Archive for January, 2012



13
Jan
12

French Country Casserole


Growing up in Uruguay, my mother used to make many a delicious dish for dinner that became favorites. This one most certainly qualified as comfort food. For a long time I tried to remember the ingredients, while my experiments usually worked well they never quite approached the flavor as I remembered it.

Recently, I came across a recipe that does full justice to my memories. Slightly adapted from MMMM… CASSEROLES (published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2010):

French Country Casserole

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • 4lb 8oz boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 leeks sliced
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rose wine
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus extra sprigs to garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped plumped dried apricots
  • 2 lb 4 oz potatoes sliced
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Photo from: Mmmm... CASSEROLES, page 49

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole. Add the lamb in batches and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5-8 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the leeks to the casserole and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until softened. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Stir in the tomato paste, sugar, chopped mint, and apricots. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Return the lamb to the casserole and stir. Arrange the potato slices on top and brush with the melted margarine. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F, uncover the casserole, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the potato topping is golden brown. Serve immediately, garnished with mint springs.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

11
Jan
12

Biscotti


Biscotti (or biscotto in singular) are Italian cookies which are baked twice, once by first baking in a loaf, then slicing the loaf and baking the slices. They are deliciously crunchy and are just perfect for dipping into dessert wine or coffee.

They are one of my favorite breakfast treats, sometimes I’ll even have them as dessert with wine, after a special dinner. Here is Lévana‘s easy and scrumptious recipe:

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups flour: all purpose, whole wheat pastry or spelt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon instant coffee powder (decaf OK) mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder


Directions

  1. Mix the eggs, sugar and oil by hand or with a mixer, until well combined. Add all remaining dough ingredients and mix to make a smooth dough. The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. On a very lightly foured board, roll each piece into a 12 inch cylinder. Transfer each cylinder onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten into a log about 2 1/2 inches wide and and 1/2 inch thick. Make sure the shaped logs are at least 1 inch apart, as they will expand. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce the temperature to 325 F.
  4. When the logs are cool enough to handle, carefully move them onto a cutting board. Cut 1/2 inch slices with a very sharp serrated knife; put the slices back on the cookie sheet, cut upside down and bake again for 20 more minutes or until golden brown and very crisp. (Take one out and let it cool and then taste it. If it’s not very crisp, return the biscotti to the oven for 2 to three minutes.)
  5. Store at room temperature in an airtight cookie tin.

Yield: About 4 dozen

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

10
Jan
12

Old and the New: Mark Podwal’s Textiles for the Altneuschul


The Yeshiva University Museum (15 West 16th Street • New York, NY 10011 ) has on exhibit, Old and the New: Mark Podwal’s Textiles for the Altneuschul. This exhibit started on November 27th and will close this coming Sunday, January 15th, so the Torah covers and Parokhes (torah ark curtain) can leave for Prague to the Altneuschul.

A miniature on display of the Altneushul and a cut out allowing us to look inside...

The Prague Jewish Community is about one thousand years old, the Altneushul (Old-New Synagogue) was completed in 1270, making the oldest surviving synagogue in Prague. It is now Europe’s oldest active synagogue. An even older place of worship was demolished in 1867 to make space for the Spanish Synagogue. It is in the Altneuschul that legend says the Golem (made by the MaHaRa”L) lies in the attic. On the side of the building there is a staircase leading to the attic, 10ft of the lower rungs have been removed so as to stop the curious from climbing up to look for the Golem. The attic is closed to the general public.

The legend of the Golem has gripped the imagination of Jew and gentile alike over the centuries. Twenty seven years ago, a Chekoslovakian friend – who worked at that country’s Consulate here in New York – told me that when he studied at Prague’s nearby medical school, whenever there would be a hard test coming up throngs of medical students would gather around the Altneuschul to ask for the Golem‘s help in passing the exams.

Another legend is told of a Nazi agent during World War II broaching the genizah, but who perished instead. In the event, the Gestapo apparently did not enter the attic during the war, and the building was spared during the Nazis’ destruction of synagogues.

