Passover

Kosher for Passover recipes

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!

Perfectly Moist Baked Stuffed Chicken

baked stuffed chicken cut in half

For the Purim seuda (feast) this year, Don did almost all of the shopping for ingredients. My mother had emergency surgery shortly before Purim and I spent the week with her in Cleveland.  That meant that I would not have the time to shop and fully prepare for the seuda.  Don offered to help by doing the shopping for me.

Don did an awesome job shopping for the meat and chicken.  He bought thin sliced chicken cutlets for me to grill as one of the main dishes.   When I saw how thin the cutlets were, I was nervous that they would overcook easily.   So, I decided to develop a recipe that would accommodate cutlets that were butterflied and very thin.

I also had a bagful of frozen rice from a previous dinner party and lots of leftover frozen bread.  Keeping in mind that Pesach (Passover) was around the corner, I was eager to create a stuffing recipe that would use my leftover rice and bread.

And, so this stuffed chicken recipe was developed.

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Zucchini Mushroom Kugel

zucchini mushroom kugel

Jewish cooking favors the preparation of kugels (casseroles), probably because of their versatility.  Since cooking is prohibited on Shabbos (Sabbath) and is limited on the Jewish holidays, the kugel has become a go-to solution.  It allows for make-ahead preparation and can be served hot or at room temperature.

Although I favor keeping my vegetables raw and simply prepared, this kugel has become one of my favorites.  It highlights a simple list of fresh ingredients and this kugel  is perfect for freezing in advance of a busy Yom Tov (holiday, lit: good day) like Pesach (Passover).  Although zucchini squash has a high water content and usually needs to be squeezed out, the sliced zucchini in this recipe needs no squeezing.  The moisture of the zucchini slices creates a satisfying textural compliment to the other ingredients and make for a soft and juicy kugel.

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion or 2 shallots, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or garlic powder
3 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 package mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup potato starch
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper

DIRECTIONS

Grease a pie dish or line a baking dish with parchment paper.

Saute onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft and starting to brown.

Whisk eggs and combine with oil, seasonings, sauteed onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sprinkle zucchnii slices with potato starch.  Fold egg mixture into zucchini slices until just combined.

Fill baking dish with mixture and bake uncovered at  400 degrees F for 45 minutes to one hour.  Kugel should be golden brown and set when ready.

 

VARIATIONS

Flour and a tad of baking powder may be substituted for the potato starch for non-Passover cooking.

Charoset Ices

charoset ices

Last year in Israel, we discovered that Ben and Jerry’s manufactures Charoset ice cream for Pesach (Passover).  We bought it at the Israel supermarket for its Passover-themed value but we devoured it for its delicious taste.

charoset ice cream.png

After all,  charoset is a traditional dip consumed at the Passover Seder. It is typically prepared with chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and red wine or grape juice.   The charoset is a  gritty dip for the Maror (bitter herbs) that symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews to fashion bricks while they were enslaved in Egypt.

The apples and grape juice or wine lend a sweet taste to this dish and make for the perfect combination of ingredients to prepare charoset ices.  This will make the perfect dessert for your Pesach meal.

 

INGREDIENTS

3-4 apples, cut into large chunks
1 cup wine or grape juice
dash of cinnamon
1/4 cup nuts
1 cup frozen grapes
small romaine heart (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade of the food processor, puree all ingredients except romaine heart until just combined.

Freeze until solid or overnight.

Once frozen, remove from freezer and defrost just enough to scoop back into the food processor fitted with the s-blade.

Pulse sorbet in food processor just until smooth.  Refreeze.

To allow for simple entertaining, I usually defrost for 20-30 minutes before scooping.

Garnish with a small piece of romaine lettuce.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Any frozen fruit may be substituted for the frozen grapes.  Just make sure to taste puree and blend with enough wine or  juice for optimal sweetness.  Honey may be added as well to sweeten the sorbet.

