The Scent of Fried Eggplant

Some of you may be thinking, “Oh no…not another eggplant recipe!”

coneheads animated GIF

I get it, I like eggplant, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. So how do we make this fried recipe from The Scent of Orange Blossoms interesting?

History. Provided you find history interesting. I’ll make it entertaining….

Eggplant did not come from an Isle of Eggplants, but from the regions of India and China. It then spread in both directions, west and east where it ended up in Egypt, the Iberian peninsula and finally England. The Wikipedia page on eggplant pulled a quote from a British writer that states

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere. -English Botanist 1597

The people of the western side of Earth loved this purple cucumber and it followed many cultures and crossed the pond into the Americas in such a fashion that would make a bodysnatcher proud.

If this little history lesson hasn’t amped you up enough, I have another tidbit for you. Apparently at some point in China’s history the below quote was a thing.

In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day. –The Elegant Eggplant

So ladies, if you’re single this is number 4 of eggplant recipes that I have written about. You’ll need 8 more if you want to get married and I’ll certainly update you if I come across more.

What you’ll need

  • 1 globe eggplant
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • finely minced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or balsamic

The first step is to cut the eggplant into 1/2 thick slices. Then place them on paper towels and salt them. This will help with the frying process later.

Let the eggplant soak in its salt bath for about 15 minutes and then turn over the slices and repeat on the other side.

This is like eggplant’s version of sunbathing/spa treatment.

After both sides have been salted, rinse the eggplant with water, pat dry, and then set aside.

Get more paper towels and line a baking sheet with them.

Side note, what did people do before paper towels for these eggplants? I’m sure they just used a towel of some sort, but it had to have been a super absorbent one right? The middle ages version of a shamwow is what I’m picturing.

We are now ready to fry the eggplant. Do so by heating two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add just enough eggplant that each slice has its space and then fry each side. You’ll know they’ve been fried enough when the eggplant establishes a light brown color. Once each side is fried, allow it to drain on your paper towel pan.

Once they’ve cooled you can garnish with garlic, parsley, preserved lemon rind, and vinegar.

After this process they are ready to be served and enjoyed!


Eggplant, (2018) fried in pan



Rosh Hashanah Cabbage Soup

This Rosh Hashanah soup comes from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. It’s a hearty and comforting soup traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah, but I think it’s probably okay to eat it other days of the year.

If I’m wrong, by all means speak your peace.

What you need

  • 1 small to medium green cabbage
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 10 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish

The first step is to slice your cabbage. To do so, cut it in half, remove the core and slice into thin strips.

Cut all of your other ingredients now and then combine everything on the list, minus the cilantro. It’s garnish, people, not an ingredient.

Bring this concoction to a boil. When foam begins to appear, skim this off.

Have you ever wondered why recipes constantly ask to skim off foam. I mean, what did foam ever do to a soup. A lot, apparently. I looked it up.

The foam causes a greenhouse effect on your soup, which is a no-no to the cooking process because simmering is important in soup cooking. Otherwise you get overcooked soup and then people start debating about whether or not global warming is a real thing.

It’s just bad, so get rid of it.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the foam, minimize the heat to medium so the soup can simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Basically, we want to cook until the meat is tender.

When the meat is tender, you are ready to serve and garnish with cilantro.

As you might have observed, this soup is effortless and straightforward to make. It’s also delicious. This dish ranks high on my list of meals to make again for those reasons. Sure, I like gourmet food, but if it’s labor intensive, I don’t want to make it all the time. What American who works over 8 hours a day and never gets month off vacations in August has time for that?

I’m jealous. I should move to Europe.



Skimming that foam!


Mediterranean Beef Stew

The Scent of Harira

Déjà vu, synchronicity, or coincidence? I’m not sure what word would best describe this situation. All I can tell you is that I did not plan nor did I realize that my next recipe was going to be another Harira soup.

This version doesn’t have lamb meat, but it does come from The Scent of Orange Blossoms which is a traditional cookbook of Jewish-Moroccan recipes. So, we can gather that this version is more traditional than Isa’s.

The authors of this cookbook say that this dish “typifies the cross-cultural exchanges between Morocco’s Arab and Jewish communities.”

Both cultures have a tradition where they break each day’s fast with this soup. Muslims in the month of Ramadan and Jews at the end of Yom Kippur.

