Chili Powder vs. Chile Powder

chiliblog
Chili powder with an “I” is not the same as chile powder with and “e”. Chili powder is usually a blend of ground mild dried chiles and spices like cumin, pepper, and salt (Hot chili powder contains cayenne, too.). They are lighter in color since they are a blend of spices. Pure chile powders are ground solely from a specific kind of chile with no additional ingredients. They are reddish in color and have a strong flavor profile. I use chili powder as the backbone spice of my chili, while pure chile powders let me add exactly the additional kind of chile flavor and heat that I want. You can find pure chile powders at most supermarkets, ranging from the moderately hot pasilla, ancho and smoked, to the much hotter chipotle and cayenne. Aside from heat, you will find chile powders have different degrees of smoky and fruity flavors. The best way to get to know their flavors is to cook with them.

Here are a few chili recipes to help you get to know your chile powder varieties. Feel free to experience and substitute different types of chili powder in these recipes. Remember though the pure chile powders add a bit of heat so add them slowly and taste the terrific results!

Chicken and White Bean Chili
Chili with Assorted Chile Powder and Meat
Black Bean Chili
Mexican Chili
Traditional Chili With Meat
Vegetarian Chili
And lots of great recipes with Chili Powder here
Don’t forget to make the Chili Chocolate Covered Strawberries!

Chili with Assorted Chili Powder and Meat

chilimeat
Serves 5

2 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon ground ancho chile powder
(alternatively, use regular chili powder if you cannot find it in the market)
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder (use a bit of cayenne pepper as a substitute but start with about ¼ teaspoon)
1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14-1/2-ounces) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, cut into medium dice
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Season the meat with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the meat and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with another 2 teaspoons oil and the remaining meat. After transferring the second batch of meat to the plate, add the remaining oil to the pot. Add the onion, green pepper and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the cumin, coriander, ancho chile powder, and chipotle chile and cook until fragrant and well blended, 1 to 2 minutes more. Return the beef to the pot, along with any accumulated juice. Add 2-1/2 cups water, the tomatoes and their juice, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes more. Add the beans, raise the heat to medium high, and stir until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and season to taste with additional salt.
Serve the chili garnished with the avocado, red onion, and cilantro.

Beef and Broccoli with Ramen Noodles

broccoli-beef-noodles-45

Serves 6

This tastes like Chinese takeout but is simple and inexpensive to make at home. It’s a great one pot dinner and comes together in just a few minutes.

Two 3-ounce packages ramen noodles
1 pound boneless skirt steak
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons plus1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 cups broccoli florets (from 2 to 3 heads)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger (about one 1/2-inch piece)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
4 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish, optional
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Cover the noodles with hot water in a large bowl and place a small plate on top to keep them submerged; set aside to soak for 5 minutes. Drain the noodles well and set aside. Discard the flavor pouches or reserve for another use.

Cut the beef crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces and then rotate a quarter turn and slice thinly lengthwise across the grain, about 1/4-inch thick.

Stir together the chicken broth, teriyaki sauce, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok or a large nonstick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add half of the beef and cook, stirring once, until brown on the outside and still juicy on the inside, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Repeat with an additional 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and the remaining beef.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the same skillet over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli just starts to soften, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and push the broccoli to the side. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup water to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir the chicken broth mixture briefly and add it to the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the beef and stir to coat. Transfer the beef to a large serving platter, leaving room for the noodles.

Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the ramen noodles and green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to the serving platter and garnish with additional green onions if desired. Garnish the beef with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Crunchy Asian Salad with Ramen Noodles

crunchy asian salad
Serves 8

1 cup canola oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 packet ramen oriental seasoning
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
24 wonton skins, fried or terra stix or crunchy Asian noodles
3 ramen noodle bunches, broken into small pieces
3/4 cup Spanish peanuts, finely chopped

In a large bowl combine oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, ramen seasoning, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cabbages, onions, carrots, and cilantro. Whisk the dressing and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss thoroughly. (Dress the salad no more than 10 minutes prior to serving.)

