Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Melava Malka Menu

I know I have only been posting recipes, but I wanted to also use this blog as a means to showcase different catering events I do. Recently I catered a Melava Malka and wanted to share with you the menu and some pictures from the event.

The Menu:
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Baked Potato Bar with Assorted Toppings
Pasta Pesto Salad with Fresh and Sundried tomatoes
Mini Sweet Potato Frittatas
Crudités and Crackers with Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Mulled Spiked Apple Cider
Iced Coffee
Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Bars

and here are some pics to make you wish you were there:
The Baked Potato Bar in all its glory- toppings included broccoli, tomatoes, sour cream, Alfredo sauce, scallions, fried onions, cheddar cheese and salsa...

A quick pic of the table, but before all the food was on:

and finally, just to make you drool and run to your nearest Italian bakery and bang down the door- the NAPOLE-YUMS!! (corny, I know, but totally warranted)

Coveted recipes to follow...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tomato Spinach and Barley Soup

It's practically summer in Israel compared to what is going on in New York right now! Not that I'm complaining about the good weather, but a little snow (and a snow day from work) would be very welcome. This soup was made with winter in mind- it's a simple hearty soup that is low-maintenance, healthy, and satisfying, especially on a cold night, or in my case, a windy Neve Daniel night. Serve it with some garlic bread and you practically got yourself a meal!

One large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 Tbl dried oregano
1 1/2 Tbl dried basil
2 cans Tomato paste (22x) (this is an Israeli product, Americans will have to use cans of tomato sauce and one small can of tomato paste)
6 empty can-fuls of water, or enough to make it soup consistency
5 Tbl sugar (to taste)
2 Tbl MSG free chicken soup mix (optional but enhances the flavor)
1 cup of barley (I know rice is more traditional but barley makes it heartier and because I used the unprocessed barley it is healthier too)
6 blocks leaf spinach from the bag of frozen (in America its about 1 box frozen leaf spinach), you can also use swiss chard or kale instead of the spinach which is equally delicious. If you are using fresh greens as opposed to frozen add them 15 minutes before the soup is ready to to give them time to wilt.
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the dried herbs and keep cooking until the onions are soft- I find that cooking the herbs with the onion as opposed to just adding them in really enhances their flavor.  Add the tomato paste, water, sugar, salt, pepper, chicken soup mix, and some garlic powder and bring to a boil. Add the barley and cook for about 45 minutes until the barley is ready. If it gets too think, add more water and adjust the spices accordingly. Add the spinach about 5 minutes before the soup is done.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Round two of the gourmet pizzas.
The inspiration for this pizza was my friend Jamie, a budding chef herself who used butternut squash on a pizza she recently made.I know it may sound a little odd, but it actually works quite well. The squash is mild but adds nice texture and a little flavor. As you could tell I REALLY like caramelized onions. It goes with everything and I plan to revolutionize my next dessert recipe with them. Here, the onions are caramelized with thyme and the sweetness of the onions really compliments the squash and the creaminess of the ricotta with all of the above just puts it over the top. It does have a couple of steps but they are all pretty simple and if your using pre-made dough it really wont take you long at all.

Foccacia dough (recipe can be found in previous post)
olive oil
1 1/2 cups ricotta (seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoons sugar
Half of a butternut squash thinly sliced
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 400. Saute the onions in a pan and season with thyme, one tablespoons sugar and salt and pepper. Let cook until they are caramelized and then let them cool. Spread some olive oil on the pan you will be using for the pizza and press the dough into the pan. Drizzle a little more olive oil on the dough itself and sprinkle with garlic powder. Spread the ricotta all over the dough leaving a little border and put the scatter the onions around. Toss the squash with the two teaspoons of canola oil and 1 tsp of brown sugar and salt and pepper and lay them over the onions. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top and bake.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mediterranean Farfalle and Chicken Salad

Farfalle is just a fancy word for bow tie pasta, but I love saying it because it makes me feel so Italian and Italy is my number one fantasy vacation spot. I have to admit I sort of hoped that if I served my husband this salad and just kept saying "farfalle" over and over again and wrote "Mediterranean" on the bowl that he would whisk me away to Italy. I'll keep waiting. For now, this pasta is the closest I'm getting.
This salad was the creative (if I may say so myself) product of making dinner from what I had in the cabinet and refrigerator and I am happy to report that it was delicious! It has all the elements of a full meal- chicken, vegetables, and pasta, it's very satisfying and it tastes even better the next day!You can add whatever vegetables you want and change the title to "Hawaiian Chicken Salad" or  "Bermuda Chicken Salad"- maybe your husband will get the hint.

