Category Archives: Salads
Tonight is the beginning of Israel’s 64th birthday celebrations. All over the country people gather together in public parks to listen to music, dance a little, watch the fireworks and basically party. And tomorrow? Tomorrow the whole country heads outdoors for the national sport of Israel, barbecuing, or in other words, the art of mangal.
We get together with our friends in Ra’anana every year, and it can become a bit rowdy…
Once again Ju-Boy and I packed our bags, made sure children and dog were safe and snug, made sure there was good music in the car, and escaped. We do this often, at least twice or three times a year. With both of us in the Chapter Two of our lives this is something that is not a treat, it is a necessity. Ju-Boy explains this very well: we each have baggage, and we each have packages. The baggage is the flotsam of our previous life without each other that we are still dealing with, sometimes on a daily basis. The packages are the jetsam that we have each brought into the marriage, children, philosophies and political beliefs. As happy as we are with our lives, sometimes we need to escape…
Every year Ju-Boy throws a little party, replete with charred meat and flowing single malts, to thank his tightly-knit group of friends for lending him their support while he made the transition from the smoking remains of Chapter One to the J-Date Twilight Zone. I wasn’t there that first year, still trapped in the throes of Chapter One myself. But I’ve heard the stories… Ju-Boy unkempt, Ju-Boy on his own, Ju-Boy on the loose. Thankfully, he had his friends to be there for him, eat his culinary experiments and drink his whisky. And thus was born the First Annual End-of-Summer Party.
By the time the Second Annual End-of-Summer Party rolled around I was already in the picture. Ju-Boy and I had been dating for about two months and it was time to run the gauntlet of meeting his friends, his pack, what he likes to call his troupe. I already knew some of them. Karen and I were friends back and high school. Miiiiiiiichael used to fall asleep at my Friday night table when he was single and in the army. His wife, the Lovely Linder, was a familiar face from mutual friends’ weddings and Bar Mitzvah celebrations. I had heard about Sweet Caroline from our mutual friend SW, back in the days when we actually wrote letters and didn’t text and chat on Facebook.
It was fun to meet the rest of the bunch. Just to make sure they liked me, I brought some insurance in the form of sushi, Thai-ish pasta salad and profiteroles. That evening was the first time I fed the troupe, but not the last. Just a few weeks ago we served up the Eighth Annual End-of-Summer Party. Over the years the menu has changed, returned to its roots, changed again, but some things remain the same. Ju-Boy grills the meat, the whisky flows, and I go to town on the side dishes and desserts. You could say this was the Ju-Boy/Miriyummy/Troupe version of Thanksgiving.
This year I served up a few new dishes, like the Spicy Carrot Sticks from the new KBD Teens and 20-Somethings cookbook I reviewed — those were a hit. I doubled the recipe to serve 12 people and I think maybe I should have quadrupled it instead, they went THAT fast. Another hit this year was the return of my Thai-ish Pasta Salad. I first came across this recipe back when I lived on a hilltop overlooking Jerusalem. We put together a community cookbook to raise money for our synagogue and this recipe is one of my favorites (thanks Sherri!). I’ve changed it a little over the years, and it never fails to please. I’ve seen dainty eaters inhale the stuff. Do me a favor, when you make this, try to have your friends and family take human bites, it can get ugly…
Thai-ish Pasta Salad
- 1 pound (500 grams) pasta — thinnish noodles work best
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (corn, canola, etc.)
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon crushed dry red pepper
- 1 shelled peanuts, coarsely ground
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander (cilantro, cusbara)or parsley, optional
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Cook the pasta as per package instructions, breaking long pieces in half before cooking. Drain.
- In a saucepan over medium heat cook the oils, honey, soy sauce and dry pepper and let boil for 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl pour the sauce over the pasta. Cover and refrigerate overnight, letting the flavors seep into the pasta.
- Before serving, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Serve at room temperature.
