Friday, March 31, 2017

Tradition - Corned Beef with Sweet and Sour Sauce

There is so much work that goes into preparing for Pesach, the cleaning, checking for kosher for Pesach ingredients, all the cooking, that once the holiday comes around you're almost too tired to enjoy it. 
This corned beef recipe is the perfect dish to make for your Pesach seder as it requires very little work and is an absolute crowd pleaser. You can cook, cool, and slice the corned beef in advance and freeze it and then reheat it in the addictive sauce. 

This corned beef recipe is a tradition and my family's Pesach table wouldn't be complete without it and once you taste it neither will yours. 

All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at Seasons, including first cut brisket corned beef at an amazing price and hard to find kosher for Pesach imitation mustard.



Corned Beef with Sweet and Sour Sauce 

2 Tbs oil 
1 small onion minced
5 heaping Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs water

To prepare the corned beef, remove from packaging and rinse the meat of the spices. Place in large pot of water to cover the beef by at least two inches. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours. Check the tenderness of the meat by piercing the thickest part of the meat with a fork, there should be some resistance, if it is too tough keep cooking the meat until the meat is just tender but not falling apart. 
Remove the meat from the water and let it cool completely. 
With a sharp slicing knife, thinly slice the meat against the grain - to do this look at the meat look at the lines of the muscles and fibers and cut perpendicular to the direction they are going. Cutting against the grain is very important and this ensures into tender slices of meat that is pleasant to chew. 

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat and add the onion. Saute the onion for about 8 minutes until golden and tender then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour over the sliced corned beef. Reheat covered at 275°F/135°C  

Monday, March 27, 2017

Chewy Granola Bars

Israel is an amazing place. This country, that is about the size of the state of New Jersey, is packed with the some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. The north is filled with lush forests, flowing streams, and breathtaking waterfalls. The south is a stunning dessert filled with canyons and dunes made up of a rainbow of color. The amazing thing is that this country is so small that you can go skiing on Mt. Hermon all the way in the north in the morning and then go snorkeling at the opposite tip in Eilat in the evening. Israel is filled with such beauty and it is such a privilege to live here.

To quote Dr. Seuss, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." I'm going to add one more thing to that list of essentials when you're choosing your direction of adventure, good snacks in your bag. Occasionally I get to get out of the kitchen and hike through this beautiful place and I always make sure to have a fully stocked backpack of substantial treats to keep me going.
Chewy granola bars are exactly what I need when I get to the peak of the mountain. Soft and chewy, a little crunchy, sweet with a touch of salt it's the perfect bite to reward yourself while enjoying the view.

All of the ingredients are available at Seasons!

Chewy Granola Bars 

1 1/4 cups dates, pitted
1 cup almonds or any other nut, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups rolled or instant oats
1/4 cup tahini, or any nut butter
3 Tbs silan/honey/agave nectar/maple syrup
1/4 cup craisins or other dried fruit, chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bar, chopped
3 Tbs ground flax seed
3 Tbs wheat germ
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
Place the dates in a bowl of hot water and let the dates soften for 5 minutes, drain well.
Toast the almonds and oats on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes until golden. Pour the toasted nuts and oats into a mixing bowl.
Place the softened dates in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade, puree the dates, add to the cooled toasted nuts and oats.
Combine the tahini and silan in a small pot over medium-low heat, stir until the mixture loosens and is warmed through. This can also be done at 10-second intervals in the microwave.
Add the tahini silan mixture to the mixing bowl. Add the craisins, chocolate, flax seed, and wheat germ. Wet your hands and press the ingredients to combine.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture into the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
Remove the chilled mixture from the freezer and flip out onto a cutting board. Peel off the parchment paper, and cut into bars. Wrap the bars individually in wax paper or saran wrap. Keep the granola bars in an airtight container in the the fridge for about 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.


These are obviously best during a long day in nature, but they're just as delicious sitting at your desk or while commuting home from work.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spicy Tomato Soup with Kale and Chickpeas

Some weeks are more hectic than others and this week was definitely a crazy one!
At the end of this exhausting week, I needed a really fast and flavorful dinner. Due to my busy schedule this week I did not get much sleep so I am a little under the weather, therefore I was in the mood for soup with a little spice to perk me up.
This soup comes together very quickly with a few simple ingredients.
You can swap out the kale for spinach and the chickpeas for white beans.
Another perk is that this soup is packed with nutrients so you can have a healthy meal in about half an hour.


