Best Foods to Eat Before a Fast

What is it about fasting that makes us all so obsessed for days before the fast? I am not referring to the spiritual side (as that is worthy of the obsession) but the food aspect. Did you know that most healthy adults could survive many days and up to a month without eating? Regardless, days before the fast, I am reducing my caffeine intake and worrying about how I will manage. I have heard of all sorts of “fast survival” techniques, from caffeine suppositories, extra strength Excedrin without water (that’s my personal favorite), drinking coffee right before the fast to fool your system and give it caffeine for the morning, eating 2 tablespoons of honey before the fast, and crazy carbo loading. Everyone has their own strategy; tell us what yours is so we can share it with our readers.

GKC consulted with the experts (now who is an expert faster???) and here are our tips and recipes for a successful fast.

- Lots of Water. The discomfort from fasting is actually not from fasting but from lack of fluid. Super hydrate before the fast. Drink a great deal a day or two before as well and then really fill up with fluids before the pre-fast meal.

- Reduce caffeine intake. The headache associated with fasting is from caffeine withdrawal. One week prior to fasting start reducing your caffeine intake to about 1 cup a day or drink decaffeinated teas and coffees to fool your system. If this is too tough, seriously consider the caffeine suppositories or an aspirin before the fast to rid yourself of those headaches.

- Eat Normal Sized Meals. Overeating will not stave off the effects of hunger and may make you more uncomfortable. The excess fluids needed for your body to process large meals may also lead to dehydration which is counter productive. So while we eat numerous meals before the fast and a pre-fast meal, do not overeat.

- Eat carbs; yup, it’s true. Complex carbs like those in pasta, breads, rice, fruits and vegetables, are best for maintaining energy levels during the fast. The also help your body absorb water more efficiently so eating carbs will help you stay hydrated. Whole-grain products and fruits and vegetables with fiber are best because they digest slower and keep you feeling full longer.

So what are you making? One friend serves Pizza, and another serves salmon, rice, and whole-wheat pasta.

I’m making some of these…
Salmon Burrito
Angel Hair Pasta with Mixed Tomato Sauce
Watermelon Tomato Salad with Mozzarella Cheese and Lemon Dressing
Zaatar Salmon
Lots of fruit for dessert
Sorbet
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Emuna loves to break the fast with…
Classic White Bread
Minestrone Soup

Salmon Burrito


This is a great weeknight dinner or lunch anytime. I like to eat it sometime before a fast because it is filled with carbs but also has some healthy protein in it. Its great with smoked salmon too but that may be too salty before a fast.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 red pepper, sliced and cut in half
1 cup diced tomato
8 ounces cooked salmon fillet (I use whatever is left over from a weeknight salmon dish), cut into bite-size pieces or smoked salmon
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
4 large (burrito-size) flour tortillas, warmed
Salsa (optional)

1. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add eggs and milk; scramble in skillet. Cook until barely set, then stir in salt, pepper, chives, red pepper, tomato, and salmon.

2. Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese onto center of each tortilla. Spoon warm egg mixture over cheese, dividing evenly. Roll up burritos, tucking in ends. Serve with salsa if you like.

Angel Hair Pasta with Mixed Color Tomato Sauce

photo: Kana Okada

The tomatoes are so ripe and delicious this time of year. In this recipe we used different color tomatoes to give it more color and flavor. If you only have Roma tomatoes or Vine Ripe red ones the recipe still comes out very tasty.
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, minced
1 pound yellow tomatoes, diced
1 pound ripe green heirloom tomatoes, diced, or vine ripened red ones, diced
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes.
In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, shallots, basil and sage. Season with salt.
In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain and transfer to the large bowl. Toss well with the butter; serve.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Mozzarella Cheese and Onion-Lemon Dressing

Watermelon and tomatoes are so good for a pre-fast meal. They both contain a lot of water to keep you hydrated.

3 cups watermelon, cut in chunks
3 cups tomatoes, cut in chunks
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup good quality mozzarella cheese, cut in ½ inch pieces

Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss the watermelon, tomatoes, onions and cheese. Add the dressing, toss and serve.

