Simple No-Cook Salmon Appetizer

no-cook salmon appetizers

There are times that a simple no-cook appetizer is the way to go.

Like, when there are six Yom Tov (holiday) meals in a row and you’re looking for a new creative way to serve an appetizer with minimal effort.  The upcoming Shavuos holiday comes on the heels of a Shabbos, calling for six consecutive festive meals.  And, because it is fish, this appetizer can be served pareve (non-dairy) or with crème fraîche on the side with a dairy meal.

It is simple.  It is beautiful.  That simple and beautiful combination is a wow!

SUPPLIES

wide vegetable peeler

no-cook salmon appetizers-ingredients.jpg

INGREDIENTS

Long Seedless cucumber
lox or smoked salmon, sliced thin

celery leaves (optional)
salmon caviar (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Using a wide vegetable peeler, carefully peel long, thin slices of seedless cucumber.

Spread each slice of cucumber flat and top with lox slice(s), lining up bottom edges of cucumber and lox.

no-cook salmon appetizers-ready to roll.jpg

 

Starting at end that has both cucumber and lox, carefully roll up to form a rose.

no-cook salmon appetizers-in progress

 

Stand up and unfurl lox petals for a delicate rose-like formation.

Optionally, garnish with celery leaves and salmon caviar.

Voila!

no-cook salmon appetizers.jpg

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

A Bouquet of Cupcakes with Purpose

cupcake bouquet.png

Davida volunteered to host a Shavuos bake sale at our home next Wednesday night, May 16th, 2018  from 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM.  It comes right on the heels of Mother’s Day and right before the Jewish holiday of Shavuos.

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 8.28.45 PM

Both Mother’s Day and Shavuos are days associated with flowers, so Davida and I prepared a few cupcake bouquets for the bake sale.  All proceeds will benefit families in need and will satisfy both the food and decorative aspects of the upcoming holiday.  

Davida is the go-to person in the family for any baking or cooking tasks.  She is a master at baking and decorating and her baked goods are both delicious and beautiful.  This one is no exception.  It uses items that you would have on hand and is simple to assemble.

 

SUPPLIES

7 cupcakes

7 cups
stapler
green cocktail napkins
green tissue paper

glue stick
ribbon
container

DIRECTIONS

Frost seven cupcakes with icing to resemble flowers.

Find plastic or paper cups that will allow each cupcake to fit snugly inside.

Staple the seven cups together in the following way to easily form a bouquet base with places to hold the flower cupcakes:

  • Staple three cups in a row.
  • Staple another two cups to each other.
  • Staple the last two cups to each other.
  • Staple the three cups to one pair of two stapled cups.  Staple the other pair of two cups to the three cups on the other side.  This will form a base for your seven cupcakes with one cup in the middle and six cups all around.

cupcake bouquet-cups only

Fit the plastic cup base into a basket or bowl that fits snugly.  I found a farmer’s market basket that fit perfectly.

Cut the green tissue paper in half and wrap around the basket, gluing it into place.  Tie a ribbon around the basket and secure with glue, if necessary.

Cut each cocktail napkin into a large circle.  Tuck the napkin remnants between each cup to fill in gaps.

cupcake bouquet assembled with greenery ready

Wrap each cupcake in a napkin circle and fit each floral cupcake snugly into each plastic cup.

Voila!

cupcake bouquet

 

 

Basil Pesto Butter

basil butter flowers.png

Close to ten years ago, we shared a dairy lunch meal with our good friends, Neal and Marilyn, at their new home in Jerusalem.  They ordered food from Village Green, a well-known and delicious vegetarian restaurant on Jaffa Street right in the heart of Jerusalem.  They ordered a lavish assortment of salads, quiches, pastas and desserts.

It was a luncheon to remember.  The food was delicious, colorful and plentiful.  The camaraderie among the adults and the kids was remarkable.  But, there was one stand-out rockstar at that luncheon.

It was the herbed butter.

Village Green had packaged the food with small individual pats of herbed butter and those delicious flavorful butter treats transformed that afternoon.

So, ten years later, I decided that it was time to recreate that buttery sensation.   I simply added basil to the food processor and pulsed it into a rough pesto.  I then added softened butter and processed it until it was well combined.

Best of all, when I served the butter, it transported us back instantly to that afternoon in the heart of Israel.  Hopefully, this simple upgrade to your dairy meal will create pleasant memories for you, too….

