Gluten-free

A Simple Chicken Soup Upgrade

upgraded chicken soup with rutabaga.jpg

I’ve been serving the same basic chicken soup recipe for more than thirty years. My family, even the “vegetarians” among them, look forward to chicken soup at the Friday night Shabbos dinner, rain or shine, winter or summer.

As far as changes over the years, they have been minimal.  I sometimes leave the vegetables whole and sometimes dice the vegetables.  When Kaitlyn visits, I add an extra onion and eliminate the celery.  When Michelle visits, I add extra zucchini.   Leah loves eating the dill sprigs that I remove from the soup before serving.   Aaron and Davida put no extra demands on the chicken soup and they enjoy the soup any way that it is served.

This winter I upgraded the chicken soup.  I added cubes of waxed turnip, also known as rutabaga.

I didn’t think that it was a big deal, until the first time I served the upgraded soup.

“What did you do differently to the soup?” asked Leah.  “Yeah” chimed in the rest of the family.

I braced myself.  After all, upgrading a thirty-year constant can be a big deal.

I need not have worried because they all loved the assertive flavor and color of the diced rutabaga.  It was just another distinctive character in the colorful combination of textures and flavors of my chicken soup.

And, that is perfectly fine.  The chicken soup is kind of like our family, our Shabbos table and our lives, a colorful blend of personalities.

INGREDIENTS

One pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast trimmings
1 white turnip, peeled and cubed
1 waxed turnip (rutabaga), well-peeled and cubed
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks celery (optional), scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
2 small onions (optional), peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons salt (more or less for taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1-2 sprigs dill (optional)
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
water

DIRECTIONS

Peel and prepare vegetables. The rutabaga has a thick waxed coating, so peel carefully with a peeler or a paring knife, taking care to remove every bit of peel.

 

 

Place chicken and vegetables (except zucchini) in a large stock pot and fill 2/3 to the top with water. Bring soup to a rolling boil and then lower heat to medium and cook for one more hour.

Replace any water that has evaporated, making sure that the level of the soup broth is where it started before cooking. Add zucchini and increase flame to high.  Boil for 15-20 more minutes.

upgraded chicken soup with rutabaga

Enjoy!

Set It and Forget It Lentil-Vegetable Soup

There is something so hearty and comforting about lentil soup.  And, there is something about taking just a few minutes to prepare a soup on these cold, snowy mornings and coming back at the end of the day to a warm, thick, velvety and delicious soup.  Ordinary lentils really have that magical texture, firm yet creamy.  Adding vegetables to the ingredient list just takes lentil soup to a whole new level.

For this soup, I used the most common brown lentil .  It has the seed hull intact and is most suitable for salads and soups that require the lentil to retain its shape.   If you are short on time, you can use red lentils, instead.   It will cut down on the cooking time and still yield a hearty and delicious soup with a less defined texture to the lentil base.

set it and forget it lentil soup in crock

INGREDIENTS
one bag lentils
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
dash of pepper
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 parsnip, cut into thin slices
1 package mushrooms, sliced thin
4 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
water

celery leaves, for garnish (optional)

set it and forget it lentil soup.jpg

DIRECTIONS

Place lentils, vegetables and seasonings into a crockpot. Fill crockpot 3/4 to top with water. Cook on high from morning to evening. If the soup is too thick, add up to a cup of water and stir well. Garnish with celery leaves right before serving.

SHORTCUTS
When in a hurry, I substitute red lentils and adjust the cooking time to 4 hours.  Right before serving, puree soup with a  stick blender for a creamy texture.

Roasted Confetti Vegetables with Cashews

This is the perfect side dish for a weeknight.   It uses wholesome ingredients, takes minutes to prepare and requires only 20 minutes to roast. The meatiness of the cashews paired with the tender shreds of zucchini and rainbow carrots make this dish hearty, flavorful and satisfying.

confetti roasted vegetables.jpg

 INGREDIENTS

1-2 zucchini, shredded
1 package rainbow carrots, peeled and shredded
1 onion, shredded
handful of whole cashews

2 teaspoons kosher salt
flavored oil or olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Using the shredding blade of the food processor, shred onion, carrots and zucchini.

Spread vegetables atop the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a scant amount of oil and sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle a handful of cashews over vegetables.

Roast for 15-20 minutes.

Toss and enjoy!

