The final days of the nine days culminate with a difficult fast. I have read and written about the best foods to eat before a fast. I'm not sure if any of it works and everyone has their own special twist or tip for surviving a long summer day with no food or drinks. Personally, I find it tough (although I am embarrassed to complain when all we need to do is fast to commemorate such troubling history of the Jewish people) and I stick to some classic hydrating dishes and flavors that I think help, like cold soup, watermelon, sorbet, honey and lemons. Here is my menu, please share yours.
I actually enjoy testing and tasting recipes that work well during the nine days. I like to keep the meals light and flavorful and leave extra room for homemade or store bought ice cream. Here are a few recipes to add to your repertoire. And don’t forget to check out other great nine days recipes on GKC.
Time for pasta but choosing the right strand is more than just about what you have in the pantry. Choosing the right pasta depends on the topping. The shape should be dictated by the type of sauce you are preparing with it. Here are a few tips to go by:
Tubes: Tubular shapes like penne and ziti are perfect with hearty and thick sauces like meaty tomato based sauces. Ridged ones capture even more sauce. Try this Bolognese Pasta with tubes or with spaghetti. For the nine days, use soy meat instead of beef.
Ribbons: Wide, flat pastas like pappardelle are ideal for sopping up creamy sauces. Generally, the wider the noodle, the heavier the sauce. I like linguine with artichokes.
Long strands: Long, round pasta like spaghetti are best with olive oil and tomato based sauces, which coat each strand evenly. Go thinner for delicate preparations. A good one to try is Spaghetti with Red and Yellow Peppers (if you do not cook with wine during the nine days, just omit it and use 4 cloves of garlic with the olive oil).
Shapes: Chunky vegetable sauces absolutely go better with short pastas that have lots of crevices to trap the sauce. Try this Eggplant and Ricotta Pasta, it’s perfect with shaped noodles.
Try lots of pastas with different types of noodles. See pasta index here.
It’s graduation and Bat Mitzvah week in our family (and getting off to camp too). That means lots to celebrate and a very insane schedule. So crazy that I am not even sure how I put dinner on the table each night. Somehow, some way, it all comes together thanks to my kids help and some quick and easy recipes each night. And one more thing. Open a good bottle of wine each night and relax. This week it was all about Goose Bay. I chose a Goose Bay Pinot Noir, its light, and crisp, and the perfect amount of fruity for any of these midweek dinners. It’s a great Shabbos Day wine too.
Makes 1 cup
2 chipotles in adobo, seeded
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, non-fish
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes, until glossy. Use on chicken, turkey and beef.
You can certainly buy any variety of sauces from the market and yes, some are quite good but I prefer to make my own for several reasons. First, most store bought sauces have a lot of sugar and artificial ingredients like liquid smoke. I like to control the amount of sugar and use natural ingredients. I also like to vary the flavors like sometimes I make it spicy with extra adobe chiles and sometimes I add roasted garlic to give it richness or soy for an Asian inspired BBQ. Homemade sauces keep for weeks in the refrigerator and can be used over and over again.
Check out the video on my favorite homemade BBQ sauce here.
Here are a few others that I like keeping in the fridge to use all summer.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the mustard, honey, brown sugar and vinegar. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Use as a marinade or dipping sauce for chicken, meat or fish. .
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
In a food processor or blender, combine all of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Use on noodles, chicken, fish or tofu.
We often hear about how to get more juice out of a lemon, like rolling it with your hand to release the juices inside or squeezing them at room temperature. Juicing limes is a whole other concept and one that is rarely discussed. I think people find it difficult and get so little juice that they choose buying the lime juice in a bottle. So, after squeezing and testing many methods I have the official “My most successful lime squeezing method”. You must try it. I guarantee you will have much more juice and all your recipes will taste amazing with fresh lime.
Here is the basic concept, instead of slicing the lime in half, hold the lime on the cutting board with the top stem up and the bottom on the cutting board. Make a cut on the side of the lime as if there was a center pit, like a mango. Slice through the top to bottom but not at the center, as if the pit was in the center. A lime has a core in it that blocks the juices when you cut it through the center. Turn it around and cut down the other side, again leaving the center core in tact. Now cut two small slices on the two remaining sides leaving the center core as garbage.
