Archive | February, 2011

Ballin’ on a Budget

27 Feb

What’s a Jewess to do when she and her hubby cannot afford the $225/per person ticket price for the Whole Foods tasting room at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival!?!?  She cases the joint until she spots enough celebrity chefs to feel like her job here is done.  And that, folks, is exactly how the husband and I spent this week’s Sunday Funday.  Forget the fact that we couldn’t really eat half the stuff that’s in there (eating kosher in the house and vegetarian outside of the house), but $225 per person is money out of the honeymoon pot (someday) so that wasn’t happening.  So instead, my sweet, patient husband walked around and around and around the pretty white Food Network tents until we saw something good. . . and I mean good.  The first chef we saw was Emeril Legasse.  Nice.  He was doing his thing at one of the main events so we caught a glimpse and heard a few things he had to share (being 5’10” and 6’1″ has its advantages–namely we can see over the chain link fence so we could actually see and hear everything that was going on in the main tent).  But, I have to say, the most exciting point of the day was spotting one of our favorite Top Chef contestants–Fabio.  Oh Fabio, how you make us laugh, make us cry, make us want to move to Italy and live off the land.  He was totally by himself, just checking out the joint and luckily, I hadn’t had my Sunday Funday margarita yet cause for sure, you could have counted on me jumping up and down yelling, “Fabio!! Fabio!!! Over here!! HI!!!!”.  Instead, I played it as cool as I could (I mean, lucky for him, we were on the commoner side of the chain link fence) while pulling on my husband’s hand and not so calmly telling him, “It’s Fabio. FABIO.”  He tried to get a picture but it didn’t really turn out.  Regardless, it was awesome and totally the icing on the ballin’ sundae.  Well, that and the two for one margaritas we ended up getting across the street as consolation prizes to ourselves for not being able to actually attend the festival.  Happy Sunday Funday!!

Sneaking a peak of Emeril. Shalom Emeril!

Happy just having the opportunity to be near the Food festival!

I couldn't get a press pass in via the Jewhungry blog. It's as if they've never heard of us!? WHAT?!

No Buttermilk Here

26 Feb

Well, we finally got cable, which means the various channels that play cooking shows of all kinds have been having their fair share of viewing time in our house.  We recently discovered Man vs. Food and every time I watch it, my old treif taste buds come roaring back.  Sure, I’d like to sink my teeth into a Philly cheese steak, but I ain’t gonna do it–ever.  Luckily, there are some very tasty meat alternatives out there that allow us to indulge a little.  The most recent episode we saw featured some delicious fried chicken.  Yum.  I mean, YUM.  The secret to some good, Southern fried chicken is a solid 24 hour marinate in buttermilk.  But alas, that’s not happening in our kosher home.  But just because we’re not bathing our chicken in buttermilk doesn’t mean we can enjoy some ‘fried’ chicken.  So, this shabbat dinner I tried out some oven-fried chicken.  Now, Ina (a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa) has an oven-fried chicken recipe but alas it calls for buttermilk so that wasn’t happening.  I scoured the internet for oven-fried recipes that didn’t include dairy and really didn’t find much.  I needed it to be dairy-free but also needed it to be juicy.  As a Southern woman, I find it difficult to think of making any kind of fried or oven-fried chicken without buttermilk but as a kosher woman, well, it’s out of the question.  Still, it needed to be juicy.  I can’t be the only person out there who has sunk there teeth into what looked like a nice, juicy oven-fried drumstick, only to find it so dried up you’re faking your yummy noises while asking for the water (“Mmmmm, soooo good.  Wow. Yum. Can anyone pass the water?”) . Finally, I settled on a recipe from the blog, The Hillbilly Housewife.  I mean hell, I gotta think that an oven-fried chicken recipe from a woman flat-out admitting to being a Hillbilly is gonna a) be delicious and b)gonna involve mounds of butter.  However, there was only a little and it was easily substituted for margarine and the result was very juicy.   I used some fresh bread crumbs made from some left over challah and cooked it for exactly an hour.  There was some thyme, there was some olive oil, there was some kosher salt.  It was all very delicious, if I do say so myself.