The New York Czech Center, says on its website:

The textiles, which include a Torah ark cover, three Torah mantles and covers for the Torah reading and cantor’s desks represent the first major commission for the sanctuary of Prague’s Altneuschul in over 70 years. Built in 1270, the Altneuschul, or “Old-New Synagogue,” is celebrated for its architectural beauty and legendary provenance–myth has it its stones were brought by angels. It is one of the few Gothic synagogues in existence and sits at the center of Prague’s Jewish Quarter, a vibrant community famed for its scholars, mystics, writers and intellectuals. Perhaps the most famous of the synagogue’s legends is the Prague Golem, believed to lie dormant in the attic of the building to be restored again, if needed, to defend the Jews.

Mark Podwal, an internationally recognized New York-based artist, author and physician, has long been engaged with Prague and its famed Jewish Quarter. The textiles are the latest and most ambitious of his works relating to Prague’s Jewish Community.

“With its history, mystical legends and remarkable beauty, the Altneuschul is one of the world’s great Jewish monuments–and a living one,” said Podwal, who is known for his drawings on The New York Times Op-Ed page and is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Jewish Museum in Prague and many others. “To be able to contribute to the ongoing religious and communal function of the synagogue is a humbling honor. It was daunting but exciting to make works that reflect and speak to the character of Prague’s broad and rich Jewish fabric.”

Complementing the textiles in the exhibition is a detailed historic model of the Altneuschul (part of YU Museum’s permanent collection), a selection of complimentary graphic work by the artist, and a short original film that charts Podwal’s artistic engagement with Prague and features a behind-the-scenes look at the textiles’ creation.

“We are delighted and privileged to unveil Mark’s striking textiles and to give a New York audience the opportunity to appreciate their beauty as objects as well as their rich liturgical and cultural context,” said Jacob Wisse, director of YU Museum. “We think viewers should, and will, appreciate the way a fresh aesthetic vision has been used to complement a historic site, and how the magic of the synagogue’s and its city’s story are brought to life through the exhibition.”

Torah Ark curtain with the words: "Mima'amkim korosicho - Out of the depths I called you."

The three Torah covers show the banner given the Jewish community, as a gift of gratitude, in 1648 – by the Emperor – for their courageous help in in repelling the Swedish invasion during the Thirty Year War.

sfdsfaf

The banner has the shield of David with a cap worn by the Swedish soldiers, in its center, as well as the sun and it’s rays. The font used for the two Hebrew letters is the same as the font used the famous 1526 Prague Haggadah. The exhibit is complemented by some of Podwal’s prior artwork on Prague (a city that captured his heart, while doing research with Elie Weisel for a book on the Golem).

Two of Mark Podwal's drawings shown over a specially made drawing of Prague's Jewish Quarter...

The exhibit ends this coming Sunday, January 15th[ the textiles will leave for Prague in March to be inaugurated at the Altneuschul.

Also ending this Sunday is the Jews on Vinyl exhibit, which features recordings by Jews as well as non Jews on Jewish subjects. You can listen to various songs, with headphones, at 4 stations arranged to look like 50′s living rooms.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

10
Jan
12

A Conversation with Royal Wine Corporation’s Gary Landsman


Tomorrow evening at 8:00pm (Eastern Time), on BlogTalkRadio.com/kosherscene, we will talk with Gary Landsman about the new wines and liquors from all over the world the company introduced since KFWE 2011. We will talk about how the Kosher Food and Wine Experience has progressively grown into the mega event it’s billed to be this year. Between the restaurants and wineries at the show there will be plenty to see, taste and enjoy.

Meanwhile, if you missed our show last week, why not listen to the archived recording right here. We spoke with Reyna Simnegar the author of Persian Food from The Non-Persian Bride, a beautifully produced book with delicious Persian and Sephardic recipes and great photography.

Well, gentle reader, please listen to our show tomorrow evening at 8:ppm (Eastern Time). We’ll be wait’n for ya!

CS

06
Jan
12

Orchideä, Revisited


One of the delights of the Chanuka holiday is that it’s not complicated by Shabbat like restrictions, making travel and friendly get-togethers all the more versatile, recreational and enjoyable. Since I miss most of the regular Rosh Chodesh gatherings with friends, I especially welcome this warm chilled time of year to visit with friends and family.

