Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodbye Favorite Foods (For Now)

I believe it's human nature to desire things we cannot have. In relation to this particular post I will be talking about food of course. Things I LOVE to eat but for the past 15 weeks and for about 25 more, will not be able to.
In case you may have guessed (40 weeks total, food restrictions), we will be adding to the Hendelman household around Valentine's 2012. Which explains this post from a few weeks back, who knew?! First official crazy craving.

No, cupid is not coming for a visit (well sort of) but a little baby is! Honestly thought we were done as Ben and Lia are quite and adorable handful as is. BUT, much to my husbands surprise (you see he's been wanting a "basketball team" of kiddos since the day we got married-I was DONE after 2) I suddenly couldn't bare the thought of not having just one more little cuteness to love.

 So here we are, and the list of "foods pregnant women should avoid" is ever present in my mind. I swear it has only grown since I had my kids in 2004 and 2006. Don't get me wrong, avoiding a few things here and there is well worth the sacrifice for a few months. After all the reward is a healthy little bundle. HOWEVER, these days "THE LIST" has gone too far! Top 2 for me are: NO sushi (STAB IN MY HEART), NO Unpasteurized CHEESE (WHAT!).
Soon to be Big Brother and Sister

The cheese and and the sushi I expected and heavily weighed my decision for a third child based on that!  Fine, I am only joking as taking a break from a few fave foods for 9 months, obviously pales in comparison to creating life. However, this last one did me in. This NO NO on the list took it to the next level as I did not expect it nor planned on avoiding it. As I said, "We always want what we cannot have"!

Goodbye Proschuito, Salami and favorite cheese!
Goodbye Pate!!!!!!!!

This surprising NO NO is Deli meats, cured meats, pates, all types, all varieties, UNLESS they are thoroughly heated to 160 degrees. Goodbye Charcuterie, Mortadela and my ULTIMATE PATE! No pate of any kind! Can you hear me weep! Apparently deli meats can be contaminated with Listeria. A harmful bacteria that can sometimes lead to serious illness. SCARY, not worth the risk BUT I have been dying for a nice cold cut filled sandwich ever since. What I wouldn't do for The Godmother

Goodbye Godmother!
I've been weeping far too long, and thus on a recent trip to Bristish Columbia I decided to be proactive instead and seek out a fullfilling replacement for my temporary No No's. I found it in Vancouver at
The Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen A wonderful place I was fortunate enough to visit a few hours before our return flight to Los Angeles on our last day in this gorgeous city. I won't be flying back to Vancouver anytime soon, but will definitely try to recreate the sandwich at home.

Roasted Chicken Sandwich
Assembled on a fresh baked soft crisp baguette, it was filled with moist chicken pieces, chipotle mayo, roasted tomatoes, nutty tangy Parmesan, watercress and the surprisingly delicious addition of briny, yummy, salty anchovies! I was hooked from the first bite. Such bold flavors yet balanced in a way that made the sandwich so smooth and delicate. The chicken was mild and melted with every bite, the Parmesan and pleasantly salty anchovies took the mildness to WOW, and the slight sweetness and acidity of the roasted tomatoes just rocked my world.

Farewell for now as I am off to eat dinner. Picking up some sushi, cooked and vegie rolls of course! After all I am trying to be a good "vessel" as my husband reffers to me these days. I am feeling better already having shared my big news with my readers. The prospect of scoping out more "No No" replacements is getting me excited, I shall seek and keep you posted as to what I find!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I hate getting sick in the summer, especially when its hot outside! Your body desperately wants you to curl up in bed and nurse your sickness (in my case a sinus thing all week long, combined with a nose that just wouldn't stop running) but your head says "Are you nuts, you'll sweat to death, go have some iced tea instead"! Hopefully you are not as stubborn as I and will listen to your body vs. your nutty mind and sweat it out in bed with some (ooh I cannot even say it) HOT SOUP.

Avgolemono Soup at Great Greek in Sherman Oaks
HOT SOUP, even for medicinal purpose is just not the most appealing of things in the dead of summer. Desperate times however call for desperate measures, so despite the heat and with a little persuasiveness from my husband, I turned to the next best thing, Avgolemono. A Greek specialty I am convinced has the powers to heal and sooth in ways no other soup can. A creamy, tangy, warm soup with flavor of epic proportions I generally eat all year round at this restaurant, because hands down theirs is just the best!

