Last Tuesday was National Chocolate Day, Let’s Celebrate Chocolate!

chocolate-heart

Did you know that Tuesday October 28, was National Chocolate Day? Did you miss it or get a chance to indulge? I actually didn’t know we needed a National chocolate day to celebrate that luscious, divine ingredient. I’m personally okay with celebrating with a little chocolate on almost any day but okay, let’s refill our chocolate drawer at work, grab a box on the way home and make a killer chocolate dessert to enjoy before, or after, dinner. And since the official day was last week, let’s just keep it going, maybe National Chocolate Month?

Although I will help you find a few good chocolate recipes this week, and answer your pressing chocolate questions, I also must first tell you that all chocolate is not created equal. Though many chocolates are tasty, they are not exactly what connoisseurs refer to as quality chocolate. With an array of chocolates available at convenience stores, markets, specialty shops and chocolatiers, those with a chocolate craving are sure to come across plenty of disappointments on their quest for superior chocolates. Additionally the quality of the chocolate used in a recipe can often determine the end product. I use good quality chocolate for everything, eating, baking, shavings, and even in hot cocoa.

A few tips to buying good quality chocolate…

Let the price tag be an indicator of good chocolate. Good chocolate will cost more than commercial grade chocolate, as it should. If you are looking for top quality chocolate, expect to pay more for the quality.

Look at the ingredients. Good chocolate will have cocoa solids (the actual chocolate) and cocoa butter (the creaminess of the chocolate) as top ingredients. If you browse the list of ingredients and see a bunch of things you do not recognize and cannot pronounce, skip purchasing it.

Check the date the chocolate was made. Dark chocolate is recommended to be used before 1 year, milk chocolate within 6 months and white chocolate within 8 months. The date is located on the package.

Smell the chocolate. Chocolate should smell like…chocolate. No smell to the chocolate indicates old or poor quality chocolate. Chocolate that smells of anything else means it has not been stored well. Chocolate absorbs the odor and flavor of its environment, so pay attention to whatever is on display nearby.

Good chocolate has a glossy surface.
If you open the package and it has a foggy appearance than it is probably made with imitation chocolate ingredients. I would not use this in baking or eating but instead of it going to waste, melt it and add it to warm milk for hot chocolate.

AND I’m often asked these questions about chocolate:
In chocolate, what does bittersweet mean versus semisweet?

Typically, semisweet chocolate has lower cacao content and is sweeter than bittersweet chocolate. However, the only FDA requirement is that something called dark, bittersweet, or semisweet chocolate contain at least 35 percent cacao and less than 12 percent milk solids (more milk solids, and it’s required to say it’s milk chocolate).

Bittersweet chocolate contains sugar, but generally not as much as semisweet chocolate, although, by government standards, they could contain practically identical amounts of chocolate liquor and sugar and still retain their bittersweet and semisweet labels. What this means is that one brand’s bittersweet chocolate could be close in sweetness to another brand’s semisweet chocolate, and vice versa.
Because of this, bittersweet and semisweet chocolate could be used interchangeably in most recipes; unsweetened, obviously, could not because it contains no sugar.

What does % cacao mean on the package?
When you see “% cacao” printed on a label, it refers to the total percentage of ingredients by weight in that product that come from the cocoa bean, including the chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. The term is found most often on premium chocolates, especially dark chocolate.
It’s a guide to specific flavor intensity. The numbers point to milder or deeper chocolate flavor. Finding this number on the label can help you choose a chocolate that matches your taste preferences or your recipe’s needs.

What do the numbers indicate? Higher cacao percentages equal the following:
• Greater Flavor Intensity: In general, a higher “% cacao” lends a more intense chocolate flavor.

• Less Sweetness: A higher “% cacao” means less added sugar. For example, a 72 percent cacao dark chocolate has roughly 12 percent less sugar than a 60 percent cacao dark chocolate. Unsweetened baking chocolate is 100 percent cacao with no added sugar, and it is very bitter.

What type of chocolate should I use in baking?
For melting or baking use chocolate with more than a 32% cocoa butter (I prefer the brands with 52%) but less than 32% will not melt to a proper workable fluid state. When melted it will be thick and be completely unusable for most dipping and other types of uses. Personally, I like bittersweet chocolate in everything but buy and eat whatever you prefer.

