Freezing Days Ahead

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It seems kind of strange to be blogging soups when it’s still so warm outside – in the Northern hemisphere at least – but leave it to Costco and those massive crates of pumpkins to force a person to face the reality that freezing days are lurking literally right around the corner (which is why I sometimes carry pepper spray on me at this time of year). I may have mentioned this before, but we are not ‘Soup on Shabbos’ people. We are ‘Soup-During-The-Week’ people. I 100% get that, of a Friday night, soup is a glorious and delicious tradition in many Jewish homes along with the rest of the Shabbos table fare, and perhaps it’s because of my over-the-top-chronic Jewishmotheritis that I always make 25x the amount of food we actually need and so an extra course of soup would just seem very superfluous at our place.  In any case, we really like to sit down to a bowl of soup with garlic bread or crunchy buttered ciabatta during the week. Here are two of my favorite (easiest, tastiest and healthiest) go-to soup recipes, plus the Lemon Dill Tuna Patties that I’ve been making for years because they are the easiest kid/family friendly fish-dish item to make in a huge batch and freeze as needed on Shabbos morning a couple of hours ahead of the meal.

Butternut, Lentil and Tomato Soup

I grew up eating this soup, thanks to my amazing Mum who used to make this all this time (and probably still does!)

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  • 1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled, and chopped into large cubes
  • 1 cup of Red Lentils, rinsed
  • 1 Onion
  • drizzle of Oil – Olive is best
  • 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz can Tomato paste
  • Salt
  • (optional: tsp Cumin, Paprika)

Dice and saute the Onion in Oil in a large pot until soft but not brown. Add Sait, plus optional Cumin and Paprika. Add remaining ingredients and fill with water to the top of the Butternut pieces. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low and simmer for 1.5 – 2 hrs. Turn off heat until soup is no longer boiling hot. Blend with an immersion blender. Serve immediately, refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze in smaller batches.

Zucchini Soup

(I forgot to take a picture last time I made it – will add one in next time!)

  • 1 Onion
  • 4-5 medium Zucchinis
  • Dried Dill
  • 2-3 ts Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil

Peel and dice the Onion and saute in Olive Oil at the bottom of a medium-sized pot until soft but not brown. Rinse Zucchinis. Cut off ends. Cut into chunks and throw into the pot. Sprinkle liberally with Dried Dill. Add about 1/2 tsp Black Pepper and 2-3 tsp Salt. Fill the pot about 1/2-2/3 with water. Bring to a boil then simmer until Zucchinis are soft, or longer to develop flavor. (If the soups seems very watery at this stage, you can take out up to 4 cups of water. (You can always add it in at the end.) Blend with an immersion blender. (Add more salt as needed). Serve immediately, refrigerate 3-4 days or freeze for later.

Lemon and Dill Tuna Patties

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So… Lemon-Dill Tuna Patties – You can really use any dipping sauce you like with these. I threw together a quick Garlic-Dill Mayo (1/2 cup Mayo, 1 cube frozen Garlic (Dorot), 1 tsp Dried Dill) but my kids really like these with plain old BBQ sauce. I regularly serve these on Shabbos, and also often throw them frozen into my kids’ lunch boxes. (I guess they defrost by lunch time. Who knows actually?)

  • 4 lb can of Tuna in water
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2.5 cups Flour (Can also Oats or Matza Meal) + extra if mixture needs it)
  • 2 small Onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup chopped, raw Carrots (no need to peel)
  • 2 tblsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 1/2 tblsp Dried Dill
  • 8 oz can of Tomato Paste
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil for Frying

Drain and mash the Tuna in a food processor for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then return the food processor bowl to the base. Add remaining ingredients (minus the Oil) to food processor (no need to rinse it out) then add mixture to bowl of Tuna and mix together well. Add more flour or other binder if mixture needs added density. Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with 1/2 inch of Oil. Heat for 5-6 minutes on medium. Add round spoonfuls (tablespoon-sized) of mixture and fry on one side until light brown around the edges. Flip each one and continue frying until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Reduce heat to low. Add more oil and reheat between batches if necessary. Serve warm or freeze for later.