1 box bow tie pasta, cooked in salted water till al-dente
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Black or green olives
Sun dried tomatoes, sliced
Red onion, diced
lots of fresh basil, thinly sliced
Hearts of palm, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cubed, or any leftover chicken

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper
2 tsp mixed seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

Just the title is drool inducing. My mother in law recently sent us as one of our many chanukah presents a bag of  dried cherries-
Exhibit A:

They are the best dried cherries I have ever had, which shouldn't surprise me because they are from Costco, whose legal name is Best Store in the Universe even though we all call it by its nickname.
I decided to challenge myself to use them in two recipes, one sweet and one savory. No ideas yet for the savory but this is what I came up with for the sweet. If you like Black forest cake, Cherry Garcia ice cream, or chocolate covered cherries, this recipe is for you. It took me a couple of times to tweak the recipe to perfection but here it is:

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (or you can use all brown)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups oats ( I used quick cooking)
1 cup or more of the best dried cherries in the world
1 dark chocolate bar cut into chunks or 1 cup of chocolate chunks
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the margarine and sugars and add eggs one at a time and then the vanilla. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to margarine mixture. Stir in oats, cherries and chocolate and drop a tablespoon-full on a lined cookie sheet. Bake around 10 minutes, cool, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
(Disclaimer: these pictures are from the first batch before I tweaked the recipe. When you make them they will spread like regular cookies and wont look like these frosted meatballs)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust

Chicken pot pie is one of those classic American foods that I never had growing up. In my mind it was always the quintessential example of non-kosher food. But watching TV commercials where Stouffer's frozen pot pies were coming out of ovens piping hot with crisp crusts and all that creamy filling while I ate my stuffed cabbage and paprikash has always stayed with me. Fast forward about 15 years to when I had just given birth to my daughter and neighbors were filling my fridge with all sorts of goodies. One neighbor brought us a whole roasted chicken that we hardly ate and so I was left wondering what to do with so much leftover chicken-and thus the chicken pot pie was born (in my house). After the first bite my husband wanted to renew our vows- enough said. It's been a while since I made it and this time I decided to put a little twist on it with a cornbread crust. I know it feels a little sacrilegious to eat a chicken dish that is so creamy but I am telling you that it is worth it and G-d will forgive you. I didn't use leftovers this time but feel free to use whatever leftover chicken or turkey you have around- it makes a great unusual addition to Shabbat lunch!

For the filling:
3 chicken breasts, on the bone with skin (or 3 cups leftover chicken)
3 Tbl white wine (optional, but I threw it in this time and I really like the depth of flavor it gave)
5 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 medium potatoes, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 1/2 cups (or more) of frozen peas
(these are the veggies I used and they are pretty classic but feel free to add any others: mushrooms, turnips, kohlrabi, corn, sweet potato etc.)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup margarine or oil
1 1/2 cups water (or 1 1/2 cups chicken soup/stock and then omit the soup mix)
11/2 cups soy milk
2 Tbl chicken soup mix
garlic powder, salt and pepper

Start by seasoning the chicken breast with salt and pepper and browning it in a little oil in a frying pan. Let it cook through on top of the stove, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Take the chicken out, let it cool
and cut into cubes.
In the same pan with all the good chicken bits, add the onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, peas, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and add the wine. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables start to get soft. Transfer the veggies to a bowl.
In a small pot, melt the margarine and add the flour to make a roux. Mix the chicken soup mix into the water and add the soy milk into it. Slowly add the mixture into the roux and mix constantly to prevent lumps. Season with garlic powder and let it cook a few minutes until it gets thick. Pour over the vegetables, add the chicken cubes and transfer to a 9x13 pyrex pan. Spread the crust on top and bake at 350 till the crust is golden, about a half an hour.

The crust:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
11/2 cups flour
2TB baking powder
4 1/2 Tbl sugar
11/2 cups soy milk
2 large eggs
5 Tbl oil
(the crust is based on a recipe by Cristina Ferrare)

Mix together dry and wet in separate bowls and then add wet into dry. Its's as easy and yummy as that.

