Eggplant 101 – Cooking and Freezing

 

December 18th 2013

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Over the summer, I had an opportunity to try different dishes at several new restaurants around the area. I was surprised at the many ways that eggplant can be prepared.  Once my children married, B”H, and left the nest, I am the only one in my family who will eat eggplant parmesan.  I didn’t want to bake it, then waste it since I couldn’t possible eat it all by myself in one meal!  I also didn’t want to eat it day after day.  So for all of you “empty nesters” who try not to overcook, here is my method for eating what you enjoy when you want to have it and not waste a morsel of it!

I bake it in 9 X 13 pan.  Afterwards, I divide it up into individual portions and flash freeze them in my Tupperware Freezermates container.  I layer it on parchment paper in the container for easier removal.  Anytime I would like to eat it for a Dairy meal, all I need to do is pop one portion out for myself, while making something else for my husband.  Both of us are happy and I do not waste any food.  These days, I use this method for many other recipes where I don’t miss out on favorites when there is no one else who will share it with me.

Whether you choose to grill it, roast it, or bake it, the slightly sweet, fiber-rich eggplant can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes utilizing various cooking techniques. Eggplant has a mild flavor and “meaty” texture and is available year-round. Because of its robust flavor and texture, it makes the perfect addition to meat and poultry-based stews and casseroles, and vegetarian main dishes. Here are a few tips for buying, storing, and cooking this versatile vegetable, which is recommended on many food plans.

Buying and Storing Eggplant

The most common eggplants, which are dark purple, are known as American, or globe eggplants. But there are also Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and Spanish varieties, which come in a many shapes, sizes, and colors, including squat and tear-shaped, canary yellow, bright orange, and white, as well as striated.

When shopping for eggplants, be sure to look for those that are firm, heavy, and smooth. Eggplants with wrinkled or flabby-looking skin will most likely be bitter-tasting. To check for freshness, simply press the vegetable with your thumb; the indentation should fill up rapidly if the eggplant is fresh.

Eggplants should be kept in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a couple of days if not refrigerated, or for up to four days in the fridge (as long as you wrap them tightly in plastic wrap).

Cooking Eggplant

Eggplant can be cooked and eaten with or without its skin. If you want to eat it without the skin, you can peel it before cooking or simply scoop out the flesh when you’re ready to eat. The flesh of eggplant begins to turn brown when exposed to air, so avoid cutting the vegetable until you’re ready to cook it. Eggplant can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles, or eaten on its own. Here are 4 more ways to enjoy eggplant:

  • Grill eggplants whole (with a couple of holes poked in them to let steam escape) or grill them halved or sliced with a light coating of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs.
  • Roast eggplant slices for sandwiches or add cooked cubed eggplant to a tomato sauce and serve with whole-wheat pasta.
  • Add cooked and mashed eggplant to your favorite hummus recipe. It stays fresh in any sealed Tupperware round container.
  • Steam halved or cubed eggplant, then drizzle with a little sesame oil, some reduced-sodium soy sauce, and vinegar for a delicious appetizer.

Click here for lightened-up version of the classic Eggplant Parmesan we all enjoy.


 

Family Game Night Menu

 

December 17th 2013

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It has been a really cold Winter so far and Winter hasn’t even started yet.  A friend told me that she heard this is going to be the snowiest winter in years and I can’t even begin to guess what the Jerusalem snow storm is supposed to tell us.  The lesson I am choosing to glean is to start planning some fun nights in.

Even without snow, when it starts to get really cold, people just want to cuddle up in their pajamas and stay warm.  That doesn’t mean the fun has to stop, instead, it is time to host a game night!!  Get the kids or your friends together and enjoy your winter at home.  You have to work a bit to prepare some fun food, but we will keep it easy so you don’t miss out on any of the action.

Snack type foods are the best for game nights, in my opinion, but they need to be substantial and still include some veggies.

 

spinach tidbits

I always keep frozen spinach around to make last minute veggie sides like these Spinach Tidbits.  You should have all the ingredients and they are easy to make and even more easy to eat.

