Appetizers

Pacman Gefilte Fish

pacman gefilte fish 1

Sometimes the wow is all in the presentation.  The presentation takes a simple menu item to a whole new level.   Just cutting something a different way or finding a unique manner to plate it creates a real wow.

Gefilte fish is a Jewish Shabbos and Yom Tov (holiday) staple.  It is like a meatloaf, except with ground fish.  And, traditionally, it is cut into slices and served with horseradish and beets.  This is a simple and unique way to serve gefilte fish.

I first saw this way of serving gefilte fish at my friend, Lori’s house many years ago.  I have served gefilte fish so many times this way and it never fails to bring a smile to the lips of my guests.  This Pacman presentation has received lots of mileage, especially with Avigail and Judah, my grandchildren.  They are too young to know what Pacman is, so we just call it “fish” gefilte fish and they look forward to it whenever they visit for Shabbos.

pacman gefilte fish 2

INGREDIENTS

one loaf of gefilte fish and 1-2 carrots, prepared according to directions

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare gefilte fish and carrot according to package directions.  I used A&B Cut cooked gefilte fish loaf into slices.  Cut a notch out of the narrow end of each slice and remove it.  Move it to the other end of the slice, creating a fishtail.

Cut carrot into slices.  Place one over the notch cutout to resemble a fish eye.

Voila!

 

 

Fan Potatoes and Family Memories

fan potatoes.jpg

When I was young, I vividly remember my mother preparing fan potatoes.  She did not serve them often.  They were a rare treat.

I can picture in my mind how the potatoes fanned out and how delicious they were: crisp on the outside. soft and buttery on the inside.  The fins of each fan potato created pockets of crispy caramelized deliciousness.  They were simple and perfectly salted.

After I had my own children, I asked my mother for the fan potatoes recipe.  My mother returned my request with a blank stare.

How did she not remember preparing or serving them?  They conjured such fond memories for me.  How could she not recall?  Worse yet, how could she not find the recipe?

Now that I have my own kitchen, I understand.  There are countless recipes that I made for a time and then forgot about.  Some of those for-a-time recipes were even shared with friends and they have found a permanent place in their homes.  How many times does someone mention that they still prepare my cranberry mold or my chocolate mousse cake and I have no recollection of preparing it, serving it or sharing the recipe?

A few years ago, one of my friends shared a cranberry-oatmeal souffle recipe with me.  I later found the same recipe that I had written in my own handwriting thirty years ago!

Despite it all, I was determined to recreate those fan potatoes of my childhood.  It is one those truly simple to wow recipes.  It has become part of my own family’s memory bank…and it is a here-to-stay recipe.

Yields 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
Kosher or pink Himalayan salt salt
fresh garlic or minced garlic  (optional)
Olive oil or cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Grease/spray cookie sheet or line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Half potatoes lengthwise. Place potato halves flat side down on cookie sheet.  Cut slits in each potato half starting at the round side but not cutting all the way through to the flat bottom.  If using garlic, coarsely chop and place between potato slits.

Drizzle lightly or spray generously with oil.  Sprinkle salt over the tops of the potatoes.

Roast in the oven for 45-65 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Potatoes should be golden brown when ready.

NOTES

These fan potatoes are best when eaten right away.  I usually prepare them late Friday afternoon and set them on the counter.  Most of them are devoured before Shabbos even begins.  The few that are left are still delicious for Friday night dinner, served hot.

Potatoes may be peeled or just scrubbed for this recipe.  Scrubbed potatoes will achieve a more rustic looking result, while the peeled potatoes will achieve a more refined result. They are delicious both ways!

Any potatoes may be used, but the results will differ.  Let your taste buds decide which type of potato is your favorite for this recipe.  Higher starch potatoes like Idaho or Russet will yield a firmer and mealier inside texture.  Lower starch potatoes like Red or Yukon Gold will yield a softer and creamier inside texture.

I have also served this recipe as an hors d’oeuvre using small potatoes and interesting toothpicks. It is simply delicious and beautiful both ways!

Chana’s Low-Carb Broccoli Kugel

chana's low-carb brocolli kugel.jpg

Last Shabbos, we hosted my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and niece for Shabbos.    We always look forward to their visits.  Yisroel and Chana are some of my favorite guests, so helpful and appreciative.

