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guests from Tel Aviv, recipes for their food

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
People are coming to visit many familys in my area. They are from "Yafo" which is somewhere by Tel Aviv.
My meal responsibility while they visit is the appetizer portion. There will be a total of 25 plus my husband and I. I would love to do a hummus bar with roti, also a Mediterranean cold salad of carrots egg plant onions. Also a tabouli type thing. Asking for help with "different" hummus recipes. I have 3 roti recipes and the salad things are east to replicate. I would like them to feel at home with the hummus and I see many recipes all very much the same. If you don't mind posting really good ones, thank you. They arrive July 7 and I want to have my time with them perfected and worked out.
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post #2 of 39
If you think of hummus as simply a bean puree, you can take it in all different directions by changing the beans you use (and the flavorings that go with them).

Black beans with toasted cumin, hot pepper, and chopped cilantro.

White beans (cannellini) with olive oil, lemon juice and grated zest, and rosemary.

Brown lentils with curry powder/garam masala and yogurt.

And of course adding other ingredients to regular hummus -- pureed roasted red pepper, as one possibility.

While all these have different international flavors, they are recognizable and so not "scary." And they are easy to make and quite inexpensive for a crowd.

Hope this helps.
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post #3 of 39
I have been instructed by two different chefs that a Hummus is not a Hummus without some tahini sauce (its just pureed sesame seeds, makes a gooey peanut butter like substance). we also added pureed and strained jalapenos ( for that No.Cali touch, otherwise not necessary), lemon (one juiced), lime juice (one juiced), some salt and pepper. the first chef i worked under used only garbanzo beans (chick peas) the second used a mix of white beans (cannelli or small navy) and chick peas. otherwise the recipe was similar enough not to matter...I think i'm forgettinhg something.....
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post #4 of 39
Just a thought - When i travel to a foreign country, i particularly want to try the foods of that country, in their own context, with local ingredients, which are never the same when we try to reproduce them elsewhere.
I know people mean well when they make me an italian meal when i come to visit, but there is nothing worse than getting something abroad that i can get any time at home, and there are so many interesting dishes abroad that i can never have at home. Not to mention that they are never as good made abroad.
Take my advice, make the best food you can make, use local ingredients, make traditional stuff, and make it well. Don't fumble around trying to reproduce something that first of all you never made, and secondly, that they probably will make themselves all the time, and better.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 39
Pie Lover,

I don't offhand have any recipes for you, but I will say this: where your heart is certainly in the right place wanting to serve your visitors the food you believe they're used to, don't go overboard. Tel Aviv is a very cosmopolitan city with a veritable fruit basket of different international influences and foods available to them. A friend of mine is Tel Aviv's leading wine critic, for instance, and I know that the minute he leaves the food he's looking for is the food he CAN'T get in Tel Aviv. And total gourmand that he is, hot dogs and good pastrami top his list. Don't not do your hummuses, in other words, but for gosh sakes serve your visitors regional specialities from wherever you live and from your own repertoire of signature foods.
post #6 of 39
I'm with siduri's idea on this one.

I rather should not like to travel half way 'round the world to eat the same stuff I find at the corner store....

obviously you need to consider dietary 'restrictions' - but heck, treat 'em to somethin' new and different!

exception: if they've been 'on the road' for six months, yeah, something akin to home would be a welcome tingle to the taste buds.
post #7 of 39
I second the comments about "something different"! When I travel, whether it was Portugal, Italy, France, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen Arab Republic, Saudi Arabia, wherever, I was interested in what THEY had to offer, not what I could get at home.

I'm not sure where you call "home", but be sure and include some of YOUR regional specialties.
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post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 
Out west is home and local favorites are varied. I was thinking I could get off easy with no brainer food of their homeland.
All of your posts were helpful and your comments about letting them eat our faire for a change is probably wise. Can't swear I'll follow through though.
I have tomatoes and basil growing with several other herbs that I could tap into. Maybe Angels on Wings too, I love them and I can do them a bit in advance. Nicely spiced wild salmon mousse on RyeKrisp topped with caviar and fresh baby mint leaves. I was thinking of Myer lemon lemonade and strong coffees
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post #9 of 39
Not sure if your a MOT or not, but if not stay away from anything with pork or any kind of shell fish, or fish without fins and scales (IE. swordfish/eel)

Its unlikely an American will be able to make food as good or better as they are getting back home so I would make them American food too, Salmon, an american breakfast with turkey bacon, grits (no cheese if you are serving bacon) and pancakes, and fajitas comes to mind.
post #10 of 39
Try making anything you know how to make well. Hungarian,French, Polish. All of these cuisines are the basis of Jewish cookery as the Jewish people traveled throughout all of Europe many years ago and adapted all of their dishes to their own.
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post #11 of 39
I agree with Abe here; also, don't mix dairy with meat or poultry. You'll still have plenty of options if you keep those restrictions in mind.