TIPS

I scoop the sorbet into small cups in advance and freeze in the cups until ready to serve. That speeds up the serving of a frozen dessert and keeps everything tidy.    I add the garnish at the end so that the leaves stay fresh and green.charoset ices.jpg

Frosted Candied Grapes

Grapes are featured prominently at the annual Pesach (Passover) seder (festive meal, lit: order).  After all, we drink four cups of wine or grape juice and the seder ceremony begins with the kiddush (santification) over the first cup of wine (or grape juice).  Wine is featured in the charoset (fruit and nut dip symbolizing mortar) for the maror (bitter herbs).

The seder is a mixture of tradition and whimsy.  It is the only night on the Jewish calendar when we sing Hallel (songs of praise) and tell the story of Egypt at length.  It is an evening in which we engage the children and pass these Jewish traditions from generation to generation.  In fact, so much of the elements of the seder are intended to pique the interest of our children.

Which brings me to candied grapes.  We are taught that parents are to give their children special foods and gifts in order to engage them at the seder.  So, why not combine the elements of tradition and whimsy in creating these adorable and delicious candied grapes?

One note of caution, though.  The round shape of the grapes  can create a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

These grapes can make a delicious snack or the perfect garnish for desserts.

 
candied grapesINGREDIENTS

1 box jello
grapes

 
DIRECTIONS

Rinse individual grapes thoroughly in a colander. Spread jello powder in a pie plate or large plate.  Coat grapes with powder.    Place on waxed or parchment paper to dry.
Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow gelatin to set.

NOTES

The round shape of the grapes  can present a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

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.

DIY Passover French Baked Onions

french fried onions for pesach

So many of my simple and moist recipes rely on french fried onions.  They add moisture and pizazz to even the simplest and leanest of fish, meats and poultry.  Recipes such as Onion-Battered Baked TilapiaSimple Onion Baked Chicken Cutlets and Low and Slow Oven Brisket require this as a key ingredient.

Year-round, this is a readily available ingredient with so many kosher brands to choose from.  For some reason the smaller packages of French’s do not carry an o-u kosher certification while the 26.5 ounce package of Family size french fried onions is available on Amazon with a reliable o-u certification.

Since these products have flour listed on the ingredient list, I understood that they would not acceptable for Passover use.    However, I was hoping to find a similar product this year that would be kosher for Passover.   Alas, I was unsuccessful.

That meant that I needed to develop a recipe for french fried onions similar enough to the store-bought ones.  I also wanted a recipe that would not require frying.  There is just too much to be done before Pesach (Passover) for me to be frying onions in small batches.

This recipe is good.  It is not as dry and crunchy as the original.  But, it does serve as a good replacement for these recipes.  And, it is simple.

I would love to hear your comments, especially if you found this recipe to be simple to wow.

INGREDIENTS

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup Passover crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil or cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.

Separate thinly sliced onion rings into individual rings. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat the onion rings.

Place the onion rings ton the baking sheet and drizzle olive oil or generously spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, frequently checking that the onions do not burn.  When ready, these onions should be just starting to turn golden brown.

Allow onions to come to room temperature before using.

Passover Stuffed Cabbage

passover stuffed cabbage

Last week, I began cooking and freezing for Pesach (Passover).  With the furious and beautiful backdrop of a March snowstorm, I prepared most of my main dishes for the week of Passover.

It may sound a bit compulsive, but this just helps me manage the fury and beauty of the Passover holiday.

We travel to Israel for the holiday where we have a tiny kitchen and doll-sized appliances. The smallness of the food preparation facilities stand in direct contrast to the number of guests and family members that join us for the Passover seder and meals.

I have discovered that cooking the main dishes in advance really takes the edge off of the frenzy of Erev Pesach (Passover eve) and helps our family enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Jerusalem with some measure of serenity.

It certainly helps me appreciate the purity of the holiday and the freshness of the spring season.  It allows me to focus on the theme of this holiday that is so central to Judaism.  I can savor the beautiful traditions of Pesach, all to remind us of the birth of the Jewish nation as we miraculously left Egypt so many centuries ago.