15 Minute Mushroom Soup

mushroom soup

The weather outside is frightfully cold and nothing warms the soul like a hot bowl of satisfying soup.   Although yesterday morning, I intended to start my  Crockpot Drunken Mushroom Soup in the crockpot,  I never did.  Instead, I got home late with only 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.   That meant that I needed to make the soup in a heavy-bottom pot using every shortcut possible.

I skimped on sauteing the onions and celery slowly and carefully.  Instead, I cut the onions and celery very small and started the soup by just sauteing the small bits of onions and celery for a few minutes.  I then shredded the mushrooms and zucchini in the food processor so that the tiny bits would cook quickly.  I skipped the wine and just added salt and pepper for flavor.

This soup was one of the best that I ever produced.  Sorry, kids!  Although my kids often chastise me for complimenting my own food, I subscribe to the belief that a cook may compliment or criticize their own handiwork.  Why not?

The soup was so flavorful and so silky that Don could not believe that there was no cream in this soup.  He loved this soup so much that he enjoyed three bowls of it.  So, guys, I didn’t even need to compliment my own soup.  Dad did it for me in word and in deed.  Indeed!

 

INGREDIENTS

2-3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced small
3 stalks celery, diced small
2 containers mushrooms, shredded
2-3 medium zucchini,shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
dash pepper
4-6 cups of water

Celery Garnish (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS
In a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, saute onion and celery in oil for just a few minutes, until onions and celery are soft but not brown.

While vegetables are sauteing, shred the mushrooms and zucchini in the food processor using the s-blade or the shredding blade.

Add the shredded mushrooms and zucchini to the onions and celery. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes more until the soup is cooked through and silky.

Garnish with a celery curl.

Enjoy!

 

TIPS

To speed up recipes, cut, shred or dice ingredients into smaller pieces.   Smaller bits create more surface area for the heat and cooking media to enter.  Just take care, because the smaller the pieces of ingredients, the easier these ingredients are to overcook or to burn.

Out of the Bowl Tiered Salad

Who says that salad must be served in a salad bowl and tossed?

out of the bowl salad-side view.png

One of the most exciting things about salad is its versatility.  A beautiful and delicious salad can incorporate so many disparate ingredients and the contrast of colors, textures and flavors makes each salad unique.

Today’s salad is about layering a gorgeous vessel with different vegetables and toppings.  Its effortless simplicity achieves an elegance that highlights the colorful and flavorful vegetables themselves.

This salad is prepared on a rose gold hammered elongated platter with the ingredients placed in long tiers.  The vibrant colors of the romaine lettuce, shredded fresh beets, rainbow peppers and heirloom tomatoes speak for themselves.

SUPPLIES

hammered elongated bowl (different than bowl pictured on blog post)

INGREDIENTS

romaine lettuce, shredded
raw red beets, peeled and shredded
rainbow peppers, cut into small pieces
heirloom tomatoes
parsley and scallions, cut into tiny pieces

Balsamic Vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS

Place a layer of shredded romaine lettuce.  Top that with a layer of shredded red beets, overlapping the bottom layer so that the romaine lettuce can be viewed from the sides.

out of the bowl salad-layers 1 and 2.png

Top that with small pieces of rainbow peppers and small colorful tomatoes.

rainbow peppers

Garnish with shredded or sliced parsley and scallions.  Drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette over the salad and serve.

out of the bowl salad partial view.png

 

This salad is truly simple to wow!

out of the bowl salad.png

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

Abracadabra Potato Kugel

My grandson, Judah, has learned a new word this summer.  Abracadabra.

Abracadabra is quite a mouthful for a two year old.    And, when Judah uses the word, he uses it with such flair.  He must have learned it from one of the many shows he enjoyed in summer camp.

I have been preparing potato kugel for as long as I remember and most kugels share similar ingredients.  I have two potato kugel recipes on this blog (Davida’s Awesome Potato Kugel,  Simply the Best Potato Kugel Ever and ) and they are both delicious, but rather similar.

There just doesn’t seem to be much new in potato kugel.

Until now.

 

abracadabra potato kugel

After I published Davida’s famous potato kugel recipe (Davida’s Awesome Potato Kugel), my aunt shared a secret tip to her fluffy and creamy potato kugel that proved to be wonderful.

It is a very simple and effective secret.  And, it is well-deserving of the simple to wow seal of approval and Judah’s favorite word, Abracadabra.

Wait for it….

Tante Sari adds seltzer to her potato kugel batter.  The effervescence of the seltzer  adds lightness and creaminess to the potato kugel.  I adapted my potato kugel recipe to accommodate the seltzer and after some tweaking (with plenty of happy taste-testers around), here is the simple to wow recipe.  It has received rave reviews from family and friends alike.

