Archive for the 'cookbooks' Category



27
Jul
11

This Evening’s Radio Show


This evening’s show will feature cookbook author Poopa Dweck. Her cookbook Aromas of Aleppo took several decades from when she first got the idea until it came to fruition. It is a cultural history of the 2500 year old community of  Jews in Syria.

Photo by: NOAH ADDIS/THE STAR-LEDGER (June 8, 2008)

Mrs. Dweck has devoted her life to celebrating the legacy of her community and preserving it here in the West. This is her fourth cookbook, having first authored three volumes of Deal Delights. As a young woman she felt compelled to write down the recipes she grew up with and which existed only in the minds of older cooks, which led her to to document the Syrian Jewish cuisine with these beautiful produced book.

Poopa Dweck is a very active community leader in Deal, where she lives with her husband and five children, and she frequently lectures and performs cooking demonstrations.  She’s also the founder of the Jesse Dweck City Learning Center – where young men and women from the Syrian Jewish community learn Torah, their traditions their heritage in Deal, NJ, and New York City. She cofounded the Sephardic Women’s Organization.

This evening at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time), we will have Poopa Dweck on The Kosher Scene Radio Show. Please listen to an exciting conversation about a fascinating chapter that spans over more than two and half millennia of Jewish experience, about a community that dates back to the days of King David.

Last week we had two Talk radio shows, if you missed them or would like to hear them again you can do so here: A Conversation with Menachem Lubinsky and Healthy and Delicious versus Delicious at any Cost

Please tune us in this evening on BlogTalkRadioat 8:00 pm (Eastern Time). Hope to see there!

CS

25
Jul
11

Aromas of Aleppo


Poopa Dweck‘s magnum opus is far more than just an ethnic cookbook. In its pages, the author lovingly brings us the history, the culture, the flavors and aromas of over 2500 years of Syrian Jewry.

As the author tells us in the Preface, the book…

…features dishes that are both disarmingly familiar, exotic, and, above all, healthful.

My community represents a link to a forgotten past. It is one of the few Jewish communities to live through the rise and fall of Moorish Spain and the Ottoman Empire and survive as a modern people in the West while maintaining its venerable traditions. Our soulful culture, with its fervid, tuneful songs and communal celebratory feasts, is at its most vibrant during the Sabbath, holidays, and life cycle events. One of the most artful representations of Aleppian Jewish culture is our food, whose story I have yearned to tell.

By coincidence (is there really such a thing?!?) I was playing Rabbi Moshe Tessone‘s CD Odeh La’El!, as I became engrossed in this coffee table sized, art-book quality tome. The writing is informative and fun, the evocative photography (the colors, the settings, the lighting, the angles, bespeak of a certain rusticity and a sedate elegance at the same time) and the recipes truly introduced me to a world which – as an Ashkenazic Jew – I barely knew. Between this beautiful book and the music I felt transported to another time, to an enchanted region, far from the hustle and bustle of New York and – at least for the moment – life seemed beautiful, simple and far more pure…

Looking through the old photographs, looking at the author’s family, looking at the recipes pictured, almost made me feel as if I was partaking of a holiday meal at her table.

While loeafing though the book I just had to immediately try a recipe. On page 162 I found one that called for some of my leftover matzah meal and tamarind concentrate, which I’d picked up in the nearby Sephardic neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Keftes

Tamarind-Stewed Meatballs

Meatball dishes such as keftes are a tradition all over the Middle East. Some regions use turmeric and others use sumac or lemon and mintas flavoring accents for similar meatballs. Aleppian Jews like to use a combination of tomato sauce and tamarind, the proportions of which can vary according to a family’s preference.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons matzah meal
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sauce:
  • One 6 ounce can tomato paste, or two 8 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ou (tamarind concentrate, page 41), homemade or store bought
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. To make the meatballs, combine the the beef, eggs, matzah meal, salt and Aleppo pepper. Mix well by hand. The mixture should be loose and moist so that it can best absorb the sauce and retain a velvety texture. Shape the meat mixture into walnut-size balls.
  2. To make the sauce, combine the tomato paste, ou, lemon juice, salt, 1 cup of water, and, if desired, sugar, mix well.
  3. In a large ovenproof saucepan, brown the meatballs, one batch at a time, in the oil over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per batch.
  4. Return all the meatballs to the saucepan. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to thicken sauce and allow the flavors to integrate thoroughly.

