Traveling And Keeping Kosher

 

December 9th 2013

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Name a country and one of the first things that comes to mind is the local cuisine. Italy is synonymous with pasta and basil, France has its baguettes and cheese, and what would Spain be without its famous tapas? However, for the Kosher Traveler, the thought of local cuisine in a foreign country doesn’t always elicit such a positive response. Often times, after a long day spent marveling at the beauties of a small village in Andalusia or a large city like Paris, the Kosher Jet-setter often finds himself longing for a simple meal in a local tavern, only to be confronted by walls of pork. And of course, when you do find a kosher restaurant, it’s often an over-priced imitation of Israeli food that you might as well have made at home.

There are, of course, a number of creative solutions. I visited Spain recently for research purposes and had very few kosher options at my disposal. With a little creativity and foresight though, I managed to eat fantastically. There were meals of delicate ceviche, fresh salads, wraps, the best tuna salad ever made and even soup made in an electric kettle! With a few simple ingredients, one can transform a hotel kitchenette into a mini gastronomic experience (see recipes below).

However, most people find that meticulously planning ahead, bringing dry goods and a pot and pan in their suitcase and dealing with local kosher certification is less than ideal.  Indeed, washing a fishy cutting board in a hotel bathroom sink using their tiny bottles of soap is one of the more frustrating experiences life has to offer. Most Jews I know travel to get far, far from their own kitchen. In fact, most Jewish Mothers I speak to tell me that their idea of a perfect vacation is one where they don’t have to set foot in a kitchen.  And at the end of the day, most Glatt Kosher Globetrotters still don’t get to experience the fresh pasta of Italy, the vinegar-cured sardines and spicy olive oil of Spain, or the exquisite French pastries.

Kosher Culinary Adventures was born to fill this culinary void. It started off rather innocuously–chef Avicam Gitlin was invited to Italy to cook for friends and family. The guests loved getting such an authentic travel experience, and he loved the challenge of sourcing the best kosher products and creating local dishes. Kosher Culinary Adventures has now expanded to include cycling trips in Tuscany (as well as regular vacations there), Spain, and Provence, and will be adding Greece and Croatia to its repertoire this summer.  We specialize in using the freshest local ingredients and years of culinary know-how, to create menus that are authentic, delicious, and best of all, KOSHER!

For those of you who will be traveling and keeping kosher, we have a great recipe for a ceviche that can be made in your hotel room. The only equipment you need is a cutting board, bowl, and knife. This recipe was inspired by a desire to create a colorful, simple appetizer that incorporated different textures–crunchy, bright red, sweet and sour beets, a fresh, white, slightly chewy fish, and a smooth, creamy, green avocado puree.

For those of you who just want a recipe to wow your guests at a shabbat meal, we have a slow-braised asado recipe. Asado is a popular cut of meat in Israel. It’s a short-rib cut, highly flavorful and full of delicious fat, which makes it wonderfully succulent and tasty. it works best when braised for long periods of time. We made ours with pomegranate juice and garlic, and served it with fried disks of polenta and a mushroom-fig ragu.

Ceviche with Pickled Beets and Creamy Avocado

Pomegranate-glazed Asado

For more recipes, blog posts, and information, visit us at www.avicamgitlin.com or send us an email at bracha@avicamgitlin.com

**All photos courtesy of Bracha Arnold and Nechama Jacobson**


 

Recent Travels and Demos

 

December 6th 2013

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We had so much fun this year with the once in a lifetime convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.  On the site, in the magazine and even in person.  Although Hanukah goes way beyond the externals of the “traditional” foods, Thanksgiving is very much tied to the official “Thanksgiving dinner,” and as such, people were looking for interesting ways to have their turkey with their latkes.

That’s where Shfira Klein comes in.  Many communities called upon Shifra, the editor-in-chief of the Joy of Kosher magazine to demonstrate various Thanksgivukkah menu options. She had a lot of fun, check it out.

