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Special ways to enjoy apples for the New Year

Special ways to enjoy apples for the New Year

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
Bukharan Chicken Palov
A sweet way to celebrate Rosh Hashanah

By Tina Wasserman
Apples and honey. The words are bound together like peanut butter and jelly and are overflowing with memories. Ask Jewish pre-schoolers what these words bring to mind, and they will shout out gleefully, “Rosh Hashanah!” In the Ashkenazi world, dipping a sliced apple in honey, and in the Sephardi world, eating a sweet apple conserve with bread are universal traditions that express our hope for a sweet and fruitful year. These apple traditions are not based on law or dictates, but rather, are based on customs. Jewish customs often originate as a way of reinforcing Jewish identity and history, and serve to bind Jews throughout the Diaspora to their heritage and homeland. The question is, why apples and honey?
Most associate the apple with Adam and Eve’s mishap in the Garden of Eden, though the Bible never states what fruit was picked from the Tree of Knowledge. However, apples are most often used as a metaphor for affection and association with God.
In Solomon’s “Song of Songs,” the Jewish people are compared to an apple: “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved (Israel) amongst the maidens (nations) of the world.” In medieval times, apples were considered so special, that prayers were etched into the skin of the apple before it was eaten. Could this have lead to the custom of using the apple as a symbol of our “wishes” for a fruitful year? Even the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text of Kabbalistic writings, states that beauty “diffuses itself in the world as an apple,” and God represented beauty.
May all of you experience a year filled with good health, peace, prosperity and contentment.
Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel
Kugels are part of the Italian and Eastern European Jewish culinary repertoire. This most likely had a great deal to do with the spice trade route between Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East, where noodles were consumed. Because the following recipe is made with pareve margarine, it can be served with meat, according to Jewish dietary law. It is equally good with pears during the rest of the year.
12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
½ stick pareve margarine or coconut oil
2 (3.9-ounce) cups unsweetened applesauce or pear/applesauce
4 large eggs (or 3 eggs and 2 egg whites)
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
Generous pinch of nutmeg
2/3 cup dark raisins
3 Gala or Jonagolds apples, or fresh D’Anjou pears, pared, cored and sliced into thin semicircles
Additional cinnamon and sugar for topping
Additional margarine or oil spray for topping

  1. Grease a 13×9-inch pan with margarine. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl with the ½ stick margarine and the applesauce. Stir gently to combine, and allow the margarine to melt.
  3. In a 1-quart bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add this blended mixture to the noodles along with the raisins and sliced fresh fruit. Mix gently but thoroughly and pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Lightly grease the shiny side of a sheet of foil with margarine or spray and then cover the casserole, greased side down.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes and then uncover, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Spray lightly with cooking oil or dot with margarine and return to the oven for 15 minutes more or until lightly golden. Let kugel sit for 10 minutes or so before cutting.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• To cook with apples, you should have a peeler, corer and paring knife. However, if you never want to be intimidated by a recipe that calls for multiple peeled apples, then you should invest in a peel-away, hand-cranked, apple peeler that also can core and slice your apples crosswise. This is not electric, so it is safe for children to use as well.
• Keep a stick of butter or margarine in the freezer for when a recipe calls for “dotting” your dish with fat. Just use a large grater, and grate the frozen fat over the dish to evenly distribute it over the surface.
• Non-cheese kugel should NEVER be assembled in advance. The egg mixture settles, while the top becomes hard and crisp, and the bottom becomes gummy.
• Covering a kugel during part of the baking time helps it stay moist and to “puff” up.
Bukharan Chicken Palov
Bukhara is a region in Uzbekistan, Central Asia, that figured prominently in the spice trade during the Middle Ages. The city was the center for the exchange of western furs and comestibles for the spices and silks from the Orient and India. While it was difficult to travel to, many Jewish traders made their home in this region; that strong Jewish presence was in place until the 20th century. This recipe is traditional for Rosh Hashanah and festive occasions, as fruit and vegetables were often combined in meat dishes.
1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 cups coarsely shredded carrots (about 2)
2 apples such as Jonagolds or Gala (if available, substitute quince for 1 apple)
½ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
13/4 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup basmati rice

  1. Remove the fillet from the chicken breasts and lightly pound them to be ¼ to ½ inch thick. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet for 20 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the chicken breasts and sauté for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat for 10 seconds. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden.
  4. Add the carrots and apples or apples and quince, and sauté an additional 5 minutes until soft.
  5. Add the raisins and all of the seasonings to the fruit mixture. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the rice and stir to combine.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover the pot and simmer the rice for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender.
  8. Slice the boneless chicken breasts into ¼-inch slices. Place rice mixture in the center of a serving platter and place the sliced chicken over the rice. Serve.
    Note: You may leave the chicken breasts whole and serve the rice on the side. Another alternative, and a more traditional way, is to slice the chicken before sautéing, then add it to the rice mixture halfway through the allotted cooking time.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• If you want an apple to hold its shape during long cooking times, such as those used for-jams, pies, and crisps, use firm apples like Gala, Granny Smith or Winesap apples.
• Apples should be placed in a bowl of acidulated water (water with some lemon juice added) if they will not be cooked shortly after peeling.
• If you choose to cook the meat with the rice, you are better off with thigh meat, so it will not dry out during the time it takes to cook the rice.
Apple Bismarck
Here is a recipe whose components can be prepared in advance, then popped in the oven when you want to eat it. This could be used for Rosh Hashanah morning, a snack in the middle of the day between your family lunch and dinner, or even for Yom Kippur break-fast, if your family can begin the meal while the pancake cooks.
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1/4 orange
1 stick unsalted butter
1 Jonathan or Gala apple
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup apricot preserves
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Prepare the filling by thinly slicing the peeled and cored apple.
  2. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the apples, apricot preserves, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Sauté over low heat until the apples begin to give off some of their juices. Continue sautéing over medium heat until the mixture becomes more syrupy. Cover and keep warm while you prepare the pancake OR cover and refrigerate or freeze for days until needed.
  3. To make the pancake, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, flour, nutmeg and orange zest in a blender and blend until smooth and well combined.
  5. Place the stick of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, cast-iron skillet or 2-quart Pyrex pie pan. Place in the oven and heat until the butter is melted.
  6. Immediately add the batter to the hot skillet. Return pan to oven and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and transfer to hot pad or place pancake on a plate.
  7. Reheat apple mixture in the sauté pan or in the microwave (if mixture was made in advance and refrigerated), adding a little water, apple juice or applejack if the mixture is too thick.
  8. Place apples on top of pancake. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Mix your pancake ingredients in a blender, then cover the blender jar and store in the refrigerator. Just before making the pancake, place the blender jar back on the base and turn the blender on for 10 seconds or until the mixture is well combined.

