Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chinese Beef & Vegetable Stir Fry

If you are a frequenter of ordering in chinese, toss the take out containers & try this recipe! A while back I posted my version of Chinese chicken stir fry, but this time I used strip beef, & tweaked the sauce recipe a little. Don't get me wrong, I am a frequenter of the bottled teriyaki sauce as a quick fix (Trader Joe's makes 2 unbelievable Kosher sauces- 1. Soyaki 2. Island Soyaki, which is the regular Soyaki but with a twist of pineapple), but tonight I decided to do it from scratch.

You can use any kind of beef/steak, I used strip steak, which is so tender & not tough at all

Chinese Beef & Vegetable Stir Fry
-2 thing NY strip steaks, cut into medium-sized pieces, or chunks if thick
-Cornstarch
-Garlic powder, salt, and pepper
-Medley of vegetables of your choice (I used celery, carrot, collard greens (cut into ribbons), broccoli (blanched first), broccoli stalk (broccoli's best kept secret! Don't throw the stalk away, cut off the end, and then cut off the "branches" & peel until light green and smooth), orange pepper
-Sesame oil + canola oil
Sauce
-1/4 cup tamari sauce (preferred brand: San-J)
-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
-3 tbsp. orange juice
-3 tbsp. honey
-1/2 tsp. lime juice
-Pinch of salt
-1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
-1 tbsp sesame seeds
-2 tsp. cornstarch

-Angel Hair pasta or cellophane noodles
-Garnishes: mango, chopped honey roasted peanuts, scallions

-Blanch the broccoli, or any other tough vegetable that you may be using (i.e. string beans)
-In a large Ziploc bag, add some cornstarch, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put the steak pieces in the bag, close, and shake until all coated.
-Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When it's hot, place the pieces of meat into the oil and cook for a few minutes on both sides (if it's thin, it really won't take very long).
-In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and stir
-Transfer the meat to a glass dish, & add the vegetables to the pan with a little sesame oil, & a pinch of salt.
-Saute 5-6 minutes until vegetables are softened
-Add the meat back in, & then pour the sauce over. Raise the heat to high and toss very well.
-Serve with angel hair pasta, or cellophane noodles, & top with optional garnishes of chopped scallions, honey roasted peanuts, & cubed mango.



It will be sure to please, I can guarantee it :-) Now, if only I could say that in Chinese!


E

P.S. I could imagine that red pepper flakes would fit in well here, but I am not a fan of them; feel free to add it in though!

VOTE!

Hey there!
Please vote for my blog in Joy of Kosher's "Best of Kosher" contest, which has many different Kosher categories. I can't link the personal link to vote for my blog but if you click on this hyperlink; it will take you to the blog category. Scroll down (I've got ways to go & people to beat!) & click on "vote" for That's What She Made!

Thank you!
E

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dijon Salmon Topped with Mashed Potatoes, & Sauteed Collard Greens with Garlic Chips (on the side)

I just realized that I missed my "blogaversary" which was November 14, it's been a great year of blogging and thank you to whoever you are out there who read it, regardless of the fact that I don't update constantly :-)

Anyways, consider this post a heaven sent meal in writing, if I may say so myself. We just finished eating & it was everything in one-all my priorities in a meal: easy, delicious, and most importantly, healthy. In January, I posted Potato Crusted Salmon which was basically thinly sliced red bliss potato layered on a filet of salmon. Let's call this an updated version of that. I saw the idea in Rachael Ray magazine but it could not have gotten more boring: "take mashed potatoes and put on top of a salmon filet. Bake." That was it! Well, I knew I was gonna make it and way better than RR! It's mashed potatoes, which is fairly simple, on top of the salmon, and hit the broiler at the very end for "the golden touch." If you don't already know, I could eat an entire bag / bunch of sauteed kale singlehandedly aside anything in the world for dinner. Here I used collard greens (when I think of collard greens I hear Paula Deen in my head, but it's just as versatile as spinach and kale alike). The best part about this dish is that it is super likely that you will have all the ingredients on hand- salmon in the freezer or fresh, potatoes, and a vegetable, fresh or frozen.

Dijon Salmon Topped
-2 salmon filets
-2.5 tbsp Grey Poupon Mild & Creamy Dijon Mustard (basically regular Dijon mustard, but whole grain, mixed with mayonnaise - it's GREAT)
-1.5 tbsp. brown sugar
-2 tsp. pure maple syrup
-Garlic powder
Mashed Potatoes
-3 Yukon Gold potatoes
-2-4 tbsp. light mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. Earth Balance
-2 tsp. mild & creamy dijon
-Minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, pepper, nutmeg, Italian seasoning, dried parsley, onion powder

-Combine the dijon, maple syrup, some garlic powder, and the brown sugar in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add the salmon to the bowl & let marinate (you can marinate this for hours, or as little as 15 minutes if that's all the time you have), making sure all sides are coated with the sauce.
-Preheat the oven to 375
-In the meantime, peel and quarter the potatoes and place in a pot of water, bring to a boil (pot covered). Boil 10-12 minutes or so until fork tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher (I suggest quartering the potatoes, or even smaller, because it makes for easier mashing). If time allows, I also suggest steaming the potatoes as an alternative cooking method, as it retains way more nutrients than boiling them (it does take longer though).
-Mix in the Earth Balance, mayonnaise, dijon, and any spices you like. I used a little of all the ones I listed above, and just added more salt & pepper to taste.
-Place the salmon on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam, and brush any remaining sauce on top. With your hands (easiest way) spread the mashed potatoes on top of the salmon (you don't need to use it all- I have leftover mashed potatoes for the hubs for lunch!)
-Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the broiler on high and broil for a few minutes until the top gets slightly golden brown.

-While the salmon is baking prepare the
Sauteed Collard Greens with Garlic Chips
-Wash and dry well. Remove the stems, roll up the leaves, and cut into ribbons (medium sized?).
-Thinly slice 2 large cloves of garlic. Add a few drizzles of olive oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and immediately add the garlic (while the oil is still cold). Saute until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and then add the collards to the pan.
-Sprinkle some salt, and toss with tongs. Pour in some water, and cook greens until absorbed.
-Drizzle in just a teaspoon or 2 of lemon juice, and add the garlic chips back in and toss well.

-When the salmon is done, mix a little of the dijon with some honey in a bowl to drizzle over the top of the salmon. Top with french fried onions (product alert- Trader Joe's now sells them! Copycat of French's but just as good!), and the greens on the side. I added some golden raisins to my collards too.

If anyone wants to object to the deliciousness of this dinner, feel free. You know where to reach me ;-)


E
P.S. This picture is from my phone, which doesn't have the best quality. I took a better picture on my real camera but wanted to post this asap!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh What a Side!

Brussel sprouts are a completely underrated vegetable. They can come out bitter if not treated correctly, and are also often overcooked to the point of no return, resulting in mushy, brown remnants of what were once beautifully green mini cabbages (if not cooked correctly, that is). Though there are many ways to cook them, here is one of my favorite ways, I call it a "flash braise" because of the addition to water to the hot pan, allowing the brussels to absorb it, cooking it quickly without sacrificing many nutrients. After all, steaming can be, well, boring. I infuse the brussel sprouts with garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest, just for a little hit. Don't forget to season well with salt and pepper or you will fall victim to the awful, under-seasoned vegi. This method can really be used for any green vegi (string beans, snap peas, asparagus, kale). So quick and easy, healthy, and goes alongside practically anything. Even tofu (stay tuned for my next post which will be some killer tofu recipes. [Though it may actually kill some of you to try them, and those of you know who I am referring to!!!!])

Lemon-Garlic Brussel Sprouts
-1 lb brussel sprouts
-Olive oil
-1 tbsp. lemon juice
-2 tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
-4 cloves finely minced garlic (roughly 1-1.5 tbsp. or so)
-1.5 tsp lemon zest (from about half a lemon)
-Water

-Cut the very ends of the core off each brussel sprout (dont go too deep though, otherwise will fall apart). Trim the outer leaves, if they are bruised, & slice each sprout into about 3 or 4 slices, depending on their size (lengthwise).
-Soak for a while in water with a capful of vinegar in a salad spinner. Drain, rinse, and spin dry well.
-Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the brussel sprouts, stir to coat with the oil, cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
-Slowly add 1/4 cup of water, and let saute until the brussel sprouts are tender, and the water evaporates (5-6 minutes).
-Stir in the parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and some of the lemon zest (leave some for serving), and saute 30 seconds-1 minute until the garlic is pretty much cooked and becomes fragrant. Season again with salt and pepper if needed.
-Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with the rest of the lemon zest.
-Immediately before serving, top the sprouts with some lightly toasted slivered almonds (optional). They give the brussel sprouts an unexpected crunch (Not shown in picture).


Try this side for Thanksgiving, it wont disappoint.