On the menu in both Chabad of Cobb, GA and Chabad of Chattanooga, TN:

Eggplant with Tahini Sauce topped with a Fresh Herb Salad and Supremed Lemon
Naturally Sweetened Iced Tea
Stuffed Latkes
Chicken Roll-Ups with Cranberry Sauce
Kale Quiche
Chocolate Parfait

On to Chabad of Atlanta.  The glamorous event featured the same menu, but with a Shabbos twists, like 6 types of cholent and 4 types of challah with dip.

The cooking demonstration combined Chanukah, Thanksgiving, and Shabbos all rolled into one, including all of the above plus more.

At the Chabaad of Westport, CT, I hosted a unique event for teens – A Kosher “Chopped” contest where the teen contestants, were divided into four groups, and each given a closed box of regular and unique ingredients consisting of potatoes, kale, fresh cranberries and prepared horseradish along with regular pantry ingredients with which to make an original latke and sauce.

The contestants were given a basic latke recipe to use as inspiration. Midway through the competition, they were also given a curve-ball ingredient – fresh parsley or mint which they had to incorporate as well.

The final dishes were judged by Shifra Klein, food blogger Liz Rueven of kosherlikeme.com and 2 other local foodies and the teams scored points for taste, creativity and presentation. The contest proved to be a lot of fun for the teens and a wonderful way to get them into the Chanukah spirit and some very interesting and tasty dishes were created.

Comment below if you attended any of these demos and stay tuned for for more info on upcoming events:

February 4th and 5th in San Diego

March  3rd and 4th in  Maryland

March 6th in Merick, Ny

 

For more information or to bring Shifra Klein to your community, email: Shifra@joyofkosher.com


 

Whole Grain Farro Recipes

 

December 6th 2013

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Whole grains have become wildly popular in recent years but I don’t think this is just another “hot” culinary trend. Spelt, farro, wheatberries, quinoa and so many other grains that once seemed so weird or exotic are now everyday staples in our kitchens. Recipes abound.

That’s good news, not only because whole grains are healthy, but because there are so many of them. Each has a different taste and texture, so it’s a certainty you’ll find at least one or two to your liking. They also add amazing variety to our diets, which helps ease the boredom factor when it comes to dinner.

When my children were young and still living at home, the staple starch side dish was either white rice or egg noodles. But I served them too often.

Don’t we all do that?

Fortunately, the “please-don’t-make-this-anymore” came at a good time: the growing awareness of whole grains. I tried several kinds, just to bring something new and different to the table. This was a big, important find for the Fein family. It opened up new vistas for us and, I must confess, it took longer to convince my husband, but he gets it now too.

Our favorite? Farro. Brown, nutty-tasting, toasty-flavored farro. Filling, like a starch. Full of nutrients and fiber. Satisfyingly chewy.

I have to be careful not to make it too often or it will become the new white rice.

farro salad

Farro Salad

Farro is sometimes called Emmer wheat and, in fact, is a wheat-like grain (although it is lower in gluten than wheat). Some people also say it is the same as spelt, but it isn’t (although spelt is also in the wheat family).

I’ve used farro for practically every course. No desserts yet, but I’m not finished experimenting. I’ve found that it makes a good, plain side dish, doused with olive oil or butter, depending on the meal, and you can dress it up easily with some chopped fresh herbs such as dill or thyme. You can add all sorts of stuff to that: crushed toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, cooked peas, and so on.

I’ve added farro to soup (instead of rice) and made pilafs with it. In fact, sometimes I now make Mujadarah, one of our very favorite dishes, with farro.

farro pilaf

Farro Pilaf

Most of my farro recipes are salads. I cook the grain, add some vegetables, raw (tomatoes, cucumber, celery) or cooked (carrots, asparagus, broccoli) or packaged (beans, thawed frozen peas or corn), douse with a vinaigrette and I’m done. Meat salad? I just add some chopped, cooked leftover of whatever I cooked for dinner the night before; this is an amazing use for leftovers.

