredients:

  •  4 eggs
  • 5 sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green hot pepper, sliced
  • 3 slices of shredded roast beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

In a medium bowl beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. In a medium pan pour olive oil, throw in the onions and half of the sliced mushrooms and cook for around 5 minutes until the onions get a translucent color. Pour in the eggs and assemble on top the roast beef, hot peppers and the remaining mushrooms. Cook in low fire until the frittata is ready, let it rest for around 3 minutes and serve.

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A typical Sunday in the Republic of the Chial Family

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I can’t believe we are already in 2016, when in High School I imagined ourselves kind of living like the Jetsons: flying cars and teletransportation.

One of my New Year’s resolution was to dedicate more time to this blog; organize myself and develop a routine. It’s never late to learn (did I mention I’m recently learning how to ride a bike?) and I’m all in for things that make me happy. One of these things is to share my recipes, I’ll try not to disappear for so long again! It’s been quite messy in re-organizing my routine but hey that’s life!

Last month I went to Brazil and visited my parents. I had an AMAZING time and I’m still missing them a lot. Every time I go and visit, coming back to real life is harder. Brazil is a wonderful place, brazilians are happy warm people. Their food is amazing, the local made products are well made and unique.

The first day I landed my dad made lunch for us at home. Oh I missed my dad’s food – he’s the best in cooking meat. THE BEST. He welcomed me with an Asado de Tira also known as short ribs and my mom complimented it with a nice salad and rice as side dishes.

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Ingredients: (we were 4)

  • 6 Asados de tira
  • Kosher salt

How simple is that ah? Preheat the oven to 200. Heat a pan on high fire for around 2 minutes – place the asados and cook for around 1 min and a half each side. After it’s sealed add the salt. Place de Asados in the oven for around 4 minutes, bring it back to the pan and cook it for another more 3 minutes (we like our meat medium rare), if you like it more well done then cook it for a couple of minutes more. Sprinkle with a little more of salt to taste.

My mom made white rice (yes, we are chinese so we love having rice every time we can!) and a nice salad!

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Oxtail Stew – a winter staple

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For every winter storm Asaf and me have a foodie tradition: Oxtail stew with pappardelle; oh and of course lay on the sofa plus participate in a movie marathon. That was the case a week ago,  there was this huge storm coming; starting on New Year’s eve and lasting until the next day in the afternoon. With this cold, stormy and windy weather I just wanted to stay home; open a bottle of wine and enjoy and that’s exactly what I did.

This dish is better off the next day like every stew. It’s easy to prepare and requires effortless cooking for around four hours. Just lay all the ingredients in the pot and let it cook for approximately 3:30-4 hours and stirring occasionally. This recipe is from Bon Appetit Magazine, I changed some ingredients; you can find the original recipe HERE

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of oxtail
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced onions
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 5 medium carrots, cut in thick pieces (2-inch)
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • Half a bottle of red wine (I used merlot)
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 small bouquet of parsley
  • 7 rosemary sprigs
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, one minced
  • 1 3/4 cup of beef broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup of water
  • 6 shallots

In a deep pan cook the bacon until crispy. Take out the bacon and leave the grease (discard bacon for another use).  Place the flour in 1 bowl and cover the oxtails; then put them in the deep pan and let them cook in medium fire for about 5 minutes each side. Take them out and now throw in the mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent and now throw in the oxtails. Pour in beef broth, water and wine. Take the parsley and rosemary and tie it into a bouquet, place it in the pot. Season with salt and pepper. When the water starts boiling throw in the shallots and thick carrot pieces. One hour before it’s ready, create a paste of butter with a tablespoon of flour and throw it in the stew so the sauce will thicken. Let it cook for around 3:30-4 hours stirring occasionally.

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When the stew is done prepare the pasta (follow instructions on box). When the pasta is done; take an oxtail, shred it and throw it in into the pasta, also incorporate some of the stew sauce. Mix, mix, mix. Arrange the pasta on a plate and place one whole oxtail next to it. Garnish with fresh parsley, season with salt and pepper if needed and serve it with a nice glass of red wine.

Weekday dinner: Salmon with lemon and rosemary

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Weekdays pass by so fast, by the time you blink it’s 10:00 p.m. and the day is over. Juggling with the routine of work, working out, taking care of the dog, meeting friends drains me but I love it. Weekends are my days to get inspired at home, try out new recipes in the  heart of the home: the kitchen.

So coming back to weekdays sometimes I barely have time to prepare myself something “elaborate” for dinner. I end up having late dinner (which is not good at all) almost every day, hmmm let’s say around 9-9:30 p.m.

This salmon dish is quick and healthy. Did I mentioned that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier? Let’s see how it goes! I have so many things to accomplish this 2016. So every time I’ll accomplish one I’ll let you know guys. When cooking salmon you have to be careful of not overcooking it because then it will be dry and flaky, ew.

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Ingredients:

  • 350 grams of salmon filet
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 rosemary sprigs cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 150. Cut the shallots in 2 or 4 pieces. Meanwhile, cut the salmon in two pieces and pinch it with the knife several times (all the seasoning will go in the fish). Accommodate the shallots around the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and squeeze half a lemon on top of the fish. Place on top of each piece 2 pieces of rosemary. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with a lettuce salad as a side dish.

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The Mangosteen: A superfruit!

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So I’ve decided that every month I will be featuring a fruit and our first one will be the Mangosteen. The mangosteen reminds me of my parents and sisters after a dinner meal. My mom would always have fruits at home and we love trying weird, not typical yummy fruits. After dinner; mom would bring to the table a huge bowl of persimmon, mangosteen, mangoes and every other fruit you can imagine;  us four would devour them all. This fruit was fought by every one, this tiny fruit with a fleshy texture inside is sweet, tasty and has tons of benefits.

