Tag Archives: Food

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.

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

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.


Starting to think about Rosh Hashana (and meat kreplach)

12 Aug

It’s been a hectic summer and though it feels like summer just started, we’re less than a month away from Rosh Hashana.  It’s hard to believe and I’m sorry if I’m making you think about something you’re not ready for.  The good news is that there’s still plenty of time to prepare goodies for the holidays.  

 
One of the things I love for Rosh Hashana (or erev Yom Kippur) is a steaming bowl of chicken soup with home made meat kreplach.  The silky dough surrounding the oniony meat filling is my favourite soup accompaniment. 

 
When I was growing up, my grandmother always made kreplach for the holidays and when my parents started our catering company, meat kreplach were always offered for Rosh Hashana. It’s true that some time and work is involved in making them, but they really are quite easy to make and wonderful to have in the freezer.
 
A few years ago I put together a step-by-step kreplach demo (with pictures) for eGullet.org.  You can find the demo here. I  hope you try making them and enjoy them during the holidays (or anytime!).
 
 

 

Cold Weather and Beef & Barley Soup

16 Jan

I am going to try my best not to complain about the weather.  Winnipeg (known to some as WinterPeg) gets a bad rap – and this winter has been really nice.  Until last week, when it turned bitterly cold.  On Friday the temperature hovered at about -33 C and today it’s better, but still a bone-chilling -23.

It’s during cold spells like this that I like to pull out the big soup pots and let a batch of soup simmer away, warming the house and then warming me.

Beef & Barley Soup
1 1/2 lb. (or more) marrow bones
2 lbs. flanken (short ribs, I use “Miami ribs” which are quite thin)
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 – 19 oz. can of mixed beans, rinsed and drained
18 cups cold water
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

You’re going to need a big pot for this one.  I use a heavy, enamel coated, cast iron pot – but any big stock pot that isn’t thin and flimsy will do.

Rinse the ribs and bones.  Place them in the pot.  I must confess – my ribs weren’t completely thawed, so they went in whole.  If you’d like to cut them up a bit to make them more manageable, you can do that now.  You could, of course, leave out the marrow bones if they aren’t your cup of tea – but marrow is a wonderful thing.  The bones will add more flavour and the marrow will add some richness.

Pour the cold water over the bones and then the pot goes onto the stove (medium-high until it just starts to simmer).  It won’t take long for scum to start coming to the top of the pot.  Skim it.  Skim it all – be vigilant.  Stir things up every few minutes to release more scum – and reduce the temperature so that the water is just barely simmering.  It will take a good 20-30 minutes for the scum to stop – keep skimming until the water is pretty clear (don’t worry about it being completely clear – just make sure that the scum has stopped forming, and remove whatever you can).  You’ll find yourself with a bowl full of scum and foam to dispose of. Loosely cover the pot and let the meat simmer for 45 minutes.

While the meat is simmering, prep your vegetables. I like everything chopped about the same size (small) – this is pretty forgiving soup though, so you decide how you like it.  Rinse and drain the beans and barley.  When 45 minutes are up, add all of the vegetables, beans and barley to the pot.

Loosely covered and another 45 minutes of simmering.

When I say ‘loosely covered’ I mean that it should be covered, but left open just a crack.  I want some of the liquid to evaporate during cooking, but not too much.  Make sense?

Add some salt and black pepper, taste, add more if necessary.  Serve it up with some crusty bread.

This does make a lot of soup – but on a cold winter weekend, it doesn’t seem to hang around. Should you find yourself with a lot of leftovers, it can be frozen and then reheated when another cold snap hits.

Lights, Camera.. Borscht?

3 Jan

I had no soup plans for the week.  Our store has been closed for over a week and it’s taking so much energy to get back into things.  But when I got to work on Tuesday there was a  message on the machine from a local food magazine.  They want me to come in tomorrow for a photo-shoot! Their February issue is focusing on soup – I wrote a soup cookbook – there you go.

All I need to do is get to their offices in the morning, ready for pictures, with some soup already prepared. Easy enough.  They requested borscht – so I made a batch from the recipe in my cookbook.

Borscht can be made in so many different ways.  When I make it at work, I usually go for more of a sweet and sour tone.  This version is very subtle in it’s sweet and sour flavour.  You could always add some sugar or lemon juice to kick that up.  Feel free to add some cabbage – and garnishing with sour cream is encouraged.

Beet Borscht
10-12 small beets (2 lbs. | 1 kg) peeled and cut into ½” cubes
1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped and ½” cubes
1 can (28 oz. | 796 ml) crushed tomatoes
8 cups | 2 L cold water
1 Tbsp. | 15 mL salt
1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper
1 Tbsp. | 15 mL granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. | 20 mL lemon juice

Another version, which I love, is meat borscht. Start by bringing some stewing beef up to a low boil in the 8 cups (2 L) of water, skimming off any residue and simmering approximately half an hour – until the meat is cooked and tender. Then add the vegetables and follow the recipe. The meat will be sweet and tender.

Method:
Place the beets, carrot, onion, celery, tomatoes and water in a soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender.

Add the salt, pepper, granulated sugar and lemon juice. The seasoning may need adjusting, but it should have a subtle sweet-and-sour flavour.

Chinese Kreplach?

24 Dec

Tonight dinner was a simple affair.  I had a crazy morning at work yesterday – fighting the Christmas food shoppers to get some needed fruit and vegetables for work.  As I pushed my way through the crowds and glimpsed the long line-ups at the cash registers, I decided that picking up some things for home would be a good idea.  The thought of returning to the store after work was too stressful!

I’ve had visions of wonton soup in my head for a few days now, so I bought some baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, snap peas, mushrooms and green onions.  The chicken stock, wonton wrappers and ground chicken I had at work – and everything else was at home.

The wonton filling was a mix of ground chicken, finely chopped mushrooms and green onions, fresh ginger, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and 1/2 of an egg white.  I let the wrappers thaw, brushed the edges with water – filled with some chicken filling and set aside.

As the wonton assembly was under way, I was slowly bringing the chicken soup (diluted with water) to a simmer.  In went some quartered mushrooms – after a few minutes the wontons and then the Chinese broccoli went in.  Simmer another minute or two and in goes the baby bok choy and the peas.  Seasoned with soy sauce and it was ready to go.

Easy to put together, and one of my favorite soups.  The trick to making this not a good soup, but a great soup, is using really good homemade chicken broth.  Tonight I used broth from work (made the same way I would make it at home) – but plans for this week is making a big batch of chicken soup at home.  I’ll eat some of it as ‘classic Jewish chicken soup’ and hopefully have enough to stick in the freezer for the next time I’m craving the wontons.