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Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

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Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

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Pulled BBQ Beef

7 Feb

I  planned on posting this last week for a great Superbowl Sunday dinner idea. Though I’m not a football fan (I’d watch hockey over football any day), I thought this was a great option.  Alas, do to some technical difficulties, my blog has been down for over a week.   But it’s still a great recipe and with a very short prep time, you’re free to watch the hockey game or anything else while it slowly cooks.

This is an easy recipe.  Mix everything together and toss it in the oven or slow-cooker for several hours and you’re good to go.

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This is a hearty, filling meal. It’s fun. Finally, it’s delicious.

I’ve done this with a shoulder roast in the past, and you can, but I really prefer a chuck roast (boneless here, but you can use bone-in).

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Raw, ready to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. beef chuck roast (boneless)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
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After 5 hours. .

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over the roast.  Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 5 hours, turning the roast over every 2 hours.  It’s ready when the meat breaks apart easily when you stick a fork in it.

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Shredded, mixed with sauce.

Remove the meat from the pot, placing it on a large plate or in a bowl.  Use a spoon to carefully remove as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (If you’re not eating this right away, you can chill the sauce, remove the fat, then reheat it before serving.)

Use two forks to break the roast into small chunks or to shred it.  Remove any fat as you go.

Return the meat to the sauce and mix, making sure all of the beef has been coated in sauce.  Serve on a soft bun on it’s own, or try it with some coleslaw added to the sandwich.

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Makes 6-8 big sandwiches.

** If you’re using a slow cooker, cook for 10 hours on low or until the roast is fork tender and pulls apart easily when using two forks.

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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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

Passover Cheese Blintzes

9 Apr

Every year we turn our kosher food store into a Passover kosher food store.  For over a month, from Purim through Pesach, my days are all about Passover. We pack away all of the  chometz and get tonnes and tonnes (literally) of kosher for Passover food – it takes us days to get everything unpacked and on the shelves. We even rent a 40 foot train container and park it in our parking lot for extra storage.

As soon as that first items hit the shelves (or even before that) our days are filled with customer questions – about the products we sell, about the foods we cook and about recipes and menu ideas.  Some people love cooking for Passover — they love pulling out the recipes that are traditional in there family and/or experimenting with new recipes and ideas.  Others . . . well, others feel differently.  They fear Passover and loathe matzo.  I also hear a lot of complaints about how heavy the food is.  But it doesn’t have to be.

I am firmly in the camp that likes Passover food.  Really. I actually like matzo. I hear people say they think it tastes like cardboard all the time.  I have no problem with a piece of matzo with butter and some fruit for breakfast. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. Seder meals that include soups, starters, at least two meats, several sides, and dessert can weigh you down, but those meals don’t have to, and the rest of the week can certainly focus on other, lighter things.

One of my favourite treats, something that’s good all year round but I tend to cook rarely outside of Passover is cheese blintzes. The delicate wrapper (bletlach) filled with creamy cheese and served with strawberries and a crisp salad make a great dinner — one that I enjoyed  tonight.  They were so delicious I was questioning my decision to keep them as a Passover treat — but maybe that’s part of what makes them so special.

Blintz Wrappers / Bletlach (based on a recipe from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection)

It may take a few tries to get the hang of making these, but once you do, they’re easy to make. Fill them with cheese, fruit, potatoes or meat.

4 large eggs

1/2 cup cool water

5 Tbsp. potato starch

1/4 tsp. salt

oil for the skillet

Whisk the eggs, water, potato starch and salt together in a large measuring cup and let it rest for a few minutes.  Whisk again, making sure you get rid of any potato starch lumps.  Heat an 8″ non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Lightly brush the pan with oil — I like grape seed.  Whisk the batter again and pour some into the pan — swirl the pan immediately so that the batter forms a thin layer and pour any excess batter back into the measuring cup.

Cook until the blettle (single bletlach) starts to bubble a little, the top is dry to the touch, the bottom just starts to brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Loosen the edges and turn the blettle out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Continue with the rest of the batter, whisking before each blettle and brushing with oil after every 2 or 3 bletlach — you should get 12-15 bletlach from one batch.  Separate the layers of bletlach with parchment paper.

Cheese Filling

2 lbs. 1% pressed cottage cheese (or paper or baker’s cheese)

4 large eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Assemble the blintzes by placing one wrapper on your work surface with the cooked-side up.

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture along the bottom edge of the wrapper and roll it up from the bottom so that the filling is covered with the blettle.  Fold the left and right sides in so that both ends are closed then continue to roll up from the bottom, using the whole blettle.  Continue with the rest of the bletlach and filling.

You can refrigerate or freeze them at this point or heat some butter in a skillet and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve on their own or with strawberries and sour cream.

