Archive for the ‘Kosher Recipes’ Category

Developing Your Inner Chef!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Ever stand in your kitchen when you think no one is looking and try to flip an omelet in the air or perhaps a real sauté (without the use of a spatula!)? “Look ma, no hands!” you think. “I’m just like the chefs on TV,” you think… until, of course, the omelet lands on the floor. In the real world of cooking, many factors separate you, the home cook, from the expert restaurant chef: a culinary education, hours and hours of commercial kitchen experience and a seasoned palate. Notwithstanding these differences, there are several lessons you can learn from a trained chef’s approach to cooking that can be utilized in the home kitchen.

When a plate reaches your table in a restaurant, part of the beauty of the experience (and the reason you’re willing to pay top dollar!) is that you didn’t have to prepare it yourself or even think of all the work it took to create such a dish. But if a patron ever caught a glimpse into the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen, one thing that would become evident is the large scale use of what I like to call “building block” recipes. Used to create scrumptious, memorable dishes, “building block” recipes are those things that aren’t eaten by themselves, but rather are the components used to prepare other dishes. Flavorful chicken stocks provide the basis for exceptional sauces; flavor-infused oils add a burst of spice. Homemade salsas, condiments and purees are used to build different dimensions of flavors in a dish, layer upon layer.

I don’t know about you, but last I checked, I didn’t have a staff in my home kitchen to prepare homemade BBQ sauce and the like just to have at my ready….the average home cook simply doesn’t have time to prepare a constant supply of these secondary recipes to the same degree as in a professional kitchen. Here and there though, building block recipes can be prepared on a smaller scale at home, many of which have a good shelf life or will last for quite a while in the refrigerator. Original spice mixes will last for months in the cupboard; stocks can be frozen in small portions and defrosted quickly for a special sauce. A homemade pesto will last for several weeks in the fridge and is a handy “secret weapon” to spruce up any sandwich or wrap, toss with pastas, or to flavor salad dressings (you can even freeze them in ice cube portions). With most building block recipes, a little goes a long way and will yield greater returns than just for one meal. Pick and choose which items are your own personal homemade favorites to have on hand, substituting others with store-bought versions. Consider that extra time spent a small, yet worthwhile investment toward raising the bar for the distinct quality of food that comes out of your very own kitchen.

This week’s recipe incorporates one of my favorite building block recipes to have on hand – a wickedly good roasted garlic dip, perfect for spreading on crusty bread or as a flavor booster like in the recipe below.

Roasted Garlic Zaatar ChickenRoasted Garlic Zaatar Chicken

A wicked, roasted garlic spread smeared under the skin is the secret to creating this moist, flavorful entrée. The spread can be prepared ahead. Use any leftover spread independently as a terrific accoutrement on breads or toasts.

Yield: 4-6 servings

6 heads garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1½ tsp. Zaatar spice, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
8 chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Working with each garlic head, peel away the excess “paper,” being careful to keep the garlic heads intact. You should now have very lean looking garlic heads. Cut approximately 1/8”-1/4” off the top of each individual clove on the garlic head. Place the garlic heads on a large piece of tin foil or in a garlic roaster. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil liberally over top of the cut garlic heads. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt over the heads. Wrap with foil to cover (or cover garlic roaster). Bake for 1 hour or until garlic is soft when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Working over a bowl, carefully squeeze each garlic clove out of its peel into the bowl – gloves are a plus for this messy job! Transfer squeezed garlic to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and Zaatar spice. Process until mixture is smooth, adding more oil to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper, or more Zaatar if desired. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Gently run your fingers underneath the skin, creating a pocket of space. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons garlic spread under the skin and distribute with a knife (alternatively, press skin down over spread and smooth out to distribute with fingers). Repeat with remaining chicken thighs and transfer them to a roasting pan.

Rub the outside of the skin of the chicken with a drizzle of olive oil. Generously sprinkle thighs with Zaatar spice, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of kosher salt. Roast uncovered for 1 hour, until skin is nicely browned and crisp.

 

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

 

 

Another Year, Another Latke

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I’m not sure how it came to be that latkes became the most ubiquitous Chanukah food in America (in Israel, sufganiot are just as popular). Somehow, traditions form an integral part of the experience of celebration; reliving the miracle through edible customs strengthens the associations we have with a given mitzvah. Biting into a crispy latke, our fingertips glistening from oil, for example, reminds us of the menorah, lit in all its glory. We find comfort in returning to those “old school” traditional foods, but it’s also ok to change it up a little bit every now and then to keep things interesting. There are eight nights after all.

People like just about anything fried in oil, as long as it has that crispy-crunchy-salty quality to which we have become entirely addicted. Someone along the way discovered that latkes and sour cream go well together. But if you keep kosher and serve a meat meal, then sour cream is out. Aren’t there any other options? How do we gussie up our little latke with flavor and textural contrasts, especially at party time?

