Tiramisu

tiramisu

Ingredients

6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups strong espresso, cooled
2 teaspoons (or more) mocha liqueor, like coco dejava, or godiva
24 packaged ladyfingers
1 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and mocha liqueor. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.

Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Sprinkle with ½ of the cinnamon and ½ of the chocolate shavings. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.

Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and chocolate shavings.

Dulce De Leche Chocolate Chip Thumbprint Cookies

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Ingredients
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey
2 ounces semisweet chocolate squares, chopped (not chunky)
1/4 cup dulche de leche

Directions
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
2. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and honey; beat until combined well.
3. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Fold in chocolate. Chill dough until firm, about 2-1/2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degree F and arrange rack in center. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared sheets about 1 inch apart. Using the end of a wooden spoon, make a dent in center of each cookie. Freeze 15 minutes.
6. Bake 1 sheet of cookies 10 minutes. Remove from oven and redent centers. Fill with generous 1/4 teaspoon dulce de leche and bake until set, about 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining sheet.
7. Transfer cookies on sheets to racks and cool 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container, in single layers separated by waxed paper, up to 1 week.) Makes about 40 cookies.

Crème Fraiche

1 cup heavy or whipping cream, room temperature


1 tablespoon buttermilk or 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

In a jar with a lid, place whipping cream and buttermilk (or sour cream); cover securely and shake 15 seconds. Set aside at room temperature for 24 hours or until very thick. Stir once or twice during that time. NOTE: Cream will thicken faster if the room is warm.

Stir thickened creme fraiche well. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart

1 cup flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup whipping cream
12 oz strawberries hulled and sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, whirl flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, cornstarch,and salt. Add butter and 1/2 tsp vanilla until fine crumbs form and dough just begins to come together. Press into 9 inch tart pan with removable rim. Bake until edges are golden 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then gently push out of pan and set on plate.
2. In a bowl with mixer at high speed, beat creme fraiche, whipping cream, remaining 2 Tbsp sugar,and remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla until thick. Spread into cooled crust. Arrange strawberries in circles on top.
Chill loosely covered for up to 4 hours

Pass the Chocolate – Now!

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My husband feels it’s important not to let a day go by without eating chocolate, preferably with a cup of coffee. He is constantly forwarding articles to me that extol its recently discovered health benefits – antioxidants, possible lowered blood pressure, increased endorphins which give a feeling of pleasure (I didn’t need science to tell me that!), serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant (I didn’t need a sophisticated study for that either!) and so on. He is even on the cutting edge; unlike me who thinks the creamier the better, he prefers the dark chocolate which is considered healthier and is certainly trendier. But he’s wasting his time and energy. There’s only one reason to eat chocolate everyday – it tastes good!! Eat it alone (a piece of a bar) or try one of our recipes. The main advantage of the information my husbands sends is that we can now indulge (in small amounts) and actually feel virtuous doing so!

Spring is Here!

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I love this food trend!

Spring is here! Finally I can go into a frozen yogurt store and not wonder what’s wrong with me that I’m eating something frozen while there’s snow on the ground (for all you Southern Californians, snow is a white water-based flake that falls from the sky and covers the ground looking beautiful but of no redeeming food value. However, you can knead it into a ball; and throw it at your kids or husband, very therapeutic… But now that spring has sprung this California alum needs no excuse to enjoy her yogurt. And the exciting news is that last year a new food trend took off and I have to say I am extremely grateful. Sweet, tart, plain frozen yogurt has made it to the big leagues! Its been served for years in Bloomingdales in NYC but recently has popped up in specialty yogurt stores around the country as the featured item. And I will forever be grateful to the Pink Berry chain. Yup, I have harkaras hatov to a treif yogurt store because its incredible success has triggered yogurt stores, including kosher yogurt stores to pick up the trend. Locally, in Cedarhurst, we have Berrylicious, and Cravings who both serve it and in LA, I just had it at Toppings in Beverly Hills. For some this tart, creamy yogurt, with only a hint of sweetness is too strange but I say try it with chopped strawberries, berry sauce, granola, or chopped nuts. Now that is the perfect breakfast or lunch (or anytime snack of the decade). My husband is convinced that there’s a defect in my DNA for choosing plain/tart over chocolate (or any other flavor for that matter), but he’s just one of those that can’t understand why God bothered with any flavor other than chocolate … Trust me, find some tart yogurt, add the topping of your choice and apologize to no one. Spring is Here!!