And now, chocolate recipes to enjoy…
Brownie Chocolate Chip Pie
Chocolate Almond Ripple Cake
Chocolate Biscotti
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Meltaway Cake
Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes

And for a huge assortment of chocolate recipes to choose from check out the CHOCOLATE INDEX

Delicious Oven Baked Chicken Cutlets

oven-fried-chicken
Serves 4, Can be doubled

Making tasty oven baked chicken can be challenging. With the addition of a few flavorful seasonings, a healthier version can be really good and guilt-free. I like to keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to use in wraps, sandwiches, and salads for school lunches. I still sometimes make the fried version at times, but this great recipe has become a go-to for that mid-week schnitzel craving.

Cooking spray
2/3 cup panko
1-3/4 ounces (1/3 cup) toasted, skinned hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 thin-cut chicken breast cutlets (about 1 pound)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Put a wire rack over a large, foil-lined baking sheet; spray the rack with cooking spray.
Toast the panko in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish or plate; cool briefly then add the hazelnuts, rosemary, garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
Combine the mayonnaise and mustard in a second shallow dish. Coat the chicken in the mayonnaise mixture and then the panko mixture, and then transfer to the prepared rack. Mist the chicken lightly with cooking spray and bake until just cooked through, 13 to 15 minutes.

Savino Connoisseur: Wine Preservation Glassware

grande
Thanksgiving and Hannukah are around the corner and I’m already thinking of gift ideas. This one I spotted in a wine shop in a tiny town in Connecticut this summer and kept it in my files to share this time of year.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you do not finish a bottle of wine. The Savino Connoisseur helps keep wine fresh for another time. The sleep vessel holds 750 ml but it’s design is really smart. It’s shorter than a wine bottle for easier fridge storage, and it’s airtight float keeps wine fresh for up to a week and allows for smooth pouring. Great gift idea!

Available at Savino.myshopify.com for $59.95

School Lunches

Back to Life, back to reality, back to MAKING SCHOOL LUNCH…

It’s strange how the regular less stressful parts of life can get so stressful. Things like running errands, paying bills, making dinner, and any mundane part of our life can derail our day if it lacks order or organization. The same is true for the dreaded, making school lunches! I get lots of emails from people asking for new ideas and hints on how to get nutritious and wholesome lunches into our children’s diets. I’m not a miracle worker but do have some success with this. Here is my strategy that saves time and aggravation…And don’t forget to see all the lunch suggestions at the bottom.

soupinthermos1-of-1
Make a list of options: With your kids, make a list of 20 potential lunches that make both you and the kids happy. See some samples below.
Plan the Week: Consult with your kids and make a plan for the week. Yes…the whole week of lunches. Choose from your list of options.
Shop: Make sure you have the ingredients and items you need in the house. No running out for ingredients on Tuesdays or picking up Sushi (that must be on the plan for that day already)
Involve: We divide up the week. I take 1-2 nights (depends on their schedules) to prepare lunches and each child alternates and takes a turn to help or take care of the lunches. My little boys participate too.
Variety: Change your list, add and delete items, but give variety!
Tip: Make sure you have the essential equipment that will help your kids enjoy the lunches. I love the resuseit insulated lunch sacks and the insulated and leek-proof food jars and thermos options. Keeping food an appropriate temperature is crucial. How would you like a cold quesadilla?

Lunch Ideas:
grilled-chicken-club-sandwiches
Meat sandwiches: My boys love leftover grilled or fried chicken in a sandwich. I use leftover challah or challah rolls and add thousand island dressing and lettuce. For the more adventurous, try spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, or grilled onions or other meats, like meatballs, meatloaf, even chicken from the chicken soup, mixed with a little BBQ sauce makes a great sandwich. Sloppy Joe style cooked meat is good too.

Bagel with fix-ins: Ya know, cream cheese, lox, tomato, avocado, butter. Or add scrambled eggs and send in an insulated bag to keep it warm.

Wraps: Not the store-bought variety. This is great for homemade leftovers. We stuff them with leftover brisket, chicken, steak, meatballs, then add rice or quinoa, any dressing and a little greenery. Chummos or cooked mashed beans are delicious as add-ins too.

blog-photo
Yogurt Parfait: Invest in some jelly jars to make it look great. Fruit, layered with yogurt, granola or cereal, repeat it all. Looks so gorgeous all their friends will ooh and ahhh.

