Carrot Souffle

14 Jun

Boiling Carrots

This recipe is not unique to The Bais Yaakov Cookbook. I have seen similar carrot kugels and carrot souffles’ in almost every Kosher cookbook, with small variations. For instance I have crushed everything from Chex to Cheerios while making the crispy topping. Most of these recipes, however, use baby food carrots. This recipe asks the industrious cook to boil and mash their own carrots. Is it worth the effort?

 

Ingredients: carrots, eggs, oil, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, cornflake crumbs, brown sugar, margarine, chopped nuts, cinnamon

Carrot Mash    

Substitutions: I use Earth Balance instead of margarine. For chopped nuts I used almonds because that is the only nut nobody in my home is allergic to. I suspect pecans and walnuts may have worked better.

The Process: You start by boiling the carrots so that they can be easily mashed. I found I needed longer than the suggested 15 minutes. I had to boil the carrots for a full 30 minutes before I could easily mash them. While I used a fork you might get a smoother mash with a food processor (this is not suggested in the recipe).

I then preheated the oven and started adding ingredients to the carrot mash. All of this was poured into an oven to table baking dish. The recipe allows for either one large dish or a few small ramekins. While the ramekins might be prettier the one large dish was easier to handle and serve.

I mixed the cornflakes, sugar, Earth Balance and nuts to make a topping. This crumble was spread over the top and the entire thing was baked for 40 minutes.

The Results: It tasted like most other carrot kugels I have tried, except slightly sweeter and slightly more gritty since I hand mashed the carrots. My kids seemed to love it, with one notable exception – they asked me to remove the sugary cereal topping! Is it worth the extra time to mash the carrots? Probably not. It turned a 15 minute process into a 45 minute affair.

                                Carrot Souffle

Quick Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry

9 Jun

I grew up on pasta, my husband grew up one rice. Rice and meatballs, rice and beans, rice on Passover. While I definitely enjoy the liberalized Passover diet, I still haven’t quite gotten used to the substitution of rice for pasta. Therefore when I saw this Stir Fry recipe in the Bais Yaakov Cookbook call for rice OR orzo I immediately whipped out a box of orzo and got cooking.

Broccoli also happens to be one green vegetable that my kids will actually eat. Combined with the one pan, stove-top nature of this recipe I practically HAD to try it.

Ingredients: chicken breast, salt, Italian dressing, water, teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, frozen broccoli florets, uncooked rice OR orzo

Substitutions: None

The Process: The Italian dressing is used to sauté the chicken strips. I will admit the smell of heated Italian dressing is mildly revolting. Luckily it dissipates quickly. I then stirred in the water and teriyaki sauce, greatly improving the smell, and the garlic powder. Everything is brought to a boil and the broccoli and orzo are added. I placed the lid on and cooked over low heat for five minutes. That’s it. Done!

The Results: I was skeptical that everything would finish cooking in five minutes, and indeed I found I had to add a little more water water and cook for another few minutes before the orzo was done. However all in all this was a very fast one pot meal with minimal clean up. It also tasted great and was very filling. Containing a starch, protein and vegetable all in one, I found this to be the perfect meal to pack up and take to work. My kids however refused to try it. I think if they had, they would have liked it.

Personally I enjoy the smoother and less dense texture of orzo to rice. I do not know if I would like this dish as much had it been made with rice.

Quick Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

Chocolate Pecan Pie

7 May

The first time I tried this recipe from Kosher by Design I was a spunky young newlywed preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Pecan Pie is usually too gooey for my taste, with a thin layer of pecans on top of a layer of gelatinous mush. Chocolate however, pair s very nicely with nuts so when I was planning Thanksgiving desserts, this was on obvious one to try. Of course the pressure was on. Remember that dinner I was preparing for? over 50 people were showing up!

Ingredients: margarine, semisweet chocolate morsels, unbaked frozen pie crust, eggs, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, vanilla, pecan halves

Substitutions: I used Earth Balance instead of Margarine

The Process:

First I preheated the oven to 350. Then I started melting margarine over a small flame, adding in half of the chocolate pieces. When everything was well mixed, I removed it from the heat.

