Always Chocolate

In Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, he suggests that “All seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup with rice.” That’s how I feel about chocolate. There is no need of an excuse, an event or a Hallmark card occasion. Chocolate is the go-to, feel-good treat all year ’round. And nowadays they even suggest it has some health value. So go for it. Here are some of our favorite – and easiest – chocolate recipes to satisfy that craving. We’d love to try yours…

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars
Chocolate Pound Loaf
Easy (Almost) Everything Brownies

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars

photo: cookiemadness.net


This recipe is dairy so serve it during the week – just because – or save it for a special Shavuos treat.

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ cup milk or soy milk
1 cup chopped toasted peanuts, divided (optional)
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
1 (10-ounce) package peanut butter chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat together melted margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa and milk until completely incorporated. Stir in ¾ cup nuts, if using Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt ½ cup margarine with peanut butter chips, stirring until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Pour over brownie layer in pan.

Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with remaining peanuts, if using. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until firm.

Chocolate Pound Loaf

½ cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup tofutti sour cream
1-3/4 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and sour cream. On low speed, add dry ingredients until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool for 15 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

Choices with Sweeteners

Personally, I am not sure white sugar is quite as evil as its critics make it out to be, but clearly our society suffers from rising numbers of adults and children with obesity and other health related issues.

Recently I read that on average Americans consume 72 pounds of sugar a year; that’s 22 teaspoons a day and is more than 2 times what our grandparents ate. At first I thought, no way, not my family! But then I examined and gave some thought to the diet of most kids, including mine, special candy on every holiday, Shabbos food, Shabbos cereal (as we call it), treats in school, yogurts and granola bars all loaded with extra sweets, coffee with sweeteners, and more.

I am not suggesting a world without sweets but thought it might be appropriate to make a few suggestions about refined sugar. Try alternatives like honey, molasses, maple syrup, and agave instead of white sugar or brown sugar (which is essentially white sugar with a little molasses added for flavor and color). While these minimally processed sweeteners do count as added sugar and should still be used sparingly, they provide antioxidants and essential minerals and don’t cause as big a spike in blood sugar as refined sweeteners do.



Each has its own distinct flavor, which adds an extra dimension to food and beverages.

Honey is a go-to sweetener for yogurt, teas, challah, as well as compotes, fruit crisps, and cobblers. It’s filled with antioxidants. The darker the color the more it contains.

Maple syrup is especially good in granola, oatmeal, and some cakes. It’s rich in zinc and manganese so they help boost the immune system.

Molasses have an intense flavor that works perfectly in barbecue sauces and marinades. It has the highest nutritional value of all the sweeteners but the strongest and distinctive flavor.

Agave has the mildest flavor of the bunch; it dissolves easily, so it’s great in cold drinks and coffee. It has a low glycemic index and therefore a more moderate effect on blood sugar.

You can bake with all of these alternative sweeteners too; they tend to make baked goods very soft and moist. Depending on the recipe, you might need to experiment with the amount you use. Start by substituting 3/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or molasses for each cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid by 3 tablespoons. To substitute agave, use 2/3 cup agave nectar for each cup of sugar ( I often use it in my challah recipe) and reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup. Also, since these sweeteners will speed the browning process (the form of sugar they contain reacts more readily to heat), reduce the baking temperature by 25°F. Check for doneness at the usual time, but you may have to increase the baking time slightly.


Try some of these recipes that contain white sugar alternatives:

Maple Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
Grilled Salmon with Honey Fruit Salsa
Baked Apples
Cocoa Brownies Sweetened with Agave Syrup

Hamantashen


It’s that time of year again, the time where we make those funny three-cornered pastries shaped like Haman’s hat, the time when we try to find the best recipe for those pastries!

Here is a round-up of some of our favorites:
Hamantashen
3 cups flour
½ cup finely ground almonds
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ pound unsalted margarine or butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. Blend or cut in the butter until the mixture resembles very fine crumbs.

In a small bow, beat the egg, water and lemon juice until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and beat until completely blended and the mixture begin to form a dough. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a floured board and knead the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into 6 equal portions for easier handling. Flatten each portion with the palms of your hands and roll it out to ¼ inch thick. With a scalloped cookie cutter or the top of a water glass, cut into 3 ½ inch rounds. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold the edges of the dough toward the center to form a triangle, leaving a bit of the filling visible in the center. Pinch the edges to seal them.

Place the hamantashen on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white. Bake fro 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and eat.