Dairy? I add cheeses such as feta, goat, mozzarella, Fontina. Sometimes I mix in a few dried cranberries and/or chopped nuts. Usually, when I make a cheese-based salad and include dried fruit, I also make a sweeter dressing, typically including orange juice in place of some of the wine vinegar.

If you’re cooking for two – as I do mostly these days – farro can be an especially good friend. I make a batch, use half as a side dish for one dinner and the other half for the next day’s salad or casserole.

Get the recipes for Farro Pilaf and Farro Salad

For more farro recipes browse here.


 

Meir Panim’s Free Restaurants Spread The Joy

 

December 5th 2013

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One cool Jerusalem morning last month, I met Aryeh, the head of operations at the Meir Panim Free Restaurant near the city’s Central Bus Station. As part of Meir Panim’s efforts to ease the burden of poverty for many of Israel’s impoverished residents, this particular Free Restaurant – one of seven across Israel – serves approximately 250 meals daily.

Before Aryeh begins directing me and the rest of the volunteers, he gives me a tour. There’s a large industrial kitchen, plus a storage area for food. He shows me the collection of clothing that people have dropped off for him to distribute.

I’ve volunteered at other soup kitchens in Jerusalem and in the US, but something’s different here at Meir Panim. The dining area is set up in an attractive and homey manner, and there are decorations on the walls. This soup kitchen is not traditional – rather it is more like a restaurant.

Throughout the course of the day, volunteers peel, chop and prepare vegetables, set tables, and put the finishing touches on the day’s meal. I’m intrigued by a young family speaking Dutch. Israel is definitely a melting pot of cultures, with residents and visitors coming from all corners of the globe. I meet Abigail, who came to Israel for a three-week vacation with her husband and two children. While in Jerusalem, the family decided to volunteer. Through Twitter, Abigail found Meir Panim.

“We came as a way to meet the people of Israel, and teach our children to be giving,” she said, “We wanted to give to those in need.” Her husband, Michael, and 11-year-old son, Gregor, routinely volunteer at a local soup kitchen in their home city of Gouda. Michael said the experience at Meir Panim is much different than in Holland, where people must pay a small fee in order to receive meals. In just a few days, Gregor has connected with some of the diners and is greeting them with high-fives and big smiles.

As we finish preparing the meal, Aryeh opens the front door and lets diners in. They are a mix of Israeli society –young and old, religious and non-religious, people sitting with others and people who choose to sit alone. As we serve the meals, which are complete with bread, soup, chicken, vegetables and fresh fruit, a few women speak with me. I ask them about their families, as they ask me about mine.

Eighty-five-year-old Ruth tells me that Meir Panim is “something extra,” because they provide her with a warm lunch every day. Widowed, Ruth said she fell into a depression after her husband passed away four years ago. Now, Meir Panim helps her stay active, social, fed and satisfied with her life. “They take care of us and are kind,” she said. “This institution is doing a huge mitzvah taking care of us – the people of Jerusalem who have no family or work to sustain them.”

Many of the diners are Holocaust survivors, Aryeh told me. Menachem, a soft-spoken man, tells me he remembers going to school in Poland. With a smile, he laughs about how incredible it is that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren study in yeshivot in Israel, especially after he lived through the Shoah.

“We know that there is a great need for poverty assistance in Israel and we do our best to provide food and other services,” Aryeh told me. Nearly 20 percent of Israeli families are living in poverty, according to the National Insurance Institute’s latest report. It revealed that a staggering 1.8 million people, including 860,900 children, live below the poverty line. Since 2000, Meir Panim has been responding to this urgent demand in a variety of ways.

Annually, the organization serves at least 300,000 free meals out of restaurant-style soup kitchens, which also prepare meals-on-wheels for delivery to an additional 125,000 people. Meir Panim also targets children in impoverished areas, offering hot lunches, after-school clubs and summer day camps. All programs give dignity, respect and relief to many of the country’s neediest residents.

