Copycat Recipes – Famous Desserts!

So another week done, another theme done! I hope that that you got a kick out of some of the recipes this week, I admit tracking them down and having to put my thinking cap on to try and substitute ingredients without sacrificing flavour was a real challenge. One that I admit that I quite enjoyed. Today’s recipes didn’t have any kosher conflicts, though they are all dairy. The only one that I think you could easy convert to non-dairy, without sacrificing anything would be the lava cake. You could try and make the cream cheese icing for the cinnamon rolls with non-dairy cream cheese, but I’m not 100% how it would taste. Any brave cooks out there that try it, drop me a note and let me know how it goes!


Cheesecake Factory Vanilla Bean Cheesecake“Cheesecake Factory” Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 ⅔ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 13 full sheets)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
3 (250g) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
seeds of 2 vanilla bean pods
3 large eggs
¾ cup sour cream
⅓ cup heavy cream

For the mousse:
1 cup white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¾ (250g) package cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod

For the whipped cream topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
seeds of ½ a vanilla bean pod (optional)
berries and mint, for serving*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.

Directions:
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with a sheet of 18 x 18 inch heavy duty aluminium foil (make sure the foil has no holes, you don’t want any water to leak in).

In a bowl, mix together the graham crackers crumbs and sugar, stirring to combine. Pour in the melted butter, and mix with a fork until evenly moistened. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Have a large roasting pan ready and boil about 4 litres of water (you may not need all of it). In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer blend together the cream cheese, sugar and seeds of 2 vanilla beans just until smooth (scrape down side and bottom of bowl occasionally throughout entire mixing process). Mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined after each addition. Add the sour cream and heavy cream and again, mix just until combined. Tap bowl forcefully against counter top about 30 times to release any large air bubbles. Pour over cooled graham cracker crust and smooth into an even layer.

Place the cheesecake in roasting pan then place roasting pan in oven and carefully pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the centre, about 65 minutes, then leave it in the oven and leave the door closed, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Tent the cheesecake with foil and chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

For the mousse:
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring between intervals, until melted and smooth (or alternately melt in a double boiler). Set the chocolate aside and let it cool until it’s just lukewarm.

In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, and then add the sugar and whip it again until stiff peaks form (the cream should get to the point where it’s starting to lose that wet sheen and it should become quite thick. Tap any excess cream of beater blades), set the whipped cream aside.

In a separate mixing bowl whip the cream cheese with the seeds of the vanilla bean until smooth. Mix in the white chocolate (it may appear slightly gritty, that’s fine). Add in half of the whipped cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until nearly combined, then add the remaining half of the whipped cream mixture and fold until combined and no streaks remain. Pour the mousse over the cold cheesecake and spread into an even layer. Tent the pan with foil then return to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 ½ hours.

For the whipped topping:
In a mixing bowl whip the heavy cream with the seeds of ½ of a vanilla bean until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip again until stiff peaks form. Run a knife around edges of cheesecake then spread the whipped cream over mousse layer within 2 hours of serving. To serve remove foil from the pan, pull the latch and remove the springform pan ring. Garnish with raspberries and mint if desired, and cut into slices.


“Cinnabons” Cinnamon RollsCinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
⅓ cup margarine, softened

For the cream cheese icing:
6 tablespoons margarine
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt

Directions:
For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.  Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approximately ¼ inch thick. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

To make the filling, combine the margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the margarine first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss instead of a knife. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl, and beating together well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before, spreading generously with icing.


Chili's Molten Lava Chocolate Cake“Chili’s” Molten Lava Cake

Ingredients:
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup flour
½ cup coconut oil
caramel sauce, for drizzling (optional)
vanilla ice cream

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a microwave-safe bowl combine 2 cups of the chocolate chips and butter. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, in 45 second intervals, whisking between each interval until smooth. Whisk in the powdered sugar until completely combined. Add the eggs and egg yolks, and whisking again to combine. Add the vanilla and flour, whisking one last time.

Generously spray eight 1-cup oven-safe cups with cooking spray, and evenly fill with batter. Bake on a cookie sheet in the oven for 13-15 minutes until the outer edges are set and the centre is still soft. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for 2-3 minutes before inverting onto a plate drizzled with caramel sauce (if using).

While the cakes are baking, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the remaining chocolate chips with the coconut oil and microwave in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between until smooth (should take about 2 minutes total). This will make “magic shell chocolate sauce”. Once you are plating your cakes, top each cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle a little “magic shell sauce” and let it sit for 30-45 seconds to harden.


“Momofuku” Crack PieMomofuku Crack Pie

Ingredients:
For the oat cookie crust:
non-stick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 ½ tablespoons (packed) brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon (generous) salt

For the filling:
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
6 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions:
To make the oat cookie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and coat it with non-stick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.

Turn the oat mixture out onto the prepared baking pan, and press it out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until it is light golden on top, about 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer the baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely. Using your hands, crumble the oat cookie into a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons butter, and 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it is moist enough to stick together. Transfer the cookie crust mixture to a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using your fingers, press the mixture evenly onto bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Place the pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

To make the filling:
Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the melted butter and whisk again until blended. Add the cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake the pie for 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but centre still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool the pie for 2 hours in the pie dish on a rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Breads!

So one of the downsides of keeping kosher, is that you do not get to partake in the wide world of non-kosher eating establishments, and some of their notoriously, good and addictive dishes. This week I thought I would track down some famous restaurant recipes and get you as close a copycat recipe as possible so that you could make them at home, kosherizing where needed.

I thought I’d start like you would if you were actually dining in one of these restaurants, and get you some of their delicious bread recipes that for those that keep kosher could only previously dream and drool about. You will notice that several of these recipes are in fact dairy. You can read up about the ins and outs of dairy bread here, or you can make these breads non-dairy, or pareve, by replacing the milk and butter with non-dairy alternatives, such as soy milk and margarine.

