Seasonal Cooking

 

Making the Most of Natural Flavors on Passover

 

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I don’t know about you but in my family we are pretty strict on Pesach. It’s a funny thing though because when I talk to some people, they seem to think we are so lenient. Considering that Pesach standards stretch from eating rice to not using dishwashing soap (a relative of mine actually washes her dishes with kosher salt!), I guess I can see why some might consider me lenient.

So what do we, or don’t we, eat? Well thankfully, my family does not use shmaltz. We opt for nut oil instead. We don’t use spices or processed condiments like ketchup, mayo, and duck sauce. So our seasonings mostly involve kosher salt and liquid sugar (a simple syrup that is made by boiling water and sugar and pouring it through a cheesecloth). The liquid sugar really comes in handy for my mom because she loves to make everything sweet. She pours it over sweet potato cubes for perfect candied potatoes, adds it to roasts, fruit salads, and even nut-pancakes.


 

No Processed Food On Passover

 

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There are many minhagim (customs) regarding Passover. Each branch (sect) of Judaism having their own special interpretations. Among Chassidim, and in our household, we do not eat Gebrokst (allow the matzoh to get wet) for the first 7 days of Passover. On the 8th day we allow the matzoh to be eaten freely with all foods and to be wetted and especially to make knaidlach and matzoh brei. We also take on many chumrahs (restrictions) such as eating only fruits and vegetables that can be peeled. Therefore virtually all spices are prohibited. In our sect, garlic is not used. You might think, that we are left with practically nothing to eat, since we take on the additional chumrah that we don’t use any processed foods, but make everything ourselves. The only processed foods we use are Salt, Sugar (boiled and filtered before Passover, and used in liquid form), Oil, Matzoh and Wine. In recent years, as the family has grown, we now buy potato starch, since we can’t produce enough of it just from slicing and soaking potatoes. (Here is a recipe for Potato Starch “Matzo” Balls)

In truth, I love Passover, because I think it is the healthiest 8 days of the year. No food colorings, no preservatives, no junk. I used to lecture on this subject to people first learning about Jewish Law, saying that if it reads “Kosher for Passover” we don’t use it. My point was, we make everything we can ourselves.


 

Super Passover Stuffings

 

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To stuff or not to stuff? That’s the question when it comes to turkeys and I am definitely in the not to stuff camp. Turkeys are big birds and there’s always a concern that the stuffing will not get to a high enough temperature to kill any growing bacteria. It also increases the cooking time and can lead to drier meat because you have to cook the turkey longer if it’s stuffed.


 

Happy First Day of Spring

 

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The weather has been glorious in our neck of the woods for some time. However, today it officially became Spring. No More Winter! In celebration of the fact that spring is here, we bring you some of our favorite springtime recipes.


 

Seder Tablescape

 

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Dear Joy of Kosher readers,

On Passover, we strive to whip up the perfect hametz-free gourmet menu which a huge feat right after we survive meticulously scrubbing of every inch of our homes. With just a little bit of planning and imagination, we can save some energy to create our own unique Passover seder tablescapes which serves as an elegant backdrop for our delicious Passover meals.


 

Carrot Dill Matzah Balls

 

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These are not your Bubbe’s matzah balls.

But they’re perfect.


 

Ingredient Spotlight: Horseradish

 

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Whenever we approach “Maror” at the Passover Seder, I see my little cousins cringe at the prospect of having to eat the bitter herb to remind us of the bitter work the Egyptians forced on the enslaved Hebrews. The horseradish we consume can even bring tears to your eyes if you have too much. By the end of the two Seders, there is usually enough horseradish to last for 3 or 4 more Passovers or preserved to be used with gefilte fish for the whole year.  The sale of bottled horseradish began in the 1860′s, but there is nothing like making your own.  Here are 2 different methods for preserving.

Drying: 1. Set oven to the lowest possible temperature. 2. Either slice the horseradish into uniform thickness, or grate using a box grater (this is how my leftover horseradish usually is anyway) 3. Lay out the horseradish in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven to dry. Check occasionally, until they are brittle to the touch. (**note–I don’t know how long this actually is) 4. Once fully dried, store in a dark airtight container on a dark shelf. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can vacuum seal the horseradish and store in the freezer. Mark with the date and discard after 6 months. Grated: 1. Grate the horseradish with a box grater. Be careful not to put your head too close or you will feel a rush of the released horseradish oils that will make your eyes tear. 2. Take a small clean jar that can hold 1/2-1 cup. Fill halfway with quality red, white, or light balsamic vinegar (1/4-1/2 cup). 3. Spoon the grated horseradish into the jar. Gently swirl with a bamboo skewer to make sure all pieces have been coated with vinegar. 4. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Note: Homemade horseradish is usually stronger than store bought especially if you make it when it is very fresh and pungent. Here are some more ideas for how to use horseradish: -Sniff it when you have a cold–it will clear your sinuses right up! -Slice thinly using a mandolin and serve in salads. There are many varieties of horseradish, including a watermelon horseradish, which look beautiful when sliced and served this way. -Boil or steam the horseradish and eat it like you would a turnip or steamed carrots. The cooking process eliminates the pungent flavor of the horseradish, so for those who don’t like the flavor, this can be a great way to still benefit from the nutrition of the root vegetable, which is a great source of fiber.