E

Thursday, November 3, 2011

1 Filling... 3 Ways

This recipe I made quite a while ago, but it is so versatile for so many things. It's a spinach/onion/cheese filling, & I've made it in mini raviolis, mini quiche cups (both courtesy of wonton wrappers), & knishes. Its SO simple, and easy.

Filling
-In a large saute pan, saute one large onion with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper
-Let it brown for a few minutes & add in 3 cloves of finely minced garlic and continue to saute, adding more olive oil if necessary (if the pan gets dry).
-Chop up a 16 oz. bag of fresh spinach (or about 2-3 cups frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out)
-Add it to the pan and cook until wilted
-In the meantime, crack an egg into a bowl and whisk
-When the mixture cools, add it to the egg
-Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, & 1/4 cup of Panko crumbs or cornflake crumbs, and a tbsp. of light mayonnaise
-Season with garlic salt, pepper, nutmeg
-To make the raviolis, or the quiche cups get a package of Nesoya wonton wrappers (usually in the refrigerated area of the grocery store. There are frozen brands but they aren't as good).
-For the quiche cups, prepare a 12-cup muffin tin (you might need more than one pan). Place a wonton wrapper in each, it doesn't have to be perfect, just lightly press the center down. Lightly spray each with cooking spray, then add the filling. You don't close them, so you can add a tbsp. or more of filling. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until the edges are browned and the inside has set. They freeze well also!



-For the raviolis, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a foil-lined sheet pan. With a little bowl of water, rub the edges of the wonton wrapper, for sealing. Place a heaping teaspoon amount of filling in the center of each wrapper, and fold as you wish. You can make triangles, or follow the instruction on the back of the package. I made little "envelopes." Bake for 15 minutes, serve with tomato sauce.

The third way I used this filling was in knishes. Just roll out a sheet of puff pastry with some flour, it can be in an oblong shape, doesn't have to be perfect. Fill with the filling, and pull the edges of the pastry up & pinch together. Brush with egg wash, & sprinkle with Italian seasoning and sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Another variation of the knish is to make a danish shape (triangle). With this one, I used the same base recipe, but also added in sauteed mushrooms. Instead of the Parmesan cheese, I used a mixture of feta and shredded mozzarella! Take that, Zomicks!

These little bites (and bigger ones) are great for appetizers, dairy or pareve- or even for Thanksgiving!

E

Monday, September 26, 2011

15 minute meals...

For all of you moms, dads, or anyone else who is short on time & needs a really fast dinner to put together, I have a few solutions, true 15 minute meals- Rachael Ray's got nothing on me... No one said your "quick fix" meal has to be fish sticks (but if you do have the craving, don't worry, I'm totally with you on that one). This meal can literally be put together so quickly, & efficiently if you make it like Tim Gunn- make it work!!!! If you don't multi-task, you should learn, for dinners like this! Today I bought "salmon trout" which I've bought a number of times before- it's probably the fish that people pass over, because it essentially looks like yellow salmon. However, it's softer and lighter, kind of in between salmon & a white fish. Plus is that it's also very well-priced! If you can't find it, the technique can translate over to any kind of fish (i.e. salmon, seabass, tilapia...). The way I'm writing this post is the way I made the meal, so that everything is done right on time.

Maple Spiced Salmon Trout
-2 filets salmon trout or other fish
-Olive oil
-Variety of spices
-2 tbsp. maple syrup
Garlic Oil Angel Hair with Asparagus
-Angel Hair pasta (I use Barilla Plus)
-1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut diagonally
-3 large cloves garlic
-Salt
-Parsley
-Parmesan

-Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, salt generously & add the angel hair pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, & prepare the salmon: spray a round tin with canola spray, & put the (2) salmon filets in. Drizzle them with olive oil. I seasoned the fish with salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion flakes, Italian seasonng, & parsley. You can use any blend of spices you'd like. Drizzle about 1/2-1 tbsp. (REAL) Maple Syrup over each filet, and brush all over so that it's evenly distributed, & set aside.
-The  pasta should take around 7 minutes to cook. A few minutes in, put the cut asparagus in a deep metal collander, & sit it in the pot of pasta, so that some water comes up into the collander, doubling as cooking the asparagus. Alternatively, you can just add the asparagus into the pot with the pasta -it only needs a few minutes to cook- & then fish them out with a spider or slotted spoon. Shock the asparagus by transferring them to a bowl of cold water.
-Drain the pasta & put the salmon in the oven for 15-20 minutes
-In a large saute pan heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Grate the garlic cloves with a Microplane directly into the pan (this is essential, in my opinion, because you don't want to bite into a piece of garlic). Add a pinch of salt, & parsley, and stir. Add the asparagus & then the pasta (for this recipe, I only used enough pasta for tonight, for the 2 of us) & stir all together.
-Sprinkle parmesan over the pasta when serving.

So, in a little over 15 minutes, you've prepared a delicious & healthy dinner!!
(sorry about the poor picture)

I wish everyone a Shana Tova!!!
E

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

Hello foodies,
I'm back!!! (for now- as I usually say after I've taken a brief hiatus)... Between school starting which always stresses me out, & Rosie being sick on and off for like the last month, things have been hectic. I am in school now 3 nights a week and get home at 9 PM, so either I eat a quick fake dinner before or in school, or Avi helps prep dinner for when I get home. Therefore, things have been slow in the kitchen! Needless to say I am all for quick dinners, & this was a chicken cutlet dish I whipped up for Friday night in less than 20 minutes- take that Rachael Ray! Super fast & really good. Serve it up with some couscous, which takes all of 5 minutes to cook, & dinner can be on the table in no time. Plus, the sauce would be perfect spooned over couscous. You can also up this recipe by making it with bone chicken- perfect for Rosh Hashana.

Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce
-2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the reason I say 2-4 is because I used 2 large chicken cutlets for this, but depending on the size/thickness of your cutlets & how much "extra" sauce you like... you can be the judge)
-3 tbsp. flour
-Garlic powder
-Salt & pepper
-Dried Italian seasoning
-1 lemon, zested & juiced
-1/4-1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
-2 tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
-Cornstarch
-Chopped parsley
-Canola oil

-Heat a skillet with a thin layer of canola oil over medium-high heat
-On a large plate, add the flour, some garlic powder, salt & pepper, & Italian seasoning, & mix. Pat the chicken cutlets dry & coat both sides in the flour
-When the pan is hot, add the chicken cutlets. They need a few minutes per side. I usually can tell when to flip them (after say 4 minutes) when the edges around the top of the cutlet start turning white-ish. The key is to to get them golden brown.
-When the cutlets are finished cooking, transfer them to a clean plate, lower the heat to medium-low, add the juice & zest of the lemon (if it's a small lemon, or not very juicy, you can use another 1/2 or whole lemon), scraping the bottom of the pan simultaneously. The heat should be low, or even off if you are doing it immediately after taking the cutlets out. Add the broth immediately, continuing to stir. Now you can slightly raise the heat.
-Add the chopped capers, & add more broth if it doesn't seem like enough (remember I used these amounts to make 2 cutlets).
-Sprinkle in about 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch (or flour)- I recommend putting it in a fine mesh strainer, while stirring or whisking- prevents cornstarch lumps (yuck).
-When the sauce starts to thicken, add the cutlets back in (this is where they can finish cooking if you didn't completely cook them before). Coat the chicken in the sauce, & garnish with chopped parsley.


Enjoy this easy recipe for when you are short on time!!!!

E

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Onion Soup

So apparently onion soup was the biggest thing to make for Tisha Bav... Facebook was exploding with statuses about having onion soup for break-the-fast, or pre-fast. So when boredom & hunger really struck in the late afternoon of the fast, I decided I really wanted ANY soup (because soup is my guilty pleasure) for breaking the fast. However, I barely had any produce but I did have 3 medium sized onions. So I caved, & ventured into the delicious world of onion soup, making it for the first time & it was an absolute success! Onion soup was never something I ordered at restaurants, always thought of it as extremely heavy with all that cheese on top, I tried to control that a little. It's really easy, & this is my spin..