Now squeeze the slices. You will be amazed at how much more juice you get from these smaller pieces. The juice is pungent and smells wonderful and adds zing to everything. I love it in guacamole and in Won Ton Cups with Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad
I am here to personally defend the jalapeno pepper. Dubbed super spicy and often removed from recipes this flavorful pepper needs some assistance. Most people do not realize that jalapenos, especially those that are larger than 2 inches long and on the plump side are not spicy at all and more like a strong green pepper (btw, the smaller the pepper, any color, the spicier it is, so watch out for those cute adorable and little habaneros or scotch bonnets, they have a super spicy punch).
The heat in a jalapeno lives in the white center membrane and on the seeds inside. So if you like spice, buy smaller jalapenos and chop them with the seeds and membranes and add it to your recipe. If you prefer mild flavors, don’t omit the pepper! Just cut it properly so that you can remove the spiciness and then get all the great jalapeno flavor and no spiciness. To cut them, slice them in half, and then scrape out the white membrane and seeds with a pairing knife. Do not use your fingers or you will end up with strong spice on your hands which will transfer to your eyes or nose if you touch them. After the seeds are removed, just chop them like any other pepper. Make sure you wash your hands with warm soapy water after working with jalapenos. Of all the peppers, jalapenos are so easy to work with because you have so much control. They add such depth of flavor and a hint of Mexican seasoning to any recipe. I vote to give the jalapeno another chance! I’d love to hear from you and let me know if you gave them a try. Two of my favorite recipes to use them in are Creamy Asian Coleslaw and Tortilla Soup.
Just a few days to go and I am sure your cooking has begun. Here are a few more extra recipes for those dairy meals. Each are not only delicious but are quick and easy and sure to be a crowd pleaser. I love the sweet potato gratin. The tanginess of the goat cheese and the sweet potatoes pair so well. The pecan streusel bars are just plain addicting. My kids love the rustic look and taste of the pesto smashed potatoes and everyone loves my Aunt Thelma's Chilled Strawberry Sour Cream Soup.
GKC loves cheesecake and we have over 40 cheesecakes in our index waiting for you to make for Shavuos! Seriously how could you decide which one to make? Oreo cheesecake, one of my all time favorites, The White House Special Cheesecake, Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake, or classic or so many other choices. Share which cheesecake you are making and share the recipe too so we can try it and add it to our collection.
This year we added a few more to try out and enjoy. Both are spins on the traditional with a little zing. I loved testing and tasting them and now I’m even more confused about what to make on Shavuos!
Here it is, the GKC video series which we are calling The Recipe Box. The videos were so much fun to make. Special thanks to SW and MH for lending me their awesome kitchens. We have completed about 20 episodes and I can't wait to share them with you. Let me know what you think, what you want to see me make and catch the others on www.justherfood.com
Did you see our new look? In an effort to make GKC more fun, easier to use, and full of content that you read, enjoy, and use, I have updated the look of GKC. What do you think?
So here is what is new and different. Each week I will feature one new recipe in the recipe of the week section (sometimes more in the blog too) but one recipe that is carefully tested and photographed. I'm trying to appeal to all palates so hang in there when its not to your taste but comment and send out (yup via email, facebook, twitter, instagram) the ones that you like (GKC is only as strong as my audience so help us to continue to grow!). Also weekly, I will share a blog post, a food thought, an insightful tip or yes, finally a cooking video (did you see me on www.justherfood.com?) . I have cleaned up and streamlined the index so you can find the recipes you want faster. We still have our terrific Wine section, Great Products, Cooking With Kids, and Giveaways but they will alternate week to week. I love hearing from you and creating recipes that you are excited to try so keep up the great comments, questions, and share some of your recipes too! Your recipe box is still saved, you just have to login to access it (no worries, we can reset anyone who forgot their info). While we enhance the site, please be patient with the technical difficulties but let me know if something is not working right.
Thank you for your terrific enthusiasm and support for GKC. Your great energy is what keeps it going! Happy cooking!
Should I flour my cake pan? Is it really necessary?
This is a common question I receive both online and in my cooking classes. I think most people, myself included are hoping to skip any steps that are not completely necessary. And although I have skipped this step many times, I will tell you that for no-fail results and cakes that pop out of the pan, the flouring step is important. Most cake recipes instruct you to grease a cake pan and flour it too. We all know the grease stops the cake from sticking, but the flour is important for two reasons. First, the flour helps the cake grip the sides of the pan so that it rises evenly. It also creates a barrier between the grease on the pan and the batter so that it does not melt into the batter, changing the chemistry of the recipe. If you are making chocolate cake, make sure to use cocoa instead of flour so that the coating matches the cake and you do not have a white layer on a chocolate cake.