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A Rosh Hashanah recipe from 1 of Israel’s top chefs

A Rosh Hashanah recipe from 1 of Israel’s top chefs

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Submitted Photo

By Jessica Halfin
Rosh Hashanah menus, while traditional and delicious, can also get a little stale year after year. With Israeli food trending across the globe, now is a perfect time to add some authentic Israeli flavors to your holiday.
Here is a sweet whiskey cocktail to start your year off on a sweet and beautiful note.
Check out four more recipes from Israeli chefs at www.tjpnews.com.
Apple and Honey
Whiskey Cocktail
Milk & Honey Whiskey Distillery,
Tel Aviv
It’s definitely the time for Israeli whiskey on the international scene, and Rosh Hashanah is the perfect occasion to treat yourself to a bottle of the first official batches of the stuff. With at least five Israeli whiskey distilleries having popped up in the past few years, the race is on to see which one can produce the best barrels the fastest. The warm climate in Israel actually speeds up the distilling process.
Milk & Honey’s whiskey has a smooth taste, which just happens to be perfect for blending into a sweet apple and honey cocktail.

Ingredients:
1/4 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey syrup
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy)
3 tablespoons Milk & Honey whiskey or other “New Make” whiskey

Directions:

  1. Make honey syrup: Mix 3 parts honey with 1 part hot water and stir thoroughly until liquid unifies. For example: 10 ounces honey and a little more than 3 ounces of hot water. Bottle and keep refrigerated.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the apple with honey syrup.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, fill with ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an apple slice.
    Jessica Halfin is an American-Israeli baker, gourmet cook, food and culture writer, and all-around foodie. She is the owner and operator of Haifa Street Food Tours, a company that leads custom foodie adventures in Haifa, Israel, where she lives with her husband and three sons.

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German lemon cake recipe stands the test of time

German lemon cake recipe stands the test of time

Posted on 12 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
German Lemon Tart

By Tina Wasserman
For most of my professional life, I have made it my mission to keep our culinary heritage alive so it will be a connection to our ancestors and the lives they lived that allowed us to live the Jewish lives we live today. I often finish my lectures about the history of Jewish cuisine with a quote from Ben Gurion, “We Jews must never live in the past, but the past must always live within us.”
As we approach the High Holidays, when we assess our lives and remember our ancestors, I would like to tell you a true story about uncovering roots and the non-palpable connections that sometimes arise from these roots.
One of the joys of being on the local board of AJC is the opportunity to meet representatives from countries from all over the world. This summer, I had the pleasure of hosting a Shabbat dinner in my home for three delegates from the Adenauer exchange. This is an exchange through which a group of young German leaders visits three U.S. cities for a study trip in a partnership between AJC and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
I thought it would be interesting to describe, course by course, the connection between the foods we were eating and the history surrounding their use. Frankly, I thought it was much better to create this menu rather than give them a classic Shabbat dinner starting with chicken soup and gefilte fish. After all, it was Dallas in July and no one wants to eat hot soup! Needless to say, the conversations often centered on food.
My three guests — Melanie, Matthias and Lucas — were all Catholic. Melanie told us that her college career focused on art history but, for some reason, she said she minored in Yiddish studies because she thought the language was interesting. The discussion then progressed to a story about a recipe for a lemon cake.
Melanie promised to send me the recipe and the story about how the cake impacted her life. The following is the letter she sent me and I would like to share it with you. Perhaps it will move you as it did me.
“I had promised to send you the story of my grandmother and the secret of the ‘lemon cake.’ After my high school graduation, I started to study in Düsseldorf the history of art, antique history and yiddistic. The idea behind it was to work after my magister in a Jewish Museum. In 1990, many Jewish museums were founded in Germany.
“My grandmother lived with us in a small village near Düsseldorf at that time. She had sold her house in Hamburg in 1986 or 1987 to be near to her family. Her husband had already died in the early 1960s. My grandmother carried a closely guarded secret that no one beside her husband knew. Even though she took great interest in my plans, she remained silent.
‘I went for an internship to the Jewish Museum Franken to Fürth (Bavaria) in 2000. The museum is specialized in Jewish cultural heritage of the region. The collection consists of Judaica, items of daily use, Hebrew prints, manuscripts and postcards. The Jewish community in Fürth was once considered the ‘Franconian Jerusalem’ and was one of the spiritual capitals of European Jewry in the 18th century. In the 19th century, Jewish citizens shaped the economic life of the city. After the end of the World War II, nothing was left of the 400-year successful story of the community. In 1933, just under 2,000 Jews lived in Fürth. Only 20 of them survived the Nazi regime.
“The Museum has a small coffee shop where visitors could get beverage, traditional Jewish bakery and kosher sweets. They offered a ‘lemon cake’ according to an old recipe, which was handed down to a handwritten book from the 1890s. The lemon cake has a filling of almonds and lemon juice. It is very tasty. I remembered a cake that my grandmother had baked when I was a small child, which was very similar to this one. So I decided to copy the recipe and showed to my grandmother.
“I can remember very well in the afternoon in 2000 when I showed her the recipe. It was the day she told us her secret. As she held the recipe in her hands and read it, she said: ‘That is the way my mother did.’ It was the first time after 67 years she broke her silence.
“Here is the story: Her mother was born in Thuringia. Her father’s last name was ‘Liebeskind.’ And they were Jewish (I found their names in a register of a small parish near Jena). Her first marriage was with a Protestant. He was a baker of the parish. After his death, she got married again. So she got the name ‘Lieb.’ But he also died after the birth of Alfred, the youngest brother of my grandmother. Because of the death of her husband, and father of her three children, the financial situation of the family was very bad. As I know, her brother migrated to Wisconsin in 1890s. So my great-grandmother decided to follow her brother ‘Liebeskind.’ She took her kids and all her belongings and set off. Her first stop was Hamburg. Here she had to stay for a while, because money was tight. In 1914, shortly before World War I, she had the money for the transfer from Hamburg to New York. She bought the tickets, but the passage did not happen anymore.
“My grandmother, Frida Melanie Lieb, was born in 1906 near the city of Jena. I know that she worked as a nurse. When it became difficult for Jews in Germany to practice their profession, she worked as a nanny for a Jewish family who migrated to the U.S. in the 1930s. They wanted to take her with them, but she remained in Germany — maybe because of love, or more realistic is she was afraid of the dangerous escape over Switzerland and Italy.
“In the meantime, her sister had married an official in the Hamburg Senate Department. This man helped my grandmother to correct her papers. So nothing was in the way for her marriage with Paul Otto Meyer in 1933. She survived under the protection of the Meyers. Her younger brother was less fortunate. He was imprisoned and forced into an ‘Arbeitslager’ (forced labor camp) in the docks of Hamburg harbor. Nobody knows what happened to him. The reason was that the sisters were afraid that someone could expose them as Jews.
“My grandmother died in 2002, two years after her revelation. During my stay in Fürth, I went to the archives of the churches in Jena region to verify the dates and to learn more about my family background. It is a mystery that I was interested in studying Yiddish without the knowledge of the history of my father’s family. The same applies to the recipe of the lemon cake which I have attached.
“Once again, the journey with the AJC was both a privilege and a pleasure. I enjoyed the evening in your house. Many thanks for your help. I am looking forward to seeing you again to continue the dialogue.”
The dialogue continues…
May the New Year be a time to recall the many positive memories of your ancestors and may these be the foundation upon which you build your family’s traditions this holiday and for all the days to come.
The following is the recipe for the lemon cake. I changed the amounts to cups and spoons from grams and added a little bit of water to better hold the dough together. This cake is easily made with commercially ground almond flour. It is like a marzipan but more coarse and lemony rather than having a strong almond taste. In the European tradition, this recipe is not overly sweet and the dough is dense, but I wanted to keep that density for authenticity.
Here is the recipe in its original format:
Lemon Cake
(Original recipe —
measurements in grams)
Ingredients:
80g sugar
160g wheat flour (type 405)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg (medium size)
Filling:
250g ground almonds
150g sugar
4 lemons (peel, juice and pulp)
Egg yolk