We had a wonderful Shabbos, sharing divrei torah (words of Torah) and my father-in-law’s a’h favorite zemiros (Shabbos melodies) at our Shabbos table.  Don and his brother entertained us as they shared uproarious accounts of their childhood antics.   Chana regaled us with side-splitting stories, as Devora Brocha, their beautiful daughter kaH, acted out these anecdotes.

Since we only arranged to spend Shabbos together late Thursday afternoon, Chana offered to prepare and bring her delicious broccoli kugel.  That was an offer that was hard to refuse because I love Chana’s cooking and I am always happy to serve one more, delicious dish.

It did not disappoint.  This broccoli kugel is flavorful with excellent texture. Its creaminess and depth of flavor are perfect.  Best of all, it is gluten-free and low in carbs. Thanks, Chana!

INGREDIENTS

1 bag (24 oz) chopped broccoli, steamed for 10 minutes (see Kosher notes)
1 large onion and 2 cloves garlic, sautéed
2 eggs
1 1/2 heaping teaspoons mayonnaise
1/2 heaping teaspoon chicken soup mix or consomme
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and pour into a 9″ round pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on top.

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore broccoli requires a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing, unless purchased with a reputable kosher hashgacha (certification).  Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of broccoli.  This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing broccoli.

TIPS
I eliminate the consomme and just increase the salt and pepper slightly.

Enjoy!

Simple 15 Minute Spring Pea Soup

 

I have been known to define spring as the seasonal period of time when neither heat nor air conditioning is necessary.  There were many days within the past few weeks that definitely fit that definition. Although we have had some rain, we have had some lovely days filled with cool, breezy weather and intermittent sunshine.

I try to prepare hearty soups to greet the cool weather. This silky pea soup is a perfect soup for the time-challenged as it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. It is perfect to greet springtime as it is a lighter version of the hearty split pea soup.

Best of all, it is versatile in that it can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. It makes for a perfect Shabbos lunch appetizer served at room temperature.

fresh pea soup

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large onion
1 container chicken broth
2 bag frozen sweet peas
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
dash of black pepper
fresh herbs (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add frozen peas and stir occasionally until peas are tender and cooked through, not more than 5 more minutes. Add seasonings to taste and puree with a hand blender.

Individual Sushi Salads

 

individual sushi salad 1

My kids all love sushi.   To them, having sushi as an appetizer Shabbos lunch is a real luxury.  While sushi is a fan favorite, I don’t feel that it has enough nutritional value as it is mostly rice.  Furthermore, sushi rolls do not stay fresh enough from Friday until Shabbos lunch to make for an appetizing appetizer.

So, I have been preparing individual sushi salads as a Shabbos lunch appetizer, instead.

And, sushi salads eliminate most of  the fussiness of rolling sushi.  I can choose the proportions of each element in the sushi salad, favoring more vegetables and fish than rice and nori.  The elements of the sushi salad can all be prepared in advance.   Furthermore, they are all simple ingredients that I can use in different ways for the Friday night Shabbos dinner.  And,  best of all, once assembled on Shabbos morning, the individual sushi salad ingredients stay perfectly fresh, simply delicious and gorgeous until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sushi rice (I favor brown sushi rice) prepared in rice cooker

1/4 cup rice vinegar

baked or roasted salmon fillet, cubed or shredded

nori, cut into thin strips

1 medium avocado

1-2 zucchini or cucumber, diced or grated

1-2 Carrots, grated (optional)

Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare sushi rice in a rice cooker, using 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water.   Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar to prepared sushi rice.

Prepare salmon fillet.  Cube or shred.

Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

Grate cucumber, zucchini and/or carrots.

Gently roll nori sheets and cut thin strips with scissors.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori drizzle of spicy mayo.

TIPS

For Shabbos lunch, prepare salmon, rice and grated vegetables before Shabbos.  Store each ingredient separately in a zipper bag.  Prepare Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo and store in 16-oz wide-mouth squeeze bottles or 24-oz wide mouth squeeze bottles.

Before assembling, mix sushi rice with rice vinegar.  Cut or shred salmon.  Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori and drizzle of spicy mayo.

