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Tu B’Shevat is nearing, and almonds are budding

Tu B’Shevat is nearing, and almonds are budding

Posted on 10 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Tina Wasserman
Kale, Mango, and Almond Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing

By Tina Wasserman

The temperature was frigid last week, and today it is sunny and in the high 60s. On view from my kitchen window is a large patch of green daffodil stalks playing their annual game of “chicken” with winter.
In Dallas, we always have warmer weather that is interrupted by a week or two of cold weather before spring really appears. Each year, we worry that those daffodils will be destroyed by the cold, and each year, their bright yellow heads show winter who is boss.
In Israel, it is the buds on the almond tree that play “dare” with cold winter weather. When the buds first appear, it is usually four months after Sukkot and time to celebrate the beginning of the spring growing season. This celebration is called Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish Arbor Day.
As children, we were encouraged to give money to JNF to plant trees in Israel, definitely a much-needed purchase in the 1950s to fill in the parched land of the new state. Today, we are encouraged to eat from the seven species of produce mentioned in the Torah. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration because they are the harbinger of spring.
Almonds are considered to be the oldest cultivated nut, dating back 10,000 years. Some believe that the first documentation of almond cultivation was in the Torah, Numbers 17:23: “…behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had budded, and brought forth buds and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” In truth, only almonds and pistachio nuts are cited in the entire Torah.
Enjoy some of these recipes that incorporate almonds and celebrate the renewal of the land in Israel.
Kale, Mango, and Almond Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing
Kale has gained widespread popularity as a healthy alternative to iceberg or romaine lettuce. A local supermarket started selling a salad that I loved, but it was drenched in dressing, which made the caloric content prohibitive. Here is my delicious salad that you can dress with as much or little dressing as you like, and you can even use peaches or oranges if you don’t want to mess with the mangoes (although they are really worth it).
1 pound fresh kale or 10 ounces baby kale
1 mango
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries or cherries
½ cup slivered almonds, roasted
1 ounce candied ginger, about ¼ cup slivered (optional)
Honey Ginger Dressing:
½ cup prepared mayonnaise
2 tablespoons wildflower or clover honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or any light fruit vinegar (apple cider, pear, etc.)
1 tablespoon canola or corn oil
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
1. If using whole kale leaves, pull the leaves off the stems, then layer the leaves on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, cut thin strips of kale and place them in a 4-quart mixing bowl. You should have about 12 cups.
2. Carefully cut the mango in half using a 5-inch utility knife or a special mango cutter. Remove the peel and cut the mango into ½-inch cubes. Add the mango to the kale.
3. If using the candied ginger, carefully cut the chunks into slices, then into thin sticks using a paring knife. Add to the kale mixture. Add the roasted almonds, then refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.
4. To make the dressing, place the mayonnaise in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Using a bar whisk, whisk the mayonnaise until it is smooth.
5. Add the remaining ingredients to the mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. When ready to serve, toss the salad with enough dressing to coat all of the ingredients but not make it soupy.
Serves 6.
NOTE: Cooked chicken, salmon, or grilled tofu can be added to this salad for a main dish.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and is a relative of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy. It is grown in Israel and has become very popular because scientists have discovered its importance in promoting good health.
• The mango tree is a distant relative of the cashew and pistachio trees, and its origins lie in southern India. Today, there are hundreds of mango varieties in the world. Shelly, Omer and the very popular Maya mango were developed in Israel over 60 years ago.
Stir-Fried Chicken
in Hoisin Sauce
Not what you expect for Tu B’Shevat? Think again. Jews have had a presence in China and Asia for over one thousand year, and this is a great way to incorporate almonds into your holiday celebration or anytime. This recipe was always a big hit in my cooking classes.
1 pound boneless chicken breast
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Cream Sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons oil, divided use
1 medium green pepper, cut into ½-inch cubes
8 water chestnuts, cut into quarters
¼ pound fresh mushrooms, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
¼ cup whole roasted almonds
1. Cut chicken into ½-inch cubes.
2. Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch. Toss lightly to coat evenly. Pour in the sherry and soy sauce, and toss again to coat well.
3. Place the above ingredients and the remaining ingredients within easy reach.
4. Set a 12-inch wok or 10-inch skillet over high heat for 30 seconds. Pour in a tablespoon of the oil, swirl it about in the pan and heat for another 30 seconds, turning the heat down to moderate if the oil begins to smoke.
5. Immediately add the green peppers, water chestnuts, mushrooms and salt, and stir-fry briskly for 2-3 minutes.
6. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate.
7. Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil into the pan, heat almost to the smoking point, and drop in the marinated chicken. Stir-fry over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken turns white and firm.
8. Add the hoisin sauce, stir well with the chicken, then add the reserved vegetables. Cook one minute.
9. Add the almonds. Stir to heat them through, then transfer contents of wok to a heated platter and serve at once.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• When stir-frying in a wok, cut all the foods into similar shapes and sizes to facilitate the cooking process.
• Vegetables are often cooked separately from meat because they require a different amount of cooking time. The separation of foods also ensure that the flavor of the vegetables will be distinct from the flavor of the meat, imparting layers of flavors to the dish.
Tuscan Biscotti
If you think that this is your Bubbe’s Mandelbrot, think again — unless Bubbe’s were very hard and dry. This recipe is probably the original form of biscotti that is very dry and very hard…but very good.
Jews were sea traders in the 16th century, and biscotti were popular because twice-baking dried out the biscotti and made them less likely to get moldy or soggy. Did Jewish bakers create biscotti of this type? Hard to say, but since almonds were brought from Western China by sea traders, and since Jewish cooks used almond meal extensively, it is very possible that this is the forerunner of Mandelbrot (almond bread).
3½ cups flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
½ cup toasted almonds, chopped into large pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil, preferably corn oil
3 eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, soda, salt and ground almonds in a 1-quart bowl and set aside.
2. Cream sugar and oil in a 2-quart bowl on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, zest, vanilla and almond extract, and mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Add the toasted chopped almonds and combine.
4. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four portions. Lightly oil your hands and gently form each portion into a log 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Place 2 logs on each prepared sheet. Gently shape the soft dough into a uniform log that is now probably 12 inches long.
5. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
6. Remove the loaves from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice each loaf crosswise into ½-inch cookies. Place cookies cut side up and bake for another 5 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool and then store in airtight container for 2 weeks or freeze.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• The addition of cornstarch gives the cookie a dense, but smoother, consistency.
• Ground almonds and oil make this cookie very hard, which is perfect for dipping into hot coffee or tea.