 

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cleaned and pat dry (see kosher notes)
1 pound salted or unsalted butter

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Place basil leaves in the food processor.  Using the s-blade, pulse until roughly ground.  Cut butter into small cubes and add to food processor.  Pulse until smooth and well-combined.

Alternatively,  chop basil.  Soften butter by using the time-defrost mode on the microwave.  Defrost in 30 second intervals until softened but not melted. Combine chopped basil and softened butter until well-combined

Place pesto butter onto parchment paper and roll.  Twist ends of parchment roll.  Refrigerate until firm.

basil butter log.png

Cut into thin slices before serving.

basil butter log cut into pieces.jpg

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore herbs require 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 fresh herbs.

TIP

For an additional wow, place basil butter in individual molds or interesting ice cube trays.  Freeze until it is easy to pop out into individual decorative pats of butter.

basil butter flowers

Refrigerate or freeze leftovers and use as starter for dairy soups and omelets or as  a delicious accompaniment to roasted or steamed vegetables and fish.

Hoop Floral Arrangements

magnolia hoop arrangement.jpg

I am intrigued by framed arrangements.  I love the contrast of a rigid framed shape against the natural beauty of foliage and flowers.  The frame provides boundary and format to the creativity and unique beauty of G-d’s world

Last year, I attended a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem and the simple floral arrangements mesmerized me.  The arrangements  incorporated circular hoops as the backdrop for tropical flowers.  I was intrigued by these arrangements and just couldn’t take my eyes off them.  There was something about the way the circular hoop framed the arrangement and the way the lush tropical foliage and orchids contrasted with the simplicity of the circular shape.  My relatives caught me staring and  quickly realized that they would be seeing  more of this type of arrangement on  my blog.

hoop floral arrangement

I spent some time thinking about how I could achieve that look on a budget and with flowers from my garden.  I loved the idea of the circular framing.  I was determined to use the hoop as a frame for a sparse arrangement that would allow one to see right through the arrangement.

For our Purim seuda (feast), I created these arrangements using the just budding branches of our Magnolia trees in our backyard.  Back in late February-early March, the buds were fuzzy, kind of like pussy willow buds but with meandering branches that were so interesting in their unique shapes.

magnolia tree in february.jpg

I contrasted rose-gold painted hoops with these branches and the effect was breathtaking and unique.  I mounted the hoops onto cans spray-painted in the same metallic color as the hoops.   They were conversation starters, especially because they incorporated elements from the winter-beleaguered trees in my backyard.  And, they signaled that spring really would arrive this year.

shabbos table through copper hoop arrangement

Almost two months later, the branches are still gorgeous and fresh with the fuzzy, though slightly withered blossoms still attached.   I found an old globe stand and I fitted one of the metallic hoop arrangements into the semicircular base of the globe stand and have been enjoying the floral arrangement in my front hall.

Until, last week.

Just a few days ago, the Magnolia tree fuzzies metamorphosed into their trademark showy pink blossoms.

magnolia tree.jpg

And, I just couldn’t resist updating and upgrading the hoop arrangements.

And this old-new arrangement just took my breath away.  Not because of the rose-gold hoops.  Or, the meandering branches.  Or the fuzzy blossom beginnings.  Or, even the spectacular magnolia blossoms.

magnolia hoop arrangement 2

It is because of the symbolism.  The round world surrounding the flowing beauty of nature, marching to the same rhythm and yet, ever changing.  It is the miracle in the world.  And in nature.  And in creativity.  And, mostly in the things we just take for granted.

 

SUPPLIES

pruning shears

small 16-24″ hula hoop

metallic spray paint

glue gun with glue sticks

heavy brick or can for base

INSTRUCTIONS

Using pruning shears, cut interesting branches, with or without blossoms, that will fit inside the hoop.   Peel any stickers or coating off of the small 16-24″ hula hoop. Spray the hoop and the base carefully with metallic spray paint.  Using a glue gun with glue sticks, carefully secure branches or flowers to the insides of the hula hoop, securing them in a few spots on the hoop.  Using the glue gun with glue sticks,  secure the hoop to the weighted base.