Spring is Here, Time to Celebrate!

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Although the harvest traditionally takes place in October there is something about the spring bounty that makes you want to count your blessings. All the beautiful and luscious fruits and vegetables in their vibrant colors dancing in the sunshine just make you want to smile. It’s much easier to eat healthier this time of year when each bite of a ripe peach or bright red strawberry is filled with flavor. I like to go the Farmer’s Market just to look – and appreciate. In the weeks to come, here at GKC we will be providing recipes that take advantage of the bright spring vegetables and the juicy summer fruits. Stay tuned. And if you have some great recipes of your own, send them in. We like pies, ratatouilles, crisps and some vegetables just barely sautéed. We’re working on less time in the kitchen and more time outdoors…

Not To Be Missed Challah

On the Shabbos after Passover there is a widespread custom to bake challah with a key in it. Whoever gets the piece with key will merit a year of financial success. Not that we need any extra incentive to eat homemade challah after a week of matza! Not that we need any extra motivation to eat this delicious challah any time at all! This recipe makes a lot of challah so you can stick the extra (if you have any) in the freezer. (For great challah pans please visit our SHOP).

Not To Be Missed Challah

1/3 cup yeast
5 cups warm water
1-1/2 cups sugar
8 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 cup oil
2 tablespoons salt
12 – 14 cups bread flour

Proof yeast in water. Add sugar. When yeast is bubbly, whisk in eggs, egg yolks, oil and salt. Slowly stir in flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Drizzle oil in bowl and roll dough in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for 2 hours. Punch down dough; divide into 6 to 8 large pieces. Divide each piece into 3 long ropes. Braid challah and place on greased baking sheets or in greased loaf or challah pans.) Cover again and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until crust is golden and challah sounds hollow when tapped.

Le Marais

Continued from last week…

Another secret I learned is that the aging process not only intensifies flavor but also shrinks the meat. So after the meat is cut and prepared by the butcher it will only reduce a small amount when cooked. Most meats can shrink by 50% in the cooking process. This aged meat is already reduced so you are getting much more for your money. Jose and Dominique have created unique cuts of meat at Le Marais like their “surprise” (top of the rib eye) and “tournedo” (middle of the rib eye, used for pepper steak, steak au poive or as a roast).

Le Marais Steak 2

Today, Le Marais’s aged meats, served in the restaurant and also sold behind the butcher counter, are some of the most tender and delicious cuts of meat found in the kosher world.

Jose gave us some tips on how to make sure your meat is flavorful.
1. First, buy aged meat
2. Never cook meat more than medium rare. Well-done meat is tough to chew and loses its flavor.
3. Let your meat rest after cooking and before slicing and serving. This ensures that the flavorful juices stay in the meat and does not run off as you cut the meat. Ten minutes is plenty of time for meat to rest before slicing.
4. Don’t be afraid of fat. Fat gives meat flavor. The marbleizing in meat will add flavor.
5. Use second cut brisket, it has more flavor.

Jose also gave me some information on the best ways to cook certain cuts of meat.
Best for Braising: minute steak, short ribs, and brisket
Best for Stew: Veal or Beef Shank
Best for Grilling: anything lean, Le Marais Surprise, silver tip
Best for Pan Searing: Le Marais Tournedo, rib eye, prime rib

Today, Jose loves to cook for his family and friends big one-pot meals and he says his fridge is always stocked with good meat. But what else can he not live without?? Fresh Parmesan and good chocolate. No wonder we all love Le Marais. He clearly has a good palate.

Try the recipes from Le Marais, at www.gourmetpassovercooking.com. They are amazing! Imagine restaurant quality food for Passover at home too, remarkable.

Le Marais is located at 150 West 46th Street in NYC, 212 869-0900

Their butcher is Kosher for Passover starting March 8th. They are open for Passover, for complete schedule and menu, go to Lemarais.net. They ship nationally.

Also, try The Clubhouse, owned by Jose Meirelles, at 155 West 46th Street in NYC, 212 354-3838

Blog – Le Marais

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How to choose the best cuts of meat? An exclusive with Le Marais

I was really beginning to question my sanity. The streets of NYC were covered in snow and frozen slush, and at every curb there were ice-filled puddles that looked like they were at high tide. Yet there I was, leaping over them, trying to get to one of my favorite restaurants, Le Marais , to learn “How to Choose the Best Cuts of Meat” – and on a Friday no less! Anything for my readers and a good story; at least that’s what I told myself. And, as I turned the corner on 46th Street (right into a gust of Nordic blast), I saw the famed iconic sign for Le Marais and all thoughts of turning back disappeared. I’m glad I hung in there, because the frigid weather outside was no match for the warm greetings awaiting me as soon as I walked in the door and was greeted by chef and owner, Jose Meirelles, and the butcher, Dominique Courbe. After offering me a cup of tea, Jose and Dominique sat down to talk to me and tell me their secrets to consistent great food.