Ingredients

(I’m actually not going to put measurements as it really depends on how much chicken you’re making.  Just make sure your chicken is more than fully covered by the bread crumbs/seasonings.  All measurements will be based on your liking)

Cut-up chicken
Fresh bread crumbs
Thyme
Kosher salt
Pepper
Paprika
Garlic Powder
Olive oil – Enough to coat your roasting an
Margarine

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400°.

In an empty freezer bag, or in a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and seasonings.  Put one portion of cut-up chicken in the bag and shake  or coat it in the bowl. Lay the coated chicken in a well oiled 9 by 13-inch rectangular baking pan.

After all your chicken is nicely coated and laid out in the pan, gently place any left over bread crumb/seasoning mixture on top of the chicken to get yourself a nice and extra crispy taste.  Next, put a dollop of margarine on top of each piece of chicken (more for the breast, less for a wing).  This will get it that nice and juicy taste you want.

Bake the chicken for about 45 minutes to an hour. Some people recommend turning the chicken over after it is half done baking. This is probably good advice, but I didn’t turn it over because I like the under sides to be a little more moist and a little less crispy.  I will leave the choice for turning the chicken up to you. You know it’s done when the chicken is a nice, golden brown color and the juice runs clear when you stick a fork in it.

Chicken - happy and coated in their roasting pan.

 

Post-oven and ready to be devoured.

The Beverage

26 Feb

Prepping for shabbat in our household is almost as fun as shabbat itself.  Sure, there’s the normal mad dash to get everything done before shabbat comes in but we’ve split our duties up between household chores (the husband) and cooking (me).  The mad dash usually starts with some tunes put on the record player and each of us pouring ourselves a nice cold, adult beverage.  For me, its beer (I love beer).  For the husband, it’s a mint julip.  The man first fell in love with bourbon probably around the age of 5, when ever good Jewish boy takes a sip from his dad’s cup at kiddish, and he’s been in love with it ever since.  So much so that for his birthday this year, we toured bourbon county and enjoyed tastings at 5 of the biggest bourbon suppliers in the world. I still haven’t developed a taste for it even though I take the smallest sip every shabbat.  Luckily, my brother-in-law discovered sweet tea bourbon for the Southerner in me and now I can enjoy a little bourbon on my shabbat as well.

Mint Julip

Ingredients

  • 1  ounce simple syrup (or 1 heaping tablespoon sugar plus 1 tablespoon water)
  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
Method:
1. In the bottom of the cup or glass, put a tablespoon of simple syrup (or one heaping tablespoon sugar drizzled with 1 tablespoon water). Use more if you prefer a sweeter julep. Add the mint leaves and press lightly with the back of a spoon.
2. Crush the ice cubes in a clean, non-terry dish towel, using a hammer. The ice should be finely crushed. Fill the cup with ice to the brim.
3. Pour over the bourbon. Add more ice to fill the cup, garnish with sprigs of mint and plunk in a short straw.

Note:
To make 1 cup simple syrup, bring one cup of water to a boil. Stir in 1 cup sugar and boil until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool before using.

Barefoot Jewess

16 Feb

Hey Y’all, it’s Whitney.  So my mom is coming into town for her first visit to Miami and her first time visitng the hubby and I in any place we’ve ever lived together.  I’m really looking forward to her visit.  I left work, ran to 2 grocery stores to pick up the goods I need for our Swedish Shabbat lunch, prepared and gravlax and then mom called to say her flight is 3 HOURS LATE!! Boo.  Regardless, it gives me more time to relax, clean, watch some Top Chef and keep an eye out on the gravlax.

Like any red-blooded American woman, I’m a massive fan of Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa.  The woman is living the dream.  This is the kitchen in her barn in The Hamptons:

This is the pantry in her barn:

I mean, I have a microwave cart in the corner of our kitchen that’s about 1/20 the size of one of these shelving units.  Its real real nice.

Sigh.  Anyway, we can’t all have a glorious barn in the Hamptons but we can at least cook like we do in our tiny apartment kitchens and cook we will do.