To prepare the pie crust I brushed it with a little egg. Then I mixed the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and eggs into the chocolate mixture. The remaining chocolate pieces were stirred in  and the whole thing went into the pie crust. This bakes for 55 minutes.

The Results:

I love that this recipe doesn’t require a double boiler, a piece of equipment that I have always wanted but never gotten around to buying. I also loved how easy it was – when preparing a 50 person dinner the last thing you need is an hour spent on dessert. My main issue was oven time. 55 minutes is a lot more than a batch of cookies would bake.

The taste however, was excellent. The mixed in chocolate pieces changed the gelatinous mush to something more textured. I’ve tried the recipe many times since and I definitely do not recommend skimping on the corn syrup. Without it the pie is brittle and dry.

Chocolate Chip-Apricot Bars

3 Apr

Jam and Chocolate Spread

Bar cookies are my favorite type of cookie. More substantial than your standard round cookie, with increased fillings and topping possibilities. This Apricot Jam bar from The Spice and Spirit was therefore an easy pick for me to try.

Ingredients: margarine, sugar, egg yolks, flour, vanilla, apricot jam, chocolate chips, egg whites, salt, walnuts

Substitutions: I use Earth Balance instead of margarine

The Process: 

Raw Cookie Base

First I preheated the oven to 350 and used that Earth Balance wrapper to grease the pan. I used my hand mixer to cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks. The flour and vanilla were added in and kneaded by hand as per the instructions. This was helpful as I then had no trouble using my hands to pat the dough into the bottom of a baking pan. Then I slid it into the oven for 15 minutes until slightly browned.

When removed from the oven I spread the jam on top followed by the chocolate chips. I beat the egg whites into a white stiff foam that I used to call “snow” when I used to bake with my mother as a kid. Then I folded in some sugar that had been set aside and the nuts. This was spread over the chips and everything was slid back into the oven for 25 minutes.

Raw “Snow” on Apricot Bars

The Results:

The bars were slightly unmanageable when trying to cut them into neat squares (probably would have been easier if they were frozen). I also did not necessarily enjoy the combination of chocolate and apricot. However others did. So I’d rate this cookie as a partial success.

Chocolate Chip Apricot Bar

 

Blackened Steak and Asparagus Salad

30 Mar

Spice Rub

I like to think of steak salads as “gateway salads”, a way to initiate people who do not usually like salad into the ways of lettuce eating. What better way to trick a carnivore into consuming lettuce than by putting  a piece of meat on top of it? This salad from Kosher by Design Entertains has the added bonus of including asparagus.

 

Ingredients:

onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil leaves, London Broil OR filet, olive oil, asparagus, white wine vinegar OR apple cider vinegar, fresh parsley, lemon juice, fresh garlic, dried basil, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, mesclun lettuce

Spice Rubbed London Broil

 

The Process: 

Blackened Steak in the Sautee Pan

The large list of dried spices gets mixed together to form a rub for the meat. The recipe gives you the option of rubbing both sides but I opted for only putting spice rub on one side. I then seared the meat for ten minutes per side and allowed it to rest for ten minutes. There was a hilarious incident where a sizzle of oil full of cayenne pepper made my eyes water but otherwise this was uneventful and went exactly as described.

I then cut the meat, although I couldn’t quite achieve the paper thin slices the recipe asked for. I added additional olive oil to the pan and seared the asparagus. They did look bright green as described.

 

I then whisked the dressing ingredients together, tossed them with the meat and asparagus and served the dish. I was careful not to put the dressing on until immediately before serving so as not to have mushy wilted lettuce.

Cooking Green Beans

The Results:

London Broil is excellent for this type of dish: it comes out moist and flavorful. The cooking was easy it was a crowd pleaser. I will say it can be a bit spicy for kids. The recipe also specifically calls for mesclun mix that contains radicchio. I elect to not include this as I find radicchio extremely bitter. As mentioned above and seen in my photo it is difficult to get the meat “paper-thin” like the photo in the book.

Bonus: kosher for passover.

