Seasonal Cooking

 

Chinese Recipes, Anyone?

 
 

‘Chanukah, Oh Chanukah come light the menorah. Let’s have a party. We’ll all dance the hora.’ You know the rest, but what are we going to do on December 24 and 25 when we’re not ready to peel potatoes again or heat up oil for the latkes one more time? We’ll go out for Chinese, of course. How did this Jewish connection between Chinese food and December 24th get started? Some say that Chinatown in New York City was close to the Lower East Side and the restaurants there were open that night, so the rest is history.

 


 

Get Ready For Chanukah

 

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We’re just days away until the first candle is lit on your family’s Chanukah menorah. It’s never too soon to get out your holiday check list. So, did you buy a new box of candles yet? Are your pounds of potatoes and onions purchased for batch after batch of latkes? More important than anything else, especially if you have children, are all of your gifts bought, wrapped, labeled, and hidden?

Some years ago we started a Nathan family tradition, attempting to combat the mad rush we usually experience while preparing for the holiday. More like a family concept than a tradition, I should note… This two-step idea just made sense to us so feel free to adapt it into your family’s Chanukah routine…


 

Rotisserie Chicken

 

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Nothing brings out our primal instincts in cooking more than preparing food on an open spit. What was once a necessary cooking method requiring nothing more than meat, fire and a big stick has now become all the rage in the best markets and butcher shops.  Walk down any main street and you will see large rotisserie ovens turning and churning out freshly roasted chicken, juices dripping down the window pane and appetites growing with every step.  The good news is; these succulent birds can be easily prepared at home for a fraction of the cost.

To achieve rotisserie nirvana, you can, of course, invest in a countertop rotisserie.  The manufacturers of “slice them and dice them” fame make affordable and practical models for your home, as does Cuisanart other name brand kitchen appliance companies.  The results are good and the clean up is generally easy.  If the weather is not a factor, you can brave the elements and cook your bird on an outdoor spit, your gas grill most likely comes with an attachment and the bird can roast outside, lid down until juicy perfection.   Some indoor ovens come fitted with a rotisserie option, and all you need to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions, keep a watchful eye and spin your bird to delicious results.


 

Winter Soup Recipes

 

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I’m sitting in my office with a fleece jacket on and the baseboard heater turned to high in an attempt to compensate for the cold temperatures that arrived last night with the first snow of the season. As I do every year, as soon as the cold weather arrives and the snow hits the ground I start thinking about which soups I’m going to prepare in my kitchen.

Now, I don’t want you to think that hot soups are only appropriate in the late fall and winter – there isn’t really a time when a bowl of soup isn’t appreciated. But there’s something about watching through the kitchen window as snowflakes fall and a pot of chicken soup simmers gently in my warm kitchen. And if you’re lucky enough to have somebody cooking soup for you, there’s nothing better than walking in from the frigid cold and being hit with the steam and aroma wafting out of a pot on the stove.


 

An Alternative Thanksgiving Menu

 

 

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“Of course I’d be honored to write a Thanksgiving post for JoyofKosher.com but there’s only one problem…we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.” I’m Canadian, my wife is Czech, our kids are Israeli and even though we’ve been living in the States for nearly eight years we’ve never really gotten into it. There are a number of reasons we don’t, none of them religious. As a Rabbi I feel that celebrating Thanksgiving is perfectly permitted, maybe even sensible. But as a family, especially a rabbinic family, we rarely have quiet times. Every weekend is busy; of course Shabbat is packed, but then so is Sunday. (Oh yeah, and my wife dislikes turkey.)

Thanksgiving for us is one of the few times we can count on everyone else being busy and leaving us to ourselves. I’m a University Chaplain and a Hillel Rabbi and the campus is like a ghost town during the Thanksgiving recess. The streets are empty, no one calls us, and we have a chance to have what I imagine a weekend is like for people who are not Shabbat observant. A little quiet, some leaf-raking, a bunch of football and some nice food.


 

Winter Squash Recipes

 

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As the last decorations come down from the Succah –gourds and all – and we prepare to dive into our year’s activities, I can’t help but wonder and ponder…what on earth do we do with these gourds anyway? Not to say that their place as a Succah decoration is an unjust existence, but c’mon…what does one actually do with them? Quite a lot, it seems, or at least so I discovered after doing some research (we love Google!). With over 700 known species, the gourd seems to have infinite craft and artistic possibilities and has been used by people throughout the world for musical instruments, pipes, masks, canteens, water jugs, dippers, birdhouses, bath sponges and as decorative pieces with intricate etched designs. So important were gourds to Haitian people in the early 1800s that gourds were temporarily made the national currency. But this is a cooking article, so I am clearly more interested in the edible possibilities. Some of the most delicious members of the gourd family include squash, pumpkin, cucumber and melons.