The Greeks managed to defile not only our precious oils during the time of Chanukah, but the entirety of the Temple in Jerusalem, the heart of our holiness and culture. The victory of the Maccabees symbolizes the freedom to return to our traditional observances, to illuminate a dark time. Such were my thoughts when thinking about pairing a liver pâté with my latkes this year. Follow me here: raw livers need to be handled with care as they are not purchased already koshered. Raw livers are not kashered through a salting process, but rather need to be broiled in order to remove the blood. I thought it both meaningful and tasty to pair one food commemorating our rededication of the Temple (Chanukah literally means “dedication”) with another that requires our current dedication to the observance the Torah’s commandments. And since it goes against my grain to leave well enough alone, this pâté has been updated a bit to complement the latkes’ tart apple flavor. But even if you are a traditionalist (“you’re gonna put what on my latke?”), feel free to serve the pâté as a spread with crackers or crusty bread on your holiday table.

Granny Apple-Potato Latkes with Drunken Cherry Liver Pâté

Granny Smith apples have a crisp, tart flavor that gets mellowed and sweetened when cooked…or fried up as your next latke!

Yield: 22 latkes

2 russet potatoes, peeled
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

Grate potatoes, apples and onions together (can be done in a food processor or by hand). Squeeze and drain out as much liquid as possible. Quickly transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and add salt, pepper, eggs and flour; mix to blend.

Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet so that there is approximately ¼ -inch layer covering the bottom. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, carefully drop large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons worth) into the pan, flattening each into a disc with the back of a spoon (or you can use your hands to form and drop). Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, flipping when edges are golden brown. Do not move latkes around before they are ready to be turned, as they can stick and tear. Latkes should be a deep brown color on both sides. Immediately transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining batter Serve topped with a small spoonful of Drunken Cherry Liver Pâté (recipe below).

*Cook’s note: If making ahead, refresh uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes prior to serving.

Drunken Cherry Liver Pâté

Try to find livers that are more pale tan than dark reddish-brown in color. They are more mild tasting and less pungent. Raw livers must be kashered through broiling to remove the blood. See below for directions.

1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed
4 tbsp. olive oil (or chicken fat), divided
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1/2 tsp. crumbled rosemary
3 Tbsp. cognac (or brandy)
1 tbsp. white wine or sherry vinegar

To kasher livers according to Jewish law, click here for step-by-step instructions. Don’t get scared. It’s not that difficult.

Once kashered, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Chop or mash the livers with a fork or knife. The consistency should be slightly chunky. Set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and season with salt and pepper; sauté for about 3-4 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden in color. Add cherries and rosemary and sauté for another minute. Add cognac and stir to blend. Continue to cook until most of the cognac is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cherry mixture to the livers. Mix to blend. Add vinegar and season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve room temperature over Granny Apple-Potato Latkes (recipe above) or with crackers or toasts.

Wishing you a joyous and illuminating Chanukah,
Naomi Ross and the Park East Kosher Family

 

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

 

 

What Your Grandmother Always Knew…

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Wandering through the meat department of a local kosher grocery, I stand back and watch for a while. A woman leans over, peering over the many plastic-wrapped packages of red meat, each neatly stacked and labeled, one not too dissimilar from the next… a sea of confusion for the average cook. She stands there for a while. Picks up one package, and then puts it down. Picks up another, then returns it to its place. She just doesn’t know what to buy. Lots of different names and cuts abound, some with duplicate names. Distinguishing the cuts and how to prepare them is hard enough, but at least sometimes there are clues to guide us…words like rib, chuck, neck…hints as to which part of the animal the meat came from. That’s not always the case though, especially with certain cuts that have become common in American kosher butchery and referred to by a unique nomenclature. Being a bit farther removed from the slaughtering and butchering than in our grandmothers’ day, we have to put in the effort to ask questions and become educated consumers…we should at least know what it is that we’ve chosen to purchase and prepare!

What in fact is a “deckle” or rather, where does it come from? That’s one I always wondered about. “Deckle” is actually a Yiddish word for “covering”. The deckle is the fatty covering over the side of the rib. It is a tough, cheap cut, perfect for pot roasting. Similar to a brisket, the deckle is a long, flat piece of meat; however, its irregular shape (it has a small section with the grain running in the opposite direction from the rest of the cut) and extra connective tissue make it less select than the coveted brisket. Less select, but not less flavorful. When treated right and given a good slow cook (and lots of love!), the deckle can make a tasty beef supper, especially when on a budget. Be sure when slicing to watch for the change of grain – and always slice against the grain!

Besides the slow cook, acidity also helps to break down the connective tissue and tenderize the meat. That’s why wine or tomatoes are so commonly used in pot roasting. In the following recipe, I use tomatoes and beer. Be sure to serve with mashed potatoes for a very satisfying meal. That’s what I advised the harried woman in the market, anyway…it’s always good to lend a hand!

Beer-Braised Deckle

A modern pot roast redux, this recipe can also be made with top of the rib, brisket, etc.

Serves 6

Spice Mix

½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried mustard
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch or flour

Deckle

1 (3-lb.) Deckle
3 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (12-oz.) bottle beer
5 tbsp. mild molasses

Combine all spice mix ingredients together in a shallow dish, whisking to blend. Dredge deckle in spice mixture, rubbing spices to evenly coat on both sides (you may have to cut the deckle in half if very long). Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over high heat. Place deckle in pan and brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side (repeat if necessary with other half of deckle). Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan. Add onions, celery and garlic, stirring to blend. Season liberally with kosher salt. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, beer and molasses, stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and return deckle to the pot. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2½-3 hours or until tender (meat is done when fork pierces and releases easily). Remove from heat and cool slightly.