Preparation:
Butter the springform and sprinkle with matzo meal.
Knead the dough by hand and then keep some of the dough for the rim and the grid. let it cool.
Then, the dough is rolled out and placed in the springform, making sure that the rim is pressed well.
The filling is easy to stir and then spread on the dough.
Then also roll out the remaining dough and cut into strips about 1 centimeter wide with a dough wheel.
Then, give the upper rim a grid over the whole cake surface.
Finally, the grid and the visible rim are painted with egg yolk.
The oven must not be preheated and the baking process takes 30 to 40 minutes.
Important: No baking either with large top or with intensive bottom heat.

Here is the recipe that I created from these ingredients and instructions. It’s a good lesson in how modern recipes are created from heirloom recipes. Enjoy!
German Lemon Tart
(adapted recipe)
Crust:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
11/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water, or more if needed
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional-more for Western tastes)
1 egg
Filling:
21/3 cups ground almond meal
¾ cup sugar
Zest and juice from 3 large lemons (about ¾ cup juice)
1 egg yolk for glazing the cake
Coconut oil or cooking spray for greasing pan

  1. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil or spray.
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a 2-quart mixing bowl and gently knead with your fingers until the dough forms a ball. If needed, add a small amount of additional water until dough is moist and holds together.
  3. Divide the dough into ¾ and ¼. Cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate for 20 minutes to let the dough rest.
  4. Roll the larger piece of dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper into a circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Remove one piece of paper and then flip the dough into the pan centering the dough as best you can.
  5. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  6. Combine all of the ingredients for the filling and spread onto the dough in the pan.
  7. Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle and cut ½-inch strips of dough with a knife or decorative pastry wheel.
  8. Place strips of dough criss-crossed across the filling, pressing the ends into the side rim of dough to seal. Brush with some egg yolk to glaze.
  9. Place the cake pan into a cold oven and then turn the temperature to 350 degrees.
  10. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
    Cake may be served warm or at room temperature.

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Making the best use of end-of-summer produce

Making the best use of end-of-summer produce

Posted on 22 August 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
Fresh Corn Salad with Basil

By Tina Wasserman
I’m on vacation. Don’t hate me, but last night the temperature went down to 56 degrees and with the windows open, I was cold. I think I just earned another Al Heit on Yom Kippur.
Produce is abundant this time of year and I am actually missing the first edible crop of figs from my tree. This year is different, possibly because of all the rain or warmer weather. So I started to think of my favorite recipes using the bounty of summer. Enjoy and soon I will be back to shvitz with you too.
I first had fresh corn salad like this when Rabbi Nancy Kasten served it to us at Water’s Edge in the Berkshires. It tastes great wherever you eat it and uses two of my favorite summer produce items.
Fresh Corn Salad with Basil
5 ears of corn
½ cup finely diced red onion
1½ tablespoons balsamic or rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (15 grinds)
1/3 cup chiffonade basil leaves

  1. Using 2-3 ears of corn at a time, microwave the corn in their husks for 3 minutes each in two batches. Set aside to cool. Corn will continue to steam in the husk.
  2. When it is cool enough to handle, cut the corn off the cob using a sharp knife held at a 45-degree angle to the cob.
  3. Mix with the remaining ingredients.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• The sugar in corn begins to turn to starch as soon as it is picked so use the corn soon after you buy it.
• Another way to cook corn (which is especially good if corn is older) is to shuck corn and then boil in water that has had 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ cup milk (optional) added to it. Boil for 3 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to which 8 ice cubes have been added.

The aforementioned fig tree (which, by the way was a Hanukkah gift from my children eight years ago) did give me figs this year before I left and every morning I would go out and pick some from the tree before the birds and squirrels had brunch. Here is the quickest way to enjoy fresh figs short of just popping them in your mouth.
Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey
12 Calmyrna or Brown Turkey figs, cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces good-quality chèvre goat cheese
3 -4 tablespoons wildflower or clover honey
French bread or crackers (optional)

  1. Place figs on a plate, cut side up.
  2. Spread some of the goat cheese on each fig.
  3. Drizzle with some honey and serve.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Some fig trivia: Calmyrna figs are actually a variety of fig that originated in Smyrna, Turkey, and then were cultivated in California; hence, its name.
• Mission figs got their name because the Spanish priests who settled in California planted numerous fig trees around their missions.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
Something a little different to cool you off this summer—and make you care less about the heat if you add the alcohol! This is my homage to the hot nights in the Middle East, where rosewater adds a wonderful taste to many foods. Enjoy!
1/4 pound seedless watermelon, cubed (approximately 7 cups)
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon rosewater
Gin or vodka (optional)
Mint for garnish

  1. Place watermelon cubes in a blender container and blend until mixture is smooth. Place in a clean jar and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring only once to combine the sugar and water.
  3. When mixture is clear, remove from heat. Stir in rosewater and place syrup in a clean jar and refrigerate until needed.
  4. To make a drink, re-stir watermelon puree and pour 1 cup of puree into a 12-ounce glass.
  5. Add 4-5 tablespoons of syrup, depending on sweetness of melon, and stir well.
    Add ice cubes and an optional jigger of gin or vodka.
    Garnish with mint and serve with a straw.
    Serves 4

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Simple syrup can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for weeks. Added to fruit salad or drizzled over sorbet, it adds a lovely touch of roses to your dish.