Variation

For a tangier sauce, increase the ou by 1 1/2 teaspoons and increase the water by 1/2 cup. Or omit the ou altogether for a lighter, more refreshing sauce, especially if you are serving another dish with ou.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! Sifrah daimeh – “May your table always be plentiful”

CS

20
Jul
11

Going Paprikash


Ofer Vardi‘s Going Paprikash is a nicely organized cookbook in the form of an app for the iPhone and iPad…

Above are the title page and the index as they appear on the iPhone.

Ofer Vardi is a journalist with 25 years of experience, currently the Life Style Editor at Israel Hayom. Having always been a foodie who’s been gravitating more and more to write about Israeli and Hungarian cuisines, this app is a loving tribute to his late Hungarian grandmother whose food and kitchen aromas he grew up with. It is based on a well worn notebook of recipes he found after she passed away.

Here are two recipes from this app:

Last eve I broke the fast with the following soup, a perfect summer dish:

Dud-va-vanil’ Soup

Grandma passed away on a Saturday afternoon. Her apartment remained empty for many long days afterward. The aroma of her cooking was no longer there, and the fridge, where we’d always rush on a Friday afternoon to see which cake awaited us for dessert, was now bare.

On the balcony table sat her well-worn notebook of recipes, with which she’d concocted her delicacies like only a grandmother can. The yellowed pages are still adorned with her notes and comments. Five eggs instead of eight, she wrote alongside the ingredient list for a chocolate cake. Here, it turned out, is where the secrets of her success were hidden.

We called her Nana; this was the name I gave my grandmother the day I started to speak, and that’s what it remained, though her name was actually Rózsi.

Armed with this culinary inheritance that Nana left behind, along with countless memories, I embarked on a quest: to try and recreate the beloved flavors of a time gone by.

I gained a lot over a year spent in Budapest, and not just when it came to my weight. During my long stay in the Hungarian capital I became even more connected to one of, if not the, world’s best cuisines.

Grandpa, who passed away when I was four, was known as a ‘leveses’ – ‘soupy’ or ‘soup lover’ in English. That’s how Grandma liked to tell it. Every meal began with a steamy and comforting soup course.

Hungarians love soup, and every self-respecting meal begins with a liquid course, or at least offers one on the menu, even in the middle of summer. Only soup, they believe in Budapest, properly awakens the appetite.

The most famous and beloved of the summer soups, which Grandma often prepared, of course, is meggyleves (MEDGE-LEVESH) – Cherry Soup, or, as my grandmother called it, ‘dud-va-vanil soup’, because, despite 50 years in Israel, she never could say the Hebrew word for cherry, ‘duv-de-va-nim’, correctly.

Cherry Soup :: MEGGYLEVES

What you need (for 4 servings)

  • 1 lb. 2 oz. (½ kilo) cherries (pitted)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup (250ml) whipping cream or 1 cup (200ml) sour cream
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 level tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

What you do

  1. In a large pot, cook cherries with water, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves and sugar for 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate dish, mix flour and sour cream or whipping cream well until a smooth and uniform mixture forms.
  3. Keeping pot over heat, add the flour-sour cream mixture to the pot very slowly while stirring continuously. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Important: if you are using sour cream, do not to boil the soup because boiling will cause the sour cream to separate.
  4. Cool thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Preparing the soup one day in advance is recommended.

Here is another great recipe, (I have to try it!) and a delightful little story to go with it:

What do Dragons Eat?

Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a huge dragon with 24 heads that ate 24 beautiful young girls every day for lunch, fed to him by residents of the town in the valley. If he wasn’t given what he wanted, threatened the dragon, he would breathe 24 flames of fire onto the village. When the time came for Balaton, one of the village men, to feed his beloved to the monster, he flat out refused. “Over my dead body,” he declared.

The dragon grew very angry. The hills shook with 24 ear-splitting roars and the dragon, with his 24 fire-breathing heads, emerged from his lair. In a rage he scraped at the earth until he’d dug a deep crater. Water seeped into the crater, turning it into a large lake whose water seeped over, filling the valley, and whose waves almost drowned the village. Balaton donned his sword and armor and set out to fight the dragon. There was a mighty battle. One by one, Balaton valiantly cut off the dragon’s heads. But when the last head fell, Balaton collapsed, fell into the water and died. In his memory, the village people named the lake after him – Lake Balaton.

During the hot Hungarian summer, the natives retreat to the shores of the large lake. While the lake appears to be dressed for a party, the guests themselves are entirely stripped down. As the seasons change, it isn’t just the clothing that changes in Budapest, but the menus as well. In summer there’s no need for an insulating layer of fat, and even the traditional Hungarian dishes make an attempt at dieting. A favorite main dish for a blazing hot day is Paprikás Krumpli (PAP-RIH-KASH KRUM-PLI), a potato dish in a juicy smoked sausage paprika sauce.

On a boiling day, cooking is done in a bogrács (BO-GRATCH), a traditional cast-iron cauldron, hung over a fire. On the shores of the Balaton, while half-naked revelers grow red from the sun, the boiling potatoes get some color of their own. Though Grandma Nana made do with her made-in-Israel stove and pots, the Paprikás Krumpli she made in the middle of heat wave – a hamseen, as we call it in the Middle East – is impossible to forget. Perfectly square cubes of potato, soft to chew and swimming in purplish pepper sauce. After we’d cleaned our plates with the soft white insides of a loaf of bread, we too were flushed with warmth and pleasure.

Potato Paprikash :: Paprikás Krumpli

What you need (for 4 servings)

  • 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, peeled and diced
  • Water as needed
  • 9 oz. (¼ kilo) kolbasz (dried or smoked Hungarian sausage) or 2 fresh sausages, sliced into rounds
  • 1 level tablespoon sweet paprika
  • Salt to taste

What you do

  1. Brown onion in oil. Remove from heat and season with paprika.
  2. Add a cup of water, pepper, tomatoes and salt – to taste – and return to low heat to cook for half an hour. Add more water as needed during cooking to prevent burning.
  3. Add potatoes and enough water so that the potatoes are completely immersed. Cover and cook until potatoes are soft.
  4. Add sausage and cook for another five minutes.

Some people also add crushed garlic, a pinch of marjoram or hot pepper.

Well organized, with a nice search feature, the recipes are easy, delicious and do not demand any “rich” ingredients, as super Chef and four times piblished cookbook author Lévana Kirschenbaum puts it, “it’s evocative, short and to the point!

On the minus side, however, sometimes the ingredients are not in the order in which they are used. All in all a delightful little app for your iPhone or iPad. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

18
Jul
11

A Cookbook For All Seasons


When I’m doing some serious cooking for a group of family or friends, with a limited amount of time to get the job done, I take a pass on my more fluff-and-glitz cookbooks and gravitate towards the ones that I can rely on to provide me with clear concise foolproof instructions, guaranteed reliable delicious results delivered with relative ease.

And that’s precisely what you can expect from Lévana Kirschenbaum’s new cookbook The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen – Glorious Meals Pure and Simple.