 

VARIATIONS

For Pesach, substitute quinoa for the sushi rice and cider vinegar for the rice vinegar.

 

PLATING TIPS

Use clear glass or plastic bowl and overlap thin strips of nori on top, creating an x or star for an impressive presentation.

 

individual sushi salad

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Marigolds

A few weeks ago, I invited our new neighbors over for Shabbos lunch.  I was tired of my tried and true recipes so I decided to combine the ingredients and techniques from a couple of my favorite SimpletoWow recipes.  I really wasn’t sure how it would work out.

Luckily, the end-product was a most pleasant and stunning surprise.    What I ended up with were the most beautiful, most delicious and colorful sweet potato-butternut squash marigolds.

For the piped sweet potato  marigolds, I used the Sweet Potato Cupcake Toppers recipe.  I piped the sweet potato flowers atop slices of butternut squash prepared just as I did in Glazed Butternut Squash with Shallots and Grapes.

It was pretty simple.

It was a wow.

But, best of all, the marigolds really held up well and a few were even left over for Sunday left-overs.   They kept their shape and were devoured by our resident vegetarians.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash

1-2 tablespoons oil
1-2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
kosher salt

black pepper to taste

3-4 sweet potatoes
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon syrup, honey or sugar
dash of salt and pepper

 

SUPPLIES

Cuisinart Stainless 14 cup Food Processor

Wilton Large Piping Tip Set

Heavy Duty 16″ Disposable Piping Bags

Wood and Silicone Spatula

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Scrub butternut squash.  Using a large knife, cut unpeeled butternut squash crosswise into 1/3 inch to 1/2 inch disks.  Remove seeds from rings at bottom of squash.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place butternut squash disks in a single layer on lined baking sheet.

butternut-squash-sweet-potato-flowers-butternut-squash-disks

Lightly drizzle oil and honey or sugar over butternut squash.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place small whole sweet potatoes on separate baking sheet or in pyrex baking dish.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-roasted-sweet-potatoes

Roast uncovered for 40-45 minutes. Butternut squash should be soft and just beginning to caramelize. Sweet potatoes should be soft with gap beginning to form between peel and pulp. If sweet potatoes are not soft enough to peel, cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Allow squash and sweet potatoes to cool. Leave the squash slices intact and carefully peel away the sweet potato skins and discard.

Using the s-blade in the food processor, pulse sweet potato pulp, egg, olive oil, sugar or honey and salt until puree is smooth and creamy.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-puree-in-food-processor

Fill sweet potato puree into a large piping bag fitted with a star tip or into a zipper bag.  To do this most easily and without making much of a mess, cuff bag over tall jar or glass.  Use a stiff rubber spatula to load puree into piping bag or zipper bag.

If not using a tip, cut corner of bag. Squeeze air out of the top of the bag and twist top of bag shut.  Push puree to tip or cut corner.

Pipe sweet potato puree onto butternut squash slices.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Marigolds should be slightly firm and dry on top when ready.

butternut-squash-sweet-potato-flowers-two

 

Voila!

 

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Simply Spicy Firecracker Salmon

 

Most of my salmon recipes use a teriyaki-type glaze and cook at a high temperature.

This one is quite different.

It starts with a spicy marinade and is cooked at 375 degrees F to get that perfectly soft flakiness and to set the spicy glaze.

I prepared this new recipe for dinner while my son-in-law, Scotty, was visiting and studying nearby.  He couldn’t help but comment on how delicious the salmon smelled as it was cooking.  The taste didn’t disappoint, either.

This recipe is appropriately named for the fiery color and flavor of this salmon.

Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS

salmon fillet
1-2 chopped green onions or chives

fiery marinade

firecracker-salmon

a small piece of minced fresh ginger or ginger powder
3 cloves garlic, minced or garlic powder
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey,  agave or maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons sriracha or hot sauce
1-2 tablespoons lemon or orange juice
1-2 tablespoons mustard
red pepper flakes to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

Whisk or shake marinade ingredients in a small container or jar.  Carefully pour or brush onto salmon. Sprinkle with onions or chives.

firecracker-salmon-before-cooking

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes, until fish flakes easily with fork.

firecracker-salmon-all-ready

 

Sweet Potato Roses in Salad Box

sweet-potato-floral-appetizer-up-close

Who said that salads have to be tossed in a salad bowl?

