Gluten-free

Davida’s Awesome Potato Kugel

It is so wonderful to have Davida back from Israel.  The house is a more joyful abode and Davida and her friends fill our house with laughter, music and good food.  No matter how chaotic things are, Davida seems to have just the right lighthearted joke and is always willing and able to prepare delicious food for all.

Whatever Davida prepares is not only delicious, but perfectly executed, as well.   Her challahs are beautifully braided, her salads are impeccably tossed and her food just begs to be enjoyed.

When we visited Israel for Pesach (Passover),  Davida prepared this delicious kugel for us.  This past winter, Davida first tried this recipe when she prepared a Shabbos in Jerusalem  for Michelle, Scotty and their gluten-free guests.

The original recipe is from Susie Fischbein’s Pesach cookbook.   Davida tweaked and simplified it just a bit.   It contains a small amount of sugar and when I scoffed at that, Davida admitted that she tried it without the sugar and it just wasn’t the same.

This past Shabbos, Davida prepared this potato kugel again and it was another winner.

Welcome home, Davida!

davidas awesome potato kugel

SUPPLIES

food processor
2 pyrex pie plates

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup  oil
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
5 large eggs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F degrees.

Using the metal s-blade of the food processor,  shred the onions and then place in a large mixing bowl.  I like to use the stainless steel mixing bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer, since it is a large, sturdy bowl with a handle for pouring,

Using the metal s-blade of the food processor,  shred the peeled potato chunks until almost smooth.  Add the potatoes to the mixing bowl

Add the salt, pepper, and sugar to the potato-onion mixture and then add the eggs.  Stir until completely combined.

Coat each pyrex pie plate with 1/4 cup of oil and place in preheated oven. When the oil sizzles, carefully remove each pyrex pie plate from oven and spoon some of the sizzling oil into the waiting potato mixture to add fluffiness to the kugel.  Incorporate the sizzling oil into the mixture until well combined.   Pour the mixture into the 2 pyrex pie plates and bake uncovered for one hour.

Enjoy this delicious kugel with music and laughter!

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

watermelon jicama salad

 

A few weeks ago, we had very hot weather on Shabbos.  It was one of those weeks that boasted a potpourri of  weather patterns.  We had rain, cold, overcast skies, bursts of sunshine and then a 40 degree rise in temperatures from Friday to Shabbos.

We just did not have enough time for our bodies to acclimate to nearly ninety degrees F on Shabbos.

I had bought a watermelon to greet the warm weather and Shabbos morning, on the spur of the moment, I decided to serve the watermelon as a salad rather than as a dessert.  I remembered having a delicious watermelon salad at my friend, Sallie’s house several years ago.  I didn’t remember anything about the other ingredients in Sallie’s salad, just that I had really enjoyed her watermelon salad.

I ran the idea of creating a watermelon salad by Ruti, our Shabbos house-guest from Jerusalem.

She had one word for the idea.  Muzar.  Strange.

That didn’t stop me.  I looked in my refrigerator.  I had jicama, mint, scallions and blood oranges in addition to the watermelon.  So, I cut everything up, placed the salad bowl in the refrigerator and waited for inspiration to set in for the dressing.

Inspiration is the mother of invention,  The salad was refreshing, delicious and beautiful.

Oh, and Sallie joined us with her family for Shabbos lunch.  At first all our guests remarked, “So, we’re the guinea pigs for the blog?”, to which I simply said “yes!”.

But then, Sallie tasted the salad and just said, “Wow!”

That made my day.  The ingredient combinations may be muzar, but Sallie’s declaration of wow confirmed that this recipe would be a keeper.

INGREDIENTS

watermelon, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
jicama, peeled and cut into small cubes
scallions, washed and cut into 1″ sections
mint, soaked and rinsed (optional) (see kosher notes)
2 blood oranges, peeled and cubed

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
dash of pepper
lemon juice or cider vinegar
drizzle of oil (optional)

SUPPLIES

wavy crinkle cutter

 

DIRECTIONS

Cube watermelon and cut jicama into small strips or cubes using  wavy crinkle cutter. Clean and rinse scallions and mint.  Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over ingredients. Drizzle with lemon  juice or cider vinegar.  Lightly drizzle with oil.