Onion Soup
-2 tbsp. Earth Balance + olive oil
-3 medium sized onions, cut in slices
-1.5 tbsp. sugar
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/3 cup flour
-Salt & pepper
-Nutmeg
-8 cups water (or mixture of water & low sodium vegetable broth)
-Dry roux (see below)

-In a pot, heat 2 tbsp. Earth Balance, & a few drizzles of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions & saute, adding a little more olive oil if it gets too dry. Add some salt, pepper, and just a dash of nutmeg. Saute a few minutes, then sprinkle in the sugar. Let saute until the onions get very soft, & caramelized. Add the flour to the onions, I used a little less than 1/3 cup. Mix well. Add the garlic.  I let the onions saute, lowering the heat to medium/low for about 20 minutes. If they start to stick to the bottom or seem too dry after adding the flour, start adding the water/broth. I used 2 cups of broth and the rest water.
-Add 2-4 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper, you can always season later on after you taste it versus over-seasoning now.
-Bring the soup to a boil, & then let simmer for at least a half hour. Mine simmered for over an hour, because I had nothing else to do! -the longer the better, letting all the flavors meld together.
-To thicken the soup, make a dry roux by taking a heaping tbsp. of Earth Balance & around 1-2 tbsp. cornstarch (or flour if you don't have), incorporating well by mashing with a fork until it becomes like a paste. Add it to the soup, & stir in well. Alternatively, you can just dissolve the cornstarch in a little warm water (you can even use some of the liquid from the soup) to form a paste, getting rid of all the lumps, & then adding that. You want the soup to have a nice silky texture, & not be too thin. Season to taste.
-Top slices of ciabatta bread with shredded cheese, & broil a few minutes. Serve with the soup, garnish with dried parsley.

(I know the picture just looks like any ordinary soup, but it was delicious, the onions were almost falling apart, & it was slightly sweet from being caramelized with the sugar-sooooo good!)
E

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guacamole Soy Burger Sliders

This recipe was one of my 9 days dinners. I was skeptic at first, but they ended up being so delicious, you can hardly even tell that they were soy burgers. I still had slider buns in the freezer from when I made my Lamb Sliders. So, the base of these sliders was a package of soy ground "beef" from Trader Joe's- I don't think the package is quite a pound (maybe 10 or 12 ounces, I'm not sure), but I made 8 sliders from it. I served them on the slider buns with fresh guacamole, sliced pickles, & red onion.

Soy Burgers with Guacamole
-1 package Trader Joe's soy ground beef
-1 small onion or shallot
-2 minced cloves of garlic
-Salt & pepper
-Garlic & onion powder
-1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-1 tbsp. flax meal
-1.5 tbsp. quick cooking oats (i.e. Quakers)
-2 tbsp. (plain) Panko breadcrumbs
-Balsamic Good Seasons dressing
-1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out very well
-Chopped parsley

-Finely chop the onion/shallot, & add to a saute pan with olive oil. Add the minced garlic with the onion, salt & pepper.
-While sauteeing, add the binders (egg, mayo, flax, oats, & panko) to the ground soy beef in a bowl. Add the spices, parsley, spinach, & cooled onion/garlic mixture. I use some balsamic Good Seasons dressing for flavor, about 1/2 tbsp. or so directly in (if you're not sure what this is check it out here. It's an Italian dressing packet that you make in a pre-measured cruet with water, olive oil, & vinegar- I use balsamic. It's my go-to dressing and I always have it made in a cruet in my fridge. You can use any Italian dressing, or just leave it out entirely if you don't have anything comparable).
-Mix well with your hand, incorporating all the ingredients together. It's crucial to use a few binders, as the soy ground beef isn't as "sticky" as meat, so you need to really pack it in. If you find it isn't coming together in a consistency good enough for burgers, add more mayo or Panko. Make 8 patties, tightly packed.
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan. When hot, add the patties. Once you put them in, don't move them around, or they'll fall apart. Let them cook a few minutes, until browned, & then slowly flip them with 2 metal spoons. Using 2 spoons is much better than using a spatula, which may break them.
-Make the guacamole: mash an avocado with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, lime juice, finely chopped dill, & a little light mayonnaise.
-Toast the slider buns, spread a thin layer of guacamole on the bottom bun, top with a burger, dollop a little more guacamole on top to secure the toppings- shredded lettuce, pickle, red onion, whatever you're feeling. Top with the top bun & push down.



Surprise yourself & go for a meatless Monday! You'll feel good!

E

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

When you can't eat food, BLOG ABOUT IT!

I just wanted to say that I made cinnamon buns today & they were absolutely heavenly! Granted they were in no way a short process, rather long... so if you home for a few hours one day, definitely take on this cinnamon bun challenge. The prize is WELL worth the wait. This isn't even close to any original recipe. It is 99% from a cookbook called Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair that I took out from the library pretty much because of the unbelievably amazing looking dessert on the front cover! I'm a sucker for cookbooks with color pictures. I followed each direction, the only thing I changed was using vanilla extract instead of almond extract in the frosting. Also, this recipe says it makes 15 rolls, for some reasons mine made 24! I wasn't complaining, & they were still nice and big!

Cinnamon Buns
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 (1/4 oz) packet active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp. cinnamon

Frosting
- 1.5 cups confectioners sugar
- 3 tbsp. butter, softened
- 3 tbsp. milk
- 1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

-Heat the milk & water in a small saucepan. Add the butter & stir until pretty much melted
-Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, & salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add the milk mixture & beat on medium speed until mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and add enough flour to make a soft dough, about 3 cups.
-To knead with the mixer, replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook (this is what I did, for about 5-8 minutes).

[To knead by hand, place the dough on a well-floured surface and shape it roughly into a ball. Place your fingers on top, curled slightly over the ball, and pull the dough toward you. Then push the dough away, using the heels of your hands. Turn the dough a quarter turn & repeat. When you begin kneading, the dough will be sticky. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, if needed. Knead the dough 8-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. To judge whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place the dough on the work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. The dough should be smooth and elastic, no longer sticky and should spring back].

-Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the sides underneath to form a smooth top. Place it top side down in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough right side up, coating it with a little oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
-Let the dough rise in a warm place 1 hour or until it doubles. When the dough has doubled, the imprint will remain when you poke two fingers with it.
-Lightly grease a 9"x13" baking pan or tin (I put 4 rows of 3 in the 9x13, & I also used 2 small round tins to place 6 rolls each)
-Punch the dough down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to a 9"x18" rectangle. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, mix well. Spread evenly with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Roll the dough up, starting with the long edge, and pinch edges to seal.
-Cut into 1 inch slices (book says 15, I made 24). Place the rolls in a prepared pan. Loosely cover pan(s) with plastic wrap and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled.

Before rising:


Straight from the oven:

-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 40 minutes or until the buns are golden brown. Cool slightly.
-Combine the confectioners sugar, butter, milk, & extract in a medium bowl and beat until smooth. Pour over warm cinnamon buns.


I hope everyone has an easy & meaningful fast, I hope this post doesn't make it harder!!!!
E

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pizza! ...again...

I've previously blogged about pizza, but me & avi made pizza last night so I figured I'd blog about it again. My previous post lists some "pizza essentials" so check it out if you haven't already!

Now, I know pizza dough is very easy to make, but I rarely ever do, because I usually don't really have time. Trader Joe's dough (99 cents a ball of dough- comes in whole wheat, white, or herb) is good & easy enough for my job! Last night Avi rolled out the dough on some flour, & put in on the pizza pan (check out the previous post for my go-to pizza pan, Wilton). Poke the edges with your fingertips to make a crust. Last night we did marinara sauce, kale, red onion, sundried tomatoes (on my side), & Natural & Kosher's Mexican shredded cheese blend - yum!

I forgot to actually take a picture of it, but I did practically the same thing at last post. That is the thing with pizza- there are no rules. You can put fruit on your pizza for that matter, you can make sweet pizza with cinnamon, sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder, or a drizzle of honey! I personally love the heartiness of a green (spinach or kale). A few weeks ago I skipped the tomato sauce, brushed pesto on the dough, & topped with my favorite toppings, as well as dots of ricotta cheese. The pictures that I do have are my pizzas I made Erev Shavuos for the first night meal. One was simply tri-colored peppers, mushroom, and basil chiffonade on garlic-herb crust, & the other was spinach, pepper & caramelized onion on whole wheat. I topped both of them with shredded mozzerella. Unfortunately I don't have pictures of the finished baked product because I put them in as Yuntif began.

Pre-cheese...
 Post-cheese...

Pizza does not need that long to cook, I bake mine at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, because I like a softer crust, & cheese that is just golden brown.

