Archive for December, 2011
I never outgrew my sweet tooth, though there are some pastries which I prefer above all others. Given a choice, I’ll take a Napoleon over almost anything else. In Australia and England they call it vanilla slice, in Italy mille foglie, in Argentina milhojas, in Canada it is gâteaux Napoléon or Napoleon cake, in Poland it’s known as napoleonka, whatever the name and slight variations, I’m addicted to this pastry.
About a year ago, I sampled an incredible variant of a Napoleon, not only did it not look like the traditional version sold in your local bakery, but its flavor was far better than anything I tasted before. Chef Ehud Ezra, Pastry Chef at Basil Pizza and Wine Bar would not divulge his recipe, so it took me a while to come up with one that would be similar to what I had at the restaurant. While looking for a version that somewhat resembled the one that so inspired me, I came up with some bits of food history that I found fascinating. A few details follow:
In 1651, François Pierre La Varenne described a version in his Le Cuisinier François. This was later improved by Marie-Antoine Carême, who – writing in the early part of the 19th century – described Milles-Feuilles as pastry of ancient origin. The Larousse Gastronomique refers to it as Gâteau Napolitain (Neapolitan Cake), after the Italian city of Napoli rather than after the French emperor.
I could never fully duplicate Chef Udi‘s recipe but here’s my approximation:
On Leah Cooks Kosher I found this recipe for the cream which I adapted by reducing the gelatin about 1/4 teaspoon her original called for:
- 1 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
- 4 teaspoons cold water
- 1 1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dissolve the gelatin in the water. Set aside.
- Whip the heavy cream until is starts to thicken. Slowly add the sugar and beat the cream until it is stiff. We don’t want it too soft but we don’t want it to curdle.
- Add the gelatin mixture and beat until combined. Chill for 30 minutes before using.
You can buy frozen puff pastry or, if you are adventurous, make your own; it will certainly taste better!
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (or margarine, for pareve dough), frozen
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water
- Whisk four and salt in a chilled large metal bowl. Set a grater in flour mixture and coarsely grate frozen margarine into flour, gently lifting flour and tossing to coat butter.
- Drizzle 5 tablespoons of ice water evenly over flour mixture and stir gently with a fork until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful; the dough will not crumble if it has the proper texture. Add another tablespoon if needed stirring until fully incorporated and test again. Remember that if you overwork the dough or add too much water it will be tough.
- Form the dough into a 5″ square. It will be lumpy and streaky. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic until firm.
- Roll out on a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, into a 15 by 8 inch rectangle. Position dough with a shorter side facing you, fold into thirds (like a brochure): bottom third over center, top down over dough. Rewrap and refrigerate until firm, about another 30 minutes approximately.
- Position dough with a short side facing you again, on a well floured surface and roll out again folding and refrigerating two more times. Brush off excess flour wrap again in plastic and refrigerate for an hour and half or longer.
For the Napoleon, thaw the dough (whether your own or store bought) for 30 minutes and cut into 4 fairly equal squares; use a toothpick to make about 3 pricks on each. Preheat oven to 400 F, lower to 350 F and bake the squares on a cookie sheet for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Take out, let pastry cool completely and spoon the cream over the first and cover with a second square, spoon cream over it and cover with a third square spooning the cream again. Top it with the fourth piece and sprinkle it with lots of confectioner’s sugar.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
Every age has its food fads; every few years eating habits evolve as we become more conscious of what is healthy – and what is not – as we discover new products which allow for a larger selection of heretofore unimaginable dishes in a traditional Jewish kitchen. These days we see a plethora of new cookbooks that bring kosher cooking to new and exciting levels, yet… some books are destined to become classics to be reprinted over and over. One such book is The New Food Processor Bible – 30th Anniversary Edition.
Norene Gilletz original, The Pleasure of Your Processor, was first published in 1980; in 2002 she revised it with 100 new recipes as The Food Processor Bible and now in 2011 she just came out with a further revision. It’s a classic that keeps getting better and better.
Norene, whom we recently interviewed on our internet radio show, does not believe in a time consuming, the more ingredients the better, cooking style. Her books are filled with straight forward, sensible, easy to follow recipes and the present volume is no exception.
Starting with a section explaining food processors, and continuing with Nutritional Analysis it goes on to through 12 more sections ranging from Appetizers to Passover and covering soups, fish, meat, salads, desserts and more. The results are healthy and delicious.
Here is one of my new favorite recipes (and there are quite a few that we loved!):
Rozie’s Osso Bucco with Gremolata
Yield: 6 servings
- 6 Veal shanks, well trimmed (about 4lb)
- 1/2 cup flour
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, cut in chunks
- 2 medium onions, cut in chunks
- 2 cups mushrooms
- 2 stalks celery
- 3/4 to 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (salt-free or regular)
- 1 can (28oz) tomatoes (salt free or regular)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil minced (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Coat veal on all sides with flour, shaking off excess. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add veal (in batches) and brown slowly on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Discard from a skillet.