Place equal portions of salad on wonton skins and top with ramen noodles and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

Spinach and Romaine Salad with Strawberries and Ramen Crunch

This salad is a great combination of sweet and crunchy. The strawberries and the dressing add sweetness to the salty and crunchy nuts and ramen mixture. I also like the combination of romaine and spinach lettuce. The colors are vibrant and inviting. Everyone loves this one.
Serves 6 – 8

Salad:
1 package ramen noodles, crushed, flavor packet discarded
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine
1 head romaine lettuce
5 cups baby spinach leaves
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Dressing:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

For the ramen crunch topping: In a large skillet, melt margarine over medium heat. Add the ramen noodles, almonds, sunflower seeds and cook until toasted and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Tear the romaine and combine with the spinach, strawberries and mushrooms in a large salad bowl.

For the dressing: In a covered container, mix sugar, both vinegars, oil, paprika, salt and garlic. Put top on and shake vigorously to blend. Mix well and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle the crunchy topping over the salad greens and toss the salad with enough dressing to coat the greens.

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Icing

chocolate-cake-1

Serves 12 – 14

This is a great chocolate cake with a super special icing. I love it and am using it on carrot cake and on all flavors of cupcakes. It’s similar to a cooked meringue icing but has an extra creaminess from the marshmallows. You can use this chocolate cake recipe or any other one. Just make sure you make the icing!

2-1/4 cups sugar
4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing cake pans
3 cups cake flour, sifted
4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (pareve)
Marshmallow icing, recipe follows

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the chocolate and the vanilla. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 9-inch round cake pans: spray the bottom and sides of each pan with cooking spray; line the pans with parchment paper; then spray again with cooking spray.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer, cream the margarine and the remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Add the sifted flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting with a third of the flour, then adding half the milk, and ending with the flour. Stir only enough after each addition to blend the ingredients. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until done. (a tester should come out with moist crumbs).. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto racks. Remove the paper and allow to cool completely before frosting. Spread the Icing between the layers and all over the top and sides of the cake. I do this cake in three layers but you can do it in 2 layers too.

Marshmallow Icing:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch salt
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons white corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/3 cup mini marshmallows (about 30) – you must use the mini, the big ones do not melt well enough
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour the egg whites and salt into a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Beat the egg whites until smooth but not stiff; they should not form stiff peaks.
In a large saucepan, mix the sugar, 3/4 cup water, corn syrup and vinegar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then heat the mixture until it reaches the hard ball stage (265 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 12 minutes. When done, the syrup will spin a long thread when poured off the edge of a spoon. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the mini marshmallows. The mixture will be foamy. With the mixer running at high speed, stream the syrup into the egg whites. Beat well, and then beat in the vanilla.

What’s wrong with my cookies? Troubleshooting Cookie Chart

Assorted Cookies
I get lots and lots of questions about baking issues. There is nothing more frustrating than putting in effort to bake something and it doesn’t turn out as you expected. Today we will tackle cookie baking issues. I’ve created a chart to help with all the possible causes of the misbehaving cookies. Just look on the left side for the problem and then the right side for potential solution. Always make sure your oven is calibrated correctly and keep a thermometer inside the oven to double check the cooking temperature accuracy.

Also, I thought it might help to know what the essential cookie ingredients do in the baking process:
Butter/margarine – The more butter that is in the cookie the crispier it is, so if you like a puffy cookie, use a lower butter ratio recipe.
Flour – Also, impacts how a cookie spreads. Only use all-purpose flour in cookies (high-gluten flour and cake flour do not let the cookies spread well enough)
Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Both are leavening agents. Baking soda helps the browning process.
Sugar – Sweetens and thins cookies because sugar melts in the oven. White sugar makes thinner cookies than brown sugar or honey. Brown sugar cookies maintain moisture after baking and tend to be chewier and white sugar cookies are crispier.
Eggs – Binding

Find lots of great cookie recipes here. Or try some of my favorites Ballpark Cookies, Chunky Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies or Minda’s Best Biscotti.

cookie-chart

Giveaway: Cooking Inspired Cookbook

gv-cookinginspired

Estee Kafra from Kosherscoop.com has a new book, just out and in high demand! Cooking Inspired is filled with hundreds of inspired recipes that are easy to make and even better to taste.  The photography (did you know she does this too?!) is bright and colorful and rouses you to take a bite right off the pages! Read our chat with Estee Kafra and get the sneak peak recipes here.

Get one today at Kosherscoop.com for $27.99 or submit to win one on GKC!

