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Passover Mushroom And Onion Kugel

16 Apr

According to my blog statistics, a lot of people are getting here because they are looking for a recipe for Mushroom and Onion Kugel.  I do have a recipe for said kugel on this blog, but it’s for a kugel I make for Rosh Hashana.  That one is made with egg noodles.

Since people are looking for it, I thought it would be a good idea to share my recipe for my Passover Mushroom & Onion Kugel.  It’s very similar — simple and tasty, but uses farfel (broken up matzo) rather than noodles.    Can be made ahead and freezes well.

Passover Mushroom and Onion Farfel Kugel (from Passover – A Kosher Collection)

If I had to choose (and it would be hard to decide)  I think this might be my favourite kugel.  Button and crimini mushrooms often get the short end of the stick, but I love them and this kugel shows them off.

4 Tbsp. | 60 mL olive oil

1 lb. | 454 g yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 medium)

2 tsp. | 10 mL salt

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL black pepper

1 1/2 lbs. | 680 g button or crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups | 355 mL water

8 oz. | 225 g farfel (4 cups | 950 mL)

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 F | 190 C.

Place a large frying pan or a pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden brown.

Add the mushrooms and cook another 6-8 minutes, or until they’ve all cooked and have shrunk by about half.  We’re not trying to brown the mushrooms at all, just cook them.

Add the water and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 1 minute.

Put the farfel in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the mushroom/onion mixture over the farfel and stir to mix.  Let rest for about half an hour or until cooled completely. and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Once cooled, add the eggs and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 11-inch | 20 x 27.5-cm pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

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A Fresh Passover

10 Apr

I often hear people complain about heavy foods at Passover.  It’s true – with menus that include chopped liver, brisket and kugels it can weigh you down.  And while I like to serve traditional foods during the holidays, there are a lot more options that people don’t associate with Passover menus.

For meals that include these heavier dishes, I always make sure to include a fresh, crisp salad and fresh fruit for desserts.  I also make sure that the week has plenty of lighter meals – a fritatta with salad or maybe my favorite Mediterranean Black Cod served with steamed vegetables.

For a lighter, fresh Passover, here are a couple of my favorite salad recipes (from my cookbook Passover – A Kosher Collection).

Watermelon & Feta Salad

This is one of my favorite salads.  For a different version, replace the mint with basil and the lime juice with balsamic vinegar.

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL olive oil

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

6 cups | 1.4 L watermelon, seedless, cit into 1-inch | 2.5-cm cubes

4 oz. | 115 g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh mint, finely sliced

3 oz. | 85 g red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (1/2 small)

Mix the lime juice, olive oil and black pepper together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix together.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Can be made several hours in advance.  If you do make it ahead. pour off any excess liquid and taste, checking for seasoning before serving.

Jicima Slaw

This is a great alternative to classic coleslaw.  It’s crisp, light and flavourful.

1 1/2 lbs. | 680 g jicima, peeled and julienned (1 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g carrots, peeled and shredded (2 small)

3 oz. | 85 g yellow pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g orange pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

1 oz. | 28 g green onions, thinly sliced (2 large)

3 oz. | 85 g white onion, peeled and sliced paper thin (1/2 small)

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lime juice

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL grapeseed oil (or light olive oil)

1 tsp. | 5 mL salt

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL honey

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss together.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend together.

Can be made 4-6 hours before serving.

It’s all about the Charoset

5 Apr

With Passover less than two weeks away, it’s time to make some serious decisions.  The most important decision, in my opinion, is what kind of charoset to make.  I love charoset.  I like that charoset being passed around the table means dinner is about to start.  I love that charoset is symbolic — it’s there to remind us of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt to build cities.  And I really love charoset because it’s delicious.

When I was growing up, charoset was always a mixture of shredded apples, cinnamon, honey, chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) and some sweet red wine.  Nobody in my family used a precise recipe — we just added what looked right and kept tasting and adjusting until it was perfect.

Eventually I started experimenting and came up with some different flavour combinations that I really liked.  Now I have a few charoset recipes that I love.  Here’s my recipe for date charoset.  I like it so much I make a double batch to use it on matzo throughout the week (great for breakfast!).

Date Charoset

2 oz. | 55 g walnuts (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

8 oz. | 225 g pitted dates (1 cup | 235 mL)

3 oz. | 85 g golden raisins (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL dried ginger

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL sweet red wine

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh orange juice

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL orange zest

Toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 350 F | 175 C.  Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 8-9 minuets, or until golden brown.  Cool.

Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the charoset reaches a texture you like.  I like to pulse it until it is mostly paste, with some small chunks remaining.  If you like it chunkier, stop pulsing before it gets too smooth.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 1/2 cups | 355 mL

* Adapted from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection

Latkes

29 Nov

I’ve been thinking about the latkes I’ll be frying for Chanukah this year.  I spend days and days making latkes.   As often happens, when I start thinking about a holiday food it brings back memories of the foods I enjoyed as a kid. I grew up with traditional foods prepared by my mother and grandmothers and though I will always love them, I also like throwing new twists at old favourites.