Voila!

shabbos table through copper hoop arrangement

Challah Braiding Hack: It Really Works

This week, a challah braiding hack by Seth Brandes took the challah-baking public by storm.  This hack was shared with me by many of my Whatsapp groups.  It seems that Seth shared this terrific shortcut on his Facebook account and it went viral.  He showed that simply slicing a lump of challah dough on the diagonal with a dough scraper in both directions can produce a beautiful challah loaf in minimal time with very little effort.  After all, the time-honored challah braiding takes time and effort and Seth brought challah-braiding into 2018.

My friends and family challenged me to check out this hack and see if it really is as simple as Seth claimed and if it really produces the type of challah wow that challah bakers want.

And, it does.  The initial result looks quilted rather than braided.

challah hack dough.jpg

But, as you can see, the final baked result looks great.  And it really saves braiding time and effort.

challah hack final result

Thanks, Seth!

 

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

 

 

Quince Blossom Arrangement: Admiring the Outdoors Inside

quince blossom arrangement

I love arrangements that force the observer to admire the delicacy and individual nature of  each blossom.  After all, this blog began with floating roses displayed in a grid-like formation for all to admire.  Outdoors, in its native state, oftentimes, the beauty of each flower is lost in the majesty of  so many blossoms admired as one.

Springtime is the perfect time to appreciate the uniqueness of each blossom indoors as well as outdoors.  We have a quince tree in our backyard and it blossoms at different points in the winter and spring each year.  There have been years that the quince tree begins blossoming in January or February after a short spell of warmer weather, only to be rudely reminded that spring has not yet sprung.  Most years, our quince tree dazzles us with its array of pinkish reddish flowers for Purim.  This year, our favorite tree  has just began to blossom now, weeks after Pesach (Passover).

quince tree

There are so many flowering trees to admire now and by bringing some branches inside, you will have the opportunity to more closely enjoy and appreciate each individual blossom and the contrast between branch and blossom.  Cherry blossoms and forsythia bushes are perfect for this type of arrangement.  My suggestion is to carefully hose down the branches before bringing them in just to make sure that you’re not bringing in any insects or larvae along with the branches.

When cutting branches, it is best to leave enough of a length of branch to fit on the bottom of the vase.  If that is not possible, just cut away at the lower part of the branch and remove enough twigs so that your branch will stay upright in the vase.  Try to choose an assortment of branches that are straight on top and that twist in all directions at the top.  This will allow for enough spread in the arrangement above the top of the vase.  Make sure to use a vase that is sturdy enough for the weight and breadth of your branches.  Enjoy the spring outdoor branches inside your home.

Voila!

quince blossom arrangement

Tzitzis Plates for Yehuda

tzitzis plates

Yehuda a.k.a Ju-Ju just turned three!

Yehuda was born on Shabbos Hagadol (Shabbos before Pesach) three years ago and arrived several weeks early to the great surprise of us all.  For me, his arrival was especially eventful and complicated.

I had already arrived in Israel and had just finished preparing everything for Pesach when Kaitlyn called to tell me the exciting news of her baby boy’s early arrival into the world.

It was 3 AM and I had just fallen asleep after a full night of cleaning and Pesach preparations.

“Are you aware that it is in middle of the night here in Israel?, ” I asked Kaitlyn that night.

“Yep” responded Kaitlyn.

“Oh!”  I exclaimed and sat up quickly in my bed.  “Did you have a baby?”

“Yep” responded Kaitlyn.

I sat up a bit straighter in my bed.   “Did you have a baby boy?”

“Yep” responded Kaitlyn.  And, she added, “And I guess you’ll be missing the bris!”

“Never challenge your mother!, ” I retorted and immediately began making arrangements to return to the United States to meet my first grandson.

That was three years ago and it has been my children’s proof that my mantra of “you cannot be too organized” has some exceptions to the rule.  They claim that if I had only started my Pesach preparations a bit later, I would have saved myself a whole lot of work.

They may be right, but it has made for some great memories!

Now, Yehuda has turned three, is finally toilet trained and has begun wearing a kippa and tzitzis.  To celebrate his third birthday, I designed these tzitzis plates for our small family celebration.

 

SUPPLIES

white square plates
scissors
white twine
black electrical tape

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut a v-shape out of the top of each plate.  Tape parallel lengths of black electrical tape to form black stripes on each white plate.  Cut several lengths of white twine and tape to the back of each plate.  Voila!