Many women note that they feel enslaved by the enormity and difficulty of Passover cooking and that reminds them more than anything at the seder of the bondage of Jewish nation in Egypt.  I would rather celebrate the freedom from slavery by planning ahead and leaving time and energy to enjoy the traditions and themes of Passover.  It makes for a better me and it allows me to enjoy this wonderful spring holiday.

I have been making stuffed cabbage for many, many years.  Traditionally, rice is used as a filler.  Jews of Ashkenazic (Eastern European)  origin do not eat rice on Passover while those of  Sephardic (originally from Iberian Peninsula) background eat certain types of rice during the holiday.  For this use, you can either substitute quinoa for the rice or skip the rice altogether.

Last year, I did not prepare my cooktop for Passover advance cooking so I was unable to boil the heads of cabbage.  Instead, I froze the heads of cabbage and found it to be a simpler way to prepare the cabbage leaves for stuffing.  Best of all, it meant one less pot to clean at the end.  So, this year I wouldn’t prepare my cabbage leaves any other way.

Stuffed cabbage is one of those menu items that takes some time, but makes enough for many meals.  This year’s stuffed cabbage made enough for two Passover meals with some extras to deliver to some of my friends for their Passover meals.

Stuffed cabbage freezes so well.  The cabbage rolls can be frozen either with or without the suace.  I freeze the cabbage rolls in freezer bags and just take out as many as needed for the next meal.

INGREDIENTS

2 heads of cabbage

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 Passover crumbs
1 cup quinoa (optional)
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

sweet and sour sauce

2 cans tomato sauce
2/3 cup sugar or honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins or craisins (optional)

SUPPLIES

Wood and Silicone Spatula
jumbo zipper bags

DIRECTIONS

Carefully remove the first 4-6 leaves of the cabbage and freeze the cabbage for at least 12 hours.

Defrost cabbage for several hours and/or microwave the frozen cabbage heads in 4 minute increments until leaves are soft and pliable enough to remove from head.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

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

Using a Wood and Silicone Spatula, press a golf ball size of meat batter into each cabbage leaf.  Roll soft cabbage leaf around meat, tucking ends under.  Place cabbage rolls seam side down in baking dish or pan.

Cut leftover cabbage into bite size pieces and toss among the cabbage rolls.

Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients and heating in sauce pan or microwave.   Pour sweet and sour sauce over cabbage rolls.

Bake tightly covered for 90 minutes.

 

 

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, meat muffins 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.

 

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

Passover Baked Meatballs

The Pesach (Passover) marathon has begun!

Now that Purim is behind us, the supermarkets have started to stock Kosher for Passover meats and ingredients.  To add another element of excitement, right before Purim we were advised that a Nor’easter was due to hit the Northeast two days after Purim.

Most people ran out to stock up on food supplies, snow equipment and salt.

I stocked up on Kosher for Passover meat and staples, instead.  After all, a Nor’easter would mean that I could cook all day in my pajamas with no deliveries, meetings or other responsibilities.

I cooked eleven large roasts, 48 stuffed cabbage, 16 meat cupcakes and 80 baked meatballs. Best part was that I had the most beautiful backdrop of white snow to gaze at as I was cooking, slicing and packaging everything for the freezer.

baked-meatballs

And, I finished just in time to get the snowblower out of the garage to clear the 18 inches of snow that had fallen while I was cooking for Passover.

Sure hope that spring arrives soon!

For this Pesach cooking marathon, I tripled this recipe.   From this basic batch, I made Passover meat cupcakes and stuffed cabbage with only minor modifications.  Stay tuned for these Passover recipes, too.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup 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

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.

Form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter and place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center. Skim meatballs off of the pan, leaving grease behind.

Cool and use with your favorite sauce recipe.

NOTES

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

These meatballs freeze well.  Just place in zipper freezer bags and freeze.  Add sauce after removing from freezer.  Bake frozen meatballs with sauce at 375 degrees F for at least 45 minutes.

TIPS

Double or triple the meatball batter and use to make meatloaf, stuffed cabbage and meat muffins.