Gefilte Fish Cakes with Horseradish Sauce


 

Happy Purim!!

 

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Well, it’s been intense preparing for this holiday – but we have had so much bringing you all the Purim recipes and Seudah themes and ways to wrap your Mishloach Manot.

Here’s a round up of what we shared with you – bookmark this page to use again next year!


 

Amalek Kugel for Parshat Zachor

 

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Yes, I was a bit confused to learn that there is a recipe called Amalek Kugel. Amalek? Isn’t his evil tribe our greatest historical enemy? Wasn’t the wicked Haman his grandson? Aren’t Hitler, the Hamas terrorists, the Hizbollah, Ahamdinjead said to be his descendents?

Naming a kugel after him sounded about as strange as naming an ice cream flavor after Hitler, except that it isn’t.


 

Mishloach Manot Ideas

 

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Truth be told, generally, when I think of Mishloach Manot, I always think hamantashen. I mean, they’re the best known Purim treat, once you get set up, it’s easy to produce a lot and they’re great for packing up and transporting. But there’s no law that says that hamantashen must be included.

You do need to include at least two different items, so if you feel you must include hamantashen, that’s OK, but here are a few suggestions for other treats. Include one of these with your hamantashen or skip the hamantashen this year and just send these!


 

The Ten Best Hamantaschen Recipes

 

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It’s that time of year, our sleeves are rolled up, the dough is rolled out, and we are making dozens of hamantaschen for inclusion in our Mishloach Manot.

Here are some wonderful suggestions for you for this year – from the classic to the decadent chocolate filled, you will find a hamantasch for everyone.


 

Purim Cake Pops

 

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I’ve totally jumped on the bandwagon. I am a huge fan of putting treats on sticks. I’m pretty sure that any treat, no matter how delicious, fun, cute or enticing can be made infinitely more exciting (at least in a child’s eyes!) when placed on a stick.

It’s not just me. Everywhere you go, everyone is making and serving cake pops. This trend is great all year long, but there is no better time on the Jewish calendar for fun treats like a cake pop than Purim, a day when treats are plentiful and fun is the order of the day. Want to be the coolest mom on the block? Make some purim themed cake pops with your kids, and then give them the amazing satisfaction of distributing them to friends in Mishloach Manot.


 

Purim Recipes – Treats Beyond Belief

 

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Purim for me elicits many colorful and joyful memories, but none as strong as the faces of happy children with their mishloach manot, “goodie” baskets traditionally given to friends and family for this holiday. In the Sephardic tradition, the delivery of mishloach manot by children parallels a custom in Chinese culture for Chinese new year; upon receiving their baskets, the recipients shower the lucky curriers with coins!

Depending on your family customs, Purim baskets may contain any number of different things. Halakha dictates that the items given must be portable, and that the package must contain two different types of food. Fruits and nuts are popular items, of course, but, these days, anything goes! Depending on your tradition (or your predisposition for culinary adventures), these mishloach manot can span the spectrum of simple to gourmet, and everything in between. An Ashkenazi must-have is Hamantaschen, filled, triangular cookies, while Sephardim enjoy baklava, Orejas de Haman, and even burekas. While it’s best to fill your baskets with your tried and true family favorites, it’s always fun to add a little zest of something new. Why not give some of these festive, non-traditional items a try?


 

8 Meatloaf Recipes

 

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Meatloaf – is there anything more comforting on a cold winter night? Served with a side of mashed potatoes, perhaps some green beans? At our house we like to make meatloaf sandwiches with the leftovers, and sometimes, I think it tastes even better between two slices of a crusty loaf!!

Here are some meatloaf recipes that will leave you salivating and heading to the kitchen to whip some up:


 

Cheap Recipe Ideas for Bluefish

 

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Not many people extol the virtues of bluefish, except maybe for sport fishermen, who know that bluefish are fighters and that spotting and reeling one in is like going after Moby Dick.

Few praise the fish as food though. People say it’s too “fishy,” which seems odd, because it is, well, fish.