I know you are now thinking that these reasons are not as compelling as you were hoping for. And truth is, if you are okay with slightly uneven cake then go ahead and skip it. I like to test my cakes first without using the flour method, meaning I make them and do not flour the pan. If the results are good then I make a note on the recipe that I skipped the step and all was fine. If the cake was still sticking to the pan or it comes out a bit uneven then I make the note to remember that flouring the pan is a must.
And in the end remember that even cakes that stick to the pan or look uneven, still taste great!
I love candy and all things homemade. I thought it would be fun this Purim to try some new recipes for homemade candies and salts. I have been known to enjoy jelly bellies and those little red fish too but I had to go a little more gourmet this Purim. I like to wrap everything in brown parchment paper and use downloadable labels that make sure to give the gift that rustic homemade look. To see more homemade Purim gift ideas go to www.gourmetkoshercooking.com
I saw this about a year ago in Sunset magazine. What a great idea! Give people homemade seasoned salt to use in everything from cooking to baths. I love it on chicken and fish and it looks stunning.
1 cup flake salt, such as Maldon, or coarse salt
3 tablespoons citrus zest (any kind), lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange
Mix salt and zest in a bowl; work zest into salt with your fingers to release oils and flavor. Spread on a baking tray. Air-dry until dried completely, 8 hours to overnight.
Note: Zest's color will fade over time, but this won't affect taste.
Make ahead: 2 months, kept airtight at room temperature.
Bottle it: 4-oz. jam glass jar, $0.57; specialtybottle.com; BambooImportsMN 3.5-in. oval bamboo spice/salt spoons, $9.8 8/10; amazon.com
Makes 150 Caramels
You can make these two weeks in advance. These are an adorable homemade gift that taste amazing.
2 quarts apple cider
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
Canola oil, for brushing
In a large saucepan, simmer the apple cider over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup, about 1 hour. Pour the reduced cider into a bowl.
Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed pan with foil and coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and condensed milk and bring to a simmer over moderate heat; keep the mixture warm over low heat.
In another large saucepan, combine the sugar with the reduced apple cider, corn syrup, water and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter until melted. Gradually whisk in the warm cream mixture until incorporated. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until a golden caramel forms and the temperature reaches 245° on a candy thermometer, about 45 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice and cloves and scrape the caramel into the prepared pan. Let cool completely, then refrigerate the caramel overnight.
Lightly brush a sheet of parchment paper with oil. Invert the caramel onto the parchment and peel off the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramel into 1-inch-wide strips, then cut the block crosswise into 1/2-inch rectangles. Wrap each caramel in a square of parchment paper or a candy wrapper and twist the ends to seal. Serve or pack the caramels into boxes.
Storage info: The wrapped caramels can be stored in a cool spot or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. The uncut caramel can be tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; cut just before serving.
2 cups sugar
2½ cups broken pecans
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cubed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat sugar in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, swirling pan often, until golden amber and completely liquefied. Add pecans and butter and cook, stirring, until caramel is liquid again and butter is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Combine vanilla extract and baking soda in a bowl and then add to pan along with salt; stir to combine. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicone baking mat and spread into an even layer with a small rubber spatula; let cool completely. Break into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper.
Bigger, better, and so much fun, Kosher Food and Wine 2013 was a huge success! KFWE was a sold out event with old and new wine and food favorites. It’s an event that truly demonstrates the incredible and large amount of kosher wine that Royal Wine Company is involved with. You name the palate, the flavor, the look, the geography, the price point; Royal Wine Company is working on creating an incredible selection of wine from around the globe for the kosher consumer. We are really lucky.
I began the night with some of last year’s favorites, Flam, Tulip and Psagot that had some 2013 favorites too. The Flam Classico and Rose are super. I love the Classico with anything and think the Rose will be a big hit this summer for warm days and lighter meats, like veal. Tulip wowed me with their “Just” Merlot and Reserve Cabernet. The Syrah is excellent. Get their wines while they are available, the Just 2010 sold out before I could get my hands on it. Psagot is always pleasing to me and I loved tasting the new Single Vineyard. It pairs well with Shabbos food like chicken and lighter meats. Soreka was a new wine to taste and I loved the bite of honey at the end of it. It’s not a sweet wine but has a port like quality to it, rich and enjoyable with a hint of sweet. Goose Bay from New Zealand is making great wines. For white wine drinkers, I like the Sauvignon Blanc and for the Pinot lovers, their Pinot is terrific. We get a lot of requests for good Pinot Noir and this one is a good one to try. Another newcomer to KFWE that I enjoyed, Domaine Netofa. Their Tinto wine is light and fruity and full of aroma and flavor. It was great to see Ernie Weir of Hagafen winery in Napa Valley. We visited his winery many years ago when they were making just a limited number of bottles. Now, so popular and successful, they have a gorgeous wine-tasting room and facility for visitors. His Pinot and Dry White Riesling were event favorites. I can’t wait to visit his winery this summer.
