Jamie Geller's Blog

 

Vote For Your Favorite Fried Dessert Creation

 

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The dietician in Tamar wouldn’t let her run this contest. We showed her, didn’t we?! Fried desserts – hey it might be a small category but it’s a goodie. We tested 4 finalists and it came down to these two. One easy schmeazy Thai Fried Banana Dessert – hey it’s fruit! And one not so easy Eggnog Cranberry Rice Fritters, ok a total patchke, but beyond worth the time, effort and calories.

Throw out your scale and raise your glass to frying dessert by voting for your favorite.


 

Crispy Chanukah Delights

 

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So I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I love fried foods. After all I am not the official dietician on our site — I leave the uber healthy stuff to Tamar. When we were deciding what to do for the 8 nights of Chanukah – since the 8 nights of latkes concept felt so played out – (and in fact we have over 50 recipes for latkes) I said to Tamar “I’ve got it! 8 nights of Fried Desserts!” She was like “What? No way!” The professional in her couldn’t let go. But I did my duty and convinced her our readers and the world will love this. It’s Chanukah – it’s practically a mitzvah to fry. So since I covered Savory Fried Treats in the Nov/Dec issue of JoK magazine we are focusing on sweet crispy delights on Jok.com. So 8 nights, 8 treats from me and all our “professional” Jok.com friends, like Jeff Nathan, Alessandra Rovati, Chef Laura and more!! You may hate me for it, but after you taste my Nutella Banana Egg Rolls I do think you will be thanking me!

Don’t miss out on the rest of the recipes -


 

Chanukah Candles, Cooking and Customs

 

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Jamie’s Chanukah Sizzle Reel

 

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I wanted to share what we in the “industry” call a sizzle reel. Translation - a 2 minute clip of the pilot we shot for PBS. We actually shot this before Rosh Hashanah. My neighbors got a kick out of all the menorahs in the window in the middle of September and my kiddies loved opening their presents early. I was obviously uber-pregnant (could barely reach the counter) and collapsed at the end of the 14 hour shoot (feet throbbing, head aching, back burning kinda collapse). We are editing together the full half hour episode now, I am so excited.

The food star of this episode, my Caprese latke tower – cover of this month’s JoK mag and my new favorite way to dress up a latke. Tell me what you think? Of the latke and the sizzle. Don’t you just LOVE this song from the Moshav Band? I cried like a baby the first time I heard it and not just because I was an emotional pregnant mess. Every time Hubby plays it my oldest goes “oh is Mommy going to cry again?”


 

Chanukah Menu

 

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Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah! SO SO SO excited it’s finally here. Although, in all honesty I have been celebrating Chanukah since August, no joke. Between preparing for the Chanukah issue of the magazine and shooting a Chanukah themed pilot for PBS, before the first candle I have already made latkes 3 times, fried donuts twice, baked Chanukah cookies with the kiddies once, lit the menorah as a family, wrapped presents, and washed my clothes and sheital to rid them of the smell of fried oil that is the holiday. Now that it’s finally here, for real, I almost need someone to pinch me to prove it – although I’ll settle for opening some presents.

As is customary for the holiday we do dairy every night. Why you ask? I told you last year. You don’t remember? Read here. So to update my repertoire I’ve got some new dishes for your Chanukah parties.


 

My Grandfather’s Latke Recipe **Chanukah...

 

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You know my grandparents really knew how to cook. It seems to me that everyone born in “the Old Country” (in this case, Transylvania) was born with built-in cooking intuition. Somehow, they could create the most scrumptious meals using no fancy equipment, nor even measuring spoons. I recall that they hosted every holiday humbly, turning out the expected delicacies with what seemed like the simplest, most relaxed effort. No exotic flavor profiles, nor food combos or wine pairings; no attempts at reinventing the wheel, because when the food is that good – no, make that superb – there’s no need to find a “twist” on the recipe.

On Chanukah, we were treated to their potato pancakes, “latkes” that were classic and simple. My grandfather, a professional chef, wore a manly white waist apron that suited him perfectly. His latkes were made of eggs, onions, potatoes, oil, salt, pepper, and a little matzo meal to make them crunchy. “Corn meal, that’s also good, if you don’t have any matzo meal,” he would say reassuringly, though you knew that he secretly wondered what kind of kitchen would not have a handful of matzo meal somewhere. The potatoes were hand-grated so fine –almost to a pudding-like consistency – then lightly fried in a pan that looked as though it, too, had just come over from the Old Country. Applesauce and sour cream traditionally accompany latkes, but who needed them? Crispy on the edges, with a fluffy, buttery smooth center, Grandpa’s version of this Chanukah delicacy could stand alone.


 

Greek Salad with Feta, Garlic Croutons and Lemon...

 

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Creamy, tangy feta, salty olives, crisp lettuce, and crunchy croutons, all wrapped up in a light and spicy lemon oregano dressing… ah, the Greek Salad! Could be a meal, could also be a side – perfect for a Chanukah feast (we do have to remember the Greeks this time of year).

Greek salad is one of my faves on Chanukah and post-baby. I have a friend who gorges on Godiva after she has a baby – it’s her “Thank you, G-d, and I deserve a treat” snack. Mine is Greek Salad. When my friend Anita comes to visit and asks what she can bring, I always say – “Can you pick up a Greek Salad on the way?” So random, but hey, it’s true. This super-easy salad is perfect for your Chanukah party because you want something you can toss together quickly when you have a ton of latkes to fry.