So, like I said, Mom’s coming into town and I’m thinking gravlax on top of a yummy dark pumpernickel with the mustard sauce paired with a creamy leek soup might be just what the Contessa ordered.  Gravlax is a cold-cured salmon dish popular in Sweden, Norway and other Scandinavian countries.  It is very easy to put together (though I say that now but I won’t know if it all work out until Saturday at lunch) and usually served as an appetizer. See recipe below and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh salmon, center cut
  • 1 large bunch of dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill for serving
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
  • Pumpernickel bread, for serving
  • Mustard Sauce, recipe follows

Directions

Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the piece of fish. Place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place a smaller pan on top of the foil and weight it with some heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting it with the liquid that collects.

Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the bunch of dill, and sprinkle the top with chopped dill. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in long thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Serve with dark pumpernickel bread and mustard sauce. You can also serve with chopped red onion and capers, if desired.

Mustard Sauce:

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground dry mustard

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Combine the mustards, sugar, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped dill. Serve with the gravlax.

Yield: 3/4 cup

A Vegan Shabbs

13 Feb

What happens when you can’t really afford to buy a lot of meat, are having guests over for shabbat lunch and they’re coming to your house for lunch from a meat-filled kiddish?  You make yourself a vegan shabbat.  Now, for those who are new to this kosher thing, it is customary to wait several hours between eating meat and dairy (but only about 30 minutes if you’re going from dairy into meat). So, since I had plans for going diary this shabbat lunch but found out that our guests (and my husband) would be coming back from a meat-tastic kiddish luncheon, the only choice was vegan.  Yum!  I actually really enjoy the occasional vegan meal, dairy-head that I am, but my husband isn’t so enthralled with it so the challenge of creating a delicious and filling vegan shabbat lunch was on.

For shabbat dinner, I made The Barefoot Contessa’s lemon chicken with croutons (ala Annie Grossman) and dang, that stuff was good. Lemon chicken is a staple in our household and was actually the first whole roast chicken I ever made. The extra special yummy part about this chicken is that the ‘croutons’ act as instant stuffing, which is and will remain, my favorite side dish.  The Contessa’s original recipe calls for sauteing the cut up bread but I actually toast it, which helps with the whole ‘stuffing’ feel to the dish.

But lunch was something entirely different.  The menu went something like this:

Chickpea curry
Brown rice
Baked soy tofu with sesame seeds
Roasted cauliflower and sweet potato with tahini and parsley
Generic green salad

Since I can’t take pictures during shabbat, I really only got pictures of the chickpea curry as everything else was roasting right on up until shabbat came in.  It’s a shame too because the cauliflower and sweet potato looked just as gorgeous as it tasted.

Our shabbat lunch guests seemed to really enjoy the meal even though it wasn’t meat (even if they lied, I’m going with it) and more importantly, my husband actually like baked tofu.  I mean, now that is a holy shabbat.

Recipes:

Barefoot Contessa Roasted Lemon Chicken with Croutons:

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted
  • 6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes – PAERVE (make sure your bread is not dairy).

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted margarine or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to

10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Chickpea Curry (Recipe from Two Hippos):
Serves ~8-10

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
oil
3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
tomato paste
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
~12 oz fresh spinach
1 c. vegetable broth (liquid or hot water + powder)
curry
coriander
cumin
crushed red pepper
salt
pepper

Directions

1. Add oil to large saute pan and add the onion and garlic. Stir over medium heat.

2. Add 2-3 tbsp {this is where I didn’t measure so play around} of tomato paste and the tomatoes to the onion garlic mixture. Stir and let it cook into a sauce/gravy (~5 minutes).

3. Add some spices (start with the curry/coriander/cumin/red pepper in smaller amounts and add more to taste). You’ll probably want more curry/coriander/cumin and less red pepper.

4. Add the chickpeas and stir. Let it cook for ~5 minutes.

5. Add 1 c. broth (or mix 1 c. hot water + powder broth, stir, and add). Stir.

6. Let everything cook over low heat until the liquid has reduced into a gravy-like texture. Stir occasionally (~ 1/2 hour). Taste occasionally, adding any or all of the spaces as you see fit.

