Posted by: The MuffinTin Post | July 14, 2012

Congrats, Ridonk.

First this:

Then this:

Could there be any other announcements? Well, apparently yes, there can be.

Mega congratulations to my Ridonkculous Brother and his bride-to-be!

In honor of this occasion, I have already selected the perfect outfit for the upcoming festivities!

But we missed the first Ridonk pictures, Linds! That’s ok: you can find them here, here, and here.

Yes, I know that this is pictured without goat cheese.

I have a really big move coming up in September. I’m moving to Los Angeles, from Jerusalem. That means I’m moving 7579.8 miles. That’s not nothing.

That’s a 10-hour time difference.

That’s a 15-hour plane ride.

That’s a long way from my favorite market in the world.

A different language (at least I speak it).

The beach, not the desert.

A long way from my friends.

To be clear, I’m going because I want to – I’m starting a PhD in Jewish History. Not many people get to live out their dreams, but somehow it seems that I’m doing just that. (And luckily, my dream probably includes a lot of Israel in the future).

I’m starting to get nervous though. What if I can’t handle the work? What if I’m not creative enough? What if I can’t leave Israel?

I wish I were one those people who worked out or cleaned when they were nervous, but I’m unfortunately not. Instead, for one thing, all my weirdo food cravings come out. I eat huge pots of tomato sauce sans pasta. I buy bag after bag of peanuts and raisins until they make me sick. I need baked goods and chocolate and apples. I buy bottles of wine that I polish off too fast by myself. Then there’s the music. I tend to fixate on one or two songs, and I play the heck out of them. Literally, I listen to one song on repeat for hours. It merges into everything I do: my work in the morning, my Hebrew studies in the afternoon, my workout in the evening, tomato-sauce making, evening moments when all the lights are off and the windows are open and I can see the ridge of Jordan from my roof.

Anyway, let’s do this salad. Apricots are in season, and their sweetness is killing me. Yalla.

Summer Salad with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, Sauteed Apricots, and Green Olives

inspired by KatieDid’s salad here; with a version of the same delicious onion jam from Shutterbean


-2 tbsp. butter or oil, plus a little more

-3 large onions, thinly sliced to about 1/4 of a inch thick

-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

-1 tbsp. brown sugar

-6-8 apricots, pitted and halved

-green olives, as many as you want

-chunks of goat cheese, as much as you want

-salt and pepper, to taste


Add the butter or oil and sliced onions to a heavy-bottomed pot. Set over a medium flame. Cover. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the oil. After the onions are translucent and getting soft, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Combine, and uncover the pot. Cook the onions until caramelized and super soft, about 30 more minutes.

Once finished, transfer the onions to a medium-sized bowl, but don’t rinse the pot! Add the halved apricots to the same pot you cooked the onions in, which should still have some yummy drippings. Toss the apricots around in the fat, and set over a medium flame. Saute for about 6-7 minutes, flipping when necessary and adding more oil if necessary. About 4 minutes in, add the green olives. Remove the apricots and olives once after they have just blackened and blistered.

Add the apricots and olives to the onions. Stir in chunks of goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a little olive oil if you’d like.

Posted by: The MuffinTin Post | July 2, 2012

Caprese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onion Jam

A long-ish time ago my mom and I took a cooking class at Central Market (the best grocery store/produce market ever). We got to watch some chefs make several dishes, with big mirrors above them so we could see what was going on over the stoves and on the cutting boards. One of the chefs, I recall very well, made this incredible caramelized red onion jam, which he piled onto toasted, melty caprese sandwiches.

I’ve been wanting to recreate this sandwich for, oh, just about the last five years.

I had a friend over last Friday, and for whatever reason, Friday seemed like the perfect day to make these sandwiches. And indeed, it was the perfect day. The onions were out-of-this-world amazing, the tomatoes ripe and fragrant, the sourdough – well, I bought it at Teller – and if you’re in Jerusalem, you know that means it was good. Plus my friend, who is Spanish, told me that these sandwiches were just like tapas, and I literally had to tell her the recipe for the onions on the spot after she tried them.

