Friday, October 30, 2009

Raspberry Apple Kugel

When I lived on the Upper West Side, it seemed that every big singles Shabbos meal had to include several items, including the cranberry kugel. It was very easy to make: a can of cranberries, a couple of apples, mixed and spread out at the bottom of a large tin pan (for easy traveling and no clean-up). then mix up some flour, brown sugar and oats and crumble that on top. (Some people also crumble in an entire stick of margarine, but Classically Kosher thinks that is completely unnecessary, adds unneeded transfats and makes the kugel taste not discernably different because the fruit is so delicious on its own. But I digress.). Then bake at 375 for maybe 35 minutes. As soon as the fruit is bubbly and everything is melted and yummy, you're done.

Today, raspberries were on sale at the Farmer's Market for $1.50 a box, so I picked up five and didn't feel guilty about baking it into a fancy Shabbos kugel. Tart and delicate, raspberries add a nice modern feeling to this tried and true Shabbos side dish. Raspberries are also positively stuffed with antioxidents and are gorgeous to look at. The taste of baked raspberries is like no other.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I am going to! Shabbat Shalom.

5 boxes fresh raspberries, washed (or two bags frozen and thawed)
2 apples, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar (if the raspberries are very tart)
1/2 cup boiling water (if the rasperries are not very juicy)

Spread the fruit at the bottom of the pan. Mix up the remaining dry ingredients and sprinkle over the raspberry mixture. Bake at 375 for half an hour and add boiling water if the raspberries do not seem to be releasing their juice. Bake an additional 15 to 30 minutes until the oatmeal is cooked and you can see the fruit bubbling through. Serve warm, if possible. It makes a big difference in the flavor.

Raspberry on Foodista

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Every once in a while, I get an insane craving for coconut cake, but my life (and waistline) doesn't have room for an entire cake, especially since coconut cake is often made with milk so it wouldn't be likely to be a Shabbos treat in my carnivorous house. So, I attempted to make a chewy coco-nutty cookie that could be shaped small, like gingersnaps, so I don't eat too many. Plus, Alexander will eat all of them anyway (as long as no one tells him coconut is a fruit!)

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance natural shortening, which is OU parve, and better for you than Crisco)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rice milk
1 teaspoon coconut (or almond) extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened dried coconut

Cream the eggs with the sugar and add the shortening. Beat until there are no lumps. Then, add the rice milk and extract. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then mix slowly into the batter. Empty dough onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough with a small amount of flour to approximately a quarter of an inch in thickness. Then, spread coconut over the top, pressing it only lightly into the dough, so a little bit hangs off. Using a small glass (I recommend a shot glass), cut rounds and place on a parchment-papered cookie sheet. Cook for 8 minutes, just until the coconut toasts on top. Any longer and the cookies will be more crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet until cooled. Enjoy!

Coconut on Foodista

Monday, October 26, 2009

Basil-Tarragon Israeli Cous Cous

I made this on Sukkot and am just now getting around to putting it up, but it is a good cold side dish for anytime. Yum Yum!

2 bags Israeli Cous Cous, prepared according to package directions
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts
2 tbsp basil oil (or 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 1 tsp of dried basil, or 2 tbsp of fresh chopped basil)
1/2 cup tarragon rice vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Briefly boil the carrots and broccoli, approximately 4 minutes) and place in iced water (blanch and shock). Combine the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

CKCA's going to Kosherfest!!!

I am so excited to go to Kosherfest this year, proudly representing my culinary school, the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. If you don't know about CKCA, it's a really great school, in fact, the only kosher culinary school in America, where a lot of learning is going on. It's based in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and I really had a wonderful time taking their pro-course this past spring.

It's my personal opinion that the very existence of a kosher culinary school is an indication that kosher cuisine is improving and is going to only get better. I can tell you from getting to know my classmates that they went from being good amateur cooks to fantastic, discerning chefs and you can bet that with their energy and excitement about kosher culinary careers, they're coming to a restaurant near you!

CKCA, in case you don't know about it, runs professional culinary training courses, and also Sunday and evening recreational classes. I have done both and learned a lot about the art and science of cooking in both types of classes.

If you are at Kosherfest, please take the opportunity to stop by our booth (#445), and say hi. I will be happy to tell you more about this great place that taught me everything I know (about classic French cooking!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sneaky Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was thinking this week about how Alexander would have really liked the pumpkin chocolate chip loaf if he had just been able to get past the name. So I thought and thought and then I had it. I altered the recipe to make Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins, with, oddly enough, mostly the same ingredients. The health benefits of pumpkin are so amazing that if I can sneak a can into some muffins now and then, I think it's worth it for Alexander's future health. And these muffins are really very delicious and there is no discernible pumpkin taste. The coffee taste is very, very mild, so feel free to add more coffee if you want to crank up the flavor a bit.

Here's a little about pumpkin and its health benefits:

-Very high in carotenoids, which neutralize free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.

-High in lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye. Therefore, they may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.

-Pumpkins have a lot of common nutrients, like iron, zinc, and fiber. Iron, of course, is needed by red blood cells. Zinc deficiency may be related to osteoporosis of the hip and spine in older men. And fiber is important for bowel health.

Sneaky Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups pumpkin
2 tsp decaffeinated instant coffee granules
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 handful sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into muffin tins and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until dry on top, about 15 minutes. This can also be poured into a loaf tin, though it needs a longer baking time, about an additional half hour.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mastering the Muffin Method

My article on the muffin method appears today on, featuring my cousin Laurie's yummy pumpkin chocolate chip loaf recipe. It's great and makes very reliable and delicious cake, every time.