Here are some ideas that you can try on YOUR pizza:

Base
-Marinara sauce
-Tomato Paste (a thicker, deeper tomato flavor)
-Pesto
-Sundried tomato basil sauce (brand: Schneider's)
-Ricotta cheese (as the base, topped with vegetables & then shredded mozzerella on top for a white pizza, or even just without the shredded cheese)
-Cinnamon sugar topped with caramelized apples (sliced apples sauteed in a pan with some brown sugar)


Toppings (these aren't exclusive, can be modified or even combined)
-Asian style (also vegan)= toasted sesame seeds generously sprinkled on the dough, topped with snow peas, pea shoots, shredded carrots, & dot with cubed tofu
-Greek style pizza= (sauce), black or green kalamata olives, fresh or dried oregano, cherry tomatoes, bake & then top with feta cheese during the last 2 minutes of baking just to slightly warm - YUM
-Hawaiian style= sauce, spinach (okay maybe not exactly specific to Hawaiian, but looks good!), pineapple (fresh or canned in pineapple juice), shredded cheese
-Israeli style= sprinkle zaatar on the dough, drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil, and top with Israeli olives, no cheese necessary but can definitely put on. This would be just delicious dipped in chummus- so then I guess it wouldn't actually be considered pizza ;-)
-Italian style= caprese: marinara sauce (or just sliced tomatoes), basil & FRESH thick-sliced mozzarella. (Updated caprese: pesto, sundried tomato, & shredded cheese)
-"Meat" style= look for soy sausage, soy pepperoni, or soy ground beef (can find both at Trader Joe's) to top your pizza with. You can even go all meat & use actual (cooked) ground beef, top with caramelized onions & spices

Practically anything in the produce section of the grocery store can be put on a pizza!!! As you can probably tell, kale or spinach & onion on mine is my absolute favorite. Be creative!!

:-)
E

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sesame Crusted Teriyaki Salmon

There really is not much to this quick salmon recipe. It's perfect for the 9 days, and for someone short on time. I marinated 2 wild salmon filets in Trader Joe's "Island Soyaki" marinade/sauce. It's a HUGE flavor booster, any teriyaki sauce or even tamari sauce with a little honey will do. I particularly love the Island Soyaki because it has pineapple juice in it as well, so it's sweet but still has a teriyaki tang. I think there's ginger in there too. Anyways, I put the filets in the marinade at about 3:00PM. This way, when I got home from school at around 7:30 I could just quickly put it in the oven & not worry about flavoring it.

-2 wild salmon filets
-3/4 - 1 cup any teriyaki style marinade
-1/4 cup [toasted] sesame seeds
-Scallion, cut thin, for garnish, or chives
-Cornstarch

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees & spray a baking tin with canola spray
-With the sesame seeds spread out on a plate or cutting board, lay the salmon filets on top of the seeds, 1 at a time, giving a nice coating to that one side (my salmon was skin-on, so I only chose to coat the top & sides. Feel free to coat the entire salmon filet if yours is skinless). Place the filets in the tin & bake for 20 minutes
-In the meantime, pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, adding in a little cornstarch while whisking well with a fork to prevent lumps. Bring to medium-high and stir until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Start with 2 teaspoons, maybe a tbsp. depending on how much sauce you have (adding too much cornstarch & subsequently over-thickening the  sauce totally ruins it, so don't be overzealous with it)
-Garnish with the strips of scallion or chives, & serve with the sauce.


These days, being in school 3 nights a week, I'm all about quick recipes that aren't compromising on flavor. This salmon really hit the spot! I'm a sucker for anything sesame :-)

E

Monday, August 1, 2011

Watermelon, Feta, & Mint Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Congrats to me on my 50th post!!

I put together this salad in less than 10 minutes & I'm savoring it as I type, wishing I had more!! It is most definitely NOT a skeptic's salad because the ingredients seem so random, yet go so well together if I may say so myself. Granted the idea of watermelon & feta isn't a brand new one that came to me in a culinary dream. Rather it is quite popular & I've seen the 2 paired many times on the Food Network, or otherwise. Anyways, I had a lot of fresh cut up watermelon (Rosie absolutely loves it), & a big block of feta cheese in my fridge. I also had fresh picked mint from Avi's aunt's house, & decided to put together this salad! I made a quick balsamic reduction, drizzled it over & sprinkled some pumpkin seeds/pepitas over top. Everyone knows I'm a sucker for sweet+savory dishes, and this one passes the test with flying colors. The sweetness of the watermelon, freshness of the mint, & the saltiness of the feta, mixed with the crunch of the seeds & the tanginess of the balsamic couldn't be more CRAZY GOOD & looks oh-so-gourmet!

For the salad:
-Watermelon, cut small
-Crumbled feta cheese
-A few mint leaves, finely chopped
-Pumpkin seeds
-Balsamic Reduction

-Make the balsamic reduction by adding about 1/4 cup of balsamic into a small saucepan with about a tbsp. of granulated sugar. Whisk it on high heat, bring to a boil, continue whisking a few times for a few minutes, lower the  heat to medium, & whisk until it becomes syrupy. If you don't see it going anywhere, you can add a touch more sugar.
-In the meantime, layer the watermelon, crumble the feta on top, mint, & the pumpkin seeds.
-I drizzled my balsamic reduction over my salad right off the fire, & I think touching the cold plate/food just froze it up! The reduction literally became like balsamic jewels on my plate- almost like candy! (Or it's possible that I added too much sugar). While it was still good, it probably would have been better in the syrupy consistency, so I'd advise to let the reduction cool before drizzling it over the salad. If you are short on time and don't want to make reduction, just a squirt of balsamic over the salad will probably do it justice as well.


A simple salad, perfect for the 9 days :-).

E

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creamy Pasta 3 Ways

I bought heavy cream for the first time last week ("40% heavy cream"- whatever that really means). I was in the mood for a creamy pasta dish, & was excited to find it in cholov yisrael. Anyways, in the matter of a week I used it 3 times :-)... A little goes a long way, & really boosts up the flavor & texture of any pasta dish. It was AMAZING, & I'll have to buy it more often!  My real inspiration was to make vodka sauce but I didn't have vodka- oh well. The first dish was penne with leek & artichoke cream sauce, the second was a quick pink sauce, & the third was a cheesy baked farro. As I usually am, I made these recipes without an actual recipe, rather just what came to me at the time, & so I am educatingly guessing (yes!) the measurements :-)

Penne with Leeks & Artichoke Cream Sauce
-2 leeks, sliced the long way, & cut into semicircles
-1 can of artichokes (in water, not marinated)
-1 clove garlic
-1 heaping tbsp. Earth Balance
-1 tbsp. flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-3 tbsp. parmesan cheese + more for serving
-Nutmeg
-Salt & pepper
-1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
-Minced parsley
-Zest of half a lemon
-Cooked penne (I only used a little less than half of the whole box of cooked pasta)

-Soak the leeks in lukewarm water with a bit of white vinegar (helps to release the dirt)
-Drain the can of artichokes & cut them into thirds (strips), & let drain well in a mesh strainer
-In a large saute pan, heat the Earth Balance (you can add more if you feel it needs)
-Grate the clove of garlic straight into the pan (or finely mince), & then add the leeks. After a minute or 2 add the flour, mix. Saute it until the leeks become tender, sprinkle in salt & pepper. Add the artichokes & then slowly pour in the heavy cream & then the parmesan, all while mixing it with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in a little nutmeg, black pepper, & a little more salt.
-Add the lemon juice towards the end, & toss in the pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 the lemon zest and parsley on top
-Serve topped with more lemon zest, parsley, and a sprinkle of parmesan on top.


Penne with Pink Sauce
2 friends gave me this idea (shout out- M & D!) & on Saturday night I was starving so whipped this up in literally a few minutes. It's really a take on vodka sauce- minus the vodka, but it tasted great, without the ADDED alcoholic calories!!
-This is the same process as the above recipe, with the Earth Balance, a little flour, then streaming in the heavy cream. Make sure you season with salt & pepper, you don't want a bland pasta! Since I only did 1 bowl of this, it's just the ingredients that matter, not the measurements. The EB & flour usually take on a 1:1 ratio, & then just use as much heavy cream as you would need for however much you will be making. It will thicken because of the flour/butter mixture ("roux"). I used a little nutmeg, it's great in pasta dishes. Sprinkle in a little parmesan, & then stir in marinara sauce= this is the pink!
-Garnish with basil & that is one heck of a bowl :-)


Cheesy Baked Farro
The idea for this one came from Giada, but she goes through like 10 other more complicated steps. What I did was exactly what I usually do for mac & cheese, just I used heavy cream to go with this whole creamy pastas idea.

-Prepare farro according to the bag's directions (Avi did this for me very well). Make sure to season the water with salt
-Preheat the oven to 425
-Finely chop kale or spinach & set aside (1-2 cups should do)
-Make the cheese sauce: saute a tbsp. of EB with 1 tbsp. flour. Slowly stream in 1/4 cup of heavy cream & around 3 tbsp. milk (it can be thinned out a little because you'll be adding cheese). Then stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese blend (I used N&K's Mexican blend) until melted. Sprinkle in some nutmeg, & black pepper
-Combine the farro & kale or spinach in a bowl, & then pour the sauce over it, mix it to combine
-Transfer to a baking dish or tin, & sprinkle a little more shredded cheese over the top
-Bake until set, 15-20 minutes


These are perfect recipes for the 9 days, now that I'm heavy creamed out!