I love the idea of individual salads and especially individual layered salads. There is something wonderful about being served an individual salad, especially when there is a beautiful and delicious garnish to top it off.

Here is one sensational salad appetizer that I created using the simplest of ingredients to create a wow.

 

sweet-potato-floral-appetizer-vegetables-slices-before-roasting-with-peeler-salt-and-oil

INGREDIENTS

sweet potato, onion or zucchini, scrubbed
kosher salt
oil
chives
romaine lettuce leaves
chopped peppers or your favorite chopped vegetables
Simple and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette or your favorite dressing in a squeeze bottle

SUPPLIES

mandoline or wide peeler
clear square plastic bowls

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Thinly slice unpeeled sweet potato using wide peeler or mandoline.

Place thin sweet potato, zucchini or onion slices on parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil and kosher salt. Roast for 20-30 minutes, just until vegetables are soft with the edges just starting to turn brown.

While roasting the vegetables, soak and rinse romaine lettuce and chopped peppers.

Stand 1-2 sprigs of smallest inner leaves of hearts of romaine at edge of square plastic bowl. Place chopped peppers at the bottom and squeeze scant amount of dressing on top of peppers.

Remove the vegetable slices from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Roll each slice up to form a rose, using the crispy end to form the middle of the rose bud and wind the softer end around to form a rose.

sweet-potato-floral-appetozer-sweet-potato-rose

Garnish each salad with vegetable roses and tuck  two or three loops of chives between the vegetable roses and the romaine  sprigs.

 

 

 

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which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Onion-Battered Baked Tilapia

My mother loves tilapia.  She has a difficult time finding kosher fresh tilapia in Cleveland, so it is something that she looks forward to enjoying when she visits.

Whenever she comes to visit, I try to prepare this favorite dish for her, battering it in breadcrumbs and frying it in a pan (Savta’s Favorite Breaded Tilapia).  It is one of those simply delicious main dishes that is flaky, satisfying and never disappoints.

My mother will be coming to visit next week as she prepares for hip revision surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery during Chanukah.

And, my mother’s visit makes me think of tilapia.

I love dishes that can be prepared and then placed in the oven, preferably on a timer.   This allows me to do other things while the food is being cooked.

Fry-pan breaded tilapia does not meet those qualifications. And, baked fish just doesn’t have the crunchy outside and soft inside of fried fish that would satisfy my mother.  So, I put my thinking cap on.

And, this is what I came up with….simple, satisfying and a delicious wow!

onion-crusted-tilapia-in-oven

INGREDIENTS

1 cup French Fried Onions

1/2 cup creamy dressing.  I used Simple, Creamy and Perfect Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

4-6 tilapia fillets

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet or pie plate with parchment paper.

Pulse french fried onions in the food processor using the S-blade or crush by rolling a rolling pin or pounding a mallet over zipper bag of french fried onions.

In a shallow dish or pie plate, coat each fillet with creamy dressing.   Dip each fillet into the crushed onions, making sure that the fillets are well coated.
Spread coated tilapia fillets on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Tilapia should be golden brown on outside and soft and flaky on the inside.
Enjoy!
onion-crusted-tilapia

Roasted Rainbow Skewers

Rainbow vegetables are a side dish staple in our home.  I prepare several trays of roasted vegetables just about every Friday.  I leave some trays of roasted vegetables on the counter for an Erev Shabbos (Friday afternoon) treat and save the rest for the Shabbos meal.  Most of the roasted vegetables are enjoyed before Shabbos even begins.

I usually choose vegetables that are in season and easy to clean.  My favorites are peppers, zucchini, beets and sweet potato.  My recipe for Simple Rainbow Roasted Vegetables is simple and yields beautiful and deliciously caramelized vegetables.  My kids have grown up with this “vegetable candy” as part of their Erev Shabbos (Shabbos eve) experience.

