Juicing is So Popular and Nutritious!

juices-main
Juice bars and are popping up all over, and it’s is a big food trend. Juice bars puree vegetables and fruit and turn them into liquid drinks. What’s the rage all about? First, it has great nutritional value. Juicing the vegetables retains all the vitamins and minerals of the ingredients in the juice. You can drink more nutrients than you can eat in one sitting. And many people prefer to drink kale or spinach juice mixed with something sweet rather than eat a few servings of it. This gives people a shot of energy and better overall wellness.

Juicing has its critics though. Juices can be high in sugar and calories depending on the type of fruit or vegetable used. And juice cleanses can leave people without certain important nutritional needs, like proteins and carbohydrates.

Juice bars can be pricey, some are about $8 a drink, ouch. Here are some at home options and tricks for making them for far less money.
Tip 1: Always include one item that will give lots of liquid, like grapes or oranges. Kale is great nutritionally but produces only a little juice.
Tip 2: For vibrant juice, choose fruits and vegetables in the same color family. Otherwise, you can end up with less-than-appealing brown juice.
Tip 3: Keep fruits and vegetables chilled. Your juice will be more refreshing and you won’t need to add ice.

Green Juice
Blueberry, Kiwi, Strawberry and Mint

Other great combinations, proportions don’t matter, just tinker with taste):
Strawberry, Carrot, and Spinach
Pineapple, ginger, banana
Papaya, carrot, apple
Kale, green grape, parsley
Cucumber, mint, orange
Strawberry, blueberry, beet

What is Brain Freeze? And Yum, Lots of Ice Cream and Sorbet Desserts

Ever wonder, what that ice cream headache really is? That painful, sudden headache that occurs when eating something cold is commonly referred to as brain freeze. It’s caused by rapid temperature changes in your mouth. When you take a big bite of cold ice cream, book vessels in the roof of your mouth constrict to reduce blood flow and heat loss. After you swallow, the vessels quickly rewarm and dilate, increasing the book flow and stimulating nearby by pain receptors. Then the brain sends out pain signals along the largest cranial nerve and you experience pain behind your eyes and cross your forehead, your jaw and the back of your head. To prevent this, just SLOW DOWN. Savor ice cream slowly in small bites. Or I you’ve already pressed a big, cold bite against the roof of your mouth and then swallowed it, drink something cool to slow down the rapid rewarming of your blood vessels. At least now you know what is happening!

M & M Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ice Cream Bon Bons
Ice Cream Tart with Crunch Topping
Watermelon Sorbet
Strawberry Orange Honey Sorbet
Sorbet Tart

Grilling Season is in Full Swing!

barbecue
Grilling season is in full swing! I’m a bit obsessed and never tire of great grilling foods. One night I grill chicken, another marinated meats, and then break it up with some Cedar Planked Salmon. Don’t forget to watch my how-to video and recipe for Cedar Planked Salmon too.

There are many keys to great grilling success (print my grilling guide for times and temperatures) but one reason I love it and never tire of it, is because I prepare so many different types of chicken and meat on the grill, that all come out with a different flavor profile. Yes, I love traditional bbq sauce too, but that would get boring, night after night. I like to make interesting marinades and use different types of chicken and meat, on the bone, cutlets, full minute steaks, and individual steaks, etc.

So this week, a few successful and fool-proof marinades and a new BBQ sauce too for chicken and meat that will jazz up your grilling repertoire.

Balsamic and Rosemary Marinade
Lemon and Shallot Marinade
Soy and Ginger Marinade
Herb Marinade
Espresso Barbeque Sauce

Cold Summer Soups

Summer is time for fresh fruit, lighter foods and cooler appetizers. I often serve Tuna Tartare, or Smoked Salmon in a Spinach Salad. I also love to serve a refreshing summer chilled soup, like White Grape Gazpacho with Toasted Almonds or Super Flavorful Mango Curry Soup.

This week, I bring you a few more cold soup options. Sweet and/or zesty but all super infused with flavor. All choices are refreshing and make a great summer appetizer.

