Archive for October, 2010



11
Oct
10

Preserving or Policing the Dilemma?


Basil, a great little kosher neighborhood restaurant, sitting on the periphery of the Lubavitcher community finds itself caught in the middle of a socio-religious maelstrom, one that has even attracted the scrutinizing eye of the New York Times Magazine (provocative stories about religious Jews do sell papers!). Basil has an urban chic that  draws a diverse clientele.  Now it seems that this unlikely utopian gastronomic convergence is causing a bit of an uproar.

It’s ironic that one of the hallmarks of the Lubavitcher community is its uncanny ability to plant branches in even the most remote areas around the globe, offering friendly outreach services that attract affiliated and unaffiliated Jews. Often you’ll find Lubavitcher shluchim inviting Jews to connect and come closer to their spiritual heritage through the mitzvah of Sabbath candle lighting, or donning philacteries, shaking a lulav, or offering assistance to travelers by joining them for prayers, a meal or a farbrengen (a chassidic gathering where various aspects of chassidus are taught, stories the past are told, etc.). So, here we are in their homestead – the 770 heartland – and chillin’ Basil is getting more than it’s share of being chilled out by protesting neighbors and others seemingly concerned for the spiritual well being of their community.

Their kosher supervising organization has been called in to check up, not on their kashrut protocols which are being adhered to the letter, but on those entering the restaurant and whether the eatery is putting their Jewish clientele in some sort of spiritual jeopardy by allowing all manner of clients and get up to enter their premises. Tell me, gentle reader, are we so fragile that we need this kind of policing?  Do we really need to remove ourselves from our very environs in order to thrive and survive? Should we return to the ghettoes of yesteryear Europe? Shall we perhaps move into a 21st century American version of Rome’s 2000 year old Lungotevere Cenci – right next to the ruins of the Roman Forum and a few blocks from the Colisseum – where some Roman Jews still live, surrounded by fortress like walls with the Papal Arms at the gate? Where do we draw the line on what a supervisory organization can or cannot control in its granting of supervision? If they don’t like the music being played or who walks in off the street for a snack or a drink, can they pull their kosher certification?  Clearly, we have the tenets of kashrus which must be followed scrupulously, and we understand that Basil does so.

Photo by: brownstoner.com

When we interviewed Chef Adam, the first time we visited Basil, he mentioned – in passing – how time consuming it was to check the vegetables for bugs and how their culinary artistry is somewhat limited by the constraints of the high standards of kashrus they have to adhere to; yet, he was very proud of the fact that given the constraints they were still able to deliver the high quality and taste that brings customers back time and again.

We remember how Clara, the manager, discussed the attire and attitude of the staff as representing not just a place to eat, but also adhering and respecting the values of the Lubavitch community in whose midst they are located. When some felt the music had too much of a hip beat, Basil‘s management changed it to classical, which didn’t really detract at all (frankly, I thought it made it classier). But… the complaints continued; some protested the type of clientele, some objected to immodest modes of dress, others about speech and behavior, and talk swarmed around to whether kosher certification should be revoked if Basil allows such clients into their restaurant.

I suppose they could have a dress code – as some of the finer restaurants do – jacket and tie- no bare feet, no whatever… should they ban bare shoulders? short skirts? tattoos? foul language? touching? I mean, where do you draw the line? Should they start policing? Should they start handing out shawls, skirts and fig leaves to cover any uncovered areas?

Should the supervising organization threaten to remove their certification if they observe immodest clients eating or snuggling at the restaurant? Should such a dress and behavioral code be enforced throughout the NYC tri-state area? You can be sure that if such enforcement ever takes root, many a prestigious eatery will turn to less qualified, less careful kashrus organizations and the losers will be all of us – the kosher consumers. The fact remains that many of the higher end kosher establishments could not make it if their clientele consisted strictly of Orthodox Jews . I can just see our metropolis now – business men and women being thrown out of the finest kosher dining establishments because a dress is cut too low or a couple has been caught hugging or smooching between courses? Should we require horse blinders for humans and sell them at Basil‘s counter along with the frappé and cappuccino?

We live IN the world, not OUTSIDE of it. The true man of G-d knows how to walk among men and hold his own, gird his loins, look away when necessary, and mind his own counsel despite his surroundings. A true Jew knows how to be a beacon of light by living the Torah and not snuffing out all that glitters. We are the nation that since many a millenia has been turning sparks of ensoulment into huge flames of spiritual warmth and enlightenment. We hold our own in diversity and that is what makes us strong, that is what allowed us to endure after every mighty nation of yore is remembered mostly by its ever present ruins and tales of past glory.

Every upscale kosher restaurant and almost every other kind is constantly faced with the dilemma, but… guess what? A restaurant is not a shul, it is a public place and anyone might come in. Those who are bothered by the proximity of someone who does not meet their standards are under no obligation to patronize such an establishment.