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Whipping up a Father’s Day fiesta

Whipping up a Father’s Day fiesta

Posted on 14 June 2019 by admin

Rustic fajita skillet meal with steak and chicken

Cocktails to dessert —and in between, fajitas, Margaritas, pronto!

By Tina Wasserman
Father’s Day is synonymous with grilling, but Dad doesn’t have to do the cooking that day. He should be sitting back, enjoying friends and family, and drinking a cold Margarita or beer. So, here I am going to give you all the tools and tidbits to make a great fajita dinner.
Traditionally, fajitas are a Southwestern/Mexican peasant food made from a cheap, but flavorful, cut of meat.The fajita meat is skirt steak, and skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle (which lies between the abdomen and chest cavity). It’s a long, flat piece of meat that’s flavorful but rather tough. Since the diaphragm is located across the belly of the cow, the cut of meat is called “fajita,” which means belt.
Growing up in New York, skirt steak was referred to as “Romanian Tenderloin.” But one thing skirt steak isn’t, is tender! The trick to making this cut a wonderful addition to your menu is to make sure you marinate the meat to tenderize it a little, and then you must slice it against the grain before serving. This task is actually quite easy, because the skirt steak is a very flat, rectangular piece of meat with a definite muscular grain going crosswise. Slicing the meat at a 45-degree angle will break the sinews and provide a much more tender chew. If you want to taste skirt steak as Romanian Tenderloin smothered with garlic, you’ll have to go to New York, where it is often served with a syrup jar filled with rendered chicken fat to pour on your steak and mashed potatoes with gribben — don’t ask!
Skirt steak is very popular in Japan, and for years a very high percentage of the U.S. supply was shipped there. As a result, it is not readily available in all markets, and when it is available, it’s not so cheap anymore (especially if it’s kosher meat). Other cuts of beef can be substituted, but it will not have the same texture or flavor, and of course, you can make chicken fajitas or vegetarian ones as well.
Fajitas
Many recipes are available for fajita marinades. My recipe uses the fresh flavors of Southwestern cooking, eliminating overbearing elements. Many marinades for fajitas, both homemade and store bought, use soy sauce. Avoid these products if you don’t want your finished product to taste more Teriyaki than Southwest. I prefer to use Worcestershire sauce for that additional “kick.”
11/2 pounds skirt steak or boneless chicken breast
¼ cup peanut or corn oil
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (omit salt if using kosher meat)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste
Flour tortillas
Pico de Gallo (see recipe)
Guacamole (see recipe)

  1. Marinate the steaks or chicken breast in the oil, garlic, lime juice and seasonings, at least 4 hours or overnight. If it’s 4 hours or less, marinate at room temperature, otherwise refrigerate.
  2. A half-hour before cooking, start your grill. Soak 1/2 cup of mesquite chips in water.
  3. 15 minutes before cooking, add the mesquite chips to the fire.
    *See Tidbits
  4. Grill meat over a hot fire 3-5 minutes per side, or until medium-rare.
  5. Slice into thin strips on the diagonal and serve on flour tortillas with the Pico de Gallo and guacamole.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• The most important thing to remember when making fajitas is never buy meat that is pre-sliced. Your meat needs to be grilled whole and then sliced to preserve its flavor and moisture content. Besides, grilling little slivers of meat is a daunting task and will feed the fire gods many little morsels as you are trying to turn and retrieve the pieces off your grill grate!
• Never marinate beef and chicken in the same bowl. The flavor and color of the meat will alter the taste and color of the chicken.
• If your grill doesn’t have a wood chip pan or smoker box, place the soaked chips in a foil packet and punch holes in it to let out the smoke. Place in the far corner of your grill and proceed with the recipe. Remove when grill is cold and discard.
Portobello Mushroom Fajitas
Sometimes you need a vegetarian option that is just as meaty and delicious. Here is the answer you will love that can be eaten alone or added to the meat in your tortilla.
4 portobello mushroom caps, stems cut flush with caps
1/2 cup beer
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Rinse and pat dry the mushrooms. Scrape out the fins on the underside of the mushroom and discard.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a shallow, non-reactive bowl and marinate the mushrooms for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour.
  3. Grill over hot coals for 4-5 minutes starting with cap side down and turning halfway through cooking time.
  4. Slice into 1/4-inch strips. Serve as above with accompaniments.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Removing the fins from the portobello prevents the mushroom from bleeding black into your dish. This is especially important when you are mixing these mushrooms into a casserole or rice dish.
Fresh Pico de Gallo
If pressed for time, you can always buy premade pico in local supermarkets, but it will not taste as fresh and vibrant.
1 pound red ripe tomatoes
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ small can of chopped green chilies
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  1. Seed the tomatoes and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine with the remaining ingredients and allow to sit for 1/2 hour before serving.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• To seed a tomato, cut in half horizontally. Hold tomato half by the skin and gently squeeze it over the sink. Give a downward shake and all the seeds should fall out.
• It is much easier to cut a tomato with a serrated knife and from the inside, rather than the skin side.
• Pico de Gallo means “comb of the rooster.” Care should be taken to cut the tomato and onion in perfect dice, as they will be visible in this uncooked salsa.
Guacamole
I know, it’s dangerous teaching guacamole in the Southwest, but here’s a recipe for those who generally buy the ready-made version.
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
¼ cup canned Rotel tomatoes or picante sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 or more cloves of garlic, finely minced (or garlic powder)
½ cup finely chopped onion

  1. Mash the avocados, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Store with the avocado pit in the mixture to prevent browning.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Ideally, the avocado will be ripe when you buy it. If the little step piece comes out easily, then it is ripe.
• If avocados are not ripe enough, put them in a paper bag on your counter and within two days they will be perfect!
Pralines
These are the hard, crunchy variety that you find at Mexican restaurants, rather than the soft, chewy kind.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecan halves

  1. Combine the sugars, butter, milk and corn syrup in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly.
  2. Cook the mixture until it forms a soft ball when a small amount is dropped into a glass of water that contains a few ice cubes to make it very cold.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  4. Add the pecans and remove from the heat. Stir to coat the pecans.
    Pour the mixture by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet or parchment paper and allow to cool.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Stirring a sugar mixture while it is boiling creates a crystalline structure when it cools. This is why instructions often tell you to never stir fudge while it’s cooking if you want it to be very smooth.
Frozen Margaritas
1 cup tequila
½ cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1 6-ounce can frozen limeade

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and add ice cubes to fill the container. Blend until thick and smooth. Serve in salt-rimmed glasses if desired.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• If you really want your Margarita to be blue, try adding Blue Curacao instead of Grand Marnier.