And Yes, there was great food at this event. In between wine tasting, I enjoyed seeing GKC friend Jose Meirelles, from Le Marais. My comment after tasting the grilled hanger steak with winter vegetables, “always perfectly prepared!” So tasty, seared on the outside and pink on the inside, Chef and owner Jose masters the art of preparing steak. Chef David Kolotkin from Prime Grill, made an amazing dish of BBQ short ribs with a jalapeno cream sauce over a polenta cake. The meat had amazing slow cooked barbeque flavor and I could eat the jalapeno cream on anything. Jack’s Gourmet is all the rage with their new “Facon” product. You know I’ve used it many times on GKC and I loved their FLT sandwich. Chef Moshe Wendel from Pardes always scores well with his interesting combinations and my taste buds. This year he soared with Smoked Rib eye Carpaccio stuffed with molasses braised bacon mousse, topped with pickled shitake and mustard threads and a yummy crunch on top made of watermelon radish. How is that for complex and unusual? We saw Bobby from My Brother Bobby’s Salsa, still the tastiest salsa ever. I love the color, the flavor and especially the freshness. We always love to see you Bobby! Lastly, I enjoyed the magnificent presentation by Heavenly Events and Catering (their fish tartars looked super chic and creative) and Gemstone Caterers with their super unique and delicious jello shot bar. This is not your mother’s jello!
Best of all, we always love sharing KFWE with good friends and all the GKC vendor friends. Royal Wine and especially Gary, thanks for an amazing job!!
I love getting your questions online. It lets me know you are engaged in the site and curious about cooking and cooking techniques. I of course share these interests. Last week, I received a question from Marlene in Passaic, NJ. “I ran out of extra-virgin olive oil but I have some pure olive oil left over, can I use it in place of the extra-virgin?
The simple answer is Yes. But let me clarify the difference between the different types of olive oils. First, all olive oils are made from the pressed fruit of the olive tree.
Pure Olive Oil: sometimes referred to as “classic” or “pure” olive oil, has a milder flavor with just a hint of fruitiness and is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. It’s usually darker in color and is a great choice fro frying, searing, grilling, and some baking. It is also good for lighting candles.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Top grade of olive oil and is naturally extracted through mechanical means with no heat or chemicals. It is high quality and pricier than other types due to the techniques used to extract it. Use it for everything but when you find a special or pricier bottle (you can taste a difference) use it for uncooked items like salad dressings, marinades, pastas, and toppings. It’s also good in soups, stews, and grilling.
Light Olive Oil: Blended with less virgin oil than regular olive oil to create a very mild flavor, the “light” refers to the color and flavor as opposed to the caloric value (which is the same as others). I don’t use light olive oil at all.
Poaching foods with olive oil have become a big food trend. It adds flavor to the poaching liquid so that the finished item is much richer and tastier. Try olive oil in Olive-Oil Poached Salmon or Eggs Poached in Olive Oil.
For conversions see chart below:
This technique creates super flavorful poached eggs. You can easily make more eggs with the same amount of oil. Just use a small pan so that the olive oil can coat the whites of the eggs.
1 fresh egg
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 ounces fresh arugula
1 piece of toasted bread, I like ciabatta or challah
Place a teaspoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Saute garlic in the olive oil, and spread evenly around the saucepan.
Add 1/2 cup of olive to the saucepan and bring to a medium heat. Don't overheat the olive oil.
Add bay leaf to the olive oil.
(The trick to poaching an egg in olive oil is to use a small saucepan so you can bring the level of the olive oil over the whites of the egg, but just below the yolk, without having to use too much olive oil.)
Carefully place a fresh egg cracked gently into the heated olive oil. As the egg cooks, sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over the egg.
Continue cooking the egg until the egg whites are congealed. But don't overcook the egg, you want the yolk to remain soft and liquid.
