Tu B’shevat

tree-of-life
Tu B’shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, falls on February 4. Try these delicious Tu B’Shevat recipes. May it be a fruitful year in Israel and everywhere.

Spiced Carrot and Apple Soup
Moroccan Chicken with Dates and Olives
Simple Roasted Pomegranate Chicken
Cumin Scented Eggplant
Spinach Salad with Dates and Jicama
Couscous with Pinenuts and Currents
Fig Newtons
Chocolate Pomegranate Bark
Almond Pound Cake

KFWE 2015

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KFWE 2015, Save $18, Get Tickets Today with code Gourmet18

KFWE 2015, is coming and coming fast. This year, the event is at a new location, The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues on February 9, 2015 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Get your tickets while they last at KFWE2015.com.

Esteemed winemakers from Herzog Vineyards, Tulip, Flam, Castel, Goose Bay, Psagot, Covenant, Capcanes, and so many more, will be pouring and discussing their wines with any and all tasters. I love the opportunity to taste the new wines and discover wines that I am not currently familiar with.

And for foodies, it’s just fantastic. The food tastings are not only delicious but give you an insight into the latest food trends and techniques. I personally love the opportunity to see some of the best kosher chefs at work and taste their unique creations. It’s an explosion of flavors and creativity all in one tasting.

KFWE started as a means towards enabling consumers and retailers to taste different kosher wines, especially new releases, but it has morphed into a premier tasting event, featuring a wide representation of wines from all around the world. Just as significant has been the evolution of food tastings taking a more pronounced role in the event, with top kosher restaurants and caterers from the tri-state area presenting signature samplings.
It’s a food and wine fantasy. I can’t wait! Join me, but get your tickets fast…they sell out and only a few tickets are left.
Tickets available at KFWE2015.com

Save $18 use code GOURMET18 at checkout, Regular Tickets are $125

Crunchy Chunky Everything Cookies

everything-cookies
Makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies
Crazy yummy. You can substitute anything and everything for the nuts or dried fruit in this recipe. I like to use a combination of chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes other assorted chips. You can also use other types of cereal like rice krispies, honey bunch of oats, or crumbled cheerios.

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) margarine
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
4 heaping cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups prepared granola (from the box)
1 heaping cup cooking oats
1 1/2 cups apricots
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the margarine and sugars. Add the vanilla and eggs. Next, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Add in the granola and oatmeal. Fold in the apricots, cherries, pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips.

With a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Awesome Chili aka My Friend Shlomo’s Famous Chili

awesomechilli
I look forward to this chili every year at Shlomo’s house. It’s one of his signature dishes. He often makes it in place of cholent for Shabbos too. For a crock pot and preparation for Shabbos, make sure to add sufficient water to slightly cover ingredients and keep on lowest heat so that it does not dry out.
Serves 10

2 lbs. chopped meat, browned and crumbled, drained of its fat.
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
1 (15 ounce) can small red beans
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can small white or cannellini beans
1 small box (16 ounces) of frozen corn or 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
3 cloves garlic
3 medium jalapeno peppers, chopped, with seeds (remove seeds and membranes for less heat)
1 package/envelope of Ortega (or other kosher brand) taco seasoning or chili seasoning
1 package/envelope of Lipton Kosher Recipe Secrets ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all of the ingredients into an 8-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least one hour. Serve in small bowls topped with a dollop of Tofutti sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips.

Football Party Recipes

Football and food just go together. People have been making Super Bowl parties and tailgating for years. I personally love it because I’m not only a fan of football but also a fan of making and serving foods that are not typical Shabbos foods. I love a great chili, cornbread, homemade condiments, and lots of cookies and munchies. Try a few of these for your game day. Not a sports fans? You will still love these on any Sunday or weeknight. All easy and delicious.