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Dads and kids: Easy-to-make Mother’s Day recipes

Dads and kids: Easy-to-make Mother’s Day recipes

Posted on 09 May 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
Challah French Toast

By Tina Wasserman

Mother’s Day is upon us and there is no mother alive who wouldn’t prefer a handmade gift from her child to a store-bought one (that’s Dad’s department) The most iconic treat for Mom is being served breakfast that she didn’t make (and maybe even served in bed).
The problem with this tradition is it often requires a lot of work in the morning, and if one has young children, this is almost impossible to achieve unless you are looking at coffee and a bagel.
The following recipes are delicious, impressive and can all be assembled at the very last minute if some preparation has been done the day before. All breakfast categories are covered, so make your choice. But, don’t just make these recipes for Mom. Enjoy them anytime you want for yourself or your company.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Challah French Toast
This recipe takes basic French toast to new heights. If you start out with rich challah bread, how can you go wrong? Children of all ages like to make French toast. It requires few utensils, and short attention spans are no problem. Even better: Moms will love it. ‬
I use ice cream in this recipe, because it is more likely that you have a container of ice cream in the house than a container of heavy cream or even half-and-half. Plus, children think it’s funny to have ice cream in their breakfast. This recipe can easily be made with milk and can certainly be doubled, which is not a bad idea if you want to serve more than two people. If your challah is homemade, it will absorb more of the custard mixture.
1 egg
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup premium vanilla ice cream, half-and-half or milk
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Challah bread, crust included
2 or more tablespoons unsalted butter
Pure maple syrup, powdered sugar or fruit, if desired
1. Combine the egg and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart bowl.
2. Add the ice cream or milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the bowl and whisk well to combine and fully melt the ice cream, if using. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate or flat-bottom bowl. Set aside while you prepare the bread.
3. Cut the bread into four ¾-inch slices. If desired, use a cookie cutter to cut designs from the center of the slices (heart shape would be perfect for Mommy).
4. Place 2 bread slices or shapes in the egg/cream mixture. Turn slices over to absorb more egg mixture, but be careful they don’t absorb too much, or they will fall apart when transferred to skillet.
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat for 15 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet, and swirl the pan around to melt the butter and coat the bottom.
5. Using a large metal spatula, carefully lift the bread slices from the egg/cream mixture and fry on one side until bottom of bread is golden brown. Turn slices over and continue cooking until the slices are soft, but evenly golden.
6. Remove to a warm plate and continue frying more bread slices or shapes until all the egg/cream mixture is used. Add more butter to empty pan between adding additional slices.
7. Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar and/or fresh fruit, if desired.
Serves 2-4, depending on size and shape of bread.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• This is an easy, but fancy, way to make French toast. All ages can make this, but very young children MUST be on a sturdy step stool that will bring the stove to their waist height. I like to hold the child by the waist with my left arm and help them add the bread with my right.
• Two-to-4-year-olds might be intimidated by the stove, so you might wind up doing all of the cooking. That’s OK. They helped with the preparation, and will be satisfied.
Tomato Basil Crustless Quiche
Adapted from Joan Nathan
People often ask me where I get my recipes. Do I make them up, copy them or recreate old recipes? The answer is yes to all, except I never “copy” a recipe without revising it and giving credit to the original author.
The following recipe is originally from my dear friend, and fellow member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Joan Nathan. Joan and I are among five members worldwide who specialize in Jewish cuisine. Joan discovered this recipe in a Parisian bakeshop. I tried the recipe and loved it. However, this required all preparation just before serving. I felt it was undoable for a brunch or breakfast until I figured out how it could be prepared in advance, and assembled just before baking.
This recipe is perfect for children of all ages to make (with adult supervision, of course) and to serve to Mom on her special day.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
¼ cup whole fresh basil leaves
6 large eggs
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (any fat content is OK) or Crème Fraiche
1 cup milk
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1. Wet a piece of parchment paper larger than your 10-inch springform pan. Squeeze the paper to remove most of the liquid, then line your pan on the bottom and partially up the sides. Grease the paper with some olive oil.
2. Place basil leaves in a small cup, and coat with olive oil, letting them soften. Cover and set aside until ready to bake your quiche.
3. Place the eggs, yogurt, milk, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, salt and pepper in a blender container. Blend mixture until it is smooth. Cover blender container and refrigerate until ready to bake your quiche; overnight is fine.
4. Place the cherry tomatoes in the prepared pan. Re-blend contents of the blender jar, then pour gently over the tomatoes so they stay in one layer. Place the basil leaves throughout the tomatoes.
5. Place the quiche in a cold oven, and then turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Cook the quiche for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the quiche starts to turn slightly golden on top. Remove from pan and carefully transfer from paper to a serving dish, or just trim paper so it is not visible. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Parchment paper can always be cut to fit a pan, but wetting and crumpling allows you to mold it to the pan and prevents liquids from oozing out the bottom of a springform pan that doesn’t have a tight seal.
• This can be made in a greased, deep, quiche pan and served directly from the baking dish.
• Mixture should not be mixed in a processor. You need a smooth consistency and cheese solids will hydroplane over the blades of a processor. If you don’t have a blender, whisk all of the ingredients together by hand initially, and before you pour into the prepared pan.
Morning Glory Muffins
Mom not a big breakfast eater? Not a lot of time to make and share breakfast? Here’s a perfect muffin that can be assembled in advance, then mixed and baked just before you treat Mom. “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven” and it’s much better and healthier when made from scratch!
1½ cups flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup shredded coconut
2 large Fuji or Honeycrisp apples, grated with the skin
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1. In a 4-quart bowl, mix together the first 10 ingredients. Cover and set aside until you are ready to bake your muffins.
2. Grate the apples in a processor on the coarse disk, or grate by hand. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, if not using right away.
3. When you are ready to make your muffins, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 18-24 muffin cups with paper liners.
4. In a 2-quart bowl, whisk eggs and the oil until they are completely blended.
5. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is completely moistened. Batter will be stiff, but don’t overmix. Add the grated apples and stir only until thoroughly incorporated.
6. Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Remove the muffins from the tins or turn muffins on their sides to cool.
Yield 24 muffins.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• The apple skin adds nutrients to the mixture and makes this recipe ideal for children. It saves time, as peeling isn’t necessary.
• When oil is the fat in a recipe, combining it thoroughly with the eggs — which contain fat — creates an emulsion much like mayonnaise. The result is a moist and light product. When they are not combined thoroughly your cake or muffins are greasy and heavy.