Quesadilla with cheese and beans: Open can of beans, simmer with a little water and salt, then mash. Melt cheese in a tortilla with some beans. Wrap in foil to keep warm-ish and send in an insulated bag.

Any and all day old soups or Chili: Soup makes awesome leftovers. Send a bag of chunky croutons alongside a thermos of soup. Pour in the top cup of the thermos, add croutons to make it a little more filling. Same for Chili.

Stuffed baked potato: Stuff a baked potato with great fillings, melted cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, salsa, or go the meat route, and add chopped deli meat with veggies. Wrap tightly in foil and send in an insulated bag.

Sushi Salad: Sushi rice mixed with imitation crab, chopped cucumber, and drizzled with both sushi sweet sauce and spicy mayo. Mix and serve. Its great room temp or cold. Keeps for days in the refrigerator.

Salads: This is my girls favorite lunch. We mix it up by using lots of different types of lettuce from romaine, kale, arrugula to cabbage and bok choy. We add lots of toppings, like veggies, cheese or grilled chicken, roasted or grilled vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, egg whites or whatever is leftover from the salad the night before. Makes lots of extra dressing.

Falafel: Stores sell it pre-made or there are many mixes available. Add chopped lettuce and tomato, and some tahini dressing. Send in an insulated bag.

Veggie Burgers: So many brands and flavors available. Great way to get some protein into a salad without being fleish. Or send it on a bun in an insulated bag.

Sushi: We usually treat ourselves one day every other week to sushi lunch, store-bought the night before.

Oatmeal: Great protein packed oatmeal cups are available now and made by many manufacturers. Send a thermos of warm water. Kids just add water and stir. I sometimes send in chopped fruit or granola to add to it to make it a little more hearty.

A few other items that are not a meal but make great additions include:
Chips and dips: salsa, guacamole, chummos, cheese, bread, veggies
Tuna fish on anything: my kids don’t like it but great in wraps, sandwiches, Bagels or atop a salad
Cheese and crackers: And add sliced apple too
Pickles: add to wraps, salads, sandwiches, who doesn’t like pickles?
Peanut butter: If your school allows this, well, you have nothing to complain about, PB&J, PB& marshmallow fluff, PB& banana, crackers, pita, celery, you name it, PB is good on it.

Send me your ideas too so that I can share them with others!

2 School Lunch Essential Items

thermos-foogo-10-oz
Leek-proof, Hot and Cold, Food Jar – A School Lunch Essential
Available in 10 ounces and other 16 ounce options, these jars keep food hot and cold for up to 7 hours. They are perfect for soups, stews, yogurts, and hot and cold drinks. The have a non-slip base, are BPA free, and stay cool to the touch. Lastly, I love the wide mouth for easy filling and serving. There are other options available for larger amounts of liquid.

Available at reuseit.com
for $17.95

Adorable and Reusable Lunch Sacks
lunchskinssandwich-bag
I love a cute item that is functional, reduces waste, and is adorable. These “lunchskins” are sized perfectly and are reusable. Perfect for a bagged sandwich lunch, they are dishwasher-safe so you can use it over and over again. They come in a variety of bright colors and patterns.
Available from www.crateandbarrel.com for $8.95

One Pot Fish with Tomatoes and Potatoes

onepotfish1
Still a little tired of cooking and feeling like you need to lighten up? I am. This week has been a week of fish, lots of salad, and smaller meals. I cannot believe we are even hungry, but we are. This dish was hit. Super simple and flavorful and even my non-fish lovers enjoyed it. I made it without the potatoes and served it over brown rice.

Serves 6

3 Yukon potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra
3/4 pound white fish fillets, such as flounder, tilapia, and cod
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, cut in chunks
1/2 cup good quality black olives, pitted and sliced in half

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil the potato slices in salted water until they are not quite completely cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Grease baking dish or Dutch oven with the olive oil and place the fish in the dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, thyme, soy sauce, lemon, salt, and pepper. Add the onion, tomatoes, olives, and potatoes. Toss gently to coat.

