Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Cod

Click on the photo for a larger image.

It was so muggy in New York today; That is, until the heavens opened up. I was drenched first in sweat and then in water, but I guess that's par for the course on a busy, crazy summer day.

I wanted to make something in one pareve pan tonight, so I would have fewer pots piled up for washing (I have a big filming day tomorrow!). But somehow, I was still inspired to make something healthy and heimish. Long live this delicious summer cod!

6 cod loins or filets (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 container white mushrooms, roughly minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tsp granulated
1 tsp kosher salt
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp black pepper (less if you don't want spicy fish)
half lemon, in wedges

Saute your onion and garlic in the EVOO until you get a little color. Stir in your tomatoes and keep on a medium-high heat until they burst. Mix well to make a nice base sauce; There should be a little bit of moisture. Now, incorporate your mushrooms and let them cook down for a few minutes. There should be enough moisture now in the pan to create a nice bit of steam for the fish. Place the fish carefully on top of the mixture and cover with a piece of foil or non tight-fitting lid (keep it open a bit). Let the fish steam slowly for about 8 minutes, and double that time if the fish are frozen, or if they are thicker than a regular six ounce filet. You will know when it's done when the cod starts to change in size. Don't stir, take it off the fire, and either keep it warm in a 250 degree oven or serve immediately with some lemon squeezed over the top. Enjoy!

My husband, the notorious Veggie Eschewer, actually liked this. He said it was "way better" than my pretty good panko/crushed almonds breaded fish (coming soon to Kosher Poet), and I don't think he realized that it had any vegetables in it! The trick here was to mince the mushrooms very small. (He still doesn't know that onions and tomatoes aren't vegetables so please don't tell him!)

Dress down tip: If you serve this on paper plates, you will have almost zero cleanup! Yippee!

Meal Completion tip:
To add a starch, stir some couscous and water according to package directions minus 1/4 cup, into your mushroom, tomato onion mixture and continue with steaming the fish. The couscous will cook nicely during that process.

Dress up for Shabbat tip: Place your veggies at the bottom of a piece of foil and place your fish gently on top (this is so the fish does not keep cooking). Wrap tightly. Keep warm on the corner of a hot plate or blech (try to avoid the hottest part), and replate with the veggies on top when you are ready to serve. Delicious!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tri-Color Kreplach

(Click the picture for a larger image)

This is an original recipe, conceived and copyrighted by me (and still in development), and has been featured on film (watch me now on YouTube). As always, my goal is to make dishes that are heimish but healthy, and this recipe takes on a classic dish, the kreplach, and fills it to bursting with healthy ingredients, without compromising anything on the magnificent flavor that kreplach is known for.

Kreplach is a traditional Eastern European dumpling, usually filled with some kind of seasoned meat, and is served most often in soups or fried with some sauce. And you probably also know that tricolor means just what it sounds like, three colors. My recipe simplifies and shakes up the flavor of the kreplach filling (we won't do any searing or onion chopping), and provides an easy ready-made wrapping dough that you can buy in any supermarket. These will look and taste, however, like the most fantastic, summer-licious Kreplach you've ever had.

Wonton wrappers (I use Nasoya Brand Wonton wrap, which are OU-pareve)
1 cup butternut squash, sliced into medium sticks
1 cup peeled carrots or 1 cup red bell pepper, sliced into medium sticks
1 cup oven roasted turkey, sliced into medium sticks
3/4 cup fresh spinach, sliced into ribbons
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp red curry powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp minced onion
1 whisper cayenne pepper
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp salt
pasterized egg wash (I use Egg Beaters, OK certified)
2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a frying pan, saute your garlic with the sliced squash and carrots/peppers, not too long, just on a medium-high heat until they get a bit of color (under 3 minutes, but if you are using carrots, make sure they have softened). Add all your spices, give it a gentle mix, and then remove the veggies from the pan. Don't throw away the pan just yet. Dump your sliced turkey in your pan that is coated with your olive oil and spice mixture and soak up all those spices. Remove from pan and get ready to make wontons.