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Feeding the soul while keeping the body healthy

Feeding the soul while keeping the body healthy

Posted on 11 April 2019 by admin

Jewish Passover brisket with savory walnut breading sliced and ready to serve

By Deborah Fineblum

(JNS) Sweet gefilte fish with a dollop of eye-watering horseradish. Fluffy matzo balls floating in golden chicken soup, raisin-dotted matzo kugel, tangy stuffed cabbage, crunchy charoset, mile-high spongecake.
This time of year (Passover — or Pesach in Hebrew — begins at sundown Friday, April 19, also the start of Shabbat), you may come upon recipes faded by the years in the handwriting of beloved mothers or grandmothers tucked into old cookbooks or recorded on yellowed index cards.
These, along with the fragrance of the Passover kitchen itself — and the first taste of matzo smeared with horseradish and charoset — can transport you back to the sights, sounds and tastes of Seder nights a half-century ago.
But when the nostalgia lifts, if you’re not careful, eight days (make that seven in Israel) of these wonderful time-honored Passover foods can also widen your waistline, dull your brain in a perpetual carb-fog and slow your kishkas to a near standstill.
Fortunately, there’s an art to preparing traditional foods that retain the power to pass on to the next generation this beloved family holiday while eating smart, creating a Passover that’s healthful without losing its soul.
Joan Nathan, the Julia Child of Jewish cooking, has updated many of her family’s Passover dishes, including Passover recipes, for her latest, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World” (Knopf).
“Seder night is a big deal in our family,” says Nathan, who each year hosts as many as 40 guests for the big event and, the week prior, holds a “gefilte-in” for friends to come and cook together.
Beginning with the salad, Nathan adds the key ingredient of creativity to every course, with a special focus on using vegetables to keep the “HQ” (health quotient) high. And she loads her mother’s traditional brisket recipe with plenty of carrots.
Paula Shoyer, author of “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen” (Sterling Epicure, 2017) and “The New Passover Menu” (Sterling Epicure), suggests an easy formula for “lightening up” traditional recipes: Take down the sugar a notch; replace some matzo meal with other kosher-for-Passover options like a mixture of almond and coconut flour; and use coconut oil (look for extra-virgin with a reliable hechsher, kosher symbol) instead of the ever-present margarine.
“And people will find that if they cook from scratch, they’ll avoid all the unhealthy chemicals in the packaged Passover foods — and save money, too,” notes Shoyer. “It only takes a few more minutes to make brownies yourself.” Creating a salad dressing of olive oil and vinegar with spices can help you dodge some of the arguably less healthful oils (peanut and cottonseed among them) long associated with Passover cooking.
Israelis are mad about cauliflower and zucchini, and both of these are spotlighted in Steven Rothfeld’s love letter to Israeli cuisine “Israel Eats” (Gibbs Smith). Note: On Passover Israelis are split between Sephardic tradition, which allows the eating of kitnyot (most notably legumes and rice), and Ashkenazi customs, which consider these things to be not permissible for Passover. (Though in the spirit of what Rothfeld calls “Israeli fusion,” in recent years many Ashkenazim in Israel and elsewhere have opted to spend Passover eating like Sephardim.) Tip to shoppers: You’ll notice that many “Kosher for Passover” products add the word “Kitniyot” somewhere on the package as a warning to consumers whose tradition is to avoid it. (Not sure what’s kitniyot? Arlene Mathes-Scharf of kashrut.com put together this list with the late Rabbi Zuche Blech: https://askcrc.org/item/Passover/186968)
“The best advice I can give for keeping healthy on Passover is to listen to your body,” adds Rothfeld. “Just because it’s a holiday, don’t overeat, and even though it looks amazing, don’t eat it if you’re not hungry.” (Kind of the flip side to the Haggadah notation: “All who are hungry, come and eat.”)
Then there are the folks whose food sensitivities — to gluten, nuts or dairy for instance — make Passover a dietary challenge. When Marcy Goldman’s nut-allergic son longed to eat her charoset, a delicious part of the Seder that calls for nuts, she quickly went to work concocting a version he could safely enjoy. The result? “Paradise Charoset” in her “Newish Jewish Cookbook” (River Heart Press).
Goldman also makes a point of slipping healthful, colorful veggies and fruits into other traditional dishes, creating such treats as her “Three-Level Kugel.”
“You can eat smart over Passover,” she insists. “You don’t have to recycle potatoes, kugels and roast all week. And remember, it only takes one or two Passovers to make your adaptations into your family Passover traditions.”
There is also oat matzo on the market that solves the gluten-free problem (you may need to order them if they’re not available near you), as they’re kosher for making a bracha (“blessing”) over (Note: Not all gluten-free matzos are, just the oat). And those sensitive to nightshades such as white potatoes will have to be vigilant about scouring the labels due to the literally tons of potato starch used in prepared kosher-for-Passover foods.
As for the most common health complaint from Passover — the infamous constipating powers of matzo and its by-products — Nathan says her ancestors were wise enough to build relief right into their traditional holiday recipes. “Our family always serves our krimsel (matzo fritters) with plenty of stewed prunes … even way back then, they understood.”
Joan Nathan’s Favorite Brisket (Meat)
Ingredients:
One 5-pound brisket of beef, shoulder roast of beef, chuck roast, or end of steak
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and diced
One 10-ounce can tomatoes, undrained
2 cups red wine
2 stalks celery with the leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 to 8 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place onions and garlic in a 5-quart to 6-quart casserole. Season brisket with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat and sear brisket until browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.
Place fat-side-up on top of onions. Add tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with a fork.
Add the wine, celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.
Cover casserole and bake for 3 hours, basting with pan juices every half-hour.
Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Quinoa Cake
Ingredients for Cake:
¾ cup quinoa
1½ cups water
Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher for Passover vanilla extract
¾ cup coconut oil
1½ cups sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)