Though aesthetically the book’s layout is rather ordinary looking, the content is superb. It’s jam-packed with healthy mains, soups, salads, pastas, beads and desserts; aside from the general index, the cookbook includes a Passover index and a gluten-free index, with recipe notations indicating gluten free or gluten free adaptable. The recipes and text reflect a seasoned master chef who poured her culinary heart and soul into this cookbook. All content is meticulously organized and the format though visually lackluster nonetheless delivers the author’s usual witty humor and éclat in a most lively entertaining way.

Truly a hitchhiker’s guide to all things good-for-you and delicious, you’ll get never-ending use out of this comprehensive culinary work. The variations that accompany the recipes are awesome as are the tips and running commentary that weave through the pages. It’s like having a master chef or super balabusta mom right there with you preparing your best. Meir Pliskin’s photographs are tastefully done though the publisher’s cropping and cheap printing is somewhat disappointing. Lisa Young’s nutritional info though not revolutionary in content, serves as a useful reminder of healthy choices.

From the book, on page 171:

Roasted Vegetables GF P

Everyone likes a plate of grilled veggies, to eat as is or to use as a filling for sandwiches. I have chosen to share the most ridiculously simple way. First of all, my “grilled” vegies are roasted, requiring no turning over and no maintenance. Second, the trick is endives, radishes, brussel sprouts and fennel; but you will roast carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, potatoes separately because they have a longer cooking time. Roast beets all by themselves so they don’t bleed into your other veggies, or use the wonderful golden beets now available at all good produce stores. For all roasting, remember, one layer, no piling! Lining the baking sheet with foil reduces, or sometimes eliminates, cleaning.

When the vegetables are roasted, go ahead and get a little fancier, if you wish, toss in a little olive oil, chopped fresh basil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a little ground pepper. Most often I add nothing at all!

2 large zucchini, cut in sticks
2 large red onions, sliced thick
3 large red peppers, cut in large sections
1 large eggplant, cut in sticks
2 large portobello mushrooms, cups and stems separated, stems cut in half
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a large cookie sheet (you might need 2) with foil. Spray heavily with vegetable spray. Place the vegetables snuggly and in one layer on the cookie sheet.

Spray heavily again with vegetable spray. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables look slightly charred. The mushrooms (or string beans or asparagus) might be ready first. Slice the mushrooms on a bias when they are cool enough to handle.

The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen cookbook is all about eating right without missing out on taste or style. The key is using healthy, wholesome, fresh ingredients combining flavors with such mastery your palate will think there is magic at play. It’s really the years of trial and error honing skills that have truly reached their apex of expertise. Lévana epitomizes her own quoting of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s words (at the bottom of page 17): “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Don’t miss this essential kitchen tool!

SYR

19
Jun
11

Vegan Desserts – Healthy, Delicious!


Talented, great photographer, passionate baker, all these refer to Hannah Kaminsky and every single one is an understatement when referring to the very young Hanna Kaminsky.

With over 100 recipes and corresponding photos, spread over 239 pages, her new book – Vegan Desserts – is filled with succulent, easy to make confections. Hanna describes her common sense baking philosophy, in the Introduction, this way:

There’s no question about it – food made with ingredients at their prime and in season tastes best. Deceptively simple in concept, but remarkably more complicated than most would like to admit, there’s so much more to take into consideration than just the range of produce available at the nearest grocery store….

[..]Irresistible recipes are about more than fresh fruit – food always tastes better when made with joy, care, and just a pinch of good humor.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Kaminsky, at a photo shoot where she served as the food stylist. At the time it was obvious she had a photographer’s eye for color, shape, positioning. When I picked up her book it became obvious that, though very young, she has also mastered the subtle nuances of flavors and their interaction.

The book is beautifully laid out, with the recipe pages matching or contrasting the colors of the accompanying photos. With sections like Ingredients Summary, Kitchen Tools and Toys, Troubleshooting, Components and Accompaniments, Food Allergy Index, most of the recipes are divided by season, here’s one from the Summer section that’s sure to become a favorite.