And now for the big reveal:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Buffalo Wings

Unfortunately for my every-sport loving husband I really don't like football. I find it to be mindless, barbaric, and honestly just boring. The only part of football that I enjoy is the Super Bowl part- not watching the game itself but the food culture of Super Bowl parties. So even though I have not been invited back to a party since the time I fell asleep during the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl (apparently a super exciting one), I still love to make all the snacks and nibbles that these parties are famous for. Recently, a glutton for punishment and in the mood for the heartburn pain that always comes with spicy wings, I made these. They are not exactly healthy, but instead of deep frying them like many recipes call for, I only lightly fried them which saves lots of unnecessary calories.

To make them:
1 kilo (around 2 pounds) chicken wings, each one separated into 2 pieces
Flour- seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder)
1/2 cup of Hot Sauce ( My fave is Frank's- you can find it in Israel at CheaperKol in Givat Shaul)
1/4 cup of honey
2 Tblspoons brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
Sesame seeds
Oil for frying

Preheat the oven to broil. Make sure the wings are dry and dredge them in the flour. Heat the oil and lightly fry each wing till they are crispy. In the meantime, heat the hotsauce, honey, brown sugar and garlic powder in a pot. When the wings are fried, dip each into the sauce, lay on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Broil for about 5-8 minutes. Broiling will make them super-crispy but because there is honey and sugar in the sauce make sure to watch them carefully so they don't burn.
Enjoy with a nice glass of Alka-Seltzer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Romaine Salad with Caesar Vinaigrette

This is for the brave and adventurous. Not because it is hard or complicated, but because it has ANCHOVIES in it. To most people anchovies are a scary ingredient that conjures up images of smelly, worm looking fish-type things that they try to pretend is not in their Caesar salad.You either love them or hate them, and the only people I know who love them also eat sardines and are in retirement homes or beyond. I was one of those haters. I still am in a way- I will in no way ever eat an anchovy if it at all looks like an anchovy-BUT, what I have learned is that anchovies, when cooked in oil, melt and take on this salty, nutty taste that as hard to admit as it is, is just good. So, I understand your hesitancy in trying this recipe-BUT, if I haven't convinced you yet, I will tell you something else that should get you unrolling those anchovy fillets in no time!This recipe is my version of a recipe from Martha- we all know Martha-right? The first lady of everything house and food, infallible, and to quote the song, if G-d was one of us, she would be Martha-(did I just transgress the first commandment?) Im actually surprised it took me 10 posts till I mentioned her. Anyway, her recipes are amazing and that is the only reason I looked twice at this recipe to begin with.
So, here goes:

For the Salad:
Lots of crispy Romaine hearts
Avocado ( I found that the fat of the avocado helps mellow the dressing)
Toasted pine nuts

The salad is very simple to highlight the dressing.

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small shallot chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tsp honey

Heal the oil and cook the garlic and shallot and anchovies for about 2 minutes, or until the anchovies have melted a little. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat. Cool the dressing and serve over the salad.
Here is my artistic rendering:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Garlicky Pita Chips

Pita leads a short, sad life. It's great fresh but starts to age after one day, is practically dead in its bag of suffocation by day 3 and is already manufacturing penicillin by day 4- what a way to go!  This is a campaign to extend the life of the poor pita! These chips are an EASY and delicious way to use up your pita before they kick the bucket. You can serve them with soup (like the Cream of Wild Mushroom soup) or use them instead of crackers for chummus and other dips.

To make them:
5 aging pitot
1/4-1/3 cup of oil
3-4 garlic cloves minced
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 350. Separate each pita in half and cut each half into wedges (as big or small as you want) and lay them out on a cookie sheet (one half of the pita will be thinner than the other and will thus cook quicker- so bake in two batches). Mix the oil and fresh garlic ( you can add some chili flakes to the oil if you want it spicy) and drizzle the garlic oil over the wedges. Sprinkle the wedges with oregano, salt, a little pepper and some garlic powder (you can never have too much garlic!) and bake until they are light golden brown and crispy-but make sure they don't burn (like the two on the left)- about 6-8 minutes. You can also substitute Za'atar for the oregano for a Middle Eastern twist.
Fresh out of the oven:

Cool them and store them in an air tight container. They will stay good that way for about 3 days- thats like a decade in pita years! Long live the pita!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

This soup throws Campbell's out of the water! No gluey textured, artificial tasting, canned mushroom soup here- this is the real deal- smooth, creamy, satisfying and FRESH! I know dairy soups get a bad rap with the menfolk but this has been a hit with even the most testosterone laden of them (you know who you are!). Serve it with fresh garlicky pita chips (recipe will be in the next blog) and it is practically a meal-just add a salad! Of course, you can always feel free to de-gourmet it by just using plain button mushrooms and it will still taste great but in case you want to go the distance, Rami Levi in the Gush sells a great assortment of wild mushrooms that are grown locally.