Pour the vinaigrette and vegetables over the fish. Bake in oven until fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Toasted Marshmallow Chocolate Brownies

coconut-cookies
Makes 16 bars

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup flour
½ cup non-dairy creamer or soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup margarine
½ cup cocoa
1 2/3 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped or other nut of your choice
2 cups mini marshmallows
½ cup toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, egg, flour, non-dairy creamer, and vanilla and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt margarine. Add cocoa and whisk to combine. Add cocoa mixture to sugar/flour mixture and whisk to combine. Spread mixture into greased pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until base is set.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts. Return pan to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes or until chips start to melt. With offset spatula spread melted chocolate a little bit.

Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows and toasted coconut over melted chocolate. Press them lightly with your hands to help them adhere to the chocolate. Cool completely.

Cut into 2 x 2 inch bars.

Tip: It is easiest to remove the whole slab of brownies from the pan and then cut them with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Do not drag the knife across the whole bar; it will pull the marshmallows away from the brownies.

Roasted Za’atar Chicken

zaatar-chicken
Serves 6

1 (4 pounds) chicken, cut in 1/8’s or 2 small
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sumac
1 ½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chicken broth or water
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons za’atar spice
¼ cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted

Mix chicken, onions, garlic, lemon, sumac, allspice, cinnamon, broth, and ¼ cup oil in a zip-lock plastic bag. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well so that chicken is coated with all ingredients. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place chicken and all of marinade in a large roasting pan, spooning any remaining marinade over and around chicken. Sprinkle with za’atar. Roast in oven until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 50 – 60 minutes.

Serve chicken with onions and lemons and pan juices.

Split Pea and Flanken Soup

splitpea-soup
Adapted from the Wall Street Journal
Serves 6 – 8

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds marrow bones
2 pounds beef flanken
2 Vidalia onions cut into 1-inch pieces
6 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 pound green split peas
½ pound barley
5 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Kosher salt to taste
Garnish: Homemade or store-bought croutons

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a small soup bag or cheesecloth, combine peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme and gather and tie bag closed. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, mix 1 tablespoon oil with marrow bones. Cover and roast in oven for 30-45 minutes. Remove bones from pot, but do not wash pot.

In same pot, add remaining tablespoon oil. Season flanken with a little salt. Brown flanken on both sides, about 12 minutes total. Remove meat from pot.

To same pot, reduce heat to medium, add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add tomato paste, and stir until vegetables are covered, about 1 -2 minutes. Return marrow bones and flanken to pot. Add red wine and deglaze pan by scraping up brown bits on bottom of pot. Add spice packet, split peas, barley and beef broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Remove marrow bones. Season with salt, dill and parsley.

Serve warm with croutons.

Wine for a Hot or Cold Sukkos

Choice Wines You Can Enjoy No Matter What the Weather
Jay Buchsbaum

The weather around Sukkos can be very unpredictable, but I have you covered no matter what the weather brings. This year Sukkos comes late, mid-October and depending on which way the winds blow, you could be bundled in layers of sweaters or schvitzing in 80 plus degrees and 80 plus humidity. Deciding what wine to have is usually a function of what food you’re having, but weather, especially when food is eaten outdoors, can play just as important a role.

If the sun is shining and the temps are on the rise, no matter the dish you want something that will keep you cool and certainly not something that will add a degree (pun intended) of uncomfortable heat. On the other hand, if autumn chills are in the air, a rich inviting wine is perfect for warming up with.

Now let’s talk about the temperature we typically serve our wines at. Believe me, there are in fact warm weather reds, that while appropriate for a deep rich roast can be drunk slightly cool and whites on the flip side that are so rich and flavorful they can be served at just below room temperature and need not be ‘iced’ to enjoy. We often drink our reds too warm. Generally when one says a wine should be served at room temperature they mean ‘European’ room temperature or low to mid 60′s at most. While whites frankly are often drunk far too cool and should be drunk at low 40′s to 50 degrees.

Here are five wines for hot weather and the temperature they should be served at and five for cooler temperatures. Most importantly surround yourself with good friend’s family and company and your temperature will always be just right.