Hamantashen Fillings

Apricot-Coconut:
2 cups apricot preserves
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped nuts like walnuts, toasted
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prune:
1 ¼ cups pitted prunes
½ cup raisins
Sweet wine or water
½ cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup walnuts, toasted

In a large bowl, soak the prunes and raisins in enough wine to cover for 3 hours or overnight. Drain well. Chop or mince the prunes and raisins. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zests, and walnuts and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Poppy Seed:
4 ounces poppy seed
½ cup nondairy creamer
1 tablespoon unsalted margarine or butter
¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the poppy seeds, creamer, margarine, raisins, walnuts, and honey. Bring to a boil and stir over medium heat until the creamer is absorbed and the mixture thickens. Cool. Stir in the vanilla.

Chocolate:

½ cup cocoa
½ cup sugar
¼ cup nondairy creamer
1 cup toasted nuts, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly.
The next recipe was submitted by Sarah Faygie Berkowitz. I think I’m going to try it this year.

Easy Hamentashen with Gourmet Fillings


1 Duncan Hines Cake Mix (lemon, chocolate, butter golden, yellow strawberry,etc…)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
(Note the absence of oil, margarine or butter!)

Gourmet Filling Options:

Apple Pie:
chopped apples and walnuts, cinnamon and sugar

Cappucino: Nestle’s Iced Jave syrup and a few chocolate chunks or chips Strawberry Daiquiri: Strawberry Preserves (or cut up fresh strawberries) and a shot of Strawberry Daiquiri Syrup Peanut butter and Jelly: A 1/2 spoonful of each side by side Lemon Zest: a small spoonful of lemon pie filling and grated lemon zest Cranberry Pecan: A scoop of whole cranberry sauce (chopped fresh or frozen cranberries optional) and chopped pecans

Cooking Instructions:
Mix all ingredients well with an electric mixer. Roll out dough to desired thickness. Cut out circles using a yartzheit glass or other round shape.

Place spoonfuls of filling, pinch corners together, place on parchment paper or greased cookie sheet and bake 12 – 15 minutes, depending on desired firmness and oven accuracy.

Other Tips/Notes:
This dough really needs to be mixed in a kitchen aid. I tried by hand and only got crumbs and thought it was yet another defective recipe. The mixer made a perfect dough of my crumbs in about 4 seconds. The trick is to try to roll it out evenly on a floured surface (thick or thin – however you like it). One of the beauties of this dough is that you don’t have to pinch it to death to keep the filling contained. It doesn’t open up and ooze out like some other recipes I’ve tried.

Cranberry White Chocolate Hamentashen

This one is from Shoshana Ohriner

1/2 cup margarine, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup shortening, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 beaten eggs
2-4 tablespoons orange juice
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten

Cranberry White Chocolate Filling:

1 12 oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons sugar
4 oz white chocolate chips

Cooking Instructions:
Pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor until well combined. Add the margarine and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add beaten eggs and pulse until combined.

Remove the from the food processor and pour into a large bowl. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of orange juice and mix until it comes together into a ball.

If the dough seems dry add the remaining orange juice.

Divide the dough into two disks, wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
While the dough is chilling make the filling. Place the cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the cranberries have popped.

Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until they are melted. Let filling cool to room temperature.
Roll out dough and using a round cutter, cut into circles. Fill each circle with a small amount of filling. (For 2 inch circles use about a teaspoon of filling). Brush each circle with the egg wash and fold two sides together, pinching tight to make a corner. Fold up the remaining side to make a triangle with the filling showing in the middle and pinch the other two corners well. It is important that they are well pinched, so that they do not come open in the oven.
Bake at 350 until they are slightly firm to the touch, about 11 minutes.

American Embassy Hamentashen

And here is Rochel Lieberman’s submission:
Dough:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups flour, sifted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons Orange Juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
(either prepared or home-made)

Cooking Instructions:
Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Work the shortening in by hand (you can also do this in a food processor). Add the egg and orange juice, mixing until a dough is formed. Chill overnight, if possible, or at least 2 hours. Prepare Filling.

Roll out dough ~ 1/8th inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 3″ circles, and place 1 heaping teaspoonful of the filling on each. Pinch 3 edges together, leaving a small opening in the center. Place on a greased and floured cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rest for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, until delicately browned on top. Transfer to cooling rack until completely cool. Can be frozen, but don’t expect to find too many left for Purim!
Other Tips/Notes:

When we lived in Mexico in the 1980′s we became close friends with a giyores tzedek who was on diplomatic post in the American Embassy, She often brought us “treats” from the commissary, including her own baked goods that used “American” (i.e. unavailable to us) ingredients. This is her recipe, which we have enjoyed making for years afterwards, now that we are back in the US and have access to kosher ingredients. Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Hamentashen

This recipe was contributed by Naomi Nachman at www.theaussiegourmet.com
2 sheets puff pastry
2 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cumin
Salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg

Peel the sweet potatoes and boil them until they are soft then drain them.
Once they are slightly cooled, mash them with a fork.
Add honey, cinnamon, cumin, salt and. Mix well.
Cut defrosted puff pastry dough into 3-4 inch round with a cookie cutter. Place the filling inside the center and bring up 3 sides of the dough to form a hamentashen. Brush circles with egg wash and bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 for 20- 25 minutes until golden.
Serve warm

Don’t forget to try this Hamentaschen with Two Fillings recipe from Kosher Revolution cookbook.

