Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Make-Ahead Soup Mixes

Soup Mixes in a Jar

So according to the weatherman, this afternoon with the Humidex it is supposed to feel like 39°C, or 102°F. For those of you that don’t know what a Humidex is, you are SO lucky! Humidex is the humidity index, that takes the actual temperature, and then adds the humidity factor, so it tells you that while it may only be x degrees out, it feels like the surface of the sun. In Toronto, we’re fortunate enough to have both the Humidex in the summer and the Windchill in the winter, which calculates how much colder the lake effects wind makes it seem, so again, it may be x degrees out, but now it feels like the dark side of the moon. What can I say, we can’t seem to win here… except for our falls (autumns) which are pretty awesome. Oh well, one out of four ain’t bad. (yes it is, it’s very bad.)

So continuing on our theme of prepping ahead, and making it look like we are uber organized, I thought today in honour of the heat, we’d hit up some soups. It may seem strange, but trust me, when the days start getting cooler, you’ll appreciate being able to open your pantry and see these beautifully layered, labelled jars of soupy goodness. Again, these also make great hostess gifts or last minute grab-n-give ideas for a friend who has a cold. I’ve even included a recipe for the traditional condensed “Cream of _____” soup. You know what I’m talking about. You come across a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom, or celery or asparagus, and at least here in Canada, it’s pretty hard to get a decent kosher one. With this recipe, you will have the base for any flavour “Cream of” soup you want. You’re welcome.


Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound stew meat, cut in 1″ cubes
6 cups water
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 jar Beef Vegetable & Barley Soup Starter Mix
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned on all sides. Add the water, tomatoes, and soup mix. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf.  Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Beef Chili Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup dried red kidney beans
½ cup dried navy beans
½ cup dried black beans
⅓ cup dried minced onions
2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried cilantro or parsley flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef or stew meat
6 cups water
1 jar Beef Chili Soup Mix
1 (1.36 L) can tomato juice

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned. Drain any excess fat that has come off the meat, then add the contents of the soup mix, plus the water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add the tomato juice, and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Colourful Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
¼ cup dried minced onion
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked macaroni
¼ cup barley
½ cup dry lentils
⅓ cup long-grain white rice
1 cup uncooked tri-colour spiral pasta

Measure all of the above ingredients, except for the tri-colour pasta and macaroni, into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Put the pastas in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in the larger container with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound ground beef or stew beef
12 cups water
1 jar Colourful Soup Mix

In large pot, brown the ground beef or stew beef the oil. Remove the pastas from top of jar and set aside. Add 12 cups of water and the remaining jar contents to the pot. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tri-colour pasta and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve with your favourite bread or rolls and a tossed salad.


Country Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked white rice
½ cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon powder
½ cup uncooked alphabet pasta
1 cup uncooked macaroni

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Country Soup Mix
3 quarts of water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage* (optional)
2 large tomatoes, diced

*Click here to learn how to clean cabbage.

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least an hour, until the veggies are tender and the barley and peas are cooked through.


Cream of Anything Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered milk
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons pareve chicken/beef/vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoons dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This makes the equivalent of 4 cans of Cream of “Something” soup and can be stored for up to a year. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
⅓ cup cream mix
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
½ cup minced or chopped “______” Choose one or more for whatever “cream of” flavour you need: onions, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, celery, etc.

In a pot, melt the butter and sauté the “something” that you are using (mushrooms, onions, etc.). Cook until translucent, then add the cream mix, and stir to combine. Add the water, and whisk gently over a low/medium heat until thickened.

This can now be used directly in a recipe that calls for a can of condensed “Cream of ___” soup or you can dilute it with milk and water to make “Cream of ____” soup.


Layered Bean Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup kidney beans
½ cup split yellow peas
½ cup black beans
½ cup red lentils
½ cup small red beans
½ cup split green peas
1 tablespoon dried sweet pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Measure all of the above ingredients, keeping the spices separate from the beans, peas and lentils. Put the spices in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in a larger contain with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Layered Bean Soup Mix
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
10 cups water, divided

Rinse the beans and place in large stock pot. Pour 4 cups boiling water over beans; cover and let soak overnight. Drain the beans and return to the stock pot. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are almost tender. Add the tomatoes and seasoning mix. Stirring occasionally, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover beans and continue to simmer about 1 hour longer or until beans are tender and soup thickens. Serve warm.