Blackened Steak and Asparagus Salad

Ka’ak-Ib-Loz

28 Mar

When I married a Sephardic Jew there were lots of new traditions to get used to – even the engagement party pastries were new and exotic. Instead of the usual heart shaped cookies with our names embossed them I was enchanted to see these sweet little wreaths – Ka’ak-Ib-Loz decorating the tables. Made out of almond and pistachio marzipan they stole the show. For the Love of Cooking was gifted to me a few years later by our grandmother and I decided to try my hand at making them.

As Passover approaches I’m happy to note these cookies are in fact Kosher for Passover. However if you have pistachio allergy in the home like I do – stick to just making the rings with almonds.

Ingredients:

almonds, pistachio nuts, confectioners sugar, orange water, green food coloring

The Process:

The most difficult part of this process is the first part. You have to blanch the nuts (instructions not provided in the cookbook) and then shell them – peeling off all the little brown outside bits from the almonds. This cannot be done if you haven’t blanched the almonds for long enough. Then you grind the nuts in a food processor. At the time I did not have a large food processor, only a small table top one. Then I pulsed in the sugar.

As my pistachios did not have a deep green color after blending I went ahead and mixed the orange water and food coloring in with the nuts. You can skip the food coloring if your pistachios were more vivid than mine. I then tried to shape the mixture into balls and join the ends to make a ring. This was pretty difficult. The mixture was a little crumbly and I felt I needed more liquid of some sort to make it pliable. At this point you can crimp the edges to make them more wreath like before leaving them out to dry. I tried to twist several strands together as well but that didn’t quite pan out given the dry/brittle nature of the dough.

The Results:

The taste was great, but the shapes were not as pretty as I liked. I think if I had a finer grind on the nuts and a little more water I could have done fun things like make different colors and shapes. 

 

Sweet Potato Fries

21 Mar

Ever wish you could have more nutrition in the fries you feed your kids? I do. Which is why I love sweet potato fries, especially when they are baked like the ones in this recipe from Fresh & Easy.

Raw Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

sweet potatoes, oil, sugar, salt, parsley flakes

The Process:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Then I cut the sweet potato fries into strips (if you would like to avoid orange hands, wear gloves). Spread potatoes on a silicone mat, coat with oil and spread into a single layer.  Bake for half an hour until lightly browned and toss potatoes in spice mixture.

The Results:

These are delicious! Did not last over an hour. My kids swoop in and grab them straight from the oven every time I have made these fries. Quick, easy and highly recommended. however you cannot skip the baking mats – without them the fries will stick to the baking sheet and become mushy. Added bonus: these are kosher for passover!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

 

Sauteed Chicken Breasts With Avocado and Tomato

17 Mar

It’s Friday afternoon, Friday night dinner is rapidly approaching and I am using my lunch break to cook before returning to work.  I have chicken in the fridge and not much else on hand. In an age old dilemma the aforementioned chicken is chicken breasts, while my children will only eat chicken on the bone or chicken nuggets deep fried to a point beyond what is nutritionally wise.  Luckily Hip Kosher contains simple recipes that take fresh ingredients and makes them pop in a way that is both sophisticated and understated – perfect for kids who don’t like a lot of competing flavors or sauces and a parent with less than 50 minutes to cook. My kids do like both avocados and tomatoes so I was hoping this would be enough to get them interested in trying the chicken. A quick run out to the vegetable cart on my corner and I was ready to start!

prepped veggies

Ingredients: flour, black pepper, cumin, 4 chicken breast halves, extra virgin olive oil, red onion, avocado, tomato, habanero pepper

Substitutions: I left out the habanero. My kids don’t do well with spice and I wasn’t about to run around and find a habanero that they would likely not eat.

 

The Process:

The first bunch of ingredients are combined to make a coating to dredge the chicken in, following by sautéing the chicken in the olive oil. This took about 10 minutes since I had to reuse the pan to sauté the chicken in several batches.

