Cooking Challenge: Recipe 1

I’m only about a week late to start my cooking challenge! I’m very proud of myself if only because:

(a) I allowed myself to start late
and
(b) I didn’t give up the whole thing just because I’m a week late (I have perfectionist tendencies).

That being said, I’m very VERY excited to share my first recipe with you guys! The idea of this challenge challenged me if only because I needed to decide: do I learn to cook the foods I grew up with, or do I challenge myself to try new cuisines. And then I realized, why not both?!

To start off I’m learning to make something I absolutely loved growing up: kubbeh hamusta.

Many of you don’t know, but I grew up in Israel. Most of my family moved to the states when I was 8, but enough remained that we went back every year. Sometimes more than once. And every time I had a list of foods I absolutely had to have when I was there. Kubbeh hamusta, though late to the game, quickly became one of those foods.

About a decade ago, I decided to try to make my own kubbeh at home. It’s a messy process, and knowing that going in didn’t make it any less messy. My mom recently brought home a cook book about Jerusalem that had a handy trick about kubbeh making. And so it became obvious to me what my first recipe had to be. Of course, or maybe not of course, the trick ended up being useless! But alas, I have all the ingredients and am just waiting for the dough to finish resting.

But first, a little explanation of Kubbeh. As Molly Yeh has made apparent, pretty much every culture has its dumplings. Kubbeh are the kurdish dumplings – semolina/bulgur casings stuffed with meat. I like mine in soup, but they are also popular deep fried and served as an appetizer. At least that’s how I know them, but doing some research I’ve come to learn that pretty much every culture in the middle east has their version of kubbeh.

I’ll be honest, kubbeh is not traditional to my family. We are decendents of Eastern European Jews. Our dumplings are krepalach, not kubbeh. But Israel, like my current home, is a melting pot. Albeit one built from a very different mix of population. The American culture is very much dominated by western European countries. Israel is dominated by Eastern European and Middle Eastern culture. Hence the krepalach and the kubbeh.

Now for the recipe!

Filling

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped very finely
1/2 tbsp baharat seasoning
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsely

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pan.
  2. Add the onions and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the meat and baharat to the onions, allowing the meat to crumble and change color.
  4. When all the red is gone, remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Dumpling Dough

2 and 2/3 cups semolina
7 tbsp all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cups of hot water

  1. Mix the semolina, flour, and some salt in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add in water, stirring with a wooden spoon and your hands until combined.
  3. You are looking for a sticky consistency, so if all the flour doesn’t combine or if the dough feels dry add in a bit more water.

Assemble the Dumplings

  1. Once the dough and meat have rested sufficiently, remove the dough from the bowl, spread some water droplets on a good working surface, and knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s workable.
  2. Break off about a 1 0z piece of dough, roll into a ball, then flatten and form a thin bowl (about 1/4″ thick) in your hand. If the dough gets sticky, wet your hands (it’s handy to have a bowl of warm water near by).
  3. Place about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of the bowl and start pinching the edges together until the kubbeh is sealed. Gently form into a bowl and place on a greased/lined sheet.
  4. Repeat until you are out of dough or filling. This recipe should yield about 24 kubbeh.
  5. At this point you can freeze some of your kubbeh or cook all of it per the following instructions.

Soup

4 cloves garlic, crushed
5 celergy stalks, cut on an angle
10 and 1/2 oz swiss chard leaves cut into strips
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
2 quarts chicken stock
1 large zucchini, cut into cubes
6 and 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute the onion and celery until softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and swiss chard leaves and stir for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. If you had any filling remaining after assembling the dumplings, you can add it to the pot at this point as well.
  4. Place the chicken stock, zucchini, and lemon juice in the pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Lower to a simmer and add the kubbeh, making sure not to crowd the pot to prevent the dumplings from sticking together.
  6. After about 7 minutes you can add more dumplings.
  7. The soup is done when all kubbeh have been simmering for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Serve 1 or 2 kubbeh with some soup and vegetables.
  9. Store kubbeh in a separate container from the box.

 

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