E

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberry Orange Muffins with Streusel Topping

I'm not sure if I ever posted a dessert on my blog??? Less than a handful that's for sure. Anyways, most of those who know me know that I don't love baking (I love eating baked goods though, does that count???) I make challah, and I do love making cookies, but nothing super fancy or anything like that. I had 2 pints of deliciiiiious organic blueberries in my fridge and did NOT want them to go to waste because I would hate throwing that good stuff away. So I decided to make these blueberry muffins, which I've made before, but forgot just how good they are! The orange complements the blueberry so well, & the juice makes them so moist. Since my kitchen gets SO hot, I decided to refrigerate them for the week, & pop one into the microwave when I wanted one. I even gave one to Rosie- she loved them! & I loved watching her eating them (though i can't admit I loved the mess it made!)

P.S. This is a great, quick recipe to make & share- my first batch went so quickly, me and Rosie each had 1 out of the oven, & I sent some to a friend who had a baby. I ended up buying more blueberries & making another batch when my good friend had a baby girl, so I sent some to the hospital for her. They are the perfect thing for new mommies!

Blueberry Orange Muffins with Streusel Topping (adapted from "Meal Leani Yum"- an amazing health food cookbook)
-1 egg + 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs)
-1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup brown sugar)
-3 tbsp. canola oil
-1/2 cup orange juice

-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 tsp. orange zest

-1.5 cups flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
-1.5 tsp. baking powder
-Pinch of salt
-2 cups of blueberries
-2 tbsp. sugar
-1 tbsp. flour

(I did this all in a mixing bowl & used a whisk and spatula to mix)
-Whisk the sugar & vanilla into the eggs. Add the canola, OJ, zest, & vanilla
-Combine the flour, baking powder, & salt & add in 2 additions to the wet ingredients, mix in between until just combined. Rule of thumb with making muffins- don't overmix (yes I know some rules of thumb when it comes to baking!!)

-In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the blueberries, 2 tbsp. sugar, & 1 tbsp. flour & mix. When combined, add it to the batter, & mix.
-Using the same bowl, make the streusel topping:
-1 tbsp. margarine (I used Earth Balance)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-3/4 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 cup flour (again, I used the white whole wheat)

-Mix with your fingers for a few minutes, incorporating all the ingredients into the margarine, until it becomes a crumb-like mixture.
-Pour the batter in a 12-cup muffin tin (or a 6-cup large muffin tin), and distribute the streusel evenly over the tops. Bake at 350 for roughly 20 minutes, more or less depending on your oven. Rotate the pan in the middle. Check with a toothpick for doneness (comes out clean)- my oven is not the most even baker so some muffins were done before others so I took them out first, as not to over-bake them. Take the muffins out of the pan immediately and set on a wire rack to cool. Keeping them in the hot muffin pan will just cause the residual heat to keep baking them.


You really don't need to feel THAT guilty about these. Feel free to cut back on the sugar a bit, if you want, especially if the blueberries are sweet, these were. Even if you cut the sugar to half, and they end up not being so sweet on your own, you can make up for that by having a muffin with a spread of peanut butter- healthy fat, & adds great flavor without the guilt.

E

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lamb Sliders with Beer Battered Onion Rings

Salivating can begin... now! Not to toot my own horn, but-- amazing dinner alert!!!!!! Besides for the onion rings being SO addicting (it's a good thing I didn't double the recipe- thank you for only having 2 onions at home), the lamb sliders sound like they are all fancy & complicated but were SO surprisingly not.. like 5 ingredients, and they cook up SO quickly. I never bought lamb before, but was at Aron's in Queens & saw lamb stew- and it made me think up great recipes until I saw the price, so I put it down and right next to it saw ground lamb, greatly priced. I totally should have gotten more than 1 package (did I think I wasn't going to like it on the first try? I like practically everything!)- oh well. Next time I go there I'll stock up. Anyways, the slider idea came together when I saw a package of slider buns sitting right next to the meat counter calling my name. My go-to burger uses ground turkey, & they are so delicious you don't miss the red meat. My only reservation is the amount of time it takes to cook big burgers on my grill pan, & making sure that they are fully cooked (there is no scale when it comes to poultry)! So sliders are really the PERFECT solution!! They cook up so quickly, & there's no poking and prodding them to see if they are done. If you don't like mint, you can add whatever herbs you want. It's that easy.

When I think of lamb, I think Greek, or Mediterranean. What goes with Greek? Feta, yogurt, MINT...- mint! The only one of those ingredients I can  actually utilize with this. So I decided to take the yogurt concept and make a faux-yogurt sauce using light mayo- a mint, garlic aioli if you will (aioli is just a fancy way of saying garlic mayo. The real chefs make aioli/mayonnaise from scratch: eggs, olive oil, garlic- I wasn't exactly going there for a simple weeknight dinner).

As far as the onion rings go, it was totally a whim, aka attempt at using up a lone bottle of beer that was in my fridge for a few months taking up space! Obviously this recipe didn't just come out of my cooking brain, trusty Google lead me to a Cooking Light recipe that I put my own spin on (of course). I HATE beer, but it just gives the batter, and the onions a light texture- I imagine you can substitute the beer for seltzer/sparkling water, it will probably give it the same effect, minus the dark color. A recipe for beer battered onion rings in Cooking Light??? Yes- I was drawn to this recipe because it didn't call for 2 quarts of cooking oil with which to deep fry these bad boys. No, they are par-fried in a tsp. or 2 of oil, then finished in the oven- genius! Ok, I won't exactly hail this recipe to Weight Watchers or anything, but it definitely helps. Of course I was inclined to serve this whole meal with sauteed garlic kale- it goes with everything & immediately boosts the meal up to another level in terms of adding nutrients. Here are the recipes. Make the onion rings first, and while they're baking, tackle the sliders.

Beer Battered Onion Rings
-2 medium sized onions, sliced
-2/3 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. paprika
-1/4 tsp. onion powder
-1/4 tsp. black pepper
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1/3 cup beer (measure out 1/2 cup and then stir until it becomes flat- it will go down to 1/3 cup)
-1 egg white, lightly beaten (SAVE THE YOLK for the slider buns)
-1 tbsp. canola oil

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a baking rack sprayed with nonstick cooking spray on a baking sheet & set aside.
-Cut the onions into semi-thick slices (not too thick, not too thin), choose 16 of the "best" rounds, and set aside the rest to use a different time.
-Combine the flour and spices in a large bowl. Stir in the beer and the lightly beaten egg white (just whisk it for a minute with the fork). The batter is meant to be thick, but I added a little more beer (water would do) because I felt it was too thick to work with.
-Heat half the oil in a pan (save the rest for the whole process, if you need to add more for next batch). Working with 5 or so onion rings at a time, add them to the batter, using a fork, shake off the excess (catch the ring with the fork and tap it against the bowl to get rid of the excess). Fry 2 minutes max on each side, then transfer directly to the rack.
-When all of the onions are done, spray each one and put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until they're crispy. Using a baking rack definitely ensures crispiness! Transfer to a bowl, yes they will stay crispy! Indulge! Use the extra mint aioli (see below) for dipping. Double dipping is encouraged!



Lamb Sliders with Mint Aioli
-1 lb. ground lamb
-1 tbsp. light mayonnaise (my moist factor for burgers)
-1 large scallion (2 if they are very thin), finely chopped
-A handful of chopped mint
-1 tbsp. chopped parsley (I'd say a 3 or 4:1 ratio mint:parsley)
-1 minced garlic clove
-salt & pepper
-Shredded romaine
-8 slider buns
-egg yolk & sesame seeds
-Mint aioli (see below)

-Season the meat with salt & pepper, and add all the ingredients. Lightly mix with your hand until everything is incorporated- do not over mix it. It will get tough.
-The pound of lamb can make 8-10 sliders, depending on how small you make them. I made 8. The easiest way to portion out the meat so that all of the sliders are of equal size, is to score the meat in the bowl with your hand into 4 equal portions. Then score each one of those into 2- now you've got 8. Roll each into a ball and flatten slightly. Set aside for a few minutes.
-Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil or a coating of spray. When the pan is hot, add the sliders. They only need 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. When they have a nice golden brown color, flip. (Obviously if you have an outdoor grill- do it there).

-Toast the slider buns in the oven until warmed through (I added sesame seeds by brushing yolk on each top bun- the yolk from the egg white that you used for the onion rings, and then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds). I did this on the rack that I used to bake the onion rings on.

Mint Aioli
-1/4 cup mayonnaise
-Juice of half a lemon
-1 small garlic clove, grated (on a Microplane)- [first grate half the clove, mix, and taste test. If the aioli takes on too strong of a garlic flavor, add a little more mayo.]
-Pinch of salt
-Chopped mint

Combine all the ingredients. Assemble burger- spread a dollop of the aioli on the bottom bun, then shredded romaine, burger, more aioli, and then the top bun. Push down slightly on the burger so that it stays together. We each had 3 & then I froze 2 for another time.