To serve: transfer deckle to a cutting board and slice meat against the grain with a sharp carving knife. Transfer slices to a platter. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Spoon sauce over meat and serve.

 

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

 

 

A Smaller Thanksgiving…

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I am a kitchen dweller. Of all the rooms of the house, the kitchen feels most like home to me and I’m quite content to spend copious amounts of time there. There are, however, exceptions…by this I mean those “special” jobs worthy of bribing your mother-in-law to do them. And though I’m a sucker for a real Thanksgiving dinner – essentially a comfy eat-fest with all the yummy trimmings – I’d be lying if I claimed that cleaning the bird did not rank high on that list of things I’d rather not have to do (root canal, anyone?). Surely, there must be a way out…a way to have my turkey and eat it too?

For those of you out there overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning and handling such a large bird (“you want me to put my hand where?!”), it may be worthwhile to review the pros and cons of roasting a whole bird and what your other options may be. Besides the obvious tradition and nostalgia associated with presenting a lovely decorated bird to your guests (assuming you will be carving tableside while wearing a flannel shirt), the main benefit of roasting a large turkey is that it really feeds a crowd…with leftovers! But what if you are having a smaller crowd? Roasting a whole turkey not only takes a lot of prep time to properly clean and prepare (and lots of lead time if you are defrosting a frozen bird), but also hogs up your oven space for several hours before entertaining. If you are bent on roasting the whole bird, see last year’s Thanksgiving guide on the blog for tips. If you are looking for alternative ideas, read on!

One of the biggest obstacles in roasting a whole turkey is the challenge of maintaining the moistness of both the dark and white meat. All too often, by the time the turkey is done, the dark meat may be juicy while the white meat is dried out. Choosing to cook one cut of turkey eliminates this issue completely. Preparing just the breast meat or just the dark meat is an easy way of ensuring the appropriate cooking time to yield juicy results without the fuss. And if your family happens to like drumsticks or wings, the same rule applies…and you can then offer more than just two for Uncle Joey and Grandma Estelle to fight over! Think of it as turkey-a-la-carte…a perfect solution for a smaller crowd (and without the time spent cleaning!)

I’m a big stuffing fan, so I decided to incorporate a stuffing into the following recipe which features a butterflied boneless turkey roast (breast meat). Butterflying the meat opens up the breast via a center incision, cutting almost but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly shape (Park East Kosher is happy to do this upon request). This allows for ample room to stuff and roll, and a thinner, more palatable thickness. Turkey. Stuffing. Gravy. Done. And I didn’t have to clean a thing!

Pastrami-Wrapped Turkey Roulade with Apple-Chestnut Stuffing

A turkey roast usually retains its moisture from its skin during cooking. Here, pastrami takes the place of skin and adds a crispy, smoky element.

Serves 8.

1 (4-4¼ lbs.) turkey roast, butterflied and skin removed
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups peeled, chopped Fuji apples (1 very large or 2 small)
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (5.2 oz.) pkg. whole peeled and roasted chestnuts, chopped
3 tbsp. apple liquor
4 slices day-old bread (crusts removed), cubed (2½ cups)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
8 oz. thinly sliced pastrami
1 cup apple cider
½ cup low-sodium chicken or turkey stock

Cider-Sage Gravy (recipe below):
Special equipment:    6 pieces kitchen twine, roasting rack and pan

Lay turkey out on a flat surface or cutting board. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add apples and season with 1 tsp. salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until apples begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add chestnuts and sauté another 2 minutes. Add apple liquor and stir to blend until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 1 minute. Turn heat off. Add bread and sage, tossing until bread is moistened.

Spread bread mixture over turkey and carefully roll breast up, tucking ends in if necessary. Place a single layer of overlapping slices of pastrami crosswise over the roast. Using pre-cut pieces of kitchen twine, carefully slide each piece under the wrapped roast, tying each string to secure the roast at 2-inch intervals. Carefully place tied roast on a rack in a medium roasting pan. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook for about 1½ hours or until inserted meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees internally, uncovering during the last 15 minutes to crisp the pastrami. Remove from oven; transfer turkey to a cutting board (reserving pan juices) and allow turkey to rest for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the Cider-Sage Gravy (recipe below). Using a sharp carving knife, remove twine and carefully slice roulade crosswise. Arrange slices on a platter and serve with gravy.

Cider-Sage Gravy

1½ tbsp. olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1½ tbsp. flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
¼ cup apple cider
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ tsp. chopped fresh sage leaves

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Sprinkle flour over shallots and quickly stir to blend, cooking for another minute. Add pan juices, stock, cider, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk to blend. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat, simmering gravy until mixture becomes thickened (should be able to coat the back of a spoon), about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with black pepper and add salt if necessary. Remove from heat. Stir in sage. Serve hot with turkey.

 

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

 

 

One-Bowl-Wonders!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The click-click-click of my radiator plays its little tune and I hear the sweet, raspy sound of heat coming up on a cool autumn night. The days are getting shorter, and as the leaves slowly descend, so does the realization that whether I like it or not, the cold is coming. And so I go through the list in my head: Winter coats: check. Snow boots: check. Rock salt: check. Really yummy weeknight suppers that will warm and nourish my family: come again?

