The Kosher Home

 

Outdoor Tablescape Ideas *Giveaway*

 

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Let’s take it outside!!

The sun is shining, the trees are swaying, and your garden is in full bloom, so why are you dining indoors?


 

Secrets of a Restaurant Chef – Poor Kitchen...

 

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Convenience foods (heat and serve) are typically made with inferior ingredients; contain way too much salt and empty calories. I do not purchase convenience products-ever!  I do not use pre-made sauces, stocks or pre-made products at work and I would never feed that stuff to my family and friends.  I cook with the Cucina Povera (“poor kitchen”) mindset.

In the kosher kitchen we only have so many ingredients to work with, both at home and professionally.  Many ingredients that most chefs take for granted are not part of my daily repertoire due to kosher restrictions.  I have a meat and pareve kitchen and cannot just add cream to a soup or sauce to thicken it.  I have to work a bit harder and find other ways that fit into the kosher laws. I do not believe in using faux foods for substitutions and look to natural ingredients that are already kosher and in season.  In the spirit of Cucina Povera, I embrace my constraints, accept the materials I have to work with and move on.  I always say that if a recipe cannot be made without completely mutilating it, then do not make it.  I have never put soy crème brulees on my menu and never will.  I also do not sell faux crab or mock sour cream. Real sour cream is amazing and who doesn’t love crème brulee? The artificial stuff doesn’t come close and I have too much respect for my ingredients, clients and family to ever serve ersatz food.


 

Secrets of a Restaurant Chef – A Perfect Pantry

 

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Last week I shared the importance of having good quality knives.  Today we talk pantry.  A well-stocked pantry is essential.  I can pull off a healthy home cooked meal out of my pantry in usually less than 20

Minutes and you can too.  It all comes down to some staple items. Here are some basics I always have on hand:


 

Make Your Own Sandwiches For Dinner

 

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“Mommy! We’re hungry! When’s supper?” The children run into the house, faces hot and flushed from their playing.  They crowd around me, clinging to my skirt, holding my hands, their faces waiting for an answer with all seriousness.

Forget that during the day, these three delicious children have eaten both breakfast and lunch, and have nibbled and noshed all through the afternoon. It was time for supper. Question to myself: What was I going to make? It was one of Those Days.


 

Secrets of a Restaurant Chef – Getting to Know...

 

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I have often said that I have the best job in the world. I get to create food for people that nourishes their body and soul.  I can make or break an event (I always try my best to make the event!).   I make jaws drop in amazement and I can give you moments of memorable ecstasy, with food.

I get paid to think about and create food.  It doesn’t get much better than that!


 

Father’s Day Gift Ideas – Make Condiments, Get...

 

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To be honest, I usually don’t do much in the way of actual gift giving for Father’s Day.  My dad lives in Florida and so I usually just call him on the phone.  My father in law lives nearby and we usually get together and maybe buy him a book or CD.  A few years ago, though, I did send my dad a gift.  I found cedar planks and kosher certified spice rub at William Sonoma.  It was the early days of cedar planks and my dad never heard of it before and loves to barbecue, it was the perfect gift!

He now loves using a cedar plank to barbecue and has even replenished his spice rub at least once.


 

What Is Umami?

 

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A few months ago I was flipping through the channels of the radio trying to find something decent to listen to, while my 7 year old was complaining about every station I landed on.  Sounds familiar?  I happened to stop for a moment on NPR where this woman was talking about her new book on taste.  I was interested, and patiently waited for my son to tell me to switch it, which usually takes about 8 seconds.  When he didn’t say a word, I realized that everyone wants to learn about taste.  How we taste what we taste and how all our five senses play a role in the enjoyment of our food.

We happened to hear them talk about Umami, a somewhat recent buzz word that many of us are still learning about.  Umami was actually only officially recognized as a term to describe taste back in 1985. It is now widely accepted as the fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, bitter and salt.  Umami comes from the Japanese word meaning “pleasant savory taste” and is the taste of glutamate.  It is described as a sensation of meatiness, brothineess or savoriness.  Have you ever eaten a delicious food, but not been able to describe what was so good about it?  That flavor was umami.


 

Which Ice Cream Machine Should You Buy?

 

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You’ll Love Your Ice Cream Machine!

Think it’s hard or time-consuming to make your own ice cream? Ice cream machines like the ones below do the magic for you. Faige Sprecher from The Kitchen Clique fills us in on the best options for the at-home ice cream chef.