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Keeping the Shabbat roast chicken tradition alive

Keeping the Shabbat roast chicken tradition alive

Posted on 27 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Ronnie Fein
Roast chicken is a Friday-night staple in Jewish homes.

By Ronnie Fein

There’s no rule that says Jews are required to eat chicken on Shabbat — that is, no rule was ever handed down from a rabbi or written in the Torah. But it is a long-standing practice for many Eastern European Jewish families to serve roast chicken on Friday night.
Why did it become the iconic Shabbat dinner? Probably because meat is considered a luxury, and therefore a fitting centerpiece for the most sacred meal of the week. While chicken may not have the cachet of beef or lamb, maybe that’s the point: It is sumptuous, and yet much more affordable and more widely available than other kinds of meat.
A family in the shtetls might own a cow, but who would ever think to slaughter an entire cow and the precious source of milk and cheese? On the other hand, there were always a few chickens clucking around the yard. Chickens mature and reproduce quickly, assuring an ample supply of eggs and also a plump bird for a Shabbat dinner.
There’s this, too: Chicken is flavorful but mild. It takes to almost any seasoning. It’s hard not to like because you can cook it so many ways. The great Julia Child — who could cook anything — said it was her favorite dinner. “Roast chicken has always been one of life’s great pleasures,” she said.
But how do you make perfect roasted chicken? It is one of those deceptively simple recipes, not elaborate or difficult, and more about what not to do. You can season it the way you like, stuff it or not, baste it or not, make gravy or not — just don’t overcook it. Overcooked chicken is dry and chewy — “a shame,” according to Child.
First, begin with a plump, at least 4-pound, preferably kosher chicken (because they are brined and immensely flavorful). Keep it whole, because that helps keep the meat moist. There is such a thing as a true “roasting chicken” — which is an older, more flavorful bird — but most markets simply sell a whole chicken. It could be a broiler-fryer or a roasting chicken and you simply can’t tell. A good butcher will know the difference between a roasting bird and others, and you can always ask.
Rinse the bird, discard any debris inside the cavity, and remove the package of giblets (which you can cook with the chicken or save for stock).
Next, dry the surface, rub the skin with vegetable oil or olive oil, and season it with spices of your choice (my master recipe keeps the seasoning simple). You can stuff the bird if you wish, but if you do, increase the cooking time. I don’t bother trussing the legs together. That may make finished chicken look better, but it keeps the dark meat from cooking as quickly and the white meat may dry out before the dark is done.
To help keep the skin crispy, use a pan that holds heat well: metal, ceramic or Pyrex, as opposed to disposable aluminum. In addition, place the chicken on a rack. A rack allows all surfaces to be exposed to the dry heat and also prevents the chicken from sitting in its own rendered fat. If you have a vertical poultry roaster, use that.
Start the roasting at 400 (F) degrees, which helps set the skin to proper crispness. Turn the heat down after some initial cooking, otherwise the meat can dry out too quickly.
Basting isn’t necessary; it doesn’t make the meat moister, but it does add flavor. Use whichever basting fluids suit your fancy (stock, wine, fruit juice). Let the bird cook for about 20 minutes before the first basting, so the seasonings will stay on the skin, then baste every 20 minutes or so until about 20 minutes before you expect the bird to be done. Basting after that point will make the skin soggy.
Roasting time for chicken depends on the bird’s weight. I suggest using a meat thermometer to be sure the chicken is fully cooked. Place the thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to 165 degrees (F).
To lock in the bird’s delicious natural fluids, let it rest for 15 minutes before you cut it into pieces.

Roast Chicken

For the master roast chicken:
1 whole roasting chicken, 4-6 pounds
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika
1 cup liquid such as stock or juice

For the lemon-oregano roast chicken:
1 whole roasting chicken, 4-6 pounds
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Master Recipe:
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Remove the plastic bag of giblets from inside the bird. Wash the giblets if you want to roast and eat them. Put them in the roasting pan.
3. Wash the chicken inside and out; dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on a rack in the roasting pan.
4. Rub the surface with the oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Place the chicken breast-side down on the rack.
5. Put the chicken in the oven. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Roast for 30 minutes, basting once or twice during that time with stock or juice. Turn the chicken breast-side up. Continue to roast the chicken for about 45-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees (F), or when the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with the tines of a fork. Do not baste for the last 20 minutes of roasting time. After you take the chicken out of the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes before you carve it.
For the Lemon-Oregano Roasted Chicken:
Follow the roasting procedure directions for roast chicken, but do not prepare the chicken with vegetable oil and spices and do not use the stock, white wine or juice. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil and salt and pepper in a bowl. Either marinate the chicken for at least one hour before cooking or pour over the chicken when you put it in the oven and use the pan fluids for basting.