STEEL BLADE: Drop garlic through feed tube while machine is running; process until minced. Add carrots and onions and process with quick on/off pulses, until coarsely chopped.
SLICER: Slice mushrooms and celery, using medium pressure. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet. Add vegetables and sauté on medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine, reduce heat and cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, tomatoes and herbs. Season with salt, and pepper. Add veal
Cover and simmer for 2 hours, until tender. At serving time, sprinkle Gremolata on veal
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon rind
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic
STEEL BLADE: Process until finely minced, about 10 seconds. Delicious with veal.
The above recipes (pages 184 and 185), come with the nutritional values. The Osso Bucco recipe also has a variation for cooking in a slow cooker. A perfect dish for Shabbos!
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
We are back with a live show, tomorrow eve at 8:00pm Eastern Time, after 2 weeks of prerecorded (but previously unaired) shows. Our guest, will be Rukhl Schaechter. Rukhl is the news editor of the Forverts, and writes a bi-weekly column called “Nayes far Bney Bayis” (News for the Family). She frequently covers trends and issues in the Orthodox community, and has received several awards by the Independent Press Association of New York.
A number of Rukhl Schaechter‘s short stories and songs have been published over the years. Four of her songs are included in the album “Vaserl“; and the title song, “Vaserl“, which she co-authored with Paula Teitelbaum, appears in the CD “Zingt!“, performed by the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus.
Mrs. Schaechter also helps run the annual Yiddish-speaking retreat called the “Yiddish Vokh“, and is the proud mother of three Yiddish-speaking young men.
Meanwhile, if you missed our last two weeks of shows you can hear them here:
- A Conversation with Norene Gilletz from Gourmania.com
- The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts
- A Conversation with Jacques Dahan
- Pomegranate Supermarket
Please tune us in tomorrow evening on BlogTalkRadio.com/kosherscene at 8:00pm (Eastern Time), for what promises to an interesting, entertaining, informative show. We’ll be waiting for ya!
Having tried this recipe I felt we’d be doing our readers a disservice if we didn’t post it here. What a treat this is! Looks good, tastes good, and the preparations includes a dramatic phoenix moment..
Adapted from Mmmm… Casseroles:
Chicken in Riesling
- 2 lbs all-purpose flour
- 1 chicken, weighing 3lb 8oz cut into eight pieces 0r 8 chicken thighs
- 4 tbsp unsalted margarine
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 12 mushrooms sliced
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 2 cups Riesling Wine
- 1 cup of MimicCreme
- salt and pepper
- 1 chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, to serve
- Season the flour with salt and pepper to taste and taste the chicken pieces in it to coat. Shake off any excess
- Melt half the margarine with the oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, in batches and cook, turning frequently, until browned all over. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
- Pour off all the fat and wipe the casseroles clean with paper towels. Melt the remaining margarine in the casserole, add the shallots and mushrooms, and sauté, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the casserole and remove from the heat.
- Warm the brandy in a small saucepan, ignite and pour it over the chicken to flambé. When the flame dies down, return to the heat, pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat. Transfer the chiocken to a serving platter and keep warm.
- Skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Stir in the MimicCreme, then bring to a boil and reduce by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces and sprinkle with parsley. Serve while hot.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
A gutten Shabbos, Shabat shalom umevorach!
This evening’s show was prerecorded at Pomegranate Supermarket (1507 Coney Island Avenue – corner of Avenue L – Brooklyn, New York 11230; Tel: 718.951.7112). We spoke with Avi Gantz – General Manager, Ari Heineman – Meat Department Manager and Chef Boris, one of the main wizards in Pomegranate‘s kitchens. It will broadcast this evening at 8:30pm Eastern Time on BlogTalkRadio.com.
While I never considered it a pleasure to go to a supermarket, it was just one of those places one had to shop at, that all changed when Pomegranate opened in 2008.
The wide aisles, the cleanliness, the well stacked shelves, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the rich selection of items, the colors of food as it is displayed, all have made Pomegranate a place where a foodie – a kosher foodie – can spend a long time shopping and enjoying the experience.
We spoke about the philosophy behind the store, we spoke to the special people who make every customer feel special and every visit a delectation.
Please tune us in this evening at 8:30pm Eastern Time on BlogTalkRadio.com. Meanwhile you can listen to our earlier programs from this week: The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts and A conversation with Jack Dahan.
