Kosher Cooking School

 

Types of Flour

 

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Back in the day, when one wanted to buy flour in a supermarket, there was but one choice—all-purpose flour. Nowadays however, there is an abundance of flour available right in your supermarket. All-purpose flour, bread flour, unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, cake flour, whole-wheat cake flour—the list goes on! Here is a breakdown of some common flours, and their optimal uses.

All-Purpose Flour. If a recipe doesn’t specify which flour to use, assume you should use all-purpose (or AP) flour. It has 8-11% gluten, which is suitable for cakes as well as some breads. AP flour is available in bleached and unbleached forms—both are light in color, but bleached flour has been chemically treated to be white, rendering it with less protein than its unbleached counterpart. Use AP flour in pie crusts, popovers, pancakes, quick breads, and yeast breads. This flour can last up to one year if sealed tightly and kept in the refrigerator, or 8 months in a cabinet.


 

How To Braise Meat

 

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I always feel a little glum on the day we switch the thermostat from air conditioning to heat. It means we’re bracing for winter and cold weather, heavy clothing and darkness by 4:00. There’s a smell too as the oil burner turns over for the first time to send hot air through the house.

But after a day or so I remember the bright side. First, I live in New England where the foliage is so glorious that people from everywhere drive up to take a look. So outside my window the view is entrancing.


 

7 Satisfying Slow Cooker Recipes

 

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The days are getting shorter, our lives our busier and when we get home all we really want is a nice hot meal waiting for us. Enter the slow cooker. These pots are not only for cholent.  Keep yours out all week and make easy set it and forget it recipes for everything from dinner to breakfast to dessert.

  White Bean Soup with Lemon and Garlic Cornbread

White Bean Soup with Lemon and Garlic Cornbread


 

Syrian Cooking With Poopa Dweck

 

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Today, I’m going to cook traditional Syrian dishes with Poopa Dweck, author of Aromas of Aleppo. Most of the dishes we’re going to make I have prepared before—one even weekly. As a Syrian Jew, it’s the food I grew up with as well. Yet, I still hope to unlock secrets of the Syrian kitchen, and bring access to this distinctive and tantalizing cuisine to Joy of Kosher readers. For all of you—we’re going to make maza (small delights) first, two types. Bastel, delightful small semolina pastries, filled with ground meat, and laham b’ajeen, mini meat pies, a favorite of all types of Jews everywhere. And for the main course—we’re preparing mehshi kusa, squash filled with ground meat and rice—with a surprisingly delicious side.

bastel-ground meat filled pastries

Bastel


 

Cooking Brisket – 5 Sweet Recipes

 

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For a busy cook, for whom cooking is not the priority, recipes that require a little bit of preparation followed by at least one fuss-free hour are choice. Perhaps this is why so many Jewish cooks cook with brisket. Since it is a cut from the lower chest of beef, it has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be properly broken down in order to tenderize. Braising the brisket as a pot roast for holiday meals is the perfect way to break down the connective tissue. Just ensure to keep the meat covered and that it has plenty of liquid to cook in to avoid a dry and stringy cut of beef.

Since braising meat can take around three hours to cook, it is the perfect recipe to prepare before a big holiday: prepare it, stick it in the oven, and work on all of the other patchke dishes while it cooks. Over the years, brisket has penetrated the collective unconscious as a “Jewish food.” This dates back to nineteenth century Europe, because it was, and remains today, a relatively cheap cut of meat. Since it is lean meat, almost none of it goes to waste. Brisket just takes a little bit of patience, so that it gets tender and delicious. Here are some brisket recipes for Rosh Hashanah.


 

Cooking To Taste With Beyond My Recipes

 

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When I prepare a dish, my key ingredient is creativity. In my opinion, limiting yourself to a list of instructions is not always necessary.  My philosophy is simple: cook a dish the way YOU think it should be prepared, with ingredients that you love. The idea of leaving the recipe book behind is an older approach to cooking, an approach I learned from my parents and grandparents.