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream with Almond Praline Ripple

Roasting fruits and toasting nuts intensifies their flavors, allowing their unique characteristics to shine through, even mixed into a chilly application that can otherwise dull flavors. If you are in a hurry or can’t wait to tame your ice cream appetite, you could leave the apricots as they are and substitute 1 cup of almond butter for the praline ripple, but in my opinion the incredible caramel essence you’ll get with this recipe as written is more than worth the extra effort.

Almond Praline Ripple

  • 1/2 Cup Whole Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Light corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Roasted Apricot Ice Cream
  • 1 Pound Fresh Apricots
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar Firmly Packed
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Amaretto
First, you’ll want to make the almond praline ripple. Start by combining the sugar, water and salt into a small saucepan and placing it on the stove over medium heat. Cook the mixture for 10-12 minutes until it caramelizes and turns a deep amber color. Quickly stir in the almonds to coat and pour everything into a Silpat. Let it cook completely before breaking it into pieces and processing it into a smooth paste. Drizzle in the oil, and it should become the consistency of somewhat runny peanut butter.  Cover and let rest in the fridge while you make the ice cream.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly grease a sheet pan.

Wash and thoroughly dry the apricots before cutting them in half and removing the pits. Place the halves with the cut sides up on your prepared pan, and drizzle them all with the oil. Roast them for about 20 minutes, until they are so tender they can barely hold themselves together anymore.

Let the apricots cool a bit before scooping them all into your food processor and pureeing  them. Once smooth, add in the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, and amaretto processing to combine. Chill the mixture thoroughly in your fridge before freezing it in your ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s directions.

After freezing in the machine, pour the ice cream out into a plastic tub and drizzle the almond praline paste on top. Use a spatula to marble it in, cover, and quickly move it into your freezer so it can solidify.

Even the most cursory flipping through the pages soon makes it all too apparent that Ms. Kaminsky indeed authored this book with joy, care and more than just a dash of love. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

15
Jun
11

Perfect Jewish


Published by Parragon Publishing, UK; 2008

From the dust cover:

The unique flavors of Jewish Regional cooking are brought to life in this fascinating new cookbook. It features an enticing range of 120 recipes from Jewish communities all around the world.

Perfect Jewish is a delightful cookbook by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen features both Ashkenazic and Sephardic dishes divided into 5 sections:

  • Soups, aalads & appetizers
  • Main dishes
  • Light dishes and accompaniments
  • Desserts, cakes & cookies
  • Breads & pastries
The featured recipes cover Central, Eastern Europe and Russia, Spain, Portugal, the Middle East and North Africa. The selections and the beautiful photos paint a rich picture of our culture adapting itself to the various regions around the world that were graced with a Jewish presence.
The easy to follow, detailed recipes, and the mouth watering photos make this a must have book for every kitchen. It was hard to choose just one recipe out the many succulent selections but I finally decided upon something uniquely American, so we adapted (the original deli recipe calls for Gruyere cheese) the following from the book:

Detail from photo on page 142...

The Reubens Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp margarine softened
  • 4 slices “deli” rye bread
  • 4 – 6 oz cooked roast beef, or corned beef, or pastrami, [or a combination of any of these] thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sauerkraut, well drained
  • vegetable oil or margarine for frying
  • Pickled cucumbers to serve [yes, there is recipe for these on page 41, if you are truly ambitious!]
Thousand Island Dressing
  • 1 cup bottled or home made mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup or chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp seeded and finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped pimento
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped sweet and sour pickled cucumber
Following the great emigration of the 1880s, by the 1920s more than 2 million Jews were working in sweatshops. They bought kosher foods from Jewish neighbors and a great Jewish-American institution, the Jewish deli, was born. It served some fantastic sandwiches.
  1. Dressing: Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Store, refrigerated, in an air tight container for up to one week.
  2. Spread margarine on to one side of each bread slice. Lay margarine- side down. Spread the center with 1 tbsp each of the dressing.
  3. Divide the roast beef between 2 bread slices tucking in the slices to fit. Divide the sauerkraut and make an even layer over the roast beef. Top with the remaining bread slices, margarine side out, and press firmly to compress the layers.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet or ridged griddle pan over medium-high heat. Carefully slide the sandwiches into the pan. Press down on on the tops of the sandwiches. Cook for 3 minutes or until the undersides are crisp and golden.
  5. Carefully turn, press down again and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden and the beef is hot. Transfer to a cutting board Cut in half and serve with pickles.
Serves 2
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
CS
25
May
11

A Cookbook for our Times


Fame and fortune come and go these days in a twittered flurry of viral activity signifying not much at all. The famous and infamous become blurred distinctions as we dismiss events with hurried trigger happy flicks of ADHD fingertips itching for the next headline or news byte. We live in a society ruled by obsolescence, disposability, surface chic and ‘what’s in it for me?’ priorities.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the frenzied momentum of the transitory inane; yet some rare individuals manage to adapt to the paroxysm while maintaining their intrinsic skill-set, talents, passions and beliefs. Some of these self possessed champions rarer still can reach out and teach with mass appeal, sharing wisdom, talent and their years of expertise so that even the maniacally distracted stop and take notice.

There is no better master teacher in the culinary world than Levana Kirschenbaum. The woman is a firebrand of positive delightful anecdotal information on fresh healthy wholesome easy ways to cook delicious meals. In her new cookbook, which I got a sneak peak of, Levana holds nothing back. All her collective years of experience are evident in this latest cookbook gem.

With more than 350 recipes in its general index, it includes over 250 delicious gluten-free adaptations and more than 250 Passover friendly dishes. All of these use natural, healthy, wholesome ingredients; what could be better at a time when we becoming increasingly health conscious about our food intake?

The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen is a precious dowry of cooking essentials that any loving mother would pass down to her daughter as a loving legacy of easy and healthful food preparation. This tell all manifest destiny of healthy cooking has wonderful recipes, with multiple variations on a theme, detailed with beautiful pictures, formatted for ease of use, organized and indexed for quick referencing and recipe selection. It’s like all her collections rolled into one, you’re going to love it and come back to it as ‘the source’ time and again for preparing delicious nearly effortless meals. I’ll bet it goes digital! For now you can see it on the shelves by June 1st. Don’t miss it!

Pasta with mock crab , artichokes, and olives. Photo by: Meir Pliskin

SYR

29
Apr
11

Marred by Overpreaching…


Anyone with a smidgen of intelligence, anyone who has ever used the grey matter that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave him/her, realizes that in this age when animals are raised much faster than nature intended them to (with the help of various chemicals added to their foods), red meat consumption has to be cut down. Even yours truly, carnivore to the core, admits it. Thus, I welcomed Roberta Kalechosky’s books when I first heard of them. While I never intended, nor intend, to abandon my preference for meat I was looking for healthy tasty alternatives.

When I got The Vegetarian Shabbat Cookbook by Roberta Kalechofsky and Roberta Schiff and The Vegetarian Pessach Cookbook by Roberta Kalechofsky, I expected to find some great recipes that would lessen my interest in meat dishes. Instead, while I found some intriguing possibilities I also found myself barraged – specifically in the Passover book – with anti meat sophistry based on often made up statistics (even if Ms. Kalechofsky quotes others), out of context quotes and even horribly misquoted quotes. The Vegetarian Pessach Cookbook (published in 2002) spends the first 20 of its 72 pages preaching against eating meat in terms that misunderstand – or purposely obfuscate the intent of – the religious texts she quotes and bringing politics as a reason for ceasing our consumption of meat. I could go on, but I see little point in continuing to discuss the all too often shrill tone of the author’s polemics.