Purim

Purim is around the corner and its one of GKC’s favorite holidays because it means lots of creativity in the kitchen. Here are a few new ideas we have for homemade mishloach manot. And don’t forget to share your Purim ideas with us. One other suggestion is to check out our terrific coverage of KFWE for our best picks for great wine gifts for Purim too.

Sweet Monkey Bread
Lemon Marinated Olives
Deconstructed Cookie Jar
Almond and Olive Biscotti

KFWE 2012

KFWE (Kosher Food and Wine Experience) was bigger and better than ever, more wines and wineries, more restaurants, more delicious food and definitely more people!

GKC started the evening with a shared taxi ride with GKC friend, personal chef and soon to be GKC contributor, Naomi Nachman, my favorite Aussie gourmet. Its always fun to spend time with her, she loves to talk about food as much as we do, and we are both already talking about Pesach, ahhh!

Elvi, Clos Mesorah


As soon as we arrived we ran into good friend Miriam Morgenstern from the Wine Spectator. Miriam always gives GKC the best wine tips and what’s hot and what will be soon! (Flam Classico and Elvi Herenza were at the top of her list). Those hot picks are golden because those wines often run out fast at the show. Thanks for the heads up Miriam.

One of the things that is so much fun about KFWE is that you taste so many wines from so many kosher vineyards around the world, seriously it was the UN of wine tasting, with special call outs to the delicious wines of Goose Bay from New Zealand. Loved the Sauvignon Blanc! Tasting special occasion wines to the everyday, you can compare and contrast the same bottles from year to year and try the newest wines that are not even released yet. And best yet, you meet and speak to the winemakers from South Africa, Italy, France, Spain and of course Israel! Listening to them speak of the winemaking craft enhances the experience and totally inspires us to quit our day jobs and go crush some grapes!

So what were the favorites?

Winemaker Jurgen Wagner of Capcanes and Elizabeth


We loved the Capcanes wines and tasting them with winemaker Jurgen Wagner. GKC is looking forward to the special event at City Winery with them on March 11. Elvi, from Spain, had some favorites. The soon to be released, Clos Mesorah is a must taste. Its grown on a 90-year-old vine from the family reserve and is only available in limited quantities. The Elvi Herenza is the best Rioja GKC has ever tasted. Spicy and warm flavors, its Spanish wine at its best. A fantastic find and brand new to GKC was both the Tulip and Flam wineries, both Israeli wines became kosher in 2010 and the kosher world became more delicious because of it! In the Flam Classico, a combination of Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Pertit Verdu grapes make it a complex and flavorful wine. Tulip showcased their new White Tulip, made of Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, both dry and light, it was impressive and an instant hit. Their Cab was a favorite too. GKC loved to learn that Tulip is located inside a village near Haifa where a large community of disabled people live. They employ many of these adults and take great pride in their inclusiveness. This chesed is clearly bringing lots of mazel to their winemaking, as these wines were delish!

Joe Hurliman, Herzog Cellars winemaker


Herzog Wine Cellars should be exceptionally proud of their new release, Mt. Veeder Cabernet. Herzog’s winemaker, Joe Hurliman, shared the secret to this fine wine, which is, hand harvested grapes from the wildcat vineyard in California. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any Shabbos meal and will only be available in limited quantities and they will go fast. While we are mentioning Herzog wines, we must not forget the Clone Six, Chalk Hill Cabernet. We raved about it last year and enjoyed it again this show – Hey what’s delish stays delish!

As readers of this blog know, we love our new BFF’s from Psagot Wines. Yaakov and staff came with all our favorites – Yum the Edom! But tonight, GKC especially loved the single vineyard Cabernet.

Lemon Tart from Pardes


Chef Jose Meirelles from Le Marais and Elizabeth


Are you worried that we didn’t eat? Worry not!! We ate and ate and ate. Chef Moshe Wendel from Pardes wowed us again with his creative and innovative pairings, smoked ribeye tartare, soy enoki, basil seeds, fresh radish and a rice krispie crunch. Chef and owner of Le Marais, Jose Meirelles, served both fabulous smoked duck and a hanger steak salad. I loved the colors and flavors in the steak salad. Watermelon, cucumber, jalapeno, peppers and micro cilantro with star anise vinaigrette, ambitious and delicious. The Pomegranate market was bigger and better than ever this year. People crowded around their booths to get a look and taste of the extravagant display. My top picks, purple eggplant dip, kalamata olive tapenade, pareve blue cheese dip, lamb riblets and the honey mustard corn beef. A special call out to the entire staff at Pomegranate that seems to truly love what they do. New at KFWE, the Reserve from Lakewood made an out of the box, spicy tuna taco that won huge accolades from all as a show fav.

