“The Modern Kosher Kitchen” by Ronnie Fein

Recipes in The Modern Kosher Kitchen Book-Kosher-Kitchenby Ronnie Fein offer gourmet training wheels for the aspiring Kosher cook. In our lifetime a revolution has taken place in Kosher recipe books and cooking. The bland kosher recipe books on the shelves of all-too-many Ashkenazi parents and grandparents were also problematic due to high fat and sugar content.

For those unaccustomed to the pedal-to-the-metal spice revolution of our times, The Modern Kosher Kitchen offers opportunities to explore creative contemporary additions such as Siriracha sauce (a chili sauce named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in Chonburi Province of eastern Thailand), that helps kosher cooks to bridge the bland/sweet divide.

For example: White Bean and Vegetable Hurry-Up Salad

  • 1 can (15 oz or 425 g) white beans
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup (130 g) frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup (24 g) chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

Rinse the white beans under cold running water; let drain and place them in a bowl. Add the carrots, avocado, peas, onion, parsley, mint, cumin, and cayenne pepper and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss again to coat the ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Suggestions and Variations: Use chickpeas or black beans instead of white beans; use any cooked chopped green vegetable (such as broccoli, green string beans, thawed frozen lima beans, or edamame) instead of peas.

And secure many happy dining comments at your meal by making halibut or salmon on the grill and serving atop:

Spicy Marinated Pineapple

  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons (60 g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) siriracha
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lime juice
  • Kosher salt or Maldon sea salt
  • Mint, for garnish

Cut the leaves off the pineapple. Remove the outer fibrous rind. Cut the peeled pineapple in slices about 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) thick. Set aside in a single layer in a pan. Heat the honey with the vegetable oil and siriracha in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the ingredients are well mixed. Add the time juice. Pour over the pineapple slices. Coat the pineapples slices on both sides and let marinate at least 1 hour (and as long as 12 hours). Preheat an outdoor grill to medium (or use a grill pan or the oven broiler.) Grill the slices for about 4 minutes per side or until well glazed and tender, brushing occasionally with some of the honey mixture. Serve sprinkled lightly with salt. Garnish with fresh mint. You can make these ahead and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature or reheat to warm in a pre-heated 350°F (190°C, or gas mark 4) oven for a few minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Serving Suggestions and Variations: Grilled, speed pineapple lens monumental flavor to mild main-course foods such as fish and chicken.

Your family and guests will delight in the evolution of Kosher cuisine, combined, as has been the case throughout Jewish history, with the elements of the cultures among which Jewish people dwell. I bought our sriracha sauce at an International Market while visiting family who live in Passaic and it’s available on line, too. The Modern Kosher Kitchen by Ronnie Fein definitely and deftly adds spice to life!

Israeli Cooking Book, From Philadelphia With Love

Philadelphia’s own Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook just published their first book, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Solomonov and Cook hope to familiarize Americans with some of their restaurant Zahav’s famous dishes. If you loved Jerusalem-born, London-based Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem as much as I did, then this book will be a treat.

The spices and techniques of Israel’s myriad ethnic groups are reflected in the book’s recipes. Familiar Eastern European Ashkenazi foods such as rugalech, kugels and latkes are presented along with more exotic foods such as kibbe and fillo cigars from the Levant. All of these recipes have been adapted to ingredients that are easily accessible to the American cook. Below is a recipe for Zahav’s Ottoman-inspired eggplant salad.

Photo by Sofia Gk https://www.flickr.com/photos/sofiagk/

Photo by Sofia Gk.

Zahav’s Twice Cooked Eggplant Salad

  •  2 eggplants
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  1. Slice the eggplants.
  2. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Allow the eggplants to rest for 30 minutes in a colander.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.
  5. Fry the eggplant slices over medium heat, until almost charred on both sides.
  6. Place the eggplant in a bowl.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan.
  8. Stir in the onion, pepper, coriander, and paprika.
  9. When the vegetables are soft, add the blackened eggplant and sherry vinegar to the pot.
  10. Stir for a few minutes.
  11. Remove the pot from the heat.
  12. Squeeze the lemon into the eggplant.
  13. Sprinkle the minced parsley into the pot.
  14. Stir and serve at any temperature.