Mushroom Barley Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
¼ cup dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
¼ cup dried carrot slices (optional)
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Mushroom Barley Soup Mix
1 quart water
2 carrots, sliced (if you didn’t use the dried variety)

In a large pot, add the carrots and soup mix to 1 quart boiling water and simmer until the barley and carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.


Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other variety)
¼ cup dried onion flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (540ml) can cannelloni (white kidney beans) beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, except for the beans. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until the pasta and veggies are tender. Add in the beans and simmer an additional 15 minutes or so. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.

While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.

As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.

I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sauce:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.

Arugula Salad with Pickled Beets and Preserved-Lemon Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad

The holidays are great, and simply over abundant with food! I like to cut the heaviness of a meal by adding a fresh vegetable to the mix, often in the way of a salad. This one has the added bonus of having beets, which are one of the symbolic foods that we eat. In Hebrew, the word for Beet is סלקא, is closely related to סלק —meaning to depart. So we partake of beets, so that our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us shall depart. This recipe will serve up to 8 guests, and they will depart with nothing but good feelings for the chef! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the pickled beets:
2 large red beets (about 6 ounces each), scrubbed
2 large yellow beets (about 6 ounces each), scrubbed
2 cups rice-wine vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water

For the spiced pistachios:
2 egg whites
1 cup shelled raw pistachios
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning

For the preserved-lemon vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped*
2 pinches salt

For the salad:
10 ounces (16 cups) arugula*
¼ cup good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

*Click here to learn how to clean thyme and arugula

Directions:

To make the pickled beets:
Place each type of beet in its own small pot, cover with water, and simmer until a paring knife can easily pierce the beets, about 30 minutes. Cool the beets, peel, and slice into thin half-moons. Reserve each beet in a separate bowl to ensure that the red beet slices don’t stain the yellow ones. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and divide the hot brine among the beets. Then let the beets sit at room temperature until pickled, 3 to 4 hours.

To make the pistachios:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy, then add the pistachios and spices, tossing to coat. Spread the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Nuts will crisp as they cool.

To make the preserved-lemon vinaigrette:
In a medium bowl, mix together the preserved lemon, lemon juice, red pepper flakes (if using), thyme and salt. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Whisk until fully combined.

To assemble the salad:
Arrange the pickled beets on a serving platter. Toss the arugula in the preserved-lemon vinaigrette and place on top of the beets. Sprinkle with the spiced pistachios, drizzle with balsamic, and top with fresh black pepper. Serve immediately.

One Pot Pasta Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas & Artichokes

alla-puttanesca

So this spicy, red pasta dish is a favourite for those that like spicy, briny, salty dishes. While the meaning of the name can denote different things, depending on which part of Italy you come from, in the end it is a delicious, hearty meal that is sure to please. While some recipes call for the use of anchovies, this recipe, in its one-pot format, does not. It also does not call for cheese, however a sprinkling of parmesan over top at the end is always a hit in my book.

Two items to note in this recipe for 6, the artichokes and the amount of broth needed. There is great debate over the use of artichoke bottoms or hearts in the kosher community. Some lucky cooks can find canned artichokes with reputable hechshers, but for the rest of us, I find using the bottoms found in the frozen section a good substitute. With regards to the type of pasta used, you may find that you have to add more broth when using whole wheat compared to regular pasta. I say start with the lower amount, and as it’s cooking, you can add more if needed. Please note though if you add more broth, make sure it’s hot, so that it doesn’t delay the cooking time of the rest of the dish.