Soup is the perfect winter comfort food, warming us after a cold walk or simply enjoyed… because. In all its myriad incarnations, and ingredient variations a good soup warms the heart and soul as it satisfies the palate.
As Ms. Reiss puts it in her Introduction to Soup – A Kosher Collection
Nothing beats a hot bowl of aromatic homemade soup on a cold winter day. It’s a great starter to a meal. It can be elegant or rustic, simple or extravagant, a light beginning or a filling main course. Most often it’s even better reheated the day after you make it…
[..]A simmering soup can fill a house with wonderful, inviting aromas. It can invoke memories of childhood dinners, surrounded by family, which none of us seem to have time for anymore.
From Parve/Vegetarian Soups like Everything But the Kitchen Sink, or Beet Borsht to Dairy Soups like Baba’s Break the Fast Soup, or Beer Cheese Soup; from Fish Soups like Saffron & Garlic Fish Soup, Soupe de Poisson au Provence to Meat Soups like Za’atar Chicken Soup, or Lamb & Fruit Soup, from Fruit and Dessert Soups like Pear Soup with Feta, Pecans & Balsamic Reduction or Chocolate Soup to Accompaniments like Matzo Balls with Fresh Herbs, or Parmesan Croutons this cookbook has it all. Every recipe shows its nutritional values which is great for any weight conscious foodie. With over 150 soup recipes and 6 accompaniments, this is the perfect book for the perfect comfort food! First published in 2004, it is now in its second edition with over 20 new recipes. Pam Reiss is constantly improving her work making it bigger and better.
It was hard to choose which recipe to feature here, but I settled on a dessert soup. I will make it this Shabbat:
This creamy soup makes a great dessert. Serve it with a little fresh-whipped cream and some sliced strawberries, or use it as a cold chocolate fondue. Guests will be surprised when you serve this one!
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups 2% milk
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
In a mixing bowl, wisk together the granulated sugar and the egg yolks until frothy and butter colored.
Using a double-boiler (or place about 2 inches of water in a saucepan, bring to a light simmer and place a metal bowl over it), heat the half-and-half, milk, salt, chocolate and cocoa powder until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture has warmed through.
Slowly add some of the hot chocolate mixture, about 1/2 cup, into the egg/granulated sugar mixture, whisking as you pour it, so that the hot liquid is incorporated right away and the eggs don’t scramble. Slowly poutr this mixture back into the hot chocolate, whisking as you pour. Continue to heat the soup until it has thickened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes, whisking continuously. When you dip a wooden spoon into the soup, then drag a a fingertip through the coating on the spoon, the line should remain clean.
Transfer the soup to a bowl or container, cover with waxed paper and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until the soup is completely chilled.
We’ve reviewed Pam Reiss‘ Passover – A Kosher Collection on these pages before, at the time I wrote, the lady can cook!!! The current book strongly reinforces that notion.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
Tonight Jews around the world will celebrate the first of the eight days of Chanukah. Does the celebration solely commemorate a miraculous military victory? Does the festival of lights merely reflect a historical re-enactment of the providential discovery of a tiny jug of consecrated oil which relit the Temple candelabra, and whose miraculous radiant flame lasted eight days instead of one?
After years of serving as a temple to some Greek idol, the Holy Temple’s service was reinstated in 167 BCE; why then, do we concentrate on the miracle of the Menorah instead of the renewal of proper worship to Hashem? What is so special about the Menorah? As we read in Mishley – Proverbs (20:27): Ner Hashem nishmat adam – Hashem’s candle is the human soul; the candle is a representational symbol of that soul as Hakadosh Baruch Hu shines His divine light upon us through the Menorah. The essence of that divine light is Torah!
It is customary, even praiseworthy, to use pure olive oil when lighting the Menorah. Why? Ve’atah tetzaveh et Bney Yisrael: Vayikchu elecha shemen zait zach… And you will command the Children of Israel thus: Take to yourself pure olive oil… (Shmot 27:20)” ChaZa”L likened learning Torah to olive oil; they taught that living within those teachings makes us pure. Just as pure olive oil enhances the flavor of the food it is combined with, so too does the pure learning and living within the Torah’s teaching enhance our lives, enabling each and every one of us to reach his/her true potential.
In Ohev Yisrael, the Apter Rebbe – Avraham Yehoshu’a Heschel of Opatow, writes that the reason the word “elecha – to yourself”, is used instead of just saying “vayikchu shemen zait zach… – take pure olive oil…” is in order to stress that one must do more than just just follow a command. Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants us to go beyond simple obedience, He wants us to absorb His word until it totally melds into and becomes one with our being, therefore the individual is told “take to yourself,” even though vayikchu is plural!