Jose, pronounced Joe-say, now a very successful chef and restaurateur came to the United States from Portugal over thirty years ago. His first job in America was as a private driver for a family in NY. It turned out the family also needed someone to cook for them so he began cooking their meals and discovered that he was not only a good cook but that he enjoyed it. Jose then pursued his culinary passion at the French Culinary Institute. He has subsequently owned a number of successful restaurants in the non-kosher world. With all the challenges that come with opening a kosher restaurant, I asked him what made him explore the kosher option.

He had been approached many times to consider opening a kosher restaurant, he explained, but he resisted. The tipping point came when he discovered that kosher butchers were not aging the meat properly (or at all), creating meat cuts that were tougher and had less flavor. That was more than he could bear and gave him the opening he needed. If Jose knew anything, it was how to age meat and what that meant to the flavor of a meal. The second ingredient in creating success at Le Marais was partnering with Dominique, his butcher extraordinaire. Dominique comes from a large family of butchers and uses French techniques in cutting each piece into the gorgeous cuts you see behind the counter at Le Marais (GKC can’t wait to share the video we created with Jose and Dominique on cutting the perfect pieces of meat and selecting the right type to prepare- it’s coming soon).

Le Marais uses both dry and wet aging techniques to intensify the meat flavor and ensure a perfect texture. I got to see first-hand the stages of aging that the large racks of meat rest on. The longer the meat is aged, the more intense the flavor. In the aging process, the outer parts of the meat become extremely dry creating a cocoon for the flavorful piece on the inside. The dried exterior becomes the most amazing beef jerky you have ever had (buy it at Le Marais and taste for yourself) and the interior is cut into extraordinary pieces ready for grilling, braising, pan-searing, or any easy preparation. Jose recommends simple pan-searing with olive oil, garlic and kosher salt or very slow braising in wine, shallots, and chicken stock.

Another secret I learned…well, you’ll have to tune in to next week’s blog to discover it! In the meantime, try the recipes from Le Marais at www.gourmetpassovercooking.com

Leftover Candy

What to do with leftover Purim candy? If hiding it, consuming it all in 24 hours, or sending it with your husband to work are not your strategies, then we have a few ideas to help make good use of the ingredients. (Remember the local schools love wrapped, marked candy donations to use as treats for the kids – check with your local school. In New York, JEP (the Jewish Enrichment Program) collects the wrapped, marked candy at many of the schools in the tri-state area to use for their kiruv programs. If you do not have a collection at your school you can mail it to them at JEP 110 Rockaway Turnpike, Lawrence, NY 11559.)
candy-2Spotted Cow Cheesecake
If your pantries are too full and you would like to make good use of some of the candy, try these recipes.

Candy Bar Blondies
Tootsie Roll Cheesecake
Hershey Bar Banana Treat
Potato Chip Baked Chicken

Candy Bar Blondies

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 (1 3/4 ounce) chocolate covered candy bars, chopped and divided (any kind of candy bar is fine, or m & m’s)

Beat margarine or butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt.
Reserve 1/2 cup chopped candy for topping; stir remaining candy into flour mixture. Spread into 13 x 9-inch baking pan; sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup candy.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Tootsie Roll Cheesecake

1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
32 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 eggs
1 cup dairy sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces Tootsie Rolls
1/3 cup whipping cream

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar and the butter; mix well. Lightly butter a 1O-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan (do not use spring-form pan as the batter is too thin). Press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of pan.

Beat cream cheese with remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar until smooth, scraping sides of bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract, beating well until smooth.

Melt Tootsie Rolls in top of a double boiler; stir in cream, then add to cream cheese mixture, mixing well. Pour over crust. Place cake pan in another large, deep pan; pour water around cake pan to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Bake in a 300 degree F oven for about 2 hours or until center is set and a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool, then chill several hours or overnight.

To remove from pan, heat outside of pan slightly and cake will drop out. Re-invert onto serving platter.