Spicy Tomato Soup with Kale and Chickpeas 

1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (leave the seeds in if you want it hotter)
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 1/2 cups water
1 15 oz. can chickpeas or white beans, drained
4 cups chopped kale, hard stems removed
Shaved parmesan - optional

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and smoked paprika and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and water. Pour the water into the tomato can to get every bit out of it. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and kale and cook until the kale wilts into the soup. Taste for seasoning. Serve and top with parmesan if desired.





Friday, March 10, 2017

Bageltashen!

There are many classic Jewish foods like kugel and matza balls, but another Jewish classic is a bagel with lox and cream cheese. I decided to do some research as to why this brunch favorite is connected to Judaism. It's not like Moshe came down from Har Sinai carrying the luchot and a bagel so what's the connection? I came across this page from chabad.com that is very much worth the read to have a better understanding of this connection.

An interesting thing that was written in this article is that the combination of a the boiled bagel, smoked salmon, and cream cheese was created as a kosher substitution for the non-kosher Eggs Benedict (english muffin, bacon, poached egg and hollandaise) "Gil Marks, a specialist in Jewish culinary history, explains that the very unkosher American classic brunch food Eggs Benedict became popular in New York City in the 1930s. Of course, kosher-keeping Jewish people couldn’t eat it. So they substituted lox slices for the ham, cream cheese for the hollandaise sauce, and bagels for the muffins. Thus, the Jews created a new Jewish-American classic, bagels with cream cheese and lox." 


So how do we put a Purim twist on an already perfect dish? Enter the bageltashen!
Instead of shaping the bagel dough into a round ring just form them into a triangle, boil, bake and eat with copious amounts of homemade cream cheese and lox!


Bageltashen with Homemade Cream Cheese 

I use the boiled bagel recipe from allrecipes.com

4 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 Tbs + 2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs salt
Water
1 Tbs sugar

Seed topping of your choice - I like everything bagel topping mix


In a large bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast. Mix together the warm water, sugar and salt and add to the flour yeast mixture. Slowly add flour until you have a firm dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Poke a hole in the middle of the dough stretching the hole as you shape the dough into a triangle. Repeat with remaining pieces. Cover the formed bagels with a towel and let them rest for about 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil add the sugar then reduce to a simmer.
Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
After the bagels have rested place 3-5 in the water (depending on the size of the pot) cook for 3 minutes then flip. Drain them well.
Place your seed topping on a flat plate and place the boiled and drained bagel on the plate pressing the seeds into the bagel.
Place the topped bagels on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.

Serve with your favorite spreads or some homemade cream cheese (recipe below)


Homemade Cream Cheese 

I got this recipe from my cousin when I moved to Israel and saw the price of store bought cream cheese. This cream cheese is everything cream cheese should be, rich, creamy, and downright decadent.



16 oz. full fat sour cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Mix together the sour cream, sugar and salt.
Place a strainer in a bowl making sure that the strainer isn't touching the bottom of the bowl. Line the strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth or a clean dish towel.
Pour the sour cream mixture into the towel. Bring up the corners of the towel and tie with a rubber band.
Place the bowl in the fridge and let the sour cream drain overnight.
Remove the rubber band and stare in awe of the beauty of homemade cream cheese. Place the cream cheese in another bowl and enjoy just like this or mix in any of your favorite cream cheese mix ins like dill, chives, scallions, chopped lox...

Purim Sameach!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sushi Hamantashen!

It's funny how fads in the food world start, someone comes up with a cool twist on a classic or an interesting over the top way to serve something, it gets posted to social media, and before you know it there are pictures and copycat dishes everywhere. Think about different trends you've seen on many social media platforms; rainbow everything, freakshakes, matcha, grain bowls, and the list goes on.
A food trend that went viral last week is the sushi donut. I actually saw it somewhere on Facebook nearly a year ago, but for some reason last week it resurfaced and now it's everywhere. A google search came up with over 22,000,000 hits!
When I saw the sushi donut several months ago before this new trend began I actually wrote it down on my must cook list because I had just bought a donut pan when I was in America, but like many things on that list I never got around to making them.



Many Jewish holidays are celebrated with food - there's famous saying: they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat! The holiday of Purim is no different, we celebrate with a big meal of many delicious dishes and plenty of alcohol. The most traditional food of purim is the hamantash, a triangular three cornered pastry filled with sweet jam. The pastry is shaped like a triangle to symbolize the hat of Haman, the villain of the Purim story who tried to annihilate the Jewish people. The filling is a little hidden to represent the hidden hand of G-d throughout the story and the amazing miracles He performed to save us. Click here to learn more about Purim.