Gemstone's Tuna in a Won Ton Spoon


GKC finally made our way over to Gemstone caterers for some super savory apple and hickory Texas smokehouse brisket (if it didn’t cook for 18 hours I would definitely try and make it myself!). They also get high marks for super creative presentation; we loved those Chinese spoon won ton cups (the won tons were toasted in the shapes of spoons – more on that instruction at another time). Also, making a splash was new New York sensation Sushein with a dumpling and duck sauce that people were lining up for!

Chef Udi Ezra from Basil


With a full stomach and a wine happy smile we still had time to enjoy dessert from GKC friend, Udi Ezra, from Basil. His beautiful, rich and smooth flourless chocolate cake was coated with a light ganache and gorgeous white drizzle. Then a tasty bite of whipped cream infused with cocoa and espresso. Picture and taste perfect. GKC ended the night indulging in a perfectly sweetened Meyer lemon tart from Pardes with special friend, Jamie Geller of Joy of Kosher. We both agreed it was worth waiting for as is everything that comes from the Pardes kitchen.

Many thanks to Gary Landsman who is a frequent and totally fabulous contributor to GKC, we can always count on Gary to tell us what wines to try and which ones to have with whatever you’re serving. The entire Royal Wine Family deserves huge kudos for such an absolutely terrific event. Can’t wait til KFWE 2013!!

Psagot Winery

One of the highlights on our recent trip to Israel was a visit to Psagot Winery. Just 20 minutes outside of Jerusalem and nestled on a beautiful hillside peak with hostile neighbors nearby, this winery was fascinating to me. As we drove there I could not help but wonder how the rocky and seemingly dry terrain of these Judean hills could grow anything let alone grapes. Yaakov Berg the owner and wine maker surprised us with his response. “This limestone rock is one of the secrets to our flavorful wines. The vines of the grapes grow deep into the bedrock and the grapes flourish from the minerals of the rocks.”




The beautiful Jerusalem stone visitor center of the winery has a magnificent view of vineyards, and neighboring villages. Like so many things in Israel, the Psagot winery experience is not just about making great wines, and they are great, it’s about falling in love with the land and appreciating the natural resources of Israel. Upon arriving we saw a wonderful movie about falling in love, with family, with the land, and with wine making. They shared a mulit-media game with us challenging our knowledge of Israel and the land and finally they spent time with us telling us all you could want to know about making great wine in Israel. Maybe most awesome of all is the ancient Cave from the Second Temple period where Psagot stores and ages some of its wines. It was discovered in the heart of the winery and is an ideal place for storing wines due to its natural humidity and temperatures. In every word that Yaakov, you could hear his deep conviction about the wines divine inspiration. The wines are divine and they inspire you to want more.

Not only did we enjoy amazing wine, our favorites, the flavorful 2009 Cab and the highly regarded and multi awarded Psagot Edom not to leave out the delicious Cabernet Franc, but when you go bring friends, it makes every sip that much more delicious and fun. I highly recommend making a special event at Psagot. We enjoyed a magnificent brunch, arranged and catered by Judy Bernstein of Judy Events. They served some of the best kosher cheeses I have ever tasted, wonderful salads of wild mushrooms, beets, and dates, super light quiches, warm soup and rich and creamy tiramisu.

Psagot wines are a must have for all kosher wine drinkers. We look forward to drinking them again at KFWE this Monday night and to visiting Psagot again very soon. Thank you Yaakov! You made us feel like those hills were home… We can’t wait to come back!

This article is from: http://www.psagotwines.com/102442/Winery-Wines

Super Bowl Sunday

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Whether you love football (like I irrationally do) or not, you can’t ignore the once-a-year phenomenon of Super Bowl Sunday, consistently the most watched show of the season. Millions and millions of Americans are tuning in and even if you are tuning out, you might find the food fun and appealing. There’s a lot of great finger foods for crowds as well as some special punches. For a great bowl to serve your favorite punch in, check out our great products. And here are just a few of our favorite recipes for when your friends come over to watch the game…or not…

While GKC has some great punch recipes, they are missing that all-important ingredient, crucial to a super bowl event – alcohol. This recipe, courtesy of The Food Network, is the best one I’ve found.

4-1/4 cups vodka
3 (6-ounce) containers frozen limeade, thawed
3 (12-ounce) bottles beer
3 (1-liter) bottles club soda
3 limes, sliced

Pour vodka, limeade, beer and club soda into a large punch bowl and mix well. Add lime slices and ice. Eat with chips and guacamole.

