Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad

You know I love me my wheat berries! I keep a stock of them in my pantry and love to use them in all forms (they make a great alternative to barley in chulent) but I especially love them in salads because even after they are dressed they do not get soggy. They can stay in the fridge for a few days, absorbing more flavor each day and the great nutty and chewy texture will not change. This is a wheat berry salad that I made in the summer and for some reason just found that I never posted but I definitely remember how it tasted- lemony and garlicky and delicious. Of course you can add or subtract whatever vegetables you want and make it your own but this was a great combination. Most important is to dress the salad while the berries are still warm which allows them to really absorb a lot of the dressing. Enjoy!

4 cups wheat berries or farro, boiled and drained
2 roasted red peppers, diced
1 roasted yellow pepper, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 bunches of scallions, sliced
2 cups orange or red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and diced

While the berries are warm dress them with the dressing below and toss well. Add the rest of the vegetables and let the salad come to room temperature before serving.

For the dressing:
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mashed Potato and Kale Gratin

Okay, maybe it is more of a casserole but for some reason the word casserole irks me and evokes images of pot luck dinners and awfully bad tuna noodle concoctions. And anyway, a gratin is really a fancy way of saying anything that has a crust of melted cheese on top and so this absolutely qualifies. And putting kale in a dish has to elevate it above casserole status. Ok, I've made enough excuses. Call this whatever you want, it is delicious. I used kale because luckily a neighbor of mine grows her own kale and we were able to get some and I had to put it in everything I made until I used it up but this would also be delicious with a a layer of chopped broccoli or spinach or both instead. This kind of reminds me of Colcannon, a classic Irish dish of mashed potatoes and kale which I love but since St. Patrick's day is a while off we will stick with my more boring title. This dish is hearty and filling and absolutely tastes like comfort. Enjoy!

For the Potatoes:
5 large potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 cup sour cream
4 Tbl butter
1 egg
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes with the two garlic cloves in salted water until tender. Drain well and add the sour cream, butter, cheeses and egg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Kale layer:
1 lb Kale, large stems and ribs removed
2 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a large pan heat the olive oil and start to fry the garlic making sure it does not burn. Add the kale,  season with salt and pepper. Add the water and let the kale steam fry until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove from pan and chop the kale.

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups Panko
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbl olive oil

In a bowl mix the the panko with the the olive oil and then mix in the cheese.

Butter a glass pan and pour half of the mashed potato mixture in. Top with the kale, add the Mozzarella on top of the kale and then add the rest of the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the topping generously over the top. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 until the top is golden.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Linguine with Olive Pesto and Oven Dried Tomatoes

Here is the pasta I promised you. It is super flavorful and very Mediterranean tasting with the heavy olive taste, the dried tomatoes and the cheese. When I made this for Chanukah I used Feta cheese for the Greek theme but it is equally delicious with Parmesan as picture below. It is a simple and easy lunch or dinner that can be thrown together quickly. If you don't have olive pesto or don't want to make any you can always substitute regular pesto but I think the olive flavor makes this dish truly stand out. Enjoy!

1 lb linguine
1 recipe Olive Pesto
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup of Oven dried tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated or Feta Cheese Crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine according to package directions. In a small sauce pan heat up 1/2 cup of olive oil- when the oil is hot add the garlic and saute for a minute making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the pesto to the oil and mix well. To the drained pasta add the pesto, tomatoes, olives and scallions. Toss well and top with either of the cheeses.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Olive Pesto

This is another one of my favorite dips to make and serve on Shabbat with challah. When I want a more pesto-y consistency I add another half cup of olive oil but with challah I prefer it more spreadable. It's only appropriate to post this on Chanukah, where olives and olive oil are thematic. I made a big batch of this pesto at the start of Chanukah and I have been using it in everything including a delicious pasta that you'll get to see next week. Enjoy!

1 can pitted, green olives
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbl pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste (be careful with the salt as the olives and Parmesan are salty)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (omit for pareve meals)

In a food processor add the olives, garlic, pine nuts, cilantro, zest and juice and red pepper flakes. Process it until smooth and then slowly drizzle the olive oil in while the machine is running. Season with pepper and mix the Parmesan in by hand.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Swiss Chard and Feta Latkes

