Monday, March 24, 2014

Curried Waldorf Wheatberry Salad

I took a little creative license in adding "Waldorf" to the title. There is no lettuce in this salad nor is there mayonnaise or grapes but I figured the celery, apples, dried cherries and nuts were enough to make it Waldorf-y. My love of wheat berries has already been professed many times on this blog- I love the great nutty and chewy texture of them, how they don't get soggy no matter how long they sit in the fridge and how they are a great blank canvas for lots of different flavors. I went with curry this time and the curry and fruit combination is great here. I added chickpeas for bulk and because I love them and they are neutral enough to be thrown into almost anything, some celery for crunch and toasted pecans for flavor, crunch and texture. Served room temperature this would make a great side dish or add some cubed chicken an it would be a wonderful main dish salad. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups Wheat berries
1 can chickpeas (15oz or about 400 grams) drained and rinsed
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
5 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried cherries (substitute cranberries if needed)
2 green apples, diced
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

For the dressing:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

Place the wheat berries in a pot and fill the pot with enough water to cover them by a few inches. Bring to a boil and cook the wheat until tender, about 40 minutes then drain well. While the wheat is still warm, whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the berries allowing the dressing to absorb into the wheat. Once the berries have cooled add in the chickpeas, celery, scallions, cherries, apples and pecans and mix well.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

The weather outside has been frightful! All winter we waited for rain and none came and then as soon as I was taking out the sandals and getting ready for spring a seemingly endless winter storm hit. Hail, sleet, allegedly some snow, thunder and lightening the likes I have never seen in the 10 years I have lived in this country and lots of wind and rain. Well, since winter decided to return to us so abruptly I had to go back to making winter food and make soup. I thought of this soup because it required all the ingredients I had lying around and I wanted something a little more exotic than the usual. I haven't had that much Thai food in my life but what I have had I have loved. I love the curry, coconut, chili and cilantro combo and I love the combination of sweet, salty, sour and spicy that defines a lot of Thai food. This soup is easy, exotic and super duper delicious. Really. I 'm not just saying that. I promise. This soup has an interesting ingredient in it that at first seems absolutely bizarre but that is crucial to the taste and depth of flavor- peanut butter. Thai food uses a lot of peanuts and peanut butter and though many often associate peanut butter with sweets it is deliciously savory in this soup and helps to cut a little of the sweetness of the sweet potato and coconut. Did  I mention that it's really really good? I don't often go on and on about soups which is usually my least favorite course but this one is a winner. Enjoy!

2 Tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (in a pinch you can use Thai Red Curry Sauce instead)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (400ml/14oz) coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pot and saute the onion, ginger and garlic together until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the curry paste and saute until just fragrant. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and let it cook on medium heat until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, peanut butter, lemon juice and sriracha and season with salt and pepper. Cook another 20 minutes over medium heat until all the flavors have blended together. Blend with an immersion blender and serve.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Salmon and Kale Chowder

This week I was faced with an existential dilemma. What do I do with a pan full of leftover salmon? Now, this may seem like a ridiculous question to you but salmon is mucho expensivo and eating leftovers as they were originally cooked is actually painful for me. The only option was to turn the salmon into something so different, so unrecognizable that even I would enjoy it. Salmon and Kale Chowder it was. I know Kale is so trendy (read: overused) right now but I don't care, I love it. I am happily throwing it in practically every dish I make from eggs to pizza and I don't think I'm going to get sick of it anytime soon. The best thing about this chowder is that it is a one pot meal. One pot to wash, no side dishes or extras to make with it (though some crusty bread would be divine here) is reason enough to make this. The taste of the salmon in the chowder is subtle- had I used raw salmon and cooked it in the chowder the salmon taste would be more pronounced, but I liked the muted taste of the salmon in the background. Enjoy!

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
3 medium potatoes, diced
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
2 cups roughly chopped Kale
1 cup corn (canned or frozen)
1/4 cup frozen peas
2-3 cups chopped cooked salmon fillet
1 cup half and half (in Israel use 15% cream)
1 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the stock, potatoes and dill and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for about half an hour until the potatoes and veggies are tender. Add in the kale, corn, peas, salmon, half and half, and milk and season well with salt and pepper. Cook at a simmer for another 20 minutes. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crisp and Classic Hamentaschen

The Jewish blogosphere is full of Hamentaschen recipes in preparation for Purim and the endless variations and creativity have blown my mind. I too am working on a "gourmet" hamentaschen (more on that next week) but to me, though I always appreciate creativity in cooking, when it comes to hamentaschen there really is only one that I crave year after year and that is the simple one that I grew up with. Truth be told, I have an aversion to most hamentaschen- I seriously dislike the big doughy ones and most that I have tasted are more cakey then anything else. I like mine small and crispy like a cookie and that is what these are- more a cookie-taschen then the typical ones you find in the stores. These also don't have margarine in them so I feel better about eating and serving them. When it comes to filling them the choices are endless, but for me I always stick to the classics of my youth- apricot jam, raspberry jam and if I am lucky enough to locate it, prune lekvar. In place of the prune and in nod to my Israeli side I used date spread this year and I'm quite pleased with them. Besides for the dough itself, part of the key to the cookie-taschen is rolling the dough so that it is not too thick. The dough should be thick enough that you can easily manipulate it to crimp but not thicker than that. Enjoy!

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour + more as needed, you could need up to another 2 cups depending on the humidity in the air- you don't want the dough to be sticky.

Cream the oil and sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and then add the orange juice and vanilla. Mix well. Mix the baking powder, flour and salt together and mix into the dough. You may need more flour so add more flour by the 1/4 cup full until it is the consistency of a cookie dough. It's best to refrigerate the dough for half an hour before you roll but you don't have to. Flour your rolling surface and taking small portions of the dough at a time roll out the dough so that it is thick enough to hold the filling but not too thick. Using the top of a glass or a round cookie cutter cut circles out of the dough.  Place 1/2 tsp of desired filling in the center of each circle and then form the hamentaschen by first crimping together the top of the circle  to form the peak of a triangle and then lifting up the bottom of the dough and pressing it to the sides to form a triangle. Place on a baking tray and bake at 350 for 7-10 minute or until lightly golden brown.

                                                            Ready for the oven....

                                                              All done!