Cookbook Review: 4 Bloggers Dish: Passover

When food bloggers become friends, it can lead to an interesting collaboration.

4 Bloggers Dish: Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors is a wonderful compilation of creative kosher recipes from four women who befriended each other in cyberspace. If you are hoping to freshen up your Seder with bright, healthy, and creative recipes, this book is for you.

Whitney Fisch was a model in Milan when she discovered the pleasures of Italian food. Her website, Jewhungry, relates how she keeps kosher while trying everything.

Liz Rueven shares her kosher vegetarian adventures in Kosher Like Me. I especially admire her thorough research and travel adventures.

Amy Kritzer, the creator of What Jew Wanna Eat, started by preserving her bubby’s recipes. From there, she fell in love with cooking and attended the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Austin, Texas. She shares both vintage and new recipes.

More after the jump.
Sarah Lasry, creator of The Patchke Princess (the fussy princess), is a chef, owner of Tastebuds Cafe, and cookbook author. She is renown for her creative kosher gourmet cooking.

4 Bloggers Dish: Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors includes step-by-step instructions and beautiful visuals. It offers helpful tips, such as freezer instructions, prep-ahead rules, and a to-go Guide. This book features recipes such as balsamic-braised short ribs, matzah brie caprese, spaghetti squash with quinoa meatballs, sautéed kale, tomato, and mushroom quiche with a hash brown crust, and cinnamon donut balls.

You may try out their recipe for vegetable frittatine, for Passover. Liz Rueven encourages her readers to use greens such as kale and spinach from their local farmers’ market. These greens pair especially well with sautéed mushrooms and onions. Personally, I preferred minced cilantro and low-fat cheddar. I served it with spicy Mexican salsa.

Vegetable Frittatine (Crustless quiche in individual portions)

Dairy, Non-Gebrokts (soaked matza)
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes approximately 12 mini frittate in muffin tins.

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice, chopped (dill, parsley, cilantro, basil)
  • A few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • 5 oz. crumbled feta or goat cheese, or cheese of choice (shredded or crumbled)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, washed and chopped and/or one red (or orange) pepper, chopped finely
  • One generous bunch or one 5-oz. bag of organic spinach or kale, washed and rough-chopped

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚F with oven rack in middle.
  2. Spray muffin tin with canola oil.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk. Add salt, pepper and herbs.
  4. Add cheese and mix well. Set aside.
  5. Heat olive oil in large pan.
  6. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
  7. Add mushrooms and/or peppers and sauté until soft.
  8. Add greens and toss until wilted.
  9. Drain pan of any liquid that has accumulated (save for soup stock).
  10. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the egg mixture in large bowl. Mix to integrate well.
  11. Spoon 2 tablespoon of mixture into each opening in muffin tin. Mix periodically so that ingredients are distributed evenly.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes until frittatine are set and tops are golden.
  13. Remove from oven and allow pan to cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or a tablespoon, gently remove individual frittate from tin and serve.

Tips:

  • Serve Immediately: Because these are really mini soufflés, they are puffy and light when served immediately. If not, they do “fall” but they retain their basic shape and are still delicious. I use them as a protein-rich addition to brunch or as a light dinner with salad and soup.
  • Take to Go:  They make a convenient afternoon snack and a satisfying lunch to go. They are solid enough to pack in Ziploc bags and take along for day trips or school lunches.
  • Freezer: They freeze well in a Ziploc bag. Take them out of the freezer in advance and reheat, gently, in microwave or in oven at 325F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. I like them at room temp, too.

Food Chat: The Smitten Kitchen


— by Hannah Lee

In the foodie world, we fans tend to follow our favorite authors from their humble blogging origins to their splashy success in the publishing and media worlds. Case in point, I have both cookbooks by Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman. So, it was with tremendous regret that coming back from New York, I was too fatigued to attend a presentation by Deb Perelman at the Free Library last evening.  She was to talk about her new book, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Her website, The Smitten Kitchen, has inspired me and her other legions of fans to expand our gustatory horizons. The marvel is that she works from a tiny kitchen in a New York apartment.  She proves the point that talent heeds no boundaries and space is not a limitation.