Pomegranate Guacamole

Pomegranate Guacamole

Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole are a staple game night food.  If you can swing it, dress it up a bit with this recipe for Pomegranate Guacamole, great with carrots and celery to dip too.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I try to keep things healthy, so if I am going to go for a breaded, hot melty cheese stick at least I can make it at home and bake it instead of frying.  It is easier and lower in fat.  Perfect to dip in some hot marinara sauce too.  Get the recipe for Baked Mozzarella Sticks

acorn squash chips

Acorn Squash chips

I love all baked veggie chips, this time of year, I keep Winter squashed on hand so that these Acorn Squash Chips are perfect.  You can even toast the seeds for an extra snack out of the same food.

Maple Almond Popcorn

Maple Almond Popcorn

If you have had enough savory foods, let’s move on to the sweet stuff.  Got to love this Maple Almond Popcorn with its sugary coating.

Fruit Skewers With Yogurt Dip

Fruit Skewers With Yogurt Dip

Make your fruit more fun to eat, let people assemble their own or make them ahead.  Everyone loves food on a stick especially if you give them something to dip it in, Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip.

smores pop tarts

S'Mores Pop Tarts

No family night is complete without s’mores.  If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, go ahead and make the original, if not, try these S’Mores Pop Tarts.

You can bet your friends and family will stay warm and cozy and create memories and fun together all Winter long.

 


 

Comfort Me With White Bean Stew *Link Up*

 

December 16th 2013

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Years ago I made a random white bean side dish that I left on the hot plate to stay warm for Shabbat dinner.  When I was ready to serve the dish the liquid had mostly evaporated and I feared a disaster in front of a table full of hungry guests.  Turned out to be the best dish on the table.  I love happy accidents, they lead to the best recipes.

This recipe is  perfect on a cold winter night when all you want is something hot, soothing and full of flavor, this concentrated bean stew totally does the trick.   The secret is the sun-dried tomatoes.  The longer they sit the more they infuse the stew with a salty, umami rich flavor you will want to savor. And let’s face it, we can all use a bit of sun in December.

Since the time of my happy accident I have played around a bit, adding chicken, using different kinds of greens and other flavorings, but my favorite is still the original “mistake” recipe from two years ago. Combine any hearty winter greens, white cannellini beans, rosemary, lots of garlic and sun dried tomatoes.  You can use chicken or vegetable stock or water and cook for at least an hour and simmer for up to 3 hours on low.  Pure comfort!

By the way, one of my favorite books is Comfort Me With Apples from Ruth Reichl and that inspired the title.

Enjoy my recipe, Chard and White Bean Stew Recipe.



 

Comfort Comes In Many Forms

 

December 16th 2013

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In the Winter time no matter what the weather, we all enjoy some comfort.  So many foods make me feel comforted, whether for the memories associated or the flavors they provide, here are my favorite comforting foods.  What are yours?

SWEET:

Individual Baked Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

I often make this Individual Baked Challah French Toast (pictured above) family style in my beautiful blue oven to table Emile Henry casserole dish. I am just jonesing for a brunch party so I can bake this baby up.

For a fancier version of sweet challah goodness try my Dressed Up Apple Challah Kugel Tower with Apricot Honey, page 95 in my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

SOUP:

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Warm the tummy, warm the soul. I now live in a house of stone and in the winter there’s a chill that’s hard to shake without my space heater, some fuzzy slippers and some real goooood soup. This Italian Vegetable Soup + Cheese Bread is ready in minutes.


And when some serious comfort is in order I simmer a pot of Poppy’s Potato and Sour Cream Soup – and Dress It Up with a spice rub around the rim of individual mugs. Get the recipe on page 73 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

“SANDWICH”:


Sometimes you just want a bite of a burger in a bun. My Dressed Down Unloaded Burger is good enough to speak for itself on page 207 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

For something with a little more bling this BBQ Beef Burger with Quick Pickles will spice things up.

