Starting 2015 with Healthy and Energy Boosting Snacks

Although January 1 has no significance on the Jewish calendar, people still use it as a benchmark for restarting a healthy diet. Gym memberships, diet websites, and nutritionists are busier than ever this time of year.

There are no easy fixes for dieting or miracle foods in the energy equation, but smart food choices really boost your day. It’s a crucial time to treat your body well. Kids need more energy and hydration to stay perked up for learning and adults have longer days than ever. In addition to watching my diet, I’m keeping my refrigerator full of kale and arugula for interesting salads and making some homemade snack bars and muffins to keep the kids happy and better nourished. Try these simple and tasty recipes that meet healthy lifestyle standards and taste great.

Healthy Applesauce Muffins
Edamame Dip
Cherry Almond Energy Bars
Pumpkin Bread Sweetened with Bananas
Kale Chips

Broccoli and Cauliflower Side Dishes

Malibu Farms for Food & Wine Magazine

People ask me for good side dish ideas all year long. It seems we are always trying to get our veggie servings in, each and everyday. Here are a few that I make, both weekday and sometimes for Friday night. You can use either fresh or frozen and broccoli or cauliflower or a combo in both of these recipes but make sure you start out with defrosted and dry vegetables.

Broccoli Roasted in Aioli
Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes

Broccoli Roasted in Aioli

photo: Luis Gracia

photo: Luis Gracia


Serves 8

2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
Salt
Pepper
2-3/4 pounds broccoli (3 medium heads), cut into florets, stems reserved for another use, or cauliflower florets
.
Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the broccoli florets and toss to coat.

Spread half of the broccoli on a large rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 7 minutes, until lightly charred and the edges are crisp. Transfer the charred broccoli to a platter and repeat with the remaining broccoli. Serve right away.

Need more broccoli recipes? Try these:
Roasted Broccoli with Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes

photo: Jame

photo: Jame


Serves 8

Food and Wine magazine posted this recipe. It’s an interesting combination of flavors that is wonderful together. The grapes get intensely sweet and concentrated and the cauliflower is hearty and has great texture.

One 2-pound head of cauliflower—halved, cored and cut into florets or 2 smaller cauliflower heads.
1/2 pound red grapes, stemmed and halved (1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss the cauliflower with the grapes, garlic, rosemary and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and lightly caramelized in spots; stir halfway through. Transfer to a platter and serve warm.

Need more cauliflower recipes? Try these:
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower
Curried Cauliflower

Spice Blends

spice-blend
Here are a few blends you have heard of but never knew how to use.

Using the right spice blend can mean the difference between an authentic tasting dish and one that’s just okay. Find these spice blends in your local markets, specialty markets and online at penzeys.com or kalustyans.com (make sure you verify kosher certification before purchasing). And if you don’t want to buy them, here are the essential ingredients in each mixture. They take the ordinary dishes and make them extraordinary plus they make everyday cooking so easy because they liven up regular roasted chicken, rice or vegetables. Just use the spice blend with some olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and roast. Delicious and easy.

Za’atar: Classic middle Eastern blend that includes sesame seeds oreganzo or thyme and sumac. I like to sprinkle it on chicken or fish and add lots of lemon, garlic and olive oil.
Try Grilled Chicken with Za’atar and Lemon or Zaatar Salmon.

Ras-el-hanout: Blend of cardomom, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and coriander. It’s a North African blend and is amazing sprinkled on lamb before grilling or roasting, adds warm flavor to rice pilaf or couscous and delicious added to cholent.

Dukka: This Egyptian ground spice and nut blend includes hazelnuts, cumin, caraway, sesame, coriander and mint. Sprinkle on challah, or roasted vegetables.

Vadouvan: This French-Indian blend is used as a substitute for curry in anything from soup, to chicken or meat. It includes onion, shallots, garlic, cumin and curry.

Baharat: A blend of black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and cardomom. Season beef or soups with this warm blend.

