Sunday, February 26, 2017

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

One of my all time favorite snack foods from the olden days when I lived in America has got to be rice pudding- and not just any rice pudding- Kozy Shack rice pudding- the absolute best, creamiest and most delicious pudding ever. Every summer when I would fly back to visit, I would make sure there were containers of this deliciousness waiting for me upon arrival. Creamy, vanilla-y, sweet but not too sweet and only enhanced by a hefty shake of good quality cinnamon, my mouth still waters at the thought. Well, exactly one year ago (happy healthaversary to us!) the hubs and I decided to start living healthier lives, exercising more, and cutting out sugar and refined carbs from our diet. I am happy to report that together we have lost a total of over 80 pounds and we feel great!! But I still sometimes miss my Kozy Shack. So to celebrate this milestone in our lives I made this tapioca pudding using coconut cream that comes so close to my rice pudding memories that I was in creamy pudding heaven. Best part? It is pareve, vegan, has no refined sugar,takes 15 minutes to come together, and is pretty healthy as dessert goes. I'm hooked! Serve topped with some fresh fruit (mango is traditional but strawberries are also great) and you have a beautiful and healthy dessert. Enjoy!

1 cup small tapioca pearls- the tapioca pearls I get do not require soaking- if yours do, let them sit in the coconut mixture for 15 minutes or as long as your package says before turning on the heat.
4 cups coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut)
4 cups water
1/2 a vanilla bean (alternatively you can use 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract added after the pudding is removed from the fire)
good pinch of a salt
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (plus more to taste)

Into a large sauce pan pour the coconut cream and water. Open and scrape the vanilla bean adding the bean and the scrapings to the coconut mixture. Add the salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and the tapioca pearls and bring the mixture up to a slow simmer. Let the mixture cook over medium heat mixing very often for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens and the pearls have swelled and are translucent. Taste to see if you want it sweeter in which case add in a little more maple syrup. Let cool completely and then place in the fridge. The mixture will thicken to full pudding texture once it is refrigerated for a couple of hours. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with fresh fruit.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pasta Fagioli

All winter I have been craving soups. If you know me, you would know this is weird, because I am not a soup person. I mean, I'll eat it if it's put in front of me, and I make it all the time, but I'll never order it in a restaurant and I certainly never yearn for a bowl. But ever since I started making my own vegetable, beef, and chicken stock, thus enriching the flavor of my soups by leaps and bounds, I've been hooked. In America, there is easy access to quality boxed stocks, here, however, all there is is soup mix, and so taking the time to make stock, for me, was about giving my family the healthiest base for soups, stews, and sauces. What is Pasta Fagioli you ask? This famous Italian soup seems awfully similar to Minestrone if you think about it- but where Minestrone is meant to have lots of vegetables, Pasta Fagioli is light on the veggies and heavy on the beans and pasta, a perfect hearty soup for winter time. In keeping with our recent lower carb and healthier lifestyle, I used rice and quinoa pasta which worked out great, but any pasta will do. And like most soups, the flavor of this soup increases and gets more delicious as it sits. We ate it for the better part of a week and couldn't get enough. Enjoy!

3 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
400 gram (14 ounces) can chopped tomato
1 570 gram can of 22x tomato paste (this is for Israeli users, In america use one small can of tomato paste)
3 liters (12 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup white beans, soaked overnight (This will yield approximately 21/2 cups of beans after soaking)
200 grams (7 ounces) of defrosted and drained frozen spinach (you can also use fresh),about 7 cubes of leaf spinach
2 cups of short pasta
salt and pepper

In a large pot heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, oregano, basil, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let it cook for a minute to cook the alcohol out. Add the tomato, tomato paste and stock. Mix well and then add the beans. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil and then let it simmer for about 2 hours until the beans are tender. You can let it simmer even longer, the longer it goes the better the deeper the flavor will be. Once it is done, remove the bay leaf and then  remove 2 cups of mixture and blend it with an immersion blender and then add it back to the soup. This will give the soup great body. Add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes. The pasta can be added directly into the soup where you can cook it another 7 minutes or so until the pasta is tender. I prefer to cook the pasta separately and add it to each bowl when I serve it so the pasta doesn't get bloated and soggy