7.  Add spinach, mix in, and let it wilt into the chickpea mixture.

8. Taste again and add spices (e.g., salt and pepper) as necessary.

9. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Tehina

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower – washed, destemmed and cut into bite-sized portions
3 medium sweet potatoes – washed and cubed
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Paprika
Chopped parsley

Tehina (I don’t use a recipe for making tehina so the recipe below is a best guestimate):
Tahini paste
Hot water
Fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Garlic powder

Directions

Preheat over to 425.

Toss chopped cauliflower and sweet potatoes into a roasting pan with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  After tossing, sprinkle mixture with paprika until your desired amount.  Roast veggies until soft and crispy (about 45 minutes).  Let roasted veggies cool.  Meanwhile, put about 1/2 cup of tahini into a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup fitted with a spout.  Gradually add hot water (not boiling!) until thick and creamy though not too runny (it should be about the same consistency as chocolate or caramel syrup on a sundae).  After achieving desired consistency, gradually add lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time.  Additionally, add pinches of garlic powder and kosher salt until desired flavor (I like a good balance of all but some folks like their tehina more garlicky than lemony and visa versa).  This is truly a recipe where you need to taste as you go.

After you have your tehina to the consistency and flavor of your liking, pour over veggies in an even fashion.  Sprinkle with parsley.

America’s Next Top Salad

9 Feb

I’ve been cooking so much more since the beginning of the year.  It’s kinda freaking me out.  Each time I make something I get a little more brave.  Last week I put my hands into ground turkey meat for crying out loud.  I didn’t die.  No, I lived, but I sure did make a face or 12 and I might have squealed.  I haven’t been ready to relive that experience for the blog yet.  It’ll happen.  I just need a minute or two to get over my experience of making Jewish Meatloaf.  I know.  What does that even mean?  Jewish Meatloaf?  We’ll get there.  Whatevs.

NEXT!

This week I’ve been craving a big salad for whatever reason.  Maybe it’s because I’ve also had a moment or two with fast-food?  Probably.  I had giant spinach salad at work a couple of days ago and I’ve been needing more ever since.  I was partially inspired by Oprah’s Meat Free Mondays challenge but I’m obviously a couple of days late.  Sometimes I move a little slow.  I was also inspired to make a big salad by my friend Kelly.  I was complaining last week about how expensive groceries are and she told me I was going to the wrong place.  I was going to a big supermarket chain here in Chicago.  Today?  I went to a small local grocery store.  Let me tell ya…I saved some serious cash.  Produce doesn’t have to cost a million dollars?  WOW.

Anywho.  So I started researching salads on the internet.  Then I realized that I was researching salads on the internet.  I mean, how silly is that?  I’ve eaten vegetables.  I know what vegetables I like.  So…why the hell research something like that?  I decided to get of my ass and go stand in the produce section at the store and figure it out.  I encourage you to do the same.  My feeling is that vegetables are vegetables.  It’s not like you’re going to pick something for your salad that’s going to clash.  You’re not picking out sweater sets, you’re making food.  A salad.  Be brave.  It’s easier than you think.  My end result is what my husband called, “The BEST salad in the world.”  Sure.  So sometimes he exaggerates.  Whatever.  I like the encouragement.

I will say this about your efforts in the produce department.  A couple chopped veggies go a really really REALLY long way.  My salad could feed an army of starving Jews.  I’m talking this thing is big enough for a family reunion.  It’s big, y’all.  So be careful.  I’m hoping we eat it all before it goes bad.

Ingredients:

Baby Spinach  (why use stupid lettuce when you could have something dark and gorgeous?)