You can always get on my good side by complimenting my food.

Just make the sandwiches already. (P.S. I served them with a mega chopped salad with green olives).

Caprese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onion Jam

Caramelized Onion Jam

adapted a tiny bit from Shutterbean


-4 very large onions

-3 tbsp. oil – Something like olive or a nut oil; many kinds would work, but I wouldn’t use peanut or vegetable.

-1 tbsp. butter

-1/2 c. water

-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

-2 tbsp. brown sugar



Slice your onions into rings that are about one quarter inch-thick. Put them in a large heavy-bottomed pan, and heat them over a medium flame. Add the oil and butter, and stir to evenly distribute the fats. Cover the pot, and let the onions begin to cook down until wilted and translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the onions start to burn, slightly reduce the flame, and add a little more oil or butter.

Remove the lid, and add the water, vinegar, and sugar. Stir well. Now let those onions begin to caramelize, uncovered. Stir every 3-4 minutes. Cook, cook, cook, and reduce the flame and/or add oil if there’s any burning. About 30 minutes later, you should have beautifully caramelized onions. If the onions are not soft enough, you can cook them covered for a few minutes. Salt to taste, and try very hard not to eat the whole thing before you make the sandwich!

Let cool. Store in the fridge.

The Sandwich

makes one open-faced sandwich, increase as necessary


-1 thick slice of good bread – Whatever kind you like but should be sturdy


-2 slices of fresh white cheese – Fresh mozzarella is traditional, but I used tzafatit cheese (if you’re in Israel). Queso fresco or feta would be lovely.

-scoop of onion jam

-firm and ripe tomato

-fresh basil


Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Add a pat of butter, and distribute it over the skillet. Toast one side of the bread in butter. Once toasted, flip the bread, and begin to toast the other side. At this point, put a couple of slices of fresh white cheese on the bread. After the second side of the bread has finished toasting, remove the sandwich to a plate.

Add a scoop of onion jam on top of the cheese. Add some tomato slices on the jam, and top with basil leaves, as many as you want. Serve with a fork, some red wine, and olives.

Posted by: The MuffinTin Post | June 21, 2012

Matbucha – Middle Eastern Tomato and Pepper Dip

Here’s a tip for everyone: bleaching the moldy bathroom walls of your apartment in the desert is best done when you are not severely jetlagged, your A/C is not broken, and your roommates are at home. Otherwise, it becomes a rather sweaty affair.

That being said, let me introduce you to what can best be described as an Israeli/Moroccan version of tomato salsa. Matbucha (the “ch” sound similar to the the “ch” sound in “Bach,” or thereabouts and the “u” sound is pronounced “boo”) is always found in the meze course of Israeli dinners. It means “cooked salad,” and it is made, kind of like salsa actually, by roasting pepper and stewing them with tomatoes and garlic. Matbucha is also sometimes called “salat turki,” that is, Turkish salad, and it comes originally from Northern Africa, eventually making its way, via immigrants, into the Israeli culinary scene.

Eat matbucha like this: serve up a big scoop of the dip and another scoop of hummus onto your plate, tear off a chunk of pita or baguette, and swirl the bread in both the tomatoes and the chickpeas. Eat. Repeat. Perfect appetizer.

Also, if you happen to be in Israel, I suggest that you try making your matbucha at home. This recipe makes a giant batch, and it’s cheaper and tastier than buying it prepared. Plus, it’s easy to make.

Matbucha – Middle Eastern Tomato and Pepper Dip, i.e. Salsa

adapted from The Book of New Israeli Food

Note: Ingredients differ slightly depending on whether you’re in the US or Israel since available pepper varieties are not the same. Be aware of those differences when you’re shopping for the ingredients.

makes 6 cups or more


-4-5 large tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes and doubled the number).