Take your wonton wrapper and stack one each of squash, carrot, and turkey, and then put a few ribbons of spinach on top and around. Close up your wonton with egg wash, and immediately take another wrapper and wrap your original. This is to build a thick kreplach skin and it ensure that none of your filling escapes! Make sure all your wontons are pinched and sealed tightly with egg wash.

Now, you can boil these up, in about three minutes, just until they float to the top of the water, and then serve them in soup. But this time, I fried them up and will serve them as a delicious appetizer for Shabbat dinner.

To fry them up, like I did in the picture, heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is very hot, place your wontons in (presentation-side down is best), and fry until golden (under 3 minutes). A nice appetizer size would be three kreplach, on a bed of greens, cabbage salad or rice noodles. If you cut them in half to show all your hard work (like I did), you will really impress everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rosh Chodesh Split Pea Soup

I have a bit of a cold, and am coming upon something like day five of laryngitis, so soup was the order of the day for dinner this evening. At least I am finally feeling well enough to cook, just in time for Rosh Chodesh. I didn't have any beef on hand (which my husband insists is key to a good Chodesh), but I instead built a nourishing soup that will hopefully fortify us for the month ahead.

I foraged around and found a nice bag of dried yellow peas, so I decided to use that as a base, and then just looked in my fridge for some veggies to use as flavorings. I didn't find any celery, which I would have enjoyed, but I ended up with a nice mix of shallots, garlic and carrots. I really wanted to use thyme as the primary herb, but I couldn't find it and didn't want to empty out all my cabinets (who has the THYME?? Jacqueline, is it you??), so I substituted dried marjoram. I added about half a cup of basmati rice toward the end to add thickness to the base, and it turned out very chunky, warm and delicious. Just right to get me back on my feet again!

1 bag yellow split peas
10 cups water
6 shallots, diced small
10 mini-carrots, diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon celery salt
half cup basmati rice
sea salt and black pepper to taste
toasted pine nuts for garnish

Boil water in a large pot and add your peas. In another pan, saute the vegetables in the olive oil, until they are well-carmelized. Spice up your veggie mixture with the remaining ingredients (minus the rice), and taste. Correct seasoning if necessary. Add your veggies to your boiling peas and simmer at least 1 hour. Taste again and correct seasonings again as necessary. Add your basmati and simmer another half hour. Garnish with pine nuts enjoy with crusty bread!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Magnificent Meatballs

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, my recipe for meatballs comes half from my mom, half from Chef Avram Wiseman and half from my own mind. My recipe is special because it adds pureed raw carrots and onions into the meat mixture, and the sauce includes crushed tomatoes and other vegetables that add flavor, fiber and vitamins but go largely undetected.

This recipe was inspired by my husband, who purports to not like vegetables other than potatoes and will not eat anything that looks like a vegetable if it is not extremely well-disguised. (If you see him, PLEASE do not tell him that tomato sauce is made out of anything natural, okay?) In this recipe, the onions, carrots and crushed tomatoes are invisible (and you can also choose to hide an entire roasted eggplant in the sauce if you want). But the meatballs' moistness and delectability (is that a word?) comes not from eggs as is usual, but from the pureed vegetables themselves. This recipe is very, very good, the meatballs stay together, it makes for a lower cholesterol meal item on Friday night, and you don't miss a thing, I promise. In fact, you may never make meatballs with eggs ever again.

1 pound lean ground beef, veal or turkey
2 tsp hungarian paprika
2 small or one large onion, pureed
2 large peeled or twenty mini-carrots, pureed
oats and/or breadcrumbs, making up just enough to firm up the meatball mixture, about 1 cup.
salt and black pepper, to taste
One large can crushed tomatoes
three large cloves garlic, minced
(optional, one large roasted eggplant, pureed, or just diced small, then simmered at least an hour in the sauce)
two cups marinara sauce

Simmer your marinara with the crushed tomatoes and garlic (and optional pureed roasted eggplant) and add salt and pepper to taste, and combine all your other ingredients and roll into balls. Drop directly into your simmering sauce, and when all the balls are shaped, cover and keep simmering at least one hour. Can be boiled briefly then kept hot on a hot plate or blech until serving time on Friday night. Not recommended for reheating on Shabbat day because no one likes a dry meatball (if they tell you they do, they are lying).