White Asparagus

whiteasparagus
White asparagus has become very popular in Jewish markets because washing green asparagus is more difficult and challenging to confirm that no bugs are hiding in those delicious tops. White asparagus is less bitter and more tender than its green counterpart. It’s pale because it’s grown covered in dirt so it’s never exposed to sunlight and does not develop chlorophyll. I think it has a dressy and elegant appearance, white and silvery, especially combined with another green vegetable or plated with a sliced roast. It is a bit more expensive but it is a great addition to salads, as a side dish and even sliced raw.

Try these recipes with asparagus or use white asparagus in place of green asparagus in your favorite recipes.
White Asparagus Salad with Creamy Tomato Dressing
Roasted Asparagus with Orange Infused Mayonnaise
Asparagus with Sesame Citrus Sauce
Asparagus with Gluten Free Sesame Maple Dressing

Fun New Chip and Dip Serving Bowl

chip-dip-bowl
I’m a fan of this sidecar dip bowl perched on the modern, square serving bowl from Cb2.com. I bought a few side car dishes ($1.50 each, Wow!) and filled the bowl with lots of pita chips, and the dip bowls with a great variety of store-bought or homemade dips.

The bowl is also great for salads, rice dishes, or even flowers.
Available at Cb2.com
Bowl $12.95 Sidecar dish $1.50

Avocado and Herb Dressing

Avocado-Citrus-Salad
Makes about ¾ cup

The avocados are so delicious all year round and relatively inexpensive at Trader Joe’s and Costco. I keep them in the house as a regular staple item. We add them to salad, make fresh salsa and guacamole and now I have been experimenting with using them in salad dressings. I like this one because it’s creamy and zesty. Use whatever herbs you prefer. Full of anti-oxidants, it’s a great way to get a little healthier after Hanukah.

8 tablespoons chopped herbs (any combination of basil, parsley, mint, cilantro, chives, tarragon, or anything you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 avocado, pitted
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil

In a small bowl, mix herbs, garlic, avocado, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. With an immersion blender, blend in olive oil until dressing is emulsified and creamy. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Use on mixed greens with tomatoes, cucumbers or any vegetables of your choice.

DIY Doughnut Ice Cream Sundaes with Homemade Fudge Sauce and Sesame Caramel Sauce

doughnuticecream

For Chanukah I usually serve doughnuts with some homemade twist, like doughnut bread pudding or doughnut ice cream sandwiches. This year, I’m making DIY doughnut ice cream sundaes, how decadent is that?!
Here is how I’m doing it but certainly use your own flair and let me know how they come out.
What you need:
Doughnuts (I like cake-style for this)
Assorted toppings: ice cream, sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips, bananas, whipping cream, cookie crumbs, etc.
Sauces: these two below are amazing, or buy anything you like.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Salted Sesame Caramel

Make a buffet for assembly and have fun!

Salted Sesame Caramel

salted-caramel-sauce
Makes 2 cups

This has real sesame flavor from the tahini. Cream of tartar is optional, but it keeps the sugar from crystallizing, making this caramel foolproof.

1 cup sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter
⅔ cup pareve whipping cream or heavy cream
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Bring sugar, cream of tartar, if using, and 3 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil until sugar begins to caramelize in spots. Stir with a heatproof spatula (this will help sugar cook evenly) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the color of honey, 5–7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, about 5 minutes longer.

Remove caramel from heat and carefully whisk in tahini and margarine/butter, then cream, sesame seeds, and salt. Let cool slightly before serving.

Do Ahead: Caramel sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Chocolate-Fudge-Sauce

(Adult and Child Version)
Makes 2 cups

It’s just as tasty without booze but only as good as the chocolate you use, so shop accordingly.

⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cacao), chopped
¼ cup bourbon, whiskey, or rum, optional
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Bring sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until it begins to thicken, 10–12 minutes. Add chocolate, bourbon, and salt and return to a simmer, whisking. Cook, whisking, until sauce is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Passion Fruit Bubbly

passion-fruit-bubbly

This one is easy and sweet and the bubbles make it fancy, definite crowd pleaser!