The lesson I get from this is that food is the answer for peace! I declare open borders for food!

Getting back to tradition. Isa, in the last entry seemed surprised one would use angel hair pasta in this soup, but the two ladies who wrote this cookbook mention that angel hair is one of many variations. Should I let Isa know?

You can also use leavened bread as well as various types of grains.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup of brown lentils, cleaned and picked over
  • 7 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 20 sprigs of cilantro
  • 15 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of raw long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • Wedges of lemon

The first step is to heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. By the way, when in doubt, use medium heat. Moderation is a friend of the doubtful.

Add the onions to the pot and stir in a moderate intervals of time for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the celery, lentils, and 6 1/2 cups of stock. Cover your pot and bring this to the max boil, aka rolling boil. Cook this under the max boil for 10-15 minutes and then decrease to moderate medium.

While this is happening, you can prepare your tomatoes via the scoring method. Scoring involves marking your tomatoes with the x of death on the stem and then boiling in max heat boil for 30 seconds. Drain and cool the tomatoes after that and by then you can skin them alive and chop them to bits.


Cooking is brutal

When you have brutally murdered and dismembered your tomatoes, you will add them into a blender with 1/2 cup of stock, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, and ginger. Your goal is to have a fairly smooth consistency. When you’ve reached that goal, add it to your pot along with rice and garbanzo beans. Cook this for 30-35 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

5 minutes before your soup is ready, bring it to a simmer. While it is simmering, in a bowl, mix flour with the remaining stock to create a paste. Add this to the soup and stir until it thickens.

You are now ready to serve your soup with a fresh slice of lemon!

I liked this version of Harira better than Isa’s. It wasn’t as hearty, but I preferred that. The lemon slices are a nice touch that I enjoyed as well. It gave the soup a refreshing citrus taste that wasn’t present in Isa’s version.

I can see why both are popular to end a fasting period too. They are hearty, comforting, and relatively healthy at the same time.


Dodie’s Bean Soup with Preserved Lemons

My next recipe comes from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. I acquired this cookbook from a college class about women from the Middle East and it’s  specifically about Jewish-Moroccans cooking. It is also has sprinkles of history written in-between the recipes which is why my professor added it to her curriculum.

For this particular recipe, the author included a letter from a mother to her two daughters about how life has changed in the city of Fez. She tells them about how when she was young all the generations of the family lived together and worked as a community.

It was not uncommon for multiple generations to live together for many cultures in the past. I know that in my own family history, I had relatives that lived and worked on family farms.

I find pleasure in discovering similarities between vastly different cultures.

Another similarity between my culture and Jewish-Moroccan culture is family comfort food. Dodie’s Bean Soup with Preserved Lemons is such a meal, according to Dodie that is and I’m not gonna dispute her on it.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups of dried baby lima beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 lamb or chicken sausages (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 of preserved lemon rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

Before we begin, this recipe requires some early preparation. Most notably, the preserved lemons. I haven’t been in the mood to ever go and try to buy preserved lemons, mostly because I’ve never seen it off hand and it’s easy to do on your own. I’m sure you can buy it somewhere though. Despite it being easy to do, it is kind of pain and it makes making this recipe hard to do if you just want to make it on the fly one night.

If you are okay with waiting in anticipation to make this soup and want to preserve your own lemons give yourself three weeks. As I said, it’s not hard, but it takes time. What you do is cut a cross into the nub of a lemon and then slice half way down. Pull the lemon apart a bit and then sprinkle as much salt as possible inside. Place the lemon in a mason jar and repeat the process until you have compressed as many lemons as the jar will hold. Leave that jar on the counter overnight and add another lemon. Continue to do this for a few days and be sure to flip the jar each time to evenly disperse the salt. Eventually the rind will soften and that’s when it’s ready to be consumed and preserved even longer by refrigeration.

Again, this process takes about three weeks.

The other preparation for this soup involves the beans and tomatoes. The tomatoes are real easy. You do the cross stitch cut and boil method for that. You only have to boil them for 30 seconds. If you wait until they are completely cool, the skin will just slide off.

The beans are a pain but also easy to do. Ideally you’ll want to soak those puppies in cold water overnight. You should then be able to rub off the skin easily. The quick method is to boil them with salt for three minutes and then let it soak in the salt water for an hour. Both methods work and the skin will come off easily, but it’s difficult keeping track of what is skin and what is bean. It’s kind of tedious and I do recommend asking for help.