Now is the time to start thinking and planning for the many cool nights ahead. And why not outfit yourself with a new recipe “wardrobe” for the coming season?! Winter soups and stews are a great place to start. Think “heartiness factor” – by this I mean identifying those essential ingredients which are helpful in making a dish “hearty.” Legumes such as chick peas, beans or lentils add protein and substance to any soup or stew and are a great pantry item to keep on hand. Grains and pastas are filling and add tremendous body either in your soup or as bed upon which to put your stew. I like to keep my pantry stocked with these items the whole year, but especially when the weather gets colder. Meats, whether chunks of beef stew meat or even a turkey wing, are definitely hearty, and although I prefer to purchase meat fresh, it’s never a bad idea to keep a package or two in your freezer for a bad weather day.

I’m a big fan of soups – especially ones that can be a meal unto themselves. This year, I started my own search in my recipe box. Much like shopping in your own closet, I’m often pleasantly surprised at what I might find: in this case, an old tattered paper, folded in four, with the scribbling of my husband’s old roommate. I am suddenly transported back to their apartment years before, and to the day he showed us how to make his mother’s Niku Udon, Japanese Beef Noodle soup, the way he ate it growing up in Japan. BINGO. Thick Japanese Udon noodles, meaty strips of beef and a flavorful broth make this an especially earthy and satisfying soup… a recipe to kick off the cool weather season.

Here is an adapted version of that recipe. You can use any fatty, marbled cut of meat (like rib); however, I prefer skirt steak. Skirt steak is from the diaphragm. It has excellent flavor and texture, but can be salty. For this reason, it is recommended to either rinse or soak the meat prior to use, then pat it dry.

Easy Beef Udon Noodle Soup

Udon noodles are thick Japanese wheat noodles that can be found fresh in the produce section (Nasoya brand) or in the Asian section of the supermarket (such as Eden brand).

Serves 4.

1 (8.8 oz.) package Udon noodles
3 cups water
1½ cups Sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups thinly sliced onion (2 medium onions)
1 lb. skirt steak, very thinly sliced crosswise into 2” long strips
4-5 scallions, cut into spears
3-4 tbsp. soy sauce (Kikkoman or Yamasa)
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare Udon noodles according to package instructions. Rinse, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine water, sake, sugar and salt together in a medium pot (4-quart). Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add onions and simmer together until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add meat and scallions and simmer until just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes (do not overcook meat or it will become tough). Add 3 tablespoons soy sauce; stir to blend. Season to taste with more soy sauce, if needed, and black pepper.

Place Udon noodles in each individual serving bowl and generously ladle hot soup over noodles to cover. Serve and enjoy!

 

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

 

 

Grill It Healthy!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

When most of us hear “outdoor grilling,” we think of Sunday BBQs, Memorial Day, Father’s Day or July 4th: the highlights of summer entertaining.  Let us not underestimate, though, the greatness of the weeknight grill.  And while we usually associate grilling with fattening foods, let us now embrace some of the healthier options before us.  Besides the obvious benefits of grilling, namely a no-mess clean up (I loathe cleaning up), a quick prep (can you say “15-minute meal”?), and being able to make a sandwich that can be called “dinner,” grilling foods naturally low in fat and cholesterol – such as poultry, fish and vegetables – is one of the most effective ways to bring out flavor while infusing your food with a delicious smokiness and character.

I try to keep it simple when I grill.  Foods with a higher fat content (like a rib steak) generally require little more than a seasoning of salt and pepper to yield extraordinary results, as the fat keeps the food moist and juicy, even under extreme heat.  However, for foods lower in fat or more delicate in nature, a little more care and consideration often has to be given.  There’s a fine line between a juicy burger and a dried out hockey puck.  The trick is staying on the right side of that line!  That’s said, here are a few tips dedicated to healthy grilling:

  • Know when to add fat. (Yes, you read that right).  A little fat goes a long way in terms of flavor and moisture (and practically speaking, to prevent sticking to the grill!).  Don’t worry, we’re not talking about serious calories here.
    • Brush it! Get yourself a paint or pastry brush that can be used to brush on a thin layer of olive oil to low or non-fat items that would likely get dried out (for example: vegetables, skinless chicken breast, etc.).
    • Add it! Ground poultry is very low in fat and can get dried out quickly.  As in the recipe given below, sometimes adding a small amount of fat to the ground mixture (like the aioli below) can ensure the success of the taste and texture of a dish.
  • Know when to add flavor. Let’s face it: fat tastes good.  So when the fat is missing, how do we maximize the flavor?  Spice rubs and marinades can transform food, especially for foods which can be mild in taste, such as fish and poultry.
  • Know when to protect. Open-fire cooking exposes food to intense heat.  Delicate foods like fish benefit from the smoky flavor of the grill, though often also need protection from the heat. 
    • This is where the tradition of grilling a whole fish wrapped in banana leaves comes from.  More commonly, grilling on cedar planks (that have been soaked in water) can impart wonderful flavor without scorching the fish.
    • Indirect grilling can also be helpful here. This is where you grill not directly over fire, but rather on the opposite side of the grill, a gentler method.
  • Know when to take it off. We all suffer from the nervousness of “what if it’s not done?”  Unfortunately, all too often, erring on the side of caution results in over-cooked food.  The more you grill, the more of a feel you’ll get for the timing and texture of cooked meats.  Don’t forget, you can always put it back, but you can never undo over-cooking.