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Flaky strudel just like Bubbe made

Flaky strudel just like Bubbe made

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Chaya Rappoport
Apple Strudel

By Chaya Rappoport

(The Nosher via JTA) — My bubbe is Swiss and one of the best bakers I know. My childhood memories are filled with visions of her glazed schnecken (Swiss buns like rugelach), her rich babkas and her waehes, which are seasonal Swiss fruit tarts.
When I first started baking, I knew I wanted to re-create those recipes from my childhood. But no matter what I did, and how many times I called her for advice and instruction, they never came out quite the same.
One year when she was visiting from Switzerland, I decided to make strudel in an effort to impress her. I should have known right then I was setting myself up for failure.
Strudel, a traditional Austrian pastry filled with apples and raisins that became popular in Eastern European Jewish communities, is made with a notoriously finicky dough similar to phyllo. It needs to be rolled out very thinly, and it’s commonly considered best left to experienced European grandmothers.
Well, an experienced European grandmother I am not, and when I started researching recipes, I got intimidated and decided instead to make something closer to a Danish than a strudel — just as delicious, and far easier, right? Needless to say, my grandmother was not impressed.
“This isn’t strudel, Chaya,” she informed me after a glance at the pretty plaited Danish I’d made. “I’ll have to teach you how to make it.”
I knew she was right. And when my grandmother returned to Switzerland, I decided I’d have to learn how to make it myself. I finally did — and guess what? It’s not at all as hard as it sounds. The apple filling’s as easy as pie (no, but really), the traditional breadcrumbs are simply toasted in butter and the dough has five ingredients and comes together by hand. Stretching it out to get it paper thin can be tricky — but do your best, be gentle and if the dough rips, just patch it together by hand.
It might take you one or two times to perfect it, but even imperfect strudel is still strudel, and there’s nothing a spoonful of schlag (whipped cream) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream can’t fix.
This strudel is insanely flaky, completely authentic and, best of all, I know it will finally satisfy even my bubbe.

Apple Strudel

For the dough:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup vegetable water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup water
For the filling:
¾ cup raisins
¼ cup rum
5 large Granny Smith apples
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
Directions:
1. Combine the raisins with the rum and microwave them together for 30 seconds. Let them sit to plump while you make the dough.
2. Make the dough: Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil and water and mix with your hands until a rough dough forms.
3. Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 10 minutes, until soft and silky.
4. Form it into a ball, place it on the counter and cover with a clean tea towel. Let rest for a half-hour.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel the apples and slice them into matchsticks. In a large bowl, toss them with the lemon juice, sugar, vanilla and rum raisins.
6. Make the breadcrumbs: In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and sugar. Stir to coat, and cook until crumbs are golden brown and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
7. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan; set aside.
8. Roll out your dough. Cover your work surface with a clean tea towel that’s at least 24 by 32 inches. The long side should be horizontal to you. Sprinkle the cloth lightly with flour. Place the dough in the middle, sprinkle it very lightly with flour and roll in both directions, picking it up and moving it around as you go, until it’s 10 by 13 inches or you can’t roll it out anymore. Re-flour the dough if you feel it sticking.
9. Ball your hands into fists, put them under the rolled-out dough and gently start stretching the dough using the back of your hands.
10. Pull the edges of the dough gently with your fingers and continue stretching it with the back of your fists. Continue stretching until the dough is about 16 by 24 inches.
11. Brush the dough evenly with half of the reserved melted butter. On the right side of the rectangle, a few inches from the end, spread the breadcrumbs top to bottom in a thick line, leaving margins at the top and bottom.
12. Pile the apple mixture over the crumbs. Stretch the top and bottom edges of the dough over the apple mixture. Pull the right edge of the dough up and over the filling as far as it will go without tearing. Working carefully, use the towel to roll up the strudel all the way. Place the parchment paper from your baking sheet at the edge of the roll and roll the strudel onto it.
13. Brush the strudel generously all over with the remaining butter. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is crisp and golden brown.
14. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the strudel cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and slice into pieces to serve with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Serves 10.
Chaya Rappoport is the blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com. Currently a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery, she’s been blogging since 2012 and her work has been featured on The Feed Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine, and Conde Nast Traveler.
The Nosher food blog offers an array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

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The gift of flavor is always welcome