What you’ll need:
Large Pitcher
1 Bottle Morad Passion Fruit Wine (Chilled)
1 Bottle Bartenura Prosecco (Chilled)

Combine both bottles, mix gently and serve right away to maintain all the bubbles. Just that simple!

Dreidel Rum Punch

dreidel_rum_punch

Be careful with this one, drink too much and your head will be spinning!
Rum is a wonderfully versatile spirit that can be mixed with just about everything and the Walder’s Creamy Liqueur add a decadent rich layer to this festive punch

What you’ll need:
Large punch bowl
1 Bottle Ron Viejo De Caldas 3 Year Aged Rum
4 Cans Ginger Ale
4 Cups Pineapple Juice
1 Bottle Walder’s Vodka & Vanilla Creamy Liqueur
Plenty of Ice

In a large punch bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the ice and ginger ale. Refrigerate the punch for about an hour before you’re ready to serve. Then, add the ice, ginger ale and stir.

New Chocolate Chips On the Market

chocolatechip
I have good news, what I consider really good news! My friend Estee Kafra, of kosherscoop.com has packaged and created a new PAREVE CHOCOLATE CHIP, that is delicious, divine, and full of fabulous flavor. Finally, finally, we can all stop mourning the loss of Trader Joe’s chocolate chips.

These chocolate chips, called Best Ingredients For Best Results, semi-sweet chocolate chips, pareve, gluten-free, vegan, and no nuts are coming soon to your local markets (or go ask for them!) and now available on Amazon.com.

The taste is rich and chocolaty and they are made with 45% cocoa and 100% Barry Callebaut chocolate. No garbage ingredients, real tasty chocolate for baking, cooking, melting and just eating. I did all of the above! I made Aunt Cassi’s low fat Oatmeal cookies, Chili Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, added them to homemade granola, and made a fantastic Chocolate Chicken Mole (it calls for unsweetened chocolate but this made it really good).

These chips are a great new product and I am so excited for you to try them and to change your baking forever. There is no comparison to the imitation chips and other packaged chocolate chips currently on the market that are available. These are affordable and delicious. Way to go Estee Kafra, thank you for filling the needs of the kosher food community.

Chanukah Inspiration and Recipes by Paula Shoyer

HKBCover

Chanukah Inspiration and Recipes by Paula Shoyer, author of The Holiday Kosher Baker and The Kosher Baker

When I was writing The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling 2013) I included a spiritual message in every chapter introduction. The Chanukah one is my favorite, because the message is so universal. Chanukah teaches us that you do not have to have all your resources before you start a project. Many of us have great ideas, but do not pursue them because we are waiting to gather more information, be more prepared or just waiting for the right time. When the Jews found the small pot of oil in the Temple, they could have easily decided not to bother lighting the menorah at all. Instead, they decided to just go for it, and they lit the menorah just expecting it to be lit for only one day. The miracle happened and it should inspire us to take chances, even when we cannot imagine what we might accomplish. I try to remember this lesson when I start a new recipe: just try it out and see where it goes.

Here are two of my favorite Chanukah recipes, churros dipped in chocolate as a a change from doughnuts, and an almond and olive oil cake, if you want to celebrate the miracle of the oil without frying, Happy Chanukah!

Paula Shoyer
The Kosher Baker
www.thekosherbaker.com

Churros

Churros

Recipe by Paula Shoyer, The Kosher Baker

Makes 35
Churros are long, thin-ridged Spanish doughnuts made out of choux pastry, the dough used for éclairs and profiteroles. In Cuba and Brazil, churros are filled, just as we fill sufganiyot. Here they are rolled in cinnamon sugar, the way they are eaten as street food in many Latin American countries.

Dough
1 cup (240ml) water
¼ cup (60ml) canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs

Cinnamon Sugar
⅓ cup (65g) sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 ounces (230g) melted chocolate for dipping, if desired

Preparing the dough

PLACE THE WATER, oil, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and add the flour.

USE A WOODEN SPOON to mix the dough over the heat until the flour is completely mixed in and the dough comes together into a ball, about 30 seconds. Remove this mixture from the heat and scoop it into a medium bowl. Spread the dough around the bowl and press the dough up the sides of the bowl and let sit for about two minutes to help it cool down.