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.

PASSOVER SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Serve over a bed of quinoa, prepared in rice cooker with salt pepper and garlic.

Serve over a bed of raw or quickly sauteed spiralized zucchini, turnips, kohlrabi  or beets.

Serve over a bed of spaghetti squash “noodles”.  Scrub and cut spaghetti squash in half. Place cut-side down on greased foil-lined pan or on parchment-lined pan.  Bake at 400 degrees F for one hour.  Carefully remove seeds and scrape out spaghetti squash noodles with a fork.  Discard spaghetti squash skin.

 

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

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

 

Pomegranate Truffles

pomegranate-truffles

There is something about pomegranate seeds that are oh, so delicious and create such a taste and texture sensation.  The soft outside and the pop in your mouth juiciness is something so unique and so wonderful.  The bright red color is reminiscent of a red heart and what better ingredient to pair with pomegranate seeds than chocolate?

As we just celebrated Tu Beshvat over the past weekend, we took time to pause and reflect on the vast assortments of fruit that grace our world.  The pomegranate, whose seed bursts are the only edible part of the fruit truly symbolize the dormant and vast potential in each one of us.

This simple recipe is quite a palate sensation.  It combines the decadence of chocolate with the juiciness of pomegranate.  It takes moments to prepare and will simply wow you.

INGREDIENTS
seeds of one pomegranate
6 ounces of good chocolate
sea salt (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Melt chocolate and with a spoon or spatula, place mounds of chocolate on the parchment paper, reserving a small amount of melted chocolate.  Place a small mound of pomegranate seeds atop each chocolate mound.  Drizzle the rest of the chocolate over the truffles using a fork or a piping bag.

Optionally, garnish each pomegranate truffle with a few sea salt crystals.

These may be prepared a day in advance, but should be stored in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Marigolds

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

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

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

It was pretty simple.

It was a wow.

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

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash

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

black pepper to taste

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

 

SUPPLIES

Cuisinart Stainless 14 cup Food Processor

Wilton Large Piping Tip Set

Heavy Duty 16″ Disposable Piping Bags

Wood and Silicone Spatula

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

butternut-squash-sweet-potato-flowers-two

 

Voila!

 

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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.

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

 

Strawberry and Brownie Mini Trifles

 

INGREDIENTS

oneFlourless Chocolate Cake or brownie recipe, cut into small cubes

whipped cream

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

strawberries, diced

decorative cookie (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Soak, wash and dry strawberries well.

Using a paring knife, create one strawberry rose for each mini trifle.  For each rose, slice thin petals from close to the top of the strawberry from  to close to bottom of the strawberry. Gently curl each petal toward the outside.   Continue to slice petals all around the perimeter of the strawberry, overlapping slightly and curling them outward.

Dice the rest of the strawberries.

Whip the cream with vanilla sugar.

In clear glass or plastic cup, alternate layers of brownie cubes, strawberries and whipped cream.  Dry to drop the cream into the cup without touching the sides.  Gently shake the cup on the counter to settle the whipped cream.

Garnish the top of each mini trifle with a strawberry rose and/or a decorative cookie.

individual-bownie-and-strawberry-trifles-feauture-photo

 

KOSHER NOTES

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

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.

Sliced Carrots with Garlic and Shallots

sliced-carrots-with-shallots-and-garlic-2

Did you ever have one of those marathon days?  This recipe was inspired by that type of day.

I had the whole day planned out perfectly.  I had to drop something off for signature on the way home from the office and there should be plenty of time to pick up some fish and vegetables.  It was Scotty’s last dinner at the house before he headed back to California to resume dental school.  He had been visiting for nearly a week while interviewing for dental residencies throughout the tri-state area.

I wanted dinner to be perfect and perfection takes time.  Only, holiday traffic intervened with perfection.

When there’s no time for perfection, simplicity takes over.  And, simplicity inspired this recipe.

I didn’t even have the time to peel the carrots, so I used a bag of peeled baby carrots, instead of the rainbow carrots that I envisioned.