Cool weather wines

• Herzog Napa Cabernet; rich big fruit in the mouth flavorful dishes; serve at 67-70 degrees
• Flam Reserve Syrah; It’s rich with spice & cedar, perfect for roasts; serve at 67-70 degrees
• Porto Cordovera; Sweet, luscious. Great way to warm body and soul w desert 70+ degrees
• Shiloh Chardonnay; full bodied and complex w great aroma. Can be served high 50′s
• Capcanes Petita; less expensive than its big brother Ha’Abib but rich, serve at 67-69 degrees

Warm weather wines
• Tzuba Pinot Noir; From an Estate Winery. Elegant, lighter but complex, serve in the low 60′s
• Pacifica Pinot Noir – A typical Pacific Northwestern Pinot Noir, fruity and robust; serve in the low 60′s
• Flam Blanc; A delicious white blend that dances on your tongue; serve cold between 47-49 degrees
• Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc; Crisp and loaded with flavor & aromas of sweet lemons; serve about 47 degrees
• Herzog Reserve Late Harvest Chenin Blanc; Aromatic, sweet and perfect with dessert; Serve ice cold mid to low 40′s, with fruit ice cream or on its own.

What is Best to Eat Before a Fast, Plus My Pre Yom Kippur Menu Ideas…

I wrote this a few years ago, but a few newspapers and magazines run it each year plus many people requested it again. So back again,

What is Best to Eat Before a Fast, Plus My Pre Yom Kippur Menu Ideas…

What is it about fasting that makes us all so obsessed for days before the fast? I am not referring to the spiritual side (as that is worthy of the obsession) but the food aspect. Did you know that most healthy adults could survive many days and up to a month without eating? Regardless, days before the fast, I am reducing my caffeine intake and worrying about how I will manage. I have heard of all sorts of “fast survival” techniques, from caffeine suppositories, extra strength Excedrin without water (that’s my personal favorite), drinking coffee right before the fast to fool your system and give it caffeine for the morning, eating 2 tablespoons of honey before the fast, and crazy carbo loading. Everyone has their own strategy; tell us what yours is so we can share it with our readers.
GKC consulted with the experts (now who is an expert faster???) and here are our tips and recipes for a successful fast.
- Lots of Water. The discomfort from fasting is actually not from fasting but from lack of fluid. Super hydrate before the fast. Drink a great deal a day or two before as well and then really fill up with fluids before the pre-fast meal.

- Reduce caffeine intake. The headache associated with fasting is from caffeine withdrawal. One week prior to fasting start reducing your caffeine intake to about 1 cup a day or drink decaffeinated teas and coffees to fool your system. If this is too tough, seriously consider the caffeine suppositories or an aspirin before the fast to rid yourself of those headaches.

- Eat Normal Sized Meals. Overeating will not stave off the effects of hunger and may make you more uncomfortable. The excess fluids needed for your body to process large meals may also lead to dehydration which is counter productive. So while we eat numerous meals before the fast and a pre-fast meal, do not overeat.

- Eat carbs; yup, it’s true. Complex carbs like those in pasta, breads, rice, fruits and vegetables, are best for maintaining energy levels during the fast. The also help your body absorb water more efficiently so eating carbs will help you stay hydrated. Whole-grain products and fruits and vegetables with fiber are best because they digest slower and keep you feeling full longer.

Sweet Challah
Minestrone Soup
Citrus Marinated and Roasted Chicken
Oven Baked Saffron Rice OR Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn OR Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Zucchini Kugel
Roasted Mixed Vegetables
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Assorted Sorbet and Fruit

Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake

Guiness+Chocolate+Stout+Cake
Serves 10 – 12
Easy, luscious, and make-ahead friendly.

3 cups flour
½ cup coca
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
¼ cup hot water
1 cup non-dairy milk or soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze:
¾ cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer, cream margarine and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.

In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powder into water. Stir in milk and vanilla.

On low speed, add dry ingredients alternately with espresso mixture into batter, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape down bowl and mix again until blended.

Grease a 10 cup bundt pan or 2 8-inch round cake pans. Pour batter in pans. Bake for 60 minutes or until tester comes out with moist crumbs. Cool for 10 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack.

Prepare glaze:
In a medium saucepan over very low heat, combine chocolate chips, margarine, and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla.
Spread warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

This cake freezes well or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Sprinkle with coarse salt if you like.

Chocolate Almond Swirled Pound Cake

Makes 2 loaves

Gorgeous and delicious.

Almond Batter
1-2/3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond paste

Chocolate Batter
1 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 2 (8-inch) loaf pans.

