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A Taste of Puerto Rico

 

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The warm Caribbean sun that seems to kiss the sand of Puerto Rico shined brightly on us when we landed a few weeks ago for a long-weekend far from the falling temperatures and falling leaves of New York in November.  To be completely honest, Puerto Rico was never on my must-see list.  I tend to go for more exotic travel, (see my article about Thailand and Costa Rica) but the combination of a cheap direct flight and free babysitting (thanks in-laws) was too much to resist.

The beaches of Isla Verde are located about 8 minutes from San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and since you don’t have to go through customs you can take off at 9 and dip your toes in the warm sand by lunchtime.  Although the Jewish population is only around 2,000, it is the largest community in the Caribbean islands and boasts a Reform and Conservative synagogue and a Chabad that is within easy walking distance to many beachfront hotels, including the El San Juan Hotel and Ritz Carlton, both of which I was able to experience during my stay.


 

DIY – Homemade Bubbly Cocktails

 

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This time of year sparkling wine and champagne are in high demand.   We love to toast with champagne and we love to mix it up too.   Light and fruity wine cocktails are the perfect complement to any celebration. When you have some bubbles, a bit of spice, and some succulent fruit, you can’t go wrong.

How to choose good wines to use in cocktails?


 

Go To Easy Dinner For Hectic Days

 

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Every mom has one: a go-to recipe for hectic days. It may be a casserole, or a one-pot meal, it might even be a main course salad. And of course, we’re always on the lookout for a new go-to recipe because, we get bored eating the same thing all the time.

For the working moms at Oorah, never was such a dish needed than during Oorah Auction season. There’s barely a moment to breathe, let alone cook as we put it all together—the auction that is. This is the major event of our organization, which funds over 49 programs for Jewish children and their families.


 

Make The Best Strata For Your Winter Brunch

 

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When winter sets in, we want heavy, soul-satisfying food. The days are shorter, and we may be feeling sluggish, so we don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. That’s especially true of Sundays, when we don’t have to go anywhere and the day stretches before us unhurried and unpressured.

A strata is just the thing for a lazy winter brunch with friends. It’s gorgeous straight out of the oven, all golden and puffy, a real show-stopper. It’s basically a savory bread pudding. It’s called “strata” because the ingredients are layered like the stratosphere.


 

Brunch with An Asian Kick

 

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Curry, Caramel, Coconut and Chocolate Tart *Dear...

 

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Chocolate together with smoked chiles?  Chinese five spice?  Curry???  Well, yes, yes and yes!  But before we plunge into flavor adventures, let’s back up a bit.

As you know, there’s nothing else like chocolate.  It is great in both sweet and savory applications; it can be melted, chopped, grated and pulverized into nibs and powder for a multitude of uses; it can be used straight up and intense or blended with sugar and milk for a lighter taste.  And best of all, its deep, universally-loved essence blends beautifully with so many other flavors, each enhancing the other.


 

Wild Rice Recipes

 

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Wild Rice is actually the seed of a grass plant. The plant grows in shallow lakes and slow moving streams. Wild rice is native to America and China and is a staple of Ojibwa Native Americans.  Wild rice is endangered in many areas due to loss of habitat and it varies a lot in quality. The term wild does not accurately describe the growing environment and much of the rice we buy is cultivated and mechanically harvested.  True wild rice is river grown and hand harvested.

The perennial plants produce delicious and fragrant seeds each year. The seeds are very fragile and are susceptible to shattering which drives the price of the seeds up, that is why true wild rice is expensive, full flavored and elegant, but worth out.  Seek out a sustainable true wild rice that is hand harvested and you will be rewarded with a delicious and nutritious side dish. It is high in protein and dietary fiber so that is an added bonus.


 

Nominate Your Favorites – 2013 Best of...

 

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We’re Back.  We love to hear from you and learn about new and not so new chefs, wines, products, blogs etc.  Nominate yourself, nominate your friends and nominate your favorites.  The third annual  Best of Kosher awards are here!!!

This year we have a few changes including fun prizes to giveaway to all of you.


 

Gluten Free and Celebrating With a Potato Bar

 

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It’s that time of year, at least for me, Graduation. My 21-year-old daughter is graduating from college this month and starting graduate school next month! Time flies. I remember when she was born with that full head of brown hair, her first day of preschool, her siddur party and so many wonderful milestones. I also remember the countless stomachaches, the visits to the pediatrician, the numerous phone calls from school, informing me that my daughter is once again not feeling well. It took years for my daughter to be diagnosed with gluten intolerance.

It happened by chance one morning at the gym. I was exercising and this famous actress was on tv explaining her newly diagnosed health issue. As I was listening I remember thinking, she is describing my daughter, stomach as hard as a rock, always looking 3-months pregnant, constant undiagnosed stomach pains, fatigue and more. She then went on to explain her gluten allergy. That evening when my daughter came home from high school, (yes, high school, it took us that long to recognize her condition) I told her about the show and we decided she needs to get off gluten (granted we never even heard of this before).


 

The Best Chicken Liver Recipes

 

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Once upon a time…. and it wasn’t that long ago either, we had to grill and kosher liver at home. Today, thank goodness, we can order it form some butchers grilled and already koshered for us.

I remember my mother having to kosher her own meat. I can still see those koshering racks, chunks of salt and lumps of ‘something’ floating about in aluminum buckets under our kitchen table, but come dinnertime, thank goodness, it had miraculously evolved into a magnificent roast.


 

Eggplant 101 – Cooking and Freezing

 

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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.


 

Family Game Night Menu

 

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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.


 

Comfort Me With White Bean Stew *Link Up*

 

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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.


 

Comfort Comes In Many Forms

 

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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:


 

Have You Got The X Factor?

 

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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?