Tu B’Shvat is coming tomorrow. Here are some extra recipes to add to your repertoire and contribute to the festive and grateful spirit of the day. This year in particular, it is a mitzvah to plant a tree to replace forests that were destroyed. The first recipe is courtesy Dana Slatkin, professionally-trained chef, cookbook author and friend.
Serves 6-8, depending on how hungry your guests are
12 ounces (about 16-20) dates with pits (preferably Medjool)
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
16-20 dry-roasted walnut halves, candied pecans, or pistachios
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
2. Slit the dates open lengthwise and remove the pits and stems.
3. Stuff about 1/2 teaspoon of cheese inside each date and close the sides loosely, mounding the cheese on top of each date. Top each with your choice of nut. Place the dates on a non-stick baking tray.
4. Bake the dates for 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dates are hot. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.
The second recipe is from us, your friends at gourmetkoshercooking.com.
This is adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart. It is a very dry biscotti, more adult than the chocolate chip version and perfectly suited for morning or afternoon tea (or coffee).
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flours, brown sugar and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs for about 5 minutes. Fold into flour mixture until combined. Stir in figs and walnuts. Lightly grease a parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet. Divide dough in half and make 2 longs. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cut into slices. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes (approximately – watch them so they don’t get overdone). Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
This Thursday is Tu B’shvat, the Rosh Hashanah of the trees. It is customary to praise the land of Israel – “a land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey” (Deuteronomy 8) and to partake of its bounty. There is nothing like fresh figs or pomegranates or grapes. And then there are all those platters of dried fruit…Many home cooks struggle with trying to think of new and interesting fruity recipes for the holiday. Here are some Tu B’shvat recipes with fruit to help you enjoy the holiday and participate fully in praising the land.
1-3/4 cups chopped dates
¾ cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup margarine, softened
1 cup flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Combine dates, water and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Remove 2 cups of batter and press into bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Spread date mixture over crust. Sprinkle with remaining flour mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack before cutting into bars. I like to store these in the refrigerator.
1 (21 ounce) jar pimento-stuffed olives
8 sprigs fresh oregano
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 slices lemon
20 black peppercorns
6 tablespoons lemon juice
Drain olives, reserving liquid. Layer half each of olives, oregano, garlic, lemon slices and peppercorns in a 1-quart jar (you can use a plastic container if you are stuck). Repeat layers. Pour lemon juice into jar and add enough reserved liquid to fill. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup dried apricots, sliced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup water
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 (15 ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
6 cups spinach, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup roasted almonds, chopped
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add onion and spices (through cinnamon stick) and sauté for about 7 minutes, until onion is lightly browned. Add water, lemon juice, chick peas and tomatoes: bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes as you go. Stir in spinach and simmer briefly. Remove heat and sprinkle with cilantro and almonds. Serve over couscous.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 large bulbs fennel, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Combine lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper and shake well. On a serving platter, layer fennel, cucumber and apple. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top.
The Secret to Surviving the Winter: Healthy and Filling Soups
It’s winter time. It’s either cold or snowing or raining or all of the above!! We asked our healthy and nutrition writer, Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com to give us some tips for healthy winter eating. Read on.
During winter, chances are that you are craving more comfort foods, generally those packed with excess fat and calories. Soups are now the most important meal to add to your diet because they are the ultimate food to warm your body and fill you up with all the nutrients that you need while being relatively low in calories and processed ingredients. In Japan, where there are low rates of obesity, miso soup with nutritious seaweed and soy beans is commonly a daily part of the diet, and is even prepared for breakfast. Soups are also the ultimate meal-in-a-bowl; a large bowl paired with a piece of crusty whole grain or sour dough bread can keep you going for hours.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your winter soups:
Soup is an excellent way to pack in a few of those high-nutrient/high-fiber food groups– whole grains (like rice and barley), vegetables (any kind), and beans (like chickpeas, red kidney beans and lentils). Adding these to your soups will turn a simple vegetable soup into a balanced meal.
Ultra-low calorie soups (like plain tomato soup, low-fat minestrone soup without pasta, or non-dairy carrot-ginger soup) can be used as snack foods—you can eat the soup slowly and the large amount of liquid will fill you up, preventing you from reaching for the piece of bread, bag of nuts, or potato chips that you may have wanted.