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 on the proper checking of herbs and some disallow the use of fresh herbs altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing herbs such as mint.

Firecracker Cauliflower

firecracker cauliflower.jpg

Every once in a while, I want to serve something that surprises everyone.  Cauliflower is one of those side dishes that everyone enjoys and is simply good for you.  When roasted, it has both delicious flavor and texture (see Rockstar Roasted Cauliflower).

This week, I decided to wake everyone’s taste buds up by adding some heat to my typical roasted cauliflower.  This recipe was inspired by Simply Spicy Firecracker Salmon.

INGREDIENTS

1-2 heads cauliflower, separated into florets and cleaned (see kosher notes)
Oil

Kosher Salt
Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo
Lime juice (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or greased foil.

Spread cauliflower in a single layer on baking sheet(s).  Sprinkle with kosher salt and lightly drizzle with spicy mayo.  Drizzle lightly with lime juice for a fresh flavor.

Roast at 425 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, checking that cauliflower is sot on inside and just turning brown on outside before removing from oven.

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore cauliflower require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of cauliflower and some disallow its use altogether. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing cauliflower.

Simple and Colorful Rainbow Carrot Salad

rainbow carrot saladI love using interesting and varied fresh ingredients in my recipes.  It used to be harder to find heirloom produce varieties, and I would have to scour farmer’s markets and specialty shoppes to find specialty produce.  In the past few years, our local supermarkets and stores like Trader Joe’s have begun stocking heirloom and specialty varieties of our favorite produce.

Many unusual color vegetable varieties lose their vivid color when heated, so I prefer to use these in salads and in fresh  preparations (Rainbow Carrot Curls: A Wow Garnish). Vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, red basil and rainbow carrots really add a beautiful and colorful wow factor to ordinary recipes.

This salad is hearty, satisfying and simple to prepare.   It can be made with orange carrots instead of rainbow carrots and will be equally tasty with just a few less colors of the rainbow to admire.  It boasts Garbanzo beans (chick peas) for a protein boost and almonds and scallions for color and texture.

This salad is best made several hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.  I prefer to shred the carrots myself since unpeeled whole carrots stay fresher than ready-to-use shredded carrots.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds of peeled rainbow carrots, or any color carrots, shredded
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained well
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 bunch of scallions, sliced thin

salt
pepper
squirt of mustard
drizzle of honey or agave syrup

DIRECTIONS

Shred carrots using the shredding blade of the food processor or using a hand grater or mandoline.  Add well-drained garbanzo beans, almonds, dried ranberries and scallions.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with mustard and honey.  Toss well and 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.

Fresh and Bright Carrot Soup

carrot soup

Cool weather is soup weather.  When the weather is cool, my crockpot does not leave my counter.  This carrot soup is bright and fresh, simple to prepare and delicious. The gorgeous color and silky texture will make this a go-to recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1 container chicken broth
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into chunks or 2 pounds of peeled baby carrots
2-3 garlic cloves or garlic powder
1/4 cup orange juice
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
dash of black pepper
dash of cinnamon
dash of ginger

water

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in crockpot.  Add water to 2 inches from the top of the crockpot. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.  Puree using an immersion 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

Simple Lean Kosher for Passover Brisket

pesach FF onion brisket

 

Last week, I prepared my meats for Pesach (Passover).  The briskets that I purchased were leaner than I expected and I was nervous that they would cook up tough. When this happens, I usually smother the roast in fresh or french fried onions. This creates a blanket of moisture that replaces the fat and protects the tender beef.

This simple and perfect low temperature recipe is reminiscent of Low and Slow Oven Brisket: No Braising Necessary.  It has been adapted for Pesach and truly yielded the perfectly moist and tender brisket with very little effort.

INGREDIENTS

3-4 pound first cut brisket or top of the rib

wine
olive oil
lemon juice
garlic and/or onion powder

very thinly diced onions or baked french fried onions

DIRECTIONS

Pierce the brisket with a fork all over on both sides. Place in roasting pan and pour wine, oil and lemon juice over brisket, just until absorbed.

Turn roast over and repeat piercing, drizzling and sprinkling on the second side.