Recently, I have been preparing cabbage in different ways.  I saute cabbage (Colorful Confetti Cabbage), prepare it in kugels (Simple Cabbage Kugel and Kale and Cabbage Kugel: a Pareve Souffle) and use it in a myriad of salad combinations (Colorful Red Cabbage Quinoa Salad, no oil necessary and Asian Red Cabbage Salad…Simple and Wow).

Cabbage has many health benefits.  It is low in calories and carbs and high in fiber and vitamins. Cabbage is low in saturated fat and boasts high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.  Best of all, it is inexpensive and available year-round.

For this recipe, I skewer wedges of red and green cabbage as well as zucchini. Once skewered, I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic and kosher salt before roasting.  The skewers are simple and just delicious!

rainbow-skewers-on-plate

 

rainbow skewers ingredients.jpg

INGREDIENTS and SUPPLIES

1/2 head red cabbage, cleaned and cut into small wedges
1/2 head green cabbage, cleaned and cut into small wedges
2 zucchini, scrubbed and sliced

heavy skewers

SEASONINGS

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Granulated or fresh minced garlic
Kosher Salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or greased foil.

Skewer cabbage wedges and zucchini.  Spread skewers in a single layer on baking sheet(s).  Drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic.

rainbow-skewer

Roast for 40-45 minutes, checking that vegetables are soft and browned before removing from oven.

rainbow-skewers

VARIATIONS

Lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar in addition to olive oil and kosher salt for a zesty alternative.

Mango, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad

Occasionally, I like to prepare a sweet and leafy salad.  I usually use romaine lettuce or baby bok choy, since these greens are assertive enough to stand up to the sweet juiciness of the fruit and nuts.  I choose whatever fruit is abundant and perfectly ripe.

Over Sukkos in Israel, pomegranates and mangoes were exactly that: abundant and perfectly ripe.  I bought candied pecans in the Machane Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem market) and added those, too.

Davida prepared this salad and is was both beautiful and delcious.  I loved the interplay between the soft bitterness of the chopped greens, the sweet juiciness of the pomegranate seeds, the tropical flavor of the mango and the heartiness of glazed pecans.

 

The dressing for this salad is best made by sprinkling the spices and drizzling the liquid ingredients directly on the vegetables right before serving. That way, the salad remains light, fresh and not weighed down by the dressing.

mango-pomegranate-romaine-salad-up-close

 

INGREDIENTS

2-4 cups of chopped romaine or baby bok choy (see kosher notes)

1 mango, cut into small cubes
1 pomegranate, seeded

1/4 cup candied pecans, chopped small

DRESSING

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, sprinkled
Coarse black pepper, just a pinch to taste
juice of half a lemon, lightly drizzled
Olive or canola oil, lightly drizzled (optional)

light drizzle of agave syrup, honey or sugar

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Make sure that the lettuce or bok choy is dry.  Place mango, pomegranate and pecans right on top of greens.  Right before serving, sprinkle salt and pepper on top of vegetables. Lightly drizzle with lemon, oil and syrup, honey or sugar. Toss all salad ingredients together. Enjoy!

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of leafy vegetables. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using greens such as romaine lettuce or baby bok choy.

VARIATIONS

Substitute star fruit or granny smith apples for mango

 

 

Enjoy!

Salmon Terrarium Appetizer

salmon-appetizer-plating-in-glass-bowl

We were fortunate to have spend the past Sukkos (Fall Jewish Holiday celebrated in temporary huts covered in natural materials) in Israel.  We always marvel at how our  Jerusalem sukka is so much larger than our doll-size apartment living space.  Our sukka is tucked into one of those beautiful, dusty and wonderful corners of Jerusalem.  It is surrounded by gorgeous Jerusalem stone walls and is just beneath a main street with people strolling by on their way to the kotel (Western Wall) via  Sha’ar Yafo (Jaffa Gate).

jerusalem-sukkah

On sukkos, our sukka was home to many guests.  Our guests over Yom Tov are our friends, our family, our neighbors, Aaron and Davida’s friends and their friends’ friends.   Over the past Sukkos holiday, I served lots of food to many, many guests.  I try to keep the food simple, so that I can enjoy the spirit of the Yom Tov (holiday).  To keep things interesting, I try different table settings and plating techniques.

One of my appetizer mainstays is salmon.  I usually prepare a side of Perfect Salmon with Roasted Vegetables.  For the first meal, I usually serve the salmon as is.  It is beautiful just as is.