Awesome Chili aka My Friend Shlomo’s Famous Chili
Vegetarian Chili
Black Bean Chili
Other Chili recipes
Chili, Cornbread, Shepherd’s Pie
Homemade Pigs in a Blanket
Cornbread
Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Crunchy Chunky Everything Cookies
Spiced Nut Mix
Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

Carrot Cake Cookies

My friend Malkie Gordon Hirsch runs a great facebook page called Kiss the Kosher Cook, it’s fabulous! People post anything and everything food, from something delicious they make for dinner to their Shabbos menu, or a new cookbook they are excited to dive into plus recipes for each item. I love the enthusiasm for cooking from this group and especially love how receptive they are testing recipes for me. One reader asked for a Carrot Cake Cookie…here you go.
carrotcakecookies

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted margarine
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups grated carrots
1 cup raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Pareve Cream Cheese Frosting: recipe

In a mixer, cream margarine, sugars, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add to margarine mixture and mix on low until just combined.

Stir in oats, coconut, carrots, raisins, and walnuts. Chill dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

Scoop dough onto prepared sheets by the tablespoon about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake 12- 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool then transfer to cooking rack.

Spread 2 tablespoons frosting on half of the cookies. Place a second cookie on top to make a sandwich. Alternatively, use a flower tip and pipe some frosting into the center of each cookie.

Pareve Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 cup (8 ounces) softened Tofutti cream cheese
½ cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a mixer, cream the cream cheese, margarine, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add vanilla, salt and lemon zest and mix.

Store frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed. Bring to room temperature before using.

Macaron Baking Sheet

My daughter and her friend Elana have become French Macaron Bakers. They attended at class at CKCA and now create their own fabulous and creative combinations, like lime macarooms with homemade lemon curd filling, vanilla bean with chocolate ganache, Cinnabun flavor, and many more. With her amazon gift card for Hanukah, she just bought this macaron baking mat which has improved the look of the cookies tremendously. The mat helps to make each cookie exactly the same size by giving a template for the batter to fill. If you also want to make those adorable and delicious macarons, try this mat and make your cookies look like they came from a French bakery.

macaroonsheet

Available at Amazon for $7.00

 

My Dad’s Tuna Fish

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My dad loves his homemade tuna fish. He is not the chef in the family, although he makes great matzo brei, and grills like a master chef, but he has perfected a wonderful tuna fish and is quite proud of himself. On a recent visit to California, he pulled me aside and challenged my very basic tuna, mayo, and lemon juice combo that I threw together for my hungry family. He proudly shared his California Style Tuna and now I must share it with you. It includes lots of crunch, and both salty, savory and sweet flavors. It’s best on a bed of lettuce with carrot and celery sticks on the side. But my dad loves it on toasted whole grain bread (also California style), with extra lettuce, tomatoes and sliced pickles on the side…and of course a big pile of potato chips too.

California Style Tuna Fish a la Dad

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Need other tuna fish options? Try these…
Tuna Tapenade
Tuna and White Bean Salad
And of course, you could also, just open a can, drain it of any liquid, add mayonnaise and lemon juice, maybe a pinch of salt and serve.

California Style Tuna Fish a la Dad

Makes 2 cups

2 (7 ounce) cans solid white tuna in water, drained
About ¼ cup mayonnaise
About 1 ½ tablespoons pickle relish
About 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 scallion, chopped, or 1 ½ tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons peeled, chopped green apple,
3 tablespoons chopped nuts, like peanuts, almonds, walnuts
Pinch salt

In a small bowl, mix tuna fish, breaking up large chunks. Add all the ingredients together and mix well until everything is coated and mixed together.

Serve on a sandwich, with vegetables, as a dip, or on a bagel with melted cheese on top.

Store in the refrigerator, covered. Keeps for about 5 days.