I was first introduced to this philosophy when I was 7. The first dish I ever made on my own was egg salad. My mom gave me the mayonnaise and spices, showed me how to peel an egg, and the rest was up to me.  I asked: “How do I know how much to put of each ingredient?” Her response sounded somewhat obvious: “Add a little at a time and keep tasting until you think it tastes right.” Simple, right? Well, 19 tasting spoons later I finally got it to taste flavorful. Now I make the same egg salad and only need one spoon to taste it- the “measurements” (in this case, how many times I shake a spice, and how many spoons of mayo I add) are almost second nature to me.


 

Papanasi – Romanian Cheese Sweets

 

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Papanasi (pronounced “papanash”) are traditional Romanian cheese sweets. I grew up in a Romanian Jewish family. Most of my childhood’s cuisine was based on Romanian dishes, mostly meat, potatoes and eggplants but there were also cheese dishes that I loved – savory and sweet.

Since I became vegetarian, 22 years ago, I’ve been focusing on those vegetable and dairy dishes.  One of the dairy sweets that both my grandmother and mother used to make (and still does, G’d bless her) is called Papanash.  The original Papanash that you can find in most Romanian Restaurants is a sweet cheese DOUGHNUT that looks a little similar to the American doughnuts we’re accustomed to (as oppose to Hanukka’s doughnuts that do not have a hole and are filled with jam or other fillings), except the Papanash doughnuts do not come out as round as American doughnuts because their dough is softer.


 

Chef Jeff Nathan Takes Us To The Farmer’s...

 

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We go shopping with Chef Jeff Nathan at Union Square Farmer’s Market—then it’s off to Abigael’s to cook with summer produce at its peak.

We’re standing in front of Barnes and Noble on East 17th St. To the south of us stretches Union Square, and today—a steamy day in June, the Union Square Farmer’s Market graces the park.  Walking on the city streets, if I didn’t divert my eyes to see the rows of brightly colored tents and high mounds of fresh-from the- farm produce—I could most definitely smell it. I’m here with Chef Jeff Nathan, his wife Alison, and my inquisitive friend Rachel.


 

Meat Lesson – Chuck and Bolo

 

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This month we will be discussing three different cuts. Theoretically these cuts still fall under the Chuck Primal section,  closer to the animal’s shoulder blade. The cuts I will be talking about are marked 4, 5 and 6 on the beef chart.


 

Meat Lesson – Round Bolo

 

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Number 6 on the Beef Guide is the Round Bolo otherwise called the Mock Tender.  It’s a small, very lean cut that can also be used for minute steaks and stroganoff, or cubed for stews, steak pies and curries.  It really is a very versatile cut.  One of my favourites.

Many cuts of all different shapes and sizes were interviewed for the position of Hasslefree Hassleback Beef.  But it was round bolo, with its compact, smooth and wonderful texture that kept getting called back to the boardroom table, where it was finally hired.


 

Meat Lesson – Shoulder Roast

 

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The next section we are going to be looking at is the shoulder area. This is still part of the chuck primal and this area is made up of some of the finest cuts of meat for grilling, frying or long slow cooking.  Tenderized steak, minute steaks, stroganoff, cubed beef, stewing meat, London broil, would also come from this area.

I will be starting with the largest shoulder muscle (Point number 4 on the chart) which we call The Shoulder Bolo.  This boneless cut of beef is a smooth, solid cut large enough to serve 8 – 10 people.  It is a very lean cut and as a result many butchers use this cut to make rare roast beef for their deli section.


 

How to Stack a Cake – For Beginners

 

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I am definitely an amateur when it comes to stacking cakes but I also love to test the limits of my creativity. So when I had the idea to stack a cake for my son’s birthday party, I knew research was necessary! What I realized while searching the Web for tips was that the advice coming from professionals seemed so complicated. Sometimes the best person to give a beginner advice is another beginner. So I’m here as an amateur cake stacker with simple and easy directions!


 

Meat Lesson – The Chuck Section

 

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View my Kosher Beef Guide for a better understanding of the Kosher Forequarter and for a visual guide.

Today, we are focusing on the Chuck section.