Think "vegan" and you'll have even more options to choose from. Think "vegetarian", but avoid the shellfish- again, you'll have more options to choose from.

Good luck!
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post #12 of 39

Kosher is Komplikated

When trying to be sensitive to other folks' kosher observance it's best not to assume but to simply ask.

Many Israelis as well as other jews eat pork, shellfish and mix dairy with meat. Some are slightly restrictive in incomprehensible ways for incomprehensible reasons. For instance, my mother ate bacon and spare ribs but balked at pork roast.

While jewish restaurants in Israel are kosher, international and "arab" restaurants are not. Pretty much everyone who isn't orthodox eats pizza. Not just margherita either, but pepperoni, sausage and all the good stuff.

Even within the context of sort of kosher the reason for (Mezz's) suggestion to "think" vegan/kosher escapes me. If they're so serious about kosher they won't eat dairy (milchig) in your home -- they won't eat off your plates either. That doesn't seem to be the case. Besides, another name for "festive, vegan-vegetarian feast" is "disappointment followed by KFC on the way home."

Vegetables are what food eats.

For all you know they go to bed dreaming of lobster bakes and pulled pork. Sensitive isn't guessing. They're either friends or friends of friends, right? At any rate, there's an information pipeline. So, ask already.

Traditional, local foods at the Israeli eastern edge of the Mediterranean are pretty much what you see in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and the Maghreb. Unsurprisingly, Israelis like Mediterranean food generally so that adds French, Italian, Spanish and Adriatic dishes to the mix. I've got hundreds of wonderful recipes of any degree of complication you could imagine. If you want a few -- great. Just give me some idea of what you want.

The best suggestion for entertaining a group of your size is to cook what you cook best and will allow you to enjoy your guests rather than showcase you food. A barbecue is convivial, friendly, easy and very American. Personally, I'd grill some steaks and smoke some fish.

One nice thing about fish is that it's "pareve." That is, it's neither fleischig (meat) or milchig (dairy) but goes with either. If you don't get all the kosher nuances nailed down, you can serve fish and still dress your dessert with whipped cream.

Farmed salmon is OK, but unexciting. If I decided on fish, I wouldn't decide on a particular type until day of, then would go to an Asian fresh fish market and choose something VERY fresh. Of course, not everyone has the same resources for fresh fish.

BDL
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post #13 of 39
Lover of Pies: What's an Angel on Wings? Never heard of that one. But I'll bet it's good! :lips:

Iirc from your initial question, you are doing appetizers for a dinner for 25 people. You absolutely cannot go wrong with the items you've suggested (wild salmon mousse, fresh homegrown tomatoes and basil, bean dips and spreads) -- and don't have to worry much about your guests' restrictions (if any), since you're already offering a variety, none of which anyone might object to (except for reasons of taste, but not religion). Also, since you're considering a variety, if there's one thing someone won't eat, there are probably plenty of other things they will.
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post #14 of 39
I'll second that. When I was in Germany, I wanted German food, When I was in France, I wanted French food. When I was in England, I got tired of canned peas and soggy french fries darn near every day for lunch. Well, there was that one pub by the Three Bishops that had REALLY good bread and I got my first taste of shropshire blue cheese.

How about a big batch of chicken wings, baked, grilled or fried depending on your facilities, with different dipping sauces like barbeque, buffalo, blue cheese and such?

mjb.
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post #15 of 39
Anyone have any good Palestinian recipes?
post #16 of 39
I agree very strongly with BDL. Don't guess about kosher -- or any religious dietary restrictions, for that matter. Ask. As BDL says, they might well eat pulled pork and stuffed lobster tails, and then again, there is the exceedingly slight possibility that they won't eat anything prepared in your kitchen because it is all unclean, and everything in between.

I do not think there is anything wrong with serving a couple of small things that seem to you "homey" for an Israeli. You mean well, and a kind gesture is a kind gesture. But to serve them what they get at home when you don't have all that clear a sense of how to make hummus -- that's a recipe for an awkward sort of evening.

Make your specialties, what you think your kitchen is all about. You are their host: make them welcome by giving them what you like best, and gesture toward what you think they might be familiar with.

Personally, the gesture I would make would not be hummus, nice though that can be. I'd hunt around for several varieties of the finest olives I can afford, and ditto with almonds and pistachios. I would arrange these in lots of little relish dishes, with little spoons for serving. At the last minute, I would drizzle the olives with a dab of the best extra virgin olive oil I own. The other gesture I would make is the presence of a great deal of good wine.

