Tag Archives: College

The Gospel of Curry Garbanzo Fries w/Cilantro Lime Yogurt

5 Jan

fries title

Let’s talk for a minute about gospel choir. I love gospel music. I love hip hop, soul, funk, R&B, and basically anything that played on V103 in the 90s (Atlanta folks, you know what I’m talking about). I didn’t discover gospel music though until I went to college, which I get is a weird place for a Jewish girl to pick up gospel music, considering the fact that I went to a private, Presbyterian liberal arts college located in the middle of Amish country, Ohio. But pick up gospel music I did. Just how much did I pick it up? So much that I ended up getting a solo during my freshman year called, Near the Cross.

Now, before you start hurling knishes at me in the name of blasphemy, let’s back up a minute or two to dissect how it is a Jewish girl finds herself singing about Jesus in a large church auditorium in front of hundreds of people.

I grew up loving music. As a children of the 80s, my brother and I listened to everything from Run DMC and the Beastie boys to Michael Jackson and Madonna. However, we also were raised by a Jewish mother and if you think we went through life without listening to Barbra Streissand’s The Broadway album, you’d be crazy wrong. A direct result of listening to this album on repeat during the 7 hour car ride from Atlanta to Louisville, KY where our grandparents lived (there was also some Neil Diamond and Dan Fogelberg thrown in there to spice things up), was my undying love for show tunes and of course, Stephen Sondheim. When it was discovered that I had a decent voice and I loved singing, my mom started me with piano lessons and eventually voice lessons. The piano didn’t stick but I loved my vocal coach, who looked a lot like Annie Potts’ character from Ghostbusters, Janine Melnitz. My coach also happened lived in what can only be described as a gingerbread house that was shrunk in the wash and had an affinity for Yorkshire Terriers so visiting her once a week was a trip. It was like visiting your weird Aunt that never had kids and spent all her money on crap from the Home Shopping Network (before it was dubbed, HSN) and portraits of her dog dressed as various historical figures but who also just happened to be crazy talented too. She taught me amazing technique and to appreciate my alto voice, which led me to gospel music.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

In choral music, the alto is rarely going to get a solo. It’s not quite high enough and most popular choral arrangements are written to showcase the soprano or highest female vocal range. When I entered college and wanted to fill my need for singing, I joined the regular ol’ choir. It was nice enough. We sang traditional hymns and the like but it just wasn’t doing it for me. Then a friend told me about the gospel choir and I figured I was already singing hymns in the regular choir and neither we’re going to take me up on my offer to try out “Light One Candle” or even Barbra’s version of Jingle Bells so what does it matter? Might as well give gospel choir a shot. Well my friends, let me tell you, even the warm-ups during gospel choir rehearsal were soul-shattering. I mean the first time I heard all of our voices in that soulful harmony I gotta admit, I got a little teary-eyed. This was exactly what I was looking for. And, to top things off, by the fifth or sixth rehearsal, our Director asked me to audition for a solo that required an alto. When she told me the name of the song I hesitated a bit and then decided to quietly mention that I am, in fact, Jewish and would she mind that. Well, of course she didn’t mind that because yes, the song was about Jesus but more than anything, the song was about faith, which led her to ask me if I felt comfortable singing a song about faith. That, I did not have a problem with. Of course, I was a little concerned that folks might think I had converted. I also, quite inexplicably, felt very strongly that somehow, my childhood rabbi would find out about this and haul me back to Sunday School so I wore the biggest Star of David necklace I could find come performance day, you know, just to be clear about things.

Garbanzo fries, a close up

Garbanzo fries, a close up

I don’t really remember what happened to the gospel choir or why I stopped attending rehearsals after my freshman year but that solo was to be my one and only foray I to gospel music stardom. I have no real connection between my need to tell you the story of my onetime solo except that lately, I’ve been thinking about all those little incidences of life that add up to make the person we are today.  I think about the person I was in college or in high school or even in my twenties and the person I am today and I can see some stark differences—-mainly in the fact that I have a child, I’m married and I have a bit more confidence/sense of self—-but there are also a lot of similarities.  I would still get up on a stage and belt out a song about faith that just so happened to also be about Jesus.  I’m just not sure I’d do it at synagogue . . . or at the Jewish Day School I work at . . . or my kid’s Jewish day care center . . . or Shabbat dinner . . .

