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Spiced Chicken with Lentil Soup

 

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Slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness from cinnamon and sweet potatoes, this Spiced Chicken and Lentil Soup is a hearty meal in one – especially when you add garlic toast. I learned the trick of rubbing cloves of garlic on hot toast from, Giada. Must be how they do it in Italy.

Back home in Philly, I used to watch my grandfather from Transylvania eat whole garlic cloves, with a glass of milk to wash it down. Grandpa lived to 96, in addition to the grace of G-d we credit garlic. The next generation in our family tempered the garlic tradition by substituting fresh sliced garlic on toast, drizzling it with olive oil and salt (or butter instead of olive oil). I remember my dad buttering his bread with a layer so thick it held the garlic like glue.


 

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

 

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Imagine it’s a cold winter night. At least I have to imagine, ‘cuz here in NY it’s a ridiculous 60+ degrees, people are sauntering outside in T-shirts, and I’m shvitzing in my black turtleneck sweater. (It’s the only thing that fits since I had the baby. I was really counting on cold weather.) Ok, so let’s imagine that there’s frost on the windowpane and that Hubby just built a cozy fire in the fireplace. (As long as I’m imagining, let’s really go for it.)

Since we’re pretending, we might as well cook up a hearty winter meal. Italian Vegetable Soup (spiked with orzo and pesto) and served with cheese bread is the perfect tomato-ey comfort food for a cold winter’s eve, and even for an annoyingly warm November day. Soup is one of my favorite foods, and the Italian Veggie soup is what I fix when I’m “watching” what I eat: that’s when I hold the orzo and the cheese bread. To tell the truth, since I had a baby so recently, I’m not really watching – just closing my eyes and savoring. I think “watching” should wait a while, till I’m back to normal. Let’s say, four or five years.


 

Balsamic London Broil with Roasted Onions

 

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Tamar asked me for more roasts that she can use when planning our JoK Shabbat menus. I had the brilliant idea to give her a brisket for every day of the week, but apparently we already have that, so I was forced to go out of my comfort zone. Fanfare, please: I now present you with Balsamic London Broil.

So what part of the cow is “London broil?” Technically, it’s not a cut of meat, but a method of preparing it by marinating it and then pan-frying (or broiling) it to medium rare. Wanna hear a good one? “London broil” is unknown in England. It was devised by Americans to tenderize flank steak, a meat that is normally quite tough; it morphed into “London broil” as a “cut” in butcher shops later on. True flank steak is from the wrong part of the cow for kosher consumers, but our kosher butchers cheerfully label just about any cut of meat that is lean (and not naturally tender) as “London broil.” So don’t ask what part of the cow it comes from. The answers will only confuse you. Suffice it to say that you can take this relatively inexpensive meat and give it the royal treatment.


 

Jamie Geller and the 3 Bears!

 

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Wild & crazy.

As I write this in my Rockland County home, there are bears on the loose in my neighborhood. Not 1, not 2, but 3 bears, and they are not cuddly and they are not going for a harmless stroll while their porridge cools. They’re big, black, and one was just spotted digging into my neighbor’s garbage just 3 blocks away. AHHHH! Check out this video.


 

Beer Braised Brisket

 

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OK, let’s have a show of hands. How many of you have ever cooked a fantastic, expensive cut of meat to perfection, then watched helplessly as it overcooked when you reheated it? You splurged on a beauty – probably for Shabbos or Yom Tov – and now you have a leathery, unappetizing chunk.

I’ll be the first to admit it has happened to me, and more than once. And that’s why brisket is my favorite cut! You can’t mess up when you braise a brisket. A top of the rib roast is equally foolproof, just treat it like a brisket and the meat will become softer the longer you cook it.


 

Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and...

 

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Just because I love pumpkins,
and because I love you, dear readers,
and because there can never be too many pumpkin recipes in this world,
and because I am in a sweet mood,
here’s another perfectly pumpkin treat:
Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

If I were Maria, my Sound of Music moment would go a little something like this:


 

Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Whipped Cream

 

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The trees don’t have to be all shades of orange, yellow, and red for me to crave pumpkin pie. After I graduated high school, my family moved to hot, humid Miami. I dreamed of returning north and consoled myself all summer by eating loads of pumpkin pies, like it was my job.

Yes, I freely admit my love of food. It seems that my standards of food categories and portion size are not exactly like everyone else’s; and that point was brought home to me by my agent who is working with me on a proposal for my next cookbook. I was considering including a pastrami-layered potato kugel, and I put it into the chapter on side dishes. She took one look at it and said, “Jamie, you misplaced this recipe. It should go into the chapter on mains.” It was an “aha!” moment. Hubby and I got a good kick out of it. “Oh, so that’s our problem? Eating ‘mains’ as ‘sides’!” And too many pies.


 

Sweet Potato Casserole

 

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I’ve been kvetching a lot about Hubby’s turkey day favorites. And yes, I dutifully plan to recreate all of his childhood memories, even serving up his beloved jellied cranberry sauce from a can. But at my house, the feast was quite different. I’m not saying superior. I’m just saying different.