SAVORY:

chicken-pot-pie-with-herbed-drop-biscuits

And if it’s a winter one pot meal you are after my Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Drop Biscuits is a family wonder of wonders.

Same goes for my “Buttery” Crusted Beef Pot Pie on page 220 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes – requires not much more than a spoon to scoop and serve and satiate, family style.

Stay warm, stay safe, stay cozy. Cook and oh… buy the book ! :-)

 



 

Have You Got The X Factor?

 

December 13th 2013

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Have you got the cooking X factor?

One of my guests who participated in my cooking tour recently complained, “I get frustrated to invest so much time in cooking when the food is gone so quickly.” Can you imagine what I answered?

I told her that, for me cooking is creativity and passion; when the food I cook has been eaten it’s an opportunity to get to another enjoyable cooking creation. I am always happy to hit restart and come up with something new! It is even better that I don’t need to find space for all my creations, they are eaten up!!

How about you?

How do you feel about spending hours in the kitchen and then the food disappears quickly?
What do you enjoy about cooking?
Please share your thoughts with me here in the comments for on my Facebook page.

I come from the love of cooking, not just the love of food and eating. This love of cooking opens all my senses. I appreciate the colors and shapes of the foods from the fruits and vegetables to the decorated cakes, breads and pastries. Above all I love the smells of home-made bread and pastries – and that’s even before mentioning the taste!

X factor means some advantageous quality that someone or something is attributed to have, a quality that is regarded as mysterious and difficult to describe or isolate. (Wikipedia)

My love for food starts way before the cooking itself, from the moment I plan what I’m going to cook I also spend an enjoyable time reading and searching for Israeli recipes and new ideas .

I so enjoy my shopping time especially when I’m in the market. I can spend hours there, like a child in a toy store. It is so wonderful choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, discovering what’s new, finding new places and chatting with the vendors. It is well known that food connects people even if they are strangers.

Walking through the market on my own and while on a food tour, I get tempted to buy more than what I need. This is exactly what happened to me last week when I found these gorgeous baby eggplants. I had to buy some and pickled them that same day.

Get my recipe for Pickled Baby Eggplants here.

I am also lucky to get to meet lovely people on the culinary tours of Israel from all over the world with whom I share the joy of cooking and who also have this X factor for food and cooking.

If you like food, and cooking is your passion you’ve got the X factor!


 

New Recipes Using Homemade Dried Falafel Mix

 

December 12th 2013

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It really doesn’t get any better than homemade falafel fresh out of the oil! But making falafel can be a bit of a pain and I find myself wanting to just go out and buy falafel or use that boxed mix to make them at home. Instead of using that sodium-filled falafel mix from a box, I’ve created my own easy recipe for homemade dried falafel mix using garbanzo bean flour. The falafel mix is filled with the flavors of cumin, parsley, paprika, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder and it tastes good on just about anything.

Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce

There’s nothing better than a juicy piece of chicken, especially with some serious crunch from the skin! For the Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce, I drizzled the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper then dipped it right in the dried falafel mix. It has some major flavor impact from the homemade dried falafel mix and cooking the chicken at a high temperature created the perfect crust. Inspired by the flavors of the mediterranean, I mixed together a quick and flavorful tahini sauce to drizzle over the chicken.

Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes

Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes

So not only can you make delicious falafel balls and crunchy chicken, you can practically dip anything in the homemade dried falafel mix so make a big batch! Instead of frying up your average croquette, try dipping leftover creamy mashed potatoes in homemade dried falafel mix for a new spin on the classic. These Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes have a crunchy exterior and a creamy and cheesy mashed potato filling. Perfect as an appetizer or side dish!

 


 

Spread The Joy with Masbia and Get Cookbooks and...

 

December 12th 2013

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Masbia is a non profit soup kitchen and food pantry located in New York.  They have four locations around Brooklyn and Queens and work daily to bring hot, nutritious meals for hundreds of people in need.  Masbia works to not only feed the hungry, but to provide free, wholesome, and delicious meals for people in a restaurant-style environment, with volunteer waiters serving each person with respect and dignity.