Ingredients for Glaze (Optional):
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon sunflower or safflower oil
1 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and cook the quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Set the pan aside. The quinoa may be made 1 day in advance.
Use cooking spray to grease a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle the potato starch over the greased pan and then shake the pan to remove any excess starch.
Place the quinoa in the bowl of a food processor. Add the orange juice, eggs, vanilla, oil, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and process until the mixture is very smooth.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or place in a medium microwave-safe bowl, putting in a microwave for 45 seconds, stirring and then heating the chocolate for another 30 seconds until melted. Add the chocolate to the quinoa batter and process until well-mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake it for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then remove it gently from the pan. Let it cool on a wire cooling rack.
To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in the microwave (see above) or over a double boiler. Add the oil and vanilla; whisk well. Let the glaze sit for 5 minutes and then whisk it again. Use a silicone spatula to spread the glaze over the cake.
Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.
Marcy Goldman’s Nut-Free Passover Paradise Charoset (Pareve)
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup yellow raisins
2 cups coarsely chopped apples
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup water or orange juice
2 tablespoons sweet red wine
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Over low-medium heat, cook the fruit slowly until the apples soften and the cranberries pop open. Stir, ensuring mixture does not burn on bottom. You may have to lower the heat.
After mixture is cooked down and is thicker, adjust tartness to taste with more orange juice and sugar. If it seems too thick, add a touch more water or orange juice. Cool well. Refrigerate after it cools down.
Serve cold or room temperature. (Some of this is used on the Seder plate; a side dish may be offered with the main meal.)
Makes about 1¾ cups.
Best Matzo Balls (with Olive Oil) by Weekend Cook (Pareve)
From Allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
4 eggs
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup club soda
2 tablespoons club soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups matzo meal, or more as needed
4 quarts water

Directions:
Whisk eggs and olive oil in a bowl until combined.
Stir both amounts of club soda and salt into egg mixture.
Mix matzo meal into wet ingredients to form a workable dough; if mixture is too wet, stir in ¼ cup more matzo meal. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
Wet your hands and form matzo-ball dough into walnut-size balls. Gently place matzo balls into boiling water.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer matzo balls until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Note: For firm/hard-middle matzo balls, either reduce the seltzer or add ¼ cup matzo meal.
Stuffed Cabbage from Oratorio in Zichron Ya’acov, as published in Steven Rothfeld’s Israel Eats (Meat)
Ingredients:
1 medium green cabbage
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
21 ounces ground lamb
½ cup chopped mint leaves
2 medium tomatoes, grated
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 generous cup chicken stock or broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, crushed

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Freeze the cabbage for 24 hours to facilitate separating of leaves.
Defrost cabbage. Separate leaves, trying not to rip them. The more whole leaves, the better.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lamb and sauté until browned and no pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the blanched rice, mint, tomatoes, pine nuts, cranberries and ras el hanout. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Arrange one-fourth of the cabbage leaves in the bottom of a medium-size Dutch oven or heavy pot. Top with a third of the meat mixture. Cover with another fourth of the cabbage leaves. Top with another third of the meat mixture. Cover with another fourth of the cabbage leaves. Top with the remaining third of the meat mixture. Cover with the remaining fourth of the cabbage leaves.
Pour in the chicken stock and lemon juice. Add the garlic clove; season generously with salt and pepper.
Cover tightly and cook for 1½ hours. Remove the lid from the pot. Cover contents of the pot with a plate, then top the plate with a brick or cans as weight.
Refrigerate overnight. Bring the cabbage cake to room temperature. Cut into slices and serve.
Joan Nathan’s Salmon-Gefilte Fish Mold with Horseradish and Beet Sauce (Pareve)
Makes 15 to 20 slices
Ingredients:
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 pound cod, flounder, rockfish or whitefish
3 medium red onions, peeled and diced (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons matzo meal
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons snipped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sugar parsley, for garnish
Horseradish and beet sauce (see below)

Directions:
Have your fish store grind the fillets or pulse them yourself, one at a time, in a food processor or meat grinder. If using a food processor, pulse the fish in short bursts, being careful not to purée the fish; you want some texture.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and fill a larger pan (such as a large Pyrex dish) with 2 inches of hot water.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté the diced onions in the oil for about 5 minutes, until soft and transparent but not brown. Set aside to cool.
Put the fish, onions, eggs, 2 cups water, matzo meal, carrots, 4 tablespoons dill, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer equipped with a flat beater. Beat at medium speed for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the Bundt or tube pan, and then put the pan inside the larger water-filled dish (called a bain-marie). Smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until the center is solid.
Remove the Bundt or tube pan from the water dish; allow the terrine to cool slightly for at least 20 minutes. Slide a long knife around the outer and inner edges of the Bundt or tube pan, then carefully invert the terrine onto a flat serving plate.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. If any water accumulates on the serving dish, carefully drain it away before serving.
Slice the terrine as you would a torte, garnished with parsley and dill and served with Horseradish and Beet Sauce (see recipe below).
Horseradish and Beet Sauce (Pareve)
Makes about 4 cups
Ingredients:
3 large beets (about 2 pounds, trimmed but not peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces (about 1 cup) peeled and roughly chopped fresh horseradish root
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Rub the whole beets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake the beets for about an hour or until tender in the center when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, and then peel and cut into large chunks.
In the bowl of a food processor, mix the horseradish and the vinegar. Process with the steel blade until finely chopped; do not purée. Add the beets and remaining olive oil. Pulse until the beets are coarsely chopped, but not puréed. Transfer to a bowl and add the salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Adjust the seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least a day.
Serve as an accompaniment to the Salmon-Gefilte Fish Mold (see recipe above).
Marcy Goldman’s Three-Level Kugel (Pareve)
Makes 8-10 servings
Broccoli Layer:
1 pound broccoli, cooked, chopped fine
3 eggs
½ cup matzo meal
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon pepper
Carrot-Squash Layer:
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 cup butternut squash, cooked and mashed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1½ cups matzo meal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
Cauliflower Layer:
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup diced onion
1 pound cauliflower, cooked, finely chopped
3 eggs
1 cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper (bottom and sides). Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Prepare first layer by cooking broccoli and then combining with rest of ingredients (for that layer) in a bowl. Spread in springform pan.
For the second layer, in a bowl, blend the carrots, with squash, sugar, egg, matzo meal, salt, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently spread over broccoli layer.
For the third layer, prepare cauliflower. In a small skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion until lightly cooked and golden. Place with cauliflower in a large bowl and stir in the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Gently spread this over carrot-squash mixture.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

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A delicious way to delete your leavening

A delicious way to delete your leavening

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
Ruota Del Faraone (Pharaoh’s Wheels)

