Friday, May 19, 2017

Cheeeesy Baked Ziti

Is there anything better than scooping up a spoonful of hot baked ziti and seeing the melted cheese stretch from the baking dish? This baked ziti has so much creamy melted cheese it's going to be difficult to share it with others :) 

Make this simple dish for shavuot and the best part is, is that all of the ingredients can be purchased at Seasons 

2 lbs ziti (or really any short cut pasta) 

-Cheese mixture

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese 
3 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella 
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder 
1 1/2 tsp dried basil 
1 tsp dried oregano 

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1/3 cup grated parmesan 

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a lot of salt. This is a key step when cooking pasta because it seasons the pasta all the way through. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than what is written in the package directions as the pasta will finish cooking when you bake it in the sauce. Drain the pasta and then put back in the pot.

Coat a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

While the pasta is cooking mix together cheese mixture ingredients.
Add the cheese mixture and tomato sauce to the pot of cooked pasta and stir to coat all of the pasta.
Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and the grated parmesan
Bake for 25 minutes and then broil for 3 minutes. 

Gravlax and Homemade Cream Cheese

People are often intimidated when dealing with raw fish, but this gravlax recipe is so simple to do, and the best part is, is that it needs to be made in advance which is always a plus when prepping a lot of food and the final result will really impress your friends and family!
Gravlax is salmon that has been cured with sugar, salt, and dill. These few ingredients create one remarkable appetizer. 
Serve the thinly sliced gravlax on Shavuot with crème fraîche or mustard sauce. Enjoy the leftovers on some toasted challah with easy to make homemade cream cheese. Another great thing about this recipe is that all the ingredients can be found at Seasons


2 tsp whole black peppercorns 
1/2 cup kosher salt 
1 cup sugar 
1 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped 

Place a kitchen towel on the counter and place the peppercorns on it then fold the towel over the peppercorns. With a heavy bottomed skillet crush the peppercorns until they are very coarsely ground.
Mix the crushed peppercorns with salt, and sugar. 
Make a few slits in the skin of the salmon. 
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and sprinkle with half of the dill. 
Rub 1/3 of the spice mixture over the skin of the salmon and place on top of the dill. Press the rest of the spices into the flesh of the salmon and top with the rest of the dill. Tightly wrap the salmon in a few layers of plastic wrap and place in a baking dish. Place a plate on top of the wrapped salmon and 2 few heavy cans to weigh it down. Refrigerate the salmon for 2 days to allow the salmon to cure properly. 

When salmon is ready carefully unwrap the salmon and scrape off the dill and spices. Thinly slice on a bias and serve with crackers and or crème fraîche or homemade cream cheese. 
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.
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...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Multipurpose Parsley Lemon Pesto

If you're looking for a sauce that packs a ton of flavor with a few ingredients and can be used in many different ways then you've come to the right place!
This parsley lemon pesto can be used as a marinade, dressing, pasta sauce, dip, sandwich spread, and the list just keeps going.
This sauce is pretty much a pesto. Pesto doesn't have to be made from the classic ingredients of pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and pecorino. This combination of ingredients refers to pesto alla genovese the pesto that we all know. The word pesto means to pound or crush which was the traditional way to make pesto by using a mortar and pestle even though nowadays most people use a food processor* to produce this creamy herb based sauce.

This sauce uses lots of parsley instead of basil and omits the nuts and cheese so it is quite different from the traditional pesto alla genovese, but that won't stop you from slathering it on crusty bread, tossing it with al dente pasta, marinading chicken, drizzle over cooked fish or pizza, or just eating it straight from the jar.

The best part of this sauce is that you can make a really big batch, pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, pop out the cubes into a zip-top bag and keep it in the freezer so you always have some on hand.

The amounts can be changed to your taste. The flavors are strong and aggressive so if you want more or less of any of the ingredients just have fun with it and make it your own!

Multipurpose Parsley Lemon Pesto

4 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
1 large bunch of parsley, hard thick stems removed
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil

Place the garlic in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse until garlic is minced. This is an important step as it ensures that the garlic is finely minced before you add the rest of the ingredients and don't end up with large chunks of garlic in the sauce. Tear the parsley and add it the work bowl along with the zest, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until everything is finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly stream in the olive oil through the feed tube. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pour the sauce into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or see note above about easily freezing the sauce.

To marinade chicken - place any cut of chicken in a zip-top bag and pour some marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag and spread the sauce around so it fully coats the chicken. Marinade 1-4 hours and then cook on the grill or roast in the oven.

Salad dressing - mix 1/4 cup sauce with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp water and toss with your favorite salad greens

*If you don't have a food processor this sauce can be made by hand with just a bit of hard work. Finely mince the garlic and parsley by hand then add to a bowl with the salt, zest, and lemon juice. Slowly stream in the olive oil until everything is combined. This is what I do on Pesach since we don't have a kosher for pesach food processor - it's a great addition to matza pizza!