An Old Favorite – Ausraeli Potato Salad

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Here’s another short one. This is a potato salad that I do probably one in every 3 weeks. Again, not everyone loves it. You’re either a potato salad person or you are not. You’re also either a garlicky Israeli pickle person, or you are not. That being said, I really do love this potato salad (or – deep thought – do I just love the way my taste buds react when I’m eating said potato salad?) I call this my Ausraeli Potato salad because I grew up eating/making a version of it at home in Melbourne, and I believe I perfected it with the Israeli pickles once I moved to Israel. Enjoy.

Ausraeli Potato Salad

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  • 6-8 medium Potatoes, diced, boiled and cooled down (peeling is optional)
  • 4-6 large Israeli Pickles in Brine (+ save the brine for the end)
  • 5 Green/Spring Onions, green parts only, sliced, checked and chopped into small pieces
  • 1-2 tblsp of Dried Dill
  • 1 tspn Salt
  • dash of Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tblsp Yellow Mustard, depending on how much you like it

Mix together dry ingredients. Add the Mustard, Mayo, Salt, Pepper and Dill. Mix well. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of the Brine from the  Pickles. (Potatoes should be moist but not wet. Serve cold.

My Forever Chicken Salad using Tortilla Chip Baked Chicken Strips

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Tortilla Chip Baked Chicken Strips

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I’ve been serving the same Chicken Salad basically every Shabbos day for the past year or 2 (recipe below). The vegetable and dressing components rarely change. However, I do like to switch up the chicken every couple of weeks or so. Sometimes I’ll do fried, breaded strips – usually a variation of my mini-Spelt Schnitzels, sometimes strips sliced from grilled breasts, and from time to time I’ll just experiment and see what happens. I like to make a big batch of chicken every 3-4 weeks, and then divide into small baggies and freeze, defrost and slice up Shabbos morning and then quickly throw together the salad before lunch. This week I needed to cater to a couple of gluten-free guests, and since my grill is out of action at the moment, I was forced to scrounge through my pantry and figure out a new option for this week’s chicken salad. Lo and behold, I found the 40 pounds of Tortilla chips that we’d accidentally bought before Rosh Hashanah (long story, very funny) and there was my answer. These strips turned out to taste sensational, are so easy to make, and I know will check most of the boxes for so many people: baked, gluten-free, kid-friendly etc. They are definitely going to make for one amazing salad.

  • 2 lb Chicken breasts, cut into strips and tenderized (bashed)
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups crushed Tortilla chips (I do mine in my mini Ninja = fav kitchen gadget)
  • 1 tblsp Garlic Powder
  • 1-2 tspn Paprika, Onion Powder
  • 1 tspn Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • Canola Oil

Soak the Chicken strips in the Egg, then mix the dry ingredients together before dipping in the egg-soaked Chicken and laying flat in a baking tray. Brush each Chicken strip with the Oiil, then broil on high (convection broil if possible for no more than 5 minutes). Remove from oven, turn over each Chicken strip then brush with Oil again. Return to oven for another 5 minutes max. Serve with any good dipping sauce or slice strips smaller for a Chicken salad:

Tangy Chicken Salad

  • 1 lb Chicken strips (see above)
  • 1-2 heads Romaine Lettuce, washed, checked and shredded
  • 1-2 baby cucumbers, sliced into half moons or chopped Celery

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Mayonaise
  • 1 tblsp Mustard
  • 2 cubes Dorot Garlic or 2 crushed Garlic cubes
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tspn Salt
  • 1 dash black Pepper

Mix together dressing ingredients (can do in advance if necessary). Toss into Lettuce, Cucumber (Celery) and Chicken Strips.

Mini Apple Cinnamon Spelt Challahs for the Win

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Now that we made it to the other side, I can definitely say that Rosh Hashanah cooking was a huge success this year. These challah rolls were definitely one of the highlights, and although this is simply just a variation on my regular Spelt Challah recipes, I post as a reminder for next year how to sweeten and liven up my year-round   Shabbos table staple for the Tishrei festivities. I really like that they’re not cakey or too sweet and still work well with savory dips.