To enter to win Cooking Inspired cookbook either:
1. Subscribe.
2. If you are already a subscriber, send us a comment. We love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
3. Follow us on Twitter or tweet about this post to your followers

Cooking Inspired

Feeling uninspired in the kitchen? Worry no more because, Estee Kafra, creator of kosherscoop.com and former editor of Binah magazine and Kosher Inspired for Mispacha magazine, is back with another great book that will bring your creativity and enthusiasm back to your home.  COOKING INSPIRED is filled hundreds of recipes, gorgeous photos, gluten-free and Passover recipes and conversions, and great tips and tricks for everyone.  Maybe best of all, the book includes tons of recipes that are easy to prepare and beautiful to present.  Estee is a seasoned cook and a busy mom, and all of her recipes have clear and simple instructions and are the types of recipes that you are looking for.  From kugels to salads, to roasts and lots of “counter cakes” as she calls them (you know that cake that sits on the counter, egging you on to try it, taste it, and then serve it to all of your guests), it’s full of ideas and new flavors.

I tried lots of recipes from this book, Citrus Cornish Hens, Maple Roast (yum and super quick), and my favorite, Preserved Lemon and Olive Roast Chicken.  I loved the tangy sweetness of the preserved lemons mixed with he wine and sun-dried tomatoes.  Estee uses both common and less common ingredients to keep things inspired in the kitchen.

Estee is a GKC and personal friend and she answered a few of our pressing questions this week.

GKC: Do you have a favorite section of the book or a favorite recipe?
Estee: Thats a bit like asking “do you have a favorite child”   I think i would choose the “counter cake” section, as these  are recipes i really make on a regular basis, and they take turns  on my counter…but i like the originality of the appetizer section as well.

GKC: People love your other books, how is this one different and what was your inspiration?
Estee: My inspiration is this amazing world we live in, and that is exactly what sets this book apart.  It’s based upon the many aspects of our lives that inspire us to be better cooks and better people.

GKC: Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget ?
Estee: I love my microplane zester.  There  is almost nothing that cannot be improved by some lemon zest.

GKC: Any secret pantry ingredient you love?
Estee: I am huge fan of ginger, but my husband isn’t….so i use it sparingly.

GKC: What’s your go-to shabbos recipe?
Estee: I have been making the maple roast from page 210 for weeks now, and none seems to be getting tired of it yet. I added butternut squash to the bottom of the pot this week.  It was amazing!

Thanks Estee for sharing your thoughts.  Try these sneak peak recipes,
Vanilla Bean Apple Bundt Cake and
Asian Pasta Salad with Vegetables.  Go get Cooking Inspired today!

Buy one today at Kosherscoop.com for just $27.99 or submit to win one on GKC.

Asian Pasta Salad with Vegetables

oriental-pasta

Recipe from Cooking Inspired Cookbook by Estee Kafra.

When making this for Shabbat or in advance for any occasion, prepare the pasta and vegetables separately and combine before serving. It’s best served lukewarm or at room temperature.

1 pound spaghettini
1 bag (1.5 lb) frozen broccoli florets
1⁄2 cup frozen shelled edamame, defrosted
3 scallions, sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 can (15 oz) baby corn, cut into bite-sized pieces
1⁄3 cup toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

1-1⁄2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1-1⁄2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1⁄3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well. Rinse under cold, running water to stop the cooking process.

Dressing: Place the garlic and ginger in a bowl. Stir in the soy sauce, honey and sesame oil, mixing well.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, tossing to coat the pasta evenly. Transfer the noodles to a ZiplocTM bag; marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the frozen broccoli florets and edamame and blanch for 4 to 5 minutes or until the water turns dark green. Strain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Stir in the pasta, tossing well. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Oriental Pasta Salad

oriental-pasta
When making this for shabbos, prepare the pasta and vegetables separately and combine before serving.

Dressing:
1 frozen garlic cube (eden)
1 frozen ginger cube (eden)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Ingredients:

2 lbs (900 g) Spaghettini pasta
1 bag broccoli florets (1.5 lbs)
3 sliced green onions
2 stalks celery thinly sliced
3 carrots – julienned
1 can baby corns cut into bite size peices
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
2. Place the frozen garlic and ginger cubes into a bowl and let defrost. Add the soy sauve, honey and sesame oil and mix well.
3. Pour dressing over and toss to evenly coat. Place noodles into a Ziploc bag and marinate in fridge for minimum 3 hours
4. Boil a large pot of salted water. Add frozen broccoli florets and blanch for about 4-5 minutes, until color turns a bright green. Stain and set aside. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Toss well and serve at room temperature .