With these tips in mind, I developed the following recipe: a low-fat turkey burger boosted with the zing of sundried tomatoes and aroma of rosemary.  Not sure what to make for dinner tomorrow night?  Read on…

Sundried Tomato Turkey Burgers with Rosemary Aioli

Aioli is a garlicky mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France.  Here, a Rosemary Aioli has a dual purpose: dressing the bun as an accompaniment, while also lending the turkey meat extra moistness and flavor.

Makes 8 burgers.

 

    • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing grates
    • 1 shallot, diced (about 1/3 cup)
    • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1½-1¾ lbs. ground turkey (white meat)
    • 1½ tbsp. Rosemary Aioli (see recipe below)
    • Hamburger Buns or Multigrain Rolls, sliced in half
    • Baby Arugula

      Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until translucent.  Add sundried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste; continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

      In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, shallot-tomato mixture, and 1½ tbsp. Rosemary Aioli.  Mix until just combined.  Using moistened hands, gently form into 8 patties.

      Preheat grill to high (about 450 degrees).  Grease grates of grill (an oil-soaked wad of paper towels and tongs do a good job of this).  Place burger patties on grill.  Close cover and grill for about 4 minutes per side, turning once during grilling.  Toast bun halves on the grill for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown and grill marks appear.  Remove and transfer to a platter.

      Assembly: Spread bun halves with a small dollop of Rosemary Aioli (see recipe below), then top each with a burger, and a handful of arugula.  Cover with bun top and serve.

      Rosemary Aioli

        • ½ cup mayonnaise
        • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp.)
        • ¼ tsp. salt
        • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (about 2 tsp.)
        • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled or 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
        • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

           

          Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

           

          DO AHEAD: Can be made a day ahead and stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

           

          By Naomi Ross

          (more…)

          Wisdom from the Pesach Kitchen

          Monday, April 11th, 2011

          During the past few weeks, I’ve discussed the advanced preparations that can make for an easier Passover.  As the Seder night approaches, other important preparations come to the fore, all part and parcel of the Passover experience.

          When I was a child, I remember begging my mother for a job to do on those momentous days leading up to Passover.  The anticipation in the house was contagious, and I couldn’t help but sense the urgency – something big was coming and I wanted to be a part of it.  Fortunately for me, my mother was adept at putting me to work, getting me involved in the Pesach preparations and effectively igniting a spark in her daughter to experience the joy and excitement of Pesach.  The mitzvah of chinuch habanim (educating your children) of the story of the Exodus from Egypt began there – not at the seder, but before in the kitchen.

          Each part of the Seder is carried out in such a way as to arouse curiosity in the children in order that they might ask questions.  According to the Sages, one should explain the story in the way that will be most understood on their level.  By doing so, you will fulfill the mitzvah of “v’hegaditah l’bincha,” teaching the story to your children.  Children learn experientially.  They need to engage all of their senses to really internalize a concept or lesson.  By drawing your children in and inviting them to take part in the Pesach preparations, you will help stir their interest and make Pesach real for them, enabling them to take ownership of their own holiday experience.

          There are many jobs that are perfect for this purpose and are appropriate for a wide range of ages.  Here are few suggestions:

          • Making CharosesWhen I was a kid, I thought making Charoses was an all-day process.  Peeling, coring and chopping the apples took forever.  And dicing nuts in our little manual glass jar chopper was such hard work for a little kid that by the time I finished, I truly felt as though I were enslaved in Egypt, too!   Truth be told, it was the perfect job – it kept me busy for a long time and I felt very accomplished afterward.
          • Peeling hardboiled eggs – all kids think this is fun.  I have no idea why, but they do…so teach them how and let them.
          • Setting the table – There are many more things to prepare on the Seder table than for a regular meal.  Assembling Haggados and pillows and preparing the Seder plate all take time.  In addition, if your children are creative, perhaps they can create some pretty folded napkins and/or handmade place cards.
          • Cooking and Baking for older kids who are able to follow a recipe (or interested in learning), this is a great opportunity to teach your kids basic lessons in cooking and baking.  I still remember being called over to taste and help season a dish simmering on the stove.  And there is nothing like Pesach baking to teach one how to separate eggs and beat them up stiff.  It was in my mother’s Pesach kitchen that I quickly learned what “stiff peaks” were and what exactly “folding” meant.  (And my mother?  She had to bake no more!).  

           

          No matter how you enlist your child, the real secret to getting them involved is by exhibiting the joy and fun (yes, fun!) of making Pesach yourself.  When your kids see you enjoying yourself and getting into the spirit, then they will follow suit and reflect that joy into your home.

          With the Seder plate in mind, here is one last recipe to share and enjoy.  Because we no longer have a Temple in which to offer the Paschal lamb, it is a strong custom not to serve roasted meats.  For this reason, braised dishes such as brisket have become a traditional choice for the Seder entrée.

          Braised Brisket with Horseradish-Parsley Pesto

          Inspired by the symbolic foods of the Seder, this brisket gets a boost from fresh horseradish and parsley, and is balanced with bright orange flavors.

          Ingredients

          ½ cup parsley leaves, lightly packed

          3 cloves garlic

          ½ cup fresh horseradish root, peeled and sliced

          Zest of one orange (about 1 tbsp.)