Jamie, Shifra and I spent a few hours out in the Masbia Kitchen in Flatbush.  We were so impressed by everything they are doing and the quality of the food and cleanliness of the restaurant that we knew we had to share it all with you as part of our ongoing effort to Spread The Joy.

Now, we have teamed up with Masbia to make it even more fun to give.  Right now when you donate to Masbia we will give you a free gift.  Here is out it works.

For every $180 donation, we will send you a 1-year subscription for our Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine.

Donate $360 and we’ll send you a magazine subscription along with our new cookbook, Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh, Family Recipes.

For a $540 donation, you can choose several gifts.  So for every donation of 30 meals at $180 you will be eligible for a gift of your choice.

You can also follow our lead and volunteer in the Masbia kitchen, cooking nourishing meals for the needy who eat there every night. Or, donate a single meal at $6, or a meal for four at $24. Every little bit helps. Please act now!

For more information and to donate to Masbia click here and continue to Spread the Joy.


 

A Hot Winter Drink From The Middle East

 

December 11th 2013

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The first time I encountered saklep (also known as sachlav, sahlab, sachlab, salep and several more) was about 15 years ago visiting Israel during my school break.  My boyfriend was studying abroad in Jerusalem at Hebrew University and I was visiting for a week.  We spent the entire week eating our way through Israel (not much has changed, I was a foodie even then).  I remember my first kosher Kentucky Fried Chicken and kosher McDonald’s plus hidden gems like The Waffle Lady, who would hand out hot Belgian waffles from a storefront in Jerusalem that was the size of a walk-in closet.  But one of my most interesting food experiences that trip was discovering a hole in the wall in the Old City on a cold February afternoon where I ordered a hot Saklep.  It was a memory I will never forget.  Aromatic and soothing and filling with texture and a rich creaminess that I can still picture 15 years later.

I’m not sure why now, perhaps it was the cold temperatures that plunged New York City into a deep freeze a couple of weeks ago, but I finally decided to try and recreate the memory at home after seeing it appear in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, and in addition to a delicious recipe I also learned that a chilled version is actually Malabi (which we already have on this site), so now I have a treat for the summertime.

Saklep is a popular winter drink throughout the Middle East with endless regional variations.  The main thickening agent should come from an orchid tuber and you can generally find it in the shuk, but for those of us in the diaspora, corn starch can be a pretty good substitute.

To make saklep, thicken your milk of choice. I use almond milk, mix in some rose water (some people also like orange blossom water), a little sugar and top with cinnamon, nuts and raisins to taste.  I even made a version with a tablespoon of pumpkin puree mixed in — not so authentic, but delicious!

Here is my Saklep recipe, give it a try.


 

Homemade Dried Falafel Mix

 

December 10th 2013

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Posted 12/10/2013 by Melinda Strauss
I love snacking on falafel balls but they are usually such a process to prepare and I never get around to making them. With this easy homemade dried falafel mix, all you have to do is mix together a few ingredients and it's time to nosh! This mix is also great on chicken and fish.

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You’re Invited To Our #ChosenCandy Pinterest...

 

December 10th 2013

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We have been working with the good people from Mike and Ike and Goldenber’g Peanut Chews for the past couple of months and it has been so much fun, we thought we would host a pinterest party for all of you with pins to inspire family activities, amazing recipes and gorgeous decor with candy.

In addition, we will be giving away 3 exciting prizes for you all to enjoy.

Three lucky pinners will be selected to win one of the following fabulous prizes:

  • 1 year subscription to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine
  • $25 candy prize package
  • $50 candy prize package

The Hosts (make sure to follow all of us)

JoyofKosher
Amy from What Jew Wanna Eat
Melissa from Lil Miss Cakes
Sina from The Kosher Spoon
Chani from Busy in Brooklyn
Abbey from Not 2 Shabbey
Shoshana from Couldn’t Be Parve

To Join:

1.  Follow the #ChosenCandy Party board on Pinterest  by clicking here.

2. Look out for the party question pins …  winners will be chosen at random during the party and then announced at the end of the party via the comment box in the party question pins.

