It's well known that the Yiddish word "nosh" entered the American pantheon of common language because everybody does it. A lot. Jews just do it better -- with more relish, more often and on a huge variety of foods. Jews do it while talking, walking, discussing, thinking, teaching, laughing, mourning, driving and while talking on the phone. Can you think of a situation (except perhaps when asleep) in which it might not be appropriate to have a nosh?
With these propensities in mind, and with summer just around the corner, I've set about to present you with a few easy, light, Jewish and delightful seasonal noshes: bites to pick up with friends or with the family, accompanied by a couple of really luscious drinks.
. . .
Chick peas (garbanzos), called Nahit, have for centuries been a favorite Jewish snack, cooked until soft, seasoned with salt and pepper, then dried in a hot pan. Here's an embellished nahit recipe, simple but enhanced with toasted Middle Eastern spices.
1 Tbs. ground cumin seed
1 Tbs. ground coriander seed
2 tsp. ground allspice
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
1 Tbs. salt (or to taste)
1 lb. dry garbanzo beans
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Wash the garbanzo beans, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Cover, and simmer about 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until very tender. Leave in water and set aside.
Mix all the spices and salt together and place in a dry skillet. Toast over low heat for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices become very fragrant.
Drain the garbanzos and mix with the spices. Put in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat for about seven to eight minutes, stirring constantly, until the chick peas are dry and covered with the spices. Sprinkle in the olive oil and let cool. Serve with drinks at room temperature.
Makes 2 lbs.
. . .
Pickling to preserve a summer crop or to keep whatever was left over from a big market purchase has been a particularly delicious Jewish tradition. Here is a green and red pepper relish that is made with large squares of the roasted and peeled vegetables, simply marinated in a spiced vinegar brine. Easy to nosh on with crackers and a mild, ripened cheese.
Pickled Pepper Salad
3 large green peppers
3 large red peppers
1 cup white wine vinegar (herbed vinegars are also good)
1/3 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 whole clove
1 large clove garlic, minced
Dash cayenne pepper
Broil the peppers under an oven broiler, directly over g as flames or on a barbecue grill, turning often, until the skin is blackened all over. Put into a covered bowl or into a plastic bag for about 20 minutes. Scrape the blackened skin from all the peppers, then cut off the tops about 1/2 inch from the top and remove all the seeds and membrane. Wash under running water, cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into lengthwise half again. Cut each piece across into two or three squares.
Combine the vinegar, water, bay, salt, sugar, clove, garlic and cayenne in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Cool. Place the peppers in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Let marinate for at least three hours before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Makes 4 cups
. . .
Summertime, when the day is too lazy for cooking, has a perfect solution -- a perfect melon, chilled and sprinkled with dew. Here is a luscious, super-simple recipe to nosh on in the middle of a summer afternoon.
Cool Melon in Ginger Sauce
1 large, ripe honeydew, casaba or canary melon
3 Tbs. superfine sugar
1 to 1-1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
30 (or so) black or flame grapes for garnish
Grate the ginger on a medium-fine grater. Put the pulp into a strainer and squeeze the juice through it into a small bowl. Mix in the sugar and put aside.
Cut the melon into 6 or 8 wedges and scrape out the seeds. With a sharp knife, cut between the flesh and the skin of each melon wedge, then cut the flesh vertically into one-inch pieces, leaving the pieces on the skin.
Sprinkle the ginger-sugar mixture evenly over all the melon wedges. Leave one hour at room temperature, then chill for 1/2 to one hour. Arrange on a large platter and garnish with small bunches of chilled grapes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
. . .
Although this next recipe makes a very attractive cocktail, it also can be used as an energy drink because of all its fresh orange juice. The mint in it is refreshing as is or can be matched with Cr'me de Menthe and Bombay gin.
Orange Mint Frost
Juice of 6ñ7 oranges (or 25 fl. oz. of fresh bottled orange juice)
3 to 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only
12 ice cubes
3 Tbs. cranberry juice
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 oz. Cr'me de Menthe (optional)
4 oz. Bombay gin, or other premium gin (optional)
6 mint sprigs for garnish
Place all ingredients in a blender jar and liquify until very smooth. Serve immediately in chilled glasses.
Makes 6 servings
. . .
What is a late summer afternoon nosh without a lovely chilled white wine to extend the pleasure of the day into the evening? Here is one of my favorite uses of fruit flavor with wine: a lush peach white sangria. I can't wait for the Washington peaches to arrive! Until then, though, trying a few California white peaches might not be a bad idea.
1 small lemon, washed and thinly sliced
1 small lime, washed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup superfine sugar
2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1 bottle chilled dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris or Viognier
2 fl. oz. peach schnapps, peach brandy or other peach-flavored liqueur
Place the brandy, half the peaches and the sugar in a blender jar and blend till very smooth. Add a 1/2 cup or so of the wine if more liquid is needed. Pour the peach mixture into a large bowl and add the wine, lemons, limes and remaining peach slices. Stir till sugar is completely dissolved. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Strain the sangria into wine glasses and put several pieces of fruit into each glass.
Makes 4 to 5 servings