Place fattier side of the brisket up so that fat keeps the meat tender during cooking. Brush the top of the brisket with a light layer of olive oil and then smother with a layer of very thinly sliced onions or baked french fried onions, pressing into the roast.

Let brisket come to room temperature or place in oven on delayed cook mode.

Set oven to cook for 3 hours on 325 degrees F. Let roast stay in oven until the oven cools down, at least for a half hour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate before slicing.

Passover Meat Muffins

meat muffins

During the past March snowstorm, I began cooking for Pesach.

One of my favorite shortcuts is to prepare one batter and then use it to prepare a host of different menu items.  This time, I prepared one ground beef batter and used it to prepare baked meatballs, stuffed cabbage and these delicious and adorable meat muffins,

Meat muffins are just individual meatloaves prepared in round ramekins and topped with mashed potato or sweet potato icing.  They are whimsical enough to entice the children and delicious enough for even the adults to try.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 Passover crumbs
1-2 onions, grated or diced small
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons minced or granulated garlic
1 small can of tomato sauce or paste
1 squirt of ketchup

Mashed Potato Icing

4 large potatoes or sweet potatoes
½ cup vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

SUPPLIES

Piping Set for Icing
Disposable Ramekins
Wilton Large Piping Tip Set
Heavy Duty 16″ Disposable Piping Bags
Wood and Silicone Spatula
jumbo zipper bags

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large mixing bowl or extra large ziploc bag, combine all ingredients, kneading until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

Using a Wood and Silicone Spatula, press meat batter into individual ramekins or disposable round ramekins.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until meat muffins are no longer pink in center.  Pour grease off of each ramekin right after removing from the oven.

Cool to room temperature before icing.

Mashed Potato Icing

Peel and dice potatoes or sweet potatoes.   Steam or boil until soft.  Drain, then add oil and liquid.

Mash until smooth and creamy but stiff enough to spread or pipe onto the Meat Cupcakes. To pipe, fill piping bag fitted with tip or large ziploc bag with one cut corner.

NOTES

You can use any combination of ground veal, ground lamb, ground chicken and/or ground turkey.

TIPS

Double or triple the meatball batter and use to make meatloaf, stuffed cabbage and baked meatballs.

Mixing the meatball batter by hand is best, but if you would rather not, use a jumbo zipper bag instead.  Just place all ingredients inside bag and close zipper, releasing any air.  Knead batter from the outside of the bag.

To fill mashed potato icing 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.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Pesach Pesto Stuffed Chicken

Stuffed chicken is the perfect way to prepare a main dish and side dish all in one.  I find that it is a main dish that can be served hot or at room temperature and makes for great leftovers.

I developed this stuffed chicken recipe in honor of Rachel.  Last week, after the big snowstorm, I offered to prepare a few Shabbos foods for Rachel’s family.  Rachel placed a request for me to prepare grilled pesto chicken.  I had prepared pesto grilled chicken for Rachel in the past and it has become one of her favorites.   I had already marinated the chicken for the grill and was ready to go outside to grill the chicken, when I realized that it just wasn’t possible to grill.

The snow was too high and the grill was entombed in layers and layers of ice.  So, I had to rethink the grilled pesto chicken idea.  And, I did.   I prepared some sauteed vegetables for stuffing and baked the pesto chicken in the oven, instead.

And, I’m hoping that this new recipe will become one of Rachel’s favorites, too. The fact that her mom asked if it will be on this blog sounded promising.

Necessity really is the mother of invention.  I hope you will love this recipe.  It is simple enough and doesn’t require going out to an ice-encased grill.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 package chicken cutlets

basil pesto
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup basil leaves
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

stuffing
1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic minced or garlic powder
1-2 cups shredded cabbage and carrots
potato starch (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

french fried onions (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

In food processor fitted with an s-blade or in a blender, pulse pesto ingredients until smooth. Reserve half of the pesto for later and reserve a bit for serving, taking care not to reuse pesto that has been in contact with the raw chicken.

In a zipper bag, marinate chicken with pesto marinade for at least one hour.

Saute onion and garlic until just starting to brown.  Add cabbage and carrots until wilted and fragrant. Optionally, dust with potato starch to absorb the moisture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.

