Archive for the 'Kosher cooking' Category



20
Jan
12

Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew


Yes, gentle reader, most of us think of brisket as the quintessential Jewish American meat delicacy but more than  just us members of the tribe like it. (it’s long been a holiday staple of Ashkenazi cuisine), the fact remains it is extremely popular in the Orient (China, Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam), as well as in Mexico where it’s known as suadero.

When I came across this recipe chow.com I knew that you’d all enjoy this variation on a theme:

Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew

Ingredients
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 10 (1/4-inch-thick) slices fresh, unpeeled ginger
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce *
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water, plus more for blanching the brisket
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 pounds turnips or daikon radish
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Steamed white rice or cooked rice noodles, for serving

* The original recipe calls for “chu hou paste,” since I could not find a kosher certified brand, after some research I came up with hoisin sauce which is very similar but less spicy. There are two kosher brands Gefen and Joyce Chen.

Directions

  1. Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven halfway with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the brisket pieces and return the water to a boil. Immediately drain the meat through a colander and rinse any scum off of it with cold water; set aside.
  2. Wash and dry the pot. Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and starting to brown, about 1 minute. Return the meat to the pot, add the chu hou paste, and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth, measured water, star anise, sugar, and measured salt and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover with a tightfitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meat is tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and cut the turnips or daikon into 1-1/2-inch cubes, place in a large bowl, and cover with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap. Trim and cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces, place in a small bowl, and cover with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the vegetables until the meat is tender.
  5. Add the turnips or daikon to the pot and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring halfway through the cooking time, until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the scallions, and let sit uncovered for 5 minutes to allow the scallions to soften slightly. Remove and discard the star anise pods. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

19
Jan
12

Hearty Winter Soup


During this time of mild winter days and brutally cold evenings, nothing warms a body better than a delicious hot soup. Last eve I had the following (which I’d prepared a day earlier), it certainly did its job; no wonder soup is considered comfort food:

Hearty Winter Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb 2 oz neck of lamb
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 carrots, sliced
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock *
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fresh parsley sprigs
  • 2 oz pearl barley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottom saucepan and add the pieces of lamb, turning them to seal and brown on both sides. Take the lamb out of the pan and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Add the onion, carrots and leeks to the saucepan and cook gently for about 3 minutes.
  3. Return the lamb to the saucepan and add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, parsley, and pearl barley. Bring the mixture in the pan to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Discard the parsley sprigs. Lift the pieces of lamb from the broth and allow them to cook slightly. Remove bones and any fat and chop the meat. Return the lamb to the broth and reheat gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yields: 4 servings

You may want to prepare the soup a day earlier (as I did), let it cool, cover it, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove and discard the layer of fat from the surface and reheat the soup gently. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve.

* Vegetable Stock

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or corn oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped leek
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fennel
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 bouquet garni

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and leek, cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining vegatables, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the water and bouquet garni, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock into a bowl, let cool, cover and refrigerate. Use immediately or freeze in portions for up to three months.

Yields: 8 1/2 cups

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

RELATED POSTS

Soups as Comfort Food

Soups as Comfort Food – Part 2

Soups as Comfort Food – Part 3

17
Jan
12

Viennese Chocolate Fingers


SYR and I are both confirmed, hopeless, chocoholics. Yes, we love chocolate in almost any shape or form. Here is a recipe she adapted (to make it pareve) from Jacqueline Bellefontaine‘s What’s Cooking Chocolate:

Viennese Chocolate Fingers

Makes about 18

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet margarine
  • 6 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self – rising flour, sifted
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate

Warning: very addictive!!!Directions

  1. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. Beat the sweet margarine and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat the flour and cornstarch into the mixture.
  2. Melt 2 1/4 oz of the dark chocolate and beat into the cookie dough.
  3. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe fingers bout 2 inches long on the prepared cookie sheets, slightly spaced apart to allow for spreading during cooking.
  4. Bake in a prepared oven at 375 F for 12-15 minutes. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets, then carefully transfer with a spatula to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Melt the remaining, dark chocolate and dip one end of each cookie in the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl.
  6. Place the cookies on a sheet of baking parchment and allow to completely set before serving.