With the return of cooler weather, winter squash is back…and may just be the perfect warming ingredient, bound to qualify any dish as “comfort food” with all its sweet, orange creaminess. Though Butternut and Acorn squash happen to be the most common and known supermarket varieties of winter squash available, there are many other terrific kinds worth trying – Sweet Dumpling, Banana, Kabocha and Buttercup varieties, just to name a few. Each type has its own special flavor and texture. Using a new variety or a combination of a few may add a new flavor or dimension to your next squash dish.


 

Autumn Sweet Potato Soup

 

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I’m so happy to have an opportunity to guest post on Joy of Kosher. I met Tamar in New York a few months ago. We had a fun lunch together at a dairy kosher restaurant in Manhattan. When we discussed writing a guest post for Sukkot, my mind began spinning with all of the wonderful dishes I could share. Autumn is my favorite season, and seasonal autumn produce plays a major role in my Sukkot menu. Harvest foods take center stage. That’s why my Autumn Sweet Potato Soup is so perfect for Sukkot. Root vegetables, squash, warm spices, a touch of cayenne—delicious!

This soup’s broth has roots in an African food tradition. Peanut butter is stirred in at the end of cooking, thickening the soup and giving it a delicious flavor. While it might sound a bit strange, trust me on this one. The peanut butter enhances all the other spices, giving this soup layers and layers of delicious flavor. Your guests will never guess the secret ingredient. It’s a substantial soup, perfect for a chilly autumn evening in the sukkah. It’s also super easy to prepare, and can be served as a chunky soup or as a puree.


 

613 Things To Do With Pomegranates (well, almost...

 

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What a response I got when I decided to write about pomegranates!  It seems that everyone has some bit of trivia to share about this funny little fruit!  For instance, in Jewish as well as Chinese lore, the pomegranate (also known as the Chinese Apple) symbolizes fertility.

The pomegranate differs from the fruits we’re most familiar with.  We don’t eat its outside as it doesn’t have edible flesh; we only eat its seeds…and there are 613 of those!  If you’ve got some free time on your hands and don’t mind them being stained red, you can count them for yourself!  Years ago my kids and I tried to count them just to check and that was no easy task! The number 613 might sound familiar since there are as many commandments in the Torah.  In addition to the equal number of mitzvot, there are other pomegranate-to-religion relationships….  Pomegranates once adorned the hem of Aaron’s robes and consequently are often found on the crowns of modern day Torahs.   Pomegranates are said to have been in the Garden of Eden way back when, and are definitely all over Israel now.


 

What To Do When You Have Too Many Tomatoes

 

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My father-in-law and I once had an argument about ketchup. It was August, years ago, and my garden was overflowing with tomatoes. After eating a few too many tomato sandwiches, I needed to do something with the rest of the harvest, so I made ketchup.


 

Peachy Cool No Bake Desserts

 

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When your grill outside is fired up and you’re trying to keep your indoor kitchen heat down, who wants to turn on the oven to make dessert? Many folks opt to grill their dessert too, throwing pineapple, bananas and even watermelon on the fire to create a sweet ending to a summer meal.

Another option in the same no-bake spirit is to create refreshing frozen desserts, a great way to cool down after a hot meal on a hot day. While the frozen aisle at the supermarket offers an array of ready-made frozen treats and popsicles, here are a couple of easy ways for you to create luscious and innovative summer sweets using no more than your stove, food processor and freezer while incorporating the season’s crop of fresh, succulent peaches. These desserts are worth the extra effort, especially when they can be made in advance and can serve a crowd.


 

Just Peachy! – 3 Peach Recipes

 

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It’s summertime and gorgeous fruit is plentiful. Bright colors and a garden of aromatic scents fill markets and farm stands. It is easy to go crazy and over purchase when the produce looks so good.

A recent trip to a local farmer’s market found me carrying home more peaches than I could ever eat, even with help from my husband. I couldn’t help it. They looked so good. Plump, rosy cheeked peaches are a weakness of mine.


 

Snow Day Cooking with the Kids!

 

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The children are cheering and calling their friends to share the great news. It’s a snow day! No school!

It’s wonderful fun at first, but we all know that the parent who is staying home with them will have to deal with snow-day cabin fever. After the kids have built their snowman, made snow angels, and thrown a few snowballs, they’ll be stomping into your kitchen whining that there’s “nothing to do.” (No, this is not the time to remind them about that book report. When you have a day off, do you want to be reminded about the presentation you have yet to prepare, or the pile of laundry waiting for you?)


 

Chicken Soup for the Sniffling Soul

 

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It’s that time of year again, the weather is getting colder, the kids are in school hanging out with other pint-sized germ magnets and everyone is sniffling, sneezing and wheezing.   Some people pop pills or do cough syrup shots to get through the day.  Others use vitamin C to boost their immune system “naturally”.  Although we all sometimes need an over the counter cure for the common cold, check your kitchen cabinet before your medicine cabinet.  Chicken soup, sometimes referred to as “Jewish Penicillin”, may be all you need. (more…)


 

Quick & Kosher Winter Squash: Fast Facts

 

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Winter Squash

Quick & Kosher Squash Facts & Fantasies: