Welcome to Izgara!

Hello again! I have been out of town and totally neglecting my blog, but I am back and I have a super new idea. While we were away we had the opportunity to eat in several restaurants. Is it just me or do they all seem to cook the same stuff? Not only that, it all seems to have the same taste!

As I sat there staring at my food, which was very pretty but very tasteless, it occurred to me how blessed we are to have so many awesome cooks in our family from all over the world. Ours is a very internationally united family. Anyway, this led me to the idea of adding another chapter to my blog, highlighting foods from other countries, with some recipes that are easy to make by everyone.

I want to begin with some of the food that my sister-in-law and her husband make. They have a restaurant called Izgara, located in Forest Grove, Oregon. Their restaurant focuses on beautiful yet simple Israeli dishes that are just out of this world amazing. All of the food is freshly made by them, and served daily in the lovely Mediterranean atmosphere they have created. They even have belly dancing once in a while!

Along with running Izgara and catering, they also sell their freshly made humus in the local framer’s market. Jamie has begun giving cooking classes, but you have to be quick to sign up as the spaces are usually filled before the word is barely out. Her Facebook page is called Jamie E. Cooking with Love. Since I wanted to share some of their recipes with you, I thought we’d focus on the menu she used for her latest cooking class. The menu included a lentil soup, pomegranate seed salad, Moroccan chicken in a tomato olive sauce, and jasmine rice. She has very kindly agreed to share her recipes. Have fun and let us know how it all turns out!

Green salad with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and honey

Ingredients:

Spring mix salad greens

Pomegranite Seed Salad

Pomegranite Seed Salad

1 package of mushrooms

20 cherry tomatoes

¼ cup of pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon of pine nuts

1 avocado cut into small cubes

Salad dressing

Juice from a whole lemon

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 garlic cloves finely diced

1 teaspoon of mustard

1 tablespoon of honey

Black pepper and salt

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and before serving lightly toast the pine nuts in a hot skillet with no oil. Drizzle the dressing on the salad dressing and toss. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the salad. 

Lentil soup                                               

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

                           

Ingredients:

1 small finely chopped onion

1 small tomato diced

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 pound red lentils- that have soaked in water at room temperature for 2 hours.

½ cup finely chopped carrots

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of chicken soup base

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoon olive oil

4-5 cups of water

1 cup of cilantro finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a big pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry until the onion is soft and golden brown.
  2. Add tomato, carrots, and celery. Stir it all together and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes and then add the red lentils.
  3. Add the water, chicken soup base, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, stir in the tomato paste, cover and cook on a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Add the cilantro and serve.

Moroccan chicken with olives in tomato sauce

Ingredients:

1 can of pitted olives

Oil for frying

4-5 Chicken thighs (you can substitute with chicken breast or both)

6 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 onion

2 small tomatoes

1 small can of tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

1 ½ tablespoons of paprika

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 ½ tablespoons of chicken soup base

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

And if you like add salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a big pan.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, chicken and fry on both sides.
  2. Add some water (so that it will not stick to the bottom of the pan), and cook on very low, then add tomatoes, olives, paprika, sugar, chicken soup base, garlic powder, turmeric, tomato sauce and tomato paste, add water until it covers the chicken and stir it all together. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is cooked.

Jasmine rice with dried fruit and almonds                   

Ingredients:

2 cups of Jasmine rice

1 cup of a mix of… Dried apricots, raisins, and almonds

½ small finely chopped onion

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of tomato chicken soup base

3 ½ cups of water

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a big pan that has a cover.  Add the chopped onion, fry until the onion is soft and golden brown.  Add the cup of the dried fruit and almonds, stir it all together with the onion.
  2. Add the rice and tomato chicken soup, stir it all together again and add the water. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Take off the burner and let it sit for 5 more minutes. Do not remove the cover until the 5 minutes are up.
  5. Remove the lid, and using a fork fluff the rice. Serve.
Moroccan chicken, jasmine rice, and a garbanzo bean side dish.

Moroccan chicken, jasmine rice, and a garbanzo bean side dish.

As they say in Israel, “בתיאבון, ba’taivone” or good appetite!

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