Vanilla Bean Apple Bundt cake

vanilla-apple-bundt
I recently came across a vanilla cane sugar with actual vanilla bean seeds in it. It is so far superior from artificially flavored vanilla sugar that I decided to use it as the main flavoring in this recipe. If you cannot find this sugar, take a vanilla bean, cut a slit in one side, and use a sharp knife to scrape the inside seeds out. Mix those seeds with 1-1/2 cups of sugar, to create your own authentic vanilla studded sugar. Mix the sugar and the seeds to combine well, and place the pod in as well. let site for 24 hours. You cannot compare the taste of this sugar of that of fake vanilla sugar.

6 McIntosh apples peeled, cored and quartered
¼ cup vanilla sugar (see note)
1-½ tablespoons pure lemon juice

Batter
1 cup +2 tablespoons oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
5 eggs
3-½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure apple or orange juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan with baking spray.

Slice the apples very thinly, using the slicing attachment of a food processor. Place them in a bowl. Add the vanilla sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Cake: Mix together the oil and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

Place 1 cup of the batter in the bottom of the prepared Bundt cake pan. Layer about 1/2 of the apples mixture on top of the batter. Pour on another thin layer of batter, add another layer of apples. Layer the batter and apples one more time, but make sure there is at least a thin layer of batter covering the top layer of apples.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the cake to a wire rack. Let the cake sit in the pan for about 5 minutes and then turn it upside down onto a plate, removing the Bundt pan. Let cool completely.

Lemon Zester and Juicer

lemonjuicer
Two must have items for Meyer lemon season, a lemon zester or microplane and a lemon juicer. I use my microplane regularly for zesting lemons (it zests very finely so that you just get the zest not the bitter pith) and also for grating ginger and garlic. I love the juicer because it extracts a large amount of juice without seeds in a flash. Both are dishwasher safe so you have no hesitation about using them.
Microplane $12.95
Lemon Juicer $7.40

Meyer Lemons

meyer-lemon-m
Last week on my regular Costco run, strawberries, romaine, green beans….I was elated to find a bright, fragrant and beautiful package of Meyer lemons. I always forget that October through May is their peak season and a great time to enjoy their super sweet goodness.

Thought to be a cross between an orange and a lemon, Meyer lemons are rounder and smoother-skinned than regular lemons, with a color that’s more bright yellow. As lemons go, these are especially sweet and perfumy, so when you see them at the market, pounce. Their juice tastes great in any recipe in which you’d use regular lemon juice, and their zest is especially delicious in cakes and scones.

I have included a few recipes but in addition, I highly recommend using their zest and juice in any recipe, from salad dressings, to spreads, to desserts, and even on roasted vegetables. They add freshness, sweetness, and a great burst of flavor.

Here are three tips:
Spread it: Add a generous squeeze of Meyer lemon juice and a minced clove of garlic to mayonnaise for gefilte fish or grilled chicken sandwiches.

Grate it: 
Combine the freshly grated peel of one Meyer lemon with one minced clove of garlic, a handful of chopped parsley, and toasted bread crumbs. Use a spoonful of the mixture, called gremolata, to perk up braised meat or veal stews or atop roasted asparagus or broccoli.

Roast it: 
Add wedges of Meyer lemons alongside wedges of potatoes in the roasting pan. Also, alongside simple roasted chicken. Make sure you squeeze the roasted juice over the potatoes or chicken before you serve them

Meyer Lemon and Coconut Shortbread Bars
Baby Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Spread
Roast Chicken with Shallot and Meyer Lemon Sauce