Try these:
Melon Gazpacho
Cold Cucumber Dill Soup
Tomato and Avocado Soup
Carrot Soup with Cucumber Pistachio Relish
Sweet Summer Fruit Soup

Too busy to bake?

Try these semi-homemade recipes and save some time and still wow your guests.

Sometimes, just sometimes, even the most gourmet cooks must take a break. For some, that means going out to eat at a restaurant or refraining from having guests for a week or two. But for others it means taking a short cut and making items that cheat a little. You know, like Duck Sauce Chicken, or Good Seasons Italian Dressing or store bought dessert. This week, I have a few cheater cookie recipes for you that will remain in your repertoire whether you have all the time in the world or just a few short minutes to pull something together. The cookies taste like they are from scratch but each starts with a little help from a cake mix. Don’t throw tomatoes at me for sharing these with all of you proud cooks! Just try them and then you will appreciate it and use the extra time for other things you enjoy.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Luscious Lemon Cookies
Chocolate Raspberry Bars with Almonds and Icing
Anything in The Pantry Cookies

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is around the corner and barbeques are on the schedule. Using the BBQ can be easy and just requires a few great marinades. I love everything made on the grill from chicken and meat, to vegetables, grilled breads and even grilled fruit.

For great marinades, check out these recipes. For condiments, more sauces, and a few side dishes, check out these recipes for bourbon baked beans, homemade pickles, and great slider sauce.

I’m making this BBQ sauce, it’s one of my favorites! I’m also making these burgers and this Dry Rubbed BBQ London Broil. Jazz up your salsa side dishes with this amazing and totally original slaw, Stone Fruit Slaw. I serve it alongside any grilled chicken or meat. It’s super fresh and both sweet and savory.

Stone Fruit Slaw
Grilled Chicken with Zaatar and Lemon
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Barbecue Sauce Dressing

Secret to Great Cheesecake

Chocolate-swirl-cheesecake2
The secret to velvety cheesecake is knowing how to handle the batter. Gently folding the beaten eggs into the cheesecake batter will give you an even, smooth, creamy texture.

A few other keys to success:
- Spring form pan: ideal for the soft texture of traditional cheesecake – removing a cheesecake from any other pan is nearly impossible.
- Overbeating incorporates too much air, which produces a cheesecake that puffs in the oven, then falls and cracks as it cools. Overbaking produces cracks in the top of a cheesecake and a texture that becomes dry and crumbly where the filling meets the crust.
- Water Bath method: This will help your cheesecake bake slowly and evenly. The water bath ensures the outer edge of the cake won’t bake faster than the center. Place your curst-lined springform pan on a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Bring edges of foil up and mold around sides of pan to form a watertight seal. Place pan into a roasting pan and after adding the cheesecake filling, pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off oven, let stand in over for 60 minutes. Remove from water bath, cool as directed.
- Pressing matters: Press the crust into the pan and 1 ½ inches up the sides. Use your hand or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Room temperature ingredients: Make sure the cream cheese is softened before incorporating with the sugar. This helps create a silky smooth batter. Cold cream cheese will give you chunks in your batter.
- Fold in beaten eggs: Don’t overbeat the eggs or it will incorporate too much air.
- Give it a shake: Check you cheesecake for doneness by giving the pan a gently shake. A perfectly cooked cheesecake will still have a shaky, jellylike center, giving the illusion that it’s not done baking. Chilling the cheesecake will set the center and help develop the lush texture.
- Releasing the cake: Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake before unclipping the sides of the springform pan. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire baking rack before chilling for at least 4 hours. It will solidify in the fridge.

