Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Moroccan Meat Borekas

During the 9 days before Tisha B'Av (the date that both Holy Temples were destroyed and a fast day) it is custom to avoid eating meat since it is a period of mourning.  Now that the holiday just passed, I am really craving meat.  But since it is the middle of the summer, I don't want to cook anything too heavy, but I want something more unique then a hamburger. 

I just returned from a trip to Israel where borekas in different shapes, sizes, and fillings are all over the narrow alleys of the Shuks.  Borekas are a puff pastry dough (sometimes phyllo) filled pastry, similar to an empanada or perogie. They can be sweet or savory with fillings such as cheese, chocolate, spinach, or meat.  I decided to make my own meat filled boreka using the spiced influence of the Mid-East. 

Moroccan Meat Borekas
Ingredients:
1 box (2 sheets) puffed pastry dough, defrosted and unrolled
1 lb ground meat
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds, optional for topping

Directions:
In a large pan, cook onion in a little olive oil until translucent, then add garlic.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the meat with the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper and tomato paste and add to the large pan.  Cook until brown, stirring periodically.  When finished, turn the heat off and let the meat cool a little.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take sheet of the defrosted puff pastry and roll out slightly.  Cut the sheet into 9 or 12 squares (depending on if you want large or small borekas).  Close to the bottom corner of each square fill with about a spoonful of the meat mixture and fold top half to meet the bottom, creating a triangle.  Using your finger, push the edges of the dough together to close. 

Repeat with second sheet of dough

Gently brush the tops of all the triangles with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until dough is lightly browned. 




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut "Opera" Cake for Passover

Earlier this month, we were fortunate to have famous cookbook author, Paula Shoyer for a Passover cooking demonstration.  She came out with a new cookbook, The New Passover Menu. This cookbook is unlike her other cookbooks, which focus solely on baking.  This book includes tasty soups, salads, side dishes and entrees in addition to her famous desserts.  While she was here, we made a delicious red pepper soup, a salad with mango and avocado, salmon stuffed gefilte fish, roasted eggplant, meringue fruit cups and, of course, the Opera cake.  You would never know that this delicious, rich, chocolate cake is kosher for Passover!

If you like this recipe, you can pick up Paula Shoyer's new cook book here:



Ingredients:
Ganache:
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup almond milk or parve whipping cream
3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee or espresso
Hazelnut Cake:
6 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar                        
1 1/3 cups ground hazelnuts                                      
2/3 cup potato starch
4 teaspoons oil                                   
Coffee Syrup:
½ cup sugar                                                    
½ cup water
2 tablespoons strong coffee or espresso

Directions:

Make the ganache first so that it firms up a bit while the cake is baking. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave oven. Heat the almond milk or cream until hot, not boiling. Add to the chocolate mixture a little at a time and whisk well after each addition. It will get very thick but will smooth out as you add more almond milk.


Divide the ganache between two bowls, two-thirds into one bowl and one third into another. Cover the bowl with the one-third amount and place in the fridge. Into the second bowl with the two-thirds of the ganache, add the coffee and whisk well. Cover and place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the ganache thickens to a spreadable, not pourable consistency. If when you are ready to assemble the cake and the coffee-flavored ganache is not thick enough, place the bowl into the freeze for five to ten minutes and then whisk. If the ganache gets too hard, heat it in a microwave oven for a few seconds and whisk until smooth.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 375°F. Trim a piece of parchment paper to fit perfectly flat in the bottom of a 12 X 16-inch jelly roll pan.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Turn the speed down to low and add the three tablespoons sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Transfer the beaten whites to a separate bowl. Into the bowl you just used to beat the whites, place the confectioners’ sugar, ground hazelnuts, egg yolks, potato starch and oil and beat for one minute at medium speed. The mixture will be dry. Add half of the beaten egg whites and mix well at medium speed for 30 seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Use a whisk to mix in the remaining whites in two parts. 
Pour into the prepared pan. Use a metal offset or silicone spatula to spread the batter as evenly as possible in the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside.
To make the coffee syrup, in a small saucepan bring the sugar, water and coffee to boil and boil for three minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit until ready to use. May be made up to five days in advance and stored covered at room temperature.
To assemble the cake, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Cover pan with a piece of parchment paper and a cooling rack and then flip the cake over onto the parchment and rack. Peel off the bottom parchment. Measure the midpoint on the long side and cut the cake in half to make two 6 X 8-inch rectangles. Place one half on a small cookie sheet lined with parchment, with the cake bottom facing up. Use a pastry brush to soak some of the coffee syrup all over the cake. 
Use a spatula to spread the chocolate ganache evenly on top of the cake all the way to the edges. Place the other cake half on top. Brush with syrup. Spread the coffee-flavored ganache on top, reserving about two tablespoons to decorate the cakes later, if desired. Heat a metal spatula under boiling water, dry and smooth the top. Place in the freezer until ready to serve. Place the extra ganache into a small bowl and place in the fridge until ready to decorate the slices.
To serve, trim off ¼ inch off all the sides of the cake to even them out. Eat the trimmings. Heat a knife with hot water to cut the cake into rectangles. Clean and reheat the knife between slices to get perfect slices. Warm the reserved ganache slightly to make it spreadable. Place into a pastry bag with any shape tip and pipe designs on top of each slice. You may add a coffee bean to the d├ęcor. If you do not have a pastry bag, heat the ganache until you can drizzle it and use a fork to drizzle over the slices to create some texture on top. Store in the fridge. 



