Author Archive | Yael Dolev

Kids at the School and Goats in the Woods

Pine Cobble provides food for all

kidsSchool

What do an early-childhood school, a hardworking farmer, a few college students and a very creative chef have in common?

The surprising answer is “goats”! The more detailed answer is love for what they are doing, passion for food and its sources, concern about our environment and enthusiasm for innovative education.

On April 25 I attended an event described as “Goats in the Woods—Collaboration Connects Sustainable Farming Practices with Unique and Exciting Cuisine. Goats in the Woods, a community celebration sponsored by Williams College Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program. Pine Cobble School in Williamston, Wild Oats Market in Williamstown and Black Queen Angus Farm in Berlin, NY.”

The 20-acre campus looked like such a cool place that for a moment I wished to be a child again. Said Sue Wells, the head of school, “It is a place where children can be children and thrive in variety of ways”.

Part of the schoolyard is a two and a half acre woods. A woodland needs care, and although the philosophy of Pine Cobble is hands-on, weeding is too big a task for most of their students; the school starts at prekindergarten. Hiring a grounds manager was not in the budget.… Read the rest

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Vermatzah

Passover Flatbread for a Mountainous Land

vermatzah

Photos by Eyal Dolev

Passover is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery into freedom, a narrative that became a worldwide inspiration for people who fight for freedom and human rights. What is less known is that Passover was also a major agriculture festival, indicating spring and the barley ripening season, celebrating the awakening of the natural world in days when people’s lives were even more directly dependent on nature than ours. Passover starts with the Seder, a ceremonial dinner to commemorate how Pharaoh, after suffering 10 plagues, drove the Israelites off to the desert, where they wandered for 40 years, becoming a nation and settling at what is now Israel.

The Seder feast incorporates ritual foods, the first is the crispy flatbread known as matzah. “With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.” (Exodus 12:39). The Israelites prepared this substitute for bread out of flour and water, and hasty baked them over open fire. Even today, traditional matzah is made with pure water and grains that have been kept dry or since harvest; less than 18 minutes is supposed to pass from the moment water touches the flour to baking, to prevent leavening.… Read the rest

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MEDITERRANEAN COOKING IN BERKSHIRES

A Fall Variation

earthyCeleryRoot

Photos by Eyal Dolev

In New England, when I hear the word fall my predictable image is that of leaves changing into a rainbow of colors. When I think of that season in Israel, my immediate association is red pomegranates shiny on trees while the sharp lemony fragrance of guavas tickles my nose. Both fruits are at their peak in fall and chefs love to add them to their recipes. In Mediterranean cooking we incorporate fruits with many dishes. We add them to everything from salads to meat, not just to desserts.

As here in the Berkshires we are blessed each fall with the best-ever pears and apples, here are two of my favorite fall recipes (without pomegranate).

RECIPES

Earthy Celery Root Salad

Drunken Stuffed Pears

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Drunken Stuffed Pears

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Stuffed fruits are very common in Mediterranean cooking. Serve them as a snack or an aperitif, as a first dish or as a side dish. Use firm fruits to avoid their falling apart while cooking. Because apple and pears when cut fresh tend to get darker due to oxidation, blanch them immediately with lemon or white wine when handling. Here is a recipe for a baked pear, using the advantage of the fabulous taste of Berkshire Blue cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

4 pears, peeled (optional), cut in half and core removed*
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup white wine

For the stuffing:

½ cup Berkshire Blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons cream cheese**
1/3 cup nuts, diced***
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs****

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Set pears in a baking dish with their open sides up. Pour wine on and around the pears. Sprinkle nutmeg on the pears. Cover the baking dish and bake for 20– 30 minutes, until pears are tender but not too soft.

In a bowl, combine blue cheese, cream cheese, nuts and breadcrumbs. Mix well. When pears are ready, take the baking dish out of the oven. Spoon some of the leftover wine from the baking dish over the pears, and fill pears with the cheese mixture.… Read the rest

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Earthy Celery Root Salad

earthyCeleryRoot

Yield: 4 servings

Celery root or celeriac is the root of the plant Apium graveolens. While in North America we are familiar with the aboveground stalks and leaves known as celery, the roots of a closely related plant are very popular in the Mediterranean and European cooking. In recent years celery root has started to appear in our markets too.

When shopping for celery root search for the heavier roots, as they have not dehydrated and so will be fresher and tastier.

Sometimes farmers sell them with the stems, and though these are less prominent than celery they can certainly be used too; just cut the stems from the root and store them separately.

I love celery root and add it to many of my recipes, as it adds taste to any stew or mashed roots. One can’t cook a healing chicken soup without adding celery root to the pot. But celery root can also be eaten fresh, as a vegetable, in a refreshing salad. Pairing sour, crunchy apple with the earthy, naturally salted celery is a winning combination. This salad can be served alongside the pears for a fruitful fall branch.

For the salad:

1 celery root, cleaned, peeled and shredded.*
1 green Granny Smith apple, cleaned and shredded.… Read the rest

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playingTheMarket

PLAYING THE MARKET

Mediterranean Approach Yields Fresh Fare

playingTheMarket

Photos by Yael Dolev

When I became naturalized citizen, I was grateful for my welcome to this country. I was eager to assimilate, and to tone down my Mediterranean temperament. But one obsession I did not give up: MY FOOD.

Coming from Israel, my natural, almost automatic habit is to crave a range of fresh, colorful, wholesome, real foods. While avoiding spending time that I cannot spare on preparations, I improvise daily to create simple, tasty, nourishing meals.

In time I found that the nutrition authorities here call my habits the “Mediterranean Food Pyramid.” I discarded that idea, as I don’t eat any pyramid; I just eat good, tasty food. And there is no ideology behind the way I eat. I simply follow the manner of eating practiced by my ancestors for thousands of years. Their behavior came to be as a result of poverty, scarcity of land and unpredictable weather that often produced a water shortage. Hence, variety and freshness were the elements of their diet.

But these foodways were also inspired by societies that developed along a sea that supplies fresh fish, seafood and refreshing breeze. The variety reflects all the unpredictability of a fisherman’s life.… Read the rest

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