Not only do these cookies practically “melt in your mouth,” but the taste is almost unequaled by anything else I can remember. They went so fast, I never got a chance to shoot my own picture and had to use the photo above, a detail from the one appearing  in the book!

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

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

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

30
Nov
11

Graduation Time at CKCA!


Yesterday the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts held their graduation parties for students completing the latest Baking & Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts Programs.

Except for Jesse Blonder's photo of the Culinary Arts Program graduates

From left to right: Shirley Sasson, Lianne Azizollahoff, Ariel Benzakein, Ari Susswein, Eido Jacobowitz, Ben Elchonen, Chef Philippe Kaemmerlé

Chef Philippe Kaemmerlé, the instructor of the Baking & Pastry Program, trained in France, emigrated to New York in 1986, at the age of 28,  and worked as a Pastry Chef in some of New York’s most prestigious restaurants (including Club 21, Windows on the World  and Aquavit, among others). He’s done extensive work with various celebrated caterers and started teaching at CKCA in February 2010.

"Delicious" is an understatement!

Chef Philippe‘s meticulously trained Baking & Pastry Arts graduates – six in number, this time around –  presented us with eclairs, bavarians, chocolate cake, fruit pies, bread, cheese cake and more; presentation was both aesthetic and delicious!

In the early evening Chef Avram Wiseman (no stranger to these pages!) – CKCA‘s Dean and Instructor of the Culinary Arts Program – presented his graduating class of eleven students.

Top row, left to right, Tiffany Tarazi, Sarah Korn, Linda Hidary, Miriam Kronenberg, Elisheva Kohanteb, Chef Wiseman, Yehuda Weinstein. Bottom row, left to right, Ari Susswein, Chananya Rosenthal, Moti Ingber, Shalom Cohen, Miriam Blum (Photo by: CKCA's Director, Jesse Blonder)

With a cocktail style buffet we were treated to shitake tapanades, deviled eggs, salmon pinwheels, stuffed tomatoes, sushi, spicy meatballs and an assortment of other tasty delicacies.

Great presentation, incredibly tasty!

Having eaten at various establishments where CKCA grads are employed, having tasted what these students prepared, I have no doubt that they are bound for glory and success at some fine restaurants.

Congratulations graduates! Congratulations Chef Philippe, congratulations Chef Avram, congratulations Jesse! But, stay warned… we will review the eateries where the members of these two graduating classes may find themselves.

CS

17
Aug
11

Lamb Soup


I like lamb, it is one of my favorite meats. Whether in a soup or in any other form, if a dish has lamb in it I just have to try it. Whether it’s those superb  Slow Roasted Lamb Chops at Mike’s Bistro or the Lamb Soup at Yummy Grill, SYR and I – hardcore carnivores both – are in total agreement that lamb is in a class of its own, we love it!

Recently, while going over some old papers I found cooking notes by my long departed mother in them the following recipe:

Lamb Soup

Yields 4

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 ounces lean tender lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 cups chicken soup
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 inch piece lemongrass, sliced into very thin rounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili paste (I make my own from a recipe I found online, here)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 3/4 ounces bean sprouts snapped in half
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoonolive oil.

 Directions
  1. Trim away all the fat from the lamb and slice it thinly. Cut slices into bite sized pieces. Put the meat in a layer on a plate and sprinkle with the garlic and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cover it and let marinate for one hour.
  2. In a saucepan bring the chicken stock, ginger, lemongrass, remaining soy sauce and the chili paste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. When ready to serve the soup, drop the tomatoes, scallions, bean sprouts and cilantro leaves into the stock.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet, add the lamb and marinade. Strir fry the meat until is no longer red and divide among the 4 bowls.
  5. Add the hot soup to each bowl and serve immediately.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy. I did!
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

23
Jun
11

The Winning Recipe Is…


On May 12th, we announced this year’s Shavuos Contest, as a result we received 26 entries. Some were great, others mediocre. We agonized over which deserved to win, but in the end SYR and I agreed that Pessy Haskelevich‘s entry was the best.