Move over potato, there is a new latke in town- a leaner, meaner and greener latke that will knock your socks off! Don't get me wrong, I won't turn down a good potato latke with heaps of sour cream on it (no apple sauce for me, the combination is abhorrent to me) but every Chanukah I like to experiment with new ones- some funkier than the others (those don't necessarily make it to the blog) and this is one of my new ones. Of course, besides being a latke, it is also "Greek" themed because of the Feta and because the combination of greens (usually spinach) and feta is a classic Greek combination (as in Spanakopita). I used chard because I love it and because I couldn't find good looking spinach but feel free to use an equal amount of spinach instead. So the green of the chard gives great color, taste and health factor and unlike a regular latke these only need to be pan fried in a some oil and not "deep fried" hence they are a great lighter alternative to the classic latke and honestly, in my opinion every now and then you need a little latke change of pace to jazz up Chanukah. If you are looking for other "different" latka recipes you can also check out these from years past- Cheese Latkes (always a huge hit), Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potato Latkes or a variation on the original Potato Leek Latkes. Enjoy!

1 lb Swiss chard, stems removed
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp garlic minced
2 medium potatoes, grated
2 eggs
1/4 cup matzah meal or flour
1 1/2 cups Feta or Bulgarit crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil for frying

Heat 1 Tbl oil in a pan and add the garlic. Saute for one minute and then add the chard and season the chard with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until the chard is wilted. Let the chard cool slightly and then chop. In a bowl mix the potatoes, chopped chard, eggs, matzah meal and cheese.Season with salt (not too much because the Feta is salty and pepper. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in the same pan. When the oil is hot form patties of the mixture and fry for about 2- 21/2 minutes per side until they are golden brown.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Zeppole (Fried Ricotta Donuts)- Happy Blogaversary To Me!

Happy two year blogaversary to me! Two full years of cooking, eating and fun times in the kitchen and over 100,000 page views! Thank you to everyone who has made this blog fun for me by reading, making my recipes and commenting! Here is to another great year of cookery and Happy Chanukah!

For my first Chanukah recipe ( I have so many planned but probably won't get to post half of them till next Chanukah) I had to choose some special and the effort to fry anything to me makes something special. May I introduce the Zeppole, the Italian version of the cake donut, but fried and with ricotta cheese, only my most favorite cheese in the world. I found a basic recipe for them and jazzed it up with orange zest, vanilla and sugar and they were scrumptious! Heat your oil to the right temperature while frying (with the help of a thermometer) and your donuts or zeppole will never be greasy. I didn't have time but these would probably be great dipped in a little dark chocolate- dark chocolate and orange being a great combination. The dough is not a super sweet dough so these benefit from a heavy coating of powdered sugar upon their exit from their oil bath. Enjoy!!!!!!

1 cup flour
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp orange zest
250 grams ricotta cheese, (or 1 cup plus 2 Tblspoons)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar

2 liters of Canola oil for frying

In a large heavy pot or deep fryer start heating up your oil. You want to fry at 375 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest and salt. Mix in the eggs, ricotta and vanilla until it comes together as a dough. The dough will be sticky. Fry by the tablespoon taking care not to over crowd the pot. Turn the donuts over mid fry to make sure both sides are browning. Fry for about 1 minute per side. Drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Orange and Chocolate Chunk Pound Cake

Chocolate and Orange were never one of those combinations that I liked growing up. I mean, ever have chocolate after you drink orange juice? Blech! I could never understand the concept of chocolate covered orange peels and more than once I was seduced by a shiny piece of chocolate on a platter only to bite into it and cringe because instead of the caramel I assumed would be there was a big hunk of tart orange peel. Fast forward many, many years later and perhaps my palate is more "refined" or I am open to new tastes and flavor combinations or maybe I just realized that anything with chocolate is worth eating- but either way the melding of chocolate and orange together is definitely a thing of beauty (but still don't drink orange juice after chocolate or visa versa- that will never get better.) 
Recently, I have been on a pound cake kick, where I try to come up with different flavor pound cakes to make on Friday to have a delicious dairy cake with my coffee Shabbat morning. Pound cakes are usually simple to throw together hence those are my go to Shabbat cakes as opposed to something more elaborate like cheese babka which is worth every minute but that I often don't have time to make. I have to say this pound cake was one of the best- the orange flavor comes from lots and lots of orange zest and lots of dark chocolate chunks can only make a cake better and the cake itself was perfectly moist with a perfect crust and a perfect crumb. In other words, put it on your agenda ASAP because it's worth every buttery calorie. Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 Tbl orange zest
225 grams of cream cheese ( 1 8 oz pkg)
150 grams butter ( 1 1/2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a mixer beat the butter, cream cheese till smooth. Add the sugar and zest and mix well. Beat in one egg at a time and then add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix till just mixed through. Fold in the chocolate pieces. Pour into loaf pan and bake until tooth pick comes out with just moist crumbs- about 45 minutes.