The gift of flavor is always welcome

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Tina Wasserman
Gift Mug

By Tina Wasserman

Yes, you can make a batch of cookies and give it to the teacher or your manicurist or doctor, but wouldn’t it be nice to make something that was totally unexpected, delicious and useful?
The following recipes are some of my favorite recipes to make for gift-giving, along, of course, with some baked goods that I can easily make in large quantity for people I didn’t mean to forget but still want to send thanks to.
Although you can always put your goodies on a plastic plate, why not find giant mugs or Ball jars that you can decorate with a square of cloth under the lid? Use your imagination. If these ideas are coming too late for your hectic schedule, consider hitting the after-holiday sales for all items with holiday motifs. Only caveat…remember where you stored them for next year. Have fun.
Spiced Angel Pecans
Get out your Costco or Sam’s card and buy those big bags of pecans. This recipe is fast and totally addictive. They store well, even in the freezer and make a great gift. One warning, those round cans you see at the Container Store are adorable but save them for cookies, otherwise you will find your supply of Spiced Pecans is rapidly diminished!
1 egg white
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound pecan halves
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Place egg white in a 2-quart bowl and beat with a whisk until light and foamy.
3. Fold in melted butter and vanilla into the whites. Add the nuts and gently stir to coat all the nuts with the egg-white mixture.
4. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt, then gently fold into the nuts to coat evenly.
5. Spread the nuts onto a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes, stirring the nuts after the first 25 minutes. Nuts should be very crisp and dry.
6. When completely cool, store in an airtight container or freeze in zip freezer bags until ready to use.
Variations:
For savory nuts: Substitute 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce for vanilla and use 1½ teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt, ¼-½ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon curry powder instead of the other spices. Prepare as directed above.
For orange-spice nuts: Substitute 1 teaspoon orange extract for the vanilla and use ½ teaspoon cardamom instead of the nutmeg. Prepare as directed above.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• Recipe can be doubled, but make sure to use two pans for roasting so the nuts aren’t crowded.
• This recipe can also be made with coconut oil, if you prefer them pareve.
Spiced Cranberry Vinegar
Here’s a gift that you can give on its own or add to your gift with your favorite salad ingredients, such as dried fruit pieces, croutons and toasted nuts.
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 quart apple cider vinegar
7 whole allspice berries
1 stick of cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
3-inch strip of orange zest
1. Wash and drain the cranberries and set aside for garnish. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
2. Place the remaining cranberries in a food processor work bowl and pulse 8-10 times until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Place cranberries in a large glass container or plastic container, with a lid, large enough to hold ½ gallon.
3. Empty the vinegar into a 2-quart stainless steel pot. Add the allspice and the cinnamon stick and bring just to a boil.
4. Immediately pour the hot vinegar and spices over the cranberries. Cover and let them sit at room temperature for a day or so (the longer, the more intense the color and flavor).
5. Strain the vinegar into a clean 2-quart, stainless steel saucepan. Press on the crushed cranberries to extract as much of their juices as possible.
6. Add the sugar and heat on medium until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot vinegar into clean glass jars or bottles and add some of the fresh cranberries.
7. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, carefully remove only the zest from the orange, running the vegetable peeler horizontally over the orange to remove three or four 3-inch curls that are about ½ inch wide.
8. Add a strip of zest and, if you like, a piece of cinnamon stick to each bottle. Seal, refrigerate and use in any vinaigrette dressing.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• It is very important to use non-reactive pots and jars when you are working with acidic foods like vinegar. Never use aluminum pans.
• You can use a zester to make long strips of orange zest and then add four or five strips to each bottle instead of one large strip.
Homemade Irish Cream
The following recipe makes about close to a fifth of liquor. I would suggest putting it into 8-ounce decorative bottles. The longer the mixture sits in the refrigerator, the richer the taste and thickness but it’s OK to taste-test a little after you make it — just to make sure it is OK.
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 teaspoons powdered instant espresso
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender at low speed to thoroughly blend.
2. Transfer to a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to three months. Shake well before using.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• I generally use Jameson’s Irish Cream, but I have also used Single Malt Scotch (much to my husband’s chagrin).
• If you are lactose intolerant, I found a can of sweetened condensed coconut milk, but I don’t know how available it is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
• Do not worry about the eggs in this recipe. Prolonged contact with the alcohol “cooks” the eggs to make it safe to drink.
• If you want to add to your gift, you might want to give a pound of coffee or a pint of vanilla ice cream for serving suggestions.
Strawberry Confections
I have had this recipe for over 40 years, and I forget how pretty they are as well as colorful. Instead of “strawberries,” you could shape them more like a dreidel and coat them in blue sugar with a piece of a chocolate Pokey stick pushed into the top.
8 ounces pitted dates
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 egg
1½ cups crisp rice cereal
½ cup pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar red sugar crystals
Green ribbon or leaves
Green toothpicks
1. Grind the dates in a processor work bowl with the sugar and coconut.
2. Add the butter and egg and pulse until butter is incorporated.
3. Empty contents of the work bowl into a saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture begins to bubble and appears thick. Stir frequently so the mixture does not burn. This should take about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Meanwhile, grind the nuts and the cereal in the processor (there is no reason to wash the work bowl from the date mixture).
5. Stir the vanilla into the date mixture and add the nut mixture. Cool.
6. Scoop a teaspoon of mixture and roll into a ball. Roll this ball into the red sugar crystals.
7. Flatten one side of the ball and, holding all your fingers on one hand together, lightly pinch and shape the other side of the ball to make it somewhat pointed.
8. Cut the ribbon into a 1-inch circle with slightly jagged edges and place on the flat side of the “strawberry.” Place a 1-inch piece of toothpick through the center of the ribbon to look like a stem.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• I prefer to use soft medjool dates, but you can use the Deglet Noor that are commonly found in boxes in the baking aisle. Remember to remove the pits.
• Never use the boxed chopped dates. They are covered in sugar, would not provide enough dates and will provide more sugar for the 8 ounces.
• The recipe can be made with margarine instead of butter. Coconut butter can be substituted as well, but since it is very soft at room temperature, I am concerned that it might be too soft.
White Chocolate Holiday Hash
Why pay $20-plus for a mixture that you can make in a jiffy and reflects the holiday spirit? Delicious and easily made gluten-free with GF pretzels.
2 12-ounce bags of white chocolate chips
5 ounces candy canes or Starlight mints, or one 5-ounce candy cane stick
4 ounces of small pretzels or pretzel sticks
4 ounces sweetened dried cranberries, optional
4 ounces semisweet dark chocolate chips, optional
1. Unwrap candy canes or candies and place in a plastic bag. Pound bag lightly with a rolling pin to break candy into small pieces. Some of the candy will be pulverized; that’s OK. You should have about 1 cup. Set aside.
2. Place pretzels in a plastic bag and lightly pound with a rolling pin until you have very small pieces. You should have about 1½ cups. Set aside.
3. Place the white chips in a 2-quart glass bowl, then place the bowl in a 10-inch skillet that has been filled with 1 inch of water. This creates a double boiler effect. Heat chips over medium heat, stirring often, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the skillet.
4. Reserve 2 tablespoons of crushed candy. Add the remaining candy, all of the pretzel mixture and the sweetened dried cranberries, if using, to the white chocolate. Fold ingredients together until well combined.
5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and then spread the hash with the back of the spatula until it is about 1/8-¼ inch thick.
6. Sprinkle reserved crushed candy over top, then refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces and serve or wrap for gifts.
7. May be stored at room temperature.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• White chocolate does not contain any chocolate liquor or cocoa, just cocoa butter. Care needs to be taken when cooking with this confection. If added to more fat or cooked over high heat, it will separate and become an unusable oily mass.
• Semisweet chocolate may be melted in microwave and then piped in lines through a small round tipped decorating cone over the hash while it is still warm. The biggest problem with this is sometimes the dark chocolate breaks off when it is set or during shipping.

