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Jewish Comfort Food – Chicken Soup

 

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My grandparents, both sets, made the best chicken soup. Same like yours, I imagine. My father’s side of the family made a deep dark richly flavored broth with spaghetti noodles. My mother’s parents a light bright broth with square luckshen (noodles) and alphabets for us kids in the later years.

Yes, it’s Jewish penicilin.


 

You’ve Been Asked to Cook Meals for a New Mom

 

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Kimpeturin. When I first heard that Yiddish word, I was totally confused. First of all, it sounds like a plural, but it actually refers to a woman (in the singular) recovering from childbirth. And it’s a term just loaded with compassionate implications: you take pains not to stress out this woman; she’s not expected to shlepp the laundry; and you cut her some slack when it comes to emotional triggers. Point being that new mommies can use a little (ok, a lot) of help from their friends, neighbors, in-laws, anybody! Doesn’t matter if the new baby is your first or if you have a house full of kids, getting it all together ain’t easy.

In our wonderful Jewish communities, aid comes in all forms – gifts of baby essentials, babysitting so the new mommy can nap, or help with din-din. I’ve also heard of a lady who comes over just to sort the laundry. What a G-dsend!


 

Hot Chocolate and Apple Cider for Winter Time

 

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It’s cold out. Well kinda cold out. Not exactly bone chilling yet here in NY but I’ve got my coat on and that little chill that comes with a whisper of winter. This all means it’s time to warm the tummy, yours and your kiddies’ with special hot drinks. There are few things that say “I love you”, “I made this special for you” and give people that warm and fuzzy feeling –  a cup of homemade hot cocoa does just that. In this case it’s triple chocolate hot cocoa so that must mean you really, really, really love the beneficiary of this treat (ehm, yourself). A hot spiced apple cider is a slightly more sophisticated way to say “you mean something to me” unless of course your special somebody (ehm, Hubby) would prefer that hot cocoa. I love you all so here from my heart to yours some special warm winter recipes to fill your mugs.

 


 

Jamie’s Chanukah Sizzle Reel

 

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I wanted to share what we in the “industry” call a sizzle reel. Translation - a 2 minute clip of the pilot we shot for PBS. We actually shot this before Rosh Hashanah. My neighbors got a kick out of all the menorahs in the window in the middle of September and my kiddies loved opening their presents early. I was obviously uber-pregnant (could barely reach the counter) and collapsed at the end of the 14 hour shoot (feet throbbing, head aching, back burning kinda collapse). We are editing together the full half hour episode now, I am so excited.

The food star of this episode, my Caprese latke tower – cover of this month’s JoK mag and my new favorite way to dress up a latke. Tell me what you think? Of the latke and the sizzle. Don’t you just LOVE this song from the Moshav Band? I cried like a baby the first time I heard it and not just because I was an emotional pregnant mess. Every time Hubby plays it my oldest goes “oh is Mommy going to cry again?”


 

Greek Salad with Feta, Garlic Croutons and Lemon...

 

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Creamy, tangy feta, salty olives, crisp lettuce, and crunchy croutons, all wrapped up in a light and spicy lemon oregano dressing… ah, the Greek Salad! Could be a meal, could also be a side – perfect for a Chanukah feast (we do have to remember the Greeks this time of year).

Greek salad is one of my faves on Chanukah and post-baby. I have a friend who gorges on Godiva after she has a baby – it’s her “Thank you, G-d, and I deserve a treat” snack. Mine is Greek Salad. When my friend Anita comes to visit and asks what she can bring, I always say – “Can you pick up a Greek Salad on the way?” So random, but hey, it’s true. This super-easy salad is perfect for your Chanukah party because you want something you can toss together quickly when you have a ton of latkes to fry.


 

Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole

 

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There’s food and then there’s food. This is one of those simple, light dishes – yet it’s supremely robust and flavorful. Dover sole is one of life’s culinary delicacies and can cost you more than a steak at most restaurants. It’s white, firm, mild-flavored and best paired with a lemon wine sauce. It’s so easy to eat – just one of those things that goes down easy. It’s a super thin piece of fish, too: you don’t even need teeth to enjoy it (but don’t waste it on the baby!)

At the fish counter, you’re most likely to find lemon sole or gray sole much more affordable, and it’s still delicious especially when you are cooking for a crowd this Chanukah. This recipe for Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole is a nice complement to all the oily fried treats at your Chanukah party.


 

Pumpkin Baked Penne

 

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I have six cans of pumpkin puree sitting in my kitchen cabinet. And I must admit that seeing them lined up there gives me piece of mind, relieving the paranoia that sets in every fall. That’s when the store shelves are filled with pureed pumpkin for a brief period and everybody who loves pumpkin comes out in droves, clearing every last can till they’re impossible to find afterward. Bloggers hit the net, talk show hosts fill the air waves and twitter goes nuts with everyone trying to find out where to get their hands on a can of pumpkin puree.

So I confess to having an obsession. I nearly buy out the entire store when pumpkin is plentiful on the shelf, as though preparing for some dire emergency. I mean, what if the world comes to an end, and I’m stuck with no pumpkin puree in my kitchen? How will we survive?


 

Caramel Pear Lattice Pie

 

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Ain’t nothing like an all-American Apple Pie.

But you’ll have to go to your Yankee Auntie to get that recipe. Not that I’m un-American or against apple pie. It’s just that I grew up surrounded by Eastern European intonations and Old Country cooking. (When my father speaks, Hubby just smiles and nods, pretending to understand.)


 

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.