As I was thinking about using sweet potato, leeks, zucchini, mushroom and maybe some blue potatoes in latkes, the blue potatoes reminded me of my Baba’s (grandmother) blue latkes. No, Baba didn’t use blue potatoes like I was planning. Her pancakes were made from red, waxy potatoes that had turned a purplish-blue as the starches oxidized after they were finely grated. Some people add white vinegar to the potatoes to stop the oxidizing but I always grate the onions first and let their juices keep the potatoes from discoloring.   Baba went au natural and we ate them as they were —  and loved them! But, if I want blue latkes I’ll use those blue potatoes.

Here are a few of my favourite latke recipes.  While I love, love, love potato latkes, it’s nice to have a few variations to have throughout the holiday. Try one or all of them.

Remember – Chanukah is a holiday that calls for eating things fried with oil. So I use oil to pan-fry all of the latkes. If you are looking for a lighter version, you can spray a non-stick frying-pan with vegetable spray – but be warned – the results will not be the same. For crisp on the outside, soft on the inside latkes use the oil. (You are commemorating a miracle!)

Some latke pointers that I shared a couple of years ago and thought it’s time to share again:

  • Use a food processor or box grater to grate vegetables and then squeeze as much liquid from the vegetables as you can. Discard liquid.
  • Use a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan for frying. Heat 1/4” – 1/2“ of canola or vegetable oil over medium heat. The oil should be hot enough for the latkes to sizzle and bubble as soon as they touch the oil, but not too hot or they will burn before they are cooked through.
  • To keep your potatoes from oxidizing grate the onions first. Toss the potatoes with the onion juices as you grate them and it will keep them from turning brown or blue.
  • Drain the cooked latkes on paper towel.
  • Fry one latke and taste it, checking the seasoning before frying the whole batch. If you like things light on salt and pepper cut back my quantities – taste one and add seasoning to suit your tastes.
  • Serve with apple sauce, sour cream, crème fraiche, Greek yogurt or or tzatziki.
  • Latkes are best served hot, right out of the pan (after draining). If you are feeding a group, place the fresh latkes on a baking sheet and keep in a 200º oven as you make them. If necessary, they can be frozen, thawed and reheated on a baking sheet at 350º degrees, uncovered, until warm (about 10-15 minutes).
Potato Latkes (adapted from Passover – a Kosher Collection)
  • 1 lb. | 454 g yellow onion, peeled and grated (2 medium)
  • 2 lbs. | 910 g red potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ oz. | 14 g cake meal (or flour) (2 Tbsp. | 30 mL)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ¼ tsp. | 1 mL black pepper
  • canola  oil for frying
Grate the onion first, then grate the potato and mix them together. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the onion/potato mixture and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, cake meal, salt and pepper and mix well.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons or an ice-cream scoop to gently place batter into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for about 4 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 3–5 minutes until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain.  Continue frying the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Enjoy on their own or with sour cream or applesauce.
Makes 12-16

Zucchini Leek Latkes (adapted from Passover – A Kosher Collection)
I’ve seen young children who maynot enjoy vegetables gobble these up. They’re a little softer than potato latkes, so be gentle when you flip them over.
  • 1 ½ lbs. | 680 g zucchini, trimmed and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g red potato, peeled and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g leek, washed well and thinly sliced (2 medium)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ½ tsp. | 2 mL black pepper
  • 2 ½ oz. | 70 g cake meal  (½ cup | 120 mL) (or flour)
  • 1 tsp. | 5 mL paprika
  • 3 large eggs
  • canola oil for frying
Grate the zucchini and potato and squeeze out any excess liquid. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons to gently place the mixture into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for 2–3 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 2–3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain and continue with the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Makes 16-18

Wild Rice and Mushroom Latkes

  • 3 cups button/crimini mushrooms – thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion – peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 can (425 g) cooked wild rice – rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • canola oil for frying

Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes in oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the cooled mushrooms and onions in a mixing bowl and add the salt, pepper, eggs and flour. Mix well.

Heat oil in a frying pan and carefully spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and set.

Drain and serve.

Makes 16-18

Sufganiyot for Chanukah

22 Nov

It’s hard to believe that Chanukah is just around the corner — but it will be here next week. Around here, we usually celebrate Chanukah in the depths of winter and thankfully we’ve had a few solid days of snow so we’re all set for this year.

The most common food for Chanukah is probably the potato latke. Crisp potato and onion pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream or apple sauce. There is nothing wrong with a good potato latke, and I am sure I’ll be frying up hundreds, but that’s not your only option.

First of all, you can do all sorts of interesting latke recipes and I’ll be sharing a few of my favourites here, before the holiday starts. But you know, I think any good, fried food could be considered a good Chanukah dish.

In Winnipeg, as in Israel, sufganiot or jambusters or jelly-doughnuts are a treat often served for Chanukah. Or at least they have been for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, boxes of sufganiot were always brought into school at Chanukah and my mother would always picked some up for us at the bakery.

The typical jelly doughnut around here is usually filled with a fruit filling, but you can go crazy and fill them with all sorts of things. In Israel they do go crazy and you can find many interesting fillings. How about caramel? Maybe a chocolate or mocha filling. Green tea? Sure.