Nine Days

When the nine days arrives, it seems to be the signal that summer is almost over (even if there are still many weeks until school starts!) and, even more importantly, it seems that Rosh HaShanah is right around the corner (stay tuned for our great High Holiday menus and restaurant recipes!) But I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now the goal is to participate in the mourning for the Temple in Jerusalem by not eating meat or drinking wine yet still preparing healthy and tantalizing meals for our families. At GKC, we empathize with that goal and want to share with you some of the recipes we are serving. We would love to invite you all over but the next best thing is making these dishes and drinks yourself.

Just because we can’t have wine doesn’t mean we can’t have other drinks. This Spicy Bloody Mary is one of my new favorites.

There’s nothing that says Nine Days about these Butterscotch Cookies but they’re so good, it doesn’t matter.

A little fish, a little salad, a cold soup…and the nine days will be over before you know it.

Butterscotch Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low speed, add flour and baking soda. Stir in nuts and butterscotch chips. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake for about 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

If you’re still in the mood for cookies, try your hand at these Double Ginger Cookies.

Fillet of Sole

photo: thesouthinmymouth

This is worth breaking the budget for; it is delicious in its utter simplicity.

1 cup flour
8 (4-ounce) sole fillets
Salt
Pepper
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

Sauce:
½ cup butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Mix flour with salt and pepper and place in shallow dish. Dredge fish in flour. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter has melted, add fish and cook until golden. Flip over and repeat with other side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add butter for sauce to skillet (for very clear sauce, pour off drippings and wipe skillet clean) and cook until melted. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice. Spoon gently over fish. Eat slowly and savor.

For other delicious fish dishes, check out our index.

Apple and Ginger Salad

The addition of yogurt makes this a dairy salad, and therefore perfect for this time of year.

3 apples, chopped (can be a combination of Granny Smith and Fuji or Gala)
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
½ cup vanilla yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans

In a large bowl, toss together apples, water chestnuts, celery, cranberries and crystallized ginger. Whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, sugar and ginger. Pour over salad and mix well. Refrigerate until serving time. Sprinkle with pecans.

Fruit salads are just right in the summer time; for variety try this one also.

Mango Gazpacho

photo: myrecipes.com

If you like mango (I do; my husband doesn’t), then you will probably really enjoy this refreshing summer soup.

2 cups diced mango
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 seedless cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 small jalapeno, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Purée mango, orange juice and olive oil in a food processor. Mix with remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you have a husband like mine or if you are just looking for an alternative, try this Cantaloupe and Fruit soup.

Pareve Milk


When it comes to alternative milks the options seem endless today – soy milk, rice milk, gluten-free options, nut milks and coconut milk. Readers often ask which to use and when. We asked GKC contributing nutritionists to weigh in on how they stack up nutritionally and we added our best GKC advice on what works well in cooking.


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In the Heat of the Summer: Cool Kosher Granitas

Everyone loves sno-cones, those paper cones of crushed ice with colored, (very) sugary syrup poured on top. No child’s party is complete today without a sno-cone machine! And I frequently see adults flocking to the counter and pretending their child needs two! That’s fine; they are so fun and refreshing on a hot summer’s day. But for those of you who wanted something slightly more sophisticated, the grown-up version – granitas – couldn’t be easier, not to mention better and fresher tasting (no offense to sno-cone purveyors intended). Try these recipes to impress your family and friends. Serve them for dessert on Shabbos lunch with some cookies or on their own  in the middle of a hot afternoon.

Blueberry Granita

Coffee Granita
Strawberry Granita

Or try our Watermelon Granita.

Blueberry Granita

photo:myrecipes.com

The freshness of the ingredients makes all the difference!

