Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Center for Kosher Culinary Arts: How to Make Gravlox

Recipes for the Nine Days: Fire-Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Fusili

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Thanks to Rivka for reminding me to put up more recipes for the Nine Days, when Jews traditionally skip meat dishes except for Shabbos. The Nine Days are a kind of mourning, because they lead up to the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

It is important with Nine Days recipes to replace proteins normally found in meat, with vegetarian or dairy alternatives. It's like a vegetarian diet in that you want to look at proteins found in beans and soy products to give you enough energy to get through it. If the food you prepare is satisfying for your family, you will also not get so many carnivorous complaints. All the better to focus on what the Nine Days are really about!

In the following recipe, I use the meatiness of fire roasted eggplants and chickpeas, to bring flavor and protein to the table.

3 italian eggplants (they are usually about five inches long) or 1 and a half regular large eggplants, roasted over your gas burner for about 4 minutes on each side, until puckered and black. You can get this same effect in the oven for about half an hour.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, pureed in a food processor
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 box grape tomatoes, diced
1 can tomato sauce, about 14 ounces
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1-2 handfuls fresh spinach

Place your eggplants on gas burners and roast until blackened, or achieve the same effect in the oven. Don't be afraid to fire-roast the eggplants (or even red bell peppers, if you want); They will not set your house on fire and the method gives great flavor. Once they are puckered, split them in half and scrape out the "meat" from the inside. Saute with your garlic and onion in a deep saute pan for about 5 minutes to until the eggplant is softened. Add your tomatoes and tomato sauce, and make sure your chickpeas are nicely chopped fine in a blender or food processor. Add the chickpeas and your spices, taste it and correct the seasoning, and then add the fresh spinach at the very end.

Serve over a curly pasta like fusili, with parmesan cheese or without cheese at all (it's so nourishing that it doesn't really need cheese!) For fussy vegetable eaters (as you know, there's one in my family), puree the roasted eggplant in the food processor before you add it to the saute pan).

You can also use this sauce in lasagne or as a pizza base. It's smokey and different, and stuffed with bean protein.

Eggplant on Foodista

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alexander's "Plain" Pizza

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As you may have heard by now, things being what they are in the Kratz household (e.g., that certain people "don't like" vegetables, I regularly resort to the kind of culinary espionage known previously only to consorts of Julia Child (did you know she was in the OSS, the precursor to the CIA?) I can't wait to see the new movie Julie and Julia, coming out August 7th! But, I digress.

Anyway, I had a hankering for a nice big veggie pizza tonight, especially with mushrooms and onions (mushrooms are packed with antioxidents and selinium and I read that eating half an onion a day prevents colon tumors in later life) so I go out my spy glasses, invisibility cloak and wand, and made a "plain" cheese margherita-style pizza for Alexander.

Two ready made pizza crusts (I use Mama Mary's Gourmet - Kof-K) brushed on the outer corners with olive oil
one regular sized box of white mushrooms, washed and sliced
one onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained well
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 dash cayenne pepper
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 8-ounce bag of mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes to taste

In a food processor, buzz your mushrooms until they are very finely chopped. Empty them into a deep saucepan, add a little olive oil and saute over low heat. While this is cooking down, puree your onion in the food processor, and add that to your mushroom mixture. Add the garlic and cook until the mushrooms give up their water and most of the water has evaporated. Now, add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and simmer for about ten minutes. Then add the rest of your spices. Add salt and pepper to taste. It's done when it looks like a dark, meaty tomato sauce. If it doesn't look right, add a little more tomato sauce and cook just a bit longer.

Divide your sauce equally onto your two pizza crusts, and spread evenly. Depending on whether your family members will eat green things willingly or not, place your fresh basil and spinach either on top of the cheese or on top of the sauce. Garnish generously with cheese, and put in a 425 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot, with red pepper flakes. Yum-Yum.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recipes for the Nine Days: A Twist on the Classic Stuffed Shell

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Since tomorrow begins the three weeks that lead up to Tisha B'av (the ninth of the Jewish month of Av), the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, my thoughts have turned to dairy recipes. During the last nine days before Tisha B'av, it is traditional to eschew meat dishes.

For many people, this slight dietary change has little to no impact, as you are still permitted, and even encouraged actually, to eat meat on Shabbat. However, I may have mentioned that my husband is not at all interested in vegetables, so I have to disguise anything healthy very, very well. In this case, I hope you'll be pleased to know, I have succeeded. This recipe is literally stuffed with healthy ingredients, but it is so delectably sweet and savory that no one will notice.

(This recipe is large, and makes at least two trays of stuffed shells. Half your recipe to feed fewer that three people, or freeze one tray.)

2 boxes jumbo-sized pasta shells, prepared according to package directions, drained and cooled (I use Barilla)
1 large white onion, chopped
2 spears celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 large bag (3-4 cups) fresh baby spinach leaves
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large 32-oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
scant 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning

In a deep saucepan, saute the white onion and celery with the garlic until nicely browned. Add the spinach and fold gently until it wilts. Add your tomato products and mix well. Now, incorporate your spices and herbs and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, just to marry the ingredients together. Now, take off the fire and mix in the ricotta cheese. Wait until it is cool enough to handle, and then fill your shells and place into an oven ready pan. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the shells and bake, tightly covered with foil, in a 350 degree oven for half an hour.

Classically Kosher Hits YouTube

The full recipe for Tri-Color Kreplach can be accessed here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hit of the BBQ: Sweet Corn and Lentil Salad

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My sister-in-law always tells me that July 4th, America's independence day, is her favorite chag. Even though it's not an actual Jewish holiday, many Jewish families are grateful for the freedoms we've been granted here in the USA, and are more than happy to spend an afternoon each summer chasing away mosquitos, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and watching fireworks. This year I enjoyed my barbeque very much, especially because I made up a couple of new salad recipes to add color and flavor to our grilled meat plates. Oddly enough, the hit of the barbeque wasn't the traditional hot dogs or hamburgers, or even the lemon-marinated charcoal-grilled boneless chicken thighs, but the corn and lentil salad that I just made for the first time today! It's a variation of a corn and black bean relish I used to make when I lived on the Upper West Side, which was a standard every year for my friend Randi's Cinco De Mayo Shabbos dinner. But I digress... I got three requests for the corn-lentil recipe, so here it is!

One bag red lentils, cooked according to package directions with an onion and bay leaf, and drained (or, 2 15-Ounce cans Eden Organic Lentils with Sweet Onion and Bay Leaf [certified Kosher by The Organized Kashruth Laboratories, the O-K]), drained
3 cans yellow or white corn niblets, or 10 ears of fresh boiled sweet corn
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 cup chopped red bell pepper, small dice
1 cup red onion, small dice
3/4 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 lime, juice only
salt to taste

Combine, refrigerate and enjoy.