The finished plate:

This is a real steakhouse meal- minus the cost! Obviously it could be done with any kind of ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef) but the lamb was juicy & couldn't be simpler. They came together so fast. I can't promise I'll be making the onion rings a staple, because it did take some time (first times a charm!), but they were a treat nonetheless.

E

Friday, July 1, 2011

Herbed Chicken Fingers

This is a great and quick recipe for your Shabbos table, especially for the summer because it doesn't require a lot of oven time! When one says breaded, the mind immediately thinks fried, heavy, etc. However, the use of herbs & lemon zest in this recipe makes it less heavy on the breading, & I baked them instead of frying. There's no art to dredging, but it is important to have 3 distinct dishes or plates to put all the ingredients on separately:
There are a few rules of thumb for dredging. One being the following 3 ingredients:
1) flour
2) eggs
3) breading of choice
I like to dredge with my hand's so I keep a dry hand and a wet hand. You can just as easily use a fork or tongs.

-12 chicken tenders
-1/4 cup white whole wheat flour seasoned with salt & pepper, on a plate
-2 eggs, well beaten in a bowl
-1.5 tsp. Gran Gusto sun-dried tomato basil sauce or pesto (Gourmet Glatt)
-1/4 cup each plain panko crumbs and cornflake crumbs, seasoned with salt (prepared herbed bread crumbs are good for a rush, but I love making my own with fresh herbs.
-Zest of half a lemon
-Chop the herbs of choice: I used dill, basil & parsley

-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
-Add the Gran Gusto sauce to the eggs and whisk until well incorporated
-Add the herbs, lemon zest, salt & pepper to the crumbs and mix well on a plate

-Set a baking rack (cooling rack for cookies) over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray

-Dredge the chicken tenders in the flour, then the egg, then finally the crumbs & lay them out on the rack. Spray generously with cooking spray, & bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. They don't need that long, as tenders are small and thin. You don't want to dry them out.


Be creative with your breading. No boring white crumbs here! Have a good Shabbos & stay cool!
E

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crispy Sesame Tofu over Chinese Stir Fried Vegis & Brown Rice

Cringing is not welcome as we discuss my latest recipe- see title. Yes, tofu. FYI Paula Deen ate AND LOVED one of the contestant's tofu dishes on the Next Food Network Star last week, so if the butter pork queen can like it, so can you. I love tofu, it is obviously flavorless, & only as good as the marinade you cook it in, or method of cooking you choose. Extra-firm tofu is best for cooking it, assuming you want to keep a shape (cubed, spears...), & silken tofu is great for pureeing into soup, smoothies, dressings- it is a great, LIGHT substitute to mayo or yogurt in the above items.

The most important tip is to weigh down the tofu block to get the excess water out for a few hours. Using the tofu straight from the box is a mistake - it will be very spongy. Place the tofu block in between 2 dinner plates in the sink. Then weigh it down with whatever you have. I put a few plums (or any round fruit- lemon, orange, etc.) in a glass measuring cup, in a 4 qt. pot and put that on top of the plates. It should sit a few hours (the whole thing can be in the fridge if you want, just be careful when taking it out because there will be a lot of water on the plate). When you are ready, spill out the water and you are now ready to work with the tofu. I use tofu as a main dish when I am craving something light yet still filling. My brother makes tofu rectangles with bbq sauce and bakes in the oven. Any glaze or marinade would be great. However, in this recipe, I use the tofu as I would chicken and dredge it in flour for a take on sesame chicken, so to speak.

-Prepare brown rice according to bag's directions

-Place the tofu on a cutting board and cut horizontally, splitting the tofu open- now you have 2 slabs. Then cut down each 4 or 5 times, leaving you with 5 or 6 pieces, and then cut each of those in half. If you lost me, just make any shape you want. For this recipe I like short spears, easiest to work with.

-Put 3 tbsp. flour on a plate, and season with garlic salt & 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (putting the sesame seeds in the flour really imparts flavor into the tofu) & toss

-Coat each piece of tofu in the flour, & heat a tbsp. or 2 of canola oil in a large saute pan. When the oil is hot, add the tofu & cook 4-5 min per side until crispy and golden brown, then flip each piece. When they're done, place on a paper towel lined plate & set aside.

-Using the same pan, saute 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, both sliced on the bias (diagonally). If the pan is dry, add a little oil. Saute a few minutes before adding red, yellow, & orange pepper, thinly sliced. Saute another few minutes & then add snow peas.

-Dissolve roughly a tbsp. of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of Trader Joe's Island Soyaki (it's basically their regular soyaki sauce with pineapple juice- it's soooo delicious. I try to steer clear from buying bbq sauces or marinades that have high fructose corn syrup, I personally don't see the point. So I keep some staple sauces in the pantry for when I decide I am too lazy to make my own sauce. My favorites: TJ Soyaki & Island Soyaki; Kraft Bull's-Eye BBQ sauces...)

-Pour the sauce over the vegetables, add more sesame seeds if you want, and let thicken.

-Make your bowl: rice, top with vegis (you can add any other vegis you want- mushrooms, baby corn, onions...), and then the tofu. Sprinkle chopped scallions over the top. Get everything in one bite! The tofu comes out crispy and the sauce from the vegetables really flavors the tofu even though the tofu itself is not drenched in sauce.

I highly encourage all you tofu skeptics to give it a serious try!!!!!! Seconds & thirds are welcome :-)

E

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Salmon & Farro...

...2 things that go great together.. apparently! It was my first time trying farro FINALLY- it's been a feat to find but alas, thanks to Gourmet Glatt, it is finally in stock. My friend Michal has been talking about farro for a long time and I've been trying to get a hold of it but obviously Florida is more advanced than NY in that department! :-)

With my farro (which I had absolutely no idea what I was gonna do with it), I decided to make wild salmon filet. I usually make my salmon with the same simple ingredients because I don't like to over think things with fish and my mantra for it is less is best. I may have posted a similar recipe for salmon before, though I can't remember and frankly am too lazy to search through the archives of my blog! But nevertheless, it may be slightly different as I tried a few new things.

As far as the farro goes, the entire thing was literally a whim. I followed the directions on the package, which I found worked wonders- it said to let boil for 15 minutes versus a recipe I found online which said to boil (the same amount) for 45 minutes- after 15-20 minutes the farro was really nicely done, I can imagine it would have been like mush after 45. So I'm glad I trusted the bag. Farro- it's a grain... wheat... protein. It's very similar to wheatberries (which I posted about in the beginning of my blogging days), but requires a shorter cook time. Like rice or couscous, it's basically a blank canvas. So I opened my fridge and the first 2 things I saw were a package of peeled and cut up butternut squash, and a container of blueberries... ??? ... blueberries in a rice-like dish? YES! I decided that I would make it work. As you already know from previous recipes, I am a huge fan of putting sweet in my savory (I never tried putting savory in my sweet though- hmmm food for thought!)- fruit in salad, preserves in chicken dishes, etc. It usually works out to my advantage, and I was really happy with the result this time!

Garlic Rubbed Maple Dijon Salmon
-large filet of salmon big enough for 2 people (or 2 regular sized portions)
-2 cloves of garlic
-sprig of dill
-juice of 1/2 a lemon
-3 tbsp. dijon mustard
-3 tbsp. REAL maple syrup (NOTTTT Aunt Jemima's pancake syrup!!!)- [try TJ or Target for the best prices]
-spoonful of roughly chopped capers

-preheat the oven to 425. Season the salmon with salt & fresh cracked lemon pepper
-grate the garlic cloves on a microplane and rub into the fish (yes with your hands)
-combine the dijon, lemon, and maple and then pour over the fish (you can leave a little leftover to drizzle/baste on during the last few minutes of cooking time if you want)
-sprinkle with chopped dill & the capers.
-cut the lemon half in pieces and place  in the baking dish
-bake for 20 minutes until flakes off easily but do NOT overcook- dry salmon, well, really sucks!
-when it's done, sprinkle with more fresh dill

Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blueberries
-1 cup butternut squash, cut into small cubes.
-1 large shallot, finely chopped
-1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-handful of blueberries
-3 basil leaves, chiffonade

-Roast on a baking sheet seasoned with olive oil salt and pepper for about 20 minutes (do this preferably before preparing the fish, at 450 degrees. Cut the cubes bite size, easier to eat, and easier to roast faster). Broil on low for a few minutes if you don't want to wait long but make sure it's well coated with olive oil or olive oil spray so they don't burn.
-Prepare the farro as per the bags instructions, drizzle with olive oil when it's done, and season with salt (I like to salt the water too)
-Saute the shallot with a little salt and sugar, and add to the farro with the butternut squash when it's done
-Drizzle in the balsamic, add the basil & top with blueberries




Don't let the blueberries scare you- they totally go!

ENJOY!