To make hummus, the easiest thing is to buy 2 cans of very high-quality organic chickpeas. Strain them, reserving the juice. Add a generous couple of spoonfuls of excellent tahini -- you might want to look around for a halal butcher to get this, because in my experience halal butchers also sell a number of other things for their customers' convenience, mostly pantry goods like tahini. Add a generous squeeze of lemon and a good pinch of salt. Process to a smooth puree. Taste: it should taste as much like chickpeas as like sesame, if that makes sense. The lemon is in the background, but it should be there. If it's too thick, dilute with a little bit of the strained chickpea water, but don't overdo it. (Some people prefer to dilute with olive oil, but I find it makes the dish greasy and the oil can sometimes take on a harsh, metallic flavor when processed this way.) Make sure it is not undersalted. I don't care for garlicky hummus, as a rule, but if you're going to do it crush a clove of garlic to a puree and drop it in with the chickpeas right at the start.

Shortly before serving, spread the hummus in a circle on a wide soup plate or similar, and use a palette knife or the like to smooth it out. Sprinkle with a wide ring of paprika. Drizzle with lots of fine lines of excellent extra-virgin olive oil. Garnish with a parsley sprig if you think it looks blah.

If you're going to serve it with pita, hunt around for fresh-baked. You're trying to make a nice gesture, not shock them with the low quality of American packaged baked goods.
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Um, well, I tripped up a few in here with initials to something I was thinking of so > touche. I give up about the MOT, Master of Trepidation? Please help, cause I'm slow this morning.
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post #18 of 39
MOT: Member Of the Tribe = Jew
post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 
I love all these posts and the suggestions are really good ones yet at same time, making my head swim. I can't ask in advance, I don't know these people. It's a shoot from the hip occasion. I will research more, meaning if they're kosher or not, I've not been told so if they don't eat what I make or anyone else makes, I sort of can't worry about that. I'm now thinking keep it simple...very simple and as inoffensive as I can do which means to me, a bit boring and typical, oh well
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post #20 of 39
MOT = Member of the Tribe, i.e., Jewish.

Chris's recipe for hummus was excellent, but I'd like to add the following. It's normal and customary to make additions to hummus. The most frequent would be to add half to one garlic clove per each can of drained chick peas before pureeing.

Almost universal: After plating the hummus and evening it on the plate, grooves are drawn on the top with a fork to hold the olive oil.

Restaurant/party hummus should be garnished. Best, extra virgin olive oil, plenty of paprika, and plenty of parsley are pretty much de rigeur. Sprinkle some toasted pine nuts across the top and ... heaven.

I don't serve hummus by itself, but as one of several dips and small salads. In my opinion, once you've committed hummus you've pretty much committed to the whole mezze type thing. So, tzatziki, babaganoush (aka mutabel), dolmas, olives, almonds, etc.

FWIW, in the region, the word "pita" is generic for flat-bread which includes but isn't limited to the dry, pocket bread we call pita in America. There's another flat bread, called khoubz I think, which we call "arab" or "Greek" flat bread. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that it's better than pita for all the dipping and what not.

Presumably you're asking about the sorts of foods Palestinians make (good thing), as opposed to food made with Palestinians in the ingredient list (bad thing). As far as I know, there are very few, if any, distinctly "Palestinian" dishes. Until fairly recently "Palestinian" wasn't the sort of ethnicity that developed an independent cuisine. If you understand something of the history of the region and the last few hundred years of the Ottoman empire, you know the regional economy of what is now Palestine has ranged from poor to poor. You'll also understand why the dominant threads of cuisine are Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese with a healthy dose of Egyptian. The mix and match aspects lend it more richness than the limited kabab and salad cuisine so typical of many other mid-eastern countries.

In other words, it's very likely you'd have a similar meal in a Damascus home as in Bethlehem. The difference in mom's homemade you name it, is probably more about mom than ethnicity. That said, some of the regional produce, particularly truck produce like peppers, onions and tomatoes are spectacularly good -- even by the high standards of the Med.

Just some thoughts,
BDL
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post #21 of 39
Agh! I knew I forgot something. Pine nuts! And yes, they must be toasted, preferably at home no more than a few hours before serving. Just put them in a small dry pan over medium heat and shake them occasionally. Once you smell toastiness and see a little bit of color, start shaking them very often and watch closely: as soon as the oil in the nuts gets hot, they brown very fast, and can burn.

A note on making hummus. If you're making a lot, plan on batches unless you have a very big food processor. 2 cans of beans per batch. Any more than that and it'll never puree. Just mix all the batches together at the end to even out the flavors.

BUT...

I just noticed that a lot of what we've been writing here has missed the point. Your job is to provide appetizers, full stop. Somebody else is doing main course, another dessert, and like that, right?

Okay, I know you've been bombarded, but here's my suggestion. (Is that your final answer? That's my final answer.)