Open each chicken cutlet and fill with a golf-size clump of stuffing.  Roll chicken cutlet around stuffing and place seam side down on lined baking sheet.  Leave a bit of space in between chicken cutlet rolls taking care not to crowd the cutlets.

Using a silicone brush, brush each stuffed cutlet with some of the reserved pesto. Optionally, press some french fried onions on top.

Lightly drizzle olive oil or spray with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes, cutting largest stuffed chicken roll open to ascertain that chicken is no longer pink on the inside.  If pink, bake for a few minutes longer.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad

For our annual Purim seuda (festive meal),  I decided to prepare a new salad.

This salad took inspiration from a delicious battata (sweet potato) salad that I enjoyed at Cafe Greg in Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee of Israel.  It combined the delicious colors, flavors and textures of roasted sweet potatoes, candied almonds and shredded fresh beets. All these were served atop a bed of arugula and baby kale and then tossed right before serving.

I prepared this salad as my feature salad, reserving my biggest salad bowl for this new recipe.

The only thing that took extra time was roasting the sweet potato cubes in advance.  It was well worth the effort.

It must have been delicious because it was the only item that I prepared for the seuda that was finished within the first hour.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups checked salad greens (see kosher notes)
2 cups roasted cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups shredded fresh beets
1/2 cup nuts
thinly sliced scallions
french fried onions (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey

DIRECTIONS

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

Peel sweet potato and cut into small cubes.  Place sweet potato cubes in a single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.

Roast for 35-55 minutes checking that sweet potato cubes are crisp on outside and soft on inside before removing from oven.  Cubes may be prepared in advance.  They may either be added to the salad warm or at room temperature.

Peel beets.  Using the shredder disk on the food processor, shred beets.

Combine, process or shake all dressing ingredients together.

Layer greens and shredded beets. Lightly drizzle dressing over the salad. Top with nuts, scallions and french fried onions.  Toss right before serving.

 

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.  I have found that flat-leafed greens like baby spinach and flat-leaf  kale are much easier to check for insects than their curly-leaf counterparts.  Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of leafy vegetables and some disallow the use of spinach and kale altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing greens such as spinach and kale.

 

VARIATIONS

Cubed butternut squash or fresh pumpkin may be substituted for the sweet potatoes.

 

TIPS

When I prepare greens in advance, I place a few absorbent paper towels at the bottom of the bag or dish.  I then layer the greens over the paper towels.  These paper towels will absorb any extra moisture in the greens and will keep the green fresh. roasted sweet potato salad

 

Simple Roasted Cauliflower Lentil Soup

roasted-cauliflower-and-lentil-soup

It is cold outside and the weather is perfect for soup.  On these windy and cold winter mornings, I love to prepare a crockpot soup that will be ready for lunch and then again for dinner.

There is nothing quite like a hearty winter soup.  Delicious and nutritious soups don’t have to be complicated.  This one is the perfect example.  It is simple and fashioned from Shabbos leftovers.

I used leftover roasted cauliflower from Shabbos, but this soup can easily be made with fresh or frozen cauliflower, as well.  If using fresh or frozen cauliflower, it will require more cooking time in the crockpot and more salt.

I have used red lentils for this soup because they cook quicker and break down more easily into a velvety smooth pureed soup.  You can use green or brown lentils, but the soup will require more cooking time and will result in a soup with a more distinctive lentil texture. For more information on different types of lentils, read my introductory lentil soup post.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups cauliflower florets, fresh, frozen or roasted (see kosher notes)
1 onion, diced and sauteed in oil
2-3 cloves garlic, sauteed in oil or garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper

scallions for garnish (optional)
SUPPLIES

6-quart Crock Pot

metal stick blender

 

DIRECTIONS

Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in a bit of oil until just turning brown.  Place sauteed onions and garlic in crockpot.

If roasting cauliflower, place cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper or foil.  Drizzle with oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic.  Cook for 25 minutes  at 375 degrees and then increase temperature to 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes more, checking that vegetables are soft and browned before removing from oven.

To the crockpot, add cauliflower, red lentils and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 4-6 hours on high heat.