Back home, my gourmet chef grandparents made the most exquisite Thanksgiving meal – with a strong focus on turkey stuffing and gravy. Everything in the stuffing was finely minced by hand and it was loaded with onions and mushrooms. Absolutely superb! (Um, guess who doesn’t like mushrooms.) Though we were gathered for a real American feast, there was no cornbread, and no sweet potato or green bean casseroles. They were dedicated citizens, but those were lines these immigrant cooks wouldn’t cross. And it would never occur to them to bake with marshmallows. It took my very American aunt –who had married into the family – to bring the pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Without her, we would have missed out on that quintessentially American dessert in favor of a Hungarian cake with an unpronounceable name.


 

Chive Biscuits

 

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Not sure if this happens only in my house, but Hubby really wants certain things exactly the way he grew up with them. His mother always served dinner rolls with Thanksgiving dinner. I want biscuits.

In marriage, compromise is everything. I will buy him his dinner rolls, since that’s what his mom did anyway, and I’ll bake my biscuits. This year, I’ll add chives to the biscuits. Hubby hates chives. But I can go wild: he’s not eating them anyway. Biscuits with chives for me, dinner rolls for Hubby and the kids. (Ever notice that baked goods with green things are more suited to the adult palate?) I know my mom-in-law will try them and she will love them because that’s how good a mom-in-law she is. As far as she’s concerned, everything I make is delicious, and it doesn’t matter that I’ve deviated from her tradition. Now if I could only get Hubby on board…


 

Cranberry Mustard Sauce

 

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OK – so I said I was going traditional this Thanksgiving. Here’s tradition with a hint of mustard. Cranberry Mustard Sauce is often served with the other white meat, a four-letter word that starts with P that shall not be referenced on a kosher site. But it’s also great with chicken and salmon, so I figured hey, how about with turkey?

I did a mix of cranberries and blueberries, and a mix of grainy and Dijon mustards, then added a nice helping of sugar to help the medicine go down. The sweetness of the blueberries, boosted by the sugar, cut the tartness in the cranberries. Voila – a full-flavored sauce with just a slight mustardy tang.


 

Southwestern Turkey Breast with Green Chile...

 

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I’m starting our grand Thanksgiving feast recipes with its star… the bird. Everyone and their Grandma will be doing a BIG bird and we have tons of recipes for BIG birdies here on our site. But I figured that since we all fight over the white meat (at least in my family), I devised a quick-prep, quick-cook, easy boneless, skinless, turkey breast recipe: Southwestern Turkey Breast with Green Chile Stuffing. Southwestern cuisine is a fusion of Spanish colonial, cowboy, Native American and Mexican style food – a “melting pot” concoction that is true Americana. It’s a cool flavor profile to introduce to your friends, family and T-day table.

Of course, if you want to make the biggest bird on the block, you can still use this southwestern spice rub; you just need to convert the measurements. For a 10-pound whole turkey, use 2 teaspoons each of chili powder, mustard powder, kosher salt, dried oregano, and ground coriander; and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste). The cayenne is optional, depending on how much heat you can handle. For every additional 2 pounds of turkey, increase the spices by a ½ teaspoon and the cayenne by a ¼ teaspoon (or to taste). Bake whole turkeys according to this how to roast a perfect kosher turkey chart.


 

7 Tips for Prep Ahead Shabbat Meals/Recipes

 

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Dear Jamie,

I was hoping that you might want to focus on Shabbat meals – specifically, those that can be prepared in advance and rapidly warmed for Shabbat. I plan for Shabbat from the beginning of the week, and don’t have time to prep on Fridays. (PS – I love the cookbooks.)


 

One-Skillet Recipe: Vegetarian Quinoa Dish

 

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The Big Q – What is Quinoa?

Everyone wants to know: Is it a grain? How do you use it? How do you pronounce it? Is it good for you? Is it kosher for Passover?


 

One-Skillet Recipe: Chicken

 

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The all-purpose (extra-large if you need it) stovetop to oven skillet is a kitchen essential. Mine works overtime and never lets me down. My skillet and a pair of tongs (which I would take with me if I was stranded on a dessert island – assuming that dessert island had a cooktop) turn out delicious dinners for my family. In the upcoming Chanukah issue of Joy of Kosher Magazine I have a week’s worth of 1-Skillet Meals in Minutes and this week at JoK.com I am sharing 3 special skillet suppers with you all.

Today we have Chicken Thighs with Roasted Winter Fruit. The wonderful thing about skillet chicken is the crisp golden brown skin you get when searing for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then finishing off in the oven. Searing also lock in those juices so you have nice, moist, flavorful, did I say moist! chicken.


 

Let Them Eat Cake – Contest Winner!!

 

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Anybody out there who doesn’t love cake?

I don’t believe you. Well, if it’s true, I guess you’re lucky ‘cuz you’ll never hear a cake calling you into the kitchen in the middle of the night. I think I can speak for the other 99% of humanity when I say that if there’s a really good cake, I can eat the whole thing myself. Even a not so good cake. I don’t need anyone else at my one-woman party – I actually prefer it that way. I can cut a slice, and another and one more sliver, without eyebrows going up all around me.