Cooking Class: Cold cuts

In the summer, look for recipes that call for very little or no cooking at all.

Cold cuts (photo credit: MCT)
Cold cuts
(photo credit: MCT)
Last weekend I spent in Amsterdam, where the summer weather was chilly, windy and rainy, just like winter in Tel Aviv.
Although I had a marvelous time, as a person who much prefers warm weather to winter, I was happy to get back home.
But I must admit that at this time of year, I do have less of a desire to cook, and am sure that as the summer days go by, that feeling will only grow. So when possible, I look for things to make that require little or no cooking, like salads, sandwiches or quick stir-fries or pan-fried chicken breast.
Several weeks ago I suggested limiting our dependence on soy products, and while I still believe that to be true, I don’t think it’s necessary to eliminate them completely; tofu is a light, easily digestible form of soy that can be very useful and versatile as a non-cook protein substitute, especially when you don’t want a heavy meal.
And since we all know that fish is light and a good source of heart-healthy omega 3, summer is a good time to add even more of it to the diet. So if you’d like to do more than open a can of tuna fish, try ceviche, a marinated fresh fish dish where the fish “cooks” in lemon (or lime) juice. It’s refreshing, light, and when served as a first course (especially in the recipe below which serves 8-10) can be very cost-effective.
Makes 4 cups (third to half cup per portion)
Use this as a sandwich spread, or to stuff lettuce leaves or other vegetables. To stuff lettuce leaves, either use iceberg lettuce or dip Romaine lettuce leaves briefly in boiling water and cut off a layer of the hard back rib. This mixture is rich in protein, fiber, omega 3 and anti-inflammatory spices.
Note: Look for mango chutney in Asian or specialty food stores, or use the quick-cooking homemade recipe at the end.
✔ 4 Tbsp. 3 to 4% fat yogurt
✔ 3 Tbsp. soy or regular mayonnaise
✔ 2 Tbsp. mango chutney
✔ 2 tsp. curry powder (preferably Madras curry)
✔ 1 package (300-350 gr.) tofu, crushed with a fork
✔ 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
✔ 1⁄2 cup scallions (green onions), finely chopped
✔ 1⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts
✔ 1 cup red grapes, halved
✔ Salt and pepper to taste In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, mayo, chutney (chop any large pieces), curry powder, salt and pepper.
Rinse the tofu and drain well. Use a fork to mash it finely and add to the yogurt mixture together with the celery, scallion and nuts. Lastly, stir in the grapes. Cover and chill till serving time.
You can serve this as a main course, along with toast and a variety of salads (and then it will serve 4 to 5, or as a first course to serve 8 to 10. In August when there are limes, substitute lime juice for all or part of the lemon juice.
NOTE: To toast coriander seeds (to enhance their flavor), place them in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat and toast stirring occasionally, until the seeds are fragrant. Place in a paper or plastic bag and use a mallet to crush them.
✔ 400 gr. bass fillet (from 2 fish, 1 kilo each)
✔ 4 Tbsp. each olive oil and lemon juice
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. coriander seeds (toasted and crushed as described above)
✔ 1 medium yellow or green pepper, finely chopped
✔ 1⁄4 cup parsley, finely chopped
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
✔ 1⁄3-1⁄2 cup red onion, finely chopped
For the beets:
✔ 1 package cooked beets, drained and cut into small cubes
✔ Pinch cumin
✔ 2 tsp. olive oil or avocado oil
✔ 1⁄4-1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard
✔ Salt and pepper to taste
✔ Radish sprouts to garnish
Ask the fishmonger to skin the filets and remove all the bones. When you get home, rinse them and cut into small pieces. Place in a glass bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, crushed coriander seeds and salt. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours (or up to 6 hours).
In the meantime, mix the beets with the remaining ingredients except for the sprouts and the beets. Cover and let chill 30 minutes.
To serve: Place a heaping Tbsp. of the beet mixture in the center of a small plate (for a first course) and flatten it down. Repeat the process with a heaping tablespoon of the ceviche mixture (use a slotted spoon so it drains slightly).
Garnish the top with a pinch of radish sprouts (I cut off the bottoms with scissors to make them 1.5 cm high so they will stand nicely) and serve.
Mango is in season, and as the summer progresses, the cost will go down. This is one of my favorite recipes.
✔ 1⁄2 kg. mango
✔ 1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. fennel seeds
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. hot pepper
✔ 1⁄3 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄3 cup water
✔ 1⁄4 cup raisins
✔ 2 tsp. corn starch (cornflour)
✔ 2 Tbsp. water
✔ 2 tsp. oil
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. black mustard seeds (or yellow if necessary)
Peel and slice the mango. Place in a pot with the sugar, cumin, hot pepper, salt, 1⁄3 cup of the water and raisins. Lightly grind the fennel seeds with a kitchen mallet or in a mortar and pestle, and add to the pot.
Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat 6 minutes.
Mix the cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water and stir into the mixture. Continue cooking on low heat 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the flame.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, and toast the mustard seeds until they pop (in seconds). Stir into the chutney and bottle. Keeps for up to one month in the refrigerator.