Looking to better serve Israel’s impoverished population, the organization is constructing the Mortimer Zuckerman & Abigail Zuckerman Israel Nutrition Center in Southern Israel. This center will prepare and distribute up to 30,000 meals daily. Once completed, it will be Israel’s largest food production facility, feeding thousands of people in need and creating hundreds of new jobs for local residents. Meals at this 50,000 square-foot facility will be prepared by a renowned Israeli catering company, which will provide high-quality, healthy and balanced meals.

There are various ways to help Meir Panim’s efforts. If you live in Israel or are planning a trip to Israel, you can coordinate to volunteer at a Meir Panim Free Restaurants by emailing volunteer@meirpanim.org. To donate to Meir Panim, click here!

See Jamie’s visit in this video below:

 

Photos provided by Meir Panim


 

10 Hearty and Warming Soup Recipes

 

December 4th 2013

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It has been pretty cold in the Northeast so far and it isn’t even Winter yet.  Warm yourself and your family up with these recipes for hearty soup.  These soups are rich enough to be a one pot meal with some nice crusty bread on the side.  Try them all, it is a long Winter ahead.

wonton soup, italian bean

Chicken Gumbo Soup

Chicken Gumbo Soup

Pair up chicken and okra to make this New Orlean’s style Chicken Gumbo.  Not your regular chicken soup and much heartier.

French onion soup

French Onion Soup

It is very hard to get a great French Onion Soup unless you make it yourself.  What are you waiting for? Here’s our Quick & Kosher Recipe.

escarole-and-chicken-meatball-soup

Escarole and Chicken Meatball Soup

Sort of like an Italian Wedding Soup, this soup has little meatballs made from ground chicken and fresh greens mixed in.  Serve as is or with a side of steaming hot rice.  Get the recipe here.

turkey sausage and lentil soup

Turkey Sausage and Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is healthy and filling.  This version gets spiced up with some turkey sausage and don’t forget the carrots for that gorgeous splash of color. Here is the soup recipe.

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Here is another version of Minestrone for you.  Try orzo in this soup and lots of veggies, the kids love this soup.

Faux-Pho

Faux-Pho

This recipe won the Manischewitz Cook-Off last year for it’s unique flavor fusion.  Give it a try.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup is a classic for a reason. It really is a great soup that can be made with or without meat, added beans, or anything you like, even Kale.  Try this version for Mushroom Barley Soup.

creamy pumpkin soup

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

This soup gets an added flavor boost from porcini mushrooms in the broth. You can make it using fresh or canned pumpkin.

baked potato soup

Baked Potato Soup

Baked potatoes are fluffy and tasty especially when stuffed with all the goods.  Turn the whole thing into a soup for a real warming treat. Get the recipe.

ribolita

Ribolita - Tuscan Bread Soup

Use up leftover bread in this vegetable filled soup. Surprise yourself with this gem of a recipe.

Main Image: Spiced Chicken and Lentil Soup


 

How To Use Gefen Wonder Melts and Cookbook...

 

December 4th 2013

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Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracle melts… Versatile, creamy, colorful and easy to use, Gefen Wonder Melts can be used to satisfy all your candy-making and candy-dipping desires.  Gefen Wonder Melts are mouthwatering melt-in-your-mouth candies that come in a variety of bright colors and are non-dairy — so they can brighten your baking and crown your cookies in so many different ways.  Here we have a few ways that you can use these versatile sweet treats in your kitchen:

Melt


Decorative Flower Shape


Dippity-do!


9 Fun Colors (create your own unique colors by combining them)


Let Your Creativity Flow with Homemade Confections

For more fantastic ideas using Gefen Wonder Melts with step by step instructions visit our friend EstherODesigns.

***Giveaway****  For your chance to win our New Joy of Kosher Cookbook enter with Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

5 Minute Party Food

 
 

It’s party time!!  Even though Hanukkah is almost over, there is still lots of time to party.  With these cold Wintery nights ahead, it is more fun to invite everyone in rather than go out.  That doesn’t mean you want to spend hours preparing.  Enjoy these recipes for 5 Minute Party Food.