I gave up many thing when I married Ju-Boy. I gave up the Jerusalem mountain air. I gave up quiet streets and living in a town with no stoplights. I gave up a certain amount of my independence. What I feel the most, however, is that I gave up my friends. Okay, they are still my friends, but because I now live a one-hour’s drive away (long distance in the Israeli psyche), I don’t get to see them often, or at all. I don’t get to bump into them at the grocery store, wave to them as I take my evening power-walk (oh yeah, I also gave up power-walks), I don’t get to exchange gossip outside the synagogue, and I don’t get to just hang out with them, either at the Shabbat table or for a coffee evening during the week. I miss them.
I gained many things when I married Ju-Boy. I gained a house with stairs (my first time living in a house, not an apartment). I gained living in a somewhat cosmopolitan city with a main street full of fun shops. I gained the Cooking Channel (the X said we couldn’t afford it because we were already paying the cable company a ton for all his sports channels). I gained the use of Ju-Boy’s amazing turbo oven, and I gained his friends.
When we spoke about them I used to call them “your friends,” and he would always correct me and say “our friends.” But, tachles, they started out as his friends, and I then began to refer to them as my friends-in-law. Regardless of the fact that I even knew some of them longer than he did, they were his friends. But little by little, I have taken over. Shar calls on the phone and Ju-Boy is ready for a chat, but she wants to speak to me! Yummy Mummy calls my cell phone for the Shabbat meal invitation. Most of them read my blog, but how many of them even know he has one, huh?
I like his, erm, my friends, they’re good people, and they make sure that with all the hustle and bustle of busy families, smachot, grandchildren and life in general, that we still get together for a laugh. We make sheva brachot celebrations together for our children, we try to go away together for a Shabbat here or there, we drink Marc’s whisky and eat Yummy Mummy’s cake creations. We’re in and out of each other’s houses on Shabbatot for meals, and a few times a year we get together for holiday potlucks.
It was the annual Simchat Torah potluck that made me go headless chicken. I had just started a new job and needed to put in some time on erev chag. Shar was hosting the event at her house (at least 50 people were expected) and Ju-Boy had volunteered four dishes — challah, fish pie, couscous salad and chocolate babka. Isn’t he the most altruistic husband you can imagine? Four dishes, when most people were making only two. But both of us cook, so that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that all four dishes are MY specialities. Ju-Boy helped by giving a running critique of my fish-skinning skills. Brave boy, I was holding a sharp knife…
So it’s erev chag and I have four dishes to make in two hours. I didn’t get a chance to make any the night before because we were out late (visiting one of my, erm, our friends from my Jerusalem days), and that morning my boss decided he needed just one more email, just one more thing, just one more… aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh! I got home from the office, saw the mess in the kitchen, the mayhem in the rest of the house, and that’s when I went headless chicken!
like a headless chicken (British) also like a chicken with its head cut off (American)if you do something like a headless chicken, you do it very quickly and without thinking carefully about what you are doing (usually in continuous tenses) I’ve got so much work to do – I’ve been running around like a headless chicken all week. He was racing around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do the work of two people.Definition thanks to The Free Dictionary
- 350 grams couscous (1 package)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soup mix
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch parsley
- 5 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 teaspoons grated gingerroot (or to taste, I use almost a tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Pour the couscous into a large bowl. Mix in the soup powder and olive oil, stir well to combine (I use a fork). Add the boiling water and let soak until all the water has been absorbed.
- Place the carrots and parsley in a food processor (steel knife). Zest the lemon with a Microplane and add it to the food processor. Process until a minced finely. Add the juice from the lemon, olive oil, ginger and pepper. Process until a paste has been formed.
- Add paste to the ready couscous and mix together.
- Add the chickpeas and mix together.
- Turn into a salad bowl and chill for at least two hours.
This is a great dish to serve on Saturday lunch, or to take to a potluck with 50 of your best and newest friends.