In The Vegatarian Shabbat Cookbook, (published in 2010) a far more attractive tome, far less shrill and more than three times the number of pages than the earlier one, there are some good recipes. Whether she has matured in her thought in the eight years since she published the Passover book, whether she studied Dale Carnegie‘s How to Win Friends and Influence People, or whether her co-author – Roberta Schiff – served as as a tempering foil, she has curbed down her anger and her politics. What emerges instead is a far more sensible book with some interesting possibilities for those who would vary their diets and veer away from constantly eating meat. While none of the recipes got me very excited, unlike other cookbooks we reviewed on this pages, some are definitely not bad and here’s one I intend to try:

Roasted Root Vegetables With Wine Sauce

Preheat Oven to 375 F

  • 3 golden beets scrubbed
  • 1 turnip, scrubbed, but not peeled, if organic
  • 2 parsnips, scrubbed, but not peeled, if organic
  • 2 large potatoes, do not peel if organic
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed, do not peel, if organic
  • 3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 shallot cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of a good prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large soup pot to boil.
Cut all the vegetables into large chunks and put the chunked vegetables in to the boiling water in three or four batches. Boil 2-4 minutes for each batch. Take each batch out and drain.
Put the olive oil in a large skillet. Mix wine, mustard and cumin. When oil is hot (but not smoking), add the mixture of vegetables to the oil.
Add the root vegetables and the sliced shallots and garlic. Stir-fry until golden at the edges. Combine wine with the mustard and cumin and add to the pan. Add salt and pepper.
Transfer to a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes. Turn over every 10-15 minutes.
They should be golden and crispy.
Serves 6-8

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

24
Mar
11

Enlightened Cooking


There is hardly anyone out there who has never indulged in some unhealthy eating. Why? Sure we know that it is probably not healthy, but “it is delicious,” we rationalize, “besides, how bad could it be if I only do it once in a long while?” Chances are we indulge in it more than once in a “long while,” chances are we probably pick up a few other such bad habits. For a long time, at least in most people’s mind, the choice was to deny oneself a lot of gastronomic pleasures or take chances.

Enlightened cooking, elegantly published by: Feldheim Publishers

In 2006 Nechama Cohen, the CEO of The Jewish Diabetes Association, published EnLITEned Kosher Cooking with over 250 recipes running the full gamut from the simple to the elegant. She writes in the Preface:

[...] in Deuteronomy (Devarim 4:15) it is written, “You shall be very careful of yourselves – V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoseichem,” meaning we are obliged to take good care of our health and well-being. It is now becoming more and more clear that it is not only those with actual health problems who have to change their coking and eating habits. Everyone should see if they can make improvements! This is the first step in assuring a healthy future without complications from diabetes and all other terrible diseases that can, God forbid, be caused by obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.

There is much to recommend this book, but we’ll just single out a few things. Not only is it well organized, not only does each recipe have its nutritional facts listed, but under the name of each recipe it tells you whether it a Low Fat, or Fat Free,  Reduced Carb, or Low Carb. Among its 15 Appendixes are: How to Calculate Carbs, another on Calcium-Rich Choices, Nutrition Facts for Fruits and Vegetables (based on a USDA National Nutrition Database), Eyeballing Food for Portion Size, Food Equivalents to name just a few.

The cookbook claims it does not sacrifice on flavor, while providing for healthy eating. We decided to test the truth of such a statement so we made this easy recipe:

Delicious!

Lemon Chicken

Low Carb, Low Fat / Yield: 4 servings

This chicken dish is easy, tangy and delicious.