Towards the end of ChanukaCS and I had brunch at Orchideä (4815 12th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219 — Telephone: 718-686-7500) with our dear intimate friend, gourmet extraordinaire, Lévana. The tables were packed with clients; a confluence of Amit women, tables filled with young families, friends and business associates. Lévana and I had been to an Orchideä brunch a while back, when she made several suggestions to Mazal, an Orchideä partner with Ofer Cohen, which were happily implemented.

The Salad Bar got restocked twice while we were there...

We enjoyed an expanded salad bar and sushi assortment.

The Sushi Boat, in between refills

Hot main dishes included veggie and cheese stuffed manicotti (perfectly, deliciously, done!!), teriyaki salmon, herbed fish-balls, sautéed vegetables and ziti with vegetables.

CS' salad choice...

Lévana commented: “The yardstick of a good restaurant is good soup, good coffee and good salad”. On this particular visit, the soup was not up where we expected it to be and the coffee started out a bit weak, everything else – however – looked and tasted fresh and delighfully flavorsome. After voicing our concerns, Mazal, most generously served us a round of cappuccinos that were far improved.

Beautifully presented, supremely tasty!

Then we partook of an incredible delicacy… a lovely delicious dish of skewered striped bass teriyaki on a bed of shredded beets and carrots accented with baked garlic; a most chromatic artistic presentation. Like a welcoming crackling fireside hearth kinking out winter’s chill, our conversations were dear, cozy and hard to leave. But, with its beautiful decor, its aromas, its great food, its good service and attentiveness to customer’s suggestions Orchideä is always hard to leave!

SYR

05
Jan
12

Something to Break Today’s Fast With


I’ve been looking to break the assoro beteives fast with something different than my usual (cheeses sandwiches, yogurt, orange juice, danish and coffee), considering it’s winter and it’s quite cold, I figured I should go for some of my youth’s comfort food, like my mother’s fritattas. I barely remembered her ingredients (and yet I dare call them comfort food), thus I had to go looking on the web and I found something made with ingredients I have on hand.

Here is one recipe I adapted from chow.com:

Onion, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas Recipe

by Amy Wisniewski

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 4 ounces chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the onions and mushrooms

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Generously coat the wells of a 12-well muffin pan with butter; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the measured butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and the butter has melted.
  3. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring rarely, until it is a deep golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary if it starts to brown too much, about 30 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, add the thyme, and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, clean, trim, and slice the mushrooms 1/2 inch thick; set aside. Crumble the goat cheese into pea-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. Return the frying pan to medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring rarely, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add to the bowl with the onion. Add the goat cheese to the bowl and stir to evenly combine; set aside.
  6. Place the eggs and milk in a large bowl and whisk until the eggs are broken up and evenly combined with the milk, about 1 minute. Add the measured salt and whisk to combine.
  7. Divide the onion-mushroom-cheese mixture evenly among the wells of the prepared muffin pan. Fill each well almost to the top with the egg mixture.
  8. Bake until each frittata is puffed and the center is just set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack until it’s cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes (the frittatas will deflate). Run a small knife around the perimeter of each well to loosen and remove the frittatas. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy and have an easy fast!

CS

03
Jan
12

Persian Food From The Non Persian Bride and Tomorrow’s Internet Radio Show


Reyna Simnegar‘s Persian Food from The Non-Persian Bride is a beautifully produced book, with many a mouthwatering  recipe. The accompanying text is well written regaling us with tidbits of Persian and Sephardic tradition, the photography with its generally darkish background lures us into wanting to discover more of its mystical, delectable promises.

Many of the recipes also have variations, to accommodate every taste and every cook’s level of comfort. The Appetizers and Side Dishes section is subdivided into Persian Breads, Dips and SaladsFish and Soups follows, then come Poultry and Meat, Persian Stews and Sephardic Shabbat Stews. A long section on Persian Rice is next, followed by Dairy food, Egg Dishes and Persian Snacks subdivided into Persian Breakfast and Persian Snacks, Persian Beverages and Desserts comes next.

After the recipes comes a section on Persian Holiday Tutorial, it briefly explains various holiday traditions and suggest traditional Persian menus. This section end with The Laws of Tarof – And Other Persian Peculiarities I Happen to Love, written with humor and obvious deep love for her newly acquired customs. The book ends with a Glossary and a Culinary Glossary. Advanced or beginning cooks, this cookbook has something for everyone!