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Lighten Up" Shabbat Dinner

Last Friday I had the opportunity again to participate in this year's Beth El "Lighten Up: Friday Night Invites."  It is a program that matches Beth El families with other families to create connections and friendships within our community.  It is a great program that has matched over 200 families with each other over the past few years.  (If you want to participate - either by hosting or being a guest, please contact the Beth El office.)  We had over a really nice family over that has a child around the same age as ours.  The kids played great together and the we really enjoyed meeting a nice couple to become friends with.  But this blog is about what I cooked!

I learned about this chicken dish on joyofkosher.com.  I have to tell you, when I read the recipe, I didn't think it would be anything special.  But for some reason, I still really wanted to make it. I am glad I did.  It was delicious and gorgeous.  It was also easier to make than I thought it would be.

Green Bean Stuffed Chicken
Ingredients:
6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, tenders removed
1/2 cup Russian Dressing
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or matzo meal
1/2 cup cooked green beans
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt/Pepper, to taste

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Pound chicken cutlets to about 1/2 inch thick.  Marinate the chicken in the salad dressing with salt/pepper and hot sauce to taste for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  Pour bread crumbs in a shallow bowl or dish.  Press the chicken, one at a time, into the bread crumbs so that one side of the chicken is coated.  Place some green beans (or any vegetable you have on hand) on one side of the chicken and roll the chicken up and place in a deep casserole dish, seam side down.  Repeat for all chicken breasts.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes and enjoy! 

Before cooking:


After cooking:
 
 
I wish I could have taken a picture of the chicken cut in half to show you how pretty it looked. 
 
Now, you will notice that before I mentioned to remove the tenders from the chicken breast.  With the tenders, I coated them in bread crumbs (without marinating in the dressing first) and fried them up as chicken nuggets for the kids in case they wouldn't eat the above.  Well, I'm happy to report that we had the chicken nuggets for lunch the next day because there were no complaints around the table.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Israeli Turkey Meatballs and Chickpea Smash

Tu B'Shevat is next week!  The Jewish New Year for the trees is often celebrated with a Seder consisting of the Seven Species that are described in the Bible as being abundant in Israel.  They are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.  Normally I made a meal that has all of these ingredients included.  But this year I am going to take a different route.  I am making something that tastes like Israel. 

I was inspired to make this recipe by seeing a very similar recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  The turkey meatballs are moist and delicious.  The addition of the toasted sesame seeds is so simple, but a fun complex element to the flavor.  They are even toddler approved!  The chickpea smash is similar to a "lazy" humus without the tahini.  The chickpeas are not blended until smooth, but instead just smashed together with a potato masher.  I made an Israeli salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and lemon juice as a side.  This dish is tasty and creative enough for a holiday, but also easy enough for a weeknight meal. 

Turkey Meatballs and Chickpea Smash
Ingredients for meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
2/3 cups matzo meal (or bread crumbs)
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Olive oil

Ingredients for chickpea smash:
2 cans (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, diced
1 Tablespoon capers
2 teaspoons sumac
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
Handful of parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all ingredients for meatballs in a bowl.  Add enough oil to coat a large frying pan.  With wet hands, make golf-ball size meat balls and brown in frying pan.  Transfer to baking dish.  Finish cooking meatballs in the oven, about 10 - 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the chickpea smash, except the parsley.  With a potato smasher or a large fork, smash together, leaving it textured.  Mix in chopped parsley.  Depending on your desired presentation, you can sprinkle some more sumac on top. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Thanksgiving, although not a Jewish holiday, is a holiday that is very Jewish.  The value HaKarat HaTov, Gratitude, is a very Jewish idea.  There is a Jewish tradition of saying 100 blessings every day.  There is a story behind this.  During the reign of King David, there was a terrible plague that took the lives of exactly 100 people each day.  The rabbis at the time instituted the practice of reciting 100 blessings per day.  The plague immediately stopped.  