Now that I’ve got those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move on to the cooking.

The first step is to mix the paprika with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until a paste forms. Once the paste forms heat it in a large soup pot over medium heat until it darkens. Once the paste is dark enough, add the beans, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir and then cover the pot to let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Once those three minutes are up, lower the heat to a low setting and allow the beans to cook for an hour or an hour and 1/4.

When the beans have softened you can discard the bay leaves and add garlic, cumin, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes.

While this is happening, get your lamb or chicken sausage out and slice them. You will cook your sliced meat in a small skillet with olive oil for about 4-5 minutes.

As soon as the meat is ready, I say it’s ok to add it to the soup, but if you’re nervous about it you can go ahead and dice your lemon rind, wait until those initial 30 minutes are up and add everything together. After you add the meat and lemon the final step is to pepper and salt the thing.

The final result is comforting and tasty. The lemon and cumin are the strongest flavors. I think if I made this again, I’d dial back on the cumin. I also recommend letting the lemon soak into the soup. I actually liked my leftovers of this soup better than my fresh version because the lemon flavor had blended into the soup by then as opposed to overpowering it.

The best part about this soup for me was the garlic though! By the time this soup is ready for consumption, the garlic has softened and becomes this nice ball of mushy goodness. I’m not describing it well at all, but trust me when I say it’s delicious.

So, yeah, this soup was a success and I’d make it again if I had some help. It doesn’t top French Onion Soup, but it’s a contender for sure.


Awwwwww, it matches my placemat!


*Some time after this blog was published, I discovered that Trader Joe’s sells preserved lemons. You always find the thing you need after you don’t need it.

Lard Ass’s Soup of Revenge

I was going to call this entry the red soup of failure, but it reminds me a lot of the pie puke from the Lard Ass story of Stand By Me.


Best served hot, but despite this, could be used as a tool of revenge

I don’t know what kind of childhood all of you had, but I was picked on. I also had a bit of a fat stage. I wasn’t huge like Lard Ass, but I was a bit roly poly. Like Lard Ass, I wasn’t going to take any crap about it. A girl once kept calling me fat in elementary school and I whipped around, folded my arms, looked her in the eyes and said, “Maybe I am fat, but I’d rather be fat than mean like you!”

After writing that out, it’s doesn’t seem all that badass. At the time it was though. Trust me on this. I’m still quite proud of myself for that anyway. I’m proud of Lard Ass too! I love that story in Stand By Me. Sure it’s disgusting, but it’s still my favorite part of the film. Anyone who doesn’t like seeing a picked on underdog get revenge is probably the man. Damn the man! Go Lard Ass!

In Lard Ass I trust!

The reason I was originally going to call this soup a failure is because I screwed it up big time. This was disappointing on multiple levels, because it came from my cookbook The Scent of Orange Blossoms. The last soup I made in here was mind blowing delicious. It’s the same soup I referenced in my last entry too. So that was disappointing, as well as the fact that I haven’t liked anything I’ve made recently.

Thankfully, I made something yesterday that was a winner, so my next entry will be a happier, more successful one.

The main reason this was a failure is because I couldn’t find two major ingredients. If I had, had those ingredients the soup would have turned green instead of red. Also, it might have been good, but I may never know.

Those two main ingredients I missed out on were turnips and fava beans. I substituted with baby beets and lima beans. That was the best I could do!

I’m still perplexed as to why I couldn’t find turnips too! I went to two grocery stores! Seriously! I went to Von’s and Gelson’s! Neither had turnips! I started to think that maybe I had missed something in my years of life. Like, maybe turnips and beets are actually the same thing. So, I looked it up on my handy dandy smart phone. They are not the same thing, but they are both root vegetables, so close enough, I guess? Not really, though, reader, not really.

I did the right thing by getting lima beans as a substitute, thankfully. The author does acknowledge that fava beans could be hard to find, unless it’s Passover time that is. She recommends frozen baby lima beans as a substitute. I didn’t read the details again and just got fresh ones. Go me.

Anyway, to make this soup, which is called Passover Fava Bean Soup, by the way, is 4 pounds of fresh peeled and shelled fava beans, 1 peeled and quartered potato, 1 peeled and quartered turnip, 1 quartered onion, 6 cups of beef stock, 1 1/2 cups of cilantro, 2 teaspoons of salt, and pepper.