Broccoli Encrusted Baked Chicken Cutlets: A Basic Lesson in Sharing

broccoli encrusted chicken cutlets.jpg

I am on a forever quest to produce great meals with minimal effort.  In that endeavor, I have found many shortcuts.  One of my favorites is to prepare one starter and use it in multiple recipes and in different ways.  I convince myself that it is just another form of sharing, true collaboration between recipes.   I vehemently deny that it has anything to do with laziness.

On the most basic level, I use this sharing shortcut for sauteed onions and/or garlic.  Sauteed vegetables add an important depth of flavor to most recipes but can be time-consuming.  Therefore, I saute one large batch and then split the sauteed batch between the soup, side dishes and main dish within the same menu.   Any leftover sauteed vegetables are then moved to a zipper bag and placed in the freezer for future sharing.

This recipe is the next step in batter-sharing.  This recipe began as the batter for my Broccoli Kugel.  I was planning to prepare Baked Chicken Cutlets later on in the day.  While I was pulsing the Broccoli Kugel batter in my food processor, I thought, “why not use this batter to coat the baked chicken cutlets?”  After all, the batter incorporated so many of the ingredients necessary for moist baked chicken.  And, the addition of broccoli would add a moist barrier to the chicken while adding a new color and flavor profile!

And, so I applied the batter-sharing concept to my broccoli batter.  In a moment of boldness, I split off  some of the kugel batter for the coating of these chicken cutlets.

Wow!  Sharing can be daring, and oh, so delicious!

SUPPLIES
food processor
parchment paper

INGREDIENTS
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded or cut thin
1 cup cooked or thawed frozen broccoli (see kosher notes)
1 sauteed onion or 1/4 cup French Fried Onions
1 egg, beaten or 1/2 cup of your favorite dressing
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
Spicy Mayo (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

Pulse French Fried Onions soft broccoli, egg, salt and pepper.

Coat the thin chicken breasts in broccoli mixture.

Place chicken on parchment on prepared baking sheet.  Optionally, drizzle with Spicy Mayo

Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

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.

Enjoy!

 

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

No-Strain Lemon Curd

pesach lemon curd ingredients

I love citrus!

I love lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarines, oranges, pomelos and just about every citrus fruit that I can get my hands on.

Even when choosing a synthetic flavor, I opt for the citrus flavors. When I choose a dish detergent, air freshener, floor cleaner or gummy worm, I almost always opt for the citrus ones. There is something about the punch of the flavor, the smell of the zest and the tiny sacs of juiciness packed into a citrus fruit that is oh, so tantalizing.

And, Pesach (Passover) just goes with citrus.

We try to spend part of Pesach in the Galil (Galilee of Israel) and the fragrance of the citrus blossoms perfumes the air during this season.  The spring air with the sweet smell of citrus blossoms is Pesach’s gift to Israel.  And, in Israel, citrus fruits are called פרי הדר (literally glorious fruits), a real validation of my passion for citrus.

This Pesach, I was determined to prepare a simple and delicious lemon curd.  It uses simple ingredients and even calls for egg yolks, which abound on Pesach when egg whites seem to be on the list of so many Pesach baking recipes.  This recipe can be eaten on its own, spread on Matzo or fruit or can be combined with other ingredients to create mousses and sorbets.

I like the curd not too sweet and quite tart but you can easily adjust the amount of juice and honey to make the curd more or less sweet or lemony.  You can use any type of lemon, but I find that the Meyer lemons are in season now and are extra juicy.  This recipe can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for several days.

 

 

 

SUPPLIES

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
3-4 Meyer lemons or 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

 

DIRECTIONS

Soften margarine in the microwave in ten-second increments, just until the margarine is soft to the touch but not runny.

In food processor fitted with the s-blade or in a blender, pulse margarine, honey, eggs and egg yolks until blended.  Using lemon squeezer, squeeze lemons and then add the lemon juice slowly into the blended mixture while the food processor / blender is running  The mixture may look curdled around the edges.  Taste the curd and add honey, if necessary and reblend.

pesach lemon curd in food processor

Pour the lemon curd into a pan and slowly cook over a medium flame, stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes smooth, but is not boiling.  Reduce the heat a bit and continue stirring until the lemon curd coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 10-15 minutes.

To store, pour the curd into a glass jar. To keep the curd from developing a skin, touch plastic wrap to the surface of the lemon curd.  Refrigerate until firm.