Roast Chicken with Shallot and Meyer Lemon Sauce

roast-chicken
Serves 6 – 8

1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 medium Meyer or regular lemons
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 pound shallots
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 375°. Zest lemons. Slice 1 lemon; juice half of the other.
Rub zest under as much of the skin as possible and rub any remaining zest inside cavity. Rub chicken all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the thyme. Put lemon slices in cavity.
Set a V-shaped rack in a heavy roasting pan large enough to hold shallots. Put chicken in rack, breast side up. Add shallots to pan and drizzle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, turning them to coat the onions in the oil.
Roast chicken, basting every 30 minutes or so, until browned about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours (remove shallots after 1 hour and set aside). Remove from oven to let it rest before carving.
Meanwhile, make sauce: Pour pan drippings into a measuring cup with a pouring lip. Trim tops from shallots and squeeze soft insides into a blender. Pour off all but about 1 tbsp. fat from pan drippings and add drippings to blender. Add 1/2 cup broth and the wine and pulse until smooth.
Pour sauce into roasting pan. Cook, scraping up brown bits and adding more broth if you want a thinner sauce, over medium-high heat until sauce turns a nutty brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon reserved Meyer lemon juice, or more to taste. Carve chicken, serve with sauce.

Baby Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Spread

Serves 6
The technique for this recipe seems a bit strange. The results are great so follow the directions closely. Basically you need to dissolve the sugar with the wine and mint to infuse the mint and sweetness into the wine. Then you are adding the best of the lemon, the zest and the fruit without the pith to make a sweet lemon compote to top the lamb chops.

3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
2 Meyer lemons
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
16 baby lamb chops or 8 3/4-inch-thick lamb chops
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine wine, sugar, and mint in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Strain syrup into medium saucepan; discard mint. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons in strips. Place strips in mini processor. Cut away all white pith from lemons and discard. Working on plate to catch juice, quarter lemons; remove seeds. Add lemons and juice to mini processor; using on/off turns, chop coarsely. Add lemon mixture to mint syrup. Boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Stir in salt. Cool.

Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Add lamb; cook to desired doneness, about 2 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Repeat with remaining lamb. Serve lamb with lemon compote.

Meyer Lemon and Coconut Shortbread Bars

lemon-bar
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit. I make these with regular lemon juice too, but the Meyer lemons make them worth the calories!
Makes 16 bars

BARS
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 whole graham crackers
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted margarine, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

LEMON CURD
12 large egg yolks
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 8 Meyer lemons)
1-1/3 cups fresh Meyer lemon juice
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted margarine, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk or pareve whipping cream

SHORTBREAD CRUST
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. Spread out coconut on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring every 2 minutes, until light golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let coconut cool in pan.
Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground (there should be about 1/4 cup). Transfer to a small bowl; stir in coconut and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat margarine and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add flour, vanilla, and salt. Mix just until dough begins to form. Fold in coconut-crumb mixture (dough will be soft and will hold together when pressed between your fingers).
Press dough evenly onto bottom of prepared dish (smooth surface with an offset spatula, if desired). Using a fork, prick dough all over.
Bake crust until golden brown and just set, 18–22 minutes. Set aside.

LEMON CURD
Cook egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly and beating in as much air as possible (keeping the whisk moving prevents the curd from burning and the eggs from scrambling), until curd has thickened and begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Remove immediately from heat.
Whisk in margarine and coconut milk until butter is fully incorporated and curd is smooth. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve directly onto baked crust. Smooth top.
Bake bars until center of filling is just set, 15–17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill until cold, 2–3 hours. DO AHEAD: Lemon bars can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Cut into bars. Serve cold.

Lighter Wines

bartenura
On the lighter side….

Post holiday lighter meals call for lighter wine but still wines that you can be excited about. Our friends at Royal Wines always have some great ideas for us.
“When I think of lighter wines I think of Italian wines – wines that are made to be enjoyed with food. These wines typically have a bright acidity that keeps them lighter on the palate,” says Gary Landsman, our chief wine go-to guy. Some of the wines from Ovadia Estates come to mind, such as the new Nobile di Montepulciano (local availability soon) or the ever popular Rosso di Motepulciano, each great deals at about $12-$16. The Morellino di Scansano & Dolcetto D’alba are also nice options (at about $20).

As for some nice white options, try the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc (everything from Goose Bay is great these days) and one of our favorites, the Carmel Kayoumi Riesling.