As an alternative, I often plate the salmon differently for the next Yom Tov meal.  This time, I flaked it in small pieces and served it in a clear square bowl with some Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo and dill sauce drizzled on top and garnished with a few chive sprigs.  I just placed a few fancy lettuce leaves on the side for garnish.

salmon-terrarium-plating

Simple to Wow!

 

Simple Baked Gefilte Fish Terrine

Gefilte fish is a traditional Jewish food served on Shabbos and the Jewish holidays. It is a loaf created with various types of ground fish and is usually boiled and served cold with sliced carrot and horseradish. There are a number of gefilte fish companies that prepare a frozen gefilte fish loaf ready for cooking.

Of course, I have experimented with different ways of preparing gefilte fish. This is one of he simplest. It is delicious and beautiful, too.

It will take a traditional gefilte fish and transform it into a wow appetizer.

INGREDIENTS
2 loaves of gefilte fish, partially defrosted
fresh or frozen spinach, soaked, rinsed, and dried
cooked carrot slices
cooking spray

SUPPLIES
loaf pan
parchment paper
silicone or rubber spatula

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Partially defrost 2 loaves of gefilte fish. I defrost the fish overnight in my refrigerator.

Line loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving enough on sides to fold over gefilte fish loaf.

Remove first loaf of gefilte fish from wrapping and press into parchment-lined loaf pan using spatula to spread the gefilte fish evenly and smoothly.

Place dry spinach leaves or a very thin layer of dry chopped spinach on top of gefilte fish.

Place a single layer of thinly sliced carrots on top of spinach.

gefilte-fish-terrine

Remove second loaf of gefilte fish from wrapping and layer right over the carrot layer, pressing to make sure that the second layer of gefilte fish closes any gaps created by the spinach and/or carrots. Spread evenly and smooth top.

Spray top of gefilte fish with oil spray and fold parchment paper over the top of the gefilte fish terrine, making sure that the fish is well covered. Cover top of parchment paper with foil if the fish is not completely covered by parchment.

Bake for 90 minutes. Allow to reach room temperature before refrigerating terrine in the loaf pan .

To serve, wait until the terrine is completely cold. Carefully, remove terrine from the loaf pan. Unfold parchment paper top and sides, leaving parchment on the bottom. Cut the terrine in slices and serve cold.

Enjoy!

Arugula Salad Wrapped and Upright

We recently attended a wedding and I was entranced by the appetizer.  It was an upright mesclun salad wrapped in a long slice of cucumber.  The dressing was poured into the tightly packed upright salad and the appetizer bowl where the salad was placed was garnished with gorgeous fruit.

upright wrapped salad with fruit

When the cucumber peel was uncurled, the salad opened up and it was coated with the dressing and was garnished by the fruit.

I loved the presentation, the flavors of the salad and the whole idea of serving a salad wrapped and upright.

Of course, I was determined to create my own version of this type of salad.  I decided to try it first with arugula, one of my favorites.  It was not even much of a challenge.  I nailed it on the first try.

Here it is:

INGREDIENTS

Arugula, soaked and rinsed (see kosher notes)
Lemon Vinagrette
Long Seedless cucumbers
fruit or tomato garnish

DIRECTIONS

Carefully peel long slices of seedless cucumber with a peeler or mandolin.

peeled-cucumbers

Soak and rinse arugula, shaking out all excess moisture and/or wrapping in paper towels to dry.  Wrap cucumber slice around bundle of arugula, securing with a toothpick or small skewer, if necessary.

Stand bundle of arugula up on appetizer plate or shallow bowl so that arugula leaves are standing up.  Squirt dressing into center of arugula bundle, directing the tip of the squirt bottle into the arugula bundle so that dressing is contained within bundle and does not disperse or color the arugula.  Garnish with slices or fruit or vegetables.

upright-arugula-salad-up-close

VARIATIONS

Substitute arugula with other greens like mesclun, kale, romaine lettuce or shredded cabbage.

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of leafy vegetables. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using greens such as arugula.