5 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Purée the blueberries and sugar in a food processor. Stir in water and lemon juice and pour into a glass rectangular baking dish. Cover and freeze. Every hour scrape and stir the mixture with a fork until evenly frozen – about 4 hours. Scrape into martini or other attractive glass dishes for serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Strawberry Granita

1 cup simple syrup (purchased or you can make your own by dissolving ¾ cup sugar in 1 cup hot water)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups sliced strawberries (about 1 pound whole)

Stir lemon juice into syrup. Purée strawberries in food processor. Stir in syrup and pour into rectangular glass pan. Freeze until icy, scraping with fork every 45 minutes to 1 hour. Totally freezing takes about 4 hours. Keep covered and in freezer until ready to serve. Scrape into glass dessert dishes for serving. Garnish with a sprig of mint if desired.

Coffee Granita

photo: samsglobalmedia

This couldn’t be easier – but it tastes so good!

3 cups hot brewed coffee
¾ cup sugar
1 cup pareve whip
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir sugar into hot coffee until dissolved. Cool and pour into shallow glass pan. Freeze, scraping with fork every hour until icy and frozen – about 4 hours. In the meantime, beat pareve whip until fluffy. To serve, scrape granita into glass dessert dishes. Garnish with a dollop of whip and a sprinkling of cinnamon. This makes 4 to 6 servings and can easily be doubled for more people.

Restaurant Review & Recommendation: Pardes


We live in a time when most of us who live in larger Jewish communities have so many choices of where to dine. Cities are bursting with restaurants yet finding that unique eating experience is rare. Pardes, located in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, New York is quite an extraordinary dining experience. First, the style is casual yet chic; chilled out like the neighborhood. The menu changes each evening as the Chef, Moses Wendel, sees what is fresh and what those choices spur creatively. (We have been tracking him for about two years already as you may remember. GKC raved about Wendel stealing the show at the Royal Wine Kosher Food and Wine Show in NY 2 in 2010. Wendel went on to open the much acclaimed Basil and now has his own restaurant, Pardes) The food presentation is fabulous, with bright white plates of all different shapes and gorgeous food with vibrant color and stimulating texture . And finally, the general vibe is “enjoy the food” since it is served as it’s prepared, individually, not all at once, and with no rush to get you out. For a bunch of neurotic multi-tasking New Yorkers, this meant it was time to relax and just enjoy – which we did thanks to some delicious and unusual food and good wine.

We went with 4 other friends so we had a lot of food to try. Chef Wendel’s menu is unbelievable with dishes like “Grilled Treviso, beef heart, poached egg, red pepper” (the poached egg sat in the middle of the dish – btw, huge food trend in the treif world- incredible flavor and I never thought I would taste beef heart, super tender, melt in your mouth), “Duck with Root Beer, peanuts, celery, Ras el Hanou and Harissa”(Moroccan hot chili sauce), “Wild Tasmanian Sea Trout, red pepper sauce, corn crepe, pistachio leek fondue”, “Bluefish Bergamot (that’s a citrus fruit and when was the last time you saw bluefish on a menu?), and so much more. The trout was prepared perfectly with a seared crisp top and a soft, flavorful center. I had wanted double the amount of the pistachio leek fondue, which was hard to share with the others. Each dish is prepared individually and is spiced with intense flavors that balance and compliment the other flavors and yet never overwhelm the dish as a whole. The Beef Cheek Pizza, with 24-hour roasted tomatoes and fresh basil, was a particular favorite. Even my husband who does not enjoy spicy food found the flavor and intensity so perfect. Another highlight was the “roasted corn, grapefruit and fennel salad”. Sprinkled with arugula and sitting on a bed of corn pudding and mizuna (Japanese lettuce), and topped with corn bread croutons, I was sold on this restaurant at this course. Even the crispy fries are unusual, as they are served with this delicious onion parsley garnish, and amazing dips like garlic truffle mayo and smoky red wine ketchup (I really want to package and buy these for home use!)

Pardes was a food lover’s fun evening, as it was an evening to enjoy taste, presentation, and great company (people were sitting and eating all night). Get there to taste the summer’s freshest food and go often because Chef Wendel will surprise you each night with a an incredible creation you will certainly not find anywhere else. One of the best new great kosher restaurants around, for sure.

Finally, one last treat, with all this wonderful food, the bill was a very reasonable $380 for 6 people including wine and dessert.