 

A Day In the Life of a Wedding Caterer

 

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As a kosher caterer in Seattle, serving diverse expressions of Judaism, wedding planning is a time for me to sit back and listen, to “get” what a particular “Northwest Jewish Couple” envisions for their big day. My catering website is a mission statement and phone number. Trust me; we need to talk. A wedding is about logistics first, food second.  More important than the things people ask for are the things they really don’t want.

Northwest couples, with free-spirited abandon, opt for Sundays in our dubious summer weather months. The biggest request is for ‘no rain’, which is very different from ‘sun’. Overcast, drizzle, partly sunny, chance of sun….we’ll take any of those; just please Hashem, “NO RAIN!” Like a major league pitcher, I keep weather stats on my weddings. I’ve managed a near shutout career to date (knock on wood) with rain before, rain after…but, no rain during except once in the summer of ’03.


 

Even Chefs Make Mistakes Part 2

 

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This post is a continuation of my WORST mistakes of all time!  These are skills I have learned by way of mistakes.  I hope to never make them again, and prevent you from ever making them in the future!  I even added a recipe that I adapted from non-kosher to kosher.

1.  Knife Skills


 

Even Chefs Make Mistakes Part 1

 

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I’m about to tell you an embarrassing confession.   Earlier this week I was dipping cheesecake truffles into melted chocolate. I “invented” a double boiler using a bowl and a pan filled with boiling water to melt the chocolate.  I placed the bowl on top of the pot of hot water and waited till my chocolate melted.   As I waited, I went to finish up other preparations for my recipe.  Washing dishes, I began smelling a mixture between chocolate and plastic.  I turned around, and there was my plastic coated metal bowl melting all over my Calphalon pot.   “Holy Shnikey!”  I ran to remove the bowl from the pan to prevent more damage, but it was stuck.  Literally fused together.  I sulked in my embarrassing mistake and wondered how could this happen?  I am a good chef!  After all, I just graduated culinary school and started working at a hoity-toity restaurant in Manhattan.   While I do have more common sense than this, I made a mistake.  It happens.

Chefs make mistakes.  No chef was born great, they all had to acquire skills.  But, like every position, these skills have shortcomings.   Chefs feel their best when they serve a completely satisfied customer.  Thomas Keller, one of the greatest chefs in America, was quoted as saying “When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.”  There is no perfection in cooking, or life for that matter, but we can strive for our best and make ourselves and other people happy along the way!


 

A Star Wars Birthday Party

 

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A few years ago my boys were crazy for star wars.  All their costumes were star wars, they loved the light sabers and they watched as many of the movies as they could.  It was no surprise that when my oldest turned five he would want a Star Wars themed party and being the loving mother that I am I obliged.

I was living in the city so space is not easy to come by, but I am lucky that his birthday falls in the Summer and I get to host a large party outside.  There happened to be a small playground across the street from us and so I kept the party simple.  The kids could play in the playground and then we would order pizza and have cake.  Then I thought about a piñata.  We could hang it from the jungle gym and the kids could use a light saber to hit it, so I decided I had to make our own.  I got my five year old involved and we made a paper mache piñata of Darth Vader.


 

Kitchen Style – A Study in Contrasts

 

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Designer Pamela Jemal made this kitchen not only a functional workspace-but an oasis of glamour.  Contrast creates the drama, and high gloss marries the elements together.


 

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets – 8 Tools for...

 

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With Shavuos upon us, our menu focus, at least to some extent, is on dairy and pasta dishes, and luscious cheese and crème filled desserts in different shapes and sizes.  To ease meal preparation, great tools are the key.  Join us to  view a collection of cheese tools, some of which  you might not have used in the past.

Did you know that you can get more taste from your favorite cheese with a cheese slicer (also called a cheese plane)?  The Boska Holland cheese slicer is handsome, well-priced, and perfect for semi-hard and hard cheese.


 

Dairy Cocktail Recipes

 

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My parents were pretty strict with alcohol consumption through my teenage years. The two exceptions were wine during Shabbat meals (though I was limited to one glass) and any cream liqueur. For some reason, Godiva Chocolate and Irish cream liqueurs didn’t count as alcohol, since they were so rich and in my mother’s opinion, you could only drink it in a glass, on ice, at times when you wanted to indulge.

The issue with these creamy libations is that for most Kosher-observing families, opportunities to drink a dairy cocktail are rare, unless the kids are asleep and you have an hour of free time to rest. Thankfully, Shavuot is right around the corner, so here are some ideas for dairy cocktails that I encourage you to try!