Tahini Adds Richness to Sweet and Savoury Dishes

Dec. 4, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

Last Sunday, it was warm enough to serve brunch al fresco. We wore our jackets and ate a simple meal in a sunny corner of the garden. 

Two days later, my husband was out shovelling the driveway after a substantial snowfall in Toronto.

If the weather keeps up, we will have a white Hanukkah. We light the first candle on Thursday, Dec. 10.

This week, “Kitchen Talk” has a guest contributor for the Spotlight feature. Jacqueline Louie, a Calgary-based freelance writer and editor, has written about Israel Cookalong, a weekly cooking class from Israel. The classes are run on Zoom and attract participants from all over the world.

Louie has included a recipe for Tahini Cookies from Israel Cookalong.

I have kept this week’s recipes to the tahini theme. Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is a Middle Eastern food that has become very popular worldwide and is used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.

I have found two savoury recipes from two wonderful cookbooks that utilize tahini. Tahini Glazed Carrots can be found in Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman, and Beets with Tahina is from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Philadelphia-based restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook.

I tried the Tahini Glazed Carrots last week. It’s a delicious dish that would work well for Hanukkah or any festive occasion. The carrots can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold.

Solomonov said Beets with Tahina is one of the most popular menu items at Zahav, the award-winning restaurant he co-owns with Cook. 

SPOTLIGHT

Israel Cookalong Has A Global Reach

By JACQUELINE LOUIE

Every Sunday at 11 a.m. (Eastern Time), Miriam Kresh logs onto Zoom and leads the Israel Cookalong from her kitchen in Petach Tikvah, Israel.

The Cookalong, which Kresh started in the spring of 2020, attracts Canadians from Calgary, Winnipeg and other cities, along with participants from the United States, South Africa and Israel. 

They cook together in real time via Zoom. At the end of each session, everyone has freshly cooked dishes inspired by Israel’s multi-ethnic cuisine.

Examples of the Cookalong recipes include Herb-and Nut-Crusted Schnitzel, Chicken Tajine with Apricots, and Majadra, a lentil and rice dish.

“We share wisdom, crack jokes, and tell stories while we cook. It’s like a party in your kitchen every Sunday,” says Kresh, a Jerusalem Post writer.

Her former food blog, Israeli Kitchen – it was acquired by Mother Nature News network– is now part of the online publication, From The Grapevine.

Amy Kenigsberg participates regularly in the Israel Cookalong from Maale Shomron in central Israel. “You’re making recipes for food you’ve never heard of, so you’re learning an enormous amount about Israeli cuisine and Israeli culture. “And the food is really good!” says Kenigsberg, who cooks for a family of five. They enjoy the Israel Cookalong meals “because it’s not the same boring stuff that I make all the time.”

Kenigsberg encourages people to try out the Israel Cookalong. “It’s a great group of people that you’re cooking with. I feel like I’ve made some really nice new friends, even though we only meet once a week on video.”

To find out what’s cooking at the Israel Cookalong this month, or for more information about registration, email Kresh at miriamkresh1@gmail.com. Type “Cookalong” in the subject line.

“I’d love to welcome you to the classes,” she says. “You can join for one session or more, as you choose.”

TAHINI COOKIES Miriam Kresh 

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (200 g) soft margarine or butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
1 cup (250 ml) tahini. If there’s a layer of oil floating on top of the jar, stir in back in.
2 cups plus 4 tbsp (560 ml) flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
Optional: 2 tbsp (30 ml) pine nuts and powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) 

Cream the margarine and the sugar together.

Add the vanilla and the tahini and blend again.

Combine the flour and the baking powder; add to the tahini mixture.

Form balls the size of walnuts and place them on a greased baking sheet. The dough is dry and crumbly, so squeeze it together to make the balls.

If adding the optional pine nuts, form one cookie ball. Take 2 or 3 pine nuts into your left palm, and with your right hand, press the ball onto them. 

Reverse it when placing onto the baking sheet. If the ball crumbles slightly, just squeeze it back into shape with your fingertips.