 

Passover Red Wine Chicken Marsala

 

pesach chicken marsala.JPG

This perfect for Pesach (Passover) recipe stars a red wine sauce and potato flour dredging for the chicken.   Although Marsala wine and flour are typically used in this recipe, I have adjusted the recipe to use red wine and Pesach gluten-free ingredients that pair so well with the flavors and themes of the Pesach seder experience.

Traditionally, we do not eat roasted meats at the seder, since the Karban Pesach (Passover sacrifice offering) was a roasted meat that was eaten at the time of the Holy Temple.  Since we no longer have the Holy Temple, it is customary not to eat roasted meat  on the evening of the seder.  This recipe is perfect for the seder.

We have a tradition of drinking four cups of wine at our Pesach (Passover) Seder.  After all, the majestic Seder venue commemorates our miraculous exodus from Egypt and the transformation of the Jewish nation from slavery to freedom.  What better drink than wine to celebrate freedom on a night replete with regal traditions?

We make a separate blessing on each of the four cups of wine at different parts of the seder.    The first cup of wine fills the role of kiddush (wine benediction) to sanctify the holiday of Pesach.   The second cup is associated with the lengthy telling of the story of the Exodus.  The third cup is associated with the Birkas Hamazon (Grace after Meals) and the fourth cup of wine is associated with the Hallel (songs of praise) that we sing toward the end of the seder.

Each of the four cups of wine symbolize one of the national exiles experienced by the Jewish nation and relate to one of the four expressions of redemption by G-d in the Exodus.

והוצאתי V’ho-tzaisi (and He took us out)
This expression of redemption symbolizes the Babylonian exile.

והצלתי  V’he-tzalti (and He saved us)
This expression of redemption symbolizes our oppression by Persia (further commemorated by Purim)

וגָּאלתי  V’ga-alti (and He redeemed us) This expression of redemption symbolizes our oppression by the Greeks (further commemorated by Chanukah)

ולקחתי  V’la-kachti (and He took us) This expression of redemption symbolizes the Roman exile.

This recipe tastes as good as the orginal and will wow your seder guests.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded thin
1/3 cup potato starch
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 packages mushrooms, sliced or 2 large cans mushrooms, drained
Juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup pareve milk (optional)

parsley (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Place 1/3 cup of potato starch in a pie dish or a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Coat each piece of chicken with potato starch mixture.

Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the coated chicken. Cook each piece of coated chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Work in batches, if necessary, making sure not to crowd the pan.

Slice mushrooms and cook for a few minutes in same pan, until mushrooms are soft and fragrant.

Add the wine and lemon juice, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon by stirring in any brown bits left over from the cooking of the coated chicken.   Cook until the mushroom sauce is reduced to half.

Lower the heat to medium and add the pareve milk.  With a wooden spoon, stir well until the sauce is well-combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the sauce until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until chicken is fragrant, soft, succulent and cooked through.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.  Optionally, garnish with chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

 

pesach chicken marsala on a plate

 

Shabbos Table Tip: Napkins That Stand for Kiddush

standing napkins in table setting

A simple way to change up your Shabbos table setting is to play with the napkins.  For this Shabbos, I used a simple ivory, clear glass and silver color palate.  I folded the cloth napkins into fourths and then folded them accordion style.  I then stood them up in sturdy napkin rings.

napkins standing

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

Pesach Onion Kugel

pesach onion kugel

I absolutely love a challenge!  In a comment on my Simply Amazing Onion Kugel, Pearl asked about adjusting this simple and delicious recipe to Pesach (Passover) cooking.  I worked on making this recipe suitable for Pesach and my family contends that this recipe is even better than the original.

I agree.

Our custom on Pesach is not to bruck (use matzo products with liquid), so it was not possible to merely substitute soaked matzo for the soaked bread in the original recipe.  I played with the recipe until I came up with this Pesach variation.

We all licked our plates clean.  It is a winner and it will be on our seder menu this year.

Have a Chag Kasher V’Samaech (Happy and Kosher Passover)!

SUPPLIES

food processor
pyrex pie plate

 

INGREDIENTS

4-5 onions

3 eggs
2/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup seltzer
1 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Coat a pyrex pie plate lightly with oil and place in oven.

While the oil is heating up, cut the onions into large chunks. Using the metal s-blade of the food processor, pulse the onions until they are shredded but not liquidy.  Add eggs, oil, seltzer,  salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to combine.