Fig-Olive Oil-Sea Salt Challah recipe follows the jump.
I made her Fig-Olive Oil-Sea Salt Challah for a recent Shabbat and it was as spectacular as the author’s photos. The braiding was unusual also, because it was woven like the pot holders we used to make as children.


Photo by Deb Perelman.

Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 1 large loaf
Bread

  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet – 1/4 ounce or 7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour

Fig Filling

  • 1 cup (5 1/2 ounces or 155 grams) stemmed and roughly chopped dried figs
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated orange zest, or more as desired
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • A few grinds black pepper

Egg wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse or flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

To make dough with a stand mixer: Whisk the yeast and 1 tsp honey into 2/3 cup warm water (110 to 116 degrees), and let it stand for a few minutes, until foamy. In a large mixer bowl, combine the yeast mixture with remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Add the salt and flour, and mix until dough begins to hold together. Switch to a dough hook, and run at low speed for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to an olive-oil coated bowl (or rest the dough briefly on the counter and oil your mixer bowl to use for rising, so that you’ll use fewer dishes), cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.

To make the dough by hand:
Proof the yeast as directed above. Mix the wet ingredients with a whisk, then add the salt and flour. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter, and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until a smooth and elastic dough is formed. Let rise as directed above.

Meanwhile, make fig paste: In a small saucepan, combine the figs, zest, 1/2 cup water, juice, salt, and a few grinds of black peper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the figs are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and let cool to lukewarm. PRocess fig mixture in a food processor until it resembles a fine paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Set aside to cool.

Insert figs: After your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide it in half. Roll the first half of the dough into a wide and totally imperfect rectangle (really, the shape doesn’t matter). Spread half the fig filling evenly over the dough, stopping short of the edge. Roll the dough into a long, tight log, trapping the filling within. Then gently stretch the log as wide as feels comfortable (I take mine to my max counter width, a pathetic three feet), and divide it in half. Repeat with remaining dough and fig filling.

Weave your challah: Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a tight tic-tac-toe board. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now you’ve got an eight-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move the leg to their right – i.e., jumping it. Take the legs that were on the right and, again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-cover heavy baking sheet, or, if you’ll be using a bread stone, a baker’s peel. Beat egg until smooth, and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour, but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375°F.

Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed; if yours starts getting too dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The very best way to check for doneness is with an instant-read thermometer – the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.

Cool loaf on a rack before serving. Or, well, good luck with that.

Miracles & Meals: Recipes From The Holocaust

— by Ronit Treatman

Philadelphia resident Ruth Kessler is featured in the new cookbook Miracles & Meals, a compilation of 115 stories and over 250 recipes collected from Holocaust Survivors around the world. Miracles & Meals may be purchased from her website.

More after the jump.


Ruthie and Erika Kessler

Ruthie Kessler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1933. She lived with her older sister, Erika, and her parents, Henry and Lotte. Following the Nazi takeover of Austria in March 1938, things began to deteriorate for the Jews in Vienna. In 1939, Ruthie’s parents placed her on the Kindertransport to England ,in order to save her life. For various reasons, Ruthie’s sister, Erika, was not included on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was a rescue operation that saved 10,000 children from Nazi terror. In May, 1939, Ruthie waved goodbye to her family at the train depot. With tears in her eyes, she shouted to them, “Will I see you soon?”  Ruthie traveled by train across Europe and then boarded a ship. Bewildered, confused and with nothing but what she wore, Ruthie set sail for Liverpool, England. During the war, Ruthie lived with a foster family in London. To avoid the German air raids and for her own safety, she was temporarily sent to a hostel at the northern tip of England.

While Ruthie escaped to Great Britain, her father fled to the United States with the only authorized visa for the family. He intended to obtain additional visas for Ruthie’s mother and sister, but the American Consulate failed to produce the promised visas, even after her father had met the many bureaucratic demands. Meanwhile, Ruthie’s mother and sister were deported to Poland in 1941. Letters sent from the ghetto there were smuggled out with the help of a former family maid. The last letter received from her sister was dated July 1942. It is believed that they were either killed outright or transported to a death camp, where they both perished.