It is preferable that soups are made from vegetable, chicken, or beef broths and kept clear, with the exception of adding tomato paste or stewed tomatoes for extra flavor. If you buy store-bought soup stock or broth, try to avoid those with MSG and more than 100 mg of sodium per serving.
If you want to add a touch of creaminess to your soup, avoid high-fat creamers like heavy cream or half and half and artificial creamers and instead try low-fat sour cream, low-fat milk or soy milk in small quantities. Add the low-fat options to your soup at the end of cooking to avoid boiling them.
For a dairy meal, try adding a sprinkle of shredded low-fat cheese or parmesan to the top of your vegetable soup.
Soup is not only healthy, but it is delicious as well. My family loves the minestrone with homemade white bread or with pasta and some grated mozzarella. Try a bunch and let your family discover their favorite.
I have always been intimidated by pie crusts. The dough sticks to the cutting board. The dough sticks to the rolling pin. It becomes a big mess and I usually end up patting it down into the pan, gamely trying to attach all the pieces to form one cohesive whole. Additionally every recipe seems to say that the best pie crusts use lard – a definite no-no – or butter, which is very limiting. How could I possibly make a good kosher pie crust? I gave up and just bought the frozen version. “Did you make this?” my guests would ask. “Define this”, I would respond…Until my friend, Debby, came to my rescue. One private lesson in crust making and my life was changed! And look at this beautiful pecan pie we made. I forced everyone in my family to ooh and aah. Just follow these easy instructions and your family will do the same.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts
This is enough for two pie crusts – make one pie for now, and freeze one for later!
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt (I usually leave salt out when I am baking but since this was out of my league I put it in)
2 sticks unsalted margarine, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
About 1/3 cup cold water (just from the tap, no ice cubes involved)
Place flour, salt and margarine in the bowl of a food processor. Using the steel blade, pulse to combine. You should get pea-sized pieces. Add water and process VERY BRIEFLY to form one main lump, surrounded by lots of little pieces of dough. Gather it together to form a ball. Cut in half and let the dough rest a few minutes (you can start pulling together your filling ingredients) Roll out the dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap – this seems to be the secret (or at least one of them!) Keep the dough completely covered with plastic wrap so that none of it actually touches the rolling pin or the counter (or your kitchen table, as was my case). Remove the top layer of wrap and gently put the crust down in a pie pan – I used these ruffled ones that happen to be designed by the same friend!) Using extra dough hanging down, pinch the edges. Then, push your index finger in at whatever spacing you like, all the way around, to form the fluting. Voilà! Pour in filling. If you have any extra dough and you have any cookie cutters, you can top with some shapes – I like the leaves on sale now (!) at Williams-Sonoma. Get ready for the applause!
Winter is time for heartier foods, like soups, stews, and pasta. We have been watching the Italian pasta experts and have come up with the “how to cook pasta like a pro” tip sheet below. We are not suggesting or giving pointers on how to make homemade kosher pasta as I personally have only tried this once and while the pasta was fresh tasting and doughy, the kitchen was a disaster and the effort not all that appreciated by the family. (For a great recipe based on ready-made gluten-free pasta, check out this recipe for Gluten Free Thai Pasta from The Jewish Hostess.) Many would disagree but I say save the time and make fresh challah and cook dried pasta like a pro for a tasty and easy meal.
• Season the water generously with salt. For each pound of pasta, use 6 quarts water and 3 generous tablespoons of kosher salt. Don’t salt the water until it’s boiling.
• Never boil a sauce until you have added the cooked pasta to the sauce. Reheat it all together.
• Go light on sauce. Heavy sauces are very 2009. The dish will feel lighter, cleaner and more balanced. Use the starchy water that you cook the pasta in to lighten sauces.
• Add fresh herbs after tossing the pasta with the sauce, then add a drizzle of olive oil. Herbs get overcooked and flavorless with too much heat. They add terrific flavor and color to pasta but many people add them too early and kill the herb flavoring.
• Remove the pan of pasta and sauce from the heat before adding the cheese. This prevents the cheese from getting overly stuck together. Adding the cheese at the end gives freshness to the dish, subtle cheese flavor, and helps it melt to the perfect consistency.
• Experiment with different types of cheese like ricotta, Boursin, goat cheese, and even Brie on pasta. They liven up all the ordinary to extraordinary.