Hershey Bar Banana Treat

1 banana
1/2 Hershey candy bar
2 large marshmallows
Aluminum foil

Cut bananas from one end to the other but not all the way through the bottom skin. Cut marshmallows in half and put into the cut banana. Put the half of candy bar in between the marshmallows. Wrap with aluminum foil and place in oven (or on hot coals in a barbecue for about 5 minutes).

Serve with a spoon and eat right out of the peel.

Potato Chip Baked Chicken

1 chicken, cut in 1/8’s
1/2 cup margarine
Garlic salt
Potato chips, crushed

Melt the margarine in a baking pan and add the garlic salt. Roll the chicken pieces in the margarine and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed potato chips (fully coating the chicken). Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Blog

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You asked and we responded (Isn’t that what all the magazines say?!). We are very excited to introduce GKC’s health and nutrition section. Dr. Simone Stromer will be writing about the health benefits of different food trends – this week we focus on red wine (I hope it will be chocolate next week!) – and soon all the heart-healthy or weight-watching recipes will be marked with an appropriate icon. If you have great healthy recipes to share, please send them in. And if you have other ideas on how we could improve our site, we welcome those also. So enjoy our new section but don’t worry – we will continue to have some great Shabbos (and weekday) indulgences!

What an experience! The Kosher Restaurant and Wine Experience

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Living in NY and running Gourmet Kosher Cooking (with my Bff Emuna) has many perks besides thinking about food and being in touch with all our terrific readers. Last Monday night at Chelsea Pier was a big one.

As readers of GKC know, the “Kosher Restaurant and Wine Experience” produced by GKC’s friends at Royal Wines, arrived in NY on Monday and by Tuesday Gotham needed to go on a diet! Seriously. Tevere’s baby artichokes greeted you at the door and by the time we made it to our first glass of wine, yours truly had eaten foods from three different continents and that was at just the first table. A very special thank you to Gary Landsman, our wine contributor at Royal Wines for inviting GKC to what was by all accounts a wonderful night for those of us who love delicious food and great wine.

Royal wines showcased all of the wines that they produce (what don’t they produce??) plus other labels that they distribute. It was amazing. We tasted wines from around the world, and with loving advice from GKC’s best friend at the Wine Spectator, Miriam Laufer, we were directed to the newest and best wines to try. From Spain we fell in love with the Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, (I know, try and say that ten times fast) and from Napa the Covenant label has emerged with three new wines. Our favorites were the Chardonnay and the Red C Cabernet (this is what kosher wine is meant to be). Other wine favorites to keep in mind were the new Reserve from Alexander, the Herzog Clone #6 Edition and the Carmel Mediterranean, savory, rich and not too overwhelming. Most of these wines were bottled in limited quantities so they may be hard to find over time. GKC was also happy to see their friends from Flegman’s wines carrying on the tradition of their father who started making wines a century ago in Hungary. (You can buy any of these wines at a discount here, through www.onlinekosherwine.com (use coupon code DFXJQW).

In addition, to fantastic wine there were a few restaurants that stole the show. I am so excited to introduce Chef Moses Wendel who is opening a new restaurant in Crown Heights in three weeks called Basil. His food was beautiful to look at and tasted divine. He served a Tuna Tartare with Saffron, Smoked Paprika, and Green Olive Puree and Chocolate Truffles with Cocoa Nib and Rum, Skewered with Coconut Anglaise Pipette. Fumio, a restaurant in Livingston, NJ served some delicious short ribs. The meat just fell off the bone and was layered in subtle flavors of tomato, garlic and soy. People waited on lines for the warm Pastrami by Pomegranate Market. Their homemade hummus is worth traveling to Brooklyn for. A special treat turned out to be a new surprise called My Brother Bobby’s Salsa from the Hudson Valley. If you want it fresher than Bobby’s you’re going to have to pick the ingredients yourself. The cantaloupe salsa was delish! It was great to see one of the legends of the kosher dining world Chef Jeff Nathan, serving some of my favorites from Abigael’s. And finishing the gastronomic extravaganza with a flavored coffee and light biscotti by NoiDue made for a perfect evening. Don’t miss the event next year. GKC will be sure to give you plenty of warning… You’re going to want to be there!!

Jewelry – for You and Friends

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It’s that time of year when we get the blahs. It’s the middle of winter, Chanukah is long gone and Purim isn’t quite in sight. We all need a little pick-me-up. And I can think of nothing better than jewelry to do the trick!! Ester Shahaf has earrings for all ages – some are good Bas Mitzvah gifts, some suit your older teens and some you may like yourself. She also has some beautiful and fun necklaces. Check out our SHOP necklaces; you can help Israeli artists and yourself at the same time. Her bright colors will certainly help chase the blues away!