For the almond batter: Sift flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond paste and beat to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients. Transfer batter to another bowl.

For the chocolate batter: In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa and salt and set aside. In a mixer, cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and then slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

With an ice cream scoop, place one scoop of chocolate batter and one scoop of almond batter next to each other at one end of the oaf pan. Continue to fill pan with rows of scoops of both batters, in alternate order to the batter in the row before. When loaf pan is full, gently run a knife through the batter to create a swirl of two flavors. Repeat for 2nd loaf pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Cool.

4-Hour, Fall off the Bone Lamb

Serves 8 – 10
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 (4 – 6 lb) boneless lamb
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 (750-ml) bottle white wine
2 heads of garlic, broken apart but not peeled
15 large sprigs fresh rosemary
15 large sprigs fresh thyme
6 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Rub the lamb all over with olive oil and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat a very large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until its hot. Add the lamb and sear on all sides for about 12 minutes, until its browned all over. Remove the lamb to a plate.

Add the wine and 2 cups of water to the pan and cook for a minute or two, scraping up all the brown bits in the bottom. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves and the lamb on top. Place the lid on the pot and bake in the oven for 4 hours, basting occasionally. (If you dont have a lid, you can cover it tightly with 2 layers of aluminum foil.)

Remove the lamb to a plate, cover it tightly with foil and allow it to rest. Strain the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce. The lamb will be too tender to slice; serve it warm with spoons and the sauce.

Warm Blueberry or Apple Clafouti

15MYFAVORITE2-articleLarge
Serves 8

This is like a moist cake, or soufflé-like dessert. Some people serve it as a kugel or a side dish. Use whatever fruit you like, pears, berries, or even pineapple.

1/2 stick margarine, melted, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup non-dairy milk or soymilk
2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries or 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
Pareve whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup sugar with the flour and non-dairy milk. Whisk in the melted margarine.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the berries evenly over the top of the batter, gently pressing them into the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over fruit. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour. When 10 minutes of the cooking time remains, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Top with whipped cream.

Classic Easy Pot Roast

potroast
Serves 8

This is as the title says classic, and rich, delicious, and perfect for Yom Tov. Make it a few days ahead of time, it gets better and better.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One 3 to 5-pound chuck roast or pot roast
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole onions, peeled and halved
6 to 8 whole carrots, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Generously salt and pepper the roast.

Heat the olive oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the halved onions to the pot, browning them on both sides. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pot and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Reserve the carrots with the onions.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pot. Place the meat in the pot and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, add red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a whisk. Place the roast back into the pot and add beef stock to cover the meat halfway.

Return the onions, carrots and fresh herbs to liquid.

Cover, then roast for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast and 4 hours for 4 to 5-pound roast.

Oatmeal Nutella Cookies (pareve)

Nutella Oatmeal Cookies A140407 FW Nick Kokonas July 2014
Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortening or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
One 13-ounce jar pareve hazelnut and chocolate spread or Nutella
2 cups rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 375° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the shortening with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the hazelnut spread or Nutella and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then beat in the oats.

Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are just set; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Immediately transfer the cookies from the pan to racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.

MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Asian Spinach Salad with Miso, Ginger and Sesame Dressing

Serves 8

3 tablespoons white miso
1 – 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 tablespoons water
½ cup canola oil
6 cups baby spinach lettuce
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
½ cup snow peas
¼ cup toasted peanuts or almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

In a small bowl, whisk together miso, ginger, vinegar and water. Slowly whisk in oil until blended.

In a large salad bowl, mix spinach, carrots, cucumber, snow peas, peanuts and sesame seeds. Pour dressing over salad. Toss and serve immediately.

Romaine Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, and Tomato Shallot Dressing

Serves 8

1 large tomato, grated (skin discarded)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
5 cups Romaine lettuce
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup kalamata or green pitted olives
½ cup chopped cucumbers

In a small bowl, whisk grated tomato, lemon juice, shallot, chives, and salt. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended and emulsified.

In a large salad bowl, toss romaine, tomatoes, olives and cucumbers. Pour dressing over salad. Toss and serve immediately.

Warm Peach Bread Pudding

peach-bread-pudding-su-x

Serves 8

I made this with peaches, blueberries, bananas and apples. Basically, use whatever fruit you like, its terrific.