What do you think, gentle reader? We’d love to hear your comments, pro or con.

SYR

11
Oct
10

It Isn’t Just for Kids Anymore


As a kid I used to love macaroni & cheese, my kids loved/love it, so do my grandkids AND… I still like it! Looking at one my favorite Chef’s blog (Chef Laura Frankel), Laura’s Kosher Kitchen, I came across her adult version of a lifelong favorite:

Macaroni and Cheese

Let me have it, let me have it! (Photo by: Elle239 on BlissfullyDomestic.com)

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Serves 6 generously

Ingredients

  • 1 pound macaroni or favorite pasta shape
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 shallot, minced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic minced finely
  • 2 cups of milk (I use whole milk for this)
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese-grated (I use White Sharp Cheddar)
  • 1 cup Emmentaler or Swiss cheese-grated
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • ½ cup bread crumbs-Panko* is perfect for this
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Bring a large saucepan with water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 10 minutes depending upon size of pasta). Drain and set aside.
  2. Place a large sauté over medium low heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add chopped shallot and garlic and sweat the vegetables until they are very soft (about 2 minutes). Add flour and stir together. Cook the mixture for several minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
  3. In a separate pan heat the milk until simmering. Add all at once to flour mixture. Whisk to prevent lumps. Add the hot sauce and cook until thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Add grated cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.
  4. Stir sour cream with cooked pasta. Add cheese mixture and stir to combine. Place in a lightly greased casserole.
  5. Stir bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake at 350 until bubbly and golden (about 30 minutes).

As Chef Laura explains in her intro to this dish:

Use the best quality cheese you can find-do not skimp and by all means, have some fun with it and try your favorite cheeses. I have made this dish with a sprinkling of Blue cheese for an adult version. I also have substituted whole wheat pasta instead of the traditional semolina pasta and no one complained. Attention all comfort food cravers-Skip the box and go for the good stuff-we are after all adults even if we need a bit of comfort now and then.

After a hard, tiring day at work, on any cold day, I find that macaroni and cheese just warms one up as it recharges the batteries…

Enjoy!

CS

08
Oct
10

I was looking for a Peking Duck recipe


Whenever I pass by a Chinese restaurant, my gaze invariably turns to those very shiny, brown colored, ducks that often are displayed so as to be seen from the outside. They look delectable but, alas, they are not kosher… I finally found what promises to be perfect directions for a delicious kosher Peking Duck on the Chef Kosher website.

Here is their recipe:

 

Peking Duck

Photo by: nhahangvannam.com

 

Peking Duck

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 pound) whole duck, dressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 orange, sliced in rounds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 5 green onions
  • 1/2 cup plum jam
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chutney

Directions

1. Rinse the duck inside and out, and pat dry. Cut off tail and discard.

2. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and cloves. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the mixture into the duck. Stir one tablespoon of the soy sauce into the remaining spice mixture and rub over the entire outside of the duck. Cut one of the green onions in half and place inside duck. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3. Place duck breast side up on a rack in a big enough wok or pot and steam for an hour adding a little more water, if necessary, as it evaporates. Lift duck with two large spoons, and drain juices and green onion.

4. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and honey.

5. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place duck breast side up in a roasting pan and prick skin all over with a fork. Roast for 30 minutes.

6. Brush the honey mixture onto the duck and return it to the oven. Turn the heat up to 500F. Roast until skin is richly browned.

7. Prepare duck sauce by mixing plum jam with the sugar, vinegar and chutney in a small serving bowl. Chop remaining green onions and place them into a separate bowl. Place whole duck onto a serving platter and garnish with orange slices and fresh parsley. Use plum sauce and onions for dipping.

The more I reread the above recipe, the better it tastes in my mind… I think if I start preparing it now I could still enjoy for Shabbat, tonight. Hmnnn, that might make this Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, especially memorable!

CS

07
Oct
10

An upcoming wine tasting


Avi Ashman, president and founder of  Israeli Wine of the Month Club has announced its next wine tasting:

What: French Styled Wine from King David’s Valley — Ella Valley Vineyards

When: Thursday, October 28, 2010 7:00 PM

Price: $36.00 per person

Where: Quint, Miller & Co.
34 West 38th Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.) 6th Floor
New York, NY 10018

The beautiful Ella Valley, the site of the first TKO (David vs. Goliath) is now the home of a young and efficient winery nested among quality vineyards. The French trained winemaker Doron Rav Han continues the ancient wine making tradition in the Valley — biblical wine making facility was discovered near the winery recently — and produces some of Israel’s better wines.

Sit back, relax and join other wine lovers at the Israeli Wine of the Month Club’s interactive wine tasting experience.

What is interactive wine tasting?