For the soup:
3-4 cups of chopped assorted mushrooms - ( chop them VERY finely in the food processor- this will save you the need to make your pareve hand blender dairy)
1 large onion chopped finely
4-5 tablespoons of white wine (optional, but mushrooms and wine go really well together and it really enhances the soup)
2 tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 cups of milk (whole is tastier, but you can use 1% to lighten it up)
6 cups of water
3-4 Tablespoons pareve chicken soup mix (preferably without the MSG) or vegetable stock
1 cup of cooking cream (in Israel it is the 15%, in America you can use light cream)
Salt and pepper

Saute the onion in a soup pot until soft. Add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper to taste and cook until most of the water is absorbed. Add the wine and let it cook for a couple of minutes then add the flour and  stir well. Slowly pour in one cup of milk while mixing well so you don't get lumps of flour and then add the rest of the milk, the water and the soup mix and some more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and quickly lower it and let it simmer for a half an hour. Add the cream and simmer for another 15 minutes and it's ready as quickly as that!

Doesn't a sprig of parsley just make EVERYTHING look so much better?
By the way, I was fired as photographer after this shot.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Deep Dish Swiss Chard and Ricotta Pizza

Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And Oh, yes. This pizza is worth all the effort that goes into it. There is no going back to boring old sauce and cheese pizza after this!!!
So, Welcome to the series on Gourmet Pizza's. Why you ask? Because I made way too much dough and we will now be eating pizza until Pesach. My husband has graduated from Latke Demander to Pizza Demander and so I thought I would make lots of dough and just freeze it to have on hand. Well, my triple batch of dough just did not want to rise. So I put my rebellious dough aside and made a new triple batch. Well, lo and behold, as soon as the new batch was ready, the first batch decided it was ready too ( I guess after the time-out it mended its ways). And that is how we came to decorate our walls with pizza dough (it makes quite the show piece!)
You can use your own dough, store bought (like Trader Joe's brand) or try to buy from your local pizza store.
For deep dish pizza I prefer to use foccacia dough, it just has a better texture than pizza dough in my opinion.

For the dough:
1 cube fresh yeast (50 grams)
Approximately 7 cups of flour (1 Kilo)
3 Tbl sesame seeds (just gives the dough unbelievable flavor)
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 tblspoons
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 Tbl Sugar
3 cups of warm water

Put the flour in a big bowl with the sesame seeds and break up the yeast in it. Add salt, sugar and oil and knead slightly. Add water until you get a dough. Let it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place. Once its ready drizzle on the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and knead a little more. Divide the dough into as many pieces as you want and freeze what you aren't using. This is really the only hard part and if you do it in advance or buy it from the store you just made your life a lot easier.

For the rest of the Pizza you need:
1-2 cups of ricotta
a big bunch of swiss chard
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red chili flakes
olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Mozzarella cheese

I know Swiss Chard sounds like some scary pocket knife but it is a leafy green somewhat similar to kale and spinach that is really, really healthy and utterly DELICIOUS . Your'e gonna have to trust me on this. I recently discovered they sell it in Israel. Or rather, they've been selling it for a long time but under the alias "beet leaves" or "Mangold" so you see why I used to just walk right past it thinking it was for gardeners. It looks like a lot in the package but like spinach it cooks down to nothing, so make sure to buy enough.
Drizzle a nice amount of olive oil on a small cookie sheet and spread the dough out over it.

Add some oil to a big frying pan, and when it gets hot add the thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes. When the garlic just starts to turn golden add the greens and cook till wilted adding salt and pepper.