Make the hummus. You want to, it's easy, if you buy good ingredients it's terrific. Get a bunch of good olives and almonds and set them out too. More touch of home stuff.

Then make a big thing of fresh salsa the way you like it. Everyone loves fresh salsa, and by now it's an American standard.

Last but not least, make your favorite hot appetizer if the kitchen will allow it, or your favorite cold one if not. Whatever your #1 go-to party appetizer is, the one you count on to be a hit every time and can make blindfolded. I know you've got one -- maybe more than one. We all do. Make that. It doesn't make any difference if it's ultra-fancy or ultra-plain, the point is that it's a taste you love that you want to share with your guests. If someone doesn't like it, fine, he or she can eat other things, but that's irrelevant.

What you're saying is, "I want you to feel at home, to feel welcome. Here is something I think you probably love, and I have tried to make it the way maybe you love it. Here is something I love, and I hope you love it too. Please enjoy yourselves." That, to coin a phrase, is a winning recipe.
post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 
I'm so glad I asked for help here.
So much help.
About being a Member of the Tribe.
Who'd a thunk it?
No, not Jewish, Baptist.
Ha ha ha, that sounds so funny.

Thanks for my final answer too. Because you know what? I am making hummus, I want to make it, I'd like to make it, I love the stuff myself from past experiences and the vehicle for dipping into it will be varied as is my personality. One dipper wouldn't do or be me. So I've looked up how to make roti, looks easy enough, and pita, looks easy enough, and whatever else I come up with.

I'm going to make several batches of hummus so I can get it right to my taste buds. I think they're pretty good. Love the suggestions of the additives to hang around the table too. I'm getting excited now that I have an idea of what the day will bring.

Yes, I am only doing the app portion. Nothing else. I got off easy.
Since the tomatoes will be good by then in the yard, and with all else I grow, salsa will be on the table too. I'll make the chips too.

My kitchen is huge so I have ample room to do whatever. My go to app to take to parties isn't probably going to work because it is caviar pie. You know, the cream cheese, sour cream, hard boiled eggs, caviar in tri colors, red and green onions on top, with a variety of crackers. The dairy and fish warnings have told me to not consider them.
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post #23 of 39
Make it anyway. Anyone who actually needs to avoid it on account of kosher restrictions will just avoid it and not be offended. It's not like you're serving pork with shellfish cream sauce. It's just a dairy appetizer, and if someone prefers not to have milk and meat at the same meal he or she will figure it out just fine. As I say, if they were really being strict about it, they couldn't eat anything at this shindig, so they're clearly doing something more flexible, and you can safely leave it up to them.

Oh, and if you're going to make pita from scratch, you'd better practice some batches. I've not made it, but I hear it's a little more finicky than it looks.
post #24 of 39
Thread Starter 
Sorry for not responding sooner. AOW are just chicken liver chunks soaked in buttermilk for a couple of hours, patted dry then sauteed quickly in clarified butter then wrapped in phillo...the "package" then wrapped with thin piece of proscuitto sprinkled with a bit of cracked pepper then baked till golden. They're addicting. I like to dip them in a light light light homemade lemon mayo.
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post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 
To ChrisLehrer

I wouldn't serve an off the shelf anything < regarding the roti or pita of naan.
I would make them all from scratch, the reason I bought the huge kitchen.
In Minnesota I had something quite wonderful called lefse. Not sure it's sturdy enough but the flavor with a nice hummus could work also.

What is a halal butcher? Meaning kosher?
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post #26 of 39
Much the same: a butcher who slaughters, or at least prepares animals slaughtered, according to Islamic law. The local Arabic community will tend to do a lot of shopping at these places, which is why they also tend to stock things like tahini, good chickpeas, and many, many other Middle Eastern pantry standards.
post #27 of 39
Thread Starter 
Should I buy fried chick peas and soak them or really good qual canned?
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post #28 of 39
You can go dried or canned. If you make your own from dried, reserve the cooking water, you'll want some. If you go canned, try and find Egyptian chick peas. They're superior to domestic..

BDL
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post #29 of 39
Thread Starter 
Odd thing is I saw a halal yesterday first time ever . No time to run in but now I know where it is for future shopping.
Thanks for the advice about Egyptian chickpeas .
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post #30 of 39
That's okay -- this is the first chance I've had to come back and check. :D

Those sound fabulous!! And very likely addictive. But definitely not kosher. :lol:

Then again, if you didn't soak in buttermilk, sauteed in oil instead of butter, and used kosher turkey "bacon" or something similar, it could work. Hmmmmm . . . I'll have to ask a friend who keeps kosher what she thinks. Or Mezzaluna -- what do you think? What could be used instead of proscuitto?
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