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box whole wheat or regular long noodle pasta
½ – 1 cup sliced black olives, such as Kalamata
1 ½ bags frozen artichoke bottoms, mostly defrosted and chopped (total amount of 21 ounces)
¾ (540ml) can canned chickpeas, low sodium
3 tablespoons capers
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce to ¼ teaspoon if sensitive to heat)
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper (reduce to 1/3 teaspoon if freshly ground)
4 ½ – 6 cups vegetable broth (you may need to add more broth depending on what type of pasta you use)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients, pouring the broth over everything last. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole dish.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 8-10 more minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

If you find that there is a bit too much liquid in your dish, let the pasta sit for a little bit off the heat, and the pasta will absorb the excess liquid. If you have leftovers, I suggest tossing them with a little olive oil before storing in the fridge.

One-Pot Pasta Primavera

One Pot Pasta Primavera

This creamy, saucy pasta overflows with spring green veggies and cooks up in a single pot! You can definitely play up which veggies you use in this dish, just remember some might have longer cooking times, so you’d want to par cook them first, by either boiling them a bit first on their own or nuking them in the microwave for a minute or two before adding with the rest of the vegetables. To see what is fresh and in season, you can check out your local food guides. Here is a link to the availability guide in Ontario, showing you which fruits and vegetables are freshest each month. This dish will serve at least 6 people, so enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
12 ounces linguine, uncooked
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
1 ½ pounds broccoli, cut into large florets (about 3 cups)*§
2 ¼ pounds asparagus, ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces*
6 ounces sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 ½ cups)*
6 large cloves garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less for milder heat; more to increase heat)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ cups frozen peas
1 medium handful fresh parsley, chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)*
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest**
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Additional Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.
§ If you are using frozen broccoli florets for this dish, then add them about halfway through your 7 minute “tossing” window, instead of at the beginning (see directions below).

Note: If you want to make this pasta dish non-dairy, you can substitute the heavy whipping cream with non-dairy creamer and leave out the parmesan.

Directions:

Add the broth, pasta, onion, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a large pot set over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.

As soon as it comes to a boil, set the timer for 7 minutes and start tossing with long-handled tongs. Continue boiling and tossing it every minute or so (You’re doing this so that they noodles do not stick and clump together). As soon as the 7 minutes is up, add the peas, parsley, heavy whipping cream, Parmesan, and lemon zest and continue cooking, tossing constantly, for 1-2 more minutes, until the pasta and veggies appear tender. Remove from heat.

Note that much of the liquid will have evaporated, but not all. And that’s okay! Let the pasta sit for a couple of minutes to cool; the sauce will continue to thicken during that time. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

Linguine with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Brie

Pasta with Roasted Peppers, Sundried Tomatoes and Brie

So for the past 10 days, my home was filled to the brim with guests. While it was a good thing, and for a good occasion, all of that cooking, cleaning and preparing to host a plethora of people takes a lot out of a person. My mother gets the credit for the mitzvah (good deed) as it was her house and she is definitely the hostess with the mostess. Now that it’s all over though, the thought of cooking is enough for me to go on a starvation diet. My stomach however does not agree. So what to do? How about a delicious one-pot pasta meal that takes almost no time to make, and is good to the last slurp? So, with that in mind, this week is going to be one-pot pasta week. Recipes that are all made in one pot, in one go. Easy to cook, easy to clean. Today’s recipe will hit all the right notes with rich and creamy brie, the smokey tartness of roasted red peppers, and the earthy richness of sundried tomatoes. This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

500g box of linguine, broken in half
1 ½ cups packed basil leaves*
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped roasted red peppers**
¾ cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 to 5 large garlic cloves, pressed
6 ¾ cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth***
3 tablespoons oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (or regular olive oil)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
340g brie cheese, rind removed and cut into pieces
grated parmesan, for serving
good-quality olive oil, for serving

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.
** Click here to get a great easy recipe for roasted red peppers.
*** If you are using broth instead of water, make sure to get the low-sodium version, as there is already a lot of salt in this recipe and with the tomatoes. If you cannot find low-sodium, then reduce the amount of salt added in the recipe, and use olive oil, rather than the oil from the jar of tomatoes.

Directions:

Combine linguine, basil, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic in a large pot. Add the water/broth, sundried tomato oil/olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and a generous amount of black pepper and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat.