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The mangosteen is originally from Asia but nowadays with globalization you can find it almost anywhere. Don’t let this tiny fruit deceive you! It is packed with antioxidants and xanthones which prevent cancer. It also promotes healthy skin, stronger immune system, weight loss and levels the sugar level in people with diabetes. Talk about superpowers!

When I went to Brazil my mom took me to the “Mercadon” (The Big Market) – it was huge! If you visit Sao Paulo, this is a place to go and check out. The fruits are so beautiful, here you will see crazy colors, shapes and smells. There were some fruits I didn’t even knew they existed, mostly from the Amazons. Mom got for us a box of Mangosteens that lasted 2 days. In the market they would offer us fruits to try out (of course with the ultimate purpose of us buying from them and it worked). We ended up with 2 medium boxes of fruits but hey, it’s all healthy foods :).

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Roma: La Dolce Vita

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Oh Roma! I love this city. Every time I visit this place it amazes me how pretty and impressive this city is. Thousands of years in history, unchanged parts of the city with ancient architecture and no modern counterparts to topple it off. Rome is the city of glory, love and enjoyment of life.

This 3 day trip was intense; Asaf and me ate and drank like there was no tomorrow. There are no regrets of the 5 kilos I came back with to Israel from pasta, meat, cured meats, cheese and booze overload.

Our first stop after landing: Baccano. A bistro restaurant very similar to Balthazar in New York and Brasserie in Tel Aviv. We met Luca the bartender which totally made a turning point to our trip by recommending us very cool places to walk around and go for aperitif. (for eating we already had a list of places Dadi and my dad recommended to try out).

Day one we walked through the city and the weather was amazing: sunny and fresh. Not too cold not too hot. For dinner we went to Il Moro. We were the only tourists and young couple in the whole restaurant! Very peculiar place, it has been open since 1929. It will totally take you to the past: there is no music, tables are very close to each other, bright lights and the funniest of all is that the wine menu is all handwritten (it’s like an encyclopedia). The highlight dish of this place was the Pasta Il Moro (Carbonara Pasta), it was light and creamy with a spicy touch at the end. Bam!

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Day two we went to the Vatican City then visited several Piazzas, had ice cream and enjoyed the day. Close to the Fontana Di Trevi is a great Gelateria called Di Nino where I had a dark chocolate gelato and Asaf a pistachio cannoli. De-li-cious! For lunch we went to Ristorante Nino; here I had the best Carciofi alla Romana (Roman artichokes) and Mozzarella di Bufala. At night we decided to take it slowly and went for drinks at the Majestic Hotel, continuing our night in Osteria Coppelle. Both great places to go out for a romantic dinner date/drinks.

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Day three and I am about to explode from the eating and drinking but I won’t stop till I drop! Today the weather changed and it was raining most of the time. Who said we were staying in the hotel? The Batatas are troopers and we marched our way to Trattoria Augusto: a little hole in the wall with homemade food. You don’t need to make reservations and they only accept cash. Getting wet from the rain and wind was all worth it. When we arrived they sat us next to another couple and started ordering :). So we had tons of dishes, I can’t post all of them. I will post the rigatoni with tomato and bacon sauce and the rabbit. The dishes were very simple but simple is always best right? Rich in taste and tradition. (the rabbit dish the picture came out a bit blurry, sorry for the cellphone pics!)

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At night we did the impossible and went to Tullio Restaurant. I was so full at the middle of the course that we had to cancel one dish. I know, we took out the white flag and decided not to eat more, we couldn’t.. even if we wanted, there was no space not even in the pores of the skin to fit food lol. Here we had Spaghettini alla Vongole and Pappardelle with wild boar sauce. Both of them really good, I wish I could do takeaway!

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So this is the end to my amazing journey in beautiful Rome. I hope me and Asaf will return for a longer time and try out new places. Ciao Roma arrivederci!

A tourist in my neighborhood – Jaffa Flea Market

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Yum Yum, Friday afternoons are my favorite. Waking up, walking to Shoshan’s to get my flower bouquet. Next stop Urbano Bakery to get some Challah bread and a coffee. I love Jaffa, close from downtown Tel Aviv but with a special touch.

There is a new market every Friday made up of a few stands selling accessories and food from the restaurants in Jaffa. I didn’t go inside since dogs are not allowed and we were with Johnny but Asaf went and got us a nice tasting dish from Vitosha: a Bulgarian restaurant where you can have Balkan food.

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So we got a beer and found a nice cute little park and munched. The dish had leek patties, stuffed grape leaves, white bean salad, Bulgarian kebabs (beef with lamb fat) and pickled cabbage and cucumbers. I give this place an A+!

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Summarizing our small food adventure, I totally recommend this place specially now that winter is almost here. Vitosha has been added to my list of places soon to try out!

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Hamin – Tradition at its best

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Winter is finally here! You can’t imagine how much I’ve missed the rain. Yesterday it rained non-stop all day and night. Today the weather was cloudy with a few rain showers., the perfect weekend. We were invited to Dadi’s apartment for lunch. Like always, we had a blast and ate like there’s no tomorrow. Dadi prepared Hamin and I have to say that this one is the best one he’s prepared from all the ones I’ve tried before. This dish takes hours to make but it’s all worth it.

Hamin is a traditional Jewish stew usually cooked overnight. It has meat, eggs, beans, potatoes and wheat. Sometimes he also makes sausage casings made of bread. Oh wow this plate is super heavy but amazingly tasty. Dadi also prepared “harrif” chopped hot peppers in olive oil.

Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe for this GREAT dish but I want to share with you guys the pictures I took before chugging it into my belly! Like we say in Hebrew – Beteavon! (Bon Appetit)

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