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The definitive latke recipe (and don’t use russets)

The definitive latke recipe (and don’t use russets)

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Tina Wasserman
Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

By Tina Wasserman

Many years ago, I was making latkes in my daughter’s Sunday School classroom while others were doing the same in their child’s class. People started to come in to see my latkes because they heard that they weren’t gray/black, thin and watery. My recipe is below, with step-by-step instructions to prevent all of the above problems.
One “Tidbit” I can’t save for last is this: I never use russet potatoes. Russets have too much starch and thick skins. When you use white or Yukon Gold potatoes, there is no need to peel. If that doesn’t make you switch your potato choice, I don’t know what would.
Although latkes are a perfect accompaniment to beef or chicken, they can also be made into small rounds and topped with sour cream and caviar for an elegant appetizer.
Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
6-8 large thin-skinned potatoes, California long whites or Yukon Gold (about 3 pounds)
3 eggs, beaten well
1½ tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 medium-large onions (¾-1 pound total), cut into 8 pieces
1 cup matzo meal or cracker meal
Oil for frying
Applesauce, sour cream or caviar for garnish (optional)
1. Grate the raw potatoes using the grating disk on a processor or the largest holes on a grater, if doing it by hand. Place grated potato in a strainer, rinse thoroughly with cold water and drain while you grate onion.
2. Combine eggs, salt and pepper in a 4-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
3. Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add onions to the work bowl. Pulse on and off five times. Add 1/3 of the grated potatoes to the onion, and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the egg mixture along with the matzo meal and stir to combine.
4. Add the remaining drained potatoes to the bowl and mix thoroughly, using a large spoon or your hands.
5. Heat a large frying pan or large skillet for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of ¼ inch and heat for an additional 20 seconds. Drop mounds of potato mixture into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Drain fried latkes on a platter covered with crumpled paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream if desired.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Grated potatoes turn black when exposed to air. Rinsing the potatoes under running water washes away excess starch and the discoloring culprit.
• Always grate your potatoes separately from your onions; that way, you won’t lose any of the flavorful juice when you drain the potatoes.
• Use an ice cream scoop to get perfectly round latkes. A smaller scoop is perfect for appetizer-sized latkes.
• The best way to drain fried foods is on a plate covered with crumpled paper towels. Crumpling gives more surface area for absorption.
• Never refrigerate latkes.
• Either make earlier in the day and keep at room temperature before reheating in a 400-degree oven.
• Or fry, cool to room temperature, freeze on lined baking sheet and, when frozen, put into a freezer bag. Make sure you use a straw and suck out all the air in the bag so no ice crystals form on the latkes.
• When ready to cook, just place frozen latkes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and reheat in a 425-degree oven until crisp and bubbly around the edges.

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Everything you want to know about pumpkins

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

By Tina Wasserman

The first chill has been in the air, and Halloween and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, so I decided that now is the perfect time to learn about pumpkins.
The pumpkin is a member of the squash family, whose origins can be traced back over 9,000 years to Mexico. They are also thought to be part of the gourd family grown in India, but this isn’t true. The round orange globes are actually related to cucumber and cantaloupe.
Growing on vines up to 12 feet wide, pumpkins are a fruit, not a vegetable. Pumpkin seeds were brought from the “new world” by Columbus to Spain and were initially grown only to feed swine. The widespread Mediterranean use of pumpkin for human food can be attributed to the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century.
Initially the Jewish immigrants from Spain were the only people to eat the cheap and humble squash. The golden pumpkin was symbolic of prosperity and fertility, and often found its place on the ceremonial tables during Rosh Hashanah. Most pumpkin recipes that you find in Italian cookbooks owe their ancestry to the Jewish migration.
Human consumption of pumpkin has also been attributed to ancient times in Asia, and it is possible that the Arab armies brought the fruit to its conquered lands as well. It wasn’t until Columbus introduced pumpkin that it got its name and European recognition.
The name, pumpkin, is derived from the Greek Pepon, which means large melon. The French called it “Pompon” and, owing to the nasal pronunciation, the English adapted it to “Pumpion,” and colonists in America called it “Pumpkin.”
When the Native American Indians first introduced the Colonists to pumpkin, they were roasting strips of the fruit over fire as a food and weaving dried strips of pumpkin to make mats.
It was the Colonists who found a diverse use for the pumpkin. Hollowed pumpkins were turned upside down over a person’s head to provide a straight line to follow when cutting hair. That’s how they got the name pumpkin head.
The pumpkin pie finds its origin in the cooking technique of the Colonists, who cut the top off the pumpkin, removed the seeds, filled the inside with milk, honey and spices, then baked it until the meat of the pumpkin was soft and well flavored.
Speaking of cutting a pumpkin, I recently saw a suggestion for preserving the life of your jack-o’-lantern so it doesn’t rot before the end of October. If you cut a large hole in the bottom of the pumpkin and scrape out the insides well, you just need to place the carved decorative pumpkin over the candle on a plate.