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jeweled Fennel and Orange Salad

This is an appeal for the sake of my friend, the Fennel. I feel the need to glorify her (fennel look female, right?) because in my humble opinion she does not get enough attention from the home cook. Here in Israel, especially abundant in winter, you can find her under the name "shamir" where she sits neglected in the supermarket bin waiting for her time to shine. To add to her misery, she is usually tragically shorn of her pretty fronds. The fronds are the leaves of the fennel that resemble dill and taste like the bulb itself but a little more fragrant. I always get a kick out of the fronds which sit atop the bulb looking like it just came back from an Israeli hair salon (if you've been you know what I mean) or like Edward Scissor-hands got a little too close. Fennel to me tastes like a cross between black licorice and celery (ok,  I can understand a little how that description would keep you away) with a very mild taste and it is delightfully crunchy and refreshing. It is good raw, roasted or grilled and really adds great flavor to salads. Fennel and orange are a great match and in this simple and beautiful salad its flavor is highlighted by the citrus dressing and orange segments while pomegranate seeds add crunch, tartness, and of course beauty. Enjoy!

3 bulbs fennel, cleaned and sliced thin
1 large orange, segmented, reserve the juice
1/3 cup  pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries in a pinch a.k.a, the jewels
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

3 Tablespoons reserved orange juice (or use bottled 100% orange juice)
2 Tablespoons chardonnay vinegar (substitute with white wine vinegar if needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup, agave, or honey
salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the salad ingredients in a bowl or pretty platter, whisk the dressing, pour over the salad and serve.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower, Zuchinni, and Dill Soup

I had one too many latkes this Chanukah and now I am trying my hardest to get back on track so the hubby and I are doing another round of Whole30 to detox. If you aren't familiar with the Whole30 plan, its basically a detox plan where you pretty much cut out all carbs for 30 days.
Yikes! But we've done it before and we are committed to doing it again.
One of the hardest parts of eating healthy is how much prep it takes- there is no such thing as grabbing a sandwich, making a quick bowl of pasta etc- every meal requires lots of chopping, washing, and planning- so making a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and having it to help supplement meals is super helpful. My goal with this soup was to make it as flavorful as possible without using stock (my usual go to) which I didn't have around or soup mix (a big no-no)-just plain, old water. To that end, I tried to build flavor by roasting the cauliflower and zucchini first with cloves of garlic, using celery root instead of celery for creaminess and a more mellow and pronounced celery flavor, and lots of dill. The soup turned out better than I could have ever expected! Silky, smooth, with a pronounced cauliflower and dill flavor and undertones of roasted garlic that was just right. This soup was a huge hit and we have been licking our bowls every night- even my two year old devoured it! Best part about it is that it's full of vegetables with absolutely nothing that's bad for you. Success in a bowl! Enjoy!

1.6 kilo/ 3.5 pounds (around two medium heads) cauliflower, broken into florets
1.2 kilo/2.5 pounds (about two large) zucchini, cut into chunks
4 large cloves of garlic
6 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 medium celery root, peeled, and diced- in a pinch you can use two large stalks of celery sliced but I highly recommend using celery root.
1 medium starchy potato (that's a red potato in Israel, a Yukon in America), peeled and chunked
1 cup fresh chopped dill, divided
12 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375F. Place the cauliflower, zucchini, and garlic cloves on a sheet tray, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35-40 minutes or until the cauliflower and zucchini are nicely roasted, you want the cauliflower to have the crispy brown edges.
In a pot, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery root. Season with salt and pepper and saute well until the onion is translucent about 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Add in the roasted vegetables taking care to remove the skin from the garlic cloves first. Add the water, the potato, and 1/2 cup of the dill and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cook for about 35 minutes until the potato is soft and everything is starting to dissolve. Add the rest of the dill and blend it all with an immersion blender until smooth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Indian Latkes (Aloo Pakora) with Cilantro Coconut Chutney

