The Shavuos Recipe Contest, which we announced on May 12th, has so far netted only 11 entries. Come now, gentle readers, we know there are some great cooks out there, please send us your favorite dairy recipes for a chance to win a nice selection of cholov Yisroel cheeses.
Meanwhile, having attended Lévana’s delicious Shavuos themed Dinner and a Show this past Monday, she graciously agreed to share two recipes:
Cold soups would always be a thrill if only they were made with full-bodied and full-flavored veggies, as they are here. No stock or broth whatsoever! Bouillon cubes? Let’s not even go there!
There are several variations you might enjoy on this theme, keeping as always a short and sweet ingredient selection: Broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus instead of the watercress and zucchini; potatoes, turnips, parsnips, cauliflower instead of the celery root. Play with all the possibilities!
The immersion blender is a wonderfully nifty tool, inexpensive and portable (it will fit in a drawer), that allows you to blend your soup directly and in one shot right in your pot. No transferring, no mess. Just make sure there are no bones in the soup, or you will break your blade.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 large leeks, sliced
- 1 large celery knob, diced
- 2 large zucchini, cut in large chunks
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 2 cups dry white wine
- Salt to taste
- 4 bunches watercress, stems and leaves
- Good pinch nutmeg
- 4 cups cold milk or non-dairy milk
- Pepper to tasteDirections
- Heat the oil in a wide heavy pot. Add the leeks and sauté until translucent.
- Add the celery, zucchini, turmeric, water, wine and salt, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, 30 minutes.
- Stir in the watercress and cook only a few seconds, until wilted. Turn off the flame.
- The remaining ingredients and cream the soup with an immersion blender. Adjust the texture and seasonings.
- Chill the soup.
As a kid growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay, I had to contend with two major handicaps:
- The first neighborhood we lived in was mostly Italian and we were the only Jews in our building, the lone Jewboy was a natural target…
- I was extremely overweight and couldn’t run too well, that much better for the nabe’s bullies.
My saintly mother (aleha Hasholom!) decided she’d become the best Italian cook in the neighborhood. Why? So that everyone would want to be invited over for a meal and thus, out of pure self interest, stop beating up the very fat Jewish kid… One of the favorites was polenta, here’s Lévana’s own version:
Please ignore those insipid cooked polenta rolls you find in the supermarket: Making the polenta base takes minutes, and is the bulk of the work for this delicious dish, which will serve a good dozen guests! Au Gratin just means it is topped with a crust: Yum!
This is only one of the wonderful polenta possiblities: You will love to explore them, as it is not only delicious but very nutritious, and gluten-free to boot. You can:
- Eat the polenta as is, hot and un-assembled (in other words, only the first step of the recipe) as the grain for a main course.
- Thin it with a little water, garlic and minced basil, maybe a couple diced tomatoes for a great soup
- Cut the cooled polenta in cubes or triangles and put it right under your broiler flame
- Make other fillings: Roasted diced vegetables (mushrooms, eggplant, red pepper, fennel, artichoke hearts, etc…..
- Make it dairy-free. Cook it in water or dairy-free milk, and/or substitute some white wine for some of the water or milk.
- 9 cups milk, low-fat OK
- A few drops olive oil
- Salt to taste (remember the cheese is salty, so very little please)
- 3 cups coarse cornmeal
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or other strong cheese
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed
- 1 large red onion
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 5 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- Good pinch dried pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, gluten-free OK
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Boil water, oil, and salt in a large pot. Add the cornmeal and stir until thick. This should take about ten minutes.
- Stir in the cheese.
- Pour the mixture into a greased cookie sheet, in a layer no more than half an inch thick. You might fill one and a half cookie sheets. Let the polenta cool.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- While the polenta is cooling, make the sauce: in a food processor, coarsely grind the garlic, basil and onion. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients.
- Grease an 11-by-14-inch lasagna pan. Make one layer polenta, making sure you leave no blank spaces. Add half the sauce.
- Repeat: one layer polenta, one layer sauce. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, or until the dish looks bubbly and hot.
- Mix the bread crumbs with the butter, and sprinkle over the dish. Bake another 10 minutes.
- Let cool slightly before cutting into squares. Makes a dozen servings.
Meanwhile, check out Lévana’s pages for more Shavuos delicacies.
and for prize winning cheese cake recipes: and the winner is…