Cooking with Pumpkins

All pumpkins may be eaten but it is the smaller, more rounded sugar pie pumpkins or “pie” pumpkins that will yield a dense, drier cooked flesh similar to canned pumpkin. Larger pumpkins will be stringy and more like acorn or spaghetti squash. Always buy a pumpkin whose stems are attached and those that feel heavy for their size.
Pumpkin can be cooked like you would any squash: Peel, seed, cut into chunks and simmer in a small amount of salted water for 20-40 minutes; or peel, cube and season before lightly tossing with olive oil and roast in a 350-degree oven until soft and golden.
To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse them thoroughly to remove any strings, then soak for 15 minutes in salted water. Drain and then roast in a 250-degree oven until golden. Season with a little oil and salt and pepper if you like after you roast or for the last 5 minutes.
If you are displaying pumpkins outside in the sun, bring them in at night, if you can, to prevent rotting. Pumpkins can be ripened off the vine if they are exposed to sunlight.
I love pumpkin pie, but unless the crust is super-delicious and sweet, I feel guilty eating all that fat-saturated dough. Here’s a recipe that is light, less caloric (believe it or not) and can be made in advance without getting soggy, flat or losing its flavor.

Pumpkin Mousse

2 teaspoons unflavored kosher gelatin
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the rum in a small Pyrex custard cup and let it soften for a few minutes.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients except the heavy cream in a medium bowl.
3. Place the Pyrex dish with the rum and gelatin in a skillet that contains ½ inch of simmering water. Stir the mixture until the gelatin is dissolved.
4. Whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin until thoroughly combined.
5. Whip the cream in a small bowl until it forms soft peaks, then fold it carefully into the pumpkin mixture.
6. Spoon into six 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 3 to 4 hours.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Gelatin tends to clump when initially hydrated. That is fine, but don’t let the mixture sit for more than a minute, or it will be very hard to successfully dissolve it.
• If alcohol is present in a recipe, it often serves to “cook” the raw egg to prevent it from growing bacteria.

Pumpkin Bread

The following recipe is a variation of the pumpkin bread that Joanne Orlando brought to my classroom when I was her junior high home economics teacher. I threatened to flunk her if she didn’t give me the recipe.
I still have her hand-written index card for a memento, and Joanne, who is now probably 60, did get an A in the class, but not because of the recipe.
This is still the all-time favorite in my house or at any pre-school snack time when I made them into mini-muffins. It is such a good way to get some great nutrients into your family.
This recipe may be doubled and the baked breads freeze beautifully.
1½ cups sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted, or ½ cup coconut oil for a dairy-free version
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1. Grease 2 coffee cans, or 1 loaf pan, or 2 mini-loaf pans and some muffin tins or a combination of each.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Into a large 3-quart mixing bowl, add the first nine ingredients (eight if omitting nuts). Stir to combine. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a 1-quart bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until with a rubber spatula until well blended.
4. Pour into the prepared pans and bake as follows:
Mini muffins: 12-15 minutes
Cupcakes: 20-25 minutes
Mini loaf pans: 35-40 minutes
Loaf pans: 45-60 minutes
Coffee cans: 60-75 minutes
Ginger Orange Spread
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a processor work bowl and process until smooth.

Tina’s Tidbits:
When buying canned pumpkin, make sure you are not buying pumpkin pie substitute.
• When a recipe calls for combining all of the ingredients into a bowl, always add the dry ingredients first so you don’t activate the baking soda or powder with the wet ingredients until the last.
• Gluten-free flour may be substituted, but xanthan gum does not need to also be added since the pumpkin puree adds fiber and structure to the recipe.

Jamaican Pumpkin Pancakes

These pancakes have always been a hit with my students as well as my family. Not very sweet, but loaded with good taste and lots of good vitamin A. Add a little maple syrup, and you can pretend you’re a Pilgrim, too.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1½ cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, salt and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with a whisk until foamy. Beat in the buttermilk, cold water and pumpkin puree. Refrigerate until needed or proceed with Step 3.
3. Add the melted butter to the pumpkin mixture, then fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until the batter is smooth.
4. Lightly grease a large skillet with additional butter and allow the pan to get fairly hot. Drop the batter by scant ¼ cups onto the griddle and cook until the pancake is golden on the bottom and air pockets appear on the dry top. Flip the pancakes over and cook one more minute until underside is golden.
5. Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• As long as no liquid comes in contact with baking powder or baking soda, your dry ingredients can be pre-measured the night before.
• If you don’t have buttermilk in the house, add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to milk and set aside for 5 minutes before using in your recipe. Any type of milk may be used.
• Despite its name, buttermilk does not contain fat. It is more like skim milk in fat content.