ADD THE EGGS one at a time, mixing well after each addition. You will need to mix vigorously to incorporate the eggs. Press the dough into the sides of the bowl with the spoon to mash the eggs into the dough. The dough will clump up, but after more stirring it will come together. Put the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or a round tip with points, with about a ⅓-inch (8-mm) opening; I use Ateco #864.

IN A SHALLOW BOWL, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

HEAT 1½ inches (4cm) of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the temperature holds at 375°F (190°C). Place a wire rack over an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet. Hold the pastry bag an inch or two over the hot oil by reaching a little into the saucepan. With the pastry bag in one hand and a knife or kitchen scissors in the other, quickly squeeze out a 3- to 4-inch-long (8- to 10-cm) strip of dough and then use the knife or scissors to cut it off and let the dough drop into the hot oil. Repeat five more times. Cook no more than six strips of dough at a time.

AFTER ONE MINUTE, separate any churros that are stuck together. Fry for a total of four to five
minutes, turning them over after about two minutes, until they’re golden. Use a slotted spoon to lift the churros onto the rack to cool slightly for a minute, or until you can handle them. Roll the churros in the cinnamon sugar and serve. Do not wait until the churros are completely cool before rolling them in the sugar; the residual oil helps the cinnamon sugar stick to the churros. These are best eaten the day they are made. Serve with melted chocolate. Store covered at room temperature for up to two days or freeze for up to three months. Reheat to serve

Chanukah Cocktails for Your Chanukah Party

Chanukah Cocktails! Don’t Miss These Great Drinks at your Chanukah Party

When it comes to wine, everyone has an opinion, so what do you do when you’re hosting a Chanukah party and everyone wants something different? We asked our resident party expert (and director of wine education for Royal Wine Corp.) Jay Buchsbaum and he suggested mixing up a batched cocktail. Why? It’s easy, you can make it in large quantities ahead of time, and people can help themselves as opposed to you pouring every glass. Jay lists some favorites below, but the possibilities are endless. So grab a large punch bowl or pitcher (or several, if you’re creating more than one recipe) and don’t just host your party, enjoy it too!
Passion Fruit Bubbly
Dreidel Rum Punch
Winter Sangria

Just remember, the important thing about hosting a party is spending time with friends and family, not your kitchen. Enjoy and happy Chanukah!

Almond and Olive Oil Cake

Almond Olive Cake

Recipe by Paula Shoyer, The Kosher Baker
Serves 8 to 12

The use of olive oil in cakes dates back farther than the Chanukah story itself. Olive oil was used in baked offerings at the Temple. This is a super easy teatime cake that reminds me of simple cakes I have eaten in Italy. If you are feeling decadent, serve this with whipped cream.

¾ cup (90g) sliced almonds (with or without skins)
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (60g) ground almonds
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon orange zest (from one orange)
spray oil containing flour

PREHEAT OVEN to 350°F (180°C). Trace an 8-inch (20-cm) round pan on parchment paper and cut it out with scissors. Grease and flour the pan, press in the parchment circle; and grease and flour the top of the parchment and sides of the pan. Sprinkle and spread the sliced almonds on the bottom of the pan to cover it.

IN A MEDIUM BOWL, beat the sugar, eggs, and olive oil for about one minute at medium speed until creamy. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, almond extract, and orange zest and beat until combined. Pour the mixture over the sliced nuts. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

LET THE CAKE COOL in the pan for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the sides. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool. Serve the cake almond side up. Store it covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.

Winter Sangria

winter_sangria
Don’t worry about following this recipe exactly, sangria is a very forgiving drink that can be made with nearly limitless variations. Don’t have apples, use pears, have some extra oranges laying around, slice them up and add them in…

What you’ll need:
Large pitcher
1 bottle Jeunesse Cabernet Sauvignon
½ bottle of Morad Pomegranate Wine
½ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup sliced apples
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup of sugar

In a large pitcher, combine fruit, sugar and cinnamon stick, and wine. Stir and refrigerate 3-4 hours (you can prepare the night before to save even more time!) so all the flavors come together. Want to kick it up a notch, add a little sparkling wine or champagne right before serving.