**Dress-up and dress-down hints:

To dress this up to serve for Shabbat company, replace the onions with shallots and garlic sauteed in a small amount of olive oil, and shape into a loaf and serve on a bed of wilted spinach. With the sauce poured over the top, this makes for a very attractive main course item.

To dress down for a weeknight, spice up the sauce a little more by perhaps adding some cayenne or curry powder (which COMPLETELY changes the flavor of the dish, but it's still good) and throw the entire thing over a pound of spaghetti or fettuccini.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Better to Buy Than to Make

Some things in life are more trouble than they're worth,
That's how I feel about recipes that increase my girth.
Better to buy a dessert when the occasion presents,
Than to sample your way through the tastes and the scents.
I made in school this Paris-Brest,
Which had maybe 3,000 calories, I am sorry to confess,
But because I tasted all the ingredients along the journey,
The amount of calories I ingested would make you call an attorney.

Monday, June 15, 2009

All-Color Wild Rice Salad

I like to bring cold side dishes to the table for Shabbat lunch, to serve along with my legendary sweet and spicy cholent. This rice salad is fun and different, and the longer it sits in the refrigerator, the better the flavor has time to bloom. Tip: For a main course meal on a weeknight, mix in some sliced, cooked chicken breast and a little more sauce.

1 package quick-cooking long grain wild rice (I use Lundberg, newly certified by the O-U!)
2 to 3 cups water (according to package directions)
10-20 mini-carrots, sliced into dimes
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 half red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large handful grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 to 11/2 cups low sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
I half cup smooth peanut butter (I use reduced fat)
cayenne pepper
chopped peanuts for garnish

Prepare the rice according to package directions, except don't add any salt and err on the side of undercooking (usually about 30-40 minutes simmering). You want the wild rice to not have fully bloomed when you turn off the heat.

Par-boil (blanch) your veggies, except for the tomatoes and red onion, separately in another pot of water, cooking them your chopped celery, pepper and carrots for about 5 minutes. If you throw them in a bowl with ice after they're cooked, they will maintain their color for days!

While the rice and vegetables are cooking, prep you sauce. Put a half cup of peanut butter in a large bowl and start stirring in the soy sauce. Add enough soy sauce, usually about 1 cup, until you have a dark, smooth mixture, with no lumps. Throw in your tablespoon or two of toasted sesame oil and keep stirring until it's all smooth. Add one or two pinches of cayenne, according to taste.

When the rice is done, tip it all into your bowl of peanut sauce and mix thoroughly. After the rice has cooled a little, add your raw chopped red onions and halved grape tomatoes. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve. Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Whole Grain Parmesan Pizza Bowl

A work-at-home Monday brought a hankering for a New York slice,
But my waistline settled for whole grain barley and rice,
At the finish I added a half-cup of tomato,
some garlic, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
Yum! It confirmed my afternoon would be an absolute breeze.

1 cup Rice Select Royal Blend Whole Grain Rice (Texmati Brown and Red Rice With Pearled Barley and Rye Berries)

2 and a half cups water
dash of salt
half cup bottled tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
half tsp red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
fresh chives for topping

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Low Cholesterol Cholent????

I have yet to confirm this independently, but I heard a rumor in culinary school that lamb has the lowest saturated fat of any meat. With this in mind, I set myself out this past Shabbat to make the lowest cholesterol cholent in the world. It was simple, it was different, and above all, it was deliciously easy. In future recipes I will likely add more veggies, but as a test recipe, this was a great start. The lamb in the stew was more flavorful than regular beef stew meat, and the whole aroma was just different (in a good way)!

(Sorry, no photos of this, L'kavod Shabbat.)

1 package gruenkern (or half a bag of barley, about 2 cups)
1 pound lamb stew meat, with bones removed.
1 tbsp dried marjoram
2 tbsp granulated garlic
1 pinch cayenne
2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salt (or salt at table)
1 cup uncooked chickpeas
2 shallots, diced

A Poem About Baking

Each night he stands before
the kitchen island, begins again
from scratch: chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg,
he beats, he folds;
keeps faith in what happens
when you combine known quantities,
bake twelve minutes at a certain heat.
The other rabbis, the scholars,
teenagers idling by the beach,
they receive his offerings,
in the early hours, share his grief.

