Jack’s Gourmet Sausages

Sausages are all the rage. And with good reason. There are so many possibilities, enough variety to satisfy every palate. One of the newer entries into the field is Jack’s Gourmet, operating out of Brooklyn, New York. Founded by a professional chef and a dentist (don’t ask!), Jack’s offers a Boerewors sausage, German Bratwurst, Hot Italian, Mexican Style Chorizo and Sweet Italian. Fresh and delicious, with no artificial ingredients, fillers, by-products or MSG, each bite delights the senses. GKC impressed all friends this summer with the Boerewors sausage and the sweet Italian sausage grilled to perfection and tasted off the BBQ. They have become staples in our fridge.  Until now, it was hard to find kosher sausage with intense flavor and texture and real sausage taste.  Jack's Gourmet has succeeded in is. Try them on their own, sautéed with peppers and onions, or dressed in a bun. Or try them in these easy soup recipes Jack's Gourmet shared with us:

Beorewors and Corn Soup
Mushroom Soup with Hot Italian Sausages
Sweet Italian Sausage and Tomato Soup

For more recipes, check out their website or try our Braised Sausages with Apples.

Empire Kosher

Online and just about everywhere, it seems that people are focused on “going green”. From farm fresh produce stands and farm-to-table popular restaurants to alternative energy and water conservation plants, “going green” has certainly captured our attention. Products that carry a “green label” are innovative, progressive, and conscience-oriented. But whoever would believe that kosher, specifically kosher chicken would fall into that category?

Yes, its true, kosher chicken has gone green. Well not any kosher chicken, that’s for sure, but Empire Kosher , known for its tasty and kosher chicken, has developed an admired reputation for being socially and environmentally conscious as well as truly natural in every step of the production process.

GKC had to find our more. We got in touch with their CEO, Greg Rosenbaum, to find out what does green and kosher really mean. Greg told us that, “Green kosher is eating healthy, safely and strictly kosher, buying responsibly, promoting worker and animal welfare, protecting the environment and supporting small family farmers and their communities.” I wondered, does the kosher community care about this? I mean, do they really understand? They should! This is revolutionary for the kosher market! Empire Kosher is committing to limiting the number of chickens a farmer can raise at any given time, raising poultry in a humane way that is healthy for both consumers and animals, respecting and replenishing the environment in ways that will ensure its continued viability for many generations to come, providing safe working conditions and a fair wage to employees as well as generous compensations to their network of small family farmers.

GKC is impressed, this puts Empire Kosher ahead of its competition and draws an implicit contrast with other food companies in the news.

Customers and GKC readers repeatedly praise Empire’s exceptional taste, texture and quality of product. Clearly we have good taste, as they year after year, win taste tests by prestigious publications like the NY Times, Gourmet Magazine, Food and Wine, and many more.

Empire CEO emphasized that in addition to being “green kosher”; they offer a wide variety of all-natural, organic, free-range, anti-biotic free, vegetarian-fed poultry. All with no growth hormone added (to better understand these terms go to the Turkey blog from Thanksgiving).

The news about Empire Kosher comes at a great time. Rosh Hashanah is a busy cooking period for the kosher consumer and all of us are eager to purchase products that have the greatest flavor and are mindful of the gifts of this planet. Thank you Empire for being a leader in the industry and for respecting our world.

A little more from Empire…they shared a few holiday recipes that are great for the holidays. I tried them they are super easy and exceptionally tasty!

Empire Kosher Ultimate Rosh Hashanah Chicken
Honey Pecan Chicken
Glazed and Spiced Matzo Stuffed Chicken

Summer Days

photo: remotepatrolled.com

Summer is winding down. You are either in the middle of your last hurrah – an end of August family vacation – or caught up in the whirlwind of shopping for school supplies and clothing. Either way, the end of summer is in the air. And we’re all trying to hold on just a little longer. Here are some recipes that will keep you thinking of summer the whole year through.

First you need a drink to evoke the mood. Hokey as it may be, nothing says hot days and nights like a Pina Colada. If beer is your summer refresher of choice, try our Lemonade Beer Chiller.

For a light snack to accompany your drinks, try this Smoked Trout Salad. Serve atop a bed of lettuce and alongside a variety of crackers. Or go for the ever-popular Guacamole with some chips.

And for your sweet tooth, a treat that requires no baking is a must. Try these Peanut Butter Fudge Delights or this 5 Minute Chocolate Cake that only requires a microwave.