While that was going on I sliced up the avocado and tomatoes and minced the red onion. This way they were ready to cover the chicken right before I slipped them into the oven at 375 F to bake for 6-8 minutes.

sautéing the chicken

Sautéed Chicken with Avocado Awaiting the Oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Results:

The chicken was surprisingly moist and retained the flavor from the the avocado. It probably would have been tastier for the adults with the habanero. The kids did agree to try it and made it through several bites before rejecting it. Overall not a total loss and a good quick dish for when company is coming over but I wouldn’t call it a kid friendly food if you have picky eaters.

sautéed chicken with avocado and tomato

Egg-Free Sprinkle Cookie

8 Mar

While eggs are not an allergen we worry about in my house I was still excited to try this Egg-Free Sprinkle Cookie recipe from Kids Cooking Made Easy. I run out of eggs all the time and this seemed like a quick and easy recipe I could make with my kids. It also looked quick which is exactly what I need for shabbat prep in the winter!

Ingredients:

butter or margarine (I use Earth Balance), sugar, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, flour, rainbow sprinkles

The Process:

First you preheat the oven and line baking sheets. The recipe calls for parchment paper but I always use silicone baking mats as they never smoke (parchment paper tends to set off my smoke alarm) and cookies bake more evenly with the mats without sticking. I then creamed the margarine and sugar adding in the vanilla and flour until it formed a nice ball of dough. The kids felt it “looked like play dough”.

We then rolled the balls into circles, dipped them into rainbow sprinkles while flattening them a little bit. Then they were placed on the pre-lined baking sheet and bake.

The Results:

The recipe was easy to follow and the instructions were correct. The cookies did not spread further than the recipe said they would. However I would say the baking time of 15 minutes is more of a max time. If you have an oven that runs hot you will want to them out a bit earlier to keep a moist soft cookie. They disappeared pretty quickly from the kitchen and my company even asked to take some home!

          Egg Free Sprinkle Cookie

Vegetable Dumpling Soup

29 Apr

Soup is a winter time favorite in this house, but we also enjoy it in the summer. I make a large pot for Shabbat and then the leftovers are consumed over the week. Throw in a salad or a sandwich and you have a full meal. I’m always on the look out for new soups that incorporate large amounts of vegetables and proteins. The dumplings in this soup from Chic Made Simple, are especially enticing as they turn a bowl of soup into a filling meal on its own.

This soup is not short on vegetables!

This soup is not short on vegetables!

Soup:

garlic, oil, onion, leeks, zucchini, fresh pumpkin OR butternut squash (I used butternut squash), carrots, sweet potato, tomato, potatoes, chicken stock, salt, black pepper

Dumplings:

flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, baking powder, eggs, chicken stock, oil

The Process:

roasted garlic for veg dumpling soup

Roasted garlic

First, I roasted the garlic by roasting it uncovered in a preheated oven. This filled the house with a delicious aroma and I wished I had made some extra garlic to spread on bread and eat. While this was going on, I did all the peeling, chopping and slicing that must take place before I could actually begin cooking. Then, I sautéed the onion and the leeks, added in the rest of the vegetables and covered them in 1 inch of stock. This simmered for an hour and a half during which I prepared the dumplings.

veg dumpling soup cooking

Simmering soup

 

I made the dumplings by mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combining the two. The mixture sat for 1-2 minutes to firm up. The total process took ten minutes.

Once the vegetables were fully cooked, I added the garlic and pureed everything with an immersion blender. I then brought the soup to a boil and dropped the dumpling mix into the soup 1 tablespoon at a time. This cooked for 7-8 minutes. I stirred to prevent the dumplings from sticking. Everything simmered 30 minutes longer.

Dropping in the dumplings

Dropping in the dumplings

The Results:

There was a lot of vegetable prep, which took more time than anticipated, but it was worth it to have so many vegetables in the soup. The actual cooking was easy, but the soup does simmer for several hours requiring someone to watch over it. I also found the immersion blender crucial as you will otherwise have a very chunky soup and it is not practical to pour it all into a regular blender. The dumplings were easy to make but stirring was essential to keep them from sticking together.

The soup tasted delicious, but it was darker and murkier than that soup shown in the cookbook photo. The photo has a clear, orange tinted soup with dumplings floating in it. The soup I made was yellow tinged and you could not see through it. It coated the dumplings. The dumplings themselves were so delicious that I have made them for other soups, with the same great results. The pot of soup is large and can easily feed a family.

The fully cooked pot of vegetable dumpling soup

The fully cooked pot of vegetable dumpling soup