Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Latke Nachos - The Ultimate Chanukah Party Food

Nachos really are the ultimate party food, crispy chips all dressed up with melted cheese and tasty toppings, how can you improve on something as perfect that?

Enter Latke Nachos!

Replace the tortilla chips with thin and crispy latkes and you've got yourself a dish that will be the star of your Chanukah party.

These nachos start with a base of freshly fried latkes and then are topped with cheese sauce, ground "beef", pico de gallo, guacamole, black beans, sour cream, green onions, and jalapeños.
Just place a platter of the latkes with bowls of all of these delicious toppings around it on your Chanukah party buffet and your guests will have a blast customizing their own latke nachos.

There are a lot of components but most of them can be done in advance so don't be intimidated by the long prep list. 

Ground “Beef”
Cheese Sauce 
Pico de Gallo 

2 large potatoes peeled
1 small onion peeled 
2 eggs  
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/2 cup canola oil for frying  

In a food processor with the medium grating blade, shred the potatoes and onion. Alternatively you can use the medium grate side of a box grater. 
Place on a towel and bring the corners together and twist the towel over the sink and wring out as much moisture as you  can this will give you the crispiest latke. 
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper. Add the drained potato onion mixture in bowl and stir to combine.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and pour in the oil allow the oil to fully heat up so the latkes properly crisp and don’t get soggy this will take about 3 minutes. You can test if your oil is hot by placing a wooden spoon in the oil if bubbles form about the spoon then you're good to go. 
Place the latke batter into the hot oil by the tablespoon leaving space in between. Use the back of the spoon to flatten them out. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden brown then using a flat spatula, carefully flip the latkes and cook for another minute and a half side until golden and crisp. Place on a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to a sheet pan and keep in a warm oven until ready to use. 

Be sure to wring out the potatoes and onions really well to remove as much liquid as possible so you will the crispiest latkes 

Use the back of the spoon to flatten out the latke batter
Perfectly golden brown 

Ground “beef” 
1 tsp oil 
10 oz. button mushrooms 
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
pinch of salt 
1/3 cup water 

Finely chop the mushrooms, alternatively quarter the mushrooms and place in a food processor fitted with the standard blade and pulse until the mushrooms are finely chopped. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the mushrooms, spices, and cook for 8 minutes. Add the water and stir to pick up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the water is evaporated. Keep covered until ready to use. Can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in the fridge, reheat before using. 

Chop the mushrooms by hand or in a food processor 
Brown the mushrooms and toast the spices before adding the water 
While you are pouring in the water use your spoon to scrape up any bits that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan that's where all the flavor is 

Cheese Sauce 
1 Tbs butter 
1 Tbs flour 
3/4 cup milk 
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack 
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper 

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and then add the flour toast for 2 minutes and then whisk in the milk. Let the milk come to a simmer and add the cheese, salt and pepper and stir to melt and combine. When the cheese has melted shut the heat off and keep covered until ready to use. Can be made up to 3 days in advance keep in the fridge and reheat with a splash of milk over a low flame when ready to use.
Make sure to whisk while adding the milk to the butter and flour mixture (roux) so there won't be any clumps in the cheese sauce
Gradually add the cheese and keep stirring to get a perfect velvety smooth cheese sauce 

1 avocado - mashed 
1 clove garlic - minced 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp lemon or lime juice 

Mix all the ingredients together until combined and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made 2 days in advance. 

Pico de Gallo 
1 large tomato, diced 
1/2 small onion, minced 
3 Tbs chopped cilantro  
2 tsp lemon or lime juice 
1/2 tsp salt 

Mix all the ingredients together and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made 2 days in advance 

Additional Toppings
1 can black beans drained and rinsed 
2 scallions, sliced 
1 jalapeño, sliced 
6 oz. sour cream 

To assemble: Arrange the crisp latkes on the serving platter. Sprinkle with ground mushrooms, drizzle with the cheese sauce and add scoops of guacamole, pico de gallo. Sprinkle the black beans, sliced jalapeño, and sliced scallions over the top and finish it off with a few dollops of sour cream. 