Season the ricotta with salt, pepper and good garlic powder and spread generously over the dough. Add the drained greens on top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 until it looks like this:

Warning: Taste testers were found to sing spontaneously after consumption.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Raspberry- Walnut Rugelach- Dairy

If you were in Rami Levi in the Gush last week you may have seen a crazy woman dancing in the frozen foods aisle. That was me- because I discovered this:

Please note what the red circle says- ALL BUTTER PUFF PASTRY!!!!

After I caught my breath from my exhausting dance, my mind started to dream about how this would change my life and all the things I could make- napoleons, quiches, dairy wellingtons, cheese straws, and more and more and more....But I started simply by making these raspberry walnut rugelach. Unfortunately, since I have moved to Israel,  Rugelach has come to mean a tasteless pareve dough wrapped around blah pareve chocolate filling mass produced and sold in every store around the country which inevitably find themselves on my Shabbat table as a hostess gift when I have students come over. In America, however, Rugelach have a different story to tell. They can be dairy made with cream cheese and butter in the dough and filled with all sorts of tantalizing fillings such as ....RASPBERRY AND WALNUT which are my fave.

This recipe is my quick and easy version. Yes, I know this is only semi-homemade but the taste is so good you wont even realize it.

1 package ALL BUTTER puff pastry
1 jar raspberry jam
Chopped walnuts
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
beaten egg

One thing I hate about baking is rolling out dough- Im just not that good at it. Typically for Rugelach you need to roll out the dough into a circle, cut into triangles and roll up. This puff pastry comes as a rectangle so in order to spare myself the rolling I cut the dough in half horizontally and then made triangles from each half. Slather each triangle with the jam and sprinkle on the walnuts and roll up from the widest part down. Lay on a baking sheet (not you, the rugelach, although these are so good you would want to join them) brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and bake till golden brown.

Fresh out of the oven:

After some make-up:

Next flavor up, nutella with chopped hazelnuts and chocolate!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Potato - Leek Latkes with Herbed Sour Cream

According to my husband, if we don't have latkes at least 4 nights of Chanukah then it is not a happy Chanukah. But how many times can you eat (and make) the same type! On this last night of Chanuka as we prepare to say goodbye to this festive chag and as I try to figure out a way to break it to my two year old that she will not be getting a present every night for the rest of the year, I thought to make a different kind of latke. One of my favorite soups is Cream of Potato Leek soup (a post that will surely wind up here one day) and so I thought, why not make a latke with all the elements of that soup! So I came up with the following recipe- and may I say I think these were the best latkes I have ever made (my apologies to the cinnamon scented sweet potato ones). The leek flavor was subtle but bold enough to be tasted and they just melted into the potatoes- a winner!

No, that is not an early seder plate, I just was a little more organized this time. Look at the size of those spuds!!! I call them my Jose Canseco potatoes for obvious reasons.

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
4 eggs
1/3-1/2 cup flour
2 leeks
salt and pepper
1 tbl chopped fresh parsley

Clean the leeks and chop the white and light green parts in the food processor or by hand. Grate the potatoes on the shredder disk of the food processor. You can also choose to make these by processing the potatoes with blade but I prefer the shredded consistency and so does the latke demander.  Mix the chopped leeks into the potato mixture, add the flour, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper and fry in pre-heated canola oil. Don't forget to make sure the oil is hot enough so the latkes aren't too oily and fry to perfection.

Of course, cream of potato leek soup needs a cream element- so here is the sour cream topping:

1-2 cups sour cream
chopped chives
about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

It must be said that sour cream and potatoes are soul mates. They yearn to be together. So put your latke out of its misery and load on the sour cream.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chicken and Pastrami Pinwheels

My father recently came to visit from America bearing a big hunk of good American fatty pastrami. Now, no offense to Israeli deli, but you just cannot get good pastrami here. There is nothing at the deli counter that even remotely looks like good pastrami. And when I say good pastrami, I don't mean the stuff you buy pre-sliced that looks like it can patch up my tires. I mean the kind that looks like it was just taken off the cow's back- well striated and marbled with fat with a good red/ pink color to it. Anyway, I got some of the good stuff recently and after indulging in some pastrami sandwiches on rye with mustard (well worth the 10 point increase in my cholesterol) I had some leftover and with a whole bunch of company coming for Shabbat lunch I decided to use it in an appetizer. 

