Thursday February 27, 2014
Just before Chanukah, I added Jamie Geller's then-forthcoming new cookbook, Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Meals to my roundup of Top Kosher Cookbooks. I included it on the strength of Geller's breezy "if-I can-do-it-you-can-do-it!" style, nice food photography, and features like a section that outlines how to adapt many of the recipes for Passover use.
Still, I make a point of cooking a bunch of recipes from a new cookbook before I'll write a comprehensive review of it, and I'm still working my way through Joy of Kosher. Fortunately, I've gotten permission to reprint a few recipes from the book, so if you're trying to decide whether to add it to your collection, you can give these recipes a test-run first.
One of the features I like about the book is that each recipe is sort of a two-fer -- there's a casual and dressed-up version of each. For instance, a Rice Salad with Toasted Nuts, Apples, and Onion Dressing gets transformed into a company-worthy Apple and Nut Rice Ring after a stint in the oven in a Bundt pan.
BBQ Short Rib Sandwiches with Avocado were inspired by one of Geller's favorite restaurant offerings; the Short Rib Sliders with Flavored Mayo on Garlic Toast make great casual party fare. (Vegetarians can co-opt the Crispy Fried Red Onions as a veggie burger topping.) And in case you want to judge a book by its cover recipe, there's Crispy Salt and Pepper Chicken with Caramelized Fennel and Shallots (Meat).
Image Courtesy of Joy of Kosher
Sunday February 23, 2014
Well, it's Sunday evening once again. Time to get organized, gear up for the week, and figure out what to do with that leftover challah from Shabbat. I think I'll use mine to make a Challah Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Cherries. Because while you could totally classify it as a comfort food dessert (especially when topped with regular or dairy-free ice cream), this not-too-sweet rendition absolutely works as breakfast, served warm with maple syrup. What a way to a avert a case of the Mondays.
Thursday February 20, 2014
My daughter wasn't particularly interested in solid foods until she was about 7 1/2 months old. Her baby brother, on the other hand, grabbed a whole pear from my hand and shoved it into his own mouth at 5 months. For the next 2 weeks, he dive-bombed us at meals, arms out, trying to wrest food off the fork of whoever's lap he was sitting in.
As a dietitian, I tend to recommend waiting until around 6 months to introduce solids, but our little guy made it abundantly clear that, developmentally speaking, he was ready to give them go sooner. And like his big sister, he wanted to feed himself. So for us, the baby-led weaning approach has worked nicely.
Since we're all eating the same meal, I try to cook things everyone can enjoy, like this mildly-spiced Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine with Couscous. The baby happily devours hunks of sweet potato and chickpeas, which happen to be his big sister's favorite elements of the dish, too. My husband and I like fiery flavors, so we top our own servings with harissa or sriracha.
Friday February 14, 2014
It's Valentine's Day, a much anticipated celebration of love and romance to some, a cheesy -- and utterly skippable -- Hallmark holiday to others. So what if you fall in the former camp, and are Jewishly observant? Some argue that the holiday has Christian origins, and is therefore an inappropriate celebration for Jews. Other historians assert that the holiday actually has pagan origins, and the link to Christianity is tenuous -- it's no longer recognized as a Christian holiday in liturgical calendars.
Still, the management of Talia's Steakhouse, a Glatt kosher restaurant in Manhattan, wrestled with the holiday's possible Christian roots in a strangely equivocating website post about the availability of a Valentine's Day Menu for its pre-paid Shabbat dinner service (despite the simultaneous assertion that we probably shouldn't be celebrating Valentine's Day on Shabbat). Shallot's Bistro, Chicago's renowned kosher eatery, has sidestepped the issue by appropriating the holiday and dubbing it Bashert's Day instead, suggesting a meal out to "remind our loved ones how much they mean to us" on Saturday night. Interestingly enough, Judaism actually has its own little-known festival devoted to romantic love -- it's called Tu B'Av, and falls in the summer.
As for the Jewish calendar, it happens to be a leap year, and today is Purim Katan. So I've actually had hamantaschen, and not chocolate hearts, on the brain all day. (I'm working on some savory hamantaschen recipes, which I'll be sharing soon!) Of course, if the novelty of a Valentine's Day/Purim Katan mashup appeals, you could celebrate with a batch of Rose Water Pistachio Hamantaschen (Dairy), which is probably as romantic a hamantaschen recipe as you're likely to find.
Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! Shabbat Shalom!