Archive | January, 2013

Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

29 Jan

It has been cold here.  I mean really, really cold. I hate to complain about the weather because there’s more to my little region of the world than the cold weather, but when temperatures are hitting -40°C it has a big impact.  By the time the work day is over and I’ve made it through the frigid temperatures back home I’m there for the night and I’m looking for something to warm me up.

One of the best ways to warm up is with a steaming bowl of soup.  Between the weather and the fact that we still have a couple of days left of National Soup Month, I decided to share a quick, simple and delicious recipe with you.  It’s based on the Coconut Sweet Potato Soup that’s in the 2nd edition of my book, Soup – A Kosher Collection with a few changes that reflected my mood and what I had on hand in my kitchen when I made it a few nights ago.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lbs. (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cups chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock to keep it parve)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 4-5 minutes, until the shallots are soft but not browned.  Add the garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add the sweet potatoes and chicken stock, cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Puree the soup — I like to use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot, but if you don’t have one, use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in small batches.  When it’s pureed and smooth, return the pot to low heat and add the coconut milk and lemon juice, heating until it just returns to the simmer.

Taste the soup and check for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve!

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Cranberry Pecan Cookies

24 Jan

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These simple cookies are delicious. When I first made them I used an assortment of dried berries (cherries, blueberries and cranberries) but you can use any dried fruits you like.  The last batch I made had some diced dried apricots that were delicious combined with the cranberries and pecans.

You can also play around with the nuts — use almonds, walnuts or pistachios with different dried fruits. Use the combination that appeals to you!


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat an oven to 350° F.

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Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter/margarine and the icing sugar until fluffy.  Add the

eggs one at a time, while mixing on low.  Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times to make sure it’s all well mixed.

Add the flour and mix on low until just combined.  Add the nuts and fruit and mix until evenly distributed.

I like to use a scoop to evenly portion out the dough — the one I use is equal to 2 Tbsp.  Scoop out all of the dough, roll into a ball then flatten into a circle.  Place the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

These will keep, wrapped for a few days on the counter or a few weeks in the freezer.

Makes about 24.

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes

22 Jan

imageBy special request, this is how I make my Crispy Smashed Potatoes.  They’re not difficult, and this is more of a technique than a recipe — once you’ve made them, you don’t have to worry about quantities, just follow procedure.  But if you’re a stickler for recipes, here are the quantities:

  • 2 lbs. new potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

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Place the clean potatoes in a pot and cover with cold, salted water.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.  Drain very well.  Cool enough so that you can handle — but the warmer they are when you smash them the better.

imageWhile the potatoes are simmering, preheat your oven to  400° F on convection or 425° F if you don’t have convection.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now, I use a heavy glass for the next step but you can use a can, mallet or anything else you might have to press each potato down until it’s smashed into a disk.  Smash/press them until they’re all the same thickness and line them up on your baking sheet in a single layer (use another baking sheet if there’s not enough room on the first one).

Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over the potatoes, making sure each potato gets some.  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. of salt oven them and then flip them all over.  Drizzle another 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and another 3/4 tsp. of salt oven the potatoes.

Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until they’ve started to brown.  Flip them all over again and roast another 20 minutes or until they are all browned and crispy.  Serve right away (ketchup is optional).

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Meat Chili with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

10 Jan

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I’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo Sauce — mainly because I’ve never been able to find a kosher version before. But a while ago I spotted this product on a supplier’s list and ordered a case thinking something like “ah! now I will use these!”. Well . . about six months later, I’ve finally tried them. — and loved them!

If you’ve never used them or had them, they are smoked peppers (often jalapeno) in a delicious sauce made of vinegar, tomato and spices.  On a recent trip to California, I became addicted to a chipotle salsa I had that finally pushed me into trying to cook with them at home.

There are all sorts of things you could do with these, but I started off with a batch of chili. Note that these peppers can be quite spicy and if you don’t love spicy food, go easy on them.  My recipe calls for 2 chipotle peppers (seeds removed), but you can go down to one — or you can even leave them out and just use the adobo sauce.  On the other hand, if you love spicy food, use more of them or forgo removing the seeds.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add  rich, smoky and spicy flavors to this meaty chili.  I tasted it right away and liked it, but not as much as I liked it when I reheated it the next day.  I also like it on it’s own, but it was even better when I squeezed some lime juice into it and dusted the top with some chopped cilantro.   Serve on it’s own, with taco chips for scooping or over a baked potato or pasta.

