Results tagged sesame from David Lebovitz

In Praise of Sesame Baguettes

baguette and butter

I suppose I’m doing all those things the diet-police are advising against – namely having fat and carbohydrates for breakfast in lieu of “healthier” options, like having a bowl of kale-flecked quinoa or downing a cilantro smoothie. But as much as I like fruits and vegetables (and herbs), the only thing I am able to face first thing in the morning is something a little less threatening – namely bread, salted butter, and coffee. And that’s all.

For a while I was adding a swipe of chestnut or buckwheat honey to my butter-smeared morning ritual, but since deciding that one seemed to be fighting the other on my plate (and who wants to referee their breakfast?), salted butter won out over the honey. Which has also been easier since I’ve been getting regular deliveries of salted butter from Normandy (thanks Jennifer!), which is so good that adding anything to it, like honey or jam, is the equivalent of putting herbs in a perfectly good smoothie.

Years ago I wrote about my crack baguette, the bread that I could never get enough of. Whose disappearance I still haven’t recovered from, even though it’s been probably five years since it was mercilessly snatched from my breakfast plate. At one point, someone tried to pin the demise of the bakery on me, for not giving up their address. (Because like cable television and mobile phone service in France, if something is working for you, you don’t touch it. You leave it alone.) But since living in a culture of c’est pas ma faute, I think I could hardly be blamed when the elderly couple that ran the bakery finally decided on retirement. And believe me, if I had sway over who could retire, I’d be working on that list at this very moment.

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Jerusalem

hummus in Jerusalem

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was talking to someone at the airport, just after my arrival in Israel, who had asked me what I was doing in her country.

fried dough in syrup

When I told her I was there to learn about the cuisine – by eating it, her eyes lit up, and she said – “Whenever I leave Israel, after my family, the thing I miss the most is the food.” And after one week, I could see why. I was missing it, too, the moment I stepped off the plane and returned home. In fact, my home kitchen has become a mini hummus factory, churning out batch-after-batch of hummus. And it lasts just about as fast as I can scoop it onto pita bread.

falafelspice mixes
old jerusalemhummus

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Tahini and Almond Cookies

tahini cookies

It was a treat to spend a tasty afternoon in Tel Aviv with Natalie Levin, of the blog Oogio.net, who is a passionate baker. Upon meeting, one of the first things Natalie did was hand over a bag of homemade treats, which included a sack of these Tahini and Almond Cookies. Although I didn’t dive in right away (to be polite), after we visited the outdoor market, when I got back to my hotel, I opened the bag and found myself in love with the crumbly, buttery texture and the slightly exotic taste of smooth tahini (sesame paste) – which I’d never had in a cookie. There was also a bag of Sahlab Cookies, made from powdered orchid root, which were equally divine, as well as a few other goodies.

These are simple little cookies that would go perfect alongside a fresh fruit salad or a bowl of sorbet, or during tea-time. I asked Natalie if she would share the Tahini and Almond Cookie recipe here on the site, which she was happy to do.

Thanks Natalie! – David


Tahini and Almond Cookies

tahini cookies

There’s something exciting about baking. Combining all kinds of tastes and textures, putting it in the oven, and waiting for that moment when the scent draws you back into the kitchen – is probably why I love it so much. This is my true passion in life, and ever since I began baking professionally, it felt as if I found my destiny.

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Israeli Salad

israeli salad

When I met Maya Marom in Tel Aviv, she handed me a box of spices and flavorings, which meant that when I returned home, I could recreate many of the wonderful dishes that I enjoyed there. The best things I had in my travels were the salads loaded with fresh vegetables, which are served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are especially welcome when the temperature climbs in the summertime.

Maya was born in Arizona, but moved to Israel when she was three months old. She is a self-taught cook and baker, and has a gorgeous blog, Bazekalim as well as self-publishing her own food magazine. When she invited me over for lunch, she prepared what’s known as Israeli salad in her country; a finely chopped mixture of raw vegetables doused in a lively dressing with a typically Israeli flourish of lots of fresh herbs, chopped and mixed in at the last minute. She also adds toasted seeds and nuts, which gives the salad even more crunch.

