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
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.
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.
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!
You can learn all sorts of interesting things on Twitter, like for instance, that February 10th is National "Have a Brownie Day." I owe a tip of the hat to culinary historian Michael W. Twitty (Twitter handle: @KosherSoul) for cluing me in to this most auspicious day, and to @Foodimentary for sharing some fascinating brownie-related ephemera. I may have been clueless that this "holiday" even existed when I made Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies last night, but it sure was fun to have a special reason to eat them today.
Image © Miri Rotkovitz
It's been a busy month, and thanks to all of the snow days I've often had the kids underfoot while working. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining -- but while I managed to get a reasonable amount done, something had to give. So I cooked, and tinkered with new recipes, and researched food trends, and Tweeted/Facebooked some interesting kosher news, but I let this blog slide. So, here's a quick update of what's new on the site. I hope you'll find something intriguing! Shabbat Shalom!
Top Trends at the 2014 Winter Fancy Food Show: Kosher Takes on the Year's Big Specialty Food Trends (Let's just say this list makes me want to go food shopping...)
Walnut Raisin Mandel Bread (Passover, Pareve) (Yes, folks, she's already working on the Pesach recipes!)
Honey Almond Challah (Because Tu B'Shevat only comes once a year, but almonds are always delicious.)
Image © Miri Rotkovitz
In theory, the recipe for French Onion soup is simple, virtually elemental. There's not much in it but caramelized onions, broth, some herbs. Topped with a cheese toast, it's rustic and comforting -- perfect sustenance for a blustery day.
But as any chef will tell you, the simplest recipes are the ones that require the most care and the best ingredients, or they'll be pretty lackluster. And, as it turns out, making a simple, yet delicious kosher French Onion Soup turns out to be a pretty tall order. For starters, you can't rely on beef broth -- as most recipes do -- unless you want to forgo the cheese toast, and what's the point of that? You've also got to make a point of seeking out (or baking) a great crusty bread and quality kosher cheese, which, depending on where you live, can prove challenging.
But once you have the ingredients assembled, I'm happy to report that it is possible to make an awesome Vegetarian French Onion Soup. The secret lies in a combination of red wine and miso, which enrich the broth with deep, savory flavor. And while I prefer the soup with a vegetable stock base, the wine-miso combo is so flavorful that you can definitely get away with using water in place of the stock in a pinch.
Image © Miri Rotkovitz
Mornings can be hectic, but that's no reason to skip breakfast. Countless studies have demonstrated that regularly eating a healthy morning meal can have big benefits -- from helping kids learn to preventing diabetes complications.
This Apricot Almond Oatmeal is quick to prepare, antioxidant-rich, and great source of whole grains and fiber. And thanks to tart apricots, chewy raisins, crunchy almonds, a touch of warming ginger, and a drizzle of sweet maple syrup, it offers a playful, palate-wakening mix of textures and flavors. Boker Tov (Good Morning) indeed!
It's a dreary, chilly day, and by the look of the cloud cover, it's likely to rain. In other words, it's soup weather. And as much as I love the thought of spending the day soaking beans, lovingly roasting vegetables, and setting up a soup to simmer for hours as its rich aroma fills the kitchen, that's just not happening today.
Instead, I'm heading out into the muck to run a bunch of silly errands, including returning the lost eyeglass replacement that arrived in the wrong size, and what will likely be a fruitless attempt to find a brown and green outfit so my daughter can dress as a tree for her school's Tu B'Shvat program. (If you've ever shopped in the little girls' clothing section you will know that I'm not being pessimistic about my prospects of finding tree colors amidst the sea of pink and purple outfits.) There's a good chance I'll get rain soaked, too, and will REALLY want soup for dinner. Happily, I can raid the freezer and pantry to make this Tortellini Soup with Spinach, and it'll be ready to warm us all up within the half hour.
Image © 2014 Miri Rotkovitz
I've got this funny hangup about birthday cakes, which involves the conviction that they've not only got to be tailored to the menu they'll conclude, but that they must somehow reflect the taste preferences of the birthday celebrant in an intimate, wink, wink, nod, nod, in-joke sort of way. The party guests might not know that you're a fiend for cannoli, but if I do, you'd best believe I'll build a menu around a Cassata Cake.
I'll probably make that cake from scratch. But if I'm short on time, I'm not above taking a shortcut or two -- as long as that doesn't mean compromising on quality or flavor. So, when I made my sister's birthday cake last week, and started thinking about salted caramel, I decided to showcase a store bought, artisanal dulce de leche. I used it as the filling and in the Salted Caramel Frosting. I even doctored a cake mix instead of baking from scratch. Turns out it's a good thing I did -- go know that my pepper grinder would break, I'd accidentally dump its contents into the French Onion soup I was making, and I'd end up laughing through tears at the ridiculousness of spending half an hour fishing peppercorns out of a soup pot full of onions.