2 squash

1 zucchini

1 red pepper

1 bunch of scallions

1/4 of a small red onion

3 carrots (shredded)

1 head of brocoli

3 eggs

1 small packet of blue cheese

1 can of garbanzo beans

1 can of beats

1 small can of sweet corn

1/2 small bag of walnuts

2 green apples

I cut everything and threw it into a big bowl (the one pictured above), then I realized that I like everything chopped really fine in a salad.  I like to be able to shove a salad in my mouth without having to waste too much effort on big chunks of lettuce or giant pieces of brocoli.  I’m not going to lie.  The salad is kinda amazing.  It also took a long time to chop all of this stuff down into small pieces.  I was going to be all Martha Stewart and make my own salad dressing but the salad took longer than I expected and I stared at different options from Martha’s cookbooks and became overwhelmed.  I had a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge.  That seemed way too easy…so I went for that instead.  I’m going to work on making this a little smaller.  Say…maybe something just big enough for TWO people?  At least I didn’t spend a million dollars on making it happen.

Be our guest, be our guest

8 Feb

OK- maybe I’ve been watching a little too much Beauty and the Beast lately but come on, I couldn’t resist.

This week I’m so excited to be a guest blogger on Jewhungry.  Woot woot.  Jeremy asked me yesterday afternoon if I’d like to throw you guys a bone this week and supply a recipe since Whit is out-of-town and I would have been NUTS to say no.  Have you people noticed that there has been over 400 hits on this site?  I’ll be like, a celebrity guest blogger!  Amazing.

Jonathan and I started keeping kosher-style just over 2 years ago.  Some things were obvious….I didn’t come home with a big can of cream of chicken soup anymore to throw in my chicken casserole.  No more pepperoni pizzas (that was seriously tough).  I didn’t grab the package of turkey bacon to cook with our traditional Sunday morning cheese omelets.

There were some instances though that a few things didn’t even dawn on me until I got home, or sat down to eat, or had taken about 10 bites (oops).  Like the time I brought home catfish.  Yeah, that was dumb (but it was Cajun and on sale!).  And the time I realized that I made homemade french onion soup with beef broth and then put a big ol slice of swiss cheese on top.  Awesome.  So there’s a learning curve for sure.  Every meal it gets easier and I have to say it at least makes you stop and think what you’re putting in your mouth.  I check ingredients on everything now, which is a good thing.  To be honest, I’m sure we’re probably leading a healthier lifestyle as a result of paying attention to what we’re eating and how I’m cooking.

In honor of Jeremy’s love for all things Oprah, and while I’m on the topic of eating healthier, I picked a recipe that I recently made from Bob Greene’s  “The Best Life Diet Cookbook.”  So, I have to admit there are a lot of great recipes in this book and Oprah DID write the foreword for the book it’s based on 🙂  I checked the book out from the library, copied down the recipes I found interesting and wa-la.  Here we are.

בתאבון (Bon Appetit), hope y’all enjoy it!

Pecan-Crusted Trout with Peaches

The combination of trout with pecans and peaches put this dish in the category of southern comfort.  If possible, use U.S. farm-raised rainbow trout, which is delicious, sustainable, and free of contaminants.

1 cup thinly sliced peaches

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1/2 cup AllWhites, or 3 egg whites

1/2 cup of ground pecans

1/4 cup of cornmeal, preferably whole grain

1 pound of trout fillets, cut into 4 pieces, about 4 oz each

Vegetable oil cooking spray

  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, onion, oregano, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. Place the egg whites on a large plate.  Mix the pecans and cornmeal on another large plate.
  4. Take each piece of trout and coat with the egg whites, then the pecan mixture.  Place the dipped pieces of trout on a clean plate.
  5. Coat the skillet with cooking spray (I did this, but next time I’ll just pour olive oil in the skillet…my first round of trout stuck a little bit b/c I just don’t think the spray worked as well as pouring some olive oil in the pan)
  6. If there is not enough room in the pan to cook all the trout comfortably in a single layer, cook in two batches.  Cook until the crust is browned, about 3 minutes.  Flip the trout and cook an additional 3 minutes.
  7. Serve the trout topped with the peach mixture.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes  Total time: 25-30 minutes

I served this meal with the peaches but I also bought a butternut squash, sliced it in half and removed the seeds.  I then cubed the squash and put in a small roasting pan, drizzled some olive oil on top and baked at 350 for 45 minutes…..the butternut squash and the peaches combo was DELISH!!!!!

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