Read the full poem here. (A Poem for Will, Baking, by Susan Rich)

Post-Shiur Rosemary Cheese Biscuits

I feel my husband should somehow be rewarded on Sunday mornings. He attends a 7:10am minyan and then magically stays alert for an hour-long shiur with a very cerebral rabbi. All this happens before 9 o'clock, so if I have the energy, I make the effort to present him with something fresh from the oven upon his return. Today, I took the most simple biscuit recipe I know, (2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 4 tbsp margarine, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup water) and added to it a couple of good shakes of dried rosemary and about half a cup of shredded chedder. Rolled it out with flour, cookie cuttered it into discs, and popped it in a 400 degree oven for 10 min. It gave me the vigor to start my day, and for Alexander to continue his.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sweet Corn and Avocado Salad

A few weeks ago, sweet corn was on sale for 19 cents an ear! I boiled it and sliced off the kernels, and mixed it with a chopped sweet white onion, two ripe Hass avocados, diced large, and squeezed half a lemon on it. A whisper of salt and just a chuckle of tarragon vinegar. Amazingly good and a fantastic idea to replace a boring egg or tuna salad for an early summer seudah shlishit. Can be made in up to a day in advance.

Today I must toot my horn,
To my melange of avocado and sweet corn,
It was a long winter with tons of rain,
And for months and months, canned corn was a drain,
But as the summer blooms it's with joy and bravado,
That I say my fresh corn is now perfect with avocado.

Hungarian ‘Sweet and Spicy’ Chicken Soup

My husband’s favorite Friday night soup tied for runner-up in the Better than Your Bubby's national recipe chicken soup contest, which was written about in the New York Times in March 2009. (You can read more about it here: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/soups-on-and-its-not-your-grandmothers/, or http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/nyregion/13soup.html, or http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/item/outreach_group_soups_up_shabbat/7316).

The second best thing about this soup is that it’s an easy fix. There are only a couple of steps, one of which is throwing all the ingredients together and forgetting all about it for a couple of hours.
And the absolute best thing about the recipe is that it is completely delicious and impossible to mess up. You can add or take away the heat based on your family’s spicy/sweet preferences.


four large skinless chicken legs
four small skinless chicken thighs
three large carrots, peeled, and cut into 2 inch pieces
two small turnips, peeled and cut in half
two small onions, or one large uncut, washed, with skins on
five large stalks celery, washed and uncut
one large leek, washed and uncut
two large peeled parsnips
one small bunch fresh dill
one small bunch fresh italian parsley
one teaspoon celery salt
two tablespoons garlic powder
one teaspoon dried marjoram
one tablespoon onion powder
one half to one tablespoon table salt (season to taste)
one teaspoon black pepper
two teaspoons Hungarian paprika
one pinch cayenne pepper
one half bag Manishewitz brand wide noodles
one bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients except for the noodles and fresh chives in a large pot with water above the contents by at least one inch. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately two hours, with at least the first hour without a lid on the pot. Remove the chicken parts with a slotted spoon and debone then, returning choice bits to the soup. Remove carrots and slice, returning them to the soup. Remove the other vegetables and either discard, or slice and return to the soup, depending on your preference. Taste the soup and correct seasoning if necessary (if you want more sweetness, add paprika, more spicy, add another pinch of cayenne). Add uncooked noodles to the simmering soup as late as possible before serving (at least a half hour). Garnish with chopped chives. Serves six, with enough for seconds.

Paprika on Foodista

The Kosher Poet is Born!

As a longtime editor and writer, I have written about technology, politics, international relations, Jewish life, and wine.

As a Jewish woman, I cook and eat, laugh and talk, wax poetic, and then cook and laugh and talk and eat some more. It seems inevitable that I would eventually transition into kosher food writing.

I hope this new venture will be an enjoyable place for you, my reader, to read classic kosher recipes, to find ways to make them healthier or simpler. I will teach you how to dress recipes up for Shabbat or company, or dress them down as your week gets busy. My message is for others to gain confidence in their own cooking abilities, nourish the inner chef in all of us, and find joy and gladness through kosher cooking.