E

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken & Wine... x2

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can not tolerate wine.. beer.. alcohol of any kind. I've tried. FAIL. Last night Avi even tried to teach me how to "like" wine- and as good as it looks in the glass, my face is not so pretty when I drink it. I just can't help it! At my wedding, the photographer caught a priceless picture of my face drinking the wine at Sheva Brachos. Anyways, my first stint of cooking with wine was a few months back, and I completely forgot to blog it until today, when I made a different wine chicken dish. Hence I will post both today, one simpler than the other. The first chicken dish I made with bone-in chicken legs and thighs & white wine (I forgot exactly which kind, but in the liquor store- first time ever(!!) I asked for a white wine that would be good for cooking and took what I was given), and the second with skinless boneless chicken breasts & red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon). The inspiration for my own journey with cooking with wine was from a chicken marsala that I ordered at Off the Grill (I believe it was there). So as an extremely wine-uneducated individual, when I sought out to make my own chicken marsala... with white wine, my friend Tzivie so kindly let me down easy by letting me know that marsala is red. Oh well, what do I know. I still decided to go for the white wine, so I can't technically call my dish chicken marsala but it was still damn good!

NOTE: Dijon mustard (i.e. my favorite- Grey Poupon) is NOT the same as honey mustard (i.e. French's)

Dijon Chicken with White Wine & Mushrooms
For the chicken:
-8 pieces bone-in chicken (thighs & legs)
-Dijon mustard
-1/4 cup flour
-Zest of 1 lemon
-salt and pepper
-Dried Italian seasoning
-1 sprig fresh thyme
-Olive oil

-Heat a layer of olive oil in a large saute pan
-Add salt, pepper, 1/2 the zest, italian seasoning, and the chopped fresh thyme to the flour on a plate
-Brush each piece of chicken with dijon (you can take the skin off but I think it's better with, even though the skin ends up coming off anyway) & then dip in the flour herb mixture
-Once the oil is hot (test it out first), add the chicken skin side down. Sear just a few minutes on each side (until skin is lightly golden brown)- the goal isn't to completely cook it here. Just to get a nice sear and color. About 4-5 minutes per side, more or less.
-Transfer to a plate & preheat the oven to 400


Sauce:
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-10 ounce container sliced mushrooms (I used sliced baby bellas)
-3/4 cup white wine
-1 cup low-sodium broth (I used TJ's Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth; Imagine makes Kosher vegi broth and chicken broth as well)
-1 tbsp. dijon mustard
-1 lemon, sliced
-2 sprigs of thyme


-Saute the onions in olive oil on medium high heat in the same saute pan. Once translucent, add the minced garlic, season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened.
-De-glaze the pan with the wine, stir over high heat and let come to boil, about 2 minutes. Then add the broth & dijon. You don't need to cook the wine for that long on the stove because it will finish cooking in the oven.
-Add the lemon slices, and the thyme, & add the chicken back to the pan. Make sure you are using an oven safe saute pan.
-Cover tightly with foil & cook for 20 minutes.
-When the chicken is done, you can thicken the sauce with flour or cornstarch (I did).
I know this is a lot of steps, but it is well worth it. You can definitely substitute with white meat if that is your preference. The next recipe is much easier, and took less than 15 minutes to come together.

Drunken Chicken Cutlets with Apricot & Mushrooms
When a recipe refers to something as "drunken," it's not that hard to figure out that it was cooked in wine. I always liked the term, so I decided to use it :-). This recipe is not chicken marsala, because I used a cabernet wine (I just happened to have it in the fridge) and not marsala so I couldn't call it that.

-4 chicken cutlets (these were actually 2 big boneless skinless chicken breasts that I cut in half with a filet knife- very easy to do, more bang for your buck, and portion control as well)
-3 tbsp. flour
-Garlic salt
-Olive oil
-1 medium sized onion
-1/2 tbsp. sugar
-salt and pepper
-2 cloves of garlic
-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (or a little less than a 5 ounce container)
-1/4 cup red wine
-2 tbsp. apricot preserves
-1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp. water (I didn't want to mask any of the flavors with a broth, which is why I used water)

-Heat a layer of olive oil in a saute pan
-Sprinkle garlic salt in the flour, and coat the cutlets. Add to the pan when the oil is hot
-You can fully cook them now, or par cook them and finish them later in the sauce-it's up to you. These chicken cutlets take like 4 minutes max per side since they are not too thick (but not too thin either).
-When done, transfer to a plate, add a little olive oil to the pan followed by the chopped onion. Season with salt & a the sugar which helps caramelize the onions.
-When translucent, add the garlic and mushrooms and saute a few minutes.
-Add the wine to de-glaze, bring to a boil & then add the apricot preserves, water, and balsamic. Let saute on boil a few minutes and then bring the heat down to medium high. The goal here is to cook out the alcohol on the stove so you're left with a sauce that is not so strong. This dish does not get finished in the oven like the previous one.
-Let the onions/mushroom mixture saute for about 5-7 minutes, before adding the cutlets back in. I thickened the sauce with 1 or 2 tbsp. flour (through a fine mesh strainer, while stirring, to eliminate clumps). I wanted the mushrooms and onions to absorb most of the sauce, so that it would be more like the consistency of a chutney, and not a runny sauce.
-Turn the chicken in the sauce so that it gets coated, just for a minute or 2.
-Garnish with dried or fresh parsley

You can play with the proportions as you desire... Now this is wine I can tolerate! Hope you enjoy, and have a good Shabbos!

E

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Trader Joe's Meal

It's no surprise that if I was stranded on an island, I'd survive if there was a Trader Joe's.. seriously. Besides for the Whole Foods-esque shopping experience (without the steep prices), the food is always fresh & the people are NICE. There are never expired products on the shelves (a problem that I encounter sooo many times in a certain store in the neighborhood), and if I ever have a problem with any product, I bring it back, no ifs ands or buts. When some people hear that I love shopping at Trader Joe's, they say "wow but it's soo expensive" - so, I challenge you to prove that argument! The prices are always the same, they never fluctuate (ex: romaine hearts are always $2.99. Not on sale for $2.50 one week, and $4.99 the next), and the only things that I find higher in cost are way higher in quality, or organic, deserving the slightly higher price tag. I can pretty much fill my entire pantry & fridge, from an assortment of breads & pastas, to nuts, snacks, produce, wild salmon, & Kosher meat (they carry organic and regular chicken, & ground turkey), even 5 lb. bags of flour and sugar, as well as packages of yeast, which are- cheaper than Fleischmanns. They have the best chips and snacks, cheaper tofu than Nasoya, $1.79 marinara sauce, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, you name it. Obviously I swoon over certain products that I wish would be Kosher, but I take what I can get!! I'm not a coffee drinker but my parents can't live without the TJ dark roast coffee that you grind yourself in the store. Never mind the dried cereals (ex: Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls & Puffins, TJ's O's) healthy snacks (ex: cereal fruit bars, snickerdoodles, animal crackers) for Rosie- all natural, nothing with crappy dyes or chemicals and I can actually read the ingredients on the boxes. I never stress out shopping at there, even if the lines are long. Onward from my love rant, I decided to go yesterday right when we got home from Florida because I had nothing in the fridge- not even an egg or milk for Rosie. So I ventured out at 3:30. When I got home, I couldn't imagine what I would throw together for dinner- needless to say, I was wiped. Early morning-> plane ride-> unpacking-> food shopping... Luckily, without even realizing it, I had everything I needed to put together a healthy yet filling meal in literally under 20 minutes & with only a handful of ingredients- and the entire meal, "head to toe," (down to the salt), was all from Trader Joe's finest. Here goes:

Seared "Sausage" & Kale with Sundried Tomato & Basil Orzo

-Canola oil spray & canola oil
-Tofurky sun-dried tomato & basil sausage
-Kale (pre-washed and chopped)
-Sea Salt
-Garlic (ok, ok, I didn't get the garlic from TJ, though I could've!)
-Orzo
-Sliced sun-dried tomatoes
-Basil, chiffonade (click here to see what chiffonade is)



-Prepare the orzo as per the packages directions (add sea salt & a little oil to the water) 
-Heat a saute pan with canola oil spray over medium-high heat
-Slice the sausages on a bias, and add to the pan when it is hot (don't add too early or it won't sear). Let them cook for a few minutes on each side. If the pan gets dry, drizzle a little more canola oil (not olive oil- burns faster). When done, transfer to a bowl and set aside
-Add a little more canola oil into the pan, mince the garlic & add to the pan over medium heat, sprinkle some sea salt. 
-When the garlic is fragrant, but not yet brown, add the kale, spray with canola spray or a drizzle of oil, and sprinkle more sea salt. Toss with tongs so the garlic gets incorporated into the kale. Add just a tbsp. or so of water and continue to toss until just slightly wilted.
-Add the sausage back into the pan to stay warm.
-Season the orzo with salt (& pepper) if needed, and add the sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, and the basil. 

