Jamie Geller's Blog

 

Chanukah Menu

 

Contributed by:

 

2 comments | Leave Comment

 

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...

 

Contributed by:

 

87 comments | Leave Comment

 

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...

 

Contributed by:

 

1 comment | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

1 comment | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

1 comment | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

2 comments | Leave Comment

 

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

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

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!!

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

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!

 

Contributed by:

 

2 comments | Leave Comment

 

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.


 

Beer Braised Brisket

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

OK, let’s have a show of hands. How many of you have ever cooked a fantastic, expensive cut of meat to perfection, then watched helplessly as it overcooked when you reheated it? You splurged on a beauty – probably for Shabbos or Yom Tov – and now you have a leathery, unappetizing chunk.

I’ll be the first to admit it has happened to me, and more than once. And that’s why brisket is my favorite cut! You can’t mess up when you braise a brisket. A top of the rib roast is equally foolproof, just treat it like a brisket and the meat will become softer the longer you cook it.


 

Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and...

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

Just because I love pumpkins,
and because I love you, dear readers,
and because there can never be too many pumpkin recipes in this world,
and because I am in a sweet mood,
here’s another perfectly pumpkin treat:
Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

If I were Maria, my Sound of Music moment would go a little something like this:


 

Eight Great Recipes for Thanksgiving

 

Contributed by:

 

0 comments | Leave Comment

 

So turkey day is almost here. Ain’t such a big deal for kosher cooks – after all, we’re used to cooking 130 feasts per year, when you combine holidays and Shabbos. So what’s one more? Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family, the flavors are classically fall. In my life, turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie don’t have to be reserved for the last Thursday of November, with football playing in the background.

Cranberry Mustard Sauce


 

Thank You for Your Support

 

Contributed by:

 

67 comments | Leave Comment

 

There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that stimulates a reflex: we start to enumerate our blessings. I have an incredible list of personal thanks to G-d for all that I have. And as I write to you now, I feel so thankful for the JoK family we have built here together. Every person who visits this site deserves credit for building this family. As in every family, each person is different, each has a different voice. Every recipe and every comment you bring makes us stronger, for you offer your unique perspective, opinion, kitchen tip or words of encouragement. With G-d’s help, we have created this kosher cooking kitchen universe together and I am so appreciative.

It’s important that this virtual kitchen we’ve built together has all the bells and whistles of your dream kitchen, and that requires solid communication lines. So for your last chance to win a free turkey let us know in the comments below what you want to see more of, what you like, what you want, what you wish we had, what you’d like us to feature. The sky is the limit, my friends. Give us your ideas about the site’s functionality, recipes, topics we cover… anything that you want to see on JoK.com in the coming year, anything you want us to expand. We are here and we hear you. Please also add a note to let us know if you have bought my latest book, Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes, and/or subscribed to “Joy of Kosher” magazine. Please be assured that our winners are picked at random and purchase is absolutely NOT required to be eligible to win. It just makes us feel good to know that you want to support this enterprise, and we hope it will encourage others to support us as well.