By Tina Wasserman

The shelves in the supermarket have been moved around. The shamrocks from St. Patrick’s Day are gone, and bunnies abound. But this time the bunnies are not taking center stage. Passover coincides with Easter weekend, and Passover is big business for the supermarkets that are located in predominantly Jewish areas.
Before you can buy all those Passover items, room needs to be made in your kitchen and some ingredients need to be consumed before matzo meal, potato starch and Passover muffin mixes can fill the shelves. You can do this with some pre-Passover-themed recipes to reduce the bread and pasta in your home.
This idea first came to me when I studied Jewish cooking in Florence, Italy. Italian Jews in that city prepare a storytelling pasta dish the Shabbat before Pesach begins. Sauced pasta noodles are twirled into mounds to represent the waves of the Red Sea, and raisins and pine nuts are dotted throughout the dish to look like Pharaoh’s soldiers and horses drowning in the swirling waters.
Pot roast gravy makes this dish very easy to make, but I have included a recipe for a meat sauce to use when pot roast is not available.
Ruota Del Faraone
(Pharaoh’s Wheels)

½ cup raisins
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
6 ounces turkey sausage, cut into ½-inch rounds, or ground turkey or beef
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (or more oil)
2 large leaves of fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ cup white wine or 1 cup pot roast gravy
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces tagliatelle noodles
1 quart water
1 quart chicken broth or 1 quart additional water and 2 Telma chicken bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. If raisins are hard, soak them in warm water while you prepare the pasta.
2. If using leftover pot roast and pot roast gravy, skip to step #6.
3. To make meat gravy: Turn the burner on the stove to high and heat a 10-inch skillet for 15 seconds.
4. Add the olive oil and chicken fat to the hot pan, and heat for another 10 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium.
5. Add the herbs and stir once or twice to coat with oil. Add the meat and sauté in pan until meat is no longer pink.
6. Add the wine and cook 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.
7. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart pot, bring chicken broth, water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. When done, reserve ½ cup cooking liquid, then drain noodles in a strainer.
8. Add noodles and reserved cooking liquid to sauce, and gently mix in well. Add drained raisins and pine nuts; gently stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart oval casserole with a little olive oil.
10. Scoop up some noodles into a ladle. Using a fork, twist the noodles into a mound and place it in a casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles until you have lots of mounds that look like waves in the sea.
11. Combine the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of olive oil; sprinkle over the top.
12. Place casserole in the hot oven and bake until breadcrumbs are lightly golden.
Serves 4.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• When frying with chicken fat or butter or margarine, always add oil for part of the fat, to allow frying at a high temperature with minimal splattering.
• Lately raisins have appeared to be very dry, possibly due to a bad raisin crop last year and use of older raisins to meet consumer demand. Soaking in some water or wine will make them more appetizing in dishes.
• Oil is added to pasta water for two reasons: to prevent the pasta from sticking together and absorbing too much of the sauce, and to create surface tension on the water so that the pot won’t boil over (if you haven’t added too much water to the pot)!

Orzo is closely associated with Greece and the Ottoman Empire, but it is actually a form of pasta that, in Italy, means “barley” because of its shape. This recipe can be made with any small pasta, barley or any other grain you want to use up before Pesach. With all the vibrant flavors in this dish, it is amazing how subtle the flavors are in the finished product. Makes a great side for chicken or fish.
Orzo with Dried Cherries

1 cup orzo
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
Salt to taste
½ tablespoon hazelnut oil
¼ cup dried cherries or raisins
2 tablespoons lightly toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts or slivered almonds
1 scallion, thinly sliced

1. Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add the saffron and orzo, and cook for 7-10 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Place orzo in a serving bowl.
2. In a small bowl combine orange zest, juice and salt to taste. Whisk the olive oil into the juice mixture until it is incorporated.
3. Toss the dressing with the orzo; add the cherries, almonds and scallion. Serve at room temperature.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard can be added to the zest and juice before adding the oil to create an emulsion or thick, smooth dressing to coat the pasta.
• Pasta will break down and become soft and mushy if exposed to a high-acid ingredient for a prolonged period, so don’t add the dressing more than a few hours before serving.

Traditionally two challot are served on Friday night, but even one large challah often leaves leftovers. I developed this recipe as a way to use the leftovers, while creating a delicious dessert reminiscent of traditional babka with its crumb topping. Any leftover bread/breads can be used to make this dessert, so it is perfect before Passover cleaning begins (or anytime for that matter!)
Challah Babka Bread Pudding

1 one-pound raisin challah, preferably a few days old
8 ounces Israeli chocolate spread (Crème Chocolate or Nutella)
1 stick unsalted butter or margarine, plus additional for greasing pan
¼ cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups milk (skim, 2 percent or whole, OK)

Topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, or slightly softened in the microwave
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1. Butter a 2-quart oval or rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
2. Slice the challah into 1/2-inch slices.
3. Spread the chocolate filling over each slice of bread, and arrange in the casserole to fit evenly.
4. Melt the butter in a 2-quart bowl in the microwave. Add sugar to the melted butter, and stir to dissolve.
5. Add the eggs and remaining ingredients to the bowl; whisk to combine well.
6. Carefully pour egg/milk mixture over the bread slices. Gently press down on the bread slices to submerge them under the custard. Place a plate or bowl on top of the casserole to weight the challah down. Let sit for 30 minutes while you make the topping.
7. To make the topping, place the butter, flour and sugar in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Squeeze the mixture together with your hands, then fingertips, to evenly combine all ingredients and make a crumble. Spread on top of casserole and then bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 8-12.

Warm Buttered Wine Sauce (Optional)

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons Shabbat Concord wine
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan, over moderate heat.
2. Whisk the egg and the sugar together in a 1-quart bowl to a light lemon color.
3. Rapidly whisk some of the hot butter into the egg/sugar mixture, then whisk constantly while pouring the egg mixture into the saucepan.
4. Continue to whisk over moderate heat until the mixture thickens and the butter is completely absorbed into the sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Whisk in the wine and the cinnamon. Pour over warm bread pudding.
NOTE: Sauce may be refrigerated for later use. Slightly rewarm sauce before using.
Tina’s Tidbits:
• This dish can easily be made pareve with the use of coconut milk or oat milk and pareve margarine or coconut oil.
• If using coconut oil, try using the unprocessed variety, which has a subtle coconut taste and adds to the flavors of the dessert.
• If making the sauce, liquor can be substituted for the Concord wine (I just thought it would be fun to have that slight grape taste) and you can eliminate the topping if you wish.

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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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