Make It Yours Cheesecake

Reflections on Mother’s Day

mmomdayblog

Yes, I know Mother’s Day was last Sunday but I’m still on a high from the warm text messages, sweet cards, and thoughtful gifts my kids prepared. I’ve officially become one of those moms that saves notes and cards and really appreciates the sentiments that could be shared everyday but get reserved for what America designates as the day to appreciate mom. Who cares, I’m in. It was a real mom day for me, mother-son brunch in the morning at school, a few baseball games and carpools and then a barbeque with family. Food was terrific and stay tuned because I tested lots of great marinades that I’m posting for Father’s day and yum, they are delicious. On top of the activity, I’m still appreciating the fantastic and personal gifts my kids showered upon me. First, a new Nike running cap. I love those light-weight caps that are great for exercise and a summer day. A gorgeous necklace with lettering, “LOVE” on it, so cute and trendy, and of course a cookbook that I had my eye on, Fresh From the Farm, by Susie Middleton (these summer recipes are going to make some great summer recipe posts!). Scary how well my kids get my simple pleasures, a bit of exercise, a sparkle of jewels, and cooking. Gosh, I love them!

How to Wash, Store, and Cut Fresh Herbs

Fresh_herbs

Herbs need to be handled with care in order to keep them bright, fresh and fragrant. They also need to be handled with extra special care to ensure proper kashrus. For the kashrus part, check with your local rabbi about washing and checking each variety. For the fresh and fragrant part, I’m here to help you. Just follow these simple tips and you will have fabulous flavors to use in so many recipes!

wash-herbs
Washing: Wash herbs in cool water, swishing them gently to release the dirt and grit. Use some kind of soap, vinegar or whatever your Rabbi recommends to take care of bug issues. Lift the herbs from the dirty water so that you do not pour the released grit back on the herbs. Rinse them again with cool water. Dry herbs with a salad spinner. Do not squeeze them. Check them thoroughly for bugs.

Storing: Wrap washed and dried (it’s important they are stored dry) herbs loosely in a damp paper towel and refrigerate in a heavy-duty zip-lock storage bag or plastic container, left slightly open for air to get in. Most herbs will last about 4 – 5 days in the fridge, longer for stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary. Basil is best stored at cool room temperature, with its stems submerge in a glass of water.

cut-herbs
Chopping: Chops herbs using a very sharp knife (a dull one will mash and bruise them). Strip the leaves from the stems, using a slice-down-the-stem motion. Pile the herbs on a cutting board. Lift and lower the knife to chop through the herbs, pivoting the blade across the pile as you chop, stopping to gather the herbs back into a pile as you go.

Use fresh herbs in salads, dips, to finish chicken and meat dishes. Or try basil in these recipes, or cilantro in these dishes. Like rosemary? Try these recipes with fresh rosemary, or use thyme in these choices, and I like these recipes with fresh chives.

The Secret Ingredient Sweet Banana Bread

I’ve been making banana bread for years and I feel like I just discovered the trick! The sweet secret that no one knows about is about to be revealed. You see, I’ve been working on a recipe for Shavuos for roasted banana and walnut ice cream and I roasted a lot of bananas. So many that I used the extra to make a banana bread and voile, best banana bread ever!

The other cool fabulous thing about roasting bananas is that they don’t need to be overripe to use them. Overripe bananas are sweeter than the just ripe version. When you roast them it does not matter how ripe they are. Roasting bananas causes the natural sugars in the fruit to melt into thick, caramely syrup, adding a rich, deep flavor to traditional banana bread. Try it! You’ll be hooked. Plus the extras are amazing in vanilla yogurt, homemade granola, on sweet potatoes, or just licked off a spoon.

A few banana bread pointers:
- Roasting bananas make them super sweet and soft; you can mix them right into the batter. But beware; the roasting process makes the peel very black and ugly. No worries, they are delicious on the inside.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Just grease ½ way up though. This will give the loaf a slightly rounded top.
- Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Combine them gently. The batter should be just moistened, thick, and lumpy. Over mixing makes a heavy, uneven loaf.

Roasted Banana, Banana Bread
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

Welcome back to GKC!