Some great finger foods to serve alongside the alcohol include Onion Rings Chicken on a Stick, Sweet Potato Fries with Zesty Dipping Sauce and the easiest recipe of all – Salami with Duck Sauce. Just slice salami, cover with duck sauce and bake at 400 until as crispy as you like it. As far as we’re concerned, gourmet doesn’t belong at the super bowl but easy and fun does!

GKC is in Paris!

GKC is in Paris! Yes, Paris, so beautiful in every way. You just can’t help wanting a beret and an accent when you arrive. First stop, a kosher French patisserie with friends. Our French hosts ordered us their exceptionally delicious Crème Café and croissants. Yes, almost a day’s worth of calories in one meal. But so worth it. First the coffee – part coffee, part caramel cream, super smooth and luscious and just the right amount of sweet. Then the croissant… Not like an American croissant but super light and not all that fluffed up. Richness beyond words though and the ones layered in chocolate are lightly brushed with chocolate, not heavy and candy bar like. If eaten socially, as the French do, it takes time to savor the bites and you really are satiated for hours. Next stop French bistro for dinner, maybe first a trip to the Louvre, boat ride on the Seine, Eiffel Tower, and for sure more Crème Café.

I had to share my American version of Crème Café that I worked so hard to duplicate. Adults, add an ounce of coffee liqueur to make it even more festive.


Caramel Crème Café
6 ounces dulce de leche (available in most major markets and kosher markets and even available Cholov Yisroel)
4 cups strongly brewed good coffee
1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons grated chocolate

Stir together the hot coffee and the dulce de leche. The coffee will melt it and whisk to fully incorporate. Keep hot. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream or foamed milk and grated chocolate.

Los Angeles KFWE


Los Angelenos need hang their heads no longer. The International (Kosher) Food and Wine Festival is coming to our fair city. Join GKC and friends on February 15th for this exciting event. The festival will be held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza (no need to schlep to Oxnard to the winery!) and will feature some of the finest names in kosher wine today from France, Spain, Italy, Israel and our own California. Be prepared for rare wines, high-end wines and all-round amazing wines. As if that weren’t enough, we will be treated to gourmet delicacies created by Chef Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur restaurant. If you’ve been to the restaurant, you know how great the food is (I hope they’re going to have my personal favorite, the paté!) And if you haven’t been, this is your chance to taste how wonderful it is (and to go home and make a reservation!)

Doors open at 1:00 p.m. to members of the wine and spirits trade industry and 6 p.m. to the public. Tickets are available at www.ShopHerzog.com for $125/person or $100/person when purchasing two or more. Price includes food and beverages (all those wines!) throughout the festival. GKC can’t wait to go – and to see you there. Take that New York!

Why We Love Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is the primary salt I use for general cooking (not baking, although that has become more popular too). Why do I use it? A few reasons…

First, the coarse texture makes it preferable to table salt fro general cooking. Its flaky texture makes kosher salt easier than fine-grained table salt to pinch and sprinkle. It sticks to foods better and dissolves more quickly. It results in milder salt flavor and more enhanced flavor from the food it is added to.

Second, although there is little chemical difference between kosher and table salt since both are made predominantly from sodium chloride, table salt often contains anitcaking agents and additives like sodium iodide, while kosher salt is typically additive-free. Bottom line it’s a purer ingredient.

Salting Tips

• Salt your vegetables after roasting. Salt draws out water in vegetables so they will stay crisper if you salt them after cooking. Super simple side dish is any vegetable drizzled olive oil, roasted in a 400-degree oven, for 10 – 25 minutes, depending on the vegetables. Toss with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
• When substituting kosher salt for table salt in a recipe, use about ¼ to ½ teaspoon more kosher salt. Taste before adding too much though.
• Sprinkle kosher salt on super sweet brownies or other chocolate ganache desserts. It gives the dessert a great sweet and salty contrast.
• Sprinkle your challah with egg wash and a little kosher salt. Super tasty!

Kosher Food and Wine Experience, February 13, Chelsea Pier, Are you coming? Get $18 off with GKC


On February 13 at Chelsea Pier, Kosher Food and Wine Experience is returning bigger and better than ever. GKC will be there and we hope you join us too.

Remember last year we loved Prime Grill’s mushroom velouti (btw, we’ve been trying to get that recipe ever since!), we met new superstar chefs like Andy Blackstone at Gemstone Catering (remember the seared tuna over mango chutney) and of course the wonderful wines like Capcanes, Covenant, and Binyamina.

What’s new this year? First, Royal wines will be unveiling some of their new wines. Insiders say it may include New Pacifica wines (Pinot Noir & Meritage) from New Pacific Northwest winery. Personally, I can’t wait to try the new ultra high-end wine from The Cave, the new “old vine” Cave. Herzog sellers may share a new single vineyard Cab from Herzog, Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, and many others. This may be the only time you taste all these high-end wines at one time!