Carefully remove the sizzling pyrex pie plate from the oven. Pour the mixture directly from the food processor bowl into the pyrex pie plate and bake uncovered for one hour and ten minutes. When done, the onion kugel should be caramelized on top and bottom and soft and creamy on the inside.

 

TIPS

Because sulphuric gas released from the onion during cutting reacts with tear ducts, eyes feel irritated and release tears when cutting onions.  Heating the onion before cutting  breaks apart the enzymes that emit sulphuric gas to reduce and/or eliminate the tears.   The easiest way to heat the onions for this kugel is to microwave them on high for several minutes  in 30 second increments.  For best results, cool the microwaved onions before cutting into chunks.

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

Lemon Poppy Dressing

lemon poppy dressing

Salad dressings are basically comprised of the same three elements: oil, acid and flavor.  Some use olive oil for a distinctive oil taste.  Others use mayonnaise for  a creamy texture.  There are dressings that use citrus for its acid component and others that use wine or balsamic vinegar for its characteristic acidic kick.

This dressing adds another dimension to these elements that makes it delicious and oh, so memorable.  Poppy seeds add color to this dressing, but more importantly, they add a pop-in-your-mouth texture that is unforgettable.

I prepared this lemon poppy dressing last week for the salad bar at our Purim seuda.  I have used it to add flavor and pizzazz to so much else since.  I have drizzled some on grilled chicken, salads and baked salmon.

It is simple.  It is delicious.  It is beautiful.  And, it is so versatile.

Enjoy!

SUPPLIES

Cuisinart food processor

set of 16 oz wide-mouth squirt bottles

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup lemon juice or juice of 4 lemons
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mayonaaise
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/2 cup oil

DIRECTIONS

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

 

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

Simple Cranberry Sorbet

cranberry sorbet

I’ll share a secret with you.

My Purim seuda (feast) menu is designed around the chametz (leavened products) that I must use up before Pesach (Passover).

This year, I found myself with lots of frozen challah, hence the stuffed chicken breasts and meatballs.  I found that I had three bags of fine egg noodles, and thus yerushalmi kugel was added to the menu. I found myself with way too many boxes of brownie mix, even after giving so many boxes away to the fastest respondents on our Cousins WhatsApp chat.  I created stunning pecan truffle cookies and made delicious Strawberry and Brownie Mini Trifles to use up the remaining boxes of brownie mix.

As I was sorting through the freezer, I found a few bags of frozen cranberries.  According to halacha (Jewish law),  cranberries are not chametz.  Therefore, they did not need to be consumed or discarded before Pesach, but after doing the math, I realized that they probably were already several months old.  After all, I usually buy fresh cranberries around Thanksgiving and then wash and freeze them in late November or early December.

I set a handful of cranberries aside to prepare Frosted Sugar-Coated Cranberries to be used as a garnish, but decided to prepare cranberry sorbet with the rest of the frozen cranberries.  I remember seeing a Cranberry Ice recipe posted by one of my favorite kosher bloggers, CookingfortheTimeChallenged and I used that as my inspiration for this recipe.

This recipe uses sweet soda or juice as the liquid base.  I found some flat soda left over from a Sheva Brochos that I recently hosted.  This is the perfect recipe to use up that leftover grape juice, orange juice or flat soda.

I love the sweet and savory flavor combination.  I garnished these ices with chives for a surprising bite, but other herbs like mint or basil may be blended right in for that stunning palate sensation.

INGREDIENTS

one can cranberry sauce, whole or jellied
1 cup soda or juice
1 bag frozen berries or 2 cups frozen grapes

herb garnish, such as basil, mint or chives (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade of the food processor, puree cranberry sauce, berries and liquid.

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 mint leaves and Frosted Sugar-Coated Cranberries

SUBSTITUTIONS

Any canned fruit may be substituted for the canned cranberry sauce.

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

Blend your choice of fresh herbs like mint, basil or chives for that unusual sweet and savory flavor sensation.

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.

Simplest Mushroom Barley Soup

mushroom barley soup.png

I have been thinking about the menu for my upcoming Purim seuda (feast).  Admittedly, I check my pantry for chometz (leavened products unsuitable for Passover) before Purim and many of my seuda recipes are designed to use those products.   It helps me use up those products that I will need to discard, donate or finish before Pesach (Passover).