Every year people try to to push the limits on hamantashen and come up with some very creative things (make sure to check back next week for some more cool ideas from yours truly). A few weeks ago I started putting together a list of different hamantaschen ideas and I came across my must cook list from a while back and saw the sushi donuts. I thought, "hey donuts are round with a hole in the center, what if they're just reshaped into a triangle then you've got hamantashen!"



I played around with these for a bit to see the best way to put them together and have given two different ways to form them. They work with many different ingredient combinations, think about what you like in your favorite sushi roll and just go for it!

There are a lot of ingredients and many steps but a lot of it can be done in advance so don't be discouraged give this a try!

Many people like to have a theme for their seuda so if you're going with a Japanese/Asian theme you should definitely add these to your menu because they make for a real show stopper of an appetizer.

Sushi Hamantashen 

For the rice
2 cups uncooked sushi rice 
3 cups water 
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar 
3 Tbs sugar 
2 tsp salt 

Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Add the washed rice to a medium sauce pan and add the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand covered for 5 minutes. 
In a small saucepan mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add to the cooked rice and mix well for the rice to absorb the liquid. 
Allow the rice to cool before preparing the hamantashen. 
This can be done 3 days in advance just keep the rice covered in the fridge. 

For the spicy tuna and salmon 
3 oz. fresh sushi grade tuna, diced
3 oz. fresh salmon, skin removed and diced 
3 Tbs  mayo divided 
2 Tbs sweet chili, divided 
2 tsp sriracha, divided (adjust according to your personal heat tolerance) 

In a small bowl mix the tuna with 1 1/2 Tbs mayo, 1 Tbs sweet chili, and 1 tsp sriracha. 
Do the same with the salmon. 
Store both of these mixtures covered in the fridge until ready to assemble. Can be done 1 day in advance. 

The rest of the ingredients are really up to your own preference of what you like in sushi, but this is what I used feel free to tweak to your tastes!

1 Large carrot, peeled
1 Cucumber 
2 Avocados slightly underripe 
3 sticks kani/mock crab 
3 oz. sushi grade tuna, thinly sliced
3 oz. salmon, skin removed, thinly sliced
2 sheets nori/seaweed 
Pickled Ginger 

Using a vegetable peeler peel long strips off the carrot and cucumber. 
For the avocados use the peeler to peel off the skin and then peel strips of the avocado. 
Chop the kani into small shredded pieces. 
Cut the nori into short thin strips and use these to garnish the plate with the sesame seeds and ginger. 
Place the vegetables and fish in separate containers in the fridge until ready to assemble can be done 1 day in advance. 

To assemble

There are two different ways to assemble if you have a donut pan that is ideal, but this also worked beautifully with a muffin tin. 

If using a donut pan coat with non-stick spray. Firmly press a heaping tablespoon of the cooled cooked rice into the bottom of pan add a teaspoon of spicy tuna or salmon (you can also put in pureed avocado). If you don't want to add a filling that's fine too. Add another heaping tablespoon of rice and press that in. Place a sheet pan or cutting board on top of  the pan and then flip it over tap gently, remove the pan and the rice donuts will pop right out. 

If you don't have a donut pan don't fear you can use a muffin tin! Just follow the same directions as the donut pan. The only difference is that these will make slightly smaller sushi hamantashen. 

To turn these donuts into hamantashen you will need to get in there with your hands 
The top circle is what the pressed rice looks like out of the muffin tin. Use your index finger to make a hole in the center. You obviously won't have to do this step if you used a donut pan. To make the triangle place your hands palm side down on both sides of the circle, squeeze your hands into a triangle, pressing the circle together to follow the shape of your hand. Use your index finger to enlarge the space in the center if it closes slightly as the triangle forms. 
The triangular pressed rice can chill in the fridge for a day so make them the day before your seuda and you just need to drape the toppings over them before serving.



To serve 

This is the fun part! Be creative, top your rice hamantashen with all of the toppings or just a few fill the center with move spicy tuna, spicy salmon, or shredded kani. 
To serve use a spatula or bench scraper to carefully lift the hamantashen off your cutting board or sheet pan. Place on platter or individual plates. Garnish with seaweed strips, black sesame, and serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. 


Seasons Kosher has a whole department of sushi essentials to make these hamantashen.