          2 tbsp. olive oil

          1 (4½ lb.) first-cut brisket

          Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

          3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

          2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

          3 cloves garlic, chopped

          1 tsp. dried rosemary

          1 cup dry red wine

          ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

          2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

          1-2 tbsp. tomato paste

          Directions

          Place parsley, 3 cloves of garlic, horseradish, orange zest and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade. Process ingredients until finely ground into a paste.  Set aside.

          Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper.  In a very large, deep skillet or enameled, cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown, turning once, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Using tongs, carefully transfer the brisket to a platter, fat side up.  Spread an even layer of horseradish-parsley pesto over the brisket and set aside.

          Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan or casserole and return to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and chopped garlic and sauté over moderate heat until translucent, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the rosemary, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the wine, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the orange juice, brown sugar and tomato paste, and stir to blend.

          If using a cast-iron casserole, set the brisket, horseradish side up, in the center of the casserole. (Alternatively, if using a skillet, transfer the mixture to a 9×13 baking dish and set the brisket in the center of the baking dish).  Cover and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 2-3 hours or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow brisket to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

          Transfer brisket to a cutting board and using a sharp carving knife, make thin slices against the grain.  Transfer to a serving platter, spooning some of the gravy over the brisket and serve with additional remaining gravy on the side.

          Do Ahead: This recipe can be prepared 2-3 days in advance, with the flavors intensifying after marinating in the cooking liquid.  To reheat, skim the fat from the surface of the liquid. Slice the cold brisket, return it to the casserole and reheat gently in a 350° oven. Transfer the brisket to a platter and serve.

          Cook’s Note: For thicker gravy, reduce cooking liquid in a saucepan over medium heat prior to serving until it reaches desired consistency.

          Have a happy and kosher Passover!

          -Naomi Ross and the Park East Kosher Family

          By Naomi Ross

           

           

           

           

           

          (more…)

          The Pesach Menu Hotline, Part 2

          Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

          The seders of my youth involved long tables, lots of folding chairs and, in general, a lot of guests.  Armed with a stack of Maxwell House haggadahs, an industrial-size can of macaroons and copious amounts of matzah, we who lived in the house knew that more than any other point in the year, it was a time to serve a crowd…to make some new memories and to relive old ones.

          Serving a Crowd

          Anyone who cooks and hosts knows that the dishes and menu choices to accommodate a large crowd may differ from what you might select for an intimate meal.  If large quantity cooking is new to you (or you just need a little refresher), here are some tips to help along your menu planning and preparations.

          Menu Considerations

          Make a list of all the dishes you plan on serving.  Then consider the following: the cost of the ingredients, how much time is required (and how complicated the recipe is), and the yield (i.e. how many it will serve).

          • Cost: Some recipes are just not cost efficient for serving a crowd.  For example, braised short ribs are a lovely choice for a small dinner party, but if you are cooking for 20, a large piece of meat (like a brisket or roast) will be a wiser choice.
          • Time: Cooking in large quantities takes longer than small quantities – obviously, it will take longer to peel 20 potatoes than 5 potatoes, so factor in that extra time. Limit (or eliminate!) long or complicated recipes, and if you do choose to make one, consider the timing carefully, breaking down the steps in your cooking schedule (see below).
          • Yield:  Look for recipes that have a large yield.  A recipe can be doubled or even tripled, but beyond that, the numbers don’t always add up, and the quality and taste of the recipe may be compromised.

          Lists, lists and more lists!

          • Once you’ve made your master serving list, write a detailed menu of all dishes, breaking down and itemizing the recipes into individual components (for example, under “Stuffed Chicken Breasts,” list “matzo stuffing”).  This will help you to organize and group your kitchen tasks.  Then make a copy and put it in on your fridge so that you have something to check off as you go (also, when you lose your original or spill brisket gravy all over it, you’ll have a back-up!).
          • Next, review your recipes and create a master shopping list (or multiple lists if shopping at more than one store).  Check it twice.
          • Create a cooking and task schedule: Working backwards from the serving day, decide in advance the order of preparation, based on what can be prepared in advance and what needs to be prepared closest to serving time.
          • Some kitchen work may be done ahead of time, such as chopping vegetables or making soups, braised meats and mixes that can be baked or cooked later (like matzo ball batter).

          More helpful hints…

          • Large quantity storage: Plan ahead to have space in your refrigerator for all you will be cooking. Don’t forget you will also need to store leftovers.  If you have a second fridge/freezer, plug it in and get those big Tupperwares and tins (with covers!) ready.
          • Be sure you have pots, pans and serving dishes large enough to prepare and serve your recipes.
          • When you’re multiplying recipes, keep in mind that cooking times may be different if you change the recipe size – doubling does not mean doubling the cooking time, but adjustments often have to be made with a watchful eye.
          • Delegate, delegate, delegate! Be realistic about how much you can do by yourself. Enlist “helpers” and delegate chores so that others can be involved in the mitzvah of making Passover…and the mitzvah of preventing the host/hostess from being overwhelmed!

          The following recipe is a great choice when serving a crowd.  It’s simple to prepare, makes a ton, is a real crowd pleaser and won’t break the bank (cabbage is cheap and goes a long way!).  A sure win-win for your Passover menu and mine.

          Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

          Flanken and beef bones give this soup a superior depth of flavor – homey and satisfying with each bite!

          Yield: 12 servings

          1½ lbs. beef flanken, cut into large chunks (slice in between the bones)

          2 beef soup bones

          9 cups water or more as needed

          1 large onion, sliced

          1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes

          1 (15-oz.) tomato sauce

          1 medium head green cabbage, shredded (discard tough outer layers before shredding)

          1 large potato, peeled and diced

          1 bay leaf

          ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

          ¼ cup dark brown sugar

          1-2 tbsp. tomato paste

          ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

          1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

          Place flanken, bones and water in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Slowly bring to a boil.  Using a small sieve or a large spoon, carefully skim off foam and impurities when they begin to rise to the surface.  Add the rest of the ingredients, return to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Taste soup and add additional lemon juice and/or brown sugar as needed to achieve a balanced sweet and sour taste.  Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.   Ladle soup into bowls with a portion of meat in each bowl.

           

          By Naomi Ross

          (more…)

          The Pesach Menu Hotline, Part 1

          Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

          No sooner do we put our Purim groggers (noise makers) away, that we take out our Passover menus and brush off the haggadahs.  Passover will be here in less than a month, and my next few blog postings will be dedicated to getting ready and getting organized! (Breathe.  Breathe.)

          Getting Organized:

          Part of the pre-Passover stress can be reduced if you do your menu planning now.  Planning ahead will not only make shopping more manageable and organized, but if you make a large menu plan for all of your holiday meals, the cooking will become easier as well: you’ll be able to create an organized master cooking schedule.  Taking a few minutes to plan now will save you hours later, enabling you to effectively tackle how and when everything will be made.  Perhaps you’ll choose to double a main dish, freeze half and save it for the end of the holiday.  Maybe there is a vegetable dish that, upon further consideration, is best prepared closer to mealtime.

          If you don’t already have one, create a Passover folder for menus, photocopied recipes, important shopping lists (not just for food), cleaning lists and even receipts.  Why reinvent the wheel each year?!  Loose scraps of paper are easily lost or misplaced and it would be a shame to lose all of that information.

          Passover Menu-Planning: The Real Deal

          Each year, another Passover cookbook comes out that we run to purchase without hesitation.  Our secret hope is that it will contain the answer to the real question we are asking: “how can I make the same chometzdik food I make all year kosher-for-Passover…and still taste good?”  The answer to this question is: you can’t.  Instead, let’s shift our mentality and rather ask, “Which are the best recipes to make which naturally do not require chometz* or that require only small substitutions?”  Let’s free ourselves from getting stuck in a rut.  The world is full of wonderful foods that do not require chometz.  If we choose recipes that are innately good and not just “not bad for Passover,” then we will all be happier with the food we are eating and how it comes out.   Roasted vegetables are a simple side dish, but delicious.  Marinated salads can be prepared in advance and are a great way of adding color and balance to what can be the heaviest meals of our year. Your favorite green leafy salad is welcome any time of year.  Start with main dishes and fill in as you go.

          With your folder in hand, you’ll be on your way to freeing yourself from a stressful experience, and better able to focus on the enjoyment of the holiday.

          The following recipe is a great example of an entrée that is innately good in all its simplicity, whether on Passover or the rest of the year.

          *Chometz is leavened or fermented wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley – forbidden to be eaten on Passover.

          Lemon-Herbed Roast Chicken


          There is something remarkably aromatic and juicy about roasting a whole bird.  This “Julia-style” treatment is my go-to method!

          Serves 4.

          1. 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 large whole sprigs
          2. 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 whole sprigs
          3. ½ tsp. garlic powder
          4. ½ tsp. kosher salt
          5. ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
          6. 1/3 cup olive oil
          7. 1 lemon, zest reserved, and quartered
          8. 1 onion, quartered
          9. 1 shallot, minced
          10. 2/3 cup chicken stock
          11. 1/3 cup dry white wine

          Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

          Clean whole chicken inside and out, removing excess fat or pin feathers if necessary.  Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Combine chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Rub this mixture all over the chicken and inside of the cavity.  Stuff quartered lemon, onion, and herb sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.  Using a long piece of twine, tie the legs together tightly.

          Place the chicken back-side up on a V-rack or grate in a frame-proof roasting pan.  Roast for 15 minutes, and carefully turn chicken breast-side up.  Roast for another 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to roast for another 45 minutes-1 hour or until an inserted meat thermometer registers 170 degrees internally.  Remove chicken from the oven.

          Tilt the chicken forward, allowing the inner juices to run into the roasting pan. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes before serving.  Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium high heat.  Add shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes, scraping up browned bits from the bottom.  Add chicken stock and wine, and bring to a boil.  Simmer over medium heat, continually scraping up browned bits from the bottom and stirring until they dissolve and the sauce thickens. Skim off excess fat and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut up chicken into eighths (e.g. breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings).  Discard lemons, onions, and chicken back (or save for your next stock). Serve chicken with sauce on the side.