Plus us GKC foodies can’t wait to taste the fabulous restaurant foods the event always includes. New vendors include Joburg, Silverleaf caterers, and many more. We will certainly keep you posted on the menu items they are serving as we hear the inside scoop. GKC hopes to see favorites from Pomegranate, Jack’s Gourmet, Jeffrey Nathan, Moshe Wendel, Udi Ezra and other old friends.

One other new addition that we are so excited about is a mixologist at the event, mixing wine cocktails (we love those!). We know GKC readers will be waiting in line for those recipes.

So?!?! Who is joining us? Act fast, they sell out every year. For tickets, go to www.kfwe2012.com . $100 per ticket but use GKC18 at checkout to receive $18 off the ticket price. Please let us know that you are coming, email me at ekurtz@gourmetkoshercooking.com so that we can personally meet you. Can’t wait to see you there!

Yeast

Yeast, ahhh, patience. Which type do you use? GKC uses all types and had to demystify them for our GKC friends.

Fresh yeast, also called cake or compressed yeast, is perishable and it is not unusual to buy a block that is dead (I always buy one extra when I’m using it). The flavor is bold and fresh and I love it in challah baking. The water used to activate the yeast should be 80 – 90 degrees. You do not need to add sugar during the proofing process. Remember to keep it refrigerated until use and buy it only a few days before needed.

For less maintenance and sensitivity, we recommend using active dry yeast, which is more reliable and easier to use. Granulated active dry yeast is made by putting yeast on a dryer to remove 90 percent of its moisture. It’s a harsh process that produces many dead yeast cells, which form a hard coating around each granule. That’s why the granules must be proofed or soaked in water at a temperature of 100 to 115 degrees before they are used. This process dissolves that coating and awakens the active yeast within.

Instant, or Rapid Rise Yeast requires no proofing. The drying process for this kind of yeast, developed in the 1970’s, is gentler so that fewer cells are killed and the yeast is faster acting and can be added directly to dry ingredients. The liquid you add to make the dough should be warm, 110 to 130 degrees to activate it. It is more potent so you should use less (3/4 of a teaspoon to a single teaspoon of active yeast).

Both types of dry yeast keep up to a year at room temperature. And all types will be killed with water above 132 degrees. For faster challah making try the rapid rise yeast; just dump and stir all ingredients together. And for extremely fresh bread tasting recipes try the fresh yeast. When in doubt, you can always use the active dry yeast. Remember to “feed” both fresh and active dry yeast with a teaspoon of sugar to start the proofing.

Yeast Conversion Rates
To substitute rapid rise yeast for active dry yeast, use 25% less instant yeast than active dry.
A .6-oz cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast or 2 to 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast.

Each little .25-ounce packet of active dry yeast contains about 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast.

How to Proof Yeast
To proof (either type of dry yeast), dissolve in warm water (100 to 115 degrees), feed it with a teaspoon of sugar and wait for it to bubble and grow in volume. Let it stand for 10 minutes until creamy and bubbly.

Adequate “proof” is visible bubbles (a by-product of yeast multiplication) or a “yeasty” smell or froth at the top of the liquid. I like yeast to puff up about 3 inches or double in size.

Applesauce

photo: shockinglydelicious.com

It just wouldn’t be Chanukah without doughnuts and latkes. And it wouldn’t be latkes without sour cream and applesauce. While there is certainly no lack of jarred versions, nothing beats homemade. And it’s so easy. Our family’s favorite go-to homemade applesauce is sweet without the addition of any sugar. Everyone, from young to old, loves it, even those who normally turn up their noses at fruit. You don’t even need latkes as an excuse to eat it! The more daring among you can try this caramel version with cumin but whatever your version, whether you eat it with latkes or alone, applesauce is a not-to-be-missed treat that you can eat year round. It is also a great after-school snack. Chag Sameach!

Hanukah and More on Frying….

photo by sunset.com

The more latkes and doughnuts we taste as we prepare our Hanukah recipes, the more I feel I have to write about the latke and doughnut-making process. What I’ve learned actually applies to frying anything but it makes the difference between a soggy fried item and a crisp, crunchy and decadent dish. So forgive me…a few more frying tips for 2011.

Use enough oil: To cook food evenly, you need about ¾ inch of oil for shallow frying and 1 inch for deep-frying.
Watch the temperature: Between 300 degrees and 350 for latkes and 275 to 350 for doughnuts gives you a crisp crust and tender interior. Too low, and food will suck up oil like a sponge. Too high and the food will burn.
Get a good thermometer: See our great products section for my favorite one.

Try a few more recipes
Latkes on the Lighter Side
Jam Filled Doughnuts

Latkes on the Lighter Side

Frying in olive oil results in a lighter, healthier latke.