The first step is to soak, peel, and shell your beans. This is excruciating and annoying. I recommend employing third world kids to help you out with this, because it takes forever. Once the beans are ready, though, the rest of the process is fairly easy. That next step is to cook the beans, potato, turnip (beets in my case), onion, and 2 cups of the beef stock in a pot. Bring this to a low boil and keep at a medium heat. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or until your turnip is tender.

You will then allow it to cool and blend. As I’ve mentioned in the past, an immersion blender would be so nice for this. Unfortunately I still don’t have one and as a result, made a huge mess. The mess also reminded me of Lard Ass’s story, just in case you doubted the connection.

When you blend, I should mention, this is the time you add the extra beef stock as well as the cilantro. So, blend away, until you have a smooth consistency.

The final step is to re-heat your blended mix and serve. Feel free to garnish with extra cilantro and season with pepper and salt.

Despite it’s resemblance to pie puke, this soup wasn’t terrible. It was just kind of bland for me. I also think I should have soaked the beans and beets longer. Then again, maybe it beets and beans just shouldn’t go together. Maybe it would have turned out better with turnips.

I’m not dying to find out, though. If you feel like trying, let me know.

Potaje Tangérois aka Tangier-Style White Bean and Chard Soup

According to my The Scent of Orange Blossoms cookbook this soup is a specialty of Jewish families from Tangier. I do not know if that’s true, but this soup is most certainly delicious and therefore special to me.

I have a confession though!  I messed up my writing order! My OCD side is wigging out, but thankfully I have a chill side that’s saying, whatever man, it’s not really a big deal. Thankfully I’ve been real good at listening to my chill side these days.

I joke all the time about being OCD, but in reality I just have, maybe, slight tendencies. This girl from my past was being kind of a snarky bad word to me once about saying that whilst we were in a the bathroom. I made a joke about how I needed to put toilet paper on the seat because I’m OCD. So she make a snarky comment about how one of these days I was going to offend an actual OCD person.

So that side note is for you, snarky comment girl. Who made you the OCD police anyway? I don’t get certain people.

Let’s move on to the subject at hand. What you will need to make this soup is 6 cups of beef stock, 1 pound of beef shank meat, 1 small beef marrow bone (I omitted this), 1 1/2 cups of small navy beans, 2 bay leaves, 8 cloves of peeled garlic, 1 carrot, 2 bunches of Swiss chard, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, cayenne pepper. 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil, and harissa.

Your first step to make this is the harissa, unless you chose to just buy some. I recommend making it though. It’s not hard at all and it’s cheaper to make it then to buy it.

To make the harissa you need 8 large or 16 small dried chilies, 1 roasted red bell pepper, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin.

I have a suggestion for the chilies that turned out well for me. I ended up buying a mixed dried chili mix from the Mexican aisle at Von’s and used about 4-5 tablespoons of it. It was easier to do then soaking and cutting a bunch of chilies. Also finding dry chilies is not the easiest thing to find at Von’s.

Most of this recipe is putting everything into a blender. The only exception is the bell pepper. The bell pepper will need to be roasted in the oven, skinned, and then cut into strips. The garlic also needs to be peeled, but other than that, you just throw everything in the blender until it’s nice and smooth. After doing so, you will have some tasty homemade harissa, which you will add as a topping for the soup.

For the actual soup, the first step is to combine the beef stock, beef (which needs to be cut into cubes). beans, bay leaves, 6 of the garlic cloves, and the carrot (which should be sliced and peeled). Bring to a boil and skim off the foam. Once you’ve skimmed off the foam, reduce the heat to a nice balanced medium, cover, and let cook for about two hours.

I have to note that I kept having to add water, because the beans were soaking up all the beef stock. This didn’t affect the overall taste, thankfully, but it is something to be aware of.

While all of this is cooking, you can prepare your chard. This recipe said you would need two pounds of chard. That was too much. I ended up using one and a half of two bunches I bought from Von’s. I think you could even get away with just one. For your chard, though, you will cut the leaves into ribbons and the stems into 1 inch pieces.

You can add the chard to the rest of the mix once the beans have softened and you will leave them in there for about 10-12 minutes. Once that time is up, you will add 2 cloves of garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne. Cook that for another 10-15 minutes.

Once that’s done you can serve, but as you do, you garnish each serving with some olive oil and harissa.