When feeding a crowd it is always great to serve mouthwatering food with distinctive flavors that leave people wowed and make the food and party a memorable experience; good food really has that power. There are many exciting new kosher products available for the ever-growing palate of the kosher consumer. Jack’s Gourmet provides high-quality kosher charcuterie that is authentic and provides the kosher cook with flavors and textures that weren’t always available.  In addition to great flavor, the products are versatile, contain NO fillers, are gluten free, and contain no MSG. As the items are ready to serve in a matter of minutes, they make for a versatile and epicurean ingredient that can be prepared in many ways.

Enjoy these 5 – 5 minute part food recipes here:

Facon Wrapped Chicken Breast

Bratwurst Sliders

Spicy Italian Style Salami Crostini

Facon with Maple Syrup

Chorizo Tacos

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller – Subscribe Now.


 

Spiced Gefilte Fish

 

December 2nd 2013

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Jamie Geller demonstrates how to make her Spiced Gefilte Fish from her book Quick and Kosher: Recipes from the Bride who Knew Nothing.


 

Non-Dairy Cronots

 

December 2nd 2013

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With the holiday of Chanukah upon us, now is the perfect time to explore the world of the deep fried cronot.  Cronots are a cross between a croissant and a doughnut. This fusion dessert is actually perfect for the fusion holiday of Thanksgiving and Chanukah!  Fried foods are all the rage this holiday, stemming from the miracle of the menorah oil lasting eight days instead of one.  There is no better way in my humble opinion, to celebrate the miracle of oil than deep frying dough.  Cronots are  essentially made by taking buttery croissant dough, cutting it into a doughnut shape, and frying it instead of baking.  They look just like a traditional doughnut until you bite into one.  Cronots are crispy, light, tender, and flaky.  They rise from the yeast in the dough, as well as from the layers and layers of fat that has been rolled and folded into the dough.  When you cut it open, you can see the beautiful layers that were created from all the folding of the dough.

I have seen cronots cut in half and filled with all sorts of fillings including pastry cream and topped with glazes and powdered sugar.  I’m sure they would be delicious if filled with your favorite fruit jam or jelly.  I like to keep my cronots simple by  rolling them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, while they are still warm from the fryer.  The cinnamon sugar gives this delicious pastry extra texture and sweetness.

Croissants and cronots are generally packed with butter, but my version uses a mixture of margarine and shortening to keep it non-dairy.  I find that the addition of the shortening makes the dough a little easier to work with because margarine alone is not as easy to work with as straight butter.  The dough itself is not very hard to make, it just takes a lot of time and patience.  There are a lot of steps involved but all the work is worth it when you bite into this crispy, light, one of a kind pastry!

Here is the full recipe for my Non-Dairy Cronot.


 

Using Up Leftover Turkey

 

November 29th 2013

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There are some people who can eat turkey for days and they look forward to Thanksgiving every year just so that they can eat turkey sandwiches the rest of the week.  Then there are some people who enjoy the fresh turkey on Thanksgiving, but would rather not see it again until next Thanksgiving.  The only problem is you can’t seem to get a small turkey anywhere and of course if you have a big crowd you want to make sure you have enough.  With all the sides, some people’s favorite part of the meal, there is inevitably turkey leftover.

If you are in the camp of people looking for new ways to serve up your turkey, here are a few suggestions.

Turkey_Sheppard_Pie

Turkey Sheppard Pie

This recipe from Suzie Fishbein calls for ground turkey, so you would have to adapt it for leftover turkey, but I think it would be perfect.  Just chop up your leftovers into small cubes and saute for a little less time than the recipe calls for.  The rest will work perfectly and will be delicious.   If you are not so comfortable with recipe adaptations, go ahead and use this recipe for Leftover Turkey Pot Pie.  Similarly, you could sub the ground turkey for chopped leftovers in these Five Spice Turkey Egg Rolls.

non-dairy-potato-leek-quiche

Potato Leek Quiche (non dairy version)

Here is another adaptation for you.  Since it is still Hanukkah, try adding chopped turkey this recipe for Potato Leek Quiche.  Starting with a shredded potato crust, which is almost like a latke, you can just add some turkey to the filling.