Garbanzo flour and water

Garbanzo flour and water

The mixture should be thick like cement.

The mixture should be thick like cement.

Curry Garganzo Fries with Cilantro Lime Yogurt

(Adapted from a Colicchio & Sons recipe)

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/2 Cups chickpea flour
1 Tsp. kosher salt, plus more
4 Cups low-sodium veggie broth
1 Garlic clove, finely grated
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1/2 Tsp. Ground coriander
1 Tsp. Sriracha
Vegetable oil (for frying, about 1  1/2 cups)

How:

1.  Lightly coat a 13×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk chickpea flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, breaking up any clumps in flour. Make a well in the center and gradually pour broth into well, whisking to incorporate dry ingredients; add garlic, spices and Sriracha and whisk until batter is smooth.

2. Transfer mixture to a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until bubbling and very thick (you will be able to see bottom of pan when whisking), 8–10 minutes.

3. Pour chickpea mixture into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill until firm, at least 3 hours.

4.  Turn chickpea mixture out onto a cutting board and cut into 3x½” pieces. Pour oil into a large skillet, preferably cast iron, to a depth of ¼” and heat over medium-high heat until oil bubbles immediately when a small piece of chickpea mixture is added. Working in batches, fry until fries are deep golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.

DO AHEAD: Chickpea mixture can be made and poured into baking dish 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

See below for yogurt recipe

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

One more shot just cause.

One more shot just cause.

For Yogurt Sauce:

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup, Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp,  Lime juice
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped

How:

Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together until well-combined.  Add addition lime or cilantro per taste.

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

The final plate

Comfort Food – The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Kosher Connection Monday Round-Up

15 Apr

This month’s theme for our Kosher Connection round-up is, as stated above, the best thing I ever ate.  This one was a doozie for me.  There’s so much associated with taste.  It goes beyond the texture, the flavor combination, the exotic-ness of the dish.  For me, it also has so much to do with positive memory.  I remember the first time I had a hot wing.  I remember mom coming home from dinner and giving me her leftover for me to taste even though I was supposed to be going to bed.  I remember sitting at the kitchen counter and taking my first bite and the subsequent burning sensation of my lips and tanginess on my tongue.  I remember thinking, “I need to eat this ALL THE TIME”.  I also remember the first time I had real Italian drinking chocolate while living in Milan in the summer of 1999 (I was supposed to be there to model but come on, who puts the modeling capital of the world in Italy for crying out loud!? More on that in a future post).  I remember the first time I had real Italian espresso and chocolate croissant (again, seriously, if we’re not supposed to eat then put the fashion capital of the world in like, I don’t know, NOT Italy).  I was living abroad for the first time, trying all the food I came into contact with—-tasting freedom and fresh, Italian cooking.  It was heaven. The first time I took a sip of that drinking chocolate I thought to myself, “Yes.  Just, yes.”

You can see it in my 19 year-old eyes.  I want a chocolate croissant and I want it now!  P.S. There was some serious air-brushing that went on here

You can see it in my 19 year-old eyes. I want a chocolate croissant and I want it now! P.S. There was some serious air-brushing that went on here