SUPPLIES

food processor
pyrex pie plates

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, quartered

1/3 cup of seltzer
1/3 cup oil
3 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

DIRECTIONS

Set oven to 450°F degrees.

Coat a pyrex pie plate lightly with oil and place in oven (no preheating necessary).

While the oil is heating up, using the metal s-blade of the food processor, shred the onion.  Once the onion is shredded,  add oil, eggs, seltzer, salt and pepper.  Pulse a couple of times to combine.

Remove the s-blade and add the shredding blade to the food processor.  Shred the potatoes.  Pour everything into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.   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,

Carefully remove the sizzling pyrex pie plate from the oven.  Pour the mixture into the pyrex pie plate and bake uncovered for one hour.

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

Perfect Lean and Moist Brisket

low-carb brisket up close.JPG

This Shabbos, we were expecting a houseful of company. Our guests were a motley assortment of meat eaters and lean eaters. That left me in a quandary as to how to prepare a menu to satisfy all tastes.

I prepared a vast assortment of simple Rainbow Roasted Vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, rainbow carrots, eggplant and zucchini.  As the main dishes for Friday night, I prepared lemon zinger chicken and this lean and moist brisket.

This recipe doesn’t require marination.  It also doesn’t call for any oil. What it needs, though, is time.  Plenty of time.  Three hours of cooking time.  Oh, and onions.  Plenty of onions to keep it moist.

The low and slow cooking keeps the flavor and moistness.  The sliced onions create a flavorful and tender blanket of moisture that replaces the fat and protects the tender beef.

This is a gluten-free and low-carb recipe that is suitable for Pesach (Passover), too.

Simple and moist onion-covered brisket

INGREDIENTS

3-4 pound top of the rib beef roast or lean brisket

2-3 onions, sliced thin

lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper
minced garlic or garlic powder
paprika
powdered ginger
onion powder

dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 cup zinger tea

 

DIRECTIONS

Make a cup of zinger tea, squeezing out the tea bag to release as much flavor as possible. Add half of the tea to the bottom of the pan. Place roast in pan. Pour rest of tea over roast and generously sprinkle seasonings on top of the roast.

Place fattier side of the brisket up so that fat keeps the meat tender during cooking. Smother the roast with a layer of very thinly sliced onions, pressing into the roast. Cover tightly with foil.

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

Set oven to cook for 3 hours on 300 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.

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!

Perfectly Roasted and Seasoned Bok Choy

Bok choy is one of our favorite ingredients in leafy salads.  It is a powerhouse of nutrition, and has a signature taste and bold texture, making it the perfect ingredient for salads that are dressed in advance.  I have incorporated it into a number of salads already highlighted on the blog (see Simple, Colorful and Crunchy Baby Bok Choy Salad with Apples, Peppers, Tomatoes and Craisins).

Bok Choy is a cabbage-like green that can be found in most vegetable markets and green grocers.  For centuries, bok choy has been a staple of Chinese cuisine and medicine.   Bok choy is a rich leafy vegetable that has stalks similar to celery and leaves that are reminiscent of  Romaine lettuce.    Rich in vitamins  A, C and K, bok choy is an excellent sources of beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron.

Until now, I have only enjoyed bok choy as a raw ingredient.  Kaitlyn suggested trying bok choy as a roasted vegetable.  I took Kaitlyn’s advice and roasted it with my Everything Bagel Seasoning and it was a huge hit.  It will now becom epart of my permanent roasting repertoire.

roasted bok choy

INGREDIENTS 

1-2 heads bok choy, cleaned and cut lengthwise into large spears (see kosher notes)
cooking spray
Everything Bagel Seasoning

DIRECTIONS

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

Spread bok choy spears in a single layer on baking sheet(s).  Lightly spray with cooking spray and  sprinkle with Everything Bagel Seasoning.

Roast for 25-35 minutes, checking that bok choy is slightly brown on top, but still moist and tender inside.

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore greens like bok choy require a process of soaking and rinsing and.   Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of  these type of greens 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 bok choy.

Lemon Zinger Chicken

Sometimes the best flavors are simple ones.  Lemon.  Garlic.  Chicken.   Tea.

Delicious food is simple food with no compromises in freshness, flavor, moistness and taste.