More Great Deals

More Great Deals from GKC. Just for GKC readers, 10% off wine at Onlinekosherwine.com

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Perfect for Purim, Passover or for any dinner at home, Onlinekosherwine.com has an extensive selection of the finest kosher wines available. They offer extremely good value for quality wines of every type, from many regions of the world. Take advantage of their expertise (we include wine pairings with our recipes now) to enjoy fine wine at excellent prices today by using the exclusive GKC coupon for 10% off wine purchases of $100 or more. Just click SHOP and use the coupon code DFXJQW at checkout and you are ready for a wonderful evening.

Big News! GKC partners with Kosher.com and all our readers receive a 15% discount


Big news this week at gourmetkoshercooking! We have partnered with Kosher.com to make your grocery shopping so much easier. You don’t even have to leave home. And all those cuts of meat you wanted? Or those hard-to-find products? Here’s your one-stop (one-click!) shopping experience. To get you started we have a special introductory 15% off coupon for GKC readers. Just go to SHOP, click on the kosher.com coupon and off you go. Now you can make our yummy brick roast or indulge in some Zomick’s Chocolate Meltaway, wherever you live. (Just don’t blame us for the calories!)

Meet Chef Shaya Klechevsky and the recipes he shared with us!

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I spoke last with Chef Shaya, the Kosher Chef who appeared on the national television show “Chopped”. He is engaging, upbeat, and discusses food with passion and artistry.

What was it like competing on the show “Chopped”?
Exciting and surreal. It was an incredible opportunity and a great chance to meet other chefs from different backgrounds.

How was it different competing as a kosher Chef?
That was amazing. The judges responded well and were looking for the connection of food and culture from all the contestants. I loved the idea of adding my ethnicity to the dishes.

What was the particular challenge when you were on the show? We had to make a first course item using all the mystery ingredients in the basket. Mine were duck, polenta, and persimmon. I immediately went to their pantry and grabbed other ingredients like cardamom, limes, and other herbs. I was too busy to be nervous and just wanted to create a great dish in 20 minutes. I seared the polenta and the duck with cardamom and then cooked the persimmon in duck fat. I added lime juice and salt and pepper to the finished first course. Numerous obstacles came up in the challenge, one was that the polenta was not a homemade version but a precooked log that is not all that flavorful. I tried to sear it to add texture and flavor. The second was that the duck was tough and not cooking through in the time I needed. Lastly, I cut myself, which added a little drama to the whole experience.

What is your favorite food to eat and to cook?

That is a hard question. It’s like asking me which finger do you like the most. Lately, I am most intrigued by traditional Japanese and Chinese foods. I love the philosophy, symbolism, and aesthetic connected to each food in their culture. I appreciate how their everyday meals are very balanced, retain the flavors of their natural ingredients and fit the philosophy of their way of life.

What do you always have in your freezer or pantry?
Duck fat, chicken feet, sweet breads, and liver. My pantry…every version and variation of spice like ground chipotle, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I love to blend my own spices.

What are busy with now?
I am a personal chef and write my own food blog, www.atyourpalate.com. I teach classes at the JCC in NYC, Brooklyn and all over the tri-state area.

Chef Shaya shared some terrific recipes with GKC. Try them and let us know what you think.

Mediterranian Flank Steak Rub
The New American Burger
Champignon en Croûte

For more great recipes from Shaya visit http://www.atyourpalate.com/blog/recipes/

Shaya Klechevsky grew up in a home rich in diverse cultures; his mother, an Egyptian native, and his father, a Polish native, brought an interesting mix of food and flavor to every meal. After attending Brooklyn College, where he achieved a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Health & Nutrition Sciences, Shaya found his way to the French Culinary Institute at the International Center for Culinary Arts in New York City’s vibrant SoHo.
There he learned the secrets of French cooking and fused his classic training with his background in Middle Eastern and Eastern European cuisine, resulting in flavorful combinations of ingredients. Shaya uses his passion for good food and a healthy lifestyle to bring healthy, kosher, gourmet cuisine to his clients. Find out how you can have Chef Shaya teach you how to cook (or just cook for you) at www.atyourpalate.com.

To Diet or Not to Diet?

