Green and Black Olive Hummus

Dips are a very social food which makes them just the thing for summer. As things start slowing down and gatherings with family and friends start happening again, a nice homemade dip is wonderful to have conversations over.


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Moroccan Brioches

These brioche-like buns called gors or krashel – are usually sold in traditional ferrans (community ovens) in the old part of town. It’s not uncommon to see them sold on street stalls as well often by preteen boys who buy them from the ferran and peddle them at a slightly higher price (usually 20 cents more) to make some pocket money. Gors are sweet, soft and delightfully scented with anise seeds and orange blossom water. My version is partially made with whole wheat flour which makes it a little heartier than the original and perfect for breakfast with a glass of warm tea or milk.

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How to Make Soft, Moist Meatballs

Soft meatballs have eluded me for a long time. I have tried breadcrumbs, eggs, fat, yet still couldn’t get perfectly soft ones. I have figured out with practice that breadcrumbs were far from solving the problem (though some people swear by them) and that egg yolks do help but not so much the whites. I have experimented with quantities and finally been able to get those wonderfully moist and tender meatballs I had long wanted. It took a while but I got there. Now I can enjoy meatballs more often without so much breaking my jaw (exaggerating to make my point but, really, hard ones are quite an arduous workout for the jaws). Maya keeps asking for more. She’s starting to really like her spaghetti with meatballs (changing her mind about pasta and coming to her senses at last!).


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Perfect Tomato Sauce

Nothing beats a good homemade tomato sauce. No, sir. No, ma’am. I know there are many recipes out there but this one is my favorite. My mom’s is really my first favorite and this one somewhat stems from it and is therefore a favorite as well. A good tomato sauce can take any dish from average to fabulous. It can make a world of difference in pasta, soups, casseroles, pizza, beans, marinades, fish, rice, dips, and much, much more. Well, you get the idea… it can be used in everything! — except, debatably, desserts. I hope you like this one; it is perfect.


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Egyptian Rice and Lentil Pilaf (Koshari)

I have come to know and love koshari thanks to a blessed albeit shortly lived marriage of a cousin of mine to an Egyptian lady. I have vague memories of it in a version which, unlike this one, contained plenty of macaroni. I found this recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook and thought it would fit the bill; and it did, in a big way. It was very tasty.


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Kale Smoothie Recipe

This one is another way I’m learning to love kale. I had some leftover from last week’s tabbouleh and blended it into a smoothie with blueberries and banana. It was delicious and best of all, blended well into the mix and was barely recognizable. I thought I’d share this smoothie with you in case you too are developing a liking for kale. We could all add more greens to our life, couldn’t we?

This smoothie may not look green but it has a whopping full cup of kale. The anthocyanins in blueberries give them a strong pigmentation that covers the color of  other ingredients. Not that we mind; a purple smoothie is a gorgeous smoothie to sip on.

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Kale! I haven’t always liked kale. In fact, I still don’t love it yet. It might take several lifetimes for me to get there but in the meantime, I figured out a way to use it that doesn’t particularly taste like kale. The best thing about this salad is you can’t really tell if you’re eating parsley, spinach, chard or another green. That’s the magic of lime juice, olive oil and mint. They do beautifully take over.

Now back to kale. Wise men say you should eat it regularly, preferably raw. It is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet for you. It is greener than other greens and packed with antioxidants and vitamins, which means it keeps you young, beautiful and vibrant. That’s why I chose it for tabbouleh and that’s why I’m beginning to love it.


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Brown Rice Salad with Avocado, Tomatoes and Tuna

I take it you like a good rice salad. Everybody I know does. This one is the kind that fits in the meal category. It has so much going on: avocado, tuna, tomatoes, shallot, basil. You can add more tuna for more protein per serving, or replace it with quartered hard-boiled eggs if you’re not a fan or if you want to turn this into a vegetarian meal.

This salad is best eaten the same day—avocados and shallots are not good candidates for leftovers. But no worries, this salad is really easy. Making it at the last minute is very little trouble and should not take more than 20 minutes of your time.


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Baked Couscous-Stuffed Tomatoes

I bought the juiciest, most beautiful Florida tomatoes the other day. I’m not diligent —though I should be— about buying local produce but when I do, I feel good about it. It just feels right. It fosters a sense of community that I find sooo lacking in Florida, more so in Orlando.

I marveled at my tomatoes for a while. They were red, plump, firm, juicy. They were perfect. Chopping, slicing or grating them would almost have felt criminal. I wanted to keep them whole; I wanted to see their full shape while eating them. I didn’t want to miss out on that sort of eye candy. I’m a visual eater.

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Gluten-Free Blondies with Almond Butter and Chocolate Chips

Last week, we celebrated John’s birthday. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he simply replied: “something on the healthier side.” I knew that meant something with less butter and sugar but wasn’t sure whether to make him one of his old favorites or create something new. I had been thinking of making blondies with nut butter and thought they would be to his taste.

John is even more health-conscious than I am and about three times more disciplined when it comes to eating (and everything else). He’s not as picky as I am but he is definitely better at portion control and resisting temptation. I admire him for that. No, I envy him for that. Okay, I admire and envy him at the same time.

These blondies are made with rice flour and have somewhat the texture of brownies, only they’re blonde and, well, more fun (!)… They are wonderful warm with a glass of milk for breakfast. You can make them with peanut butter for a more pronounced nut taste.


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