Place toast on a serving plate and arrange a bed of fresh arugula over the crisp bread. Carefully remove the poached egg from the saucepan and place over the bed of arugula.
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, peel removed in wide strips with a veggie peeler
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
Special Equipment: cheesecloth, butcher's twine
Place the garlic, thyme, lemon zest, coriander, and bay leaves-in cheesecloth. Tie into a sachet. Add the oil to a large straight-sided saute pan and toss in the sachet. Bring the pan to a medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Let the salmon come to room temperature and season generously with salt. Add the salmon fillets to the pan with the olive oil. Let the fish cook in the oil for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oil with a spatula to a plate before serving.
Serve with rice and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Growing up my mom made a well-rounded and delicious dinner every night. I think that is where I get my inspiration to make a wholesome meal each night as well as my interest in cooking. She doesn’t enjoy cooking as much anymore but always has time to cook with the kids and make their favorites when we visit. All the grandkids line up for the morning pancakes. They are creamy, sweet and light. My mom is surprised that we can plow through a whole batch in one morning.
Lucky for me, I finally got her to share the recipe and her pancake making tips with me. Mom sometimes adds fresh blueberries or bananas while cooking and she always serves them with warm maple syrup (no artificial syrup here please). This recipe calls for buttermilk which is one of the secrets to fantastic pancakes. Buttermilk adds a creaminess and a tart twist to the otherwise neutral flavored ingredients.
Nana Carole’s Pancakes
Makes about 20 pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-2 1/2 cups buttermilk (depending upon how thick or thin you like your pancakes. I prefer thinner ones so use more than 2 cups)
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons melted butter (I have also used less to reduce fat content w/out noticing much difference although you do need the fat
I add all the dry ingredients through a small holed strainer (easier to use I've found than a sifter that for me is always harder to clean) into a large bowl. Most recipes don't call for sifting but I've found makes for lighter pancakes.
Melt butter in microwave in a large 4 cups Pyrex measuring cup. Cool a bit, then add eggs & sour cream. Beat well with a fork to incorporate, then add buttermilk. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and fold in so all is mixed but don't overmix. It's ok if a bit lumpy. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or longer (overnight works well, too)
Heat griddle on med- low heat, spray with Pam, when heated take a paper towel and remove most of the Pam spray. You want the griddle to be very lightly coated.
When drops of water sizzle on the griddle, it's ready for batter. First batch always takes twice as long it seems than the pancakes following. Make sure griddle's heat remains constant & doesn't get too hot, because pancakes can burn quickly. Nothing like light, fluffy hot off the griddle pancakes. Serve with only real maple syrup.
Blueberries or sliced bananas can be added to each pancake while it's 1st cooking on the griddle & before it's been turned. This controls amount of fruit in each pancake.
For the first time in years my boys and girls have the same vacation week so we decided to go away and get out of the cold weather. We are off to a vacation but for me that means a few days of meal planning because we are going somewhere that does not have kosher food readily available, that’s right I am not going to Florida, Israel or Los Angeles (which are all great trips too).
I also find it difficult traveling to places that do not have lunches or dinners to purchase but I like to enjoy a variety of destinations so I make it work. And with a little planning it can still be a vacation. I prepare dinners ahead of time and freeze them and then each morning I take something out to defrost and I can enjoy the day without worrying about what’s for dinner. I bring 3 kitchen items that help. First, I bring a Panini maker for sandwich making, pizza warming and bagel toasting. I use it to melt tortillas with cheese or make grilled cheese sandwiches. Second I bring a pot for rice and pasta. If you add a little starch to any meal, everyone is more satiated. And third, I bring an electric pan. This is a large pan/pot that plugs into the wall. It warms anything in about 5 minutes. I use it to warm chickens with a little sauce, meatballs, Chinese food and just about anything. I bought one from Costco made by WestBend for about $30. It’s a great item to have especially if you are in a hotel without an oven.
A few other tips for traveling with food include:
- • Speak to friends about what they have done and what worked for them
- • Make sure that you are traveling to a destination that allows food to be brought in, meaning be careful about bringing prepared foods to other countries, some have strict regulations about what can be brought in.
- • Freeze food in double aluminum and then wrap two layers of aluminum around the entire tray in case it leaks out the sides.
- • I put the aluminum trays in a plastic bag before putting them in boxes or suitcases.
- • Most items will remain frozen through a flight because the cargo area is freezing.