Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Caprese Wheatberry Salad with Basil Vinaigrette


This week was my daughter's annual birthday party where adults outnumber the kids significantly thereby requiring me to serve more than just pizza. Every year I spend lots of time coming up with interesting salads to make to serve to my guests who travel a few hours to get to the party. This year the salads were the biggest hit and this was one of them. This is my take on the classic Italian Caprese salad which is usually slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato and fresh basil leaves but with the heartiness of my favorite grain, the wheat berry. Here, the basil element is in the form of the vinaigrette and since I love basil so much I added lots of fresh basil to the salad as well. Dressing the wheat berries while they are warm is key to them absorbing the most flavor and if you can avoid devouring this salad right away, keep it in the fridge for a day because it tastes even better the next day, just re-season with a little salt and pepper and you are good to go. Enjoy!


3 cups wheat berries or farro
2 cups red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
8 oz or 1 cup baby mozzarella balls or whole mozzarella sliced into cubes (the Gad brand in Israel makes small pearl mozzarella balls
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Rinse the wheat berries with cold water and place in a pot. Fill the pot with triple the amount of water as there is wheat berries, salt the water as you would with pasta and bring to a boil. Cook the wheat berries for about 25-30 minutes (some brands need to cook longer, some shorter) until tender (wheat berries when fully cooked will still have a chewy texture) While they are cooking assemble the vinaigrette.  Drain the wheat berries and add 3/4 of the dressing to the wheat berries while they are still warm. Cool the wheat berries and add the tomatoes, mozzarella, the rest of the dressing and the chopped fresh basil.

Basil vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.






Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Roasted Asparagus, Mango and Avocado Salad

I'm BACKKKKK from the longest blogcation EVER!  A crazy heavy catering workload combined with traveling and then a few weeks of pure laziness led to a severe lack of culinary inspiration. But with lots of encouragement (read: hate mail) I am back in the saddle, at least for the time being. So, with that said, may I present this delicious and colorful summer salad. Tender roasted asparagus, sweet mango, creamy avocado, juicy summer tomatoes and crunchy red onions all in a light lime vinaigrette- it's refreshing, different and makes a great side dish to fish or chicken- add some seared fresh tuna to it and it's a meal in it of itself! Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds asparagus
2 tsp olive oil
1 large mango, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small red onion, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tough ends of the asparagus off and discard. Cut the remaining stalks into thirds and place on a sheet pan. Toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until the asparagus is crisp tender (it may take longer depending on how thick your asparagus spears are). Let the asparagus cool. In a bowl, combine the asparagus, mango, avocado, tomatoes and onion. Pour dressing over the salad and mix.


Dressing:
Zest of one lime
Juice of two limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar, silan or honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together until emulsified and pour over salad.





Monday, May 26, 2014

Shavuot Recipes 2014



Countdown to Shavuot! I love making menus for any occasion but Shavuot is especially exciting- I mean, any menu that practically begs for cheesecake is starting off on the right foot. Here are a whole bunch of great Gush Gourmet recipes to help you build your Shavuot menu!


Soups/Starters:
Salmon and Kale Chowder
Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Roasted Tomato Soup








Potato Leek Soup
Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Corn Chowder
Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Blooming Onion and Cheese Bread

Salads:
Ranch Dressing
Citrus Salad








Caprese Inspired Chopped Salad
Tortellini Salad








Baby Spinach Salad
Greek Salad with Lemony Garlic Dressing
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Broccoli and Halloumi Cheese
Fish:
Maple Sesame Salmon
Pesto Halibut with Roasted Tomatoes
Panko Parmesan Crusted Salmon








Mozzarella Crusted Stuffed Sole
Tuna Croquettes with Horseradish Sauce
Wasabi Ginger Salmon
Pan Fried Halibut with Lemon Cream Sauce
Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Pine nut Crusted Salmon
Halibut Piccata


Quiches and Tarts:
Cherry Cheese Knish

Rustic Salmon Tart
Zucchini Galette








Tomato Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche
Potato Leek "Soup" Quiche
French Onion Quiche
Swiss Chard and Leek Tart
Spanakopita Strudel


Pastas/Mains:
Savory Cheese and Onion Noodle Kugel

Baked Blintzes


Cheesy Cheddar Zucchini Bread

Eggplant Involtini
Not Your Grandmother's Tuna Noodle Casserole
Penne ala vodka
Asparagus and Rigatoni with Boursin Cream Sauce
Fettuccine Portabella








Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi








Cheese Latcakes
Broccoli and Cheese Stromboli
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Veggie Chili
Salmon Pasta Pesto
Salmon Papardelle with Lemon Cream sauce
Baked Eggplant Spaghetti
Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta
Pumpkin and Cream Cannaloni



Desserts:
Tropical Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Tiramisu






Strawberry Tiramisu
Strawberry Bread Pudding
Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake
Plum Bread
Sweet Cheese Babka







Cream Cheese Coffee Cake






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Baked Blintzes

If you love to eat blintzes but hate to make them then this is the recipe for you. I have such great memories of the goodies my grandmother used to send to us for Shavuot-fried cheese kreplach (holy cow those were amazing!) and her famous blintzes. I have made blintzes before (once making 250 of them for a catering job-never again!) but as delicious as they are, they are the epitome of a patchka. This recipe is the best of both worlds. No sitting over a frying pan making crepes and no rolling, but all the taste of blintzes. I adapted this recipe from an Ina Garten recipe and I was impressed by how easy it was, especially if you have a food processor or blender. I baked this in a pan that was bigger than a 9x13 so the filling was thinner than it should be but if you bake it in a 9x13 pan there will be a better filling to crepe ratio. A hit even with my 5 year old who begged to have it for breakfast for a week. Enjoy!