I love fresh, brightly flavored salads like these, and she was kind enough to share it in a guest post. It can be varied to use whatever fresh vegetables are available where you live. Thanks Maya! – David


Israeli Salad

Israel is a land of immigrants. While most of my friends were born here, their grandparents were born in places like Iraq, Russia, Yemen, Morocco, Poland, or even Romania – like mine. So it’s not uncommon for dinner tables to include a mix of Lebanese, Italian, and Bulgarian cuisine, all at once. Everyone will happily mix everything in their plate, and will make a point of explaining to you how authentic their grandmother’s food is, and how it is better than yours.

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Haj Kahil

fried cheese

When I left the restaurant Haj Kahil after lunch, I said to someone – “That was the best day of my life.” When Erin, who was dining next to me, took a bite of the fried Halloumi cheese, her whole body softened, her eyes dimmed, and she looked as if she had been lulled into a trance.

Labna with wild mustardpomagranite juicefried haloumi cheesewaiter at Haj Khil

And when someone tried to talk to her, she said – “I’m sorry. I’m just…having…a…moment..with…this….cheese…”

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Da Dong/Squid/Les Jules Verne/Yquem

geoduck

I now have conclusive proof that I’m not imagining it: There is an international conspiracy to get me to eat squid. Before you say, “You should try it breaded and dipped in spicy sauce!” or “You haven’t tried had my Thai-style squid!” – I should let you know that I’ve installed a special filter on the site that bans the words “You should…” or “You don’t know what you’re missing” just to save folks the trouble.

I was invited to a Chinese lunch, cooked by Da Dong, who is considered one of the best chefs in China. Because I’m from San Francisco, Asian food feels like it’s part of my culture and although more and more good Asian places are opening in Paris, I still miss digging my chopsticks into salt & pepper crab or a big pile of fresh pea shoots sautéed in chicken fat. Paris was a horrible, horrendous mess – one of those crummy days when the wind is blowing sideways, deep puddles are everywhere, and the heavy rain just refuses to stop blasting away at you, and the entire city. I felt sorry for all the tourists lined up in the watery blitz to visit the monument, because just one lone elevator was operating as the rest in the tower were out-of-service.

Fortunately when I reached the Eiffel Tower, there was a canopy for refuge for restaurant patrons and the elevator to the restaurant was functioning fine. I was happy to be inside and making my way up, with a spectacular view of Paris, and ready for a Chinese feast. Lunch was sure to be a bit more refined than the family style Chinese fare that I often wolf down with pals, but I was interested in tasting a few things that I was completely unfamiliar with. I am fairly astute when it comes to knowing ingredients, but I was thrown for a loop by most of what was served, and came face-to-face with my aforementioned nemesis.

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Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

wild rice salad

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to use up things I already have in the cupboard, plus eat seasonally, plus make things that are relatively easy to make – and this salad fit the bill on all counts. It combines tahini with wild rice and used up some of the marvelous root vegetables that I can’t help buying at the market, even though I should be using up what I’ve already got on hand. It’s not the prettiest salad in the world, but compared to what I didn’t show you of my refrigerator, that bowl should be hanging in the Louvre.

Speaking of which, I’m only going to give you a glimpse of my jam-packed refrigerator (and I mean literally, there are over a dozen jars of assorted jams in there) because I don’t want my refrigerator scrutinized. Not that I’m ashamed of having a bottle of bbq sauce and some store-bought feta, but, well, my refrigerator is sort of a disaster at the moment, and I’m hoping to take care of that shortly. (Although I’ve been saying that since November…of 2007.)

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Blog Notes

BLT

Dinner at Hidden Kitchen

On May 13, I’ll be hosting a dinner at the always-booked Hidden Kitchen in association with the folks at Context Travel. Local food gem Meg Zimbeck will join me, and aside from a super dinner, guests will also get a copy of my upcoming book, Ready For Dessert.

There’s just a few spaces left, It’s now sold out, so if you’ve been dying to try Hidden Kitchen, or would like to get a closer look at that worrisome bald spot that appears to be growing on the backside of my head, you can e-mail your name to be on the waiting list.

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