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This French toast recipe doesn’t loaf around

This French toast recipe doesn’t loaf around

Posted on 26 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Kate Sears
Babka French Toast

By Kim Kushner

(The Nosher via JTA) – This is one of those recipes that sounds super complicated but is actually so simple. Using store-bought babka will make this Babka French Toast Loaf as easy as 1-2-3, but if you happen to bake your own babka, definitely use it.
Instead of serving the babka slices arranged on a serving platter, I transfer the slices into a loaf pan and line them up in a row, so they go back to forming the original “loaf shape.” When you serve the “loaf,” your guests will be pleasantly surprised to see that it is in fact already sliced into crispy, thick slices of toasty, chewy babka French toast.
Make-ahead tip: Babka French Toast Loaf may be prepared up to two days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. If preparing ahead of time, do not bake in the oven before refrigerating (skip the last step in the recipe).
Can I freeze it? Babka French Toast Loaf may be stored in the freezer for up to one month. If preparing ahead of time, do not bake in the oven before freezing (skip the last step in the recipe).
How to reheat: Babka French Toast Loaf may be reheated, uncovered, in a 400 F. oven for 10 minutes just before serving. The frozen loaf may be thawed in the fridge overnight and reheated as indicated in the recipe above.
Reprinted from I Kosher: Beautiful Recipes from My Kitchen, with permission from Weldon Owen Publishing.
Babka French Toast Loaf
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 babka loaf or cinnamon loaf, about 15 ounces
3 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter and set aside. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Use a large chef’s knife to cut the babka into slices 1 inch thick. Lay out the slices on the prepared baking sheet and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Dip the babka slices, one slice at a time, in the egg mixture. Coat both sides for about 30 seconds or so, allowing the babka slice to absorb some of the egg mixture without getting too soggy or falling apart. Repeat with all of the slices, placing them back on the parchment-lined baking sheet while you finish.
4. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add two slices of babka and fry, turning once, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Be careful that the heat isn’t too high to avoid burning the babka slices. Transfer the browned slices to your prepared loaf pan, lining up the slices to re-create the original loaf shape. Continue heating 1 tablespoon of butter at a time in a pan and browning the babka slices in batches, two slices at a time, and transferring them to the loaf pan. Use all of the French toast slices to fill the loaf pan.
5. If serving right away, place the loaf pan in the oven, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes longer. This will heat up all the slices to the same temperature and make them nice and toasty. Serves 8-10.
Kim Kushner’s third book, “I ♥ Kosher: Beautiful Recipes from My Kitchen” (Weldon Owen), will be released in November. She has two previous best-selling books, “The New Kosher” (Weldon Owen) and “The Modern Menu,” (Gefen Publishing). She has appeared on “The Today Show” and been featured in The New York Times, Saveur, The Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune, among others.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

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The Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage Hack

The Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage Hack

Posted on 26 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Chaya Rappoport
Stuffed Cabbage Noodles

By Chaya Rappoport

(The Nosher via JTA) – My mother’s stuffed cabbage is one of my favorite dishes. She makes it with ground beef and rice, and simmers the stuffed cabbage leaves in a rich, savory tomato sauce. I could eat trays of it.
My late grandmother used to make a vegetarian version that included rice, mushrooms and barley. The sauce was sweeter than my mother’s, leaning a little more to the Polish side of tradition, where sweet foods are more prevalent. I could also eat trays of her stuffed cabbage, and I savored the scent of her cooking it up on special days before Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
There are countless delicious ways to make stuffed cabbage, with influences ranging from Eastern Europe to Asia, but all of them are undoubtedly a patchke (a bit of work). The leaves need to be boiled or frozen to become pliable enough for stuffing and wrapping, and the process from start to finish can take a good couple of hours.
It wasn’t until Sukkot of last year when I helped one of my aunts make kraut lokshen, or cabbage noodles, an Ashkenazi cabbage dish made of sautéed cabbage and egg noodles, that I thought of making unstuffed cabbage. Inspired by my aunt’s simple but delicious dish, I realized that instead of stuffing each cabbage leaf separately, I could cook everything together in one big pot, eliminating most of the work but none of the taste.
These unstuffed cabbage noodles combine the best elements of each dish — the cabbage and egg noodles from kraut lokshen, the meat and tomato sauce from stuffed cabbage — for a dish that’s hearty, savory and delicious. Smoky, salty beef bacon adds a layer of savory flavor to the dish, a tablespoon of sugar perks up the tomato sauce and the flavorful sauce is simmered and thickened before being combined with the noodles.
These noodles could never replace stuffed cabbage; what could? But this dish is an easy, tasty twist on tradition for when you don’t have hours to spend stuffing little bundles. Serve them on a chilly fall night, in a cozy sukkah or simply when you need a comforting dinner.

