Archive | May, 2011

Bunless veggie burgers

31 May

Chickpeas, aka garbanzos, are a special thing around here. They are called hummus, which encompasses all chickpeas, whether dried, green or cooked. This same word also can mean hummus the way we know it in the US, as the thick paste that you spread on pita bread.

Chickpeas get transformed into a multitude of forms. You can find them presented in boiled yellow as a snack at bars or coffee shops, served green in the pod with salt, or further cooked in musabaha, falafel, stews or the omnipresent hummus.

Crispy, fried falafel is by no means in short supply around here either. It’s a popular choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in various incarnations. But sometimes you want something that is hearty, but Keep reading…


Simplest Tapioca Pudding

23 May

Cameraman loves tapioca pudding. He talks about how his mom used to make it, and how he thinks about it, and how much he misses eating it. Maybe that’s a big part of why we get along so well.

I made vanilla pudding once using Mark Keep reading…

Dining out: Hosh al-Elleeya in Birzeit

17 May

A special place to bring friends and visitors when you are tiring of the “big” city is Hosh al-Elleeya. Located in the nearby village of Birzeit, the restaurant is a charming place, attracting a variety of groups looking for an intimate dinner and/or drinks in a relaxed, rustic setting. One of the things that make its menu unique is Keep reading…

Fresh-tasting stuffed peppers

13 May

We had a barbecue for the office last week to say goodbye to a colleague moving to new opportunities. Barbecue here means a broad open grill with lots of meats (kabob, aka mini Mediterranean spiced burgers, shish tawouk, aka seasoned chicken skewers and chunks of grilled lamb) plus light salads lovingly prepared by our colleagues in a very efficient, but homey, assembly-line fashion. All the meat disappeared by the first half of the barbecue, but there were a lot of veggies left behind. Keep reading…

Virtuous Japanese pizza

11 May

The first time I ever had Japanese pizza it was the real thing. A college housemate from Japan made the traditional okonomiyaki, complete with seasoned pork, seafood, seaweed and drizzles of mayonnaise and sugary brown sauce on top. It was delicious. I have always carried that memory in my heart and have a fervent desire to eat that sweet, salty, satisfying dish again one day.

This is not that. But this dish also haunts my late-morning daydreaming about what I would eat if I could eat anything right now. And it has the added bonus of being something that I can actually make myself with ingredients I can find here in my small corner of the Middle East. Keep reading…

Crispy Vietnamese spring rolls (Cha gio)

9 May

My grandmother always visited my parents’ home every year to take advantage of the tropical “winter.” One of my most treasured memories is sitting in the kitchen with her, my aunt and my mother wetting rice paper, placing the sheets between kitchen towels and rolling up “spring rolls.” Everyone would then gather once they had been fried, to roll them in lettuce with herbs and dip them in nuoc mam for a big chomp. My grandmother and aunt would make several batches during their visit, enough for my mom to pack up and freeze. We would then re-crisp them in the toaster oven and remember the warmth of the winter.

Here, not cooking for half-a dozen people, I decided to save the filling by itself – in the refrigerator or freezing for more than a few days. For a quick on-the-verge-of-getting-sick dinner alone, I made a few meatballs and simmered them in chicken broth with some noodles. I didn’t have to call in sick the next day. Not too shabby. I also made these for lunch a few days later – there’s something calming about rolling spring rolls when the world is whirling by. Keep reading…