5 Great Apps For Diet and Fitness

Want to get the best and quickest diet, fitness and health info? Check out these healthy lifestyle apps to keep you on your 2015 health plan.

fooducateApp: Fooducate by Fooducate, Ltd. For iOS and Android
Cost: iOS free, Andoid $4.99
Fooducate has been around for a few years and allows you to view the quality of the calories you eat by giving foods a letter grade (A, B, C, D). Fooducate has recently added a tracking feature, where you can track daily calorie intake through food and beverages, as well as expenditure through exercise.

calcutterApp: Cal Cutter by NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for iOS, Android, and Web
Cost: Free
This simple app can help make the home cook aware of the calories in the dishes they serve. It allows you to enter your recipe and intended number of servings and then gives you the calories for that dish. The app also provides tips for reducing calories, lower calorie or healthier ingredient substitutions, healthier cooking methods and reasonable portion sizes.

11nutritionApp: Rise by Rise Labs, Inc.
Cost: free trial then $15 a week
Sometimes, getting healthy goals off the ground requires a kick. This is personalized nutrition counseling and diet planning for $15 a week. Rise gives you access to a virtual coach. This expert will encourage you to forge ahead while customizing your eating plans and taking a gander at your Instagram-ready food photos to determine if that Shabbos kugel is worth the splurge.

kidsweightlossApp: Kurbo by Kurbo Health, Inc.
Cost: varies
Childhood obesity is at an alarming high especially for teens. The solution is a transformation of lifestyle habits, embracing healthier eating patterns and a regular exercise regimen. Kurbo does exactly that. Based on Stanford University’s acclaimed Pediatric Weight Control Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, it combines sound personal coaching advice with food and activity tracking through a youth-loving medium.

waterloggedApp: Waterlogged, by Day Logger Inc.
Cost: free
For Ios, Android, and web
Track your daily intake of water, get reminders about hydration, and alarms to keep you drinking. Works with fitbit too and incorporates photo technology. Just snap a picture of your drink and it tracks that amount.

FitBit

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I’m not sure how I feel about this product but it’s definitely all the rage and was one of the most purchased items this holiday season. The Fitbit tracks your distance, steps, activity, sleep, calories burned, and active minutes in a small bracelet type of wearable technology. It comes in great colors and to me is a reality check on how much or little movement we get each day. People claim in has changed their routines and increased their fitness level and daily activity. It’s pricey but if you need a quiet conscience, go for it!
Available at fitbit.com

Kale Chips

kalechip
Serves 4

1 bunch kale, rinsed and dried well (about 10 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Any seasonings you like; blended spice mixture, crushed red pepper, onion powder, seasoning salt, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, etc.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. 

Remove and discard the thick stems of the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Spread kale in a single layer on 2 large cookie sheets. Spray leaves with nonstick cooking spray to coat lightly. Sprinkle with salt and any seasoning of your choice. Bake just until the kale chips are crisp but not browned, 20-35 minutes. Cool. 



Pumpkin Bread Sweetened with Bananas

pumpkinbread
Serves 8

Bananas are naturally sweet and serve as a good, non-processed sugar substitute in baking.
They also contain resistant starch, which has been linked to burning fat. But because they contain more moisture than sugar does, make sure you use less milk or water when baking with bananas (about 3 tablespoons less for each banana).

1 banana, mashed (this is in place of 1 cup sugar)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil!)
1/3 cup water or soymilk
1 (15 ounces) can pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat eggs and mix with banana (or sugar), oil, water, and pumpkin.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients until just blended
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Cherry-Almond Energy Bars

cherry-almond-bar
Serves 16

1 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup tart dried cherries or craisins, coarsely chopped (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup salted, dry-roasted almonds, chopped
1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, optional
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted creamy almond butter
6 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spread oats and quinoa on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Place oat mixture in a large bowl, and stir in cherries, almonds, coconut, flaxseed meal, and chocolate.
Combine almond butter, honey, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour almond butter mixture over oat mixture; toss well to coat. Press mixture into a greased 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Bake for 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in dish. Cut evenly into (1 x 4-inch) bars.

Edamame Dip

edamamedip
Makes 10 servings
Serve with vegetable crudite, crackers, alongside tuna, or on top of grilled salmon.