Unstuffed Cabbage Noodles

8 ounces beef bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium cabbage, core removed and chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 dried bay leaves
12 ounces uncooked egg noodles
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dried or fresh parsley, for garnish
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the chopped “bacon” until crisp and browned. Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Add the onion, garlic and chopped cabbage to the same skillet with the bacon fat and cook for 7-10 minutes on medium heat, until the onion is lightly browned and softened and the cabbage is wilting. Transfer the mixture and set aside.
3. Turn heat up to high and add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon as you go, until browned.
4. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes and bay leaves to the skillet. Stir to combine with the beef, cabbage and onion.
5. Add the beef bacon back to the pan, bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium so it bubbles gently. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then simmer for another 10-15 minutes, covered. Remove the bay leaves.
6. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Taste the beef and cabbage mixture, and season with salt and pepper as desired.
7. Combine the beef and cabbage sauce with the noodles. Garnish with parsley. Serves 6.
Chaya Rappoport is the blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com. Currently a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery, she’s been blogging since 2012 and her work has been featured on The Feed Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine, and Conde Nast Traveler.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

 

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One-Pot Paprika Chicken with Orzo and Olives

One-Pot Paprika Chicken with Orzo and Olives

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Photo: Samantha Ferraro
One-Pot Paprika Chicken with Orzo and Olives

 

By Samantha Ferraro
This one-pot paprika chicken is a take on my mom’s memorable paprika chicken recipe. I have very fond memories of cleaning the whole bird and then rubbing it down with loads of paprika for weeknight dinners. The spice gives a deep rich color and imparts a delicious smoky flavor.
This is my updated and modernized variation of mom’s simple recipe made into an easy one-pan meal. Oh, and find yourself some Castelvetrano olives — they are buttery with a bit of brine and are so addictive.
Tip: If you can’t find the specified olives, substitute with the easier-to-find green manzanilla olives.
This recipe is excerpted with permission from Samantha Ferraro’s new cookbook, The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen.
Ingredients:
2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
Olive oil, as needed
1 shallot, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
8 ounces dried orzo
2 cups chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup whole pitted Castelvetrano olives
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the paprika and salt, making sure the spices evenly coat the chicken.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Don’t add too much oil because the chicken will give off its own fat, as well.
4. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs skin-side down into the hot pan and cook until a deep golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, and then flip the chicken over to the other side and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
5. Once both sides of the chicken are a deep golden brown, remove to a plate and set aside.
6. In the same hot skillet, add the shallot and sauté until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
7. Add the orzo and stir so it is coated in the oil and aromatics (this will give it great flavor). Use a spatula to even out the orzo. Add the chicken back into the pan, skin-side up, and pour in the stock.
8. Scatter the lemon slices and olives over the chicken and orzo and place in the oven, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking for an additional 12 to 15 minutes.
9. Once cooked, remove from the oven and garnish with parsley. Serves 2-4.
Samantha Ferraro is the food blogger and photographer for The Little Ferraro Kitchen. Follow Samantha at http://littleferrarokitchen.com.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

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Harissa Salmon Nicoise Salad: a spicy treat

Harissa Salmon Nicoise Salad: a spicy treat

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

 

By Chaya Rappoport
(The Nosher via JTA) — Harissa is a spicy, rich-flavored North African chili paste and it is one of my favorite condiments to use in the kitchen. It is traditionally made with roasted red pepper, chiles, garlic and a mixture of spices, depending on the family and exact origin. You can easily find several varieties in the supermarket (usually in the ethnic foods aisle), but I prefer making my own, in part so I can control the level of spice.
A traditional Nicoise salad features baby potatoes, haricots verts, European-style tuna, olives and hard-boiled egg. In this amped-up version, many of the traditional elements remain, but the tuna is swapped for a harissa-smothered salmon and preserved lemon is added for some North African authenticity, which makes it brighter and punchier.
Nicoise purists might balk at this recipe, but I promise: This spiced salmon salad is delicious, filling and perfect to enjoy all summer.
Notes:
* You can simplify this recipe by buying harissa already made.
* Don’t stress about making your own dressing — you can also dress it simply with olive oil and lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
* You can prepare the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts and hard-boiled eggs ahead of time, and when ready to serve, simply assemble. It makes it a great dish for entertaining or Shabbat lunch.
Ingredients:
For the salad:
4 ounces small red and purple potatoes
Kosher salt
4 ounces haricots verts (string beans), trimmed
4 ounces heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved crosswise
4 cups lettuce and/or mixed greens, washed, dried and chopped
¼ cup black or Nicoise olives, pitted
Flaky salt and fresh black pepper, for serving

For the salmon:
6 ounces fresh salmon, skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Prepared harissa (around ½ cup to 1 cup depending on size of salmon and your preference)

For the harissa:
1 large red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 dried red chiles
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ras el hanout
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika

For the dressing:
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely minced
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped preserved lemon peel
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
1. To make the harissa: Broil the red pepper on high for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until blackened on the outside. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. This is called sweating, and it allows you to easily peel the skin off the pepper. Peel the pepper and discard its skin and seeds.
2. Rehydrate the chiles by placing them in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic and rehydrated chiles for 10 to 12 minutes, until dark and smoky. Now use a blender or a food processor to combine all the harissa ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed.
4. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a baking paper-lined baking dish and rub with olive oil. Spread harissa thickly on top, reserving the rest for something else. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch.
6. Bring to a boil, season with kosher salt and cook until fork-tender, 15−20 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a plate with a slotted spoon.
7. Return water to a boil and cook haricots verts in same saucepan until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water. Chill until cold, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and pat dry.
9. To make the dressing: Mash the anchovies and mustard in a small bowl to form a coarse paste. Add the minced shallot, garlic and preserved lemon to the bowl; whisk in the white wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper as needed.
10. Using a fork, flake the harissa salmon into large pieces; halve reserved potatoes crosswise.
11. Arrange lettuce on a platter; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with half of dressing.
Top with separate piles of potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, the hard-boiled eggs, olives and salmon.
12. Drizzle salad with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with flaky salt and pepper.
Chaya Rappoport is the blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com. Currently a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery, she’s been blogging since 2012 and her work has been featured on The Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine, and Conde Nast Traveler.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

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