Florentine Salad

koolkosherkitchen

This is a combination of two salads. Years ago in Israel, my aunt served a simple, yet delicious and healthy salad. It was just thinly sliced celery with diced scallions, dressed Israeli style, with lemon juice and olive oil. I loved it, and started making it regularly. Then I saw one of the antipasti offered at Hosteria Romana owned by our friend Marco Efrati right here on South Beach (caution: Hosteria Romana is advertised as specializing in Roman-Jewish meals, but it is not kosher). This antipasto consisted of celery, red onions, and cannellini beans.

ofi_0010The stocky jolly guy standing under the sign is Marco. We can’t eat there, obviously, but I can look, and when I see cannellini (white kidney beans), I can taste Florence. So I put two and two together and tweaked it a little.

Florentine salad 1.jpg

I still have my sliced celery and diced scallions, but  I throw…

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“All You Need Is Love” – Zoodles, Part 4. Chocoodles.

koolkosherkitchen

This might be a difficult concept to understand, but love is an obligation, a duty. This is contrary to the image created by popular culture, from Ancient Greeks and Romans, to Shakespeare, to romantic movies on Netflix.

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The mythical Amur, or Cupid, is a cute mischievous child armed with bow and arrows who blindly shoots unsuspecting mortals through their hearts and laughs his curly head off  when they fall in love. A wealth of world art has been inspired by this little prankster. However, Judaism perceives love as “the emotional pleasure a human being experiences when he understands and focuses on the virtues of another human being.” Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the dean and founder of the worldwide educational organization Aish HaTorah, explains that “love, therefore, is overwhelmingly dependent upon how one views another person. If we choose to focus on a person’s virtues, we will love them. If…

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Pyshka – Sweet Roll and a Baby Kitten

koolkosherkitchen

Pyshka is a sweet roll, baked or deep-fried, with or without filling, made with yeast or as a quick bread, i.e. yeast-less. Sort of a Russian doughnut with a Polish name (most sources derive the name from Polish pączek  – sweet roll). Another theory attributes the name to Russian pykchat’ which is archaic for deep-frying, but since the method of deep-frying was not discovered in Russia until 1835 (www.pekari.ru), while pyshki had been frequent already on Ivan the Terrible’s table three hundred years earlier, as recorded in the palace kitchen accounts, this one does not hold water. Neither does the legend about a Dutch captain Gregory Hanson (is that a Dutch name? Curious!) who never let a sweet roll out of his hand until one day, during a violent storm, the waters were so turbulent that he had to grab the wheel with both hands, so he pinned the…

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Unfair Trade: Muffins for Tobacco

koolkosherkitchen

Are muffins bread? Are they cakes? Are they supposed to be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, dessert, or all of the above?

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Are muffins really cupcakes without frosting? Thomas Jefferson thought so, and called muffins “a luxury to us.” Today, you can get a recipe for Monticello Muffins at www.monticello.org.  But those are not American muffins, tall, soft inside, but with a crispy crust. They are English muffins, yeast-based and flat. Still, in the colonies, they were a novelty and a luxury.  In England, though, they probably arrived from Wells together with the most miserly and avaricious, as well as the most unlikely king who won the throne by defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Poor Richard, much maligned in history, hadn’t been able to trade his kingdom for a horse and ended up forfeiting the crown together with life.

Henry Tudor, or Harri Tudur

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The Real Treasure of the Caribbean: Haiti, Part 1. Baked Fish.

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I love my Haitian students. Make no mistake – I love all my students, and I reveal in having “the United Nations” environment in my classroom. However, students who come from this tiny, much-suffered, but proud little country have a special place in my heart. No matter the topic of conversation, if there is even one Haitian person around, invariably the discussion will turn to education. They absorb knowledge the way we breath air, and always ask for more.

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The first and the oldest black republic in the world, and the second independent country in the Western Hemisphere after the United States (M. Christopher, Haiti, 2016), it has a fascinating history, colorful and dramatic.

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Columbus landed close to what today’s is the town of Cap-Haitien on his first voyage in 1492. Under his command he had three vessels, Nina (“The Girl”, later known as Santa Clara), Pinta (“The Painted”)…

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Purple Cake for a Purple Friend

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Although Roman Emperor Aurelian was a great military commander and “Restorer of the World” (Restitutor Orbis), he was far from generous with his wife. Having “restored” the world by conquering vast territories and defeating armies of those who foolishly refused to be conquered,  he still begrudged Lady Ulpia a trifle – Tyrian purple silk shawl. Granted, the shawl literally cost its weight in gold because purple dye was made from a tiny mollusk found only in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea (now in Lebanon), and it took about nine thousands of those critters to produce one gram of purple dye!

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The skinflint ruler undoubtedly could’ve afforded this bit of extravagance for Mrs. Emperor, but very few other people were rich enough to buy even a purple tassel or ribbon. Color purple became a mark of extraordinary wealth and stayed that way for many centuries.

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Thirteen hundred…

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Zucchini Caviar from Beyond the Sea

koolkosherkitchen

Tzar Ivan the Terrible was a cruel tyrant. Everybody knows that. And just like many things that “everybody knows” and thus nobody questions, the sobriquet “Terrible” should be taken with a grain of salt. Since we are in the middle of Pesach (Passover), I recommend Kosher for Passover Red Sea Salt.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844 - 1930)  Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581  Oil on canvas, 1885  199.5 × 254 cm (78.54 × 100 in)  State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow,  Russia

True, he did accidentally kill his son Ivan Ivanovich, but the kid had the temerity to argue with dad! You gotta have respect for your elders! However, look at the other European monarchs, his contemporaries: Henry VIII used to chop off his wives’ heads left and right, presumably considering it much cheaper than suing for divorce (I know, the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce, so he eventually became his own Pope – the original DIY guy). Catherine de Medici killed close to 30,000 Huguenots during the Night of St Bartholomew, and that was no accident!

Fast forward four hundred…

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Let Them Eat… Potatoes!

koolkosherkitchen

From the Inca Empire to Queen Marie Antoinette of France, to the Russian patissiers (pastry chefs), traveled a simple vegetable, to be transformed into a delectable pastry.

inca_king

Here is this civilization which, starting in the early 13th century, in three hundred years grew into an immense empire and, by the time it was conquered by the Spanish, occupied most of South America. According to historical records, it has spread somewhat by conquest, but mostly by peaceful assimilation. The Incas had an elaborate system of religion, culture, and societal structure, yet to the European eyes, they were missing the staples of civilization: the wheel and the animals to drag wheeled vehicles, the metals, such as iron and steel, and, most importantly, the literacy. No wonder Europeans considered them savages, but objectively, “the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history” (McEwan, 2006).

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Lacking metals…

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