I always liked the diminutive Cornish hens, one of my favorite delicacies. Here Mrs. Simnegar takes a recipe and dresses it up in Persian trappings:

Stuffed Cornish Hens With Rose Petals

This dish doesn’t really exist in Persian cuisine, but you it totally sounds Persian! Even Persians will think it comes from an ancient Persian cookbook! In fact, I got this recipe from the book Like Water from Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel,  but I reinvented it with a Persian flair. The rose petals look stunning next to the poultry, but I use them only for garnish. If you want to eat them you need edible roses, which come free of pesticides and you must also the check the petals for bugs — way too much work for me!

4 Cornish hens or 2 whole chickens or 2 cut up chickens

Marinade

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Stuffing (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup dried barberries (optional)
  • 1/4 cup currant raisins or regular black raisins
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • pinch saffron powder
  • 1 cup leftover rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Rose Petal Sauce

  • 1 cup pan juices
  • 1/2 cup rose jam or quince jam
  • 1 tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced or 1 teaspoon lemon concentrate

Garnish

  • Fresh Rose petals (from about 2 roses)
  • 1/4 cup slivered pistachios

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Combine all marinade ingredients and rub all sides of the Cornish hens. Place into a dish and marinate for 2 hours, overnight, or not at all.
  3. Meanwhile, make the stuffing. In a small saucepan, saute the oil, onion, garlic, barberries, raisins, slivered almonds, lime juice, and saffrons for 1 minute. Mix in the rice and remove from heat. Check seasoning and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if necessary. Stuff the poultry; there is no need to sew the cavities.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is no longer pink and an instant-read thermometer reads 160 F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. If the hens still look pale, put under broiler for 5 minutes or until desired color is reached.
  5. Mix all ingredients for the rose petal sauce and drizzle over the hens. Garnish with fresh rose petals and slivered pistachios.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings, depending on the size of the hens.

Tomorrow evening at 8:00pm, (Eastern Time) Reyna Simnegar will be the guest on our BlogTalkRadio.com show. We will discuss her cookbook, how she adapted to her new culture and a lot more. In case you missed it, last week we had an interesting conversation with Rukhl Schaechter, the news editor of the Yiddish Forverts. You can catch the archived show right here.

Meanwhile… enjoy, gentle reader enjoy!

CS

02
Jan
12

Soyummi


A Canadian company, Soyummi Canada, produces a line of gluten free, dairy free, low fat puddings. With purified water and organic whole beans as their main ingredients, Soyummi products come in five flavors: Dark Chocolate, Tapioca, Rice, Cherry and Lime.And… they are all vegan, as they are egg free, and have a natural prebiotic, a source of dietary fiber.

I recently came across these products at a local supermarket, where I picked up two flavors: Dark Chocolate and Tapioca.

I must admit, I was skeptical at first. Though I knew that soy is a very popular substitute for many, many ingredients, I had a tough time believing it would taste very chocolatey BUT… it did. I was pleasantly surprised and could easily see any child with a sweet tooth (which child, doesn’t have one?!?!?) becoming addicted. As a matter of fact, I can think of quite a number of grownups (yours truly included) who’ll like it as well! These products are certified Pareve by MK, (Jewish Community Council of Montreal) one of Canada’s most respected, most reliable hechsherim

According to their website, every flavor comes with:

  • No added sugar
  • Low calorie
  • Low carbohydrate
  • No trans fats
  • Made with organic ingredients
  • Contains a natural prebiotic
  • No preservatives
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose free
  • Cholesterol free
  • Kosher certified
  • Low sodium
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Non GMO
  • Contains isoflavones
  • Bioavailability of naturally balanced nutrients

In April of this year, their Dark Chocolate and Rice puddings were both nominated for the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix New Product Award in the dessert food category, and on June 15, 2011, the Dark Chocolate pudding won second place in this contest. Also, in 2003, the original Soyummi Classic line won first prize in the same category.

Aside from being kosher certified, these products (certified organic and vegan) are healthy and delicious, made from all natural ingredients. What could be better for you or the kids?

CS




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