Here are a few pasta specialties that are easy to make, really flavorful, and always a big hit.
Easy Lemon Pasta with Grilled Chicken
Spaghetti with Red and Yellow Peppers (And Salmon too, optional)
Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
3 large red bell peppers (or 1 cup cut in strips from a jar)
3 large yellow peppers (or 1 cup cut in strips from a jar)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups pareve chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 salmon fillets, cooked and cut into chunks (optional)
To cook salmon, lightly season salmon with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and cook in a 400-degree oven for 15-18 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Cover a heavy baking sheet wit foil. Arrange the bell peppers on the baking sheet and broil until the skins brown and blister, about 20 minutes. Enclose the peppers in a resealable plastic bag and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Peel and see the cooled peppers and cut them into strips.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the shallots and cook about 3 minutes. Add the pepper strips, salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minute. Add the wine and broth and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the peppers are very soft.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until tender about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
Add the pasta, parsley, salmon, and cheese to the pepper sauce. Stir to combine and serve.
1 pound dried penne
1 cup leftover roasted chicken, or 2 chicken breasts, grilled, cut in strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well.
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a sauté pan and sauté until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.
Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and the lemon zest. Mix well and serve.
1 (10 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (oil reserved)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 ounces soft goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and simmer until the liquid reduces by half about 2 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring, about 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta and parsley to the tomato mixture and toss to coat, adding some of the reserved pasta water to moisten. Season the pasta with sat and pepper. Mound in pasta bowls, sprinkle with the goat cheese.
I had never eaten Indian food before so I was particularly excited to try out Shalom Bombay, a kosher Indian restaurant in Manhattan. The food was amazing (even the cold leftovers!) and I wanted more. There were only two solutions. I contacted the chef, Chef Vijay Jagtiani, and he graciously shared this recipe:
And I decided to do a little of my own Indian cooking. Here are the successful experiments (I’m saving the others for our Fabulous Flops section – coming soon!)
Indian Lamb Chops
Indian Green Beans
After all this spicy food, dessert should be simple – a nice passion fruit or mango sorbet – even gourmet cooks buy this!!
5 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon fresh ginger and garlic, ground into a combined paste
1 tablespoon of egg shade or orange food coloring
3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
3 tablespoons nondairy creamer
1 cup water
Heat oil in large skillet and brown onions. Add tomato and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, coriander powder, red chile powder, paprika and garlic/ginger paste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and food coloring. Add chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes. Add nondairy dreamer and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Serve with Basmati rice.
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons oil
¾ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is always better but I usually use the bottled version)
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the green beans and sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes, turning constantly. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the spices. Continue to sauté – about another 5 minutes, also constantly stirring. Remove from heat and gently stir in lemon juice.
Chicken is a staple in any home, whether it’s a holiday, Shabbat, or even a regular weeknight. It’s the protein that everybody loves, is easy to cook, and tastes great with almost any flavoring. And for the kosher consumer, kosher chicken it’s one of the easiest things to find in any local supermarket. As for how to prepare it, you can find thousands of kosher chicken recipes in cookbooks and on the internet. Unfortunately, sometimes too much choice can make it difficult to differentiate between all the recipes, and make a decision as to what to actually make for supper. As a result, many people (myself included) end up making the same old chicken recipes over and over again. (Anyone else guilty of throwing apricot jam on the chicken and calling it a “glaze” every other Shabbat?)
This week, I wanted to try branching out a bit within the world of kosher chicken recipes, and explore one of the best culinary combinations known to mankind: chicken and wine. A bottle of red or a bottle of white – it all depends upon your appetite. Here are some tips for cooking kosher chicken with wine:
1. Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink. That doesn’t mean you have to buy an expensive bottle, but try staying away from “cooking wines” – they are usually pretty salty, and have other additives in them.
2. Use the right amount. Wine generally works to intensify and enhance the flavor of your dish, but too much can mask it. Use a small quantity, (just follow the recipe!) and you’ll be fine.
3. Don’t add wine too late. If wine is added to the chicken recipe too late in the cooking process, it will end up tasting harsh rather than harmonious with the dish.