* Several wonderful Israeli wines will be explored. Cheese, crackers and fruit also served.
* A panel of our Sommeliers/Wine Critics will describe each wine and guide you in exercising your palate tasting them
* You will be encouraged to voice your opinion about each wine and write elaborate notes — be Robert Parker, Tom Stevenson or Daniel Rogov for a night… Every opinion counts !
* We will collect everyone’s tasting notes and distribute them via a newsletter. The newsletter will also include professional tasting notes as well as detailed descriptions of the wineries, and more…

When? October 28, 2010 at 7PM
Where? Quint, Miller & Co.
34 West 38th Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.)
6th Floor
The buzzer on the ground floor (on the right side of entrance door), # 6

How much? $36 at door
RSVP by October 27, 2010 (space is limited)

RSVP to this Meetup:
http://www.meetup.com/Israeli-Wine-Lovers/calendar/15030400/

I’ve been to some of these tastings and I always found (here, here, here and here) the wine selection superlative; the cheeses and fruits specially chosen by Chef Eran Elhalal have invariably been a perfect complement to the potables. I’ll be there, gentle reader, will you? Just come over and say hello!

When you sign up, why not let them know that you first saw it on this blog?

CS

06
Oct
10

Moussaka!!


In our everlasting quest for great recipes, especially for some of our favorite dishes, we often come to a point where it’s hard to decide which one would be better. That, however, was not the case when we were looking for Moussaka. Irene Saiger, on her superb Bamitbach blog, posted a winning recipe:

Photo by: Bamitbach

Moussaka

Ingredients

  • 4 globe eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 4 onions, diced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 tsp each of ginger, turmeric, cumin and paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten

Directions

Drizzle about 3 Tbs of olive oil on a cookie sheet and pre-heat sheet in a 350 degree oven. Peel and slice eggplant, 1/2″ thick, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a single layer on cookie sheet till soft. Turn eggplant slices over and bake other side. (you can fry the eggplant if you prefer but this is a much lighter version) Heat 3 Tbs olive oil in a large heavy pot and add 4 finely diced onions. Saute till golden. Add ground chicken, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon, continue breaking up ground chicken till seasonings are incorporated and meat is lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and cilantro to chicken mixture and cook for about 20 minutes over a low flame, stirring frequently.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish and cover the bottom of the dish with half the meat sauce and add a layer of eggplant. Repeat this so that you end with the eggplant on top. Beat 6 eggs and pour over dish. Bake about one hour, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven.

Enjoy!

SYR just told me she’ll make this dish tonight for dinner, hmmmnn… I just hope she’ll be kind enough to let me taste the leftovers tomorrow. I always made moussaka with lamb, this one should not only be cheaper but the difference in taste will be a welcome variation. Enjoy!

CS

05
Oct
10

Dulce de Leche


I grew up in Uruguay where Dulce de Leche is even more popular (and deservedly so!!!) than peanut butter was ever a favorite here in the US. A cousin sends me this delight, directly from Argentina, every few months and I look forward to it just as a junkie longs for his fix.

Looking through David Leibowitz‘s blog, I came across this mouth-watering recipe which uses Dulce de Leche and I can’t wait to try it!

Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Flan

Adapted from My Sweet Mexico (Ten Speed) by Fany Gerson

Serves 8 to 10

3/4 cup (210g) dulce de leche

For the cake layer:

3/4 cup (150g) sugar

3/4 cup (110g) flour

1/3 cup (35g) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk or plain whole milk yogurt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the flan layer:

1 can (12 ounces, 340g) evaporated milk

1 can (14 ounces, 395g) sweetened condensed milk

4 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC.) Lightly brush or spray an 8-inch (20cm) porcelain mold or cake pan (not a springform pan) with oil.

2. Smear the dulce de leche around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place the mold or cake pan in a larger roasting pan, which you’ll use as a double boiler for baking.

3. To make the cake layer, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk or yogurt, vegetable oil, 1 egg, and vanilla.

5. Use a spatula to stir the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Scrape the batter in the mold, over the dulce de leche.

6. Make the flan layer by blending together the evaporated and condensed milks, the 4 eggs, the vanilla, and salt, until smooth.

7. Over the back of a large spoon (like a big mixing spoon), pour the flan mixture over the cake layer, using the spoon to diffuse the custard as you pour.

8. Cover the mold or cake pan loosely with foil, fill the roasting pan with very hot water, so it reaches halfway up the side of the mold, and bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.

(Note: I found the flan took considerably longer to bake than 50 minutes; mine took practically an 1 1/2 hours. So being checking it at 50 minutes, but note that it may take longer.)

9. Once done, remove from the oven and carefully lift the custard out of the water bath wearing oven mitts, then let the flan cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate the flan until ready to serve.