Using tongs, stir and turn the pasta frequently to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, approximately 9 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. (If there is still a little bit of cooking water, pour some — but not all — into a separate bowl.)

Add the brie and toss with tongs until creamy and melted. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. The sauce will naturally thicken up after a couple of minutes. Serve with grated parmesan and a swirl of good olive oil. (If the pasta does seem to need liquid, add back a few splashes of reserved cooking liquid.)

Wheat Berries with Charred Onions and Kale

Wheatberries & Kale
So today’s final grain is the wheat berry. For those of you not familiar with this one, it is the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. The grains, or berries, are a tan to reddish brown colour. What I love about them is their al dente bite and yummy taste. They are a great alternative to rice or other grains, and can be easily found in health food stores and some of your larger supermarkets. They are great as the base for a cold salad, mixed with diced veggies and feta. For this recipe we’re using them in a hot side dish, along with that trendy green kale! Be sure to check out my tips on how to de-stem and slice up the kale for best eating! The recipe below will serve six as a side dish and is definitely what should be on your table tonight! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups wheat berries
2 medium onions, halved, divided
5 sprigs thyme*
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes, divided (to taste)
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into chiffonade/ribbons (about 8 packed cups)* §
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme and kale.
§ Click here to learn how to destem and chiffonade kale.

Directions:

Combine wheat berries, ½ of 1 onion, the thyme sprigs, 1 garlic clove and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2″. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35 minutes. Drain; discard onion, thyme and garlic clove. Place the wheat berries in a large bowl and allow them to let cool.

Cut remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into ½” slices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Mince the remaining garlic clove, and add half of it to the onions, along with ¼ of a teaspoon chilli flakes. Season the onions lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until onions are charred in spots, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the onions to the bowl with the wheat berries.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Working in 3 batches, add the kale and the remaining garlic and chilli pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Add oil as needed between batches, until the kale is charred in spots, about 1-3 minutes per batch. Add the charred kale to the bowl. Drizzle the wheat berries and vegetables with the lemon juice and any remaining oil; tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Quinoa, Bulgur and Bibb Salad with Feta

Quinoa & Bulgur Salad

So a co-worker of mine was recently asking for some recipes for grains, things like quinoa, bulgar and couscous (yes, I know it’s not an actual grain). I looked up a few for her, but then she suggested a week on alternative grains. So Judy, this one’s for you! Today’s recipe is a 2-for-1, in that it contains both quinoa and bulgur, two great grains that are easy to prepare and adapt well to a variety of flavours. As always, you can change up and adjust this recipe to fit your family’s tastes. If they’re not crazy about olives, leave them out. You can switch the feta for goat cheese, shredded cheese, or leave that out as well, and make the salad pareve. The lettuce can be changed up with salad greens, arugula or even romaine. The choices are endless! No matter what you use though, the recipe below will serve 6-8 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

⅔ cup quinoa
8 cups water
3 teaspoons salt, divided
⅔ cup medium bulgur
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint, crumbled
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and cut into slivers**
4 radishes, quartered and thinly sliced*
4 ounces feta, coarsely crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 heads Bibb/Boston/Butter lettuce, cut into ¼ -inch strips (about 8 cups)*
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

* Click here to learn how to clean radishes and Bibb/Boston/Butter lettuce.
** Click here for my tips on pitting and slicing olives.

Directions:

Add the quinoa into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Using your hand, agitate the water so that the quinoa gets rinsed well. Drain using a sieve or colander. Repeat this process 3 times, using fresh water each time.

In a medium to large sized saucepan, add the washed quinoa, 8 cups of water, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Simmer, uncovered until the quinoa is just tender and the germ starts to separate from the grain, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

While the quinoa is simmering, in a small bowl, add the bulgur and cover it with warm water by 2 inches. Let the bulgur soak until tender and chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain well, and then stir into the drained quinoa. Cool grains completely, about 20 minutes.

While the grains are cooling, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mint, pepper, and remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a small bowl and let stand 15 minutes, then stir into the grains along with the olives, radishes, feta, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve immediately.