Tuna Melt

P1090312This classic American open-faced sandwich brings me back to the summer camp days of my childhood. It’s so simple—your favorite tuna salad, spread on slices of good bread and topped with cheese. Broil it to a bubbly crisp and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious meal.

I like my tuna salads to have lots of crunchy vegetables in them. Here I used bell peppers, celery, onion, and capers along with a bit of mustard and mayonaise.

P1090283P1090286P1090292Once your tuna salad is ready, all you’ve got to do is heat up the broiler and assemble your sandwiches. Top with your favorite cheese and broil away.

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Tuna Melt

2 cans tuna
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp mustard
1–2 tbsp mayonaise (to your desired consistency)
6 slices cheese (I used swiss, but cheddar also works great)
6 slices bread (I used rye, any kind will do)

Mix the tuna with chopped vegetables, capers, mustard, and mayonaise to make the tuna salad. Arrange the bread slices on an oven-safe tray (if you prefer a crunchier base, you can toast the bread first). Evenly distribute the tuna salad across all six slices, then top with cheese. Put tray under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Feel like a kid again as you bite into your tuna melt!

Eggplant-Tahini Salad (Baba Ghanouj)

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I’ve never really cooked much with eggplant. I certainly like it in Chinese stir-fry dishes or Thai curries, and I think it tastes nice in the Eggplant “caviar” my mother-in-law makes (similar to the Zucchini “caviar” I told you about here). And I like it in baba ghanouj.

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Here in Israel, they just call it eggplant salad (sometimes made with tahini, sometimes with mayonaise). The idea is so simple: roast the eggplant, then when it’s cooled down, scoop out the insides and mix with tahini, lemon, garlic, and salt. And yet I’ve always been a bit intimidated. I finally worked up the guts to try making this delicious spread at home, and what do you know? It actually is amazingly easy! You can char the skin like I did here to get a smoky flavor, or even skip that step and go straight to the oven for a milder (and slightly less messy) version.

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Twist on Israeli Salad

P1090228Salad: we’re both using the same word, but I’m not entirely sure we’re talking about the same thing.

In America, a salad means some sort of leafy green as a base topped with large slices of various other vegetables, possibly some sort of meat/egg/cheese, and a creamy dressing or emulsified vinaigrette of some sort. The American salad requires a knife and fork to eat, since the lettuce is ripped in large pieces by hand (cutting with a knife is considered bad form, as it can damage the delicate leaves), and the other ingredients are too large to be eaten without cutting with a fork and knife.

In Israel, as in other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, salads are often based on the triad of cucumber, tomato, and onion, chopped finely and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. No lettuce required (and no lettuce desired—many people look down on salad served with leafy greens as mostly “filler”, with no real substance). The vegetables should be cut into small enough pieces so that you get a variety of flavors and textures on your fork with each bite. There is definitely no cutting at the table.

P1090223P1090225I have to say, I’m firmly on the Israeli side of this issue. The basic cucumber/tomato/onion trio can be modified or embellished in an infinite number of ways—here is one that we recently had, adding shredded cabbage and corn to the mix, along with a yummy pre-made salad seasoning mix (“Green Blend for Salad and Cheese”) that was gifted to us by a good friend. The seasonings included lots of dried herbs, plus dried onion, sesame, and sunflower seeds. All was tossed just before serving with olive oil and lemon juice, plus a sprinkling of salt. Perfection!

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Beef, Leek, and Potato Stew

P1090199I know, I’ve been away for awhile. I said three times a week and here I am, six days between posts! I’m sorry.

But I have had so much going on this week, it’s fantastic. I’ve gone to three amazing networking events that have expanded my job searching mindset and given me the confidence to potentially go into uncharted entrepreneurial waters (eek! not quite yet though). I’ve also had four interviews, one of which was some place I might actually like to work. Plus I’m learning to code. As in, computer programming. As in, my deepest darkest nemesis that I have always been terribly afraid of, finally being tackled. More on this in the future.

And on top off all that, I made beef stew. Beef, leek, and potato stew to be more precise. It was delicious.

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Not Your Average Chickpea Taco

P1090175I should preface this by saying that there’s no Mexican food in Israel. Not really. I mean, there are a few places that claim to be Mexican restaurants, but I’ve yet to be convinced of their authenticity.

To be fair, this isn’t Mexican either. But it is very tasty, and involves homemade tortillas.

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At first, I didn’t even know what I was making. I put on the chick peas to boil, and started rummaging through the fridge to see what I could use to make a salad. I found a ripe avocado, red bell pepper, tomato, and half an onion, plus a can of corn in the cupboard. Although these things make a great salad together, I felt just a little bored with the idea—and besides, I wanted a little carbohydrate to wrap the whole thing up. And then it hit me: make it Mexican(ish)!

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30 Days to Freedom

This time a month ago I was feeling drained. Leaving the known world of academia, and stepping out into the vast and unexplored “real world” is scary and dispiriting. I found myself waking up each morning not knowing the direction of my life, and it frustrated me. With no way to glimpse my future career and no long-term plans to ponder, I knew I needed to take action, to take control of the present moment—and thus was born this infant blog.

Thirty days ago, when I committed to this new venture, it mattered less what the blog was about—or even what the name would be—and more that I had made a commitment to build something new. To create.

Because that’s what gives me the feeling of security and direction when it comes down to it—I’m creating something. Yes, it’s just a humble blog about food and life. No, it’s not going to bring me a monthly paycheck or win me fame and fortune. But I’ve found out something about myself: I’m happier when I’m producing something, working toward some goal larger than the current moment.

What’s next for the blog, you may ask? Not to worry—I’m going to keep it going, just not every day. For this month (March) I’m aiming to post three times a week.

I’m still waking up each day and checking the job boards, networking, and doing all the same things as before. But in the meantime I’m finally getting excited not only for what’s around the corner, but for what’s in front of me today.