For individual portions place 2 latkes on a plate and top with all of the delicious toppings. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Sweet and Tart Treat to Start the Week

Believe it or not, Monday is here once again. 
Mondays are tough, the weekend is over it's back to work and back to school (well here in Israel the week really starts on Sunday so we sort of have two days of the “Monday blues”). However, there’s something to look forward to on what feels like the longest day of the week, Muffin Monday! Muffins are quick and simple to prepare and they’re a perfect treat to cheer you up at the end of long day. 

This flavor combination of white chocolate and dried cranberries is based off of a cookie that I remember my mother buying from Trader Joe’s (please open in Israel) it was a crispy oatmeal cookie packed with dried cranberries and drizzled with white chocolate. I really liked the sweet and tart flavors playing off of each other. I added orange zest because it just boosts both the sweet and tart flavors and adds some brightness to the muffins. 
This recipe is adapted from which is a recipe for basic muffins and you can pretty much add in anything you want be it savory or sweet. 

Cranberry White Chocolate Muffins with Orange Glaze

2 cups flour 
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup soy milk 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest 
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbs orange juice 

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C 

Line a standard size muffin tin with paper liners or coat with non stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the egg, milk, oil, vanilla, and zest and stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and white chocolate chips. Be careful not to over mix because this will result in a dense muffin.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin filling each cup 3/4 of the way. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Transfer the muffins from the muffin tin to a cooling rack and allow the muffins to cool for 15 minutes. 

To make the glaze, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and juice until it is thin enough to drizzle. 

When the muffins are cool, drizzle the glaze over the top. 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Seasonal Spinach Salad

I'm not one for salads. I really love vegetables, but I just don't usually like them in salad form. 
This past shabbat I was asked to make a salad for the dinner I was attending, so I decided to make a salad that I would actually enjoy. I wanted to make a salad celebrating the season with beautiful fresh produce that I picked up at Machane Yehuda market. 
Roasting vegetables brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable and any time I make any type of roasted veg I have to make double the amount because I eat about half the tray before it makes it to the final dish. 
The hearty spinach has a slight bitterness and stands up nicely to the sweet vinaigrette and the roasted vegetables. 
The combination of the seasonal fruit and roasted beets and squash really makes this salad perfect for the Autumn and Winter seasons. 

Roasted Vegetable Spinach Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette 

1 large beet
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt 
12 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed
Persimmon, diced 
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds 
1/2 cup candied pecans, chopped 
Blood orange vinaigrette (recipe follows) 

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C 

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper 

Place the beet on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place on prepared sheet pan. Roast in preheated oven for about an hour. Carefully unwrap the beet and if a knife easily slips into the beet then it is tender. When the beet is cool enough to handle, take a paring knife and peel the beet, the skin should fall right off. Cut the beet into 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.

Toss the butternut squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a single layer on prepared sheet pan. Roast for 25 minutes in preheated oven until tender. Allow the squash to cool and set aside. 

In a large bowl place the spinach, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, pecans, and roasted vegetables. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Place on serving platter and enjoy immediately.  

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Blood orange*
Orange zest
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar 
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 
1 tsp silan (date honey) 
1/4 cup olive oil 

Zest the orange and then roll on the cutting board this helps release the juice so you can get the most juice out the orange when you squeeze it. You will need about 1/4 cup of juice which is what you can get from 1/2 of the orange. Cut the orange in half and juice the orange into a jar with a tight fitting lid making sure not to get any seeds in the dressing. 
Add 1/4 tsp orange zest to the juice, and the rest of the ingredients. Put the top on the jar and vigorously shake the vinaigrette to combine. 
*If you can't find blood oranges you can use regular oranges or even bottled orange juice, but fresh is always best. 

Roasted Vegetables