Blend with a stick blender just before serving.  Garnish with Curly Scallion Garnish

 

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore cauliflower require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.   Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of  cauliflower and some disallow its use altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing cauliflower.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gratin with Shallots and Grapes

sweet-potato-gratin-with-shallots-and-grapes-2

A gratin is a dish that is baked or broiled in a shallow dish and has a crispy upper crust. Traditionally, a gratin employs cheese and/or breadcrumbs to achieve that crispy crunchy crust.

This recipe is my own pareve and low-carb version of a gratin.

It is roasted and baked in a shallow dish.  Oh, and it has a delicious caramelized upper crust.  Alas, there is no cheese and there are no breadcrumbs.

Instead, shallots and grapes create that crispy and decadent upper crust.  I think that it is a worthy gratin, albeit pareve and vegan.

I suppose that we can call it a gratin in disguise.

Here it is…

INGREDIENTS

2-3 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed with tough ends removed
3-4 shallots, peeled
handful of green or red grapes, whole

3-4 tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup
kosher salt
pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a casserole dish or deep pie plate with parchment paper.

Spiralize sweet potatoes or shred sweet potatoes in the food processor, using the shredder blade.  Sweet potatoes may be peeled or unpeeled.

Pile the shredded sweet potatoes on the lined baking dish.

Thinly slice shallots using slicer blade of the food processor.  Scatter over the shredded sweet potatoes.

Remove grapes from cluster and clean.  Scatter over the shallots.

Lightly drizzle oil and brown sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup over vegetables.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

sweet-potato-gratin-with-shallots-and-grapes-2-before-baking

Roast uncovered for 30-35 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes longer.  The gratin should be soft and just beginning to caramelize.

Sweet Potato Cupcake Toppers

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-unbaked

Sweet potato is a simple and versatile ingredient that is available year-round. Even the humble sweet potato can be easily dressed up. Its gorgeous orange color, its sweet flavor and its creamy smooth texture make this recipe a masterpiece.

I have called this recipe “sweet potato cupcake toppers” because the mashed sweet potato pipes so beautifully that it looks ready to top a cupcake. The elegance of the star-tip piping makes such a beautifully presented side-dish.

But, don’t let the beautiful color and presentation of these toppers fool you.

The elegance of this dish is paralleled only by the impressive taste and texture. The natural sweetness and of the sweet potato is intensified by roasting the raw sweet potato and then adding honey or agave syrup. The baking of these piped cupcake toppers create a light and crispy ouer shell, while the inside retains a soft, creamy texture.

These sweet potato toppers add a touch of elegance to any meal, but are actually simple to prepare. I have used a large star tip to pipe them, but they can be easily piped from a zipper bag with the corner cut, as well.

This recipe will wow your guests and only you will know how simple they were to prepare.

INGREDIENTS
4-5 sweet potatoes

1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
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

Roast sweet potatoes at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Sweet potatoes are ready when the outside is soft and there is a gap between the peel and the inside pulp. Allow to cool and then carefully peel away the skin.

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a large piping bag fitted with a star tip or a zipper bag with sweet potato puree.  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 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 parchment paper.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-unbaked

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Sweet Potato toppers should be slightly firm and dry on top when ready.

Voila!

Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Frosted Sugar-Coated Cranberries

frosted-cranberries-with-chocolate

My sister-in-law, Suzy, is an excellent and adventurous cook.  My kids always look forward to Suzy’s signature salads and we know that we are in for a treat whenever we are invited to Itzy and Suzy’s house.  Even when Suzy just prepares a “simple” meal, we are always impressed by her delicious dishes.

Years ago, we were guests at Suzy’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Suzy’s brined turkey was the moistest turkey ever and she served so many delicious and creative side dishes.  What I remember the fondest, though, were the frosted cranberries that Suzy placed on the bundt cake for dessert.

The inner cranberry core of these frosted cranberries still retained the tart taste and pop-in-your mouth texture.  The outer frosted layer packed a sweet taste with a firm sugar bite.

There was something about the clash of textures, firm and pop-in-your mouth.

There was something about the clash of flavors, sweet and tart.

Oh, and they were so beautiful.

Suzy is great about sharing recipes. It really is…simple to wow!