3 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium onion
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons bread crumbs or matzo meal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
About 3 cups olive oil for frying

Peel potatoes, rinse, and coarsely shred on a box grater, transferring to a bowl of water as you go. Shred onion into a fine-mesh colander, discarding any uneven chunks. Pour potato mixture on top and drain. Rinse and dry bowl.

Squeeze handfuls of potatoes and onion to remove liquid, drain as much liquid with towels. Wrap and wring well. Whisk eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, salt and the pepper in dry bowl. Add potato mixture and toss with hands until evenly coated. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Filling a 1/4-cup measure three-quarters full, scoop potato mixture onto baking sheets. Pour 3/4 inch oil into a large frying pan with sides at least 2 inches high. Insert a deep-fry thermometer and heat oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Put a portion of potatoes on a wide metal spatula, press into a 3-inch cake, and push into hot oil with another metal spatula. Shape 3 more latkes, sliding into oil; cook, turning once, until browned at edges but still soft in center, 2 minutes. Adjust heat to keep oil between 300 and 350 degrees.

Transfer latkes to paper towels, then to a wire rack over a rimmed baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and keep warm in oven. Repeat to make remaining latkes; use a second pan when the first is full.

Jam filled Doughnuts

photo by sunset.com


2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2-3/4 to 3 cups flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 to 5 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup other favorite jam

Combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Put 2-3/4 cups flour in bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, the margarine, nutmeg, and salt. Mix with dough hook on medium speed, scraping inside of bowl occasionally, until dough is smooth and stretchy, 8 to 10 minutes. If needed, add about 1/4 cup more flour and mix until dough pulls free from bowl and is no longer sticky. (To mix by hand, stir with a spoon, then knead on a board until smooth and stretchy, 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour to keep dough from sticking.)

Rub dough with a bit of oil, turn over in bowl, and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 hour. In a bowl, mix remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

Push dough down to release air and shape into a smooth ball. Roll on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 in. thick. Using a 2-3/4-in. round cutter or drinking glass, cut rounds and place on 2 lightly oiled baking sheets; gather scraps and re-roll as needed. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy, 20 minutes.

Pour 1 inch oil into a 5- to 6-qt. pan, insert a deep-fry thermometer, and warm oil over medium-high heat to 325 to 350 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, slip 4 rounds into oil, one by one. Fry until deep golden, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes total; adjust heat as needed to keep oil between 275 and 350 degrees.

Lift out doughnuts with slotted spoon, letting drain slightly, and put in bowl of cinnamon sugar. Turn in sugar while warm, using a fork, then set on a platter. Repeat with remaining rounds.

Poke each doughnut to center with a teaspoon handle. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/3-in.-wide round tip (or snip a corner off a resealable plastic freezer bag), then fill with jam. Pipe or squeeze about 2 teaspoons jam into each doughnut (you may need to squeeze doughnuts to hold them open).

Doughnut Round-Up

photo: http://kosherscene


I can’t resist a good doughnut (see great products section). I like them plain, I like them glazed, I like apple fritters and crullers and custard-filled. The only ones I really don’t enjoy are the jelly ones – but I can always eat around the jelly! It’s so easy to buy doughnuts but once in a while you just feel like making your own. And boy is it worth it! Try these Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes and you will be the most popular mom on the block. Or how about these Oreo-Stuffed Doughnuts – you can make them pareve or even dairy. If you have leftover store-bought pizza dough (or homemade) from the oreo-stuffed extravaganzas, you can make these simple zeppoles. To involve your kids, put the powdered sugar in a bag, drop the hot fried dough in and let your children shake, shake, shake until the dough is coated. Eat immediately.

And if you get sick of doughnuts (unlikely!) or have any leftover (equally unlikely!), you can make this special Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding. It’s worth buying new doughnuts for!!

Hanukah is coming, Latke Roundup

photo: hellogiggles.com


It’s that time of year again, latke making! Do you make the traditional potato latke or do you get a little fancier or more exotic? Better yet, do you make a different type for each night? GKC has posted many latke recipes and thought we would do a little latke roundup, some old and some new, just to refresh your memory and inspire some good latke making.

Classic Potato Latkes
Cheese Latkes
Wild Mushroom and Potato Latkes
Apple Fritters
Sweet Potato Latkes
Mini Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Apple Cream
Breaksfast Bran Latkes
Zucchini Latkes

And remember these freezing tips will keep them fresh and delicious for all eight days.

Latke Troubleshooting:

The latkes are too greasy
The oil is probably not hot enough. Allow it to come back up to temperature between batches of latkes.

The latkes fall apart
Did you squeeze out excess moisture from the shredded potato mixture? Extra eggs, matzo meal, and shredded cheese will all help bind the mixture together if it seems too “loose.”