Leftover Turkey Shawarma

Leftover Turkey Shawarma

Looking for new flavors? Spice up your turkey with Shawarma seasoning, stick it in a pita, add some salads and you got an Israeli favorite.

leftover-turkey-potato-hash

Turkey Potato Hash

You can never go wrong with a simple hash.  Chop up potatoes or sweet potatoes, saute with onions and leftover turkey.  Add spinach for color and to make it a more complete healthy meal.

Smoked Turkey Rosti Latke

Smoked Turkey Rosti Latke

This recipe uses smoked turkey, but any leftover turkey would work well too.  It is basically a thin potato latke, easy to make and perfect for this time of year.  You can also try these Turkey Latkes with Shredded Turkey.

Loaded Turkey Salad

Loaded Turkey Salad

For the simplest approach go with salad.  Turkey can be added to any kind of salad.  We love this Loaded Turkey Salad and this Asian Turkey Salad.

What do you do with leftover turkey?


 

Cookbook Spotlight – The Holiday Kosher...

 

November 28th 2013

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Two years ago Paula Shoyer came to market with The Kosher Baker.  A cookbook that filled the void for many to create amazing non dairy desserts that left no need for apology.  Check out our first interview with Paula and learn more about her transformation from lawyer to pastry chef to cookbook author.  Now, Paula is back with more amazing recipes to add to your holiday repertoire.   The Holiday Kosher Baker Cookbook is a go to bible filled with tips and tricks for any new or seasoned baker.  Paula is especially gifted and making our favorite desserts without any dairy, although this book does include some specialty dairy recipes for Shavuot.

 

Your new cookbook focuses on holiday recipes, how did you decide which recipes to include?
I have a vision of a new approach to Jewish holiday baking, so my goal was to include recipes for updated version of traditional Jewish desserts as well as encourage the community to consider some new ideas for the holidays. I updated traditional recipes to include modern flavors of sufganiyot for Chanukah such as pumpkin and chocolate ganache and hamantaschen flavors such as green tea and red velvet. New ideas include plated desserts for Rosh Hashanah, homemade candies for Purim, pies for Passover and classic French pastries for Shavuot.

Decorated non dairy Brownie Bites

Decorated Brownie Bites

What is your favorite recipe in this book and why? Please share that recipe with us.
I love my Decorated Brownie Bites from the Purim chapter. They are mini 1-inch pieces of brownies where you dip one side in colored sprinkles. I created them as a great idea for Mishloach Manot, but they are so pretty that they make a festive dessert all year round and would be great for any family celebration. For Chanukah you could do just silver and blue ones, for a bris or baby naming you could go with blue or pink, or any time you can match them to your table decor. The brownies can be frozen and taken out and decorated. They are really good brownies, just made a little fancier.

If you have to pick one recipe from this book that you want everyone to try, which one would it be and why? Please share.
I love the Chewy Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies. I find I am making them every week and even started adding another 1/4 cup chocolate chips, a change that will be in the second printing of the book.

You gave many tips in this book like when it is best to use a silpat and when parchment paper is preferred – can you give us 1 must have tip you learned in creating this recipes?
I learned how to create perfect chewy cookies. Most people overbake cookies and I developed a test for making sure cookies designed to be chewy are indeed chewy. After the cookies bake for three quarters of the baking time, open the oven and press a cookie. If you can press halfway down and then your finger stops – take out the cookies. They will harden slightly but stay chewy. If your finger goes to the cookie sheet, give the cookies another 1-2 minutes to bake and check again.

How long did it take you to create this cookbook?
I wrote it in a year,  but then did photography and editing for another 8 months.

How many times did you test the recipes?
Over and over and over and over and then I sent them out to home bakers all around the US and also to the UK for testing.

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Can you share the Almond and Olive Oil Cake and let us know what inspired you to create it?
Even though I love making fancy desserts, I prefer to eat simple ones. This cake is similar to cakes I have eaten in Italy. Moreover, I wanted to create a dessert with olive oil to recall the Chanukah miracle that was not fried.