6 tablespoons margarine
8 cups day-old challah or French bread with crust, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups non-dairy creamer or soymilk
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
6 large peaches, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-in. slices (or apples, or bananas (use 4) or 3 cups blueberries)
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 to 4 tablespoons brandy
Pareve whipped cream

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 8 ramekins (8 oz. each). Put bread pieces in a large bowl and pour non-dairy creamer over bread. Let soak, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons margarine and 3/4 cup sugar. Add peaches and cook 1 to 2 minutes to release juices. Strain into a small bowl; reserve juices.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs, 1 cup sugar, the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over bread and stir to combine. Fold in peaches.
Spoon mixture into ramekins and set in a large roasting pan. Put roasting pan in oven and fill pan with very hot water to come halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake until puddings are puffy and firm when pressed, about 45 minutes.
Simmer reserved juices until steaming. Whisk in brandy. Serve pudding with sauce and whipped cream.

Peanut Sauce

Makes 1 ½ cups

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Black pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the shallot, garlic and ginger and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and whisk until blended. Whisk in the sugar, crushed red pepper, coriander, cinnamon and Worcestershire sauce; if a thinner sauce is desired, whisk in a little more water. Transfer the sauce to a medium bowl and season with salt and black pepper.

MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated for 1 week. SERVE WITH Use this sauce on chicken skewers, beef satay or warm noodles.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

satayayam
Makes 30 skewers

⅓ cup peanut oil, divided
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 scallions, whites and light green parts chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 large shallots, chopped
1 (5″) piece ginger, sliced
3¼ pounds skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″-wide, ¼”-thick slices
30 (8″) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Purée 2 tablespoons oil, the sugar, coriander, turmeric, salt, chopped scallions, garlic, shallots, and ginger in a food processor until smooth. Transfer paste to a bowl and add chicken; toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 4 hours.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.) Thread 2 pieces of chicken onto each skewer; grill, turning once, and brushing often with remaining oil until charred, 5-6 minute.

Serve with Peanut Sauce

Asian Skewered Chicken Meatballs

chicken skewer

Makes 24
You can make these skewered or unskewered. Doesn’t matter, they don’t last long. Guests go back for more and more.

1/4 cup sake or dry white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mirin
1 pound coarsely ground chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 medium shallot, minced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Small bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

In a saucepan, combine the sake, soy sauce, sugar and 1/4 cup of the mirin; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, 3 minutes. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, combine the chicken, salt, shallot, zest and the remaining 2 tablespoons of mirin. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Form the chicken mixture into 24 meatballs. Brush the meatballs with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and arrange them on the baking sheet. Bake for about 6 minutes, until the meatballs are barely cooked through. Remove from oven and thread the meatballs onto 8 bamboo skewers.

Brush the meatballs with some sauce. Return to oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn meatballs to other side, brush with more sauce and cook an additional 5 – 8 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.

Honey Roasted Chicken or Duck with Red Quinoa and Sweet Pears

Serves 4, can be doubled

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 chicken, cut in 1/8’s or chicken pieces or duck breasts
Finely ground pepper
1 tablespoon honey
2 small pears, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1 tablespoons dry sherry or red wine
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large ovenproof saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until the quinoa is lightly toasted, 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake for about 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and fold in the parsley; keep warm.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown chicken (or duck) skin side down over low heat until golden , about 4 minutes (and 10 minutes for duck). Flip over and add the honey to the pan. Baste with the honey and roast in the oven for 60 minutes, until medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, cook the pears over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, 2 minutes. Add the margarine, sherry and remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock and cook until thickened, stirring to loosen any browned bits, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rosemary.
Thinly slice the chicken or duck breasts crosswise. Spoon the quinoa onto 4 plates and top with the chicken and pecans. Spoon on the pear sauce and serve.

Oven Baked Saffron Rice

Serves 8
4 tablespoons margarine or canola oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Small pinch of saffron threads
2 cups extra-long-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetarian broth

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large ovenproof saucepan, melt the margarine. Add the onion, bay leaf and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, coriander and saffron and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately high heat until nearly absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the stock and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

Cover the saucepan and bake the rice for 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Let stand for 15 minutes; fluff with a fork and serve.