Chocolate Chip CookiesAfter the war, Ruthie came to the United States at her father’s request, but he, unfortunately, could not support her. By the time she was 16, Ruthie had lived in five foster homes and attended 15 schools. She eventually settled in with her uncle and aunt in Philadelphia, where she completed her education. Ruthie and her husband, Lou, have three children and four grandchildren and still live in the Philadelphia area today.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (parve or dairy)

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • ¾ cup cake meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup & 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips

Mix butter (margarine) and sugar until just blended. Add eggs. Add all dry ingredients (except choc chips) and mix until blended.  Add vanilla & juice.  Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees on a greased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Jewish apple cake
Jewish Apple Cake (parve)
Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Apple mixture

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • Handful raisins
  • Handful walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  1. In a separate bowl peel and pare apples and add all other apple mixture ingredients.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Alternate dough with apples mixture making sure that apple mixture is on the tops.
  4. Bake for 1 ½ hours

Book Chat: The Hunger Games

— by Hannah Lee

The next frontier for the savvy and hip gourmet, following up on farm-to-table locavorism, is to source your own food, through foraging and/or hunting.  A timely guidebook for such culinary adventures is The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines, the ultimate in fan tribute to the wildly popular trilogy on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and now made into a film of the same name.

More after the jump.
Baines is a chef and baker as well as one who’d studied creative writing at the University of Southern California with novelists and short-story writers Aimee Bender and T.C. Boyle.  She was working as an in-house caterer for a post-production sound company in New York — creating new recipes daily — while reading Collins’ books in her leisure and delighting in the refreshing character of Katniss Everdeen, a fierce, resourceful heroine so diametrically different from another protagonist of current young-adult fiction fame, Bella Swan, the clumsy and passive heroine of the Twilight Saga.  Katniss is an inspiring role model, one who thrives under severe circumstances and who cannot be hurried into love by two different male heartthrobs.

The resulting cookbook pays tribute to the characters and settings of the trilogy, with more than 150 recipes for both the spare, survivalist fare of the residents of the 12 districts as well as the decadent cuisine of the denizens of the Capitol.  There is a chapter on wild game and an appendix of edible wild plants, such as might appear in Katniss’s Family Herb book (from the second book, Catching Fire), including burdock, chickweed, evening primrose, and thistle.  Caution: the poetical recipe titles and descriptive explanations (with source citations) would prove to be spoilers, if one has not read all three books.

A nifty “Tips from Your Sponsor” insert for each recipe shows the author’s professional training, giving helpful advice as such using dental floss to cut sticky cinnamon buns and wetting one’s hands before shaping balls of cookie dough.  She notes that homemade whipped cream will not be stiff as what is sold in spray cans.  These box inserts provide scientific explanations, substitutions, and historical notes (beans were used in casting votes in ancient Greece and Rome, with white bean to indicate “yes” and black beans for “no”).  Medicinal uses are included, such as steeping pine needles for a tea as a cold or flu remedy and basil as mosquito repellant.  
One big caveat is that the author does not list market information for the unusual ingredients not found at your local Acme or even Whole Foods.  For her research, she relied on friends who do hunt, so she was able to add four squirrel recipes in her book, including Mr. Mellark’s favorite, fried squirrel.

This book was thoroughly engrossing.  It has recipes for both the novice cook as well as the adventuresome gourmet.  The chapters on wild game and foraged weeds could prove useful for Scout troops in search of fun projects for wilderness survival badges.   Book club youths may prefer the more familiar baking projects.  Note: most of the recipes are not kosher, but a savvy reader can easily identify (and substitute) the ones suitable for a kosher kitchen.  There are even some recipes using quinoa and yucca that would be suitable for Pesach (Passover).  So, if you’re a fan who hankers to try Katniss’s favorite lamb stew with dried plums, Peeta’s cheese buns, or Prim’s peppermint candies, this cookbook is for you.