Today, I prepared chicken that was tangy, flavorful and succulent.  It took very little effort.  It used natural ingredients.  And its simplicity and taste made everyone take notice.

intense lemon chicken

INGREDIENTS

chicken parts

Lemon zinger tea

fresh lemon

minced or granulated garlic
paprika
cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

In a cup or measuring cup, add a lemon zinger tea bag to  1 cup of hot water, steeping tea well to create concentrated flavor.

Place chicken pieces in pan and pour tea over chicken.   Rinse whole lemons well and squeeze fresh lemon over chicken.  Generously sprinkle chicken with seasonings.

Tuck squeezed lemon in between chicken pieces.  Cover tightly with foil and cook at 400 degrees F for two hours.

Simple Superstar Roasted Onions

roasted onions up close

Onions are the ultimate team player.   They are used to start soups and sautes, taking very little credit for the impactful favor that they impart.  They are sprinkled atop salads or roasts, adding spiciness and satisfying juiciness wherever they are used.

They are the utility player that can be used here or there, always making the other ingredients taste a little better without taking credit themselves.  Fried or sauteed onions become the basis for great flavorful dishes.  Onions have the ability to make so many different types of recipes heartier, fuller and more delicious.

Onions are the unsung stars of so many dishes.

But, do onions not deserve to be superstars in their own right?

After all, there is nothing like a caramelized onion.  The decadent smell.  The charred sweet outside and the creamy soft inside is one of those texture combinations that is like no other.

This side dish is so simple.  So perfect.  And, so delicious.  And, it finally highlights the onion as the star of the game.

After preparing these roasted onions and certainly after tasting their distinctive creamy sweet flavor, you’ll be cheering for the onion to be your new favorite player, too!

roasted onions on plate

 

INGREDIENTS

3-4 large onions

oil spray
salt
pepper
minced or granulated garlic

 

DIRECTIONS

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut onions crosswise into 1/2 inch sections. Line onions on pan and spray lightly with oil spray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic.

Roast at 400 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until onions are golden brown on outside and soft and creamy on the inside.

roasted onions on baking sheet

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!

Cheesy Cabbage Steaks

This week, I decided to prepare a delicious, colorful and low-carb dairy dinner.  Since I had just returned from an overseas trip, I found my refrigerator and pantry low-stocked. With very few ingredients to choose from, I opted to use the head of cabbage that I found in the refrigerator to prepare these of, so wonderful cheesy cabbage steaks.

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.

I used red cabbage for this recipe, but any cabbage may be used.  In this simple recipe, the red cabbage creates a stunning purple backdrop to the velvety melted cheese on top. It may be used to Passover and is gluten free, too.

Cheesy cabbage steaks

INGREDIENTS

Red cabbage, cleaned and cut into steaks

4 minced garlic cloves or granulated garlic
coarse salt
coarse ground black pepper
olive oil or cooking spray

shredded cheese

 

DIRECTIONS

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

Remove first 4-5 tough outer leaves of cabbage.  Clean cabbage and cut into 1/2 inch to 3/4 thick steaks.  Place cabbage steaks in a single layer on lined cookie sheets.   Drizzle with olive oil or generously spray with cooking spray.   Lightly sprinkle with salt, garlic and black pepper.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, checking that cabbage steaks are soft and just starting to brown before removing from oven.

 

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the cooked cabbage steaks.  Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more until cheese is melted and gooey.

Enjoy!

Simple Chicken Vegetable Packets

I devone of those hot and humid days that were exhausting.  I just had very little energy left at the end of the day to prepare dinner.  I had defrosted chicken breasts earlier to use for dinner and needed inspiration to create a simple and delicious meal.

I wanted no fuss and very little effort.    I didn’t even want the extra effort of preheating the oven.  I wanted to use at-hand ingredients and easy cleanup.

Packet cooking seemed like the perfect solution.

I have prepared packet meals with salmon (Low-Carb Cajun Salmon Fillets in Foil Packets) and decided to try it with the chicken breasts.   To keep the meal hearty and fuss-free, I decided to add an assortment of fresh and frozen vegetables that I had on hand to the packets, too.

This really was simple.  And, yes, it was a wow!

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken breasts

barbecue sauce
soy sauce

frozen green beans
tomatoes
peppers

DIRECTIONS

Cut four square pieces of heavy duty foil. On each piece of foil, place one chicken breast and then lightly drizzle with soy sauce and then barbecue sauce. Layer tomatoes and peppers and then sprinkle with a few frozen green beans. Seal foil into packets.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Open foil packets carefully to let steamm escape and serve immediately.

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.  Cover tightly with foil.

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