Mini Apple Cinnamon Spelt Challahs

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1 batch of Spelt Challah dough

4 Apples, peeled and diced

3 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 tblsp Cinnamon

Non-stick baking spray

Mix Sugar and Cinnamon together. Stir together with diced Apples. Break dough into golf ball sized pieces. Flatten and place a scoop of Apple mixture into the centre of each one. Shape back into a ball, hiding all the Apple inside the dough. Place dough into muffin pans. Rise each tray of unbaked rolls for another 10-15 mins. Bake on 350 C for approx. 20 mins per tray.

There’s More Than One Way to Cook a Beet

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Here are the rest of my Rosh Hashana 5776 (woohoo!) salads/sides. In my cooking/hosting experience I have found that there are only two opinions about beet (or beetroots if you’re from the Commonwealth). You either love them or you completely despise them. I LOVE THEM. And I will continue to serve them despite all the haters out there. Also, as the title suggests and many people are already aware, there is definitely more than one way to cook a beet. You can either scrub them clean then boil them in a pot. Or you can cut them into wedges, wrap them in foil and bake them. Or you can wrap them in foil then bake them whole (best to stab with fork first). Or you can cut them into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake  them uncovered. This time I baked them whole, and will be throwing them into salads and grainy sides throughout Shabbos and chag. Here are two ways to use them well, plus two other simanim salads.

Sweet Beet Wedges

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Cooked Beet(root) wedges or cubes

Dressing:

Equals parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Honey, White Vinegar and Soy Sauce plus a sprinkle of Salt and Pepper.

Mix together dressing ingredients and drizzle over Beets. I just ate a whole bowl of them. Enough said.

Baby Lettuce Salad with Roast Beet Wedges and Orange

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  • Baby Lettuce
  • Roast Beets
  • Fresh Orange Chunks (or Clementine/Mandarine wedges cut in half)
  • Peeled, chopped Cucumber
  • Toasted Pine Nuts

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tblsp Honey
  • 1 large splash of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove of crushed Garlic of 1 cube of Dorot Garlic

Toss together salad ingredients. Blend dressing. Pour over salad. Enjoy.

White Quinoa Salad with Dates, Chopped Cucumber and Toasted Pine Nuts

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  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa (1/2 cup raw)
  • 2 Dates, diced
  • 2 small Cucumbers (peeled and diced)
  • handful of toasted Pine Nuts

Dressing (same as above):

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tblsp Honey
  • 1 large splash of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove of crushed Garlic of 1 cube of Dorot Garlic

Mix together the dry ingredients. Blend/whisk/stir dressing together and toss with the salad. Serve cold. Or replace the Cucumber with chopped Celery and use as a filling for Stuffed Peppers or Zucchinis.

Baby Lettuce and Pomegranate Salad with Onion Vinaigrette

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  • Baby Lettuce
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Diced Cucumber
  • Toasted Pine Nuts or Sunflower Seeds

Dressing:

  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot or one small Onion
  • 1 tspn Salt
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar (Balsamic preferred but can use White)

Toss together salad ingredients. Blend dressing. Pour over salad. Enjoy.

 

Rosh Hashanah Dipping Times 3

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One of my all-time greatest hobbies during the pre-Rosh Hashanah cooking marathon session is taking the symbolic Jewish foods of the time of year and figuring out new ways to reinvent them. We definitely have our family classics that appear year after year at our Rosh Hashanah seder – sweet baked rubia (black-eyed peas), tzimmes (carrots) and leek latkes, not to mention the standard pomegranate seeds, dates, apples dipped in honey and no one’s actual favorite – the fish head. I, however, like many other Jewish balabustas obsessed with tapping into the food themes of the zman, also very much enjoy incorporating the simanim ingredients into the main part of the meal – be it by way of dips, salads, side dishes and meats. This week I’ve been working on simanim dips or salatim if you will. Here are three that I plan on serving this year:

Leek and Garlic Dip

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I know this dip might look like guac that’s been sitting out too long, but I swear it tastes incredible! My husband, who – full disclosure – is not the biggest veggie enthusiast, actually told me that this is the best dip he’s EVER had. Wow.