2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons tofutti sour cream or mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine edamame and garlic in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame is tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
Combine edamame, garlic, basil, pine nuts, and Tofutti sour cream in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarsely ground. Add 1/4 cup water and remaining ingredients; process until almost smooth.

Healthy Applesauce Muffins

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Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup almond meal (you can use almond flour)
1/2 cup flaxseed meal (you can use ground flaxseed)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg plus 1 egg white
3/4 cup buttermilk (for pareve alternative, use ¾ cup soymilk PLUS 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly grease a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together almond meal, flaxseed meal, oat bran, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg and egg white together. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, Applesauce and bananas. Stir together but avoid over-mixing. Stir in the walnuts and raisins.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake until set, 18 to 20 minutes.

Marshmallow Making

Small bakeries and sweet shops are loaded with this food trend, flavored homemade marshmallows. They come in all different colors and flavors and have a terrific appearance. Airy, fluffy, tall, and coated in powdered sugar, these are irresistible to kids and adults. I can’t decide how I feel about them but I’ve enjoyed testing and tasting all different varieties. Add color and flavors as you like, i.e. a dap of pink with strawberry extract, or green with 1 teaspoon coconut extract and the zest of a lime, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and finely ground cookie crumbs for cookies flavored. If you are every going to try these home-made, Purim is the perfect time.

Soft and Chewy Homemade Marshmallow

Soft and Chewy Home-made Marshmallows


Makes 25

Canola oil, for greasing
2 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons honey

Lightly grease an 8-inch square cake pan with canola oil. In a medium heatproof bowl, mix the gelatin with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cold water; let stand for 15 minutes. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey and 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook the syrup over moderately high heat until it registers 250° on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour the hot syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Scrape in the gelatin mixture and beat at high speed until a smooth white foam forms, about 4 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow in the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Press a lightly greased sheet of parchment paper on the surface and let stand until set, 3 hours.
Run a sharp knife around the marshmallow. Very lightly dust a work surface with cornstarch and invert the cake pan onto it, tapping to release the marshmallow. Using a lightly greased sharp knife, cut the marshmallow into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Cinnamon marshmallows:
Add 1/2 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon during the last minute of beating the marshmallow;
lightly dust the cut marshmallows with a sifted mixture of 2/3 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Homemade Gift Ideas

Most people do a lot of wrapping and buying for Purim Mishloach Manot. After all its hard to make something homemade to give out to a large number of people, deal with challenging kashrut issues, and still run around and get to all of your children’s friends houses. I’m still an advocate for doing something homemade and fun and skipping the impressive but expensive store-bought baskets. Trust me, these will be much more memorable.

Creamy Caramel Sauce
Wine Nut Bar Mix
Herbed Finishing Salt
Carrot Dip
Sesame Kiddush Cookies

Wine Nut Bar Mix

Makes 6 cups

2 cups pecans
2 cups almonds
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced mixed herbs, such as rosemary, sage, savory and thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, toss the nuts with the maple syrup, olive oil, herbs and cayenne. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Season the nuts with salt and pepper and toss frequently until cooled.
MAKE AHEAD The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Creamy Caramel Sauce

Makes 1 ½ cups

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook without stirring until a medium-amber caramel forms, 5 minutes. Add the cream, butter and salt and simmer until thickened, 2 minutes; let cool.

Wine Simmered Chicken with Grapes and Mushrooms

wine-simmered-chicken

Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thin cut
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
½ cup vanilla soymilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Cut each chicken breast in half. Blend together salt, basil, tarragon, paprika, pepper, and flour.
Heat oil in a sauté pan. In a re-sealable plastic bag, add the salt, basil, tarragon, paprika, pepper, and flour. Mix together. Add chicken and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add garlic and mushrooms to pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook 2 more minutes. Add chicken broth, white wine, soymilk and lemon juice. Bring mixture to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes until sauce has thickened. Return chicken to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Add grapes and parsley and cook 2-3 more minutes.