Middle Eastern Choices with Einat Admony

Posted on June 1, 2014 08:50 pm

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This guest blog post comes to us from food blogger Layla Khoury-Hanold of Glass of Rosé. Follow her adventures in eating, cooking and drinking on Twitter @glassofrose and Instagram @theglassofrose. 

Einat_Admony_DG.jpgChef Einat Admony is beloved by many, especially in New York City. Her crispy falafel at Taim garnered her the title of NYC Queen of Falafel and her "fancy, but not too fancy" restaurant Balaboosta, serving modern Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine, remains one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Einat just launched her third New York restaurant, Bar Bolonat, whose concept she describes as "like if you were eating in my dining room." It's a little more refined than Balaboosta, but absolutely has it's own menu and identity.

During her demo, Chef Admony shared tales from her childhood (her first kitchen job was as her mom's sous chef), talked about that time she cooked for five-star generals in the Israeli Army and spoke about her equally food-obsessed children.

The thing I love about her cooking is how directly it speaks to you. The flavors are so striking yet harmonious, and there's something really gutsy about the cooking, because you know it is Einat on a plate.

Most of the dishes are from Balaboosta, both her restaurant and her new cookbook (also filled with fabulous stories), including her legendary fried olives, which made the journey over to the West Village at Bar Bolonat. Here's how our dinner party feast with Einat went down.

Melon Gazpacho

I can't recall the last time I ate a more beautiful soup; the photo simply doesn't do it justice. Einat first had this dish at Market Bagel and loved it. Given her competitive nature, she knew she wanted to do it better. Her version is incredibly refreshing, dancing between sweet, acidic and spicy, and a textural delight to eat with toppings of crispy fried shallots, jicama and almond chili brittle. The key to getting that vibrant color is to let the soup sit once it's blended, so that the foaminess dissipates. And it's very important to serve it cold, so you should chill the bowls too.

Melon_Gazpacho.JPG

Fried Olives with Labne

This truly is the perfect snack; it's saltiness makes it especially well-suited for beer pairings or with a sparkling wine, like the brut rosé cava we enjoyed from Pere Ventura. Chef Einat typically uses pitted Kalamata olives, though she'll sometimes mix in Spanish Manzanilla olives as well. The olives get a triple dip treatment in flour, eggs and panko crumbs, before a quick frying in Canola oil renders them golden brown. The piping hot olives are plated with cool and creamy labne (strained yogurt) and a swirl of spicy harissa oil (made from North African chili pepper paste). It's a must order dish at both Balaboosta and Bar Bolonat.

Fried_Olives.JPG

Moroccan Fish

This is a dish that Chef Admony serves in her home; unlike most chefs, Einat loves cooking at home and throws dinner parties several times a week at her house for a lucky group of friends. The tomato sauce that accompanies the seared snapper filets (grouper works well too) is a snap to make and so amazing, I could have licked my plate. Garlic, jalapeno, harissa, tomato paste, paprika, caraway and cumin, along with plum tomatoes (you can used canned in the winter), get cooked down until very soft and fragrant and then pureed in a blender until smooth. Raw shaved asparagus and a handful of Greek feta lend crunchy, fresh and salty, creamy elements, respectively. It is clear that Einat became a chef because she wants to feed people, and her heart and soul shone on this plate.

Balaboosta_Moroccan_Fish_DG.jpg

Braised Short Ribs with Wine, Prunes & Harissa

The list of ingredients for this recipe took up well over half a page, and when we tasted the final dish it's easy to understand why. A mix of fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme), spices (star anise, sweet Hungarian paprika among them) and the surprising addition of orange juice lent the red-wine braised short ribs a gorgeous complexity. Braising is one of my favorite cooking methods; it cuts down on the time you have to stand at the stove but makes it seem like you spent hours slaving over it. Fluffy couscous made for a perfect accompaniment for soaking up some of the gorgeous braising liquid.

Braised_Short_Rib.JPG

Malabi with Mixed Berries

This traditional Middle Eastern dessert is like panna cotta; Einat's version uses gelatin sheets, heavy cream, milk, sugar and rosewater. And because "alcohol is always better" the mixed berries are sautteed with crème de cassis and a little sugar (if needed), just until the berries are broken down. It was a perfect not-too-heavy finish to an all together perfect meal.

Malabi.JPG




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