Enjoy the recipes for

Chewy Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Decorated Brownie Bites

Thanks to Paula for talking to us and sharing these fantastic recipes, get The Holiday Kosher Baker on Amazon and now is your chance to WIN.

***Giveaway*** To enter to win Paula’s cookbook all you have to do is Comment below and you are automatically entered.

Contest open to U.S. residents 18 and over.  Contest runs through December 4th at 9:00 am EST.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNER IS ALIX!!


 

Happy Thanksgivukkah

 

November 28th 2013

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Enjoy this once in a lifetime event!! Have fun with your family and eat lots of Thanksgivukkah treats.   The Joy of Kosher team sends you best wishes for a Happy Hanukkah and a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are.

In case you missed any of our Thanksgivukkah recipes and need some last minute ideas, here are our holiday favorites from this year and year’s past.

Bourbon_GLAZED_TURKEY

Enjoy this recipe from the new Joy of Kosher cookbook featuring my new favorite stuffing and my Whiskey Glazed Turkey.  Both of these recipes are perfect for any special occasion with dress up and dress down options.

8 Nights of Idaho Potato Pancakes, from traditional to unusual, this roundup of latkes all use potatoes.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping

Turkey Day in the Holy Land

For those American’s living abroad, consider a special Thanksgiving inspired meal for Shabbat.

Peanut Chew Doughnut

A Hanukkah Brunch Menu

Having a Hanukkah Sunday Brunch? Try this menu on for size, filled with latkes, eggs and donuts. Get the Menu.

Non Dairy Thanksgiving Desserts

Make your favorite Thanksgiving Desserts parve for after your Turkey Dinner.

savory baked donuts

8 Nights of Dairy Delights

Delight in dairy.  After Thanksgiving and then Shabbat, we still have 5 more days of Hanukkah to celebrate with traditional dairy treats.  Don’t miss any of our favorites here.

Swiss Chard Frittata

5 Ingredients Hors Doeuvres for 8 Nights

Having a big crowd? Want some easy snacks to serve? Try these 5 Ingredient Hors Douevres.

My Not So Tiny Gift of Life

Last, but certainly not least, is Jamie’s Hanukkah Birthday Bash with a full menu of recipes.


 

Choosing The Right Types of Oil

 

November 27th 2013

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Chanukah may be the holiday of olive oil, but take a trip down your grocery aisle, and you’ll see as many different oils as there are colours of Chanukah candles. What is the difference between all of them and how is one to choose?

There are two main categories of fats; saturated fat and unsaturated fat.

Saturated fats raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL- often called “bad” cholesterol as it transports cholesterol from the liver around the body), and may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Unsaturated fats are a category that’s further broken down into monounsaturated fat (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both healthy fats that should replace less healthy fats in the diet. Monounsaturated fats may lower the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol, while still maintaining high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL cholesterol; the “good” cholesterol that transports cholesterol from the body to the liver for removal from the body). Included in polyunsaturated fats is Omega 3 fat which lowers LDL cholesterol and can prevent the risk of stroke, and omega 6 fats which also lower LDL cholesterol, but may also lower HDL cholesterol and should be eaten in moderation.

Now that we have the basics, let’s look at some specific oils.