And now just sit back and enjoy the remaining days of summer. School and the High Holidays are just around the corner. Stay tuned for our High Holiday cook book, coming September 4th!

Peanut Butter Fudge Delights

photo: blogger

These are so easy, and good that you won’t be able to stop making them!

2 cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
½ cup soy milk or nondairy creamer
4 tablespoons cocoa
2-1/2 cups quick oats
½ cup chunky peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar, margarine, soy milk and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1-1/2 minutes only. Remove from heat and stir in oats, peanut butter and vanilla. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool until set, then store in the refrigerator.

Smoked Trout Salad

photo: thetasteoforegon

1 pound smoked trout, skinned and filleted
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon capers, mostly drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon paprika

Blend together all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paté forms. Transfer to container; cover and chill for 24 hours before serving.


POPBAR is the chic-est pop you will ever have!

I am an official “popaholic” now! Didn’t know it until last week when I visited the coolest new trend in artisan cold desserts in NYC called Popbar. Artisan ice creams are not new, although very popular, but none are as cool and fun for adults and kids as Popbar, located in the West Village of NYC. I met Reuben Ben Yehuda there, one of the creators and owners of Popbar and he gave me and the kids I brought an amazing tour and tasting of all that Popbar has to offer. Imagine this: the freshest flavors in pops, including peach, passion fruit, mixed berries, mint, coconut, chocolate, pistachio, blood orange, vanilla and much more, available as either gelato, yogurt, or sorbetto pops. That’s not all! Now dip or half dip them in what they call “Poppings” - like dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate (Yup! Its real white chocolate) and then other natural toppings, I mean “poppings” (no gummy bears, or rainbow sprinkles here), chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, chopped nuts, pistachios, and more. Hundreds, maybe thousands of options; my time there was definitely too short!

Reuben Ben Yehuda, owner of Popbar with all the best GKC tasters

Popbar was opened in May of 2010 by two European Jews, Reuben Ben Yehuda and Daniel Yaghoubi, one from Italy and one from Germany and was immediately recognized and featured by the Food Network. At my visit to Popbar, I asked Reuben, “What makes these pops so fantastic?” He said that they took 2 years developing the concept and recipes. Each flavor is made with fresh ingredients - some from Europe (like the pistachios), and all are made in the store in the West Village so they have total control of taste, texture and the final product. Most of the pops are sold within 24 hours of being made. Also, the experience is so special and specific for each customer, some eat them plain and savor the delicious flavor and others create the most incredible and endless possibilities of combinations. I first had the peach, topped with white chocolate and almonds. So summery, and the hint of rich white chocolate made it decadent. Next I moved on to my daughter’s mixed berry plain, a perfect blend of berries, and then to coconut, which is so impressive. It tastes like real coconut, not highly sweetened unnatural and imitation coconut. I am not sure if people really appreciate the complexity and deliciousness of real coconut but this is it. Dipped in chocolate it was heavenly, without all the calories and fat of ice cream (okay the chocolate dip added a little but, hey, I had to splurge a bit).

There is my white chocolate dipped peach pop!

Popbar pops are not something I want to have every so often when I make it to the village but every night. Lucky for me they make them to go in a six-pack thermal bag and they deliver in NY to homes and businesses. They even do parties with mini-pops all over the Tri-State area including Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Call them, check them out in NY, or visit their website for details. And go hungry; you will want to taste a bunch!

5 Carmine St. (at 6th Ave.)
New York, NY 10014
212 255 4874

Popbars are kosher certified by National Kosher Supervision under Rabbi Mehlman


photo: foodbeast.com

Before summer ends we feel compelled to do a piece on that summertime favorite of kids and adults alike – the milkshake. Nothing beats that thick, calorie-rich (I once read the calorie count at Baskin-Robbins and I still haven’t recovered from the shock!), cold drink. I mean, let’s face it; isn’t that the real reason you bought a blender??!!! So here’s to indulgence – for just one afternoon, throw caution to the wind and make everyone’s favorite treat. There’s a flavor and a design for every taste. Here are some of our favorites.

Chocolate Milkshakes
Vanilla Milkshakes
Cappuccino Milkshakes
Creamsicle Milkshakes

Vanilla Milkshakes

photo: visualphotos.com

This is the basic building block of milkshakes. You can change the flavor of the ice cream or add your favorite fruit to create a completely different beverage.

3 cups ice cream
1-1/2 cups milk (it will definitely be richer with whole milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons sugar

Blend all ingredients on low to medium speed in blender and serve. Makes 2 servings - don’t forget to share!

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
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
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

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.