This has become my favorite winter dessert garnish.  I think it will become yours, too.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1  bag fresh cranberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

1/2 to 1 cup sugar for tossing

 

DIRECTIONS

Check and rinse an entire bag of cranberries, discarding any soft or shriveled ones.

Create a simple syrup by dissolving 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water in a microwave safe glass dish or on the stovetop. Remove simple syrup from heat and stir cranberries into simple syrup until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wax-paper coated tray or to a wire rack. Allow sugared cranberries to air-dry for several hours.

frosted-cranberries-after-simple-syrup

Place an additional cup of sugar in a shallow bowl or pie plate.  By the handful, toss cranberries in sugar until well coated.   Add sugar, if necessary.  Spread coated cranberries on wax paper and allow to air-dry for at least 1 hour.

frosted-cranberries

Serve as a sweet-tart dessert or as a dessert garnish.

Beet Horseradish Dipping Sauce

There is a local restaurant that serves a horseradish sauce with their burgers. The sauce is tantalizingly pink with just the right amount of assertive flavor and sweet bite.

I was determined to recreate this sauce. I tried designing this recipe several times until I got it just right.

I served this newly minted sauce one Shabbos. Some tried it with their challah, others with the fish appetizer and I loved it with the grilled chicken and London broil.   I returned the rest in the refrigerator to enjoy with left-overs.

And, enjoy it we did!

Our son-in-law, Scotty, was visiting that week and he really loved this sauce. He even asked me for the recipe. I told him that I would like to try preparing this recipe once more before putting it out on the blog.

I prepared it again for last Shabbos and it once again received rave reviews.

So, here’s to you, Scotty!

beet-horseradish-sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup beet horseradish
4 tablespoons lemon juice or juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic or 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 cup oil
squeeze of mustard
squeeze of agave syrup or honey (optional) (see notes)

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade in the food processor, combine all ingredients, saving oil for last. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil and process until combined and smooth. Carefully decant into squeeze bottle.

NOTES

If you use a more savory beet horseradish (like the Gold’s brand), you may enjoy this sauce without adding honey or agave syrup. If you would like a sweeter sauce, use a beet horseradish with a higher sugar content or add honey or agave to this recipe.

Decant the dressing into an empty sport-top water bottle or wide-mouth squeeze bottle.

Add a unique label to this Beet Horseradish Dipping Sauce. Using glue stick or clear packing tape, adhere a custom beet-horseradish-sauce-dip-label to an empty squeeze bottle. If you would like to print your own simpletowow vinaigrette label, feel free print out this beet-horseradish-sauce-dip-label. The paper label also allows you to jot down the date when you prepared the dressing so that you can track the preparation date.

Enjoy!

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Glazed Butternut Squash with Shallots and Grapes

glazed-butternut-squash-with-shallots-and-grapes

Leah recently spent Shabbos at her friend’s house and came back with this amazing recipe.  I simplified the preparation and have prepared this dish over and over again.  It is the perfect combination of smooth butternut squash, shallot rings and grapes that just pop in your mouth.  It is one of those new recipes that you will really enjoy.

Butternut squash is a flavorful winter squash shaped like a bottle.  The seeds are stored in the bottom part of the squash.  Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tan-orange hard skin and fleshy orange pulp.  It is an excellent source of  fiber, Vitamins A, C and E as well as potassium and magnesium.

Many people are intimidated by the shape of this squash and the toughness of the peel.   For this recipe, it is not necessary to peel the butternut squash.  When sliced, the stem portion of the butternut squash yields firm disks and the bottom portion yields rings filled with seeds.  I choose butternut squash with a long stem portion, as the disks that are sliced from the stem do not contain any seeds.

The glaze is applied by just drizzling and sprinkling the glaze ingredients directly over the butternut squash.

The simplicity, texture and sensational flavor of this recipe will wow you!

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash
3-4 shallots, cut into rings
handful of green or red grapes, whole or halved

3-4 tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup
kosher salt
pepper

scallions (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 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.

Peel shallots and slice into rings.  Clean grapes and if they are large, cut into half.

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

Scatter shallots and grapes among butternut squash disks and filling the butternut rings cut from the bottom of the butternut squash with shallots and grapes, too.