I don't know about you but I get major food cravings- weirdly though, my food cravings go by international cuisines. For weeks I'll crave Mexican food and the cravings won't stop until I've had or made it a few times. Then will come Japanese and I find myself making sushi and Miso everything until the urge passes. Same for Thai, Israeli, Hungarian...and now, every since having some delicious Indian dishes a couple of weeks ago, I am constantly craving the pungent, spicy deliciousness that is Indian food. So, naturally, when I was trying to come up with another original latke idea, I immediately thought of these. Pakoras are Indian fritters, different vegetables (often potato, or Aloo) dipped in a chickpea batter that are fried until crispy and served with all sorts of relishes and chutneys and are usually served as one of the appetizers to a meal. Well, these certainly aren't your traditional latkes- but they have enough of the necessary components that I feel they are Chanukah-worthy: potatoes that are fried. Chickpea flour and rice flour are easy to find nowadays especially with the gluten-free craze and the combination of the two make a super crispy fritter. Lots of warm spices and a little chili for heat made these delicious and dunking them in the sweet, savory, and slightly tart cilantro coconut chutney makes the perfect bite. Enjoy!

2 potatoes, about 600 grams, peeled and shredded- you wan't to use the big shredder option on your box grater of food processor. This should yield about 2 1/2 cups of shredded potatoes. 
1 cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp fennel seeds (optional, but adds great flavor)
1 1/2 tsp salt
pinch of chili flakes
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon water
oil for frying - 2 cups should do it (don't worry, most of it does not get absorbed)

In a bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda and spices. Add in the water and whisk well. The mixture shouldn't be too thick (thinner than pancake batter) but not too thin. Add the potatoes and mix everything well so all the potatoes are coated. Heat oil in a frying pan and drop the mixture a heaping tablespoon full at a time into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan. Fry on each side for about a minute and a half until deep brown and crispy. Remove from oil and let drain on a paper towel. Serve with cilantro coconut chutney.

For the chutney: 
1 1/2 cups packed cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 heaping teaspoon crushed or finely chopped fresh ginger
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup coconut cream
2 tsp honey
salt to taste

Blend all in a blender until you get a smooth consistency. My blender was on the fritz so I used a food processor which did not blend it as smoothly together as it should be. The texture should be creamy and you shouldn't see individual pieces of cilantro.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance- A Review and Giveaway!

If you've ever been to my house you know that I have a little cookbook obsession. I collect them, and one of my favorite past times is to curl up on the couch with a whole bunch of them and browse, spending more time then I probably should analyzing each page. So as you can probably imagine, I was super excited to get The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz for review. It's a big- (coffee table book size big) book and one of the best things about it is that there is a big beautiful picture that accompanies each recipe. I don't know about you, but I cannot go through a cookbook without pictures- showing how each dish is presented and garnished helps a home cook imagine making it and serving it in his/her own home. The recipes are for the most part quick and easy with a good mix of recipes that work for every day and for Shabbat/Chagim.

My husband and I took upon ourselves to eat healthier almost a year ago, so we stay away from gluten, refined sugar and and keep our carb intake low- so I love how the nutritional information for all the recipes are provided at the end of the book and that none of the salad dressings call for sugar, rather unrefined sugars like honey or maple syrup. If you are gluten free, or have to cook for someone who is gluten free- this book is for you! This book has more gluten free recipes (and for the ones that aren't, the authors thoughtfully provide gluten free substitutions) than any other kosher cookbook that I've seen. Recipes like Almond Crusted Fish Sticks and Quinoa Shnitzel among many others. I've bookmarked the Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties, the Everything Kale Salad, the Stuffed Avoados, the Black Bean Tomato Soup, the Chili Lime Fish Fillets, the Red Wine Chicken and Potatoes...the list goes on and on!

In honor of Chanukah, I'm sharing some recipes from the book for Classic Potato Latkes with assorted toppings AND I'm giving away a copy! To enter, like The Gush Gourmet on Instagram and/or Facebook and comment here when you've done so! Giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S or Israel. Winner will be randomly chosen by Tuesday, December 20, 2016 so you can get your book in time for Chanukah!