Enjoy!

Pardes
497 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
718 797 3880
Monday thru Thursday, and Sunday 12 pm – 11 pm

Kosher July 4th Recipes: Celebrate the Red, White and Blue!


We have our flag up in front of our house and a great place secured to watch the fireworks. The meat has been prepped for the grill and friends and family invited. There is just something special about July 4th – there is gratitude and camaraderie in the air. And, as always, food. We’ve already shared with you some of our favorite barbecue recipes in recent columns so today we’re going to go for the red, white and blue! Enjoy these kosher July 4th recipes under the starry summer sky – wherever you are!

Pareve Blueberry Cheesecake
Peach Raspberry Cobbler
Strawberry Tart
American Flag Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Pareve Blueberry Cheesecake

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup margarine, melted
3 (8-ounce) packages tofutti cream cheese
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1 cup tofutti sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup pareve whip
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons tofutti sour cream
Extra blueberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine and press into bottom and slightly up sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven to 300 degrees. Beat together tofutti cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in flour, then eggs, one at a time. Add tofutti sour cream and vanilla. Gently stir in blueberries. Pour batter into crust and bake for about 1 hour an 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set on wire rack. Cool for after 30 minutes; run knife around sides to loosen. Cool completely, cover and chill for at least 8 hours.

Beat pareve whip until stiff peaks form, gradually adding the 2 teaspoons sugar. Fold in the 2 tablespoons tofutti sour cream and spoon over cheesecake. Garnish with blueberries, if desired.

Peach-Raspberry Cobbler

½ cup margarine, softened
½ cup tofutti cream cheese
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
4 large peaches, cut into ¼-inch slices
1-1/4 cups fresh raspberries
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Beat together margarine, tofutti cream cheese and vanilla until creamy. Add flour and mix until completely combined. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm – about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together peach slices, raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into 2-quart baking dish. Roll dough out to about ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Place over filling, making sure it is basically covered. Stir together remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over biscuits. Bake for about 40 minutes – until biscuits are browned and filling is bubbling. Best served warm with a dollop of pareve whipped cream or pareve vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Tart

photo:aggieashley07

½ cup tofutti cream cheese
½ cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups pareve whip
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons margarine
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 quart strawberries, sliced

Beat together tofutti cream cheese, margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add flour and beat until well combined. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for ½ hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough out to about 1/8-inch thick. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Cover with parchment paper and then fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 15 minutes, removed weights and bake an additional 5 minutes – until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk together the whip and the egg yolks, then slowly whisk it into the sugar mixture over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in margarine and vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on filling and let stand ½ hour until set.

Pour into prepared shell. Cover and chill. Top with sliced strawberries.

How to Melt Chocolate

How to melt chocolate (otherwise known as tempering chocolate) for perfect chocolate-dipped fruit, treats, and chocolate molds:

Chocolate is one of the most popular treats and certainly THE most popular desserts amongst GKC readers. One of the most common questions we get is about melting chocolate for chocolate dipping, molding and for pastry decorating. At home, it is not always easy to melt chocolate and set properly. Sometimes the chocolate burns, sometimes it seizes (comes in contact with even a drop or two of liquid), and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to harden as expected. In order for melted chocolate to harden (and shape) properly, it needs to be tempered. If you do not temper the chocolate, it will most likely heat to too high a temperature, which makes it impossible to use for dipping or molding. But now we have the GKC easy guide to tempering chocolate. No more buying chocolate covered pretzels or strawberries. You will now be a pro in your own kitchen.

First, I need to mention a few, NEVER DO’s in tempering chocolate.

Do NOT use chocolate chips. They have coating on them that protects their shape and actually prevents them from melting. So in order to get them to melt, you must use high temperature, which destroys the chance of a smooth, shiny, dipping chocolate. They are great in chocolate chip cookies and work fine in ganache but forget it for dipping chocolate.

Do NOT melt chocolate in the bottom of a pot. Use a double boiler. I have tried this without a double boiler (even with really good pots that conduct heat slowly and evenly); it does not work as well and most often fails.

