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Asian Steak Salad

14 Jul

steak salad veggies

Steak Salad is one of my favorite foods. When the steak is marinated properly it becomes a juicy and filling addition to your salad.

This Asian steak salad recipe really looked like a flavorful twist on an old favorite. I typically like to use a thick juicy piece of meat, like London Broil, for steak salad but this recipe from Kosher by Design called for a thinner skirt steak which cut down on cooking/prep time.

Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, peanut or olive oil, red onion, skirt steak cut in thin strips,

yellow pepper, red pepper, mixed greens, sesame seeds

Substitutions: I have used peanut oil but have also substituted with olive oil when peanut allergies became an issue

steak salad dressingThe Process: First I browned the ginger and garlic in olive oil. The soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar and mustard where pulsed in the food processor and then mixed with the ginger and garlic to form the dressing.

I then heated the peanut oil and cooked the steak in it for ten minutes. When it was done I removed it from the skillet with a slatted spatula and set it aside. I placed the red onion and bell peppers in the pan to saute. When they were almost done I added 2-3 tablespoons of dressing cooking and removed it from the heat. The dressing is then added to the green and the peppers and steak are placed on top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

steak salad veggies cooking

 

The Results: This salad is amazing. It tastes wonderful and is a big hit with company. It is not quite as colorful as the one in the photo unless you under cook the peppers – which tastes the change of the salad and I wouldn’t recommend it.

steak salad veggies cooked

 

 

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

12 Jul

old fashioned sugar cookie dough

When looking for rainy day activities baking and decorating sugar cookies is definitely a no brainer. This classic dough from The Complete Cookie looked fun to try, simple and sweet.

Ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla

Substitutions: I didn’t have cookie cutters so we used my daughters shape sorters to cut different shapes. This was great as she had to properly name the shape in order to get a cookie!

old fashoined sugar cookie miing

The Process: First I combined all the dry ingredients. I then pulsed the butter into the sugar using a food processor. Slowly I added the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. I then added the flour (I mixed it in by hand instead of pulsing in the food processor). I felt I needed  few extra tablespoons of flour as the dough was way too sticky to be formed into a ball. Then I placed it in the fridge to cool. My children were very impatient to continue so I took a portion of dough out after 1 hour. This definitely was not a good move as the dough was difficult to roll. The dough that sat and chilled for the entire 3 hours, as advised, was much easier to manipulate.

I used my french style rolling pin to roll neat sheets of dough while the kids used mini 

old fashoined sugar cookie

rolling pins to roll out small patches of dough. We cut the cookies easily  and the refrigerated dough did not stick to the cutters. I placed them on silicone baking mats and used a variety of colored sugars to decorate. Everything was placed in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and baked them for 10 minutes. Do not over bake!

 

The Results: I definitely felt the recipe needed 1/3 c to 1/4 c more flour. The rolling process on the chilled dough was excellent. It did not stick to the rolling pin or the cookie cutters. There is no picture to compare to but these did retain their shape beautifully and did not spread on the sheet.old fashoined sugar cookie on tray

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

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. 

 

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

Mustard Roasted Potatoes With Lemon Oregano Dressing

24 Feb

Potatoes are a standard side dish in this house. They can be stored for a few weeks so you always have some on hand, and they are filling. Sure they’re starchy but they don’t have to be sugary or overly sweetened like many other vegetable side dishes. My standard potato recipe is quick and easy – boil, then bake with diced onion. But after making it for so many weeks in a row, it was getting pretty old. This recipe seemed fairly easy and like most other recipes in Hip Kosher, it combines some interesting flavors.

There was just one snag – when making this recipe we discovered my daughter is allergic to mustard, especially the fancy, delicious dijon type that has whole mustard seed in it. So no potatoes for the little one.

Ingredients:

Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, oregano, salt, pepper, small waxy potatoes

The Process:

You start by preheating the oven and then cubing and peeling the potatoes. The cubes get laid out on a baking sheet lined with foil. The remaining ingredients are then mixed together and poured over the potatoes.  The whole shebang goes into the oven and bakes.

The Results:

This recipe is definitely easy. You have all the ingredients all ready in the house and can whip this up in minutes and have it in the oven. It also tastes great. The recipe is very foolproof and while I could not eat it every week it makes a great addition to the potato-side-dish lineup. I highly recommend it (unless of course your daughter is allergic to mustard and you hate to have to cook twice).

dijon roasted potato

 

Overnight Potato Kugel

12 Feb

Prepare yourself for a shocking admission: I do not like potato kugel. Never have, probably never will. Yes, I am indeed Jewish. I come from a large family of potato kugel lovers. My mother even sends over potato kugels for my husband because I so rarely make them. I like other kugels but I just don’t get the appeal of potato kugel. With one rare exception. Occasionally at a Kiddush the caterer will bring out a greasy tray of delicious potato kugel. You know the type: the bottom is slightly darker, because all the eggs have sunk and it is clear that oil is a featured ingredient. For some reason THOSE potato kugels have sometimes appealed to me when the homemade, hand grated, gourmet potato kugels have not. It’s a guilty pleasure. We all have them. At least mine won’t kill anybody – well, not unless you count coronary artery disease.