One of those chometz products is barley.  I use it in the cholent, but not for much else.  And, I had two bags in my pantry, much more than I could use in the next few weeks.  So,  barley came out of my pantry and created this delicious and oh, so simple mushroom-barley soup.

This crockpot soup uses a few simple wholesome ingredients  tossed right into the crockpot.  There is  no sauteing in advance.  Just put it up in the morning and come home to a delicious, hearty and flavorful soup in the evening.  The barley creates a starchy texture that contrasts so well with the smooth earthiness of the mushrooms.  The onions and celery round out the soup so perfectly.

And, you will have less barley to contend with before Pesach.

INGREDIENTS
2 packages mushrooms, sliced (try baby bella)
6 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
3/4 cup barley
1 tablespoon salt
dash of pepper
water

SUPPLIES
6 quart crockpot

DIRECTIONS
Toss mushrooms, celery, onion barley, salt and pepper into the crockpot and stir. Fill crockpot two-thirds to the top with water. Cook on high from morning to evening, at least six hours.

SHORTCUTS
For an even easier preparation, substitute 2 large cans mushrooms for the fresh mushrooms.

TIPS

For a deeper flavor, substitute vegetable or chicken stock for some of the water.

This soup freezes extremely well. Cool soup and decant into freezer-safe containers or freezer-type zipper bags. Just defrost and reheat. Add fresh herbs and water if necessary to freshen it up.

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

Shabbos Table: Mix It Up!

This Shabbos, Avigail and Judah will be visiting unexpectedly as Kaitlyn has the flu.  We always love these type of surprises and this is the perfect opportunity to blend disposable and real dishes on the Shabbos table.   Judah still looks forward to his two forks on Shabbos and he will have two spoons, too.  Just to keep Avigail happy, we will skip the knives for the kids.

As you can see, I took the “mixing it up” concept to a whole new level.  Rose gold (Walmart!) disposable dishes blend with white table accents.  An embroidered vintage tablecloth blends with white and rose gold paper napkins.  A contemporary hammered copper-tone ice bucket blends with an antique silver creamer.

Shabbat Shalom!

shabbos table- mix it up.jpg

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!

Shabbos Table Tip: When Desperate Times Call for Disposable-Mix it Up!

Last Friday night, we hosted an oneg (lit. delight, Shabbos get-together) at our home for Davida’s friends from her seminary alma-mater,  Midreshset Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY).  Logistically, this means that we enjoyed our own Shabbos dinner meal before and during inviting dozens of MMY-ers into our home for a night of learning, food and Shabbos delight.  This is one of those desperate times that calls for disposable dishes.

And, if we must use disposable dishes on Shabbos, we will rock it!  It is not often that I succumb to using disposable dishes, especially on Shabbos.  So, when I do, I try to mix the disposables with regular cutlery and glassware and add a non-disposable tablecloth, napkins and napkin rings to the table settings.

Shabbat Shalom!

shabbos table cwith disposables 1.jpg

 

No-Chop No-Fuss Spinach Split Pea Soup

split pea spinach soup

On these wintry days, there is nothing like a hot bowl of soup.

This soup takes the bowl! It uses a few simple wholesome ingredients with no chopping and no mess.  Just take a few minutes to toss all the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and come home to a finished delicious soup in the evening.  The pot does all the work, no dicing. no sauteing, no prep mess.

INGREDIENTS
one 16 ounce bag (2 cups) of yellow split peas
one bag of fresh or frozen baby spinach (see kosher notes)
one tablespoon salt
dash of pepper
water

SUPPLIES

6 quart crockpot

 

DIRECTIONS
Fill crockpot two-thirds to the top with water. Toss split peas, spinach, salt and pepper into the crockpot and stir. Cook on high from morning to evening, at least six hours.

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 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 altogether. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using leafy greens such as spinach.

TIPS
This soup freezes extremely well. Cool soup and decant into freezer-safe containers or freezer-type zipper bags. Just defrost and reheat. Add fresh herbs and water if necessary to freshen it up.

 

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

Streuseled Cranberry Pie

This recipe gets an A for versatility and simplicity.  It uses simple ingredients and can be used as a side dish or as a dessert.  It can be served cold, room temperature or hot.  It can be a delicious accompaniment to grilled chicken and can be served as a side dish right in its pie plate.  Or, it can be scooped out onto plates or ramekins and served with a scoop of ice cream.