Having had it for lunch the other day, I was almost happy I got this cold, as I haven't eaten my preciously hearty Avgolemono since March! Well not happy per say but defiantly elated that the summer heat didn't keep me away from this bowl of deliciousness. Made with rich chicken stock, it has layers and layers of flavor. The tiny orzo, daintily cut pieces of carrot, and hand picked almost undetectable chicken meat bursting with lemon flavor (what makes the soup so creamy and tangy is a combination of lemon juice and egg whisked together and added to it at the end of cooking) is just soothing perfection.
On second thought, the lemon makes it almost summery so don't let the heat keep you away from having this soup ASAP. The Great Greek Restaurant has been around since1984, and there is a reason its withstood the test of time in its popular location on Ventura Blvd. where restaurants open and close as as fast as this soup made me kick this summer cold! Oh and please when there do make certain you get the is their house specialty after all.

Tarama AKA Taramosalata
 Should you have room after the soup (I assure you a second bowl is highly plausible) then get the Greek Caviar "Tarama". Made from Cod or Carp Roe and traditionally blended with bread, lemon, onions, vinegar and olive oil, this mezze (a small Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appetizer) ROCKS! Dip their warm house sourdough bread in to it and ENJOY!

Bread Dipped in Tarama at Great Greek

My summer cold is GONE and I am feeling A-OK. Thanks to the Avgolemono and loads of tea with lemon, I was in top top shape for the start of our vacation. We just landed in Vancouver a few hours ago, and will be heading to Whistler, BC on Monday! This is my first time in Canada, and I am so looking forward to exploring its stunning landscape. We arrived a few hours ago and although exploring hasn't happened just yet, the views of the waterfront and mountains from my hotel room are enough of a  preview of the nature and beauty that is to come. Stay tuned for adventures from Canada!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Basmati Rice and Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
 We've had quite the heat wave here in LA. I call it a slap-in-the-face kind of heat. Like the moment you leave an air-conditioned space and step outside, it literally feels like a hot slap in your face.

The other night at 6:30pm while driving to this awesome show at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, the heat was still holding strong at 103! Good thing it was an indoor performance and we absolutely loved it. I believe they showcase different dancers until August 14th so go see it if you love dance.

The following day I had some serious grocery shopping to do and made the decision to do it at 7am in order to avoid the heat. I know, its cold at the supermarket but the mere thought of loading and unloading the car with my kids in tow in 100 degree heat was unbearable. Besides, the market is pretty empty at that time of day and I love roaming the isles in peace. Slow, meditative, focused, before-work grocery shopping! I love it as its so rare that it actually happens. But when it does, it leads to great things, in which case this time it lead to beautiful yellow and green bell peppers.

The minute I saw them I knew I had to make stuffed bell peppers, and for some odd reason they were $1 a piece which never happens. I grabbed 10 and practically skipped home to begin cooking. I don't make them often and have been trying to perfect my bell pepper recipe for some time now. And I am happy to say that I think yesterday I finally DID IT!

End result is beautifuly blistered exterior with super
tender filling!
 They were so tender, a little spicy and sweet at the same time, and the basmati rice and ground turkey filling I made was beyond moist and delicious. I ate 2 huge ones for lunch, gave 1 each to the kids, and cannot wait to have leftovers this evening again! They are even better the next day. I think I now know the trick to making a delicious meat stuffed pepper. Here goes: saute all the vegetables you will mix in to the meat first to marry the flavors, and leave the meat uncooked. Once you mix the cooked ingredients in to the raw ground meat, the juices will start to combine and continue to do so as you slowly cook the peppers stove top. The end result is comfort food at its finest!


6 large bell peppers, tops cut off and kept in tact without stem, inside washed and seeded.
1 lb fat free ground turkey
1 large carrot finely grated
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
1 large handful of dill chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed or finely minced
½ cup cooked basmati rice
2 cups cups crushed canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano-available at whole foods and other specialty stores)
4 tablespoons chicken consommé (seasoning mix, can be found in kosher section of most markets “Osem” excellent brand)
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil


1. Prepare your rice and set aside but keep warm. In a large sauté pan, heat 3-4 table spoons of olive oil and sauté the onions, carrots and celery with a touch of salt until soft (about 6-10 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Put the ground turkey in to a large mixing bowl, and add to it the sauté of veggies, chopped dill, cooked rice, 1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes, 1 ½ tablespoons chicken consommé, 2 teaspoons salt and black pepper. Using your hands mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

3. Fill a pot large enough to fit the 7 peppers standing up (first pic at top of page) with enough water to submerge slightly more then ½ the height of the pepper. Bring the water to a boil and add to it the remaining ½ cup of crushed tomatoes and 2 tablespoons chicken consommé. Once water is boiling, generously stuff each pepper with the meat and rice mixture and lower them gently in to the boiling water.

4. Once all the peppers have been placed, cover them with the little pepper tops and place a lid to cover everything. Cook with lid on for about 10 minutes, then partially uncover the lid, drop heat to low and simmer for additional 2-2 ½ hrs until peppers are very tender.
Serve peppers hot or warm with a dalop of cold sour cream!