The potatoes turn brown
Keep peeled potatoes immersed in a bowl of cool water until the second you’re ready to shred them.

The latkes are still chewy and starchy on the inside
To remedy this problem, you can shred the potatoes more finely, make sure the oil is hot enough, make the latkes thinner, or pre-cook the potatoes.

Breakfast Bran Latkes

Recipe submitted by GKC reader Rivki Eisner

Makes 5 small latkes

2 ounces whipped cottage cheese (she uses J&J)
1 ounce oat bran
1 egg
Pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spary. “Fry”/brown in the pan.

Note:
- Easy shmeezy healthy breakfast. (serve with pancake syrup if you want)
- Can easily be doubled
- Does not taste good fried in oil

Zucchini Latkes

photo: delicioushouse.com

4 cups zucchini, grated
1 medium white potato, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
Pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix together the zucchini, potato and onion. Whisk the eggs together and add to the vegetable/potato mixture. Mix together the flour, breadcrumbs, pepper, garlic powder and salt and combine with the egg/vegetable mixture. Heat large nonstick frying pan with 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry until crisp, turning to fry on the other side. Add small amounts of oil as needed when frying. Turn out on towel paper to drain. Serve quickly, best while hot.

Hot Coffee with Something Extra

photo: life123.com

With the days and nights getting cooler, the appeal of an after-dinner hot drink is heightened. And if that coffee (decaf of course) is laced with a little liqueur or something stronger…sounds good to me. It will help you relax with your spouse, with friends, before bed – and it tastes good too. For those who don’t like coffee, we’ve provided a hot chocolate version as well. Bottoms up! Each recipe serves 2 because no one likes to drink alone!

Polynesian Coffee
This evokes tropical breezes and lazy days and nights.
2 ounces rum
1 ounce amaretto
2 cups hot black coffee
Whipped Cream (pareve or dairy, depending on your situation)

Pour the rum and amaretto into a heat-proof coffee glass. Fill with hot coffee. Top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

photo: myrecipes.com


Mocha Coffee
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
2 cups hot coffee
Whipped cream (pareve or dairy)

Melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in liqueur and coffee and pour into cups. Top with whipped cream. Save some for me!

Reggae Coffee
2 ounces coffee liqueur
2 ounces rum
2 cups strong hot coffee
Whipped cream (pareve or dairy)
Dash nutmeg

Mix the liqueur and rum and pour into heat-proof coffee glasses. Fill with coffee and stir. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

photo: breakfastonthect.com


Russian Hot chocolate
2 ounces coffee liqueur
1 ounce vodka
2 cups hot chocolate (instant or homemade)

Whipped cream and marshmallows

Pour liqueur and vodka into mug and fill with hot chocolate. Stir. Garnish with whipped cream and/or marshmallows, if desired.

Get Prepped for Thanksgiving


For those of you who enjoy Thanksgiving or for anyone who enjoys a turkey now and then, GKC has our “Best Turkey” tips of 2011.

1. Accurate Temperature: Make sure you have a calibrated oven, meaning the oven thermostat is reading correctly and a good meat thermometer. Turkeys take about 20 minutes per pound (for a 8 – 12 lb bird) and about 15 minutes per pound for a 12 – 16 lb turkey. Another more accurate way to test doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The turkey should be cooked until an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I also like those pop-up disposable turkey plastic thermometers that are available this time of year. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees it pops up indicating that the turkey is cooked through.

2. Let the turkey rest. Let the turkey rest after it is cooked so that the juices remain in the meat and not all over the cutting board. To keep the turkey warm, as a whole or after slicing, cover the tray or cooking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and then with a bath towel. This forms a nice steam bath and keeps everything inside warm and moist.

3. To stuff or not to stuff? That is a popular question we get. Personally, I love the way the stuffing tastes when made in the turkey, BUT my general vote is to make stuffing muffins, or a separate stuffing, because the turkey, even big ones, just do not make enough stuffing to please a crowd. This way you can make plenty of stuffing, and still have room in the oven for other items.

4. Use chicken stock! Chicken stock is an amazing moisture enhancer. I drizzle some over the sliced turkey to keep it moist. Even the most perfectly roasted turkeys get dry very fast so keeping a little stock warmed on the side is a great way to keep everything moist.

5. Carve it right.
• Let the meat rest.
• Set up a large cutting board so that it will not move while cutting. Sharpen a large knife.
• Cut the turkey along the breastbone with a sharp knife, pulling the meat away from the bone as you cut so you can see where you’re going. This is a crosswise cut against the grain.
• Cut down and around on an angle, separating the entire breast from the bird.
• Carve the breast on an angle, then place pieces on a serving platter.
• Pull the leg away from the carcass and find the joint between the leg and thighbone and separate them with the knife. If you like, cut the meat off the leg.