 

Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole

 

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There’s food and then there’s food. This is one of those simple, light dishes – yet it’s supremely robust and flavorful. Dover sole is one of life’s culinary delicacies and can cost you more than a steak at most restaurants. It’s white, firm, mild-flavored and best paired with a lemon wine sauce. It’s so easy to eat – just one of those things that goes down easy. It’s a super thin piece of fish, too: you don’t even need teeth to enjoy it (but don’t waste it on the baby!)

At the fish counter, you’re most likely to find lemon sole or gray sole much more affordable, and it’s still delicious especially when you are cooking for a crowd this Chanukah. This recipe for Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole is a nice complement to all the oily fried treats at your Chanukah party.


 

Pumpkin Baked Penne

 

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I have six cans of pumpkin puree sitting in my kitchen cabinet. And I must admit that seeing them lined up there gives me piece of mind, relieving the paranoia that sets in every fall. That’s when the store shelves are filled with pureed pumpkin for a brief period and everybody who loves pumpkin comes out in droves, clearing every last can till they’re impossible to find afterward. Bloggers hit the net, talk show hosts fill the air waves and twitter goes nuts with everyone trying to find out where to get their hands on a can of pumpkin puree.

So I confess to having an obsession. I nearly buy out the entire store when pumpkin is plentiful on the shelf, as though preparing for some dire emergency. I mean, what if the world comes to an end, and I’m stuck with no pumpkin puree in my kitchen? How will we survive?


 

Caramel Pear Lattice Pie

 

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Ain’t nothing like an all-American Apple Pie.

But you’ll have to go to your Yankee Auntie to get that recipe. Not that I’m un-American or against apple pie. It’s just that I grew up surrounded by Eastern European intonations and Old Country cooking. (When my father speaks, Hubby just smiles and nods, pretending to understand.)


 

Spiced Chicken with Lentil Soup

 

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Slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness from cinnamon and sweet potatoes, this Spiced Chicken and Lentil Soup is a hearty meal in one – especially when you add garlic toast. I learned the trick of rubbing cloves of garlic on hot toast from, Giada. Must be how they do it in Italy.

Back home in Philly, I used to watch my grandfather from Transylvania eat whole garlic cloves, with a glass of milk to wash it down. Grandpa lived to 96, in addition to the grace of G-d we credit garlic. The next generation in our family tempered the garlic tradition by substituting fresh sliced garlic on toast, drizzling it with olive oil and salt (or butter instead of olive oil). I remember my dad buttering his bread with a layer so thick it held the garlic like glue.


 

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

 

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Imagine it’s a cold winter night. At least I have to imagine, ‘cuz here in NY it’s a ridiculous 60+ degrees, people are sauntering outside in T-shirts, and I’m shvitzing in my black turtleneck sweater. (It’s the only thing that fits since I had the baby. I was really counting on cold weather.) Ok, so let’s imagine that there’s frost on the windowpane and that Hubby just built a cozy fire in the fireplace. (As long as I’m imagining, let’s really go for it.)

Since we’re pretending, we might as well cook up a hearty winter meal. Italian Vegetable Soup (spiked with orzo and pesto) and served with cheese bread is the perfect tomato-ey comfort food for a cold winter’s eve, and even for an annoyingly warm November day. Soup is one of my favorite foods, and the Italian Veggie soup is what I fix when I’m “watching” what I eat: that’s when I hold the orzo and the cheese bread. To tell the truth, since I had a baby so recently, I’m not really watching – just closing my eyes and savoring. I think “watching” should wait a while, till I’m back to normal. Let’s say, four or five years.


 

Balsamic London Broil with Roasted Onions

 

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Tamar asked me for more roasts that she can use when planning our JoK Shabbat menus. I had the brilliant idea to give her a brisket for every day of the week, but apparently we already have that, so I was forced to go out of my comfort zone. Fanfare, please: I now present you with Balsamic London Broil.

So what part of the cow is “London broil?” Technically, it’s not a cut of meat, but a method of preparing it by marinating it and then pan-frying (or broiling) it to medium rare. Wanna hear a good one? “London broil” is unknown in England. It was devised by Americans to tenderize flank steak, a meat that is normally quite tough; it morphed into “London broil” as a “cut” in butcher shops later on. True flank steak is from the wrong part of the cow for kosher consumers, but our kosher butchers cheerfully label just about any cut of meat that is lean (and not naturally tender) as “London broil.” So don’t ask what part of the cow it comes from. The answers will only confuse you. Suffice it to say that you can take this relatively inexpensive meat and give it the royal treatment.


 

Pick a Pumpkin Recipe Winner!!

 

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Finally, after much, difficulty, could even call it agony – and I am not exaggerating – we have our 2 nominees. The pumpkin recipes submitted this month were beyond amazing, creative, and diverse. I kept saying to myself, “This month we can’t pick just two finalists. Maybe we need to to change the rules so we can have more finalists.” I couldn’t even choose which recipes to make.

I almost had a fight with Tamar over our first finalist’s recipe – Melinda’s Pumpkin Fritters. I had a gut feeling they would be delish and I wanted to make them, but Tamar chose them before I could! Then I was hoping she wouldn’t have time to make them before her trip to Italy, but alas, she did and she loved them as much as I knew I would. She loved ‘em, her kids loved ‘em, and she was barely able to put one away for her hubby.


 

Jamie Geller and the 3 Bears!

 

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Wild & crazy.

As I write this in my Rockland County home, there are bears on the loose in my neighborhood. Not 1, not 2, but 3 bears, and they are not cuddly and they are not going for a harmless stroll while their porridge cools. They’re big, black, and one was just spotted digging into my neighbor’s garbage just 3 blocks away. AHHHH! Check out this video.