So for this round-up, I didn’t go complicated.  Instead, I went with a memory of a dish that was rich, creamy, delicious; all my favorites.  It combines my love of cheese, garlic and chicken—but kosher, of course.  This dish also sprung to mind because the memories associated with it are pretty yummy as well.  In 2001 I was a senior in college.  My boyfriend was studying abroad to get his Master’s degree, I was living in the dorm next door to some dudes who decided it would be OK to have band practice in their room at 11PM at night and I was itchin’ to get out of college.  I went to college in a small town in the middle of Ohio called The College of Wooster.  By the time I was a senior I believe there were roughly 1700 students on campus.  So yes, 3 years into that kind of smallness and you’re ready to get.  My senior year started out about 2 weeks before 9/11.  Everything that happened on that fateful day pretty much set the tone for the rest of my senior year.  We felt isolated and alone in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  We were partly chomping at the bit to get out of there and partly terrified to see what the ‘real world’ was like.  I was blessed to have a wonderful and loving group of girl friends, thank Gd, who did everything together.  One very cold winter day, our little group piled in our cars and headed to our girl, Kristen’s mom’s house.  Kristen lived the quintessential Ohio life.  She grew up on a farm and her neighbors, who were miles down the dirt road, were mostly her relatives.  It was a far cry from the suburban Atlanta neighborhood I grew up in.  Anyway, the plan was to get away for a bit and have a taste of home.  I remember that during this time I was especially feeling anxious and scared about the future so a little time at home, even someone else’s home, was exactly what I needed. The minute we walked in the front door, I didn’t want to leave.  The place smelled like everything ‘home’ should smell like.  For dinner that night, Kristen’s mom served us a classic “the college kids are coming to dinner” meal of stuffed chicken breast.  It was breaded, baked and stuffed with cream cheese and spinach.   Now, this was during my ‘BK’ years—-Before Kosher, so please don’t freak out here.  The following recipe includes Tofutti cream cheese.  Anyway, the point is that though it wasn’t culinary genius, it was perfection.  It was warmth and home and love served on an ooey, gooey plate.

The college crew.  I'm fairly confident I'm wearing overalls in this picture. #2002

The college crew. I’m fairly confident I’m wearing overalls in this picture. #2002

Cooking the Greens

Cooking the Greens

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Tofutti Cream ‘Cheese’, Spinach and Zucchini

Ingredients:

3 Chicken breasts, pounded flat
3 TBSP of Coconut Oil
1 Small yellow onion, diced
3 Cloves garlic OR 1 shallot, diced
1 Zucchini, diced
1 Big handful of spinach
1/2 Cup of Toffuti cream cheese
Handful of fresh dill and thyme, washed and cut small to be incorporated into cream cheese for added flavor

Additional Supplies:
Poultry twine
or
Toothpicks

Stuffing the Flattened Chicken

Stuffing the Flattened Chicken

How:

Put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large Ziploc freezer bag and seal it up tight. Using a mallet (or in my case the bottom of another cooking pan), pound those little breasts down until about 1/2 inch thick.  The thinner the better (but not too thin that the stuffing would seep through).  Once flattened, put to the side.  Using a large, deep skillet, about 2 -3 inches at the sides, heat your coconut oil on a medium high level.  Add your onions and sautee until transclucent, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sautee for another minute.  Next, add your zucchini and sautee until just beginning to brown. Finally, add your fresh spinach (you can use frozen as well just make sure everything else has browned by now as the moisture in the frozen spinach will stop the browning process).  Spinach wilts quickly so make sure not to overcook.  Add your spices while sauteeing and adjust to your liking.  Once spinach is nice and bright green and incorporated into the rest of the vegetables, turn the heat off.  At this point, add the toffuti cream cheese and herb mix to the pan and stir all together until you’ve got a nice, creamy mixture of cream cheese, herbs and vegetables.  Once that’s combined, dish out into a separate bowl and clean your pan out to be used to cook the chicken (why do MORE dishes, right?).

Little Chicken Packages of Love

So Close to Being Eaten!

Lay out chicken breasts on a flat surface.  Place a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese mixture onto a little left of the middle of each piece of chicken.  If you put it right in the middle, it’ll make the ‘sandwiching’ of the chicken a bit difficult.  Next, fold the chicken in half so that the cream cheese mixture is sandwiched between the same chicken (see image above).  Take your poultry twine and wrap the chicken up tight like a nice little chicken present so that the filling stays in while cooking (you can also use a toothpick at the ends of the chicken to hold it together but then it should be roasted).  After you’ve done that with all three, put 2 more TBSP of coconut oil into the pan at a medium high level.  Add the chicken to the pan and let brown on each side about 7 – 8 minutes or until the chicken juices run clean and enjoy.

Happy Little Chicken Campers

Happy Little Chicken Campers

A Taste of Comfort

 

 

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