The original recipe made its rounds when I was first married and living in Pittsburgh.  I recall that it used margarine, canned pineapple and had loads of sugar.  I have adapted it to eliminate the margarine, use some fresh fruit and I have reduced the amount of sugar in the streusel topping.  It is now better than ever!

INGREDIENTS
1 can cranberry sauce, whole or jellied variety
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit, diced

1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
6-8 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)

cranberry streusel

DIRECTIONS
Decant cranberry sauce into Pyrex pie plate and mash with a fork or masher until flat, covering the entire bottom of the pie plate. Add fresh/frozen cranberries and fruit and mix slightly with the canned cranberry.

In a bowl or in a food processor with the s-blade attached, combine oatmeal, sugar, oil, cinnamon, and ginger.  Sprinkle on top of the cranberry mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Streusel should be golden brown on top when done.

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.

Shabbos Table Tip: A Creamer to Distribute Kiddush Wine

On Friday night and Shabbos morning, our  Shabbos meals begin with the recitation of Kiddush (blessing over wine) by the patriarch of the family.  The word Kiddush actually means holiness as we recall G-d’s creation of the world and His dedication of the Shabbos as a day of rest and holiness.   We designate a special cup for the Kiddush, typically a silver one.   At our Shabbos table, you will also see one or two silver creamers placed alongside the kiddush cup.

After the Kiddush is recited over the goblet of wine or grape juice, everyone at the table answers אָמֵן, Amen.  The kiddush wine is then silently passed to each person at the table as the one who made the kiddush drinks from the original goblet.  Typically, the wine is poured from the kiddush cup into small shot glasses or miniature kiddush cups and then passed around.  To simplify things (and require less washing and clean-up afterward), instead, we place a decorative creamer next to the silver wine goblet.  This shortcut was an elegant solution thought up by our friend, Michael Horn, to the challenge of passing the kiddush wine around the table quickly and easily with minimal spillage.

Just after reciting the kiddush, Don pours off some of the wine before drinking from the silver kiddush cup into the creamer.  The creamer is then passed around the table and each person pours a bit of wine into his/her glass.  When we have a houseful of guests, I place two creamers, one for each side of the table, in order to expedite passing the wine around the table.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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!

Pistachio Encrusted Cajun Tilapia

pistachio-encrusted tilapia-ready to cook

My two sisters-in-law, Yael and Chaya, share the same birthday.  Interestingly, it was the same birthday shared by my father-in-law a’H, too.  Last year, we went out for a woman’s-only dinner in celebration of the birthdays.   We enjoyed our time together so much that this year, in the ice and snow,  we once again trekked to a dairy restaurant in Brooklyn to celebrate the two birthdays.

My sisters-in-law ordered menu items that they knew and trusted: salmon, salad and Eggplant Parmesan.  Always looking for something new, I was entranced by the pistachio-encrusted salmon on the menu and was not disappointed when it was presented and devoured by me and my sisters-in-law.

So, I started thinking… Salmon is so flavorful and distinctive on its own.   Why don’t I try this encrusting technique on a blander fish like tilapia?  Tilapia is one of  those inexpensive fish ingredients that is always available at my local fish counter.  Its meaty flesh and mild taste make it suitable for kick-start cajun seasoning and nutty pistachio encrusting.

And so, for dinner the night after the birthday celebration, I prepared this dish.  And, both Don and Leah confirmed that it was blog-worthy.  Here it is!

INGREDIENTS
4 large tilapia filets
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

oil or cooking spray

HONEY DIJON SAUCE (optional)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES
food processor
pyrex pie plate

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place cajun seasoning on a plate or pyrex pie plate.  Blend egg with fork in a separate plate or pyrex pie plate.   Place chopped pistachios on a third plate or pyrex pie plate.

pistachio-encrusted tilapia-prep plates

Lightly coat both sides of tilapia with Cajun seasoning and then dip into egg, coating both sides. Finally, coat each tilapia fillet with chopped pistachios.

Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  If using foil, drizzle with a bit of oil or spray with cooking spray.  Place the encrusted tilapia fillets in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the dish.

pistachio-encrusted tilapia-ready to cook

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tilapia easily flakes with a fork.

In a food processor or with a whisk in a bowl, combine honey Dijon ingredients until smooth and creamy.

honey dijon sauce.jpg

Drizzle over fish before serving.

pistachio-encrusted tilapia-serving suggestion.jpg

Enjoy!

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

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