Here is what you need:
Chicken breast pounded thin 
Deli mustard
GOOD pastrami (don't even bother making it with the rubbery stuff)
Crumb Coating- these are crucial because it will give a lot of flavor to the dish. I make my own using one part cornflakes that I grind in the food processor, one part panko crumbs, and one part plain bread crumbs. Then I always add sesame seeds (adds such good flavor!) and I season it with my special seasoning mix ( some things need to remain secret!)
Duck Sauce

Lay the chicken breast down on a flat surface and spread with a thin layer of deli mustard. Cover with pastrami (not too much or it wont roll nicely). Roll up tightly and brush all over with seasoned mayonnaise (this is one of my secrets to keeping it moist even when you are serving it the next day) and roll in crumb mixure. Put it seam side down in a sprayed pan, no need for toothpicks and drizzle some duck sauce over it.

Here is what it looks like before it hits the oven:

Try not to eat them raw.

OK, CRUCIAL step is to spray the top with lots of Pam spray, this helps them get crispy in the oven. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE!!

And here are the beauties:

Slice them  (if you are not serving them fresh and are reheating them, do not slice until right before) and serve with duck sauce as a dip.

*special thanks to my test kitchen on the Upper East Side where chefs Pam and Melba happily tested out this recipe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rainbow Salad

A disclaimer: This salad has nothing to do with pride, parades or flags and everything to do with Yummy.

Over the years, many of the guests I have hosted have been students of mine- girls from the seminary world who try to keep their figures trim while in Israel and thus spontaneously fall in love with anything that depends on photosynthesis  (while secretly eating the leftover brownies in my kitchen after I have gone to sleep-true story!) I recently had 7 girls over for Shabbat (yes, my husband is a saint- or more like, whenever these meals take place he secretly retreats to the place in his mind where the Yankees play all day). Each meal when girls come over has to feature at least one good, hefty salad to satisfy their dietary restrictions. Of course, it doesn't matter how much oil is in the dressing, how many nuts and croutons there are on top or whether the cucumbers were deep fried, as long as there is some green, it qualifies. But I digress. Recently, I decided to try a new salad that resulted in this rainbow explosion of color, hence, its name.

Needless to say, some CPR was necessary when the salad was served. 
Two important tips for the salad: 1) glass bowl is a MUST 2) tomatoes go on top.
What you put in this salad is entirely up to you, but I will say that it takes A LOT of vegetables and their accessories to fill up a bowl. I have since made this salad again and changed up a little what I put in. Whatever is on hand, goes in. 
In this particular one there is lettuce (the necessary green that tells the girls it is fit for consumption), red cabbage, orange pepper, shredded carrot, chick peas, craisins, cucumber, red onion, baby corn (not visible from this angle), yellow corn, tomatoes and croutons. 

I recommend a mayonnaise based dressing for this salad. Any will do, but I made a garlicky Italian dressing using mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, fresh crushed garlic and Italian dressing mix. I topped it with croutons and mixed. I served it with shovels and it was done within 10 minutes.

Smothered (in a good way) Caramelized Onion Chicken

I love having guests over for meals. I spend hours planning the menus and poring over cookbooks looking for new things to make. Most of my guests make their appearance on Shabbat where I inevitably make some sort of chicken as a main course. Recently, bored with the ones I have been making I came up with this one, a mixture of a few different recipes I saw with some added Gush Gourmet twists. This chicken came out so flavorful- the onion flavor really permeating down into the chicken- that when eaten as leftovers later that week it didn't have any of that old chicken taste (yuck!) that leftovers sometimes have and just tasted deeeeeeelish!

Here is how I made it:
6 onions sliced thinly (alot, I know, but crucial)- prepare for onion smelling hands for a while.
A few tablespoons onion soup mix (my preferred brand is Knorr who now makes a no MSG version for only 5 shekel more that is still great and obviously healthier)
3-4 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1/4 -1/3 cup packed brown sugar
salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
maple syrup
8 chicken bottoms cut in half

Mix the onions, onion soup mix, brown sugar, oil and pepper in a bowl. Put a layer of onions on the bottom of a big roasting pan. Lay the chicken on top and sprinkle with garlic powder and paprika and then cover with the rest of the onion mixture. The chicken tastes best if you let it marinate in the onion mixture overnight but you can cook it as is as well. If you let it marinate overnight, increase the cooking time by another 45 minutes.
Cover the chicken tightly with foil and bake at around 350 for an hour and a half AT LEAST. I find people just do not cook their chicken long enough. The longer you cook it covered the more tender the final product will be. No chicken of mine gets cooked for less than an hour and a half covered, sometimes I cook it up to 3 hours covered (that's usually when I forget that I have something in the oven). Uncover, drizzle on some maple syrup and bake for another 1/2 hour or so basting at least once with the juices.