3.  Re-pin, like and be inspired by the #ChosenCandy pins during the hour and tag #ChosenCandy in any of your pins.

 

Disclaimer:  This post is part of a sponsored campaign.  All opinions are my own.


 

 

Contest Rules

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Pinterest. We hereby release Pinterest of any liability. All contests are valid for US residents only, unless otherwise stated.  Winner(s) will be announced on pinterest and should email us at info@joyofkosher.com with  48 hours after the giveaway ends. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!


 

8 Different Ways to Cook Carrots

 

December 10th 2013

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Eh, What’s Up Doc?

Carrots are an under valued vegetable.   They are pretty much staples in most homes, everyone seems to have a bag of baby carrots in their fridge and they are an excellent, crunchy and healthy anytime snack.  They are high in Vitamin A and have a sweet taste most people enjoy.  Still, I never think of serving them as a side dish.  I use them in soup and I pack them in lunches, but I rarely serve them for dinner.

Things are about to change, I have a whole new appreciation for carrots, serve them raw, roasted, mashed or fried, carrots are back.  I have even found that not all carrots are created equal.  I enjoy the convenience of the baby carrots, but I really love the flavor of Jumbo carrots and they are surprisingly filling.  It is time to reconsider carrots and bring them back to our plates.  Here are 8 different ways to feature carrots in your upcoming meals.

Pomegranate Glazed Carrots

Pomegranate Glazed Carrots

Carrots served with a tangy Pomegranate glaze accompany this brisket beautifully, but would be great with chicken or fish too.

maple glazed carrots

Maple Roasted Carrots With Goat Cheese

I would not have thought of this combo, Maple and Goat Cheese Carrots, but it totally works and is almost a meal in itself.  Serve with some dark leafy greens and fish for a satisfying and healthy meal.  If you want to keep them even simpler, try these Cinnamon Glazed Baby Carrots.

carrot muffins

Carrot Muffins

Of course carrots bake up real nice in dessert, hello Carrot Cake, make it easier with these muffins you can serve for breakfast or dinner.  I love squeezing some carrots into my kids at dessert time.  Get the recipe.

Non dairy Creamy Carrot Soup

Creamy Carrot Soup

Cook and puree those carrots for a hot and creamy soup.  This one is a real keeper, you can even enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

cucumber and carrot salad

Balsamic Carrot and Cucumber Ribbon Salad

Shave your carrots with a peeler into ribbons for a new way to add to salads.  It changes the visual and the texture.  Carrot Ribbon Salad Recipe.

Cajun Carrot Fries

Try roasting carrot strips and turn them into fries, who can resist these.  If you don’t like cajun use your favorite seasoning, I hear Shawarma seasoning works well too.  Get the recipe. If you prefer chips to fries, make Carrot Chips

This salad uses grated carrots mixed with tarragon and a little cayenne for a unique flavor.

Roasted Carrots Gremolata

Roasted Carrots Gremolata

Finally, one more roasted carrots with a lemony gremolata sauce.

That’s all folks!


 

A New Educational App For Your Kids

 

December 10th 2013

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If your kids are anything like mine, they can’t get enough of your phone.  At this point my older boys have their own devices, but my 5 year old daughter is stuck stealing my phone whenever she can get her hands on it.  I wish I was a more disciplined parent, but when I have to get some work done, nothing works as well as handing over that phone.  The compromise is finding games for her that are at least educational.

That is where Animal Alphabet Singers comes in.  Developed for 2-6 year olds, this educational app will keep your little one busy and leave you with a little less guilt.  From the singers and songwriters of Sesame Street, including Emmy and Grammy winning writer Christopher Cerf, renowned animator Jane Aaron and internationally recognized reading specialist and educational expert Marilyn Jager Adams, Ph.D. , I want to introduce you to the new app for all iOS platforms Animal Alphabet Singers set to debut today, December 10th.