Lightly drizzle oil and honey, agave or maple syrup over vegetables.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast uncovered for 45-50 minutes.  Optionally, sprinkle with scallions within the last 10 minutes of roasting.  Butternut squash should be soft and just beginning to caramelize. Shallots and grapes should be browned and soft.

butternut-squash-with-shallots-and-grapes

 

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.

Weeknight Oven Roasted London Broil

Want a simple and no-fuss weeknight roast?  This one is for you.  It takes 3-4 hours of low-heat-cooking, so make sure to start it early.  It is one of my simple favorites and will become one of your favorites, too.

Our local kosher butchers all sell London broil.  It is an inexpensive and rather lean roast, though, technically, London Broil is not a cut of meat but rather refers to a cooking technique.  Kosher London Broil is typically cut from the shoulder or neck area and various butchers use different types of flank and shoulder steaks for their London Broils.

The tenderness of the meat very often depends on the source and cut of the London Broil. In general, I try to choose a London Broil that has some fat surrounding the meat and no gristle running down the center.  The fat protects the meat during cooking and either melts during cooking or can be trimmed afterward.  The thicker gristle often runs down the center of the steak and is difficult to remove.  Therefore, I try to find cuts that do not contain gristle running through.

Although London Broil is synonymous with fast cooking  over high heat, this recipe employs a quick marinade and spice rub and then slow low-temperature cooking.

INGREDIENTS

1 small (2 pound) London Broil
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup cranberry juice or other fruit juice

barbecue sauce

Coffee Spice Rub or your favorite rub

DIRECTIONS

Line baking dish with foil, leaving enough foil on sides so that foil can be folded over London Broil as a packet.  Place sliced onion at bottom of foil-lined pan.  Place London Broil on top of  onions, fattier side up.

Mix 1/2 cup juice with 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.  Pour liquid over London Broil , coating both sides. Pat with coffee rub.

Close foil packet around marinated London Broil , leaving room between London Broil and top of foil packet, but tightly closing foil.

Bake at 275 for 2-3 hours in foil packet.  London Broil should be fork tender at this point. Open foil, add some more barbecue sauce and bake uncovered for 1 hour more .

For cleaner slicing, allow meat to reach room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Simple Baked Potato Kugelatkes

 

kugelatkes-serving-suggestion

kugelatkes

Traditionally, we eat potato latkes (pancakes) on Chanukah.  We eat foods prepared with oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil in the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) once the Jews were victorious over the Greeks.  After the miraculous war, the Jews entered the desecrated Temple and only found enough pure olive oil to light the Menorah (candelabra) for one day.  The tiny  bit of oil lasted for an entire eight days, enough time for the Jews to get new pure oil to light the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash, so that the Menorah would be continuously lit.

While latkes are so traditionally linked to Chanukah, there are so many foods that contain olive oil that may just as well commemorate the oil miracle of the Temple.

Truth be told, I hate to fry latkes.

It just takes too much time, too much splatter and it is so hard to manage while entertaining a houseful of guests.

I usually make one batch of latkes just for the first night and find other make-in-advance olive oil alternatives when we entertain guests over Chanukah.

This year, I have adapted my favorite potato kugel recipe to make baked potato kugelatkes.  I made them in a bundt-shaped muffin tin, but they can easily be baked in a cupcake tin, as well.

They are simple to prepare, beautiful and delicious to behold, require no frying and can be prepared well in advance of the Chanukah meal.

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Simple Baked Sweet Potato Cubes

sweet-potato-cubes

When I was a young girl, my Aba (father) would tell me that sweet potatoes were nature’s candy. He would also tell me that sweet potatoes are best when cooked right in their skin. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could compare a root vegetable to candy and why anyone would be interested in preparing sweet potatoes in their ruddy skin.

Now, I finally get it.  Aba is right.  Sweet potatoes are nature’s candy.  And, there are real health benefits to preparing sweet potatoes, especially without peeling them frst.

Sweet potatoes are high in Beta Carotene and contain significant levels of potassium, iron, vitamin B-6 as well as vitamins E and C.   They are a good source of fiber when eaten unpeeled.   They are delicious and nutritious.

This is a very simple and delicious recipe, perfect for a weeknight side dish.