Directions

  • 11/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, partially frozen
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Sugar substitute equal to 1/4 cup sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons soy or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 bunch watercress, stems discarded
  • 1 large head radicchio leaves, separated

Garnish

  • lemon slices

Directions

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast diagonally into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Pound the pieces in a plastic bag until they are 1/4-inch thick.
  2. Heat oil and spray in a large non-stick skillet. Add half the chicken. Cook over medium heat until barely done, about 1 minute per side; they will not be white in all places. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken, adding spray if necessary.
  3. Using the same skillet and lowering the heat, carefully add wine, sugar substitute and lemon juice to the skillet, season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Dissolve flour with 1/2 cup of the prepared liquid after it has cooled, and add to the skillet.
  5. Return chicken to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the slices are completely white, about 5 minutes.
  6. Line a platter with the watercress and radicchio, and arrange the chicken slices on top. Garnish with the sauce and lemon slices and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size (slice) 1

  • (oz) 5
  • (g) 150
  • Calories 203
  • Protein (g) 32.5
  • Carbs (g) 1.8
  • Fat (g) 3.7
  • Sat. Fat (g) 0.5
  • Cholesterol (mg) 77
  • Sodium (mg) 160
  • Calcium (mg) 34
  • Fiber (g) 0.4

Exchanges

  • Lean meat protein 41/2

We liked the taste, it compared quite favorably with the traditional recipe for Lemon Chicken. We used edible flowers for garnishing, they tasted nice and greatly enhanced the looks. By the way, you may use potato starch instead of flour and you will have a Pessach recipe!

This cookbook definitely proves you do not need to sacrifice taste to eat truly healthy. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

31
Jan
11

Our Guest This Week Will Be…


Last week we presented Jay Buchsbaum the Executive VP of the Royal Wine Co., as our interviewee. You can hear Jay and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things wine, here

This coming Wednesday, at 8:00pm, our guest will be Chef Lévana Kirschenbaum, the regulars of this blog know how much we enjoy her cooking demos, how much we enjoy her recipes. Mrs. Kirschenbaum has written three cookbooks Lévana’s Table, In Short Order and Lévana Cooks Dairy-Free!. She’s now hard at work on her fourth cookbook on Superfoods, due out this coming summer.

Who is Lévana? What are her credentials? Most of you may remember her ground breaking restaurant Lévana’s, but there is far more as we are told on her website:

For nearly thirty years Lévana Kirschenbaum has owned and operated a catering business, a bakery and a successful Manhattan restaurant all while raising a family. She understands that even gourmet chefs don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. With this in mind, she keeps the recipes simple, insisting that using fresh, natural ingredients will yield fantastic results without a lot of fuss.

When Lévana opened her eponymous restaurant with her two brothers-in-law twenty five years ago, all Kirschenbaums were perfectly aware they were facing a hard sell: introduce fine kosher dining to the Kosher public, who until then was content either eating at home or grabbing a bite in the rare joints that served institutional old world treats. The general prediction was that the presumptuous idea would fall flat on its face.

Undaunted by being the trailblazers of the trend, they surrounded themselves with the best chefs, developed the most delicious dishes and waited patiently until the idea of gourmet kosher caught on. The rest, as we all know, is history: kosher food and wine has experienced a veritable explosion and has its place among the most prestigious competitions. Many luxury kosher restaurants have opened and thrived since Lévana’s pioneering days, bearing out the dictum that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

With over 25 years of experience in professional cooking, recipe development, catering and teaching, celebrity chef Lévana makes the preparation of nutritious and exotic gourmet cuisine easy. She gets countless devoted fans for her fearless, practical and nutritious approach to cooking and spreads the good word on simple, streamlined, elegant and wholesome dining in her classroom on the Upper West Side – where she gives weekly demos – and around the country.

What is her goal?

Fine dining that is also contemporary, nutritious and easy to prepare is a way of life that Lévana instills in her classes. Lévana’s unfussy, straightforward approach utilizes fresh, all natural ingredients to create international flavors from her native Morocco and other wide-ranging culinary influences.

I’ve known Lévana for a while now and I can assure you that the show will be truly informative and entertaining. Just listen in, gentle reader, at 8:00pm on Wednesday, February 2nd, on Jewish Radio Network. Enter the site and click on the red “here” under the white “Radio,” then wait about 30 to 90 seconds for the application to start streaming.

CS




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