If you’d like to try making some yourself, a few years ago I put up a step-by-step how-to demonstration at eGullet.org. The demo includes pictures so you can see how easy the process is — and make them yourself!

Click here for the demo.


Crumble-Topped Apple Kugel

17 Aug

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember eating apple kugel (or other sweet kugels) for Rosh Hashana when I was growing up. (We did, however, always have a sweet kugel during passover made with matzo meal, dried fruit and an apricot glaze.)  Perhaps because our family often had chicken with a sweet, fruity glaze, we avoided sweet sides.  But for many people, sweet sides are traditional.

The custom is to eat sweet foods for the New Year to symbolize our hopes of a sweet year. Many of us will dip pieces of challah or apple slices into honey, prepare sweet main or side dishes and end the meal with honey cake.

Apples:  I prefer a crisp, tart apple like a Pink Lady, Fuji or Macintosh, but use any apple you like.


Crumble-Topped Apple Kugel
SERVES: 12

3/4     lb. broad egg noodles

1/2     cup  raisins, seedless
1/2     cup  orange juice
4        large  eggs
1/4     cup  sugar
2        Tbsp. flour
1 1/2  tsp. salt
1 1/2  tsp. cinnamon
1        tsp. allspice — *optional
1        tsp. vanilla
1/4     cup  butter or margarine — melted
4 to 6 medium  apples — peeled, cored and diced (4 cups diced)

Topping
3       Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4    cup  flour
1/4    cup  brown sugar
1/2    tsp. cinnamon
1/4    cup  quick cooking oats
1/8    tsp. salt

Prepare the noodles following package directions.  Drain well and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the raisins and the orange juice.  Microwave for 30 seconds and set aside to cool. This helps the raisins absorb some of the juice and plumps them up.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, cinammon, allspice, vanilla and melted butter or margarine.   Add the cooled noodles, raisins, orange juice and apples.  Mix everything together and pour into a well greased 9″x13″ baking dish.

In another small mixing bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients.  Use your fingers to incorporate the fat into the dry ingredients, forming a crumbly mixture.  Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the noodles and bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Editing and Pictures

24 Nov

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent all my free time editing and working on photos. I mean all my free time — plus a lot of time at work, where I’ve been hiding out in my office trying to get stuff done.

I keep telling myself that I just have to get this one section done, then I’ll have some free time. Ha! What I meant is that I have to get this section done so I can get to the next one.

Anyway . . . I decided to take the pictures myself for this book. By myself, I mean with the help of my mother and sister. Lisa (the sister) helped by building the ‘studio’ for me. We got some lumber and a roll of backdrop paper, and ended up with this ‘photo studio’.

It worked well, and while I cooked and cooked and cooked, Mom and Lisa took turns as stylists/photographers (though I couldn’t help but take a couple of pictures of each dish myself — can we say control freak?). Every Sunday for a month or so, I’d prep 6-8 recipes and we’d snap dozens of pictures.

There will be 16 colour pages in the book (for those of you who have Soup, it will be the same) and we took over 1200 pictures. Do you know how long it takes to go through 1200 pictures? A long time. But I’ve eliminated close to 1000, and now I’m trying to choose the best out of the ones that are left.

The pictures are getting done in between editing the book. So far I’ve had three people (and me) editing and proofing. We’re on edit #4 now, and we keep finding things to change. We’re in the middle of this round, and I think it will take just one more. I hope.

Next up: formatting.

Cooking, Tweeting and the CBC

1 Sep

In April, I signed up with Twitter. As a soon-to-be self-published-writer, I thought that I had to take advantage of any and all marketing tools. Especially the free ones. I’ve since made some interesting connections and no longer think of it as just a marketing tool. But, it is a good one.

As I cook my way through the recipes for the upcoming Passover book, I tweet about it. Just little notes (under 140 characters) letting people know what I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll ask for some input (ie: Matzo Balls – Floaters or Sinkers?), sometimes I’ll complain about a failed attempt (ie: today there was a power failure while I was baking a pie crust — the oven and timer timer shut off — will have to try that one again.)

My account is set up so that whatever I tweet then gets posted on Facebook as my new status. So an interesting thing happened last week. I got a phone call from a CBC radio producer that I know and she asked me if I’d talk about my summer of cooking on the radio. She’s been reading my cooking updates all summer and thought it would be a good segment. Sounds a little like some other blog/movie that’s been getting a lot of press about a writer cooking her way through a book.

I’ve done a bit of radio and TV since my first book came out. And I feel more comfortable doing it now, but there’s still a bit of nerves each time. I think I overcompensate by talking a mile-a-minute. Have you ever listened to an interview and been annoyed because the interviewee didn’t answer a direct question? I have. But then I realized that when I do these interviews, I just ramble so much that by the time I’m done answering the question I have no idea of what the question actually was.

I don’t fully know what I said during the interview — but vaguely recall that I talked about my books and cooking. My mother was happy that something I said made the interviewer laugh. Many people who heard the segment contacted me to tell me they enjoyed it. So in the end, we decided it was a success.