Gourmet & Kosher

 

10 Healthy(ier) Snow Day Treats

 

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Being a New Englander I should not have been so surprised to see snow this winter, but it hasn’t been quite so cold and snowy around here for a few years.  When I was at home in Cambridge, MA for the first snow storm of the season I saw the local news covering the blizzard non-stop during the news broadcast.  That was when I realized that we are in for a long, cold winter which calls for warm, hearty meals and treats. For those of us who don’t spend our snow days shoveling snow or sledding (I wish!) for hours on end, here are 10 healthy(ier) snow day meals and treats.

 


 

How To Make The Best Stuffed French Toast

 

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I used to think French toast was made on the stove. Soak the bread, stick it in a skillet, and you’re done, right? Wrong. The thing is that when French toast only gets a few minutes of stove-top cooking, the insides don’t have a chance to properly bake. For truly perfect, cakey insides, you also need the oven. Try it this way and you’ll have a hard time going back!

To take French toast up yet another notch, you can get a stuffed effect by French toasting sandwiches instead of plain slices of bread. Here, I used a combo of  homemade cream cheese and date spread (you can also use store bought) in some and peanut butter and date spread in others. You can do this with basically any sandwich filling, savory included (but if you go that route, replace the sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon with a pinch of salt and pepper and some herbs).


 

Cooking With Fresh Mozzarella *Giveaway*

 

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Before I traveled to Rome for the first time a few years ago, I fantasized about all the amazingly delicious Italian food we were going to have. The fresh pasta, the authentic pizzas, the sweet gelatos, it was all going to be perfectly delicious. On our first night in the historic city, we strode into a bistro just outside the Jewish ghetto. There, I had the only thing still available from the menu, the most tasteless spaghetti in marinara.  It was quite disappointing. I should have known better when I heard the chef and waiter speaking to each other in Russian.   Thankfully, the rest of the trip was beautiful, but I didn’t leave with such fond memories of the food, save for a few exceptional restaurants in the Jewish Ghetto where ironically I ate Middle Eastern food.


 

Gluten Free and Natural on Tu B’Shevat

 

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It is customary to celebrate Tu B’Shevat by eating the Seven Species of fruit and grains which are native to the land of Israel. When I think of Tu B’Shevat I think of slicing open a pomegranate, eating the seeds over Greek yogurt and drizzling it with honey for breakfast, while for dinner I’d imagine Moroccan chicken marinated and then baked in olives and prunes.

Tu B’Shevat is a special day not only for celebrating trees but also for celebrating everything the earth provides for us; all of our fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, wheat and barley, etc. Tu B’Shevat is a day to celebrate our health and maybe even re-evaluate our eating habits.  The perfect time to introduce new fruits and vegetables into our daily meals.  After all Tu B’Shevat is a new year, and on New Years we make new resolutions.


 

Essential 6 Ingredient Soups

 

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When temperatures drop, nothing is more comforting than cozying up with a hot bowl of soup. As a personal chef, I find myself making these three recipes weekly for my clients, and who would ever guess they only require 6 ingredients? These soups take no time to prepare and freeze wonderfully for an easy, last minute dinner. Immersion blenders are essential here, creating a creamy consistency without the extra calories. Want to jazz them up for a special occasion? See starred comments on the recipes for some unique ideas that will impress your guests!

Minted Pea Soup


 

How To Cook Turkey London Broil

 

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There are three things that intrigue me… first and foremost is food and the many ways it can be turned from nourishment into an edible work of art.  Next is words… the written, the spoken, the meanings.  And finally there is history.  The history of our people, my people, antique furniture and old photos.  Along with these very separate subjects is often a chance for them to come together, especially for us food writing chefs.

Old recipes and those with interesting names are also fun for me to work with.  Where did they come from, and what has made them endure the test of time and the counting of calories?  Who was the first one to create a dish, and who was the first one to put it in a cookbook?  A modern day favorite is the Caesar Salad, which does not hail from the Roman Emperor Caesar, but from the Grand Master Maitre d’ Hotel at the brand new Waldorf Astoria of the 1930′s.  Or was it the Italian Chef Caesar Cardini, living in Mexico in the 1920′s?


 

Make The Best Strata For Your Winter Brunch

 

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When winter sets in, we want heavy, soul-satisfying food. The days are shorter, and we may be feeling sluggish, so we don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. That’s especially true of Sundays, when we don’t have to go anywhere and the day stretches before us unhurried and unpressured.

A strata is just the thing for a lazy winter brunch with friends. It’s gorgeous straight out of the oven, all golden and puffy, a real show-stopper. It’s basically a savory bread pudding. It’s called “strata” because the ingredients are layered like the stratosphere.


 

Wild Rice Recipes

 

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Wild Rice is actually the seed of a grass plant. The plant grows in shallow lakes and slow moving streams. Wild rice is native to America and China and is a staple of Ojibwa Native Americans.  Wild rice is endangered in many areas due to loss of habitat and it varies a lot in quality. The term wild does not accurately describe the growing environment and much of the rice we buy is cultivated and mechanically harvested.  True wild rice is river grown and hand harvested.