Chili – serves 8

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (Ancho)
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 x chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (seeds removed and finely chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • fresh cilantro and limes for garnishing

Combine the cold water and ground beef in a pot, using your hands or a spoon to break up the ground beef as much as possible. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.  Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, poblano pepper and salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  You just want to sweat the vegetables to soften them, not brown them.

Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder (I like Ancho or other single pepper chili powder) and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and the ground beef and water you’ve set aside.  Bring to a simmer over medium then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and check for seasoning.  Eat right away or chill or freeze for later.

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(inter)National Soup Month

7 Jan

According to daysoftheyear.com, January is National Soup Month. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this makes sense — for those of us in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, January can be a bitterly cold month and a warm bowl of soup can warm you from the inside out.

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(c) Pam Reiss

Now, I personally don’t believe you need to have a month out of the year set aside to enjoy soup. I’m an advocate of cooking soup throughout the year — there are so many different types of soups you can make that trying to cram them all into one month is impossible.  Not only that, but different growing seasons mean that some ingredients just aren’t available in January and you need to take advantage in the spring or summer of what’s readily available.

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(c) Pam Reiss

But just because I don’t like to limit soups to one month, it doesn’t mean I can’t get behind supporting and encouraging Soup Month.  I think everybody should make soup all the time.  Meat soups, dairy soups, parve soups, hot soups and cold soups.  Broths, chunky soups, chowders, pureed soups, thin soups and thick soups.  There are so many options.

This weekend I made a big pot of chicken soup.  I admit, it’s the soup I make more than any other.  First, I like to have some in the freezer to use in other recipes or just to pull out when I need a bowl of Jewish Penicillin.  But it’s more than that.  I have a strong connection to chicken soup.  It’s in my bones.  With a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove top I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The aromas coming from my pot of soup are the exact aromas that greeted me at the door every Friday night when I arrived at her house for our weekly Shabbat dinner.

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(c) Pam Reiss

It’s been many years since my grandmother was around to make a pot of chicken soup, but the memories have grown to include my own mother’s pot of simmering soup and the vats and vats of chicken soup we make at work. And having moved into a new home myself in the last year, one of the first things I did was make a huge pot of chicken soup (and meat kreplach), creating the same memory in my own kitchen that I have from my grandmother and mother’s kitchens.

I have recipes for Chicken Soup in both my cookbooks, and they’re great for learning how to make it, but once you’ve been making it for years, you can do it by sight, smell and taste.

No Quantities Chicken Soup Recipe (check cookbooks for quantities)

  • place lots and lots of chicken bones, wings and necks into a large pot, filling your pot 2/3s with chicken parts
  • cover with cold water, and place the pot over high heat
  • bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to the top
  • as soon as it’s simmering, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim the top until there is no more scum
  • add yellow onions (peeled, but left whole), carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks), parsnips (peeled and cut into large chunks), celery (cut into large chunks) and simmer, skimming until all of the scum is removed
  • simmer another hour
  • add fresh dill, and simmer another 30 minutes
  • taste
  • if it’s too watery, simmer longer, letting the liquid reduce, if it’s rich enough, season with salt to taste
  • use tongs to remove any large pieces of vegetable and chicken and discard (we’re not using chicken with much meat on the bones, just bones, necks and wings, so there isn’t much worth keeping)
  • use a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth into clean bowls or pots
  • to chill the soup quickly, the night before I make chicken soup, I fill a few small freezer bags 2/3s with water, expel any extra air, close and freeze – once the soup has been strained, carefully place the frozen bags of ice in the broth and leave for 5-10 minutes  – the soup should be cool and ready for the fridge (remove the bags before refrigerating)
  • leave the soup in the fridge for a couple of hours, then carefully remove any fat from the top of the soup with a spoon
  • reheat when ready to eat or freeze for later use

To purchase the 2nd edition of Soup a Kosher Collection (with new recipes), follow these links:

In the USA: amazon.com

In Canada: amazon.ca

Test

3 Jan

In an attempt to post more frequently I just downloaded an app that lets me post from my phone. Let’s see if it works!

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(Photo taken in Palm Springs last week.)