And this, my new friends, is the picture of chicken heaven:

Your husbands can thank me later.

The Gush Gourmet Menu

Here is The Gush Gourmet's menu- for orders or inquiries you can contact me at

The Gush Gourmet
Chopped liver
Stuffed Cabbage
Franks in Blanks
Deli Roll
Fruit Compote
Sesame Teriyaki Salmon
Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce
Sweet and Sour Mini Meatballs
Stuffed Mushrooms (in season)
Tuna Croquettes with Herb Aioli
Stuffed Zucchini
Salmon or Chicken Wellington
Harvest Soup-  A thick and velvety puree of pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot
Vegetable Barley (Pareve or meat)
Traditional Chicken Soup
Split Pea (Meat)
Potato Leek (Pareve)
Zucchini Soup 
Unstuffed Cabbage Soup
Tortellini Soup (Meat)  -  Tomato soup with spinach and meat tortellini.
Soup Accompaniments : Croutons, Matzah Balls,  Noodles, dumplings

Chicken Marbella-  Chicken roasted with olives and dried plums in a sweet and savory garlic wine sauce.
Honey Mustard Chicken
Chicken with Peppers and Onions-  Chicken smothered with  caramelized peppers and onions and baked in a sweet and tangy sauce.
Garlic Chicken- Chicken  baked on a bed of garlic with a balsamic herb glaze. 
Sesame Chicken-  Strips of chicken breast lightly fried and tossed with a sweet sesame sauce.
Chicken Oreganata-  Chicken breast lightly breaded and smothered with a tender leek and mushroom wine sauce.
Shepherd’s Pie-  Ground beef or turkey sautéed in a light tomato sauce topped with creamy mashed potatoes.
Roast Brisket
Barbequed Brisket
Turkey Breast (cranberry relish)
Stir Fry Chicken
Meat Lasagna
Oven Baked Breaded Chicken
Beef Stew
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken and Pastrami Roll ups
Potato Knish
Sesame Noodles
Roasted Cauliflower
Stir fried Vegetables
Baked Rice (brown or white)
Sweet potato Fries
Roasted potatoes
Sesame Green beans
Garlic Green Beans
“Noodles and Cabbage”
Orzo and vegetables
Grilled vegetables
Sweet potato Pie
Carrot Zucchinni Loaf (sweet)
Zucchini Bread (sweet)
Savory Zucchini
Rice Kugel
Apple Cranberry Crunch
Apple Crisp
Spinach and Mushroom Pie
Strawberry Apple Kugel (in season)
Spinach Noodle
Leek and mushroom

Deli Salad- Smoked turkey and salami on a bed of romaine with a honey mustard dressing.
Chef’s Salad with a creamy garlic dressing.
Caesar Salad
Grilled Chicken Caeser Salad- Grilled Chicken over Romaine lettuce with a garlicky Caesar dressing.
Asian Chicken Salad-  Strips of chicken tossed with assorted vegetables and a Sesame Ginger dressing.
Fruited Salad – baby lettuce mixed with seasonal fruit and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette
California Cabbage Salad- white cabbage tossed with walnuts and fruit with a creamy orange dressing
Carrot salad- shredded carrots, scallions and candied pecans-
Red Cabbage Salad
Potato Salad
Israeli Salad 
Italian Pasta Salad-  
Chinese Pasta Salad (Lo Mein)
Pesto Pasta Salad- farfalle pasta tossed with fresh pesto, sundried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.
Angel hair Pasta and Red Cabbage –spaghetti with cabbage, scallions, almonds in a tangy vinaigrette
Broccoli Salad- Broccoli, craisins, red onion and cashews with a sweet and tangy creamy dressing.
Cole Slaw
Tabbouhlli –bulgur   with cucumber, tomato, scallions, and parsley
Wheatberry Salad-   wheat, cherry tomatoes, scallions, chickpeas, basil with a garlic dressing
Chinese Cabbage Salad
Couscous salad- couscous with scallions, chickpeas, craisins with a lemon garlic dressing.
Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad
Tomato Salad
Salad bar with assorted dressings