Thank you for the tremendous support for Passover! The comments, questions, and responses made it all worth the effort! I hope your seders and meals were as delicious and impressive as ours were. We loved preparing old favorite recipes with so many new Passover recipes that are now new favorites. Your input and support keep the site fresh, alive, and keep the writers inspired to create new recipes and make great content in the coming year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Marshmallow Making

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

Soft and Chewy Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade Gift Ideas

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

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

KFWE 2014

I didn’t think this event could be bigger or better or include more wines, drinks, and food, but KFWE 2014, did all of those. Thousands of people, winemakers sharing their visions, successes, and love for wine, and restaurants and food trends being tasted. KFWE 2014 was a huge success and Royal Wines did an amazing job. One of the best parts of the event is meeting up with readers to get to know you in person, sharing wine favorites with other writers and friends, and catching up with fellow bloggers and chefs. So thank you to all of you and I enjoyed my time with you.

KFWE Friends

KFWE Friends

KFWE friends

KFWE friends

Now on to wine! I felt the entire evening was filled with fragrance. Yes, the food smelled great, but I really mean that the wines have become so aromatic; you can almost taste their depth and flavor just by smelling them. My senses were so profoundly pleased. Second, I am thrilled that some of my favorite Israeli wines, Psagot, Tulip, and Flam (and Napa winery Covenant) have introduced mevushal wines. Although not always popular, I’m excited about it because it’s much easier to serve them at simchas, and bring them as gifts.

Jonathan Hadju from Covenant Wines

Jonathan Hadju from Covenant Wines


Here are some of my favorites from the evening. Covenant Winery poured their 2011 Chardonnay, called Lavan. It’s perfectly balanced, easily savored and enjoyable. All their wines are on my best pick list and winemaker Jonathan Hadju is always fun to chat with. They released a mevushal wine with nice fruit overtones and a terrific smell. I’m sure it will be a big hit. I loved the Capcanes Rose, which is new for them and a big popular trend in wine. The Peraj Habib Cabernet is a wonderful accompaniment to a meat meal and pairs nicely with ribs or hearty Shabbos chicken.

Jacob from Psagot Winery

Jacob from Psagot Winery


My favorite Israeli wines included Psagot (welcoming 2 mevushal bottles, both are terrific). It’s always wonderful to catch up with wine maker, Jacob. Last year we visited the Psagot winery in Israel and had a fantastic time. In addition to their mevushal wines, try their Cabernet Franc and Edom wines, well balanced, super flavorful and silky and smooth. I love the Tulip winery (I tried their new wine called Black Tulip, yum, divine) for many reasons. First they make great wine (also try their Just Tulip wines, they are priced well and very enjoyable), also, they grow and process their wines in the Valley of Hope in Israel and hire disabled adults to work at the winery. Chesed and winemaking, now that’s a combination I’m excited about.

A few others you must check out, Flam, Yatir, and Bazelet. I enjoyed Flam’s Rose, it’s dry and not too sweet and their Classico, is superb. Yatir’s Forest is worth the splurge any day and their Syrah is silky and smooth and pairs with anything from fish and chicken to pasta. I met winemaker Yoav Levi from Bazelet in the Golan. This is a new winery for me and I was totally impressed. Not only were the wines delicious, but also zesty, dry, and well balanced. And what’s interesting about the wines is that they have a naturally high alcohol content, just above 15%. Now, that’s a Kiddush wine. Both the merlot reserve and cabernet reserve are great wines to try.

I’ve been reading about Shiloh’s chardonnay (they didn’t have it L but I loved the Barbera. Also, new for me were the 1848 wines. My favorites were the 2009 Reserve (fabulous!), Cabernet Franc and the Merlot. Although I buy it often, I enjoyed the Goose Bay Pinot Noir. This wine has nice hints of cherry and oak and a little spiciness too.

Herzog Cellars new Cabernet Basin

Herzog Cellars new Cabernet Basin


And of course, the Herzog Wine Cellars shared some wonderful wines. Just released Herzog Cabernet called Basin, where the grapes are grown in a region in Northern Napa called the Basin. It’s a rich and warm wine that’s full of flavor. Both the Clone 6 and the Alexander Valley Cabernets are always enjoyable and a favorite gift to bring to others. Be sure to check out the Chenin Blanc too, its very well priced and is good for many palates.