4. Keep it to one dish. When cooking with wine, don’t use it in more than one dish per meal. It can get monotonous.
5. Red vs. White: In general, use red wines for meat dishes, red sauces, and soups with root vegetables. Use white for fish, creamy and light sauces, and sweet desserts. Both are great for kosher chicken recipes!
Here are a couple of great chicken and wine recipes for you to try:
1. My Favorite Breaded Chicken with Marsala wine
2. Artichoke Chicken with Shitake Mushrooms
3. Chicken Francese
4. Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts
In the interest of full disclosure I have to confess to not unlocking my inner gourmet cook at Chanukah time. I personally prefer the pure and basic potato latke, so that is what we eat. And yet, if I were the kosher chef at an elegant dining spot or if I had a kosher chef on call to come cater events in my home (any takers?), then I might be tempted to expand my Hanukkah food palate. GKC readers need not be dismayed by my personal limits. We have enlisted the help of some of your favorite kosher chefs to broaden your Chanukah recipes repertoire. From cheese to potato latkes, and from apple to apricot sufganiyot, these chefs will forever change the way you view food for Hanukkah. Have a Chag Sameach and may the light of Chanukah burn brightly in all of our homes.
In keeping with the tradition of eating dairy food for Hanukkah, Chumie Vann shared this treat with us.
Makes about 15 medium-sized latkes.
1 pound farmer’s cheese
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 pinch salt
Mix all ingredients together and fry in 2/3 cup of hot oil until golden brown. Do not over-fry or they will be too dry.
A handful of fresh chopped dill – gives it pretty color and a touch of gourmet flavor
A handful of raisins
A handful of chopped walnuts
Smoked salmon with chive garnish
From our friends at Le Marais comes this delicious pareve potato latkes recipe, topped with wild mushrooms.
1-1/2 cups of wild mushrooms
1 clove garlic
Olive oil for sautéing
3 cups of grated potato, squeezed dry
4 tablespoons grated yellow onion
Ground nutmeg to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 eggs, scrambled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
In a hot pan, sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic until the mushrooms are fully cooked and take on some color. Cool and then cut them into a dice.
In a large bowl, add the dry potato, grated onion, nutmeg, eggs, salt and pepper, and the tarragon. Mix well. Squeeze the mushrooms of the excess liquid and then add to the bowl.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a pan with about one quarter inch of oil. Form the latke mix into the size of a small hockey puck.
Fry the latkes until a golden brown on each side. Place the latkes on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and then finish them in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Top the finished latkes with the wild mushrooms or any traditional topping of your choice.
Makes 6 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
4 crisp apples, such as Jonathan or Golden Delicious
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1. To make the batter, whisk the flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice together in a large bowl. Add 2 3/4 cups water and whisk until the batter is barely smooth. Set the batter aside to rest while heating the oil.
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of crumpled paper towels.
3. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy saucepan to come 2 inches up the sides. Heat over high heat until the oil reaches 365°F on a deep-frying thermometer.
4. While the oil is heating, peel, core and cut each apple into 6 wedges. If cut too soon, the apples will darken.
5. Spread the confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl. In batches without crowding, coat the apple wedges in confectioner’s sugar, and then the batter, letting the excess batter drip back into the bowl. Add to the oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a mesh deep-frying “spider” or a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to the paper towels and keep warm in the oven while frying the rest.
6. Sprinkle the apples with confectioner’s sugar and serve hot.
Prime Grill shares yet another potato latke recipe with us as well as their version of sufganiyot, New Orleans-style: beignets. Looks like you can get great ideas for Hanukkah food from just about anywhere!
1 pound potatoes
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon to ¾ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1-1/2 tablespoons sliced black truffles
1 tablespoon of flour
Pareve sour cream
In a large bowl, combine egg and flower and mix until there are no lumps; add potatoes, chives and truffles and salt and pepper – mix thoroughly and put into a strainer to remove excess moisture.
Brown in a sauté pan on both sides for 2 minutes on each side.
Garnish with pareve sour cream and a couple slices of smoked salmon.
2-¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1-½ cups warm water (110 degrees F)
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Coffee Rich non-dairy creamer
7 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup margarine
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, coffee rich, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the margarine and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 ½ inch squares. Fry in 360 degree F hot oil. If beignets do not pop up oil is not hot enough. Drain onto paper towels.
Dip in apricot preserves, then into sesame seeds.