(adapted from Ina Garten)
For the "Crepe"-
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbl sour cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray or butter a 9x13 pan. Put all crepe ingredients into a food processor or blender. Pour half the batter into the pan and bake for 10 minutes until set. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

For the filling:
250 grams or 1 cup Farmer's Cheese (Here in Israel, I used one package of Tuv Taam Cheese)
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup cream cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tablespoon flour
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients for filling in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour over baked crepe and then carefully spoon the rest of the crepe mixture on top. Bake for about 35 minutes until the top is set.





Sunday, May 11, 2014

Savory Cheese and Caramelized Onion Noodle Kugel

It is countdown to Shavuot and I will enjoy testing and tasting every dairy recipe that I will make in anticipation of my favorite culinary holiday. You will definitely want to be adding this to your Shavuot menu this year-it's a take on the traditional sweet noodle kugel, you know, the one loaded with farmer's cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and sugar, one that I actually love and grew up with and still love to make. But this one is savory. And loaded with piles of caramelized onions. And 4 kind of cheese. And is just pure, rich, cheesy goodness. If there is one new recipe you try for Shavuot this year it should be this one! Enjoy!


4 onions, cut into a medium dice
3 Tablespoons butter
1 tsp sugar
400 gram wide noodles (14oz)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1 Tbl poppy seeds
5 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded yellow cheese (substitute Mozzarella in a pinch)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper



Preheat oven to 350. Boil your noodles in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the onions and season with a little salt and pepper and the sugar. Saute over medium heat for about 25 minutes until golden and caramelized. Add the onions to the noodles and then add the sour cream, cottage cheese, poppy seeds, eggs, cheddar, yellow cheese and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and pour the mixture into a greased pan. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until the kugel is golden and set to the touch.




Sunday, May 4, 2014

Falafel (Chickpea Fritters)

I was recently talking with my sister about Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and she commented how funny it is that in America they eat steak all year long and falafel on Yom Haatzmaut and in Israel we eat falafel all year long and steak only on Yom Haatzmaut. Well, this year I decided to channel my dual nationalities and have both. In a country where there is a falafel joint on practically every main street, and where your loyalty to your favorite falafel place is sacrosanct you might think it is a waste to toil to make your own. Well, truth be told, it is less of a toil then you think and there is a certain pride in perfecting something so culturally important. Now, everyone has their own opinions when it comes to what goes into your pita. My rule is that it is not a great falafel unless there are copious amounts of two things: fried eggplant and fresh tehini. Israeli salad, pickles, hummus, charif (chili pepper paste), cabbage salad, even gasp! sauerkraut (a favorite topping on falafel in America) are all fine and good but without the fried eggplant and tehini you will not win me over. And once you are heating up the oil to fry the falafel why not throw some eggplant in first anyway? One thing I always like to see when I bite into a falafel ball is green flecks. Those green flecks mean fresh herbs were used and the taste will reflect it. In the interest of time I took a shortcut and used canned chickpeas here though traditional falafel is made by just soaking overnight and not cooking chickpeas. Though they were a lot less work then I thought they would be and positively heavenly straight out of the fryer I won't be giving up on my favorite falafel place any time soon and I'll save this recipe for special occasions- there is just something about hobnobbing with the locals as everyone downs their falafels with fervor that is just irreplaceable at home. Enjoy!


2 cans (500 grams or 16oz per can) chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp sriracha or your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1 egg
juice of  one large lemon
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup flour
salt to taste
canola oil for frying

For serving: fried eggplant, pickles, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber, tahini, hummus.


Place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, sriracha, parsley, cilantro, egg and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse to combine. You want everything mostly chopped with no large chunks but you don't want to process it that much that it looks like hummus. Remove to a bowl and mix in the baking powder, flour and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep pan until about 360 degrees. Make rounded balls out of the chickpea mixture (a cookie scoop is great here) and gently drop into the oil. Fry until golden all around.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Curry Coconut Zucchini Soup

Spring is here! The weather is absolutely marvelous and lovely spring/summer vegetables and fruits are starting to show their faces. I cannot tell you how happy I was when I saw the first peach in the supermarket over Pesach and just this week I saw the first cherries for sale. I love this season! Spring is the season for lots of green veggies like artichokes, asparagus, peas etc and though zucchini is more a summer vegetable, this green soup makes me feel super springy. I was planning on doing a traditional chicken soup this Friday night but found such beautiful bright green zucchini (not the pale, flavorless, light green squash that is often sold here) that I had to buy it. A quick perusal through my blog will tell you that coconut and curry are one of my favorite combos and since this soup required only ingredients I had lying around I had to make it. Let me tell you, it's a winner and it is great at room temperature too if you are too hot for warm soup. Off to have another bowl- enjoy!

1 Tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
2 Tablespoons curry powder
4 large zucchini, sliced
2 medium potatoes, sliced
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp brown sugar or white sugar, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the onion, garlic and ginger for two minutes. Add the curry powder and saute a little more until fragrant. Add the zucchini, potatoes and stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk and sugar. Check for seasoning, re-seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.