Healthy Cooking

Chanukah and Thanksgiving tend to run our schedules and our diets on overdrive. I think the most commonly searched recipes in the last few days were anything with the word “light” in front of it. I like to cook light but have been focusing more on healthy than light. Healthy food is filling, full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and great taste. Light recipes often use artificial flavorings like splenda to keep them sweet. So in an effort to improve overall health and still enjoy all of our food including dessert, I came up with a challenge, change one ingredient that will improve health and maintain the same great taste of a dish. You won’t believe the results! Seriously good food, no hint of anything missing, and improved health…now, you cannot beat that! Don’t forget to send me all your great one-fix substitutions so I can share them with everyone. And stay tuned next week for another great ingredient swap!

Pumpkin Bread with Sweetened Bananas
Chocolate Avocado Brownies

Pumpkin Bread Sweetened with Bananas

bananabread
Serves 8

Bananas are naturally sweet and serve as a good, non-processed sugar substitute in baking. They are full of fiber (sugar has none) Calorie-wise, you save BIG for this swap: 1 cup mashed banana is 73 kcal, for 1 cup sugar at 775 kcal.
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.

Chocolate Avocado Brownies

Avocado-Brownies
Serves 10

The substitution of avocado in baked goods helps increase their nutritional value by contributing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
Over 75 percent of the fat in avocados is unsaturated (heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), making them a great substitute for foods or ingredients high in saturated fat.

For avocado brownies:
2 avocados, mashed
8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil, or canola oil
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.
In bowl, mix mashed avocado and melted chocolate; mix in sugar, then eggs, vanilla extract, and oil.
Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt until combined.
Spread batter in pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through middle.

Equivalency note:
½ cup mashed avocado is equivalent to ¼ of a large avocado.

Giveaway: The Holiday Kosher Baker Cookbook

gv-kosherbaker
Paula Shoyer, author of the The Kosher Baker, has done it again with her new book, The Holiday Kosher Baker. She has already sold thousands of books and has appeared around the country demonstrating her unique creations and wowing people with her Kosher baking expertise. This book features holiday baking ideas from the classics and traditional items like rugelach, babka, and apple cake to updated and show stopper recipes like Salted Caramel Banana Tart Tatin (I made it last week, and it was superb), and Raspberry and Rose Macaroon Cake. A few things I love about this book, first the endless ideas for kosher substitutions for hard to find ingredients or pareve ingredients AND the incredible hints on how to make things Kosher for Passover (like converting flour to potato starch in a recipe while still keeping it light and tasty). And I especially like the Passover section filled with desserts that are good enough for all year round.

Not only did Paula include two sneak peak Hanukah recipes for GKC readers, Pumpkin Doughnuts and Almond and Olive Oil Cake, but she is also giving one lucky reader a free book just in time for Hanukah! Submit to win!

Paula is a friend of GKC and sat down to answer a few of our reader questions. I love it when authors and chefs share their secrets to success. Have more questions? Just email me and Paula will be happy to respond.

GKC: Paula, you are an expert baker. What is the secret to great kosher baking?
Paula: The secret to all baking is actually following the recipe and measuring. The secret to kosher baking is understanding all the of the great dairy-free ingredients out there that you can use to substitute for dairy ones. We are so lucky to live in 2013 with so many great options.

GKC: There are some impressive and “WOW” factor recipes in this book, are your books for advanced bakers?
Paula: No way! We all need easy options. Both books have recipes labeled “easy”, “moderate,” and “multiple step,” so there is something for every level of baker. The Kosher Baker has an entire chapter, 45 recipes, of super easy yet delicious and elegant desserts. The Holiday Kosher Baker has lots of easy desserts too about 35, but as we like fancier desserts for the holidays, the new book has many showstoppers for your holiday tables.

GKC: What is your go-to dessert?
Paula: From the new book, The Holiday Kosher Baker, I love the chewy chocolate and olive oil cookies – so easy and everyone loves them; and from The Kosher Baker, the orange tea cake from the cover photo.

GKC: What is your favorite thing to do with a flopped cake?
Paula: Plate it in the kitchen, add berries and a sauce or whipped cream, turn it into a bread pudding, or sometimes, if it is a total dud, it is labeled a “bake and dump”.

Thanks Paula, don’t forget to submit to win, and buy one too, it makes a great Hanukah present.

Available at Amazon.com for $24

To enter to win The Holiday Kosher Baker cookbook either:
1. Subscribe.
2. If you are already a subscriber, send us a comment. We love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
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