INGREDIENTS

3-4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
salt
garlic powder
cinnamon
1 teaspoon oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F

Cube sweet potatoes.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, garlic and cinnamon.  Bake uncovered in center of oven for 60 to 90 minutes.  Sweet potato cubes should be firm and a bit chewy on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

Enjoy!

Simple Rutabaga and Celery Saute

sauted-shredded-rutabaga

For me, one of the most exciting things about this blog is the introduction of new ingredients to myself and my readers.

It is really about extending one’s comfort zone and affording new ingredients a chance to shine.

For some, it is about exploring new ingredients.  For others, it is about using old-hat ingredients in new and creative ways.  When I meet one of my blog followers, I am often told that through simpletowow.com, they have tried something new that has now become one of their favorites.  That makes my heart swell.

For one of my readers in Chicago, Simply the best salad…ever! has helped her discover so many new tomato varieties. She had always been a one-variety round red tomato consumer. Through the blog, her eyes were opened up to a rainbow of tomato shapes, colors and flavors.

Another one of my readers had never thought to use raw beets in the past.  His experience with beets had only been limited to cooked beets.  Balsamic Beet Slaw: Easy, Fresh and Delicious introduced him to raw beets as a delicious salad ingredient.

Then, there are the ingredients that people love to hate.

Rutabagas falls into that category so easily.

This fall, I have been seeing waxed turnips in the produce market.  Waxed turnips are also called rutabagas or swedes and have a very unique flavor and texture.   They are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C and manganese, and are a great source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

rutabaga-half-peeled

The taste of a rutabaga is difficult to describe.  It has a sweet earthy bitterness that I find to be delicious and most interesting.  Technically, rutabaga is a cross between cabbage and turnip.  Rutabagas are usually waxed, hence they are also known as waxed turnips. Using a sharp paring knife, it is important to remove the peel of the rutabaga along with the wax coating before using it as an ingredient.

Rutabaga is one of our family’s new favorite ingredients.  I hope that you will learn to love it, too.

This quick saute is one of our simplest and most favorite rutabaga preparations.

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Rockstar Roasted Cauliflower

Last week, I roasted cauliflower as a weekday side dish.  It is one of our favorite sides and it is the perfect accompaniment for most any main dish.  I have served it with all types of fish, poultry and meat.  It is always a star side dish, so well received at my table.

But, at last week’s dinner table, the roasted cauliflower was a rockstar.

rockstar-roasted-cauliflower

Each cauliflower floret was soft and velvety on the inside and crunchy and toasty on the outside.  Everyone around the table commented that it was a whole new level for roasted cauliflower.

And, I scratched my head to try and figure out just what made it so delicious.

I replayed the dinnertime meal preparation in my head.

It had been one of those hectic weeknights.  I had been working in my home office and instead of roasting the cauliflower on high heat from the beginning, I placed it in the oven on medium heat to cook alongside the Baked French Fried Onion Chicken until the chicken was ready.  Once the timer for the baked chicken sounded, I removed the chicken from the oven and increased the heat for the cauliflower to my normal 450 degrees F roasting temperature.

That seemed to be the magic.  I had started the cauliflower off at medium heat and had increased the heat after 25 minutes until it was finished.

I was determined to recreate the superstar cauliflower the next night.  And, I did!

 

INGREDIENTS 

1-2 heads cauliflower, separated into florets and cleaned (see kosher notes)
Oil
Kosher Salt
Granulated or fresh minced garlic (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or greased foil.

Spread cauliflower in a single layer on baking sheet(s).  Drizzle with oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic.

Cook for 25 minutes and then increase temperature to 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes more, checking that vegetables are soft and browned before removing from oven.

 

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore  cauliflower require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.   Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of  cauliflower and some disallow its use altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing cauliflower.

Thanksgiving Quinoa Salad

Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the harvest.  Giving thanks is central to Judaism and offering thanks for agricultural success (Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister) is an important Jewish theme.  Traditionally, foods like cranberry, almonds and corn are included in the American Thanksgiving celebration.  This salad celebrates the breadth of so many delicious salad ingredients, some old, some new and some recreated.  The addition of pumpkin pie spice to the toasting of the seeds and nuts adds a familiar Thanksgiving taste and aroma to this salad. (more…)

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.