It was the first time I tried the Tofurky brand sausage, which was from TJ (TJ actually has their own brand of tofu sausage but I didn't like it as much as this one). It's a little spicy and I HATE spice- but it was totally manageable, and that's saying a lot coming from me.

If you've never been to Trader Joe's, well then I'm not sure how to talk to you. .. Just kidding. Just take the ride!

E

P.S. For dessert, I popped my own -organic- popcorn the old fashioned way (in a pot). Where from? You guessed it...

Monday, June 13, 2011

3 Cheese Pesto Baked Penne

I know I have a lot of catching up to do with Shavuos recipes, which I will get to soon I hope. However, I wanted to share my dinner that I made for tonight, this twist on classic baked ziti. I happen to not like ziti shape- I prefer smaller cut pasta, so I'll make this dish with any short-cut pasta and it comes out great every time. It's lighter than my macaroni & cheese, but just as good and comforting. Last week I bought a great huge bunch of basil from the fruit & vegetable store, and after washing and drying all the leaves, I decided to use most of it to make and freeze pesto in small containers (see pesto recipe for pesto chicken through link). You can freeze sauces and pesto in baby food containers or ice cube trays. Pesto freezes great! As I mentioned in the mac&cheese post, the only pasta I love and buy is Barilla Plus- I highly recommend you make the switch from boring old white pasta! You won't regret it! This was also a good opportunity for me to showcase Natural & Kosher's shredded cheese- I used 2 kinds here- 1. chef's blend, which is shredded mozzarella+cheddar 2. pizza cheese, which is basically shredded mozzarella

This recipe proves that you don't need a lot of ingredients on hand to make a great satisfying dinner without feeling so guilty afterwards. I literally have nothing in my fridge since we're going away for a week tomorrow. Pasta from the pantry, pesto & cheese from the freezer (shredded cheese freezes so great). Ta da!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

-1 box Barilla Plus penne, cooked according to packaged directions- don't overcook. Make sure to salt the water because it's the only chance to really season the pasta throughout.
-1 cup marinara sauce (I don't like it so saucy but add more if you do)
-3 tbsp. pesto
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 1/2 cups shredded cheese of choice
-1 (16 oz.) container ricotta

-Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with the pasta, and season with some salt. I find that this recipe makes 2 round tins. Sprinkle the top with more cheese, and spray so that it doesn't burn. Bake covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 10-15.

-This time, I decided to make it in 2 individual large muffin tins so that I wouldn't have leftovers to go to waste, one for me, one for Avi [read: portion control!!!]. I also had enough to freeze 1 round tin full, and 2 other individual muffin tins (I don't know what else to call the tin. It's like an extra large muffin, I use them for making challah rolls!- see the picture)


-Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garlic salt

For the side, I made a SIMPLE as can be edamame carrot salad with frozen preshelled edamamde (Trader Joe's) & chopped carrots (the only fresh produce I had left in my fridge!). I dressed it with lime juice, a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. So good and can't be easier or faster!

Put a spin on your baked ziti with the 3 cheese or pesto twist! Or both!
Enjoy. Forgive my week hiatus while I vacation!

E

Monday, June 6, 2011

Breaded Cheese- 2 Ways

No this isn't another baked macaroni dish, or a grilled cheese sandwich, rather actual baked cheese. 2 ways:

1) Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Beets & Grilled Peaches and Apricot Vinaigrette
2) Mozzarella Sticks with Kale and Sun-Dried Tomato sauce (I'll get to that later)

The goat cheese salad is something I made for the first time about a year and a half ago after we got back from Vegas last January. We went to Panini Cafe, one of the few Kosher restaurants there, and I ordered their goat cheese salad. It had mango, jicama, and 2 little breaded goat cheese rounds- measly, but good enough. Anyways, I vied to recreate a better version and I did. 

Having the goat cheese from N&K, I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase it in a fantastic, different, way that will likely make you a goat cheese fan asap. The whole salad itself takes some patience and time but the result is well worth the wait. I was making roasted beets anyways for one of my Shavuos meals, which are so delicious, though I'm sure there are those of you out there who are cringing at the thought. Don't think of purple horseradish when I say beets. They are sweet, and so flavorful once roasted. The grilled peaches came out of having almost too-ripe peaches in my fruit drawer. I used my Calphalon grill pan for that. Look out for "my" secret tip for slicing goat cheese, ala Ina herself (Garten, that is). 

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Beets and Grilled Peaches & Apricot Vinaigrette 

-Goat cheese. To prepare it, make 1/2 inch rounds using a string of dental floss. Yessssss, dental floss! It's the best way to come out with perfect rounds without completely butchering the round with a knife. After you have the rounds cut, you can mold them a little since it is soft cheese
-Dredge the rounds in one beaten egg, and then in a mixture of panko crumbs, finely chopped fresh basil & parsley, and a sprinkle of salt.
-Lay the rounds out on a cutting board or plate & place in the fridge for a half hour to an hour (the firmer and colder they are, the better they will hold up to the cooking process) 
-In the meantime, roast the beets (preheat oven to 400. Peel beets, and cube [I suggest wearing disposable kitchen prep gloves]. Lay on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, & spray with cooking spray [the beets can dry out easily], sprinkle with salt and a little bit of sugar. Let roast for 45 minutes until you can easily pierce with a fork. I like them underdone, still a little crunchy, but nicely sweet from the roast)
-1 peach, halved, then cut to size (to grill, heat a grill pan over medium high. Drizzle the peach pieces with canola oil, and grill a few minutes per side until you have grill marks).  
-Candied almonds 
-Cubed avocado
-Fresh baby spinach (this spinach was delicious, I bought it on Friday, a huge bag for $3 at the Farmer's Market in Grant Park)

-Make the Apricot Vinaigrette: (sometimes I substitute for strawberry preserves, as in mango strawberry spinach salad)
-1 tbsp. apricot preserves
-1.5 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-4 tbsp. (or 1/4 cup) olive oil
-1 tsp. dijon mustard
-1/4 tsp. salt

*I don't even know where I got this recipe from, but I make it in 2 seconds in my Cuisinart mini prep processor and it's my favorite dressing ever*

-Once the goat cheese is cool and firm, use the same grill pan as you used to grill the peaches (one less thing to clean), pour in a small amount of canola oil, and brush it so it evenly distributes in one thin layer 
-When the pan is hot (not burning hot), add the goat cheese, and grill 2 minutes per side or until browned on the outside but not too soft on the inside.
-Assemble the salad: baby spinach, avocado, beets, and the peaches. Sprinkle with the candied almonds (so easy to make- in a pan over medium heat, add brown sugar, stir with a spoon, when it starts to melt, add any nut you want, & stir until coated and the sugar is all melted). Dress the salad before topping with the goat cheese.

*For my one salad, I used 3 goat cheese rounds, 1/4 of an avocado, the equivalent of one small-medium beet, and one peach*



2) Baked Mozzarella Sticks
The Mozzarella sticks were totally on a whim- the N&K Mozzarella cheese sticks were staring me in the face, they are great for a snack, but how do I make a recipe out of them?? So I decided to make these. They are technically simple, but they do take a few steps (though less than the goat cheese). You can totally use these on top of a salad instead of the goat cheese.

-4 Mozzarella sticks (or string cheese), cut in half
-3 tbsp. flour
-1 egg, beaten
-1/2 cup panko crumb + cornflake crumb mixture, seasoned with Italian Seasoning, salt & pepper
-Dredge the mozzarella sticks in the flour, egg, then crumb mixture
-Lay out on a cutting board or plate and freeze for 20 minutes, or refrigerate for 30
-Preheat the oven (I used my toaster) to 400 degrees, and spray the tray (lined with foil). Place the mozzarella sticks on the tray and bake for 7 minutes. YOU MUST WATCH THEM! If your oven is hotter/cooler- adjust the temperature, and don't take your eyes off them or they will MELT! 

My mom made this sauce, which I used to dip the mozzarella sticks in- way better than ordinary tomato sauce. I don't know of the exact proportions (neither does she), but it was delicious and needed to be shared. So I will tell you the ingredients that went in, and maybe it will just paint a picture for you! The combination of ingredients into a sauce was so great and would be delicious over pasta. All you need is your food processor/blender.

Kale & Sundried Tomato Sauce
-Lightly sauteed kale
-Sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
-Bunch of fresh arugula
-Freshly chopped basil
-Frozen garlic cubes (less potent than fresh garlic, so for a sauce that will be used raw, this is a better option)
-Cannellini beans (otherwise known as "white beans")- which is my favorite "thickening agent"  for soups and stuff. 
-salt & pepper


You can bread your cheese, and eat it too!! I can be cheesy once in a while ;-)


E