Ari White slicing brisket and showing us veal pancetta

Ari White slicing brisket and showing us veal pancetta

Ari White slicing brisket

Ari White slicing brisket

Silver leaf caterers kale salad

Silver leaf caterers kale salad


Were you wondering if I tried any food? It’s me, so of course I did! Ari White, the pit boss from Texas Roadside Smokehouse won rave reviews from all, serving 18 hr. Oak and Apple Smoked Brisket (the bbq sauce was a perfect combination of sweet and smoky and the brisket was soft enough to cut with a fork) and in conjunction with superstar caterers Gemstar catering, veal pancetta and lamb bacon (I’m not kidding!). Both melt in your mouth awesome and memorable. Silverleaf caterers served a crisp and on trend Kale Salad with Roasted Squash and Pomegranate seeds (I definitely trying to recreate this one at home!). Etc. Steakhouse in Teaneck shared a wonderful Pink Peppercorn Crusted Rib-eye. I loved the spicy pepper, with the sweet taste of pomegranate and the hints of citrus. It was a nice surprise from a restaurant I have not yet tried (I’m definitely making a trip to Teaneck to try it out though). Jose Mareilles, the owner and chef from Le Marais is always delightful and a pleasure to see. He sure knows how to make a great hanger steak.

What will they think of and bring for us next year? I love the opportunity to taste and experience wines from around the world all in one place. I love to see the latest and best food trends incorporated into kosher restaurants and chef’s repertoire. KFWE 2014 was wonderful. Please join me next year!

Cook In Israel, A New Book by Orly Ziv

cookinisrael

Yotam Ottolenghi, Israeli chef and author of Jerusalem and Plenty (neither are kosher), has helped bring Israeli cooking and food to the forefront of food trends. Luckily author Orly Ziv, brings us Cook In Israel, a new kosher cookbook with the bright and flavorful ingredients of Mediteranean cooking. Drawing on her Jewish-Greek heritage, Orly has been teaching cooking classes and leading culinary tours of Israel for years (check out her tours through the markets and Tel Aviv, ending in a culinary class at CookinIsrael.com). The recipes and incredible knowledge she shares on these delightful trips, are now available in her debut book, Cook In Israel.

The book is filled with over 100 delicious recipes that allow the everyday cook to bring the flavors of Israel to their kitchen. It’s easy to follow, includes cooking tips (I love the onion trick, keep the root on, then cut it with root intact until the end, no more tears!), and nutritional information. Orly has a background in nutrition so her recipes are not only gorgeous and delicious but also nutritious. She invites her readers to try new dishes and flavor combination. I love recipes for the familiar flavors of Israel like eggplant, tahini, tomato, and chickpeas and also the flavors that are newer, like silan (Sweet date honey – its incredible), and the color of pomegranate seeds tossed throughout many recipes. I’m excited about the Tahini and Almond cookies, the Roasted Cauliflower with Silan, and the Sephardic Style Baked Fish with Vegetables. Easy and delicious weeknight cooking at its best!

GKC has a few special sneak peak recipes and a giveaway! Submit to win!
Check out these recipes to get a look at what Cook In Israel is all about. And buy a copy today on Amazon.com for $35

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Silan
Eggplant Biladi
Chocolate and Halva Babka

Homemade Breadcrumbs

Homemade-Breadcrumbs1
Yes, breadcrumbs are available in the ready-made package and some companies like, Pereg, even make them with additional flavors. But, the terrific toasty smell and amazing crunch of breadcrumbs, is only possible with the homemade version. Additionally, if you are gluten-sensitive, or prefer whole grains, like whole wheat, the ready-made version just does not offer you any options. I make a big batch, (you’ll see how easy it is below) and store them for tons of great uses, like:

- Top them on broccoli or cauliflower and roast at a high temperature for toasty and crunchy broccoli
- Toss them in a salad in place of croutons. It adds crunch and depth and great texture
- Toss them in a pasta dish made from olive oil, garlic, pasta water and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Add the breadcrumbs, and you have a hearty and delicious pasta dish
- Roast green beans or asparagus. Top with the breadcrumbs. Looks gorgeous on the serving platter too.
- Top any stew, veal stew, or short ribs. Adds a great finishing touch
- Of course, use them on schnitzel, veal chops or lamb chops