Here is her prize:

The prize basket consisted of all cholov Yisroel N&K cheeses: Slices of Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss, Horseradish Cheddar, Smoked Provolone, Part skim Mozzarella, Muenster, 8 oz chunks of Cheddar, Muenster, Pepper Jack and Mozzarella, 2 tubes each of Fresh Plain Goat cheese and Cranberry Pecan Goat cheese, shredded Pizza, Part Skim Mozzarella and Mexican Blend; sticks of Mozzarella Sticks and Variety Pack and 12 slice packs of White American and Yellow American (Photo by: Anderson International Foods)

Who is Ms. Haskelevich? She’s a food and wine specialist and private chef. She’s catered numerous wine pairing dinners, done Shabatot at hotels, she also does cooking demos for adults and cooking clubs for kids. While talking to Pessy through email I found her very creative, witty and knowledgeable about wine and the delicate nuances of food. You may contact her at: anatomyof taste@gmail.com.

Beet and Asparagus Crostatta

Whether sweet or savory a crostatta is less fussy than a traditional tart and offers a more crisp crust. Use your imagination to change it up throughout the year; butternut squash and red onions in winter, tomatoes and corn in summer and this can easily be dessert if you add ¼ cup sugar to the dough and fill it with fresh fruit.

Photo by: Pessy Haskelevich

Ingredients

Pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Filling:

  • 2 pounds beets, cut in half and thinly sliced
  •  1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  3 tablespoons olive oil
  •  20 mint leaves chopped
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  •  4 stalks asparagus cut into 3 inch pieces
  •  4 oz ricotta or soft goat cheese (optional)
  •  ¼ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

Dough

  1. Pulse flour and salt in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles a coarse meal. 
  2. Drizzle ice water evenly over mixture and pulse until it just forms a ball. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.) 
  3. Gently press dough into a 5-inch disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
  2. Toss beets with vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and mint.  Set aside
Crostatta
  1. Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. 
  2. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with slightly greased parchment paper.
Final Instructions
  1. Distribute the chopped walnuts in the center of the dough leaving a 2-3 inch border.  
  2. Leaving the juices behind arrange the beets with the asparagus on top of the walnuts.  If using cheese, dot the top of the crostatta with small pieces of ricotta or goat cheese.  
  3. Fold dough in on itself to cover outer rim of filling, pleating dough as necessary. 
  4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and freshly ground pepper all over top of the crostata.  
  5. Brush pastry with beaten egg and bake galette until crust is cooked through and golden on edges, 40-45 minutes. 
  6. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes before serving.
Well, gentle folks, this recipe is more than just award winning delicious. So… enjoy!
(On the coming week, we  will feature the two runner up recipes)
CS
29
May
11

Shavuos Recipes


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:

Photo by: levanacooks.com

Cold Watercress Soup Recipe

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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 taste
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a wide heavy pot. Add the leeks and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the celery, zucchini, turmeric, water, wine and salt, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the watercress and cook only a few seconds, until wilted. Turn off the flame.
  5. The remaining ingredients and cream the soup with an immersion blender. Adjust the texture and seasonings.
  6. 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:

Polenta Casserole au Gratin Recipe

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Topping

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, gluten-free OK
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Boil water, oil, and salt in a large pot. Add the cornmeal and stir until thick. This should take about ten minutes.
  2. Stir in the cheese.
  3. 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.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  5. 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.
  6. Grease an 11-by-14-inch lasagna pan. Make one layer polenta, making sure you leave no blank spaces. Add half the sauce.
  7. Repeat: one layer polenta, one layer sauce. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, or until the dish looks bubbly and hot.
  8. Mix the bread crumbs with the butter, and sprinkle over the dish. Bake another 10 minutes.
  9. Let cool slightly before cutting into squares. Makes a dozen servings.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy AND don’t forget to send us your favorite Shavuos recipes (there is a nice selection of cholov Yisroel cheeses as the prize for the best!) to:

kosherscene@gmail.com

Meanwhile, check out Lévana’s pages for more Shavuos delicacies.

CS

RELATED POSTS

shavuos recipes – part 2 

————–

shavuos recipes – part 2

shavuos recipes – part 1

and for prize winning cheese cake recipes: and the winner is…




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