Heirloom Potato Latkes

latkes-blog

Makes 24
3 pounds russet potatoes, about 6
1 vidalia onion
2 eggs
1/4 cup breads crumbs or matzo meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (or more) schmaltz (chicken fat; optional)
2-4 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
Applesauce
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 325°. Peel potatoes. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate potatoes and onions. Transfer to a large kitchen towel. Gather ends of towel; twist over sink and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Open towel; toss mixture to loosen. Gather towel; wring out once more.

Whisk eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, baking powder, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Add potato mixture. Using your fingers, mix until well coated. (Latke mixture should be wet and thick, not soupy.)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire rack inside another large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons schmaltz, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil (or 4 tablespoons oil if not using schmaltz; fat should measure about 1/8 inches) in a 12 inches nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into pan. If the fat sizzles around the edges, it’s ready. (Do not let fat smoke.)

Working in batches and adding more schmaltz and oil to skillet as needed to maintain 1/8 inches fat, drop large spoonfuls of mixture into pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. (If mixture becomes watery between batches, mix to incorporate; do not drain.)

Cook latkes, occasionally rotating pan for even browning, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 1/2-3 minutes per side. (If small pieces of potato floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain out.)

Transfer latkes to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to prepared wire rack. Place sheet with latkes in oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking remaining latkes.

Serve warm latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

Pulled Brisket-Topped Latkes

SONY DSC
My friend Malkie Hirsch, from Kiss the Kosher Cook, posted this recipe on facebook. She saw it posted on Thenosher.com. All I can say is thank you for sharing this wonderful concept and recipe. Rich and tasty pulled brisket mashed up with crispy fresh latkes. It’s a homerun idea and definitely being served at one or many of my Hanukah meals.

Serves 10

For the brisket:
2-3 pounds brisket
1 tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon freshly grated black pepper
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 can beer
1 can ginger ale
1 bottle red wine
4 ounces tomato paste
4 medium carrots, cut into medium size pieces
2 onions, cut into quarters

For the latkes:
12 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 small onions, or 1 medium-large onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
¾ -1 cup flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons salt
½ tablespoon pepper, or to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

To make the brisket:

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and parsley. Spread dry rub on both sides of brisket evenly. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot on medium high heat. Sear the brisket on both sides “until the smoke detector goes off.” Remove meat and set aside.

Using the remaining oil and “good bits” on the bottom of the pan, sauté carrots and onions, scraping the bottom until the veggies are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Put the brisket back in the pan, and cover with the bottle of red wine, beer and ginger ale. Place the entire pot with brisket into the oven, and cook for at least 3-4 hours, until meat is completely tender.

When the meat is fork tender, remove the meat and set aside on a large cutting board.

Let the sludge rise to the top of the pot liquid and skim it off. Strain out the carrots and onions and using a food processor, blend them with 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid, then return the blended mixture to the rest of the liquid and simmer to reduce slightly.

On the cutting board using two forks, carefully shred the brisket into small strands. Add 1-2 cups of the pureed cooking liquid to the pulled brisket for additional moisture and flavor.

Serve in a large bowl and allow guests to top latkes, or spoon small amounts of brisket on each latke for a more elegant presentation.

To make the latkes:

Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a hand grater, coarsely great potatoes, onions and garlic. Place in a large bowl.

Add flour, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until completely combined. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Drain excess liquid.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands, make a small latke patty and squeeze out excess liquid again. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet, which you can place in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Maple Ginger Roasted Sweet Potatoes

maplegingersweetpotatoes2

Excerpted from Gluten Free Around the World by Aviva Kanoff

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes, unpeeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons maple syrup
a pinch of ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until sweet potatoes are fully coated, then place on a roasting pan and bake until sweet potatoes are soft, about 35-40 minutes, tossing occasionally. Serve immediately.