-4 red bell pepper

IF IN US: 3 green bell peppers

IF IN US: 1 jalapeño

IF IN ISRAEL: 4 green hot peppers

-8-1o cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

-1/2 c. olive oil

-1 tbsp. paprika

-1 tsp. cayenne or to taste

-1 tsp. salt

-1 pinch sugar

-1 tbsp. tomato paste


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel your tomatoes. To do this, score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an “x,” and drop them into boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove, let cool, and the skin should peel off easily.

Next, put all of the peppers on a cookie sheet, and roast them in the oven, rotating them every 1o minutes or so. The peppers are roasted when they begin to blister and collapse and the flesh is quite tender. Depending on the size of the peppers, this could take 20 – 40 minutes. (Here’s a little tutorial, if that’s helpful).

Transfer the hot peppers to plastic ziploc bags, seal the bags, and allow the skin to separate from the pepper flesh. Once the pepper is cool to the touch, open the bag, and the pepper skins will peel off.

If you’re using a jalapeño, discard the seeds and ribbing at this point – and wash yo’ hands! With soap! Twice!

Dice the tomatoes at small-med size, and transfer into a large saucepan. Cook 5 – 10 minutes, on a medium flame, until the liquid evaporates.

Dice the pepper in the small pieces, and add the peppers as well as all of the remaining ingredients except the tomato paste to the saucepan. Cover, and cook for about 2 hours on a low flame. Stir intermittently.

Add the tomato paste, combine, and continue cooking the matbucha for another half hour.

Matbucha will be ready when thick. Serve hot, cold, or room temperature. You can dip pretty much anything in the matbucha. My favorite is the pita and hummus combo described above. Matbucha also makes a really good base in which to bake chicken.

Posted by: The MuffinTin Post | June 15, 2012

Grandma Gwen’s Vegetarian Baked Beans and Ridonkulous, vol. 1, no. 3

I love beans prepared every way: boiled and spiced, mashed, tossed into salads, refried in burritos, etc, and I fix them these ways, often. However, being from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon, I’ve always left baked beans up to the experts. I’ve always had a host of aunts, grandmas, and greats whose crocks of baked beans needed no interference from me.

However, I was recently flipping through the latest issue of Southern Living (which has been inexplicably sending my mother free copies), and I ran across a soup-up version of baked beans. Instead of plain white beans, this recipe has a mixture of broad beans, kidneys, and other good stuff. I had to make it, especially since this sister’s graduation event was coming up, meaning we had a few parties on the roster.

(Yes, she was the valedictorian!)

But, since this girl is vegetarian, I made Grandma Gwen’s Baked Beans, vegetarian-style. If you like baked beans, you’ll love this. It’s perfect as a side at your barbeque, and it also makes a good sandwich spread, burger condiment, or burrito filling. If you’re in need of a tortilla chip dip, whirl this in your food processor, and you’re set. Also, it’s a little healthier than traditional baked beans.

Lastly, here’s Ridonk with Barney!

Grandma Gwen’s Vegetarian Baked Beans

recipe from Southern Living, June 2012


-6 slices vegetarian bacon, such as Morningstar (or regular ol’ bacon)

-1 tbsp. oil

-4 medium onions, thinly sliced

-1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar

-11/2 c. apple cider vinegar

-1 tsp. salt

-1 tsp. dry mustard

-1/2 tsp. garlic powder

-32. oz. cooked butter beans, drained

-15 oz. cooked navy beans, drained

-16 oz. cooked kidney beans, drained

-1 (28-oz.) can baked beans


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the bacon according to package directions. Set aside, and reserve the drippings in the pan.

Saute the onions in the drippings and oil, until quite tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard, and garlic powder. Combine, cover, and let reduce over a low flame for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the bacon.

After the onions have cooked, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and add the beans. Combine.

Pour the beans into a 9×13-in. pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cover the beans with foil after 15 minutes of cooking.

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