  • Canola oil has been around for a long time, and yet some are still wary of it, and unsure of its dangers or benefits. Canola oil was genetically engineered from the rapeseed plant to make it more nutritious, and while promoted as being just as good as olive oil, few studies have been conducted to prove this.  Canola oil is a monounsaturated fat and also has omega 3, decreases LDL, and is associated with decreased chronic heart disease risks and may also have a protective role in some cancers. Canola oil doesn’t have much of a taste and can withstand high heats, making it ideal to cook and bake with.
  • Coconut oil has been receiving a lot of press lately as providing all sorts of health benefits, few of which have been verified. Coconut oil’s chemistry is composed of medium chain fatty acids, which go through a different route of digestion, and so may be used faster than other longer chained fats, and isn’t stored as body fat. However, no studies have shown that using coconut oil can help with weight loss. Additionally, coconut oil is high in saturated fat and so raises LDL cholesterol. Although it also slightly raises HDL cholesterol, it’s not recommended to replace monounsaturated fats (like olive and canola) that lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. And despite certain claims, there is no evidence that virgin coconut oil acts differently than conventional coconut oil.
  • Avocado oil was originally processed for cosmetic use, but has recently entered the kitchen as its distinct flavour and high smoking point make it ideal for cooking. Additionally, it is high in unsaturated fat; only a bit lower than olive oil in MUFAs and high in PUFAs (both omegas 6 and 3). Avocado oil also contains antioxidants and phytosterols which may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Pumpkin seed oil is a specialty of South Eastern Europe, where it’s used as an ingredient in vegetable dressings and dessert toppings. This polyunsaturated fat is dark green or red, has an intense nutty flavour, and contains many antioxidants which may decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Fats are an important part of a healthy well-balanced diet. Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association recommend incorporating 2-3 tablespoons of fat into the daily diet, and fats should make up 20-35% of daily calories. When choosing oils or fats, look for those low in saturated fat, and high in unsaturated fats including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The miracle of Chanukah showed us that not all oil is equal, and that’s just as true now-a-day.

Please leave any questions on this subject or any other in the comment below.


 

Israel Book Party – BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

 

November 26th 2013

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You asked. We answered. And now I am thrilled to announce the ISRAEL JOY of KOSHER BOOK LAUNCH PARTY. Please join me in Jerusalem for an exclusive evening of film, food and wine. The US Party SOLD OUT in hours! Please don’t wait, buy your tickets now.

Scroll down for more details.

The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival will be hosting a special screening of the first 3 episodes of JOY of ISRAEL with Jamie Geller followed by an evening of food, wine, book signing meeting and greeting.

Party Details:

Who: Anyone in Israel who wants to celebrate with me, buy my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes at a discounted price and taste great food and wine from some of Israel’s finest food and wine suppliers

When: Thursday December 5, 2013. Screening begins 19:30- 20:10 followed by festive reception, tastings and signing until 21:00

Where: Jerusalem Cinemateque
11 Derech Hebron
Jerusalem, Israel

Price:
Event fee: 25 NIS (Israeli Shekels) That includes film screening, food, and wine tastings!  Books will be available for sale at a discounted price of around 100 NIS.

How do I buy tickets?

Click here and either select and pay for your seat at the Hebrew page – or if you prefer call the Cinemateque on 02 565 4356 to book in English.

Can’t wait to see you and celebrate with you!!!

This evening has been made possible by the following special sponsors.

 
 

 

Hanukkah Desserts

 

November 26th 2013

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We all love more dessert recipes and our friends in Montreal really know how to do them right.  We showcased the Montreal Hebrew Academy Cookbook, And Then There Was Cake and shared a few recipes last month.  Now, we get to sample a few more special for Hanukkah.

Chocolate Cigars

Light, flaky layers of phyllo dough oozing with warm chocolate, this dessert is somewhat reminiscent of baklava and its sweet almond filling. These cigars are playful and definitely outside the box – think of them as upscale finger food. For a hot and cold combination, serve just out of the oven with vanilla ice cream.

Sugar Sugar Doughnuts

Sugar Sugar Doughnuts

The mere thought of these doughnuts is enough to spark giddy, mouth-watering excitement.  Sugar flying in the air, the smell of dough frying in oil, even the flipping manoeuvre – it’s all great fun! Doughnuts are one of those foods that have the power to lure – who can refuse an invitation to have a warm doughnut or five, especially around Chanukah? This yeast-based version is light and airy and the effort you will invest in working the dough is all worth it. We dare you to have just one!

We hope you enjoy these recipes and have a Happy Hanukkah.  For a last minute gift idea consider our cookbook,   And Then There Was Cake from the Hebrew Academy of Montreal. Copies can be ordered at HA-Cookbook.com or by calling 514-489-5321.