Jamie Geller's Blog

 

Joy of Israel 6 – City of David With Israeli...

 

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This here is part 1 of the amazing 2-part cooking show we produced with beloved Israeli Master Chef Tom Franz!!!!! (I know that’s lots of exclamation points but I am super-duper excited!!!! Can you tell?!??!?!) In the heart of Biblical Jerusalem, in the gorgeous City of David courtyard, under the shade of olive trees, in front of a live audience, we prepared (as in Tom cooked and I helped) 3 recipes featuring the 7 Super Foods of the Bible aka the Sheva Minim: wheat, barley, figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes (wine), and olives (oil).


 

All The Wonderful Things You Can Do With Broth ...

 

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One of my absolute most favorite go-to kitchen staples for quick cooking meals in minutes is broth – especially around the holidays, when I don’t want to feel like I am cooking around the clock (even if I am!). I always have about a case of Manischewitz All-Natural Chicken, Vegetable and Beef Broth in my kitchen cupboard. Yes, a case, of each. I kinda love to stock up on the things that I love.


 

A Simanim Inspired Rosh Hashanah Menu

 

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Simanim are so my thing. Now of course I know that on Rosh Hashanah they are everyone’s thing, but in addition to holding a Rosh Hashanah Seder where all the simanim make an appearance (even that fish head!)

I let them inspire my menu. This fish course features no less than 9 simanim (fish, honey, spinach, carrots, cabbage, pomegranate, apples, leeks and dates). I am nothing if not efficient. And all recipes are kissed with honey… well more than kissed. I call for generous measurements because why shouldn’t our cup runneth over with sweetness this new year?!


 

Joy of Israel 5 – City of David Tour

 

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I had lots of trouble writing this intro because my experience at the City of David, Biblical Jerusalem was so extraordinary, so moving, so breathtaking, so meaningful and so emotional. So… instead of continuing to try and put it into words I figured I would just show you. Watch this.


 

9 Tips for How to Be Your Own Sous Chef *Giveaway*

 

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Getting ready for holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow my 9 tips for preparing and planning ahead and you will be cool as a cucumber.

Starting with Rosh Hashanah and prepping for a months’ worth of holiday meals for the masses can be  mentally and emotionally overwhelming even before you step foot  into the kitchen.  I find the best way I can help myself is to be my own sous chef.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #9 – Always Have Dressings,...

 

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On any given day my fridge is filled with no less than 3 homemade dressings like this Carrot Ginger Dressing or this Caesar Dressing or this Asian Cabbage Salad Dressing or a Mustard Green Bean Dressing.   I make triple and quadruple batches of dressing, store in sealable containers so I am ready to toss at a moment’s notice.  Similarly there is always a bag of Homemade Whole Wheat Croutons (made from my leftover challah) and sliced sundried tomatoes in the fridge alongside sliced scallions and chopped herbs plus all manner of cut up veg (see #5) to ensure an exciting salad is always a possibility.  Also, my favorite spice rubs like this MSG Free Homemade Onion Soup Mix makes making chicken as easy as pie. (Which really is not as easy as making chicken, but you know what I mean.)

Phew OK so these were my top #9 tips for helping yourself with holiday cooking.  Now it’s your turn.  Share the love and post at least 1 tip with all of us in the comments below.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #8 – Time and Place For Day...

 

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With all these prep ahead tips there are still dishes or elements of dishes that should be made day of.  Point here is to pre-prep the patchke stuff and leave the last minute cooking for dishes best served fresh and finishing touches.  I like to think of the day of work as assembly day.  I grab a my already cleaned and cut chicken, already in the baking dish, from the fridge, add a handful of already sliced onions, and rub with my ready-to go homemade rub (see tip #9).

Being organized like this including the essential step of having prepped your veg (ever notice how much longer a beautiful salad takes than a Brisket!) will save you from making each visit to the kitchen epic.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #7 – Label, Label, Label

 

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When you freeze label with detail: the dish, the date, and how many it serves. If I know I am having 15 for one meal and 25 for another meal I write “Fricassee for 25” or “Creamy Coconut Carrot Soup for 15”. This way I don’t get confused and pull out Creamy Coconut Carrot Soup for 8 when I am expecting double the number of people.

An InLinkz Link-up



 

Holiday Prep Post #6 – Cook Thematically

 

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It’s good to organize your cooking and prep work by theme:

Day 1 wash and prep your veg


 

Holiday Prep Tip #5 – Chop, Chop, Chop

 

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Now is when you really earn your sous chef stripes.  (Say that 10 times fast!)  I chop, cut, slice, dice, ribbon, julienne and more about once a week.  I think about my menu and cut accordingly. I often have carrots 3-ways in my fridge: in coins (for roasting and snacking), julienned (for stir fries and starchy sides) and ribboned for salads.

I filet my bell peppers (includes washing and removing the seeds and ribs) and slice them into strips so I can easily grab a bunch and use them as is and/or quickly dice without having to wash and clean.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #4 – Don’t Be Scared...

 

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Now that I live in Israel most meat comes frozen. There are fresh butchers here and there but for the most part I buy my roasts, chop meat, and stew beef, frozen. Similarly whole sides of salmon and fish fillets come frozen. Fishmongers are harder to come by than butchers. And because year-round I don’t have time for a big shop more than once a week I buy lots of fresh chicken – on the bone, in cutlets, in strips, ground – and freeze that as well. This way, I can just shop from my freezer before cooking.

An InLinkz Link-up



 

Holiday Prep Tip #3 – Organize Your Shopping...

 

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Now that you know your menu, including intended repeats organize your list by shelf stable and fresh produce.  Have you ever noticed that stores start to run out of stuff as the end of the holiday draws to a close?  Of course this is most prevalent on Passover but it happens during the High Holiday season as well.  We usually do 1 BIG and by BIG I mean HUGE shop at the start and then fill in with perishables and last minute items throughout the month.  This way you have everything (or most things) you know you need at the ready.

When you organize your list though, be sure to include any perishables you need for bulk cooking within that first shop.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #2 – Consider Encore...

 

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When planning your menu, consider your company and time between each holiday meal and don’t shy away from serving the same thing more than once over the course of the month.  Serve the same soup the first night of RH and the first night of Sukkot or the same brisket Shabbos of the 3-day Rosh Hashanah Yom Tov and Shabbos Chol Hamoed (Sukkos).  Point is, don’t make 3 soups, 5 briskets, or even 8 desserts.  Cook in bulk by doubling/tripling/quadrupling recipes that freeze well.

Freeze in portions the size of your crowd and pull from the freezer in advance of the meal.  This way you are not starting from scratch before each holiday.  Alternate your menu based on company (so you don’t repeat food with repeat guests – although that wouldn’t be the worst thing) and proximity of meals.


 

Holiday Prep Tip #1 – Plan Your Menus Now

 

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By now, I mean right now.  Tomorrow is ok (now is better!) but just don’t let it wait a week.  Plan your menu for the entire holiday season at once, the earlier the better, from the first Rosh Hashanah meal to the last Simchat Torah seudah.  Crazy Fact: There are at least 16 meals if you live in Israel and 20 meals if you live outside of Israel.


 

Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

 

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A while back I went looking for brown bags in Israel, not for lunches for a project that I can’t even recall now, and guess what?  I’m still looking.  So if anyone knows where I can find some just say so in the comments.  Maybe by then I’ll remember why I needed them.

But in terms of interesting “brown bag” lunch ideas for our linkup this month we always have dribs and drabs of leftovers in small little cute Snapwear containers in our fridge.  Not enough to feed the whole family for dinner (again) but just enough for one or two lucky customers.