  • 8 medium Leeks, green parts only, soaked, checked and sliced into rings (found at Trader Joes)
  • 6 + 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 tspns Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • sprinkle of Salt and Pepper.

Saute  the Leeks and 6 cloves of chopped Garlic in the Olive Oil on medium until fairly soft, approx. 8 mins. Cool. Add the extra 2 Garlic Cloves, Lemon Juice and seasoning. Blend. Adjust to taste. Serve with Challah, chips or crackers.

Classic Carrot Dip

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This carrot dip takes minimal time to throw together, and is also packed with layers of flavor. Post-High Holidays, this one is definitely going to be making a reappearance on my Shabbos table throughout the year.

  • 4 cups chopped, cooked Carrots (approx 12 medium raw Carrots)
  • 3 cloves of fresh Garlic 3 cubes of Dorot Garlic
  • 3 tbsp of chopped Cilantro or 3 cubes of Dorot Cilantro
  • 1/3 cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 tbls Olive Oil
  • 1 tspn Cumin
  • 1 1/2 tspn Salt
  • sprinkle of Black Pepper

Blend all ingredients together. Adjust to taste. Serve with challah, chips or crackers.

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

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If you’re into making your own hummus, this is a great way to switch things up for Rosh Hashanah. The ease of this recipe cannot be overemphasized.

  • 2 cups cooked Black-Eyed Peas (1 cup uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tblsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 tblsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cubes Dorot Garlic (or 2 fresh Garlic Cloves)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • pinch of Black Pepper

Blend together all ingredients. Adjust to taste. Serve with challah, chips or crackers.

Eggplant, Tomato and Mushroom starters

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Since I started hosting Shabbos 7 years ago I’ve been a big proponent of putting out a range of dips and salads to compliment my Seeded Spelt Challah. With no time to wax poetic (it’s erev Rosh Hashanah!), here are 3 of my easy faves:

Eggplant, Tomato and Pickle Salad

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  • 2 large Eggplants
  • 3-4 large Dill Pickles (I use the garlicky Israeli kind) plus 1/2 cup of the brine from the can or jar
  • 1 6 oz can of Tomato Paste
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Canola Oil

Dice the Eggplants into large cubes, then pan fry or oven fry in canola oil until soft (approx. 15 – 20 mins). Cool. Dice the pickles then mix in with eggplant, tomato paste and brine. Season to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

tomatoes

  • 2 small boxes of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (or 5-6 Roma Tomatoes cut into wedges, seeds loosely removed)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed, or 3 Dorot Garlic cubes
  • Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, shredded, or 3 Dorot Basil cubes
  • Sprinkle of Salt/Pepper
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lay all ingredients in a 9 x 13 in. tray. Bake on 375 F for 20 mins then 280 F for approx. 3 hrs. Serve warm. Reheats well.

Balsamic Mushrooms

mushrooms

  • Button Mushrooms, peeled and quartered with tips sliced off
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil

Shallow sauté mushrooms in Olive Oil on medium-low until they turn light brown, approx. 8-10 mins. Drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar. Serve warm or cold.

Everybody Loves Quinoa!

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It’s been ages since I blogged a recipe, but I just got my copy of the incredible and brand new 100 Days of Real Food cookbook*, and so I’m back to being an obsessed foodie! I would also have to consider this blog more a ‘public service announcement’, since without fail every time I serve one of these quinoa salads, someone asks for the recipe. With the High Holidays coming up, and everybody looking for healthy recipes that can be made easily in bulk either last minute or in advance, these 2 quinoa salads definitely fit the bill.  Quinoa is so versatile, you can even spell it with a ‘k’ instead of a ‘qu.’ A few other advantages to these two repeat offenders on my Shabbos and Yom Tov tables : they can be presented either as fish course ‘salads’ or meat course ‘sides’; they last a good 3 to 4 days as leftovers; they’re a total protein for those of us healthy eaters and are sweet and satisfying (for those of us less healthy eaters. (Props to my old friend Aviva G for serving this first salad at my 7 brachos 7 years ago. I’ve been making it ever since!) So here goes:

White Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked White Quinoa (cook according to instructions and cool before adding other ingredients)
  • 3/4 cup peeled, diced Cucumber
  • 3/4 cup Craisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped Walnuts (for those who don’t use nuts on Rosh Hashana, sub for sunflower seeds or pine nuts, which are not actually nuts)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls Dried Dill
  • 1-2 cloves Crushed Garlic or 2 cubes of Dorot Garlic
  • 2 tbls Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • sprinkle of Salt and Pepper

Mix together the cooked quinoa, walnuts, craisins and diced cucumbers. Mix the dressing together separately (or when in a hurry, just pour and sprinkle dressing ingredients straight into the bowl). Mix well and serve!

Red Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked Red Quinoa (cook according to instructions and cool before adding other ingredients)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Green Onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped Dried California Apricots
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted Pine Nuts, Toasted Sunflower Seeds, or a mix of both

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 tbls Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 2-3 tbls Honey
  • sprinkle of Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients together.  Adjust to taste. Enjoy!

*Also check out https://www.facebook.com/100daysofrealfood 

My Basil Obsession

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I’ve managed to keep a fresh basil plant alive since bringing it home from the nursery almost 2 weeks ago – which basically makes me a farmer, in my opinion, anyway. My new vocation aside, however, this adorable new addition to my kitchen has meant that  – from bruschetta to sauces to eggs – my family and guests have been tasting basil in some form with almost every meal. This Basil and Tomato Pesto is a tasty alternative to traditional pestos, uses much less basil, and makes a great challah dip for Shabbos.  These tuna patties and easy, easy (cannot stress enough) salads are also perfect for a fresh first course… so with nothing left to add, enjoy!

Basil & Tomato Pesto

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Ingredients:

  • 15 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Pine Nuts
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 cup Fresh Basil
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • Sprinkle of Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lay Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and peeled Garlic Cloves in 1/4 in. deep Oil Olive and roast in pre-heated oven on 375 F for 15 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for half an hour. Blend together with remaining ingredients. Serve warm/hot. Also makes a tasty hot/cold pasta sauce.

Italian Tuna Patties

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Ingredients:

  • 5 x 5 oz cans Tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup Flour (I used Oat)
  • 6 oz can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Onion
  • 4-6 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Fresh Basil
  • sprinkle of Salt/Pepper
  • Oil for frying

Blend first 8 ingredients together. Let sit for 10 minutes. Shape into walnut-sized patties and fry in pre-heated oil on medium/medium high around 5 minutes on each side. Drain. Serve warm or cold. These freeze well.

Balsamic-Baked Peach and Arugula Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 5 oz bag of Baby Arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups Sliced Almonds
  • 2 Peaches or Nectarines
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil leaves (optional)
  • Salt/Pepper for Seasoning

Sprinkle Almonds onto a baking tray. Slice Peaches into wedges and place on a separate tray. Drizzle Peach wedges with Balsamic and Olive Oil and bake both components on 350 F for 12-15 mins. Cool. Toss with Arugula. Add finely chopped Basil (optional). Drizzle with extra Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, and season to taste.

Last Minute Cherry Tomato and Basil Salad

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Ingredients:

  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper

Slice Tomatoes. Mix with chopped Basil. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Season to taste.

Easy Raspberry and Apricot Spelt Muffins (Sugar-free and Dairy-free)

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We all love these…!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Spelt Flour (I use White Spelt)
  • 2 tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
  • 1 1/4 cups dairy-free Milk (I use Rice)
  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 1/2 cup Honey (prob ok to sub with Maple or Agave)
  • 1/2 cup Apricot Preserves
  • 1 1/2 cups Frozen Raspberries (according to the CRC, frozen raspberries can be used without certification)

Mix dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients in above order, mixing each ingredient in one at a time. Scoop into baking cups. Baking on 425 F for approx 18 mins. Makes about 17 muffins.