I had no time to mince the garlic and dice the shallots, so I thinly sliced them both in the food processor right after the carrots.

I just spread the vegetables and sprinkled and drizzled the seasonings and marinade ingredients.

It may not have been perfect, but it certainly was delicious.

And, I think I would do it this way all over again even if I had the time for perfection!

INGREDIENTS

1-2 pounds of peeled carrots or 1 bag of baby carrots
2-3 shallots, peeled
1 head garlic, separated into peeled cloves

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

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a casserole dish or baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using the slicer blade of the food processor, slice peeled carrots and then shallots and garlic gloves.

Toss gently right in the food processor bowl.

Spread sliced carrots, shallots and garlic in parchment-lined casserole or baking sheet.

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

Roast uncovered for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Lazy Weeknight Pulled Beef

I really am lazy about cooking during the week.  Just ask my family.

I have learned to take just about every shortcut to the dinner table and love to prepare weeknight dinners that require very few ingredients, very little time and a minimum of effort.

To justify my weekday laziness, I make sure that weeknight dinners are not fussy or complicated.  I still try to use fresh ingredients, but I really downgrade the effort.

I have a repertoire of tried and true simple and delicious weeknight dinner recipes.  All require very little prep time.  Some cook or roast quickly.  Others cook all day.

This one is prepared in the morning, just before I start my day.  It is made in the crockpot and once the ingredients are placed, it requires virtually no attention.  It cooks all day, so that it greets you at the end of the day with the wonderful aroma and taste of slow cooked pulled beef.

The pulled beef is best pulled or shredded an hour or two before eating and then returned to the sauce in the crockpot.  It can also be pulled or shredded and eaten right before serving, but will yield a slightly drier product.  It is up to your schedule and taste.

It can be served on a roll or over a bed of pasta or rice.  I like it best served alongside a shredded or spiralized salad.  Here I have served it with a side of rutabaga and edamame salad.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-plated

This recipe has the elements of a lazy dinner, but the taste of a most delicious and decadent weeknight dinner.

It is simple…and it truly infuses the lazy with wow.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-on-plate

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-ingredients

INGREDIENTS

small boneless roast to fit your crockpot (I use a london broil or small brisket)
2-3 onions and/or shallots, peeled and cut into wedges
4-5 cloves garlic (optional)
3-4 stalks celery, cut into 1-2 inch sections (optional)
1/2 cup water or broth
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2-3 tablespoons brandy (optional)

your favorite seasoning or rub (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cut onions, shallots, celery and garlic and place on bottom of crockpot.  Place roast on top of vegetables.  If roast is larger than crockpot, just cut to fit and place in two layers, one on top of the other.  Dilute barbecue sauce with water or both.  Pour diluted barbecue sauce and brandy over roast.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot

Set crockpot to high or auto (see notes below) and cook for 6-8 hours.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-before-shredding

About an hour before serving, remove beef from crockpot.  Place two forks in the center of the roasts, tines against tines and pull toward edges of roast.  Keep pulling until the roast is shredded.  Return roast to crockpot, ladle some sauce over the shredded beef and set to low or auto until ready to serve.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-cooked

NOTES

Know your crockpot and which settings to use.  I cook this recipe on the high setting of my six quart crockpot for 6-8 hours and only turn it down to low or auto once the beef has been pulled and the pulled beef has been returned to the sauce.  Your crockpot may need to be set to auto for the duration of the cooking. If you are not sure, start this recipe at high. Check on the recipe after 4 hours.  If it tastes ready, then turn it down to auto or low until serving. If not, cook for longer, checking every hour.

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.

(more…)

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…)

Baked Cranberry Salami Slinky

Baked salami is a real treat in our house.  It is one of those simple recipes that I prepare to serve in the afternoon before a festive meal.  It is a treat for Erev Shabbos (Friday afternoon)  and Erev Yom Tov (afternoon before a Jewish holiday).

I reasoned: why not dress the recipe up for Thanksgiving and serve it Erev Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving eve), too? (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.