To serve: Run a knife around the perimeter of the flan, then set a cake or dinner plate overturned on top of the mold or cake pan. Holding both the mold and the plate, flip the two simultaneously and shake gently, until you hear the flan release. Remove the mold. And remaining dulce de leche can be smeared back over the flan.

Storage: The flan can be kept for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Well gentle reader, I know what I’m preparing tonight! I better go shopping, right now, for some missing ingredients…

CS

04
Oct
10

Kosher Cooking Demos at De Gustibus



L’CHAIM SERIES

Event title: DAVID KOLOTKIN – The Prime Restaurant Group

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | 1 – 3:30 PM $95 per class

All food will be strictly kosher

DAVID KOLOTKIN, executive chef of The Prime Grill, imparts his cooking ideas to present a vibrant and informative take on tantalizing New American cuisine for the kosher home chef.

–)oOo(–

Event title: JOAN NATHAN – Cookbook Author

Thursday, November 11, 2010 | 1 – 3:30 PM $95 per class

All food will be strictly kosher

JOAN NATHAN, doyenne of Jewish American cooking, is the recipient of multiple James Beard Awards, a TV personality, and the author of 10 cookbooks, including Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. Joan brings simple yet refined European flavors to the table, seasoned with a hint of the Mediterranean that is always in sync with the needs of the kosher gourmande.

–)oOo(–

Event title: SETH WARSHAW & SHLOMO BLASHKA – etc steakhouse

Monday, November 29, 2010 | 5:30 – 8:00 PM $95 per class

All food will be strictly kosher

SETH WARSHAW, executive chef of etc steakhouse in Teaneck, New Jersey, demonstrates an elegant kosher menu focused on the highest quality meats and satisfying seasonal ingredients.  SHLOMO BLASHKA, of Royal Wine Corporation, will pair the delectable dishes with an array of world-class kosher wines that are sure to please the most discerning palate.

–)oOo(–

Location

Venue : De Gustibus Cooking School
Homepage: http://www.degustibusnyc.com
Street: 151 West 34th Street, 8th Floor
ZIP:
10001
City: New York

Location description:

The cooking school is located on the 8th floor of Macy’s Herald Square on the 7th Avenue side of the building. You can enter the store at 151 West 34th Street and take the passenger elevators to the 8th floor and we are located between the coat / bathing suit department and human resources in the employee section of the store.

Please Click below to Register for this event:
REGISTER HERE

03
Oct
10

Etrog Recipes


Photo by: The Kosher Foodies

You spent a lot of money for a nice looking etrog, used it for all of eight days and Sukkos is over. Now what do you do with it? Many readers asked us for etrog recipes, after scouring the web we found this one at Torah Women.org:

Etrog Jam

*Please keep in mind that etrog are sometimes raised commercially not as food and may be saturated during growth with pesticides. Please ensure that your etrog is safe for consumption.

Ingredients

  • 1 etrog (citron)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

After the Hebrew holiday Succoth, families everywhere will have an extra etrog which can make a delicious jam. Here’s Green Prophet’s recipe to make your own:

Slice and remove as many seeds as possible. Try slicing the long way into eighths to get seeds out as efficiently as possible. There are a LOT of seeds in an etrog so allow at least 1 hr for this step.

Chop fruit into very small pieces, including the peel, consider for this step using the food processor.

Cover fruit with water and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Next, bring everything to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Drain fruit.

Cover fruit with water and simmer again for 20 minutes, then refrigerate everything for at least 12 hours. Drain. Cover fruit with water and simmer uncovered again for 20 minutes. Drain fruit.

(These steps are important since if you skip them the finished product will be bitter!)

Cover fruit with water and add most of the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Be careful here, if you leave it for a minute it can burn on the bottom. If it does burn, do not stir up the burned parts into the jam. Dump the stuff into a clean bowl, wash out your pot, put the jelly back in and continue.

Taste to see if you need to add more sugar. Continue simmering for ½ hour or more. The temperature should be 220º–222º, the water should be syrupy and the fruit should be clear-ish.

It should cool and congeal, if it is still runny some people add ¼ – ½ cup of orange marmalade per quart to add “pectin” and cook 15-20 minutes more. Personally, I think that however it comes out is nice.

And at Chabad.org we found this recipe that is sure to become a favorite:

Etrog Schnapps

Ingredients:

  • Up to 3 Etrogs (citrus)
  • 3 cups Vodka
  • 1.5 cups superfine sugar

Rinse the Etrogs well, and peel the thick yellow skin. Place the peels in a 4-cup container, and add 2 cups of vodka. Store for a minimum of 48 hours in a cool, dark place. Remove the peels from the vodka. Add all the sugar and stir until the liquid is clear. Add the remaining cup of vodka and stir until the mixture is clear. Seal the top and keep it in a cool place for about 6 weeks.

The schnapps will have a distinctive citrus aroma, and a delicate and sweet flavor. A wonderful addition to any occasion.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

SYR




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