It is not hard to temper chocolate but it requires a little patience. I taught my 11 year old daughter Sarah who has become an expert and now she makes ice cream bon bons and chocolate covered strawberries every Shabbos.

Here is the GKC step by step, no fail, how to:

1. Chop your chocolate. It is best to use at least 1 pound of chocolate, as it is easier to temper (and retain the temper) of larger amounts of chocolate. If this is more than you need, you can always save the extra for later use. Be sure that your chocolate is in block or bar form.

2. Melt 2/3 of your chocolate. Place it in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water. Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the boiler to monitor the chocolate’s temperature. When you get more experienced, you can avoid the thermometer.

3. Stir gently but steadily as the chocolate melts and heats up. Use a rubber spatula, not a wooden or metal spoon.

4. Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees (for dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (for milk or white chocolate). Do not allow the chocolate to exceed its recommended temperature. When it is at the right temperature, remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heatproof surface.

5. Add the remaining chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will melt the chopped chocolate, and the newly added chocolate will bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate.

Your chocolate should now be tempered! To make sure it has been done properly, do a spot test: spread a spoonful thinly over an area of waxed paper and allow it to cool. If the chocolate is shiny and smooth, it is properly tempered. If it is dull or streaky, it has not been tempered correctly. 
You can reheat it over the double boiler if you need a little extra melting time but do not allow it to get back over 89 degrees.

Kosher Elegance

If ever a name was perfectly suited to a cookbook, this is it. The book is a spectacular array of photographs of artfully arranged food. Oh yeah, and there are recipes too. But I think that somehow the recipes are beside the point. This is a book that you want to look at – over and over again. We have a few cake decorating cookbooks in our home. I am not being modest when I tell you that I will NEVER make any of the cakes featured in those books. I don’t have the creative skills, the time or the patience. But my kids and I just love to look at them. It’s art in food form. I feel the same way about Kosher Elegance. It is just such a pleasure to look at the pictures. And the truth is, I may actually try some of the recipes. But I guarantee that my Pistachio-Liver Paté will never look like the swirled mousse that Efrat Libfroind’s does. It takes a special talent to present food so artistically and Mrs. Libfroind clearly possesses that skill. It’s a beautiful book from start to finish. And maybe I could try the Crown Jewel Rice or the Lettuce, Sweet Potato and Apple Salad. Perhaps even the Bite-Sized Rolls with Chicken-Pine Nut Filling. Check out our Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of this special book.

Father’s Day is Coming

image: dreamstime.com


There is really no logical reason why grilling has become a man’s job. But hey, who are we to complain? And if men love barbecue tools as Father’s Day presents, all the better.

They are a gift for all of us. And the bbq accessories and recipes just keep growing and growing. Here at GKC, we are still purists and can’t quite bring ourselves to bake a cake on the grill but there remains a broad range of recipes to try and we’d like to share just some of them with you. The weather is perfect, the day long and lazy. Fire up the grill, make some margaritas and watch dad do his thing. Or if you prefer beer, try this:
Lemonade Beer Chiller

And these barbecue recipes:
Grilled Corn, Avocado and Cilantro Salad
Rum and Coke-Simmered Ribs
And how about this old favorite: Grilled Burgers with Lemon Margarine

Kosher & Easy Chocolate Fudge Recipes for a Kosher Shavuot

Do you ever gaze at those displays of rich fudge at farmer’s markets and wish all of it was kosher? Do you fantasize about the plain chocolate fudge or the marshmallow or even the peanut butter flavors? Have you ever wondered how to make fudge yourself, or if it’s even a possibility? Shavuot is the perfect time to turn that fantasy into reality by making the fudge of your dreams in the privacy of your own kitchen. New and unique Shavuot recipes are always fun to introduce into your repertoire, and fudge is yet another dairy delight that helps you get in the spirit of the holiday. And one of the best things about this chocolate fudge recipe – other than the taste – is that it’s super easy. So indulge and enjoy.

Chocolate Fudge