Blintz Strawberries

These strawberries are great with the blintzes or use to top your matzo brei for breakfast.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. potato starch

2 tsp. cool water

Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a pot over medium heat and cook until the strawberries have release some juice and the liquid comes to a simmer — this should take about 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the potato starch and water together.  Add to the pot and stir through.  Cook another minute, or until the juices have thickened slightly.  Remove from heat. Serve hot of chill and serve cold.

Chicken, Corn and Poblano Stew

31 Jan
Typically, winter brings bitterly cold temperatures to my little corner of the world.  We can go weeks without a break, keeping an eye on the thermostat, waiting for it to rise above the -30C mark. So far this winter has been atypical. Sure, we’ve had some cold days where the wind kept us below -30C, but for the most part, it’s been a beautiful, warm winter here.
Those of you living south of the Canadian border may still shudder when I tell you that we’re happy with the temperatures hovering in the 0 to -10C range.  For those of us up here, it’s been a joy.  Even if we’re not shivering away, it is winter and it does call for some meals that warm you (and your home) up.
I make a soup that I love that has poblano peppers, corn, tomatillos and potatoes — the other night I decided to take those flavours and turn them into a chicken stew. This is a great change from a typical beef stew – while still filling and warming, it feels lighter.  The poblano add a little heat, the potatoes add some bulk, the tomatillos add a tang and the corn a touch of sweetness.  If you’re not a fan of cilantro, leave it out.  If you don’t like any spice at all, substitute a couple of bell peppers for the poblanos.
  • 2 poblano peppers, cut in half, cored and seeded
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 small tomatillos, husks removed, cored and diced
  • 3 cups good, homemade chicken stock
  • 12 new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Preheat your broiler.  Place the poblanos on a baking sheet, cut side down and broil for 5-8 minutes, or until the skins are charred.  Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the peppers cool enough to handle and then peel them, discarding the peel. Dice the peppers and set aside.

Remove any excess fat from the thighs, rinse and pat dry.  Cut into large chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Sear the chicken in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) until it just starts to brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Once all of the chicken is seared, add more oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add the onions.  Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until they start to brown and soften.  Add the garlic, tomatillo and poblanos and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and potatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, making sure that nothing is sticking.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring the stock to a simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes — if it’s boiling too hard, reduce the temperature again.  Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and simmer another 2 minutes.  Add the cilantro and stir through.  Taste, checking the seasoning.  Add salt if necessary and serve!

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Almonds and Citrus Vinaigrette

12 Jun

I love salads.  Leafy greens tossed with a light vinaigrette as a starter, whole-meal salads with chicken or steak and chunky vegetables or something in-between.   If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with great farmers markets, now’s the time to take a stroll and see what’s available for your salad bowl.

For lunch today I made one of my favorites.

Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, roasted/steamed beets, sweet white onion, cranberry/pecan goat cheese and a mandarin/lemon dressing.

First, the beets need to be cooked.  My favorite way to do them is to cut the leaves off (use them in a soup or saute them for dinner), wash well and wrap in a couple of layers of aluminum foil.   Then they go into a 400 F oven for 45 minutes  to 1 1/4 hours — timing will depend on the size of the beets.  They’re done when a skewer or a thin knife can be inserted with little to no resistance.  Take them out of the oven and leave them, wrapped in the foil for about 15 minutes, or until they’ve cooled enough to handle.  If you’ve got them, put on some gloves and rub the beets — the skins should slip right off.  If not, use a paring knife to help them along.  Slice the beets, put them into a bowl and into the fridge to chill.  You can cook these and keep them in the fridge, covered, for a few days.

I used romaine lettuce because that’s what I had in the fridge but you can use anything you like.  Just wash and dry well, tear it into bite size pieces (using a knife to cut the lettuce will make it rust faster than tearing).  Top the lettuce with some thinly sliced white (or red) onion, toasted almond slivers, chilled beets and cheese.  More often than not, I have a package of my favourite Israeli sheep feta in my fridge and the tangy, creamy cheese is perfect for this type of salad.  Today I had a delicious log of pecan/cranberry goat cheese in the fridge, so that’s what I used.

Finally, drizzle the salad with citrus vinaigrette and serve.

Citrus Vinaigrette — Makes enough for 4-6 servings

3 Tbsp. mandarin (or orange) juice

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

pinch black pepper

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. Dijon (or grainy) mustart

1/4 cup canola or other light oil

Whisk all ingredients together and taste, adjusting salt and pepper if necessary.

Passover Blogging at eGullet.org

19 Apr

I’m spending the week sharing my Passover cooking at http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/138251-eg-foodblog-pam-r-2011/

Stop by, see what I’m cooking — ask questions!

Chag Sameach!