I had a nice surprise when I made this soup because my good friend Megumi stopped by before a rehearsal of hers. She will be performing in a production about the creator of Astro Boy. Her rehearsals are near where I live and she lives about ten miles north of me. So it was a good excuse to hang out. I let her have some of the soup and she liked it so much I copied the recipe for her.

I don’t normally have anyone to show off my hobby to so when people actually try and like what I cook, I get very excited. So thanks to Megumi for being sweet and brave enough to try it out! Also if you live near LA you should go see her show.


Megumi approved!

Chicken Phyllo Triangles or Whatever Shape you Want Really

This appetizer comes from The Scent of Orange Blossoms, a Jewish-Moroccan cookbook. Phyllo is a thin pastry most commonly known to be used to make the mediterranean dessert Baklava.  In this dish it is used to make something similar to a Samosa.

My first step in making this dish was actually prepping for a week by preserving lemon rind. To make my lemon rind preserve I took two lemons and cut a small wedge out. Inside the lemon I sprinkled as much salt as possible and then placed the cut wedge back. I then put both lemons in a mason jar. Every day I pressed down on the top lemon and sprinkled a bit of salt in. I did this until the juice rose above the lemons.

In the book, they have a recipe for this, but it requires more lemons and more time. So I split the difference and I believe it turned out alright.

To actually make this dish, the first step is to cook a diced onion in two tablespoons of vegetable oil. The next step is to cook four pieces of skinless chicken thighs. To do this, you add it to the onion, along with water, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon and let that simmer for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Once the chicken is cooked, you sift it out and set it aside to dice later, once it’s cooled, of course. While you wait for the chicken to cool you add to your onions and spice mix, an egg, salt, and pepper. Let the egg cook by continuously stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated. Once that happens add two tablespoons of diced lemon rind, parsley, and your cut chicken.

The next step is to whip out your phyllo dough to be filled. Von’s surprisingly has their own brand in the frozen food section, by the way. I had a hard time with the phyllo dough. I wasn’t in a very patient mood and dealing with phyllo dough requires patience because it’s so thin and tends to stick real easily to the other layers. Speaking of layers, I decided to layer each “triangle” with three sheets to prevent leaking. These particular sheets are fairly wide too, so I had to cut them in half.

To make a triangle, you place a tablespoon of filling in a corner of your sheet. You then fold half of the sheet up in a 45 degree angle covering half of the filling.  This step made sense to me, but for the following steps I had hard time focusing. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t feeling patient when I made these. Also my brain has a hard time processing angles and explanations of that nature. Despite this defect, I somehow managed to get A’s when I took geometry though. I’m more of a step by step visual learner when it comes to these things. To help my readers out though, I’m just going to cite the authors of The Scent of Orange Blossoms.

Place a scant tablespoon of filling about 1 3/4 inches from the bottom edge, and 1 inch from the left side of the strip. Fold the bottom right-hand corner up 45 degrees to partially cover the filling. Then fold the triangle straight up to align the left side of the triangle with the left side of the strip. Next, fold over the bottom left-hand corner to the right side of the strip. Continue folding in this manner, from side to side as you would a flag, gently pressing the filling as you work, to obtain a phyllo triangle about 3 1/2 inches on a side. Tuck in the free end to seal.  – (Mamane, Danielle and Morse, Kitty, 37)

I was feeling so bleh the day I made these, that even though I’ve made triangle shaped pastries before, I was just not having it and ended up making whatever shape I wanted. I encourage you to give it a shot. It’s not really that hard, I was just being lazy.

Once you have folded and filled your phyllo shapes, the final step is to fry them in vegetable oil. As some of you might have read in my previous posts, frying has not been a pleasant experience for me. So this time around I did the dough test. The dough test is when you drop a small bit of dough into the oil to check if it’s hot enough. If the dough gets fried up right away, then it’s ready.

Since I did the test this time, my frying experience turned out much better than it has in the past. So I do recommend being patient about that.

Anyway, the final result of my multi-shaped phyllos was quite good! You get a hint of taste from the lemon rind and the combination of cinnamon with turmeric gives the chicken a kick of flavor, but not overwhelmingly so. I love the way the chicken tastes in this recipe so much that I think I might use it for a chicken and rice recipe of my own making.


An inside look of the phyllo appetizer


My random shaped phyllos