It is a good cake to bring to friends or relatives too because you can make a few at a time, a few days in advance. As long as it's covered with plastic wrap all around, it will stay fresh for at least four days, and it can also be frozen if it's wrapped properly. It's a great idea for a treat to bring to a friend who has had a baby.

You can use any kind of fruit puree really, not necessarily pumpkin. I already tried the recipe with applesauce, and it works well if you add a splash of vanilla.

You can also replace the pumpkin seasonally with other items like mashed banana and frozen thawed blueberries or raspberries. Just make sure to add some vanilla and skip some or all of the chocolate chips.

You can read the full article here.

Laurie's recipe is below:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups pumpkin
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour until half full into large, ungreased tube pan (or 9 x 13 pan). Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until dry in center. This cake also may be baked in muffin tins, two 8”x 8” pans, or two large loaf pans or three small ones. The baking time will be shorter if you use smaller pans or muffin tins, so keep an eye on them. Recipe can be easily halved or doubled.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kosher Chicken Florentine

This pasta dish reminds me of a trip to Florence I made with my friends Mandy, Lisa and Aaron in 2004, which was yummy and fun.

Everything in Florence is made with spinach, tomatoes and garlic. It's like a law or something. Those Italians! That's why everything in America that is flavored with spinach, tomatoes and garlic is called Florentine. But I am not complaining because it is a classic flavor combination which is always refreshing and pleasant. The combination also lends itself well to kosher or vegetarian cooking because meat is not really needed in the dish. I added chicken to give heft to a weeknight meal. This is a great dish to serve on a warmish night in the Sukkah!!

3-4 chicken pieces on the bone with skins, baked until crispy
1 white or yellow onion, pureed or diced tiny
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large can tomato puree
1/2 cup water or a small can of tomato sauce
1 cup frozen spinach pieces (I use Bodek)
1/2 cup black olives, sliced (I recommend Martini's Select Natural Kalamata Olives, available at Trader Joe's for a STEAL and certified Star-K. Thanks, Lewis!!!)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp granulated garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1 box pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Shells), prepared according to package directions.

Once the chicken is baked and cooled, remove the skins and cut pieces off the bone into bite size pieces, as for chicken salad. Set aside.

In a deep saucepan, combine pureed or diced onions with the chopped garlic and olive oil and cook until lightly browned. Add tomato product(s) and herbs/spices. Cook for five minutes or so to let the flavors come together. Now, add the spinach, chicken and olives, and bring back to a simmer for at least ten minutes. Next, combine pasta with sauce and place, covered, in a warm oven, for half an hour if possible. This will help the flavors of the warm spinach and chicken marry with the pasta.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sukkot Salads, Part III

My sister created this fantastic appetizer when faced with the challenge of using up the leftovers of the biggest cabbage known to creation, which I picked up at the Teaneck Farmers Market last week, to make stuffed cabbage.

After the cabbages were stuffed, there were still the remains of a larger than normal cabbage. The cabbage was fresh and tangy and Jacq not only made something with it, she made something simple and wonderful. There wasn't any left at the end of the day!

1 fresh normal sized green cabbage, chopped lengthwise and then into bite size slaw slivers.
1 cup Craisins (OU-Pareve)
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's with Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)

Visit the following links for Sukkot Salads II and Sukkot Salads I.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage

It turns out that all rules have exceptions. And the exception to the Alexander-eats-no-green-veggies rule is that he dearly loves stuffed cabbage. Weird, I know. I made a version of the stuff that he scarfs with delight, and it delights me to see him eating a green vegetable!

The difference between Hungarian stuffed cabbage recipes and Polish/Russian ones is that the Hungarian taste tends toward the savory, while the more traditional stuffed cabbages are sweet, most often sweetened with brown sugar.

This sweet tomato flavor is, to me, too cloying. In fact, while some people love this flavor, this is one that had me for my whole life thinking I didn't like stuffed cabbage. But once I sampled the Hungarian version, I was happily surprised.

10-15 cabbage leaves, boiled until wilted
1 pound ground meat (beef, veal, turkey or even chicken)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (separated)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, minced small
1 large egg
1 cup uncooked rice, prepared according to package directions
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 beef bouillon cube or tablespoon of demi-glace

In a deep oven-ready saucepan, combine the tomato products, bouillon, 1 tablespoon paprika and let it simmer. In a separate bowl, combine the uncooked beef with the thyme, marjoram, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of paprika, minced onion, egg and cooked rice.

Using a soup spoon, fill the cabbage leaves, fold them like a burrito, and place gently, fold side down, into the tomato sauce as you finish. When all the cabbage leaves are filled and the meat is all used up, transfer the whole thing to a 350 degree oven for one hour. Serve to enthusiastic fans.

Easy weeknight tip: If you don't feel like stuffing the cabbage leaves, you can make the equally lovable "unstuffed cabbage," a specialty of my friend Randi. She just cuts bite sized pieces of the cabbage and adds them to the tomato mixture, and makes free form meatballs from the meat mixture. It's equally delicious!

Sweeten up tip: If your grandmother was from Poland and your tongue craves the sweeter version of stuffed cabbage, dissolve two tablespoons of brown packed sugar in the tomato sauce before adding anything else.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jewish Roast Turkey

It's funny that the one main dish that feeds the most people, for Shabbos, simchas, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot or Thanksgiving, takes a minimum of effort. Here's what I do:

With one 12-15 pound bird (defrosted or fresh), I apply generous shakes, top and bottom and all around, with granulated garlic, black pepper, salt and sweet Hungarian paprika (of course!)
Rub the spices into the skin, and place, breast side down, in a deep baking pan.

Cook at 325 degrees for three and a half to four and a half hours. Pierce the area under the wing and when the juices run clear it's done. You can also use a cooking thermometer to measure that the internal temperature has reached 165.