Great Dishes to Welcome Spring

Lobio Pkhali

This recipe (a cross between a salad and a relish) is from one of Gil Marks’ books, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes From Jewish Communities Around the World (Wiley). This book showcases an authentic collection of 300 simple, enticing recipes that accentuate signature flavors of time-honored vegetarian dishes from Alsace to Uzbekistan that are still very much alive today.

8 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) dried red beans or about 3 1/2 cups cooked red beans

Bazha (Georgian Walnut Sauce):

1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) walnut pieces

4 to 5 cloves garlic

about 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or hot paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek or 1 to 2 seeded and minced jalapeno chilies

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

Sliced red onions for garnish, optional

Cover beans with water by several inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain. Or use rinsed and drained canned red beans.

In a food processor (or using a mortar and pestle), process the walnuts, garlic and salt into a paste. Add the cilantro, coriander, cayenne, fenugreek and turmeric. Stir in the vinegar and enough water to make a sauce the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and store in the refrigerator, for at least six hours so the flavors can meld. The sauce thickens as it stands and may require thinning with a little water.

Slightly mash the warm beans, leaving about half of them whole. Stir in the bazha. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours.

To serve, spread on a plate, smoothing the top. Score a diamond pattern in the surface and garnish with red onion slices. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 4 cups or eight to 12 servings

Pesto Lemon Sole with Plum Tomatoes

A quick and easy recipe from Passover Made Easy by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek (Artscroll/Shaar Press).

2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

Coarse black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

4 lemon sole, flounder or tilapia fillets (or salmon)

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine basil, garlic, walnuts, salt and pepper.Pulse to combine. Add oil and pulse again to form the pesto.

Place fish in a baking pan and spread pesto mixture over each fillet. Place tomato slices over the pesto. Bake, uncovered, until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 minutes.

Serves 4.

Granny’s Five-Flavor Pound Cake

Easy, moist, complex in flavors, totally foolproof, and when it bakes, the smell of the five extracts in the buttery dough will have you droolin’. From Chef Carla Hall’s new book, Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You (Free Press/Simon& Schuster, Inc.). Many will remember Hall as the favorite chef in the 2011 Top Chef All-Stars season, and now you can watch her on ABC daily series “The Chew.” Hall believes that the only way you can make memorable and nourishing food is to cook it from the heart. Cooking with Love is a collection of Hall’s all-time favorites, from country classics with a fresh spin to simple savory dishes. There is something for everyone, and the book is peppered with “Catering Like Carla” tips.

Nonstick baking spray

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon rum extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan with baking spray.

Sift flour into a large bowl, measure out 3 cups sifted flour back into the sifter. Return any remaining flour to your flour container. Add the baking soda and salt to the sifter and sift into another bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on medium, add eggs, one at a time, completely incorporating each egg before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in thirds, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour. Continue beating for 2 minutes on medium speed, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally. Add the extracts, one at a time, completely incorporating each before adding the next. Continue beating until the batter is shiny, about 4 minutes.

Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, between 45 to 60 minutes depending upon the pan used.

It will smell really, really good. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold onto the rack and let cool completely.

Serves 12.

For more recipes or details about Sheilah Kaufman, visit www.cookingwithsheilah.com.

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