 The Gush Gourmet Signature Fruit Tart
Assorted Bar Cookies (blondies, brownies, peanut butter bars, raspberry bars etc.)
Assorted Cookies
Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Lemon Freeze
Assorted Pies
Fresh Sorbet (in season)

Dairy Menu
Tortellini Soup-  tomato soup with cheese tortellini and spinach
Cream of Mushroom (Dairy)
Cream of Broccoli (Dairy)
Potato Leek
Eggplant Parmesan
Blintzes  (cheese, potato, cherry cheese)
Assorted Quiches  (Broccoli,  three onion , mushroom and leek, Spinach and goat cheese)
Baked Ziti
Baked French Toast
Pasta Primavera
Fettuccini Alfredo
Tuna or Salmon Croquettes
Stuffed Mushrooms (Dairy)
Assorted Pinwheels (sundried tomato and pesto, parmesan and artichoke)
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Sweet Cheese Noodle Kugel
Potato Gratin
Hors d'oeuvres
Spinach and Parmesan Balls
Caprese Skewers- Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
Stuffed Mushrooms
Filo cups with assorted fillings (Brie and Preserves, Spinach and Feta, Caramelized onion and Thyme)

Assorted Cheese Cakes  

Sample Menus

Dairy Sheva Brachot
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni
Eggplant Parmesan
Greek Salad
Fruited Salad
Cheese Cake

Meat Sheva Brachot
Assorted Rolls
Sesame Chicken
Chicken Lo Mein
Chinese Cabbage Salad
Fried Rice
Fruit and Cookie Platters

Brit Milah Menu
Cream Cheese
Tuna Salad
Egg Salad
Vegetable platters
Baked French Toast
Mushroom and Cheese Frittata
Assorted Pastries, Muffins, and Coffee

Shabbat Cold Kiddush
Assorted Herring and crackers
Vegetable platters
Assorted Dips and Spreads
Italian Pasta Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad
Tuna Salad
Assorted Pastries
Shabbat- Hot Kiddush
Assorted Herring and crackers
Assorted dips and spreads
Potato Kugel
Yerushalmi Kugel
Choice of 3 Salads
Assorted Pastries

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Buffet
Assorted Hors D’oeuvres
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Chicken with peppers and onions
Sesame Green beans
Choice of 5 salads

Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potato Latkes

My first post! super exciting! Chanukah is all about spending time with family, and for the 6th night of Chanukah my sister came over for dinner. Of course, no Chanukah dinner is complete without Latkes. PROBLEM! My sister doesn't eat potatoes (obviously she is really missing out)...and thus these sweet potato latkes were born. Sweet but not too sweet with a little spice from some course ground pepper and strong Saigon cinnamon- a perfect combination of crispy outside and soft inside- they tasted like fried sweet potato pies and how can that be bad! They were even a hit with my husband who is a die hard for the originals!

Here is how I made them:
5 sweet potatoes shredded in the food processor (use the disk with the holes not the shredder blade)
1/4 of a cup or so of flour
3-4 eggs
salt, course ground pepper, cinnamon and a touch of granulated brown sugar
oil for frying

Make the batter by mixing everything together- one good thing about using sweet potatoes in latkes is you don't have to worry about the batter turning that ugly gray/brown color that you wind up with if you leave grated potato out for too long.

Heat about a 1/4 cup of canola oil in your biggest frying pan. Make sure the oil is hot enough- if the oil is the right temperature the latkes won't absorb as much oil. Start frying a heaping tablespoonful at a time pressing it down in the pan to the desired shape. 

Enjoy the smell of cinnamon as it wafts from the pan...

Remove them with a slotted spatula onto a paper towel lined surface to drain and then enjoy while they are hot and crispy. 

I made these with a meat meal but I'm a big fan of sour cream with latkes...with the spice of the cinnamon and pepper these would go great with a heaping dollop of cool sour cream.

Happy Chanukah!


 I have always loved to cook and I have recently started a catering business here in Gush Etzion, where I live. I want to use this forum to display recipes I have developed, post pictures of catering events I do and just document the fun I have in the kitchen. I have been cooking for the past 16 years and want to show that Kosher cooking can be both gourmet and delicious as well as homey and simple. So join me on my culinary adventures!!