 

SERVING SUGGESTION

arugula salad in cucumber

 

Cowboy Caviar: A Simple and Hearty Salad with Attitude

Cowboy caviar is one of those salads that is prepared mostly with items that you already have on hand in the pantry.  It is a hearty bean salad that really packs a spicy bite.  It is the perfect salad to serve at a barbecue because it stands up well and pairs so beautifully with grilled food.

Cowboy caviar is an audacious Tex-Mex salsa that dares to call itself caviar.   It is simple to prepare.  It is memorable.  And, it has chutzpah, in a good way.

This salad can be served as a side dish or as an appetizer with tortilla chips or lettuce.  It is versatile and can be prepared several hours in advance and refrigerated until  ready to serve  You can experiment with different types of legumes like chick peas and assorted beans.  For less attitude, you can skip the sriracha sauce altogether.

cowboy caviar in jalapeno pepper bowl-side view

Ingredients

1 can black-eyed peas
1 can black beans
2 ears of grilled corn or 1 can of corn kernels
3-4 diced medium tomatoes

1 diced firm ripe avocado

1 bunch thinly sliced scallions or 1 diced medium onion
2-3 stalks thinly sliced celery or bok choy (see kosher notes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or fresh parsley (see kosher notes)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoons hot sauce or sriracha
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon oil
1 clove garlic, minced or garlic powder
dash pepper

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Atkins Baked Meatballs with Cauliflower

For Pesach (Passover) this year, I am trying to tailor my original recipes to meet the criteria of my low-carb diet.  For the holidays, I usually prepare baked meatballs.  I find that they are simple to prepare, delicious and kid-friendly.

I love the baked method because it allows me to remove all the fat that drips off during the baking process and to season the meatballs later any way I choose.  After baking, I simply freeze the meatballs in small batches in  plastic zipper bags.  Before each meal, I just place them in a tightly-covered baking pan coated with my favorite sauce.  I reheat them at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes and they are perfect.

To accommodate our low-carb diet, I simply replaced my crumb filler with cauliflower couscous.  It is simple.  It is delicious.

baked meatballs

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Nutty Warm Mushroom Salad

Who says that salads have to be cold?  This one is delicious and warm.  The interplay between the fresh greens, warm mushrooms and nutty topping is heavenly.  To add a bit more pizzazz, the warm mushrooms are combined with lightly marinated red onions.

In our family, we have plenty of carnivores and some herbivores.   Although our resident vegetarians are content to eat cold salads, warm salads really hit the spot.  This warm and nutty mushroom salad has an earthy and meaty flavor, despite its vegetarian status.

warm mushroom salad

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Blackened Atkins Low-Carb Tilapia Fillets

I wanted to develop a delicious low-carb tilapia recipe for our Friday night appetizer as an alternative to the salmon fillets that we have been eating on our new diet.  Don will only eat tilapia if is fried and with our new low-carb high-protein diet, there are so few choices for fry coatings.  This recipe is simple, delicious, juicy and so quick to prepare.  It is best served with a wedge of lemon.

I  coated the tilapia in a spice rub created from all my favorite spices and fried each piece. It smelled so delicious that even my non-dieters came to the kitchen to try a piece as it came out of the pan. Nobody missed the bread crumbs and everyone could not believe that the coating was carb-free.  Best of all, it will be a terrific Pesach (Passover) recipe, too. (more…)

Simple and Vegetarian: Beet-Stuffed Peppers

I have begun preparing for Pesach (Passover) and I have been trying to create recipes that are simple, nutritious, delicious and beautiful.  I think that this one is a winner.

I have remarked for years that beets are an under-appreciated ingredient.  Many people are turned off by its texture and have only been exposed to canned beets. Roasted beets are spectacular, both in taste and in color.  Beets are packed with nutrients and are a great source of  manganese, iron, fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C.

Beets are the rock stars of this recipe.

beef-stuffed pepper on plate (more…)

Low-Carb Cajun Salmon Fillets in Foil Packets

For me, the easiest part of my new low-carb, high protein diet is preparing the main dishes. I have just adjusted some of my basic recipes to fit the parameters of the diet, using spices and lo-carb vegetables to wow my palate. Since most sauces contain sugar and are therefore not allowed on my diet, I find that I must use spice combinations effectively in place of sauce. (more…)