The perennial plants produce delicious and fragrant seeds each year. The seeds are very fragile and are susceptible to shattering which drives the price of the seeds up, that is why true wild rice is expensive, full flavored and elegant, but worth out.  Seek out a sustainable true wild rice that is hand harvested and you will be rewarded with a delicious and nutritious side dish. It is high in protein and dietary fiber so that is an added bonus.


 

Gluten Free and Celebrating With a Potato Bar

 

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It’s that time of year, at least for me, Graduation. My 21-year-old daughter is graduating from college this month and starting graduate school next month! Time flies. I remember when she was born with that full head of brown hair, her first day of preschool, her siddur party and so many wonderful milestones. I also remember the countless stomachaches, the visits to the pediatrician, the numerous phone calls from school, informing me that my daughter is once again not feeling well. It took years for my daughter to be diagnosed with gluten intolerance.

It happened by chance one morning at the gym. I was exercising and this famous actress was on tv explaining her newly diagnosed health issue. As I was listening I remember thinking, she is describing my daughter, stomach as hard as a rock, always looking 3-months pregnant, constant undiagnosed stomach pains, fatigue and more. She then went on to explain her gluten allergy. That evening when my daughter came home from high school, (yes, high school, it took us that long to recognize her condition) I told her about the show and we decided she needs to get off gluten (granted we never even heard of this before).


 

New Recipes Using Homemade Dried Falafel Mix

 

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It really doesn’t get any better than homemade falafel fresh out of the oil! But making falafel can be a bit of a pain and I find myself wanting to just go out and buy falafel or use that boxed mix to make them at home. Instead of using that sodium-filled falafel mix from a box, I’ve created my own easy recipe for homemade dried falafel mix using garbanzo bean flour. The falafel mix is filled with the flavors of cumin, parsley, paprika, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder and it tastes good on just about anything.

Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce


 

5 Minute Party Food

 
 

It’s party time!!  Even though Hanukkah is almost over, there is still lots of time to party.  With these cold Wintery nights ahead, it is more fun to invite everyone in rather than go out.  That doesn’t mean you want to spend hours preparing.  Enjoy these recipes for 5 Minute Party Food.

When feeding a crowd it is always great to serve mouthwatering food with distinctive flavors that leave people wowed and make the food and party a memorable experience; good food really has that power. There are many exciting new kosher products available for the ever-growing palate of the kosher consumer. Jack’s Gourmet provides high-quality kosher charcuterie that is authentic and provides the kosher cook with flavors and textures that weren’t always available.  In addition to great flavor, the products are versatile, contain NO fillers, are gluten free, and contain no MSG. As the items are ready to serve in a matter of minutes, they make for a versatile and epicurean ingredient that can be prepared in many ways.


 

Pumpkin Hanukkah Recipes

 

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I love Pumpkin! It is one of the most versatile ingredients in my pantry and is a staple in my home. I use pumpkin in many recipes including: soups, risotto, breads, stews, ravioli filling, pie, and more.

One of the few canned foods I use is canned pumpkin puree. Canned pumpkin puree is a nutrient dense food. It is high in vitamins and antioxidants. To achieve the creaminess of canned pumpkin puree it would take hours and many pounds of pumpkin to result in several cups of puree. So now you know the secrets of this restaurant chef.


 

Why I Love Olives

 

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There are a handful of ingredients that not only strengthen the flavor of a dish, but also stand strong as an appetizer-like snack on their own.   My favorite one is small, it’s oily, it’s a fruit, and it’s harvested for its meat and oil.  It is the quintessential olive.

There are dozens of olive varieties encompassing both size and flavor.  Similar to the different nuances in grapes and the wines that grapes become, olives grown in different regions will pick up the fine distinctions of those areas.  The leading growers of olives are the Mediterranean countries ~ Spain, Greece, Italy and Israel where there are groves with some fruit bearing trees dating back thousands of years.  The United States can also claim rights to this delicacy with much younger groves in the Southwestern states.


 

Cooking Israeli Food In America

 

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I just came back from New York City where I gave a few Israeli cooking classes. I always find that no matter where in the world I am, cooking with people is fun, creative and delicious, and passion for cooking crosses cultures and places. As a cook I like to learn and teach new recipes, cooking techniques and tips.

Two cooking classes were hosted by two of my dearest clients and friends Ada-Beth and Laurie, who took my cooking tour in Israel a while ago. The third one took place at Manhattan JCC. I so much appreciate the warm welcome and the opening of the kitchens for me.


 

An Updated Israeli Cabbage Salad

 

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A classic Israeli table is covered with about a dozen colorful salads from all over the Middle East. Once you’ve eaten in a typical Israeli restaurant, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everything from hummus to babaganush gets served on endless small plates so that you can barely see the table. The collection of salads is a sign of the Israel bountifulness, and general generosity found all over the country.

One of Israel’s most famous salads, found in every falafel stand, is the red cabbage salad.