Bake 13–15 minutes. Do not bake longer because the cookies need a little moisture to retain their shape and not crumble. Cool the baking tray on a rack, and don’t touch the cookies for at least 5 minutes. (If they’re handled while hot, they will fall apart.) Dust with powdered sugar when they’re cool.

Follow Jacqueline Louie at https://jacquelinelouie.ca/

TAHINI GLAZED CARROTS Adeena Sussman

14–16 (1½ lbs total) *thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cumin

Tahini Glaze: Makes 1 cup (250 ml) 

1/3 cup (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) pure tahini paste
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) silan**
2 tbsp (30 ml) water or more as needed
½ tsp (2 ml) fine sea salt
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper

* Thick carrots cut thin can be substituted
** honey or maple syrup can be substituted

Roast the Carrots 

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange the carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and cumin. Shake the pan to coat the carrots, and roast them in the preheated oven turning midway through, until they have softened and their edges are golden, 25–27 minutes.

Tahini Glaze: While the carrots are roasting, whisk the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, silan (or substitute), water, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl until smooth and pourable, adding an additional tablespoon (15 ml) of water if necessary.

Remove the carrots from the oven. Transfer them to a serving platter, and drizzle then with the tahini glaze. Use tongs to gently toss and coat. Makes 4 servings.

BEETS WITH TAHINA (Michael Solomonov) 

5 cups plus ½ tsp (1250 ml plus 2 ml) kosher salt
8 medium beets
½ cup (125 ml) of Basic Tahini Sauce
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh mint and more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190 °C). Spread 1 cup (250 ml) of the salt in an oven-proof skillet or baking dish. Put the beets on the salt and cover them with the remaining cups of salt. Bake until the beets are tender, about 90 minutes.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove them from the salt and peel. Set them aside to cool completely.

Grate the beets into a mixing bowl, using the coarse holes of a box grater. Add the tahina sauce, oil lemon juice, dill, mint and season with ½ tsp (2 ml) salt. Mix well to blend. 

Top with dill and chopped mint. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

BASIC TAHINA SAUCE (Michael Solomonov)

1 head of garlic
3/4 cup (190 ml) fresh lemon juice
1½ tsp (7 ml) kosher salt
2 generous cups (500 ml) of tehina
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cumin
1½ cups (375 ml) ice-water, as needed

Break the garlic head up and put the unpeeled cloves in the blender. Add the lemon juice and ½ tsp of salt. Blend on high until the mixture becomes a course puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Discard the solids. Add the tahina to the strained lemon juice along with the cumin and 1 tsp salt.

Whisk the mixture until smooth or use a food processor, adding ice water a few tablespoons at a time to thin the mixture out. The sauce will lighten in colour with the whisking or processing. When the tahina seizes up or tightens keep adding water, bit by bit, about 1½ cups (375 ml) in total, whisking or processing until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

Taste and add up to 1½ tsp (7 ml) of salt or additional cumin. If the sauce is not being used immediately add a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen the tahini before refrigerating it.

The recipe makes 4 cups (1 L) and it will keep refrigerated for one week.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Dec. 6, 3 p.m.: Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. Lea Zeltserman will be leading a virtual cooking workshop for Russian Pickle Soup, through Building the Jewish& Cookbook, presented by the Miles Nadal JCC. https://www.facebook.com/events/192408629142347

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Latkes and Vodka Workshop with National food columnist and author, Bonnie Stern, and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Virtual cooking demo for latkes, cocktails and dessert. To register: https://www.cityshul.com/form/latkes-vodkas.html

Dec. 8 & 9 Shoresh Chanukah Markets: Place advance orders for beeswax Hanukkah candles, Chanukah Miracle Bundle, Bela’s Bees Raw Honey, and other sustainable natural products. Pick up locations south of St. Clair on Dec. 8.; locations north of St. Clair on Dec. 9. https://shop.shoresh.ca/

Dec. 22 1:00 p.m.: Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese Food Lecture presented by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States traces the history of Ashkenazi Jews’ affinity for Chinese food from the turn of the century to today. To register: https://secure2.convio.net/yivo/site/Ticketing?view=Tickets&id=102421