           

          By Naomi Ross

          (more…)

          Feast and Be Merry

          Monday, March 14th, 2011

          “Booooh, Haman!  Booooh, Haman!” my toddler shouted, fingers waving in the air.  He’s only two, but he knows that Purim is coming, and boy is he excited.  Purim, the joyous festival commemorating the turnabout of events that resulted in the salvation of the Jews in Persia from certain annihilation, will be celebrated this coming Sunday.  Each year, we celebrate the day through four mitzvot prescribed by Mordechai in the Book of Esther, four acts meant to engender joy and gladness amongst the Jewish People:  publicly reading the megillah (Book of Esther), giving one another gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor and enjoying a celebratory meal.

          Feasting and drinking were paramount in the kingdom of Ahashverosh, the king of Persia.  Parties would extend for days and weeks; the extravagance knew no bounds.  Such was the backdrop of Haman’s evil schemes and plans to destroy the Jews.  Purim is about recognizing the hidden miracles threaded throughout the story of our survival, the Divine Hand that can turn the self-same lavish feasts used to plot our destruction into a cause for elation and thanksgiving.  The se’udah (meal) should resemble a feast with all the trimmings: the best of what is within a person’s means.  Traditionally, meat and wine are served, as it says in the Talmud, “Ein simcha elah bebasar…beyayin – There is no real rejoicing without meat and wine.”  The point is not gluttony.  The point is to elevate the mundane, dedicating the physical toward a spiritual end.

          Masks and costumes, groggers (noise-makers) in hand, our Purim planning is well under way.   A special day calls for a special dish and I am pulling out all the stops.  Nothing says “banquet” like a big ‘ole rib roast.  There is something regal about the look of rib bones peeking out from the succulent meat, a stunning presentation.  What’s more, you can really choose how big of a rib roast to serve based on the numbers of guests – a smaller roast (with just a couple of ribs) for a few guests, or a large roast (with 4-7 ribs) for a crowd.  The following recipe is easily doubled – don’t double cooking times, though; rather, adjust cooking time based on internal temperature (a meat thermometer is indispensible for this).

          Enjoy the day, eat lots of Hamantashen, and have a very Happy Purim!

          -Naomi Ross and the Park East Kosher Family

          Porcini-Crusted Rib Roast with Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout

          A standing rib roast is a prime cut of meat from the rib section, bone-in.  Its well-marbled meat makes it ideal for dry roasting, leaving a delectable caramelized crust on the exterior, but juicy and moist on the inside. This cut is best served rare, so don’t be afraid when you see pink!

          Serves 6.

          1. 2 oz. (about 1/3 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
          2. 6 garlic cloves, peeled
          3. 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme (from about 2-3 sprigs)
          4. 1 tsp. kosher salt
          5. ½ tsp. black pepper
          6. 2 tbsp. olive oil
          7. 1 [4-lb.] rib roast (with 2 rib bones), fat trimmed
          8. Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout (recipe below)
          9. 1 tbsp. flour
          10. 1½ cups low-sodium beef stock
          11. 1½ cups dry red wine (I like Cabernet here)

           

          Directions:

          Place mushrooms, garlic, spices and oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade.  Process until all ingredients are ground up, and consistency resembles a paste.  Rub mixture all over the roast, spreading as even a coating as possible.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

          Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place roast fat-side up on a rack placed in a flameproof 9×13 roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast until a thermometer inserted straight down into the top center reaches 130 degrees (for medium-rare), about 1½ hours.  While the roast is cooking, prepare the Mushroom and Shallot Ragout (you will need it for the next steps).

          Transfer roast to a cutting board.  Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Skim any fat from the top of the pan juices and transfer 1 tablespoon of fat to a small bowl.   Mix 1 tablespoon flour into the reserved fat until a smooth paste forms.  Set aside.  Reserve any juices in roasting pan.

          Set roasting pan atop a burner over medium-high heat. Add reserved porcini soaking liquid (from ragout recipe below), broth, and wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.  Continue to boil until reduced by approximately half (about 8 minutes).  Add Mushroom and Shallot Ragout and stir to blend. Bring mixture back to a boil.  Add the fat-flour mixture, whisking constantly until incorporated.  Continue to cook on medium-high heat until sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Season sauce to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

          To serve, either place the whole roast on a serving platter for a stunning presentation, carving tableside, or slice in the kitchen and arrange the slices on the serving platter.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.  Serve with Mushroom & Shallot sauce on the side or spooned over the roast.

          Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout

          This mushroom sauté can be served by itself as a flavorful side dish or used as a wonderful gravy base, as in the recipe above.  Ragout can be made up to a day in advance.

          1. 1 cup boiling water
          2. 1½ oz. (about ¼ cup) dried porcini or other dried mushrooms
          3. 2 tbsp. olive oil
          4. 2½ cups sliced shallots (about 7)
          5. 12 oz. assorted sliced fresh wild mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, shitake, just to name a few…)
          6. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
          7. 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme (from about 2-3 sprigs)
          8. ½ tsp. kosher salt
          9. Freshly ground black pepper

           

          Directions:

          DO AHEAD: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a small bowl with the dried mushrooms.  Set aside and allow mushrooms to soak for about 30 minutes.  Strain mushrooms, reserving and setting mushroom water aside for later use.  Coarsely chop mushrooms and set aside.

          Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté until shallots are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute, stirring to blend.  Add dried mushrooms, fresh wild mushrooms, chopped thyme and salt.  Stir to blend and sauté until mushrooms are wilted and mixture is reduced, about 8-10 minutes.  Season to taste with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if necessary.

           

          By Naomi Ross

          (more…)