There are blessings to show gratitude for almost everything: from seeing a rainbow, to seeing the ocean, to wearing a new special outfit, to eating and drinking.  During this holiday, think about all of the times where you can make a blessing and be thankful.

If you are looking for a healthy start to your Thanksgiving (or Shabbat) dinner, try this roasted cauliflower soup.  It is very easy to make and delicious.  If you want to make it dairy, use vegetable broth and add 1/3 cup of cream.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
2 leeks (whites only)
2 cloves of garlic, diced
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of water
oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Chop cauliflower into small florets.  Place them on a baking sheet with a little oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile saute sliced leeks with a little more oil in a large soup pot.  After the leeks become translucent and the cauliflower is cooked, add the cauliflower to the pot along with the garlic and broth.  Cook for another 5 minutes, then blend the soup with an immersion blender.  Season with salt and pepper as necessary.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Roasted Squash and Spinach Gnocchi

Autumn is my favorite season.  The leaves turn beautiful colors, the air is crisp and clear, my birthday...  And also because it is squash season.  I love the versatility of squash.  Spaghetti squash, true to it's name is a great low-carb alternative to pasta.  Acorn squash has a sweet nutty flavor and is the perfect shape to be little edible bowls.  Kabocha squash is so sweet, you can easily use it for a dessert recipe.  And of course, one of the most well-known, butternut squash has such a versatile flavor that it works in so many different recipes.  You can roast it with spicy cumin or sweet brown sugar.  Either way, you have a delicious dish on your hands. 

Last week, I was in the mood for real comfort food and opened my fridge and pantry to see what I could make.  I saw that I had gnocchi and butternut squash.  After just a little googling, I saw a Rachael Ray recipe that I had to try for a creamy spinach and squash gnocchi.  Perfect!  I have actually never cooked with real cream before.  Every time a recipe calls for it, I either omit it completely (to make the recipe kosher) or I use milk.  It always tastes fine, but it never really "wows" me.  This time, I decided to try real cream.  WOW.  There is a real difference in flavor and texture that comes with the cream that I had previously always underestimated.  Lesson learned. 

I made some changes to the recipe that I found online.  I added some more spinach and changed up some of the spices.   The result was delicious and warm and very comforting.  It was also a really easy recipe to throw together and would be great for company, served along side a large salad mixed with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds to keep the autumn theme. 

Roasted Squash and Spinach Gnocchi
Ingredients:
1 package of cubed squash (or about 1.5 - 2 lbs cut up squash)
2 boxes of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 package of gnocchi
2 cups of cream
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (could also use fresh, if on hand)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss squash with salt and pepper and some olive oil.  Spread out on baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, boil salted water for the gnocchi to cook.  Separately, in a large pan, saute the garlic in a little oil.  Add the cream.  Bring to a slight boil and reduce the heat to let the cream thicken, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the rosemary, then mix in the spinach.  When the squash and gnocchi have finished cooking, add them to the sauce and serve.  Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brisket Two Ways

I bought too much brisket for Passover.  I tend to do that.  I get nervous that I won't have enough.  My family tends to eat a lot of it, and though I have been known to invite extra people for Seders last minute, this year was different. I only had family over, and so I was stuck with a lot of uncooked brisket still in the freezer.

I wanted to come up with a new way to make brisket - and the leftovers - since it was just the two of us (and the baby).  Having lots of vegetables on hand from the CSA (community supported agriculture) that I belong, I had an abundance of vegetables that I wanted to incorporate.  For Shabbat, I made a brisket, with a little Asian flare, and then Saturday night, I took the leftovers and made lettuce wraps.  The brisket was delicious. And the lettuce wrap was a great way to make use the leftover meat to have a lighter, quick meal. 

Duck Sauce Brisket
Ingredients:
3-4 lbs Brisket
1 cup Gold's Duck Sauce (I used the regular, but the spicy version would probably make it better)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 small onion, sliced
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced (any color)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Scallions, chopped for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, set on low and cook for 6-8 hours or set on high and cook for 4 hours.  Alternatively, you could cook in the oven, using a Dutch oven. 



The next day....

Asian Brisket Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients:
Leftover cooked brisket, shredded
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Large lettuce leaves
Sriracha sauce, optional

Directions:
Combine leftover brisket and vegetables with rice and soy sauce in a skillet to heat.  Place on lettuce wraps.  Serve with Sriracha spicy sauce for a spicy kick. 


Even if you don't make this recipe in particular, I encourage (and challenge) you to make something unique and fun with your leftover brisket.  Share your creation in the comment section here.