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Woman’s Day exhorts us to “Drop those pounds”. O magazine promises “weight loss that sticks”. Family Circle suggests it’s the key to happiness in its “Lose weight. Feel great” and Woman’s World is advertising a breakthrough belly fat cure!

Everywhere we look someone or something is pressuring me to lose those extra pounds. Do they think I don’t have a mirror? Don’t they know I’m conscious of it every second of the day? Do they have to rub it in?!!

And don’t they know that most of us have tried every new weight loss plan (diet is a bad word these days, we can only say ‘weight loss’) under the sun. The problem with most diets (oops!) however, is that they’re not realistic. They’re not suited to eating out or entertaining. They’re frequently not geared to those of us who have to feed a large hungry horde at dinner every night of who are tempted to eat that whole loaf of challah every Friday!

But I believe there are a few secrets to successful dieting – or healthier living, which is my euphemism.

One, based on the wisdom of the famous physician and philosopher, Maimonides, is “everything in moderation”. If we feel too restricted, we’ll rebel. (And it won’t be pretty!)

Two, in accordance with this philosophy, an important tip, especially for Americans, is to reduce portion size. When I was expecting my first child, my husband said that “I ate like a truck driver!” That may have worked under those particular circumstances but it’s not a wise lifestyle choice. Take smaller portions – and avoid seconds.

Three; all smart dieters and chefs know that we’ll be satisfied with less if the flavor stands out, if each bite has real vibrancy and zing. If we focus on making creative, flavorful meals, we’ll be able to savor each bite – slowly – and not gobble our way to the finish.

Maybe we should get rid of that word “diet”. It smacks of a very limited regimen of very bland foods. If you open yourself up to new tastes and menus – try our latest offerings – the sky is the limit. You’ll be too busy cooking to eat…

Cold Winter Sledding Goes with Warm Winter Soup

My family and lots of friends spent the first snow day sledding and building snowmen outside. Everyone came in ready for hot chocolate and something warm, fast, and filling. I was always curious about Mulligatawny (an Indian vegetable soup) so I decided to try it. It was such a big hit that I am adding it to my soup repertoire.

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Mulligatawny

2 tablespoons corn oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 white turnip, peeled and sliced, optional
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, or basil
½ cup coconut milk (optional)
1 pound chicken breast cut in chunks

Heat oil in a saucepan oven medium heat. Add garlic, cumin and turmeric and cook about 30 seconds. Add onions, carrots, celery and turnips (add chicken now if using), and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and let the soup cool a bit. If you prefer a smooth soup, puree with an immersion blender. Otherwise, season with salt and pepper and add the coconut milk (if using). Add the cilantro or basil and serve.

Tootsie Rolls

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As kosher consumers today, we are very spoiled. Almost anything we desire is kosher or eventually becomes so. M & M’s were willing to forgo their famous “melts in your mouth not in your hands” slogan (the formula being derived through the use of bugs) in order to woo the kosher market. And we can now purchase – and eat – them in multiple varieties – plain, peanut, almond, peanut butter, seasonal mint (I liked the coconut, what happened to those?) and the new premium flavors. When Oreos went kosher, it seemed Mashiach couldn’t be far behind. Then came Godiva chocolates. And now, finally, that famous childhood treat, Tootsie Rolls, has entered the kosher world. I don’t know if this is good for us for not – physically or spiritually. But it sure is fun. And it, once again, highlights the purchasing power of the kosher consumer. Let’s think together of ways to use this power productively. Send in your thoughts.

More Hanukkah Fun!

The real miracle of Hanukkah is that we keep our kids entertained all week on a low budget with no fighting. Well that would be a miracle wouldn’t it? But really, I think that both children and adults enjoy the holiday and welcome the opportunity to have 8 nights of spiritual uplift – and family fun. It can be a creative challenge but when it works, it’s great. For our family, the side benefits include no homework, lots of doughnuts and latkes, and skating at Rockefeller Center with hot chocolate and marshmallows to follow. The celebration continues in the kitchen and out with:

Oreo Stuffed Doughnuts (from my friend and personal chef Naomi Nachman)
Playing Dreidel – The official game

Download and enjoy Sam Glaser’s new Chanuka CD. It’s a fun parody album with songs for the whole family to enjoy. We love the song Eight Crazy Nights (to the tune of Twist and Shout).

Finally, as in all holidays, we focus on the unity of the Jewish people and try to get involved in some activity that involves giving to others. Our family delivers special Chanukah food packages for Tomchei Shabbos. Let us know what yours does.