When I saw the recipe for “overnight potato kugel” in Fresh & Easy by Leah Schapira I thought “Hey! maybe that’s the secret to those kiddush kugels. They sit around in a warmer all night. Why else would someone make a recipe for kugel that cooks all night, yet is not being made in a crock-pot and requires two hours of cooking before the long oven step?”. It must be to replicate that delicious kugel taste. So I decided to give it a try.

Ingredients:

potatoes, onion, eggs, water, oil, salt, pepper

The Process:

This is a simple recipe. You start by grating the potatoes and onion. You can use a food processor (Schapira recommends a Braun and even explains which blade to use) but I hate taking that thing out and cleaning it, so I hand grated my potatoes. Its not too difficult and reminds me of when I used to do this for my mother. Then you mix in the eggs, boiling water and spices. Everything gets poured into a pan and baked for two hours.

silver foil wrapping

After two hours you remove the kugel from the oven and tightly wrap it three times with foil. As you can see from the photo, I made sure that puppy was sealed tight! The oven temperature is turned down and you replace the kugel into the oven with a pan of cold water placed on the rack below it. At this point the kugel sits for either 8 hours of overnight, so I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning the entire house smelled of potato kugel. Be warned your entire family will start craving kugel even if it is 6am! They can’t help it, the house has smelled like kugel the entire night.

The Results:

The recipe makes a huge amount of kugel, a 9 x 13 inch pan full. The kugel has a slightly darker color than usual, and this is accurately depicted in the photo in the cookbook. It smelled awesome, but unfortunately it tasted like… nothing. It was bland and was not at all what I was hoping for. To make sure it wasn’t just my dislike of potato kugel I served it to potato kugel lovers in the family. They agreed that this was nothing special and wondere

d what the whole point of leaving it overnight was, as it did not improve the kugel at all. Its best feature was the delicious aroma.In the end, I would recommend adding more spices or serving this kugel with a dip like applesauce to make it more exciting. I won’t be making it again. My quest for kugel that tastes like the one at shul kiddush tables continues.

overnight potato kugel

Mejadra

6 Jan

I’ve had Mejadra before on many occasions. Most notably during a family trip Israel when the Syrian great aunt of a friend produced a giant potful of Mejadra full of crispy onions that really hit the spot after a day of hiking. I can still feel the sweet explosion of those  fried onions in my mouth surrounded by toothsome lentils. Where better to learn the ropes of this dish than the cookbook Jerusalem?

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup brown or green lentils, 4 medium onions, 3 tbs flour, 1 cup sunflower oil, 2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tbs coriander seeds, 1 cup basmati rice, 2 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1 1/2 tsp all spice, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp sugar, 1 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper

The Process:

First and foremost you must properly wash and clean your lentils. It won’t due to have a rock in your meal. American customers buying packaged lentils at an indoor grocery may find this step less important than their Middle Eastern counterparts shopping at outdoor markets.

STA_0948

To me the centerpiece of mejadra is the onions, therefore I always make extra and I focus on getting them perfectly sliced. This recipe calls for you to mix the onions in a flour mixture before frying them in sunflower oil. My main issue was simply finding a bowl big enough to hold all the onions I was making. I had to fry them in shifts in my pan since I do not use deep fryers and this was the largest pan I’ve got. Patience is key as you want to let the onions caramelize, not get soft and mushy or burn. Steady low heat and stirring are your friends and they will reward you with some of the best onions I have ever tasted. Truly these onions were outstanding and I was ready to sit down and eat without before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Luckily the rest of the reci

pe was not that tough. You mix rice with oil and a spice mixture, add water slowly and perform the required amount of stirring and simmering. It takes a little patience to wait for the simmering, and between the onions and the rice cooking I would not claim this dish is quick, but it is simple. I taste the rice several times to make sure it was not too crunchy.

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When all was mixed together my personal preference would have been for  a higher onion to rice ratio, simply because the rice and lentils were the same as usual, while the onions were out of this world.

The Results:

I do not ever want to

try another fried onion recipe as this one is simply too delicious to be improved (although I will, since I’ve got plenty in this stack of cookbooks). It’s a hearty, filling and inexpensive meal, although it can take a bit more prep time than many of us has on a typical weeknight. I’m also not sold on the lentil/rice mixture. I’ve had similar that required fewer ingredients.

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Quesadillas

27 Aug

Kosher by Design Short on Time promises recipes that are quick, and with a toddler and a full time job, I am all about speed these days. I’ve been making these quesadillas for quite some time now and have been so pleased with the results, they have become a family favorite.

Ingredients:

12 large flour tortillas

8-12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

8-12 ounces shredded mozzarella Cheese

Monterey Jack Cheese, Optional

The Process

This truly was short on time, especially if you buy grated cheese. With grating my own cheese laying out the tortillas and placing the cheese on them took a total of ten minutes. They baked up beautifully, but be careful to watch them closely as they can easily get burnt.

The Results

Delicious cheesy goodness. Actually I have tried this using many different types of cheese and they have all been delicious. This is truly fast, easy to prep, easy to clean and easy to make.STA_0953