Classic Potato Latkes with Assorted Toppings
Reprinted with Permission from the Authors.
pareve passover gluten-free latkes freeze well yields about 2 dozen
Tradition! You really can’t go wrong with classic potato latkes. I’ve added four unique toppings to serve alongside, each with its own flavor. Make a different topping every night and delight your guests!
6 large potatoes
(preferably Idaho/russet), peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion,
cut into chunks
2 eggs
¼ cup potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
grapeseed oil, for frying

  1. Right before serving, top latkes with avocado mixture.

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the shredding disk, shred potatoes and onion, using medium pressure. Transfer vegetables to a large colander set in the sink or over a large bowl; press firmly to drain excess liquid.
  3. Place drained veggies into a large bowl. Add eggs, potato starch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of batter into hot oil to form pancakes, flattening them slightly with the back of the spoon. Do not crowd the skillet. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, or until crisp and golden.
  5. Drain well on paper towels. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; place into oven to keep warm.
Norene’s Notes
Freeze with Ease: Arrange latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze until firm. Transfer to resealable plastic bags, press out all air, and freeze. To reheat, place frozen latkes onto a large baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 12-15 minutes, until hot and crisp.
Note: Do not freeze toppings!
Sour Cream Topping 2 Ways
dairy pareve option passover gluten-free yields 4-6 servings
1 cup sour cream (regular or low fat) or Tofutti sour cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or dill
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pomegranate seeds, or ¼ lb/125 g fresh smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream with lemon juice, parsley (if using pomegranate seeds) or dill (if using smoked salmon), and pepper; mix well.
  2. Top latkes; add pomegranate seeds (if using parsley) or smoked salmon (if using dill).
Deli Topping
meat passover gluten-free yields 4-6 servings
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
3 Israeli pickles, diced
½ lb/250 g deli meat, diced
  1. Add topping ingredients to medium bowl; mix to combine. Use as a topping for latkes.
Avocado Topping
pareve passover gluten-free yields 4-6 servings
1 ripe avocado, peeled,
pitted, and diced
¼ cup minced red onion
1 tomato, diced
1 Tbsp lime juice,
preferably fresh
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
  1. Add topping ingredients to medium bowl; mix to combine. Place plastic wrap directly onto mixture to prevent darkening.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque with Gingered Apple "Croutons"

After slaving over my Thanksgiving meal for hours, making an unbelievable amount of turkey, meat, and side dishes, the dish I got the most compliments on was this soup! Go figure! I mean, it was definitely delicious but the fact that it outshone my fresh cranberry braised Osso bucco was quite a feat!
A bisque is really just a thick, creamy soup that is traditionally seafood based but in this case is made with butternut squash, apples, and onions that are roasted to bring out their sweetness and develop their flavor and then combined with lots of fresh ginger, stock, and warm spices and finished off with coconut cream to make the soup especially creamy, velvety, and delicious. For textural contrast and to highlight the apple in the soup while also keeping this soup gluten free and Paleo (our eating style of choice currently) I sauteed apples till they broke down slightly but still retained some crunch in coconut oil and added some ground ginger and cinnamon. You don't have to make the croutons but they were a delicious addition. This soup is perfect for the crisp fall weather we are experiencing. Enjoy!

For the soup:
1 large onion
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
2 butternut squash, about 6 pounds in total pre-cutting, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
4 Tablespoons olive oil
14 cups chicken stock (you can use veggie stock or water with bouillon but plain water will yield a flat tasting soup so I highly recommend using stock)
1- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (depending on how heavy of a ginger taste you want- I did 2 inches)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chunked
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 cup coconut cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the onion, apples and butternut squash on a flat baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the squash is just fork tender and the onion and apple have started to brown.

Place all the roasted squash, onion and apple into a pot and add the stock, ginger, sweet potato, cinnamon, curry powder and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and let it cook for about 20 minutes just until the sweet potato is softened. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (it should be pretty thick-if you want it a little thinner then add water 1/2 a cup at a time until desired consistency) and then add the coconut cream. Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve with Apple croutons if desired.

For the apple "croutons":
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into cubes
1 tsp coconut oil (you can substitute any other oil if you want)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the coconut oil. When the coconut oil is melted add the rest of the ingredients and saute until the apples start to soften only slightly but still retain some crunch-about 2-3 minutes. Serve a little on each bowl of soup.