Here is how I make them. Let me know how you use them too. Btw, get creative, make a dairy version by adding Parmesan cheese, or add S’riachi sauce or crushed red pepper to make them a little spicy, or add another herb of your choice, I think oregano, or basil is great or dried Herbs d’Provence.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Winter Soups

soup-splitpea
Unreasonably cold temperatures throughout the world lend to comfort foods and soup with every meal. And although I make all sorts of soups from Thai Chicken to Indian Vegetable, I find the classic recipes are so important to warm the body and soul. These classics are a big hit every time. My kids love to come home from school and start their meal with a warm bowl of any of these soups. Sometimes, they are lucky enough to have a bit left over to bring for lunch the next day.

Classic Split Pea Soup
Classic Potato Leek Soup
Chicken Udon Soup

Pretzels

pretzel-650x280
Pretzels are my favorite salty, crunchy addiction. I never tire of them.

I’m a traditionalist and prefer the small twist type but they certainly have a flavor or shape for everyone. Chefs and food trenders have noticed pretzels because they are showing up on restaurant menus and in amazing desserts. It’s that salty sweet trend and I love it.

Here are a few great recipes that use pretzels, as toppings, croutons, or in a sweet treat. There is something for everyone so watch out potato chips, the pretzel is looking to take over.

Pretzel Crusted Tilapia
Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Croutons
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2014

KFWE2014
ONLY A FEW SEATS LEFT! DON’T WAIT, GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY! Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2014! Limited Time only coupon, use code GKC20 at checkout for $20 off each ticket. Get them at http://kfwe2014.com/purchase.php. Come drink the best and newest bottles of wine and eat and chat with chefs from your favorite restaurants and experience food and have a great time together. I’d love to see you!

Now in its 8th year, the Kosher Food & Wine Experience (or KFWE) has grown to be the destination for wine lovers and foodies, that means me! And btw, who is coming with me? For those not familiar with KFWE, this is the premier kosher food and wine show with events in NY, LA, London and most recently Miami which was a tremendous success and drew over 600 people in its inaugural year!

Each year, Kosher Food and Wine Experience, adds something new and exciting and this year they went really big! New this year is the addition of a luxury yacht, which will be docked at Pier 60. The Hornblower Hybrid, one of New York’s most modern yachts features two floors and will dazzle with a Dessert Pavilion featuring the largest variety of delectable sweets KFWE has ever offered, a complete selection of dessert wines and an expanded mixology bar! Mixed drinks are a huge food trend and GKC readers love them too.

The yacht will also have a lounge area, where people can relax and take a break. The yacht will remain docked at Pier 60 for duration of the show and guests are welcome to come and go between the two areas as they please throughout the evening. With such an array of wine and food, KFWE is a great opportunity to discover a great new wine, fun new restaurant or just have a magical night out. KFWE NY is set for February 24, 2014 at 6:30pm at Pier 60 – Chelsea Piers, NYC. If all that wasn’t enough, a special promotional code is available for Gourmet Kosher Cooking readers, $20 off the ticket price. Use promo code GKC20 at checkout, but don’t wait, this code is only available for a limited time!

Tickets are only available online and will not be sold at the door. To buy tickets or for more information on New York or any of the other KFWE shows, please visit www.kfwe2014.com.

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!

Ramen Noodles

Ramen Noodles are all the rage this year. They are not just for dorm room cooking and are showing up in top notch restaurants as well as personal chef menus. Full blown restaurants devoted to ramen and noodles called, Noodle shops are also big sensations. My favorites though are the pop-up places and food trucks nationwide with ramen menu items. I just wish they were all kosher. So inspired by the ramen rage, this week, I’m including a few salad and main dish favorites that feature ramen noodles. They add crunch and saltiness to everything and cook up in just a minute or two. Try them, you will love them, and soon will stock them in your pantry all year long.

Spinach and Romaine Salad with Strawberries and Ramen Crunch
Crunchy Asian Salad with Ramen Noodles
Broccoli Slaw
Beef and Broccoli with Ramen Noodles

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

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.

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

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