The way this app works is through the “learn by association” style that makes learning fun and easy. Each letter of the alphabet has its own animal, with its own unique personality, voice and story. Children not only learn the alphabet, but will be able to distinguish lowercase and capital letters, and become familiar with 26 different animals.

Truth be told my 5 year old is a little old for this game, she knows her letters and is already reading, so she called the game babyish, but she still played it and kept going back to it more than most of the non educational games she has, so that is saying something.   With 4 interactive activities there is something for each kid to learn from.

Check out the Animal Alphabet Singers app, available on all iOS platforms for $3.99 on the iTunes App Store.

Disclaimer: I received a free preview of this app in order to conduct this review, all opinions are my own.

 


 

The Joy of Kosher Cookbook Israel Book Party

 

December 10th 2013

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It’s quite incredible that you all came out on the first cold and rainy night we’ve had in months, thank you, truly.  And thank you for making memories with me just outside the walls of the Old City.  Scroll down for a recap of the food, film, friends and fun.

The evening was magical, the food was stunning and the people, oh the people, were so warm, and happy and friendly and fabulous!  Part of the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, the SOLD OUT Israel JOY of KOSHER Book Party was an emotional and festive evening, one I will never forget!

Gabriel kosher restaurant israel

Gabriel, one of Jerusalem’s absolute finest restaurants run by Executive Chef supreme Haim Sandler put out an exquisite spread featuring delicacies including Pickled Salmon, Chicken Liver Pâté, Roast Beef on Toast with Garlic Confit and Salsa Verde and Dark Chocolate Mousse.  Hubby and I have celebrated every special occasion at Garbiel – our anniversary, birthdays and book pub party for two with Chef Haim’s chateaubriand – prepared to perfection it is the absolute most flavorful and tender steak we have tasted in ALL of Israel.

New friends Menachem and Ruth Katz of cool NEW Efrat eatery Bodega Sushi & Plancha set a Mexican Asian Fusion spread including: Salmon Avocado Sushi with a Confit Relish of Spicy Peppers, Sushi with Jalapeño Pepper in Panko Crust and Freshly Made Tortilla Chips.  The fusion food was so impressive we ordered 2 sushi platters for our big family Shabbos the next day.  Hubby and I can’t wait to steal a night out and hang at this cozy Bodega in the Gush.

Holy Mamma!  Holy Cacao showed up with a crazy extensive selection of bean to bar crafted chocolates.  And chocolate maker Jo Zander of Joy of Israel Ep #3 fame was there live and in-person to meet and greet and chat chocolate with each guest.

Head honcho of Jerusalem Wine Club, founder (and Geller family friend!) Eli Poch (pronounced “Posh” – no, not his stage name), was SO in his element as he poured and discussed the evening’s selections: From the mid series of Gvaot Winery (elegant fruit forward wines),  Saslove Winery (well developed full bodied wines with a smokey finish) and Gush Etzion Winery (fruity crisp whites and full bodied flavorful reds).  We are proud card carrying members of Eli Poch’s Jerusalem Wine Club, a full-service, one-stop wine experience, including winery tours, and a store located in Efrat.

There would be no party without out our incredible hosts the Jerusalem Cinematheque.  They selected Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller  to be featured at a special screening during their Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival and they graciously offered to host the JOY of KOSHER book launch party in conjunction with the screening.  It is a true honor to have been featured at the festival, recognized as a filmmaker, and welcomed into the Cinematheque family.  Daniella, Daniel, Alon, Sivan and Eran bent over backwards and went out of their way (if it’s possible to do both at once) to accommodate every single detail.  I love them and thank them!

A super special thank you to professional photographer extraordinaire Debbi Cooper.  She truly captured the energy and excitement of the evening.  Her warm and inviting smile on the other side of the lens made it easy to smile back!

Thank you to everyone who came out and made the evening so very special.  My favorite part is meeting all of you, talking to all of you, and hugging (most of) you!  The Cinematheque promised us the ENTIRE floor next year which means more food and more room for everyone. Can hardly wait!

Check out this coverage of the party from JN1.


 

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

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**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