The Boreh Olam, The Creator, stresses and reminds us, year after year, what is of greatest intrinsic value to Him. It is the absorption, saturation, and reflection of His message within us. It is the purity and beauty with which we bring ourselves to and act out His guidelines without defiling ourselves amidst the galut of our own history making as we talk, walk and act out the roadways of our individual and collective lives. May this Chanukah rekindle in each of us His the brigh lights of Torah and re-establish our own internal worthiness and sense of purpose. May our hearts and spirits become again that pure consecrated olive oil empowered to light and return us to our former greatness meriting the rebuilding of His Holy Temple in Yerushalayim, bimherah biyamenu. Amen!!!
A freilachen Chanukah, Chag Chanukah same’ach, a happy Chanukah!
SYR & CS
Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic and translator often referred to as one of the 20th century’s most significant literary figures, once wrote: Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolates. Chocolate is one of those heavenly foods almost everyone carries on either a secret or an open love affair with. Much has been written on the subject of chocolate. Tens of thousands of recipes have been developed to harness the flavor, to enhance other ingredients by making the combination the human equivalent of fabled celestial fare.
It is all too easy to become a chocoholic; taste a high quality chocolate once and you will forever be under its spell! Writer, journalist and psychoanalysis researcher Judith Viorst said: Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces. I can personally attest that such a feat requires almost herculean will in resisting the temptation to eat them all!
In our everlasting quest to bring you delicious recipes, we have found the following mouthwatering masterpiece in Jacqueline Bellefontaine‘s What’s Cooking Chocolate:
Chocolate and Raspberry Vacherin
A vacherin is made of layers of crisp meringue sandwiched together with fruit and cream. It makes a fabulous dessert for special occasions.
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, grated
- 6 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 cups whipped cream
- 2 cups fresh raspberries
- a little melted chocolate to decorate
- Draw three rectangles, 4 by 10 inches, on sheets of parchment paper and place on 2 cookie sheets.
- Beat the eggs whites in a mixing bowl until standing in soft peaks, then gradually beat in half the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is very stiff and glossy.
- Carefully fold in the rest of the sugar, the cornstarch and grated chocolate with a metal spoon or spatula.
- Spoon the meringue mixture into a pastry bag long fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe lines across the rectangles.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 275 Ffor 1 1/2 hours changing the positions of the cookie sheets, halfway through. Without opening the oven door. turn off the oven and leave the the meringues until they are completely cold, then peel away the paper.
- To make the filling, melt the chocolate and spray it over 2 0f the meringue layers. Leave the filling to harden.
- Place 1 chocolate-coated meringue on a plate and top with about one-third of cream and raspberries. Gently place the second chocolate-coated meringue on top and spread with half the remaining cream and raspberries
- Place the last meringue on the top and decorate with the remaing cream and raspberries. Drizzle a little melted chocolate over the top and serve.
Many a moon ago someone told me, nine out of ten people like chocolate, the tenth one is a liar. I’m starting to believe that may just be the case…
Meanwhile, enjoy gentle reader, enjoy!
Patrick Skene Catling wrote in his book The Chocolate Touch: “Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.” However, as all true chocolate lovers know, not all chocolates are created equal. There are chocolates and then there are CHOCOLATES!
Nestled in the midst of the sparkling glittering bejeweled jungle known as the diamond district; sits a truly priceless holding. Enter the rich, luxurious, intimately French walnut interior of Michel Cluizel chocolatier extraordinaire (584 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. Adorning the shop are vitrines of some of the very finest chocolate made in the world. From cocoa bean beginning to the end of process, Michel Cluizel produces an array of kosher pareve chocolates with 85% and 99% cocoa content.
Through the unrelenting efforts of Jacques Dahan, the manager of the company’s American operation, Michel Cluizel now produces a line of French pastries prepared fresh daily by an award winning French pastry chef.
We sampled the Napoleon, the chocolate ganache, a coffee éclair, an opera, and the chocolate crisp (which was my personal favorite). They all did what chocolate is meant to do but rarely accomplishes these days, they were mouth- watering explosions of delight. I was there with Geila Hocherman, author of Kosher Revolution, and Lévana Kirschenbaum, author of The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen and more. There is nothing as delightful as a group of girls sitting together and eating the most delicious chocolate and chatting about it. Meanwhile, CS was taping a conversation with Jacques Dahan, for his upcoming Wednesday BlogTalkRadio.com broadcast.
Please listen to The Kosher Scene’s two broadcasts this week:
- Monday, December 19th, 8:00pm, Eastern Time –The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts
On Monday evening you will hear a prerecorded conversation with the Dean of CKCA, Chef Avram Wiseman and Jesse Blonder, the school’s founder and director. On Wednesday evening, you’ll get to hear about our tasting at Michel Cluizel.