For the “Olive Garden” Bread Sticks, if you wish to make them non-dairy, change the butter to margarine and leave out the Parmesan cheese altogether. The only recipe that I would not suggest changing would be the “Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits, as the non-dairy cheese alternatives do not tend to melt the same way that regular cheese does, but you can always try!


“Texas Roadhouse” Rolls Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Ingredients:
1 cup warm milk (100°F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
⅓ cup sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the board
1 egg
⅓ cup butter, melted plus ¼ cup butter, melted (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

Honey Cinnamon Butter:
½ cup softened butter (salted butter)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:
In a cup or small bowl, stir together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Allow the yeast to proof and begin to activate while you prepare the other ingredients. Using a stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, egg, ⅓ cup melted butter, and salt. Add the milk mixture and process until you have a smooth dough; it will be stickier and wetter than regular bread dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn the dough to grease all sides, and cover with a towel. Let rise until it has doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out on a floured board. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a large, flat rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Cut into 16 portions with a sharp knife and place on a greased baking sheet and let rise again, until doubled. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes on the greased baking sheet. They will be light brown when removed from the oven. If desired you can brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining ¼ cup melted butter before serving.

Prepare honey cinnamon butter by combining butter, cinnamon, honey, and powdered sugar until well blended.


Olive Garden Breadsticks“Olive Garden” Bread Sticks

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 ½ cups flour + extra flour for dusting board

Buttery topping:
4 tablespoons butter melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
⅛ teaspoon oregano

Directions:
Combine warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast in a large bowl of a mixer or a food processor. Add 4 ½ cups of flour and salt and process until the dough forms a nice uniform ball. Place dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size (this should take about an hour) place dough on a well-floured board and roll out dough. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Cut in half horizontally, and then cut vertical strips of dough about 1 ½ inches thick. Roll the strips of dough into sticks. Place dough on a greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise until they have doubled in size (this should take about 45 minutes). You should get between 20 and 24 bread sticks from this recipe.

Melt butter, and stir in Parmesan cheese and oregano. For best results rub the oregano between your fingers as you place it into the butter. This will help release the oils of the oregano and make it taste even better. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking bread sticks brush them with the butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush any left-over butter topping on these just before serving.


“KFC” Buttermilk BiscuitsKFC Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup chilled butter (you can use shortening)
2 tablespoons of butter melted (to top biscuits with)
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Cut butter into small cubes, if you use shortening chill it so you cut into small pieces. It is important to cut the butter into small pieces so it will make it easier to cut the butter into the flour. In a medium sized bowl combine self-rising flour, sugar, and cream of tartar. Add in cubed butter, and work butter into the flour until it reaches a large sand grained texture. Add buttermilk, and stir long enough to stir buttermilk into the dough.

On a floured surface turn dough out of the bowl, and shape flour into a round shape, use a rolling pin to gently roll out dough to about ¾ of an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes.


Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits“Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ⅓ tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cold water
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda until combined. Slowly add the oil, until all the lumps are gone and the mixture takes on a uniform texture. To this add the water and the grated cheese. Pat or roll out the dough to ¾ inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a cutter or drinking glass, and place in a baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, in a small saucepan, melt the butter together with the parsley, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. After you remove the biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with the seasoned butter and serve immediately.


“Outback Steakhouse” Honey Wheat BreadOutback Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (100°-110°F)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
3 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups bread flour
rolled oats (for dusting loaves)

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a dough hook, stir together water, oil, and honey until mixed well. Add wheat flour to water mixture. Add the cocoa, yeast, coffee, salt, and stir until blended. Allow mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in bread flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost clears the sides of mixer, about 3-4 minutes. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in the bowl until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Divide into 2 pieces. Cover each piece with greased plastic wrap, and let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Shape pieces into loaves, and sprinkle with oats. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Let dough rise until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350 F. Bake at for 30-40 minutes.

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

So just in case you weren’t already sold on the whole rhubarb idea yet, did you know how good it was for you? Did you know it can just about do everything for you but your taxes? Here is just a short list of the great wonders that rhubarb has going for it, y’know, besides just tasting awesome!

  • Aids in weight loss – high in flavour, but low in calories, rhubarb is a great alternative with only 21 calories in 100 grams!
  • Stimulates bone growth and repair – the vitamin K promotes osteotrophic activity.
  • Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease  – that’s the vitamin K again, which prevents the oxidation of brain cells and stimulates cognitive activity.
  • Stimulates production of red blood cells – the trace amounts of copper and iron found in rhubarb are enough to stimulate the production of new cells.
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases – the impressive amount of antioxidants in rhubarb help ensure that free radicals don’t cause heart disease.
  • Prevents cancer and macular degeneration – beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are polyphenolics found in rhubarb which delay and ward off cancers and degeneration.
  • Stengthens digestive system and relives constipation – high in fibre, rhubarb has been traditionally used as a cure for constipation.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
8 cups chopped rhubarb (8 large stalks/16 small stalks)
½ cup flour
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup salted butter or margarine
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats

Directions:

Move an oven rack to the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the white sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt, eggs, orange zest, and ginger until well combined. Add the rhubarb, and mix to coat. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Thoroughly combine ½ cup flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon by pulsing in a food processor or blender. Stir in the oatmeal by hand, and then crumble the whole mixture over the rhubarb. Gently pat the topping down to make a crust.

Bake on the centre rack of the preheated oven until the topping is lightly golden, the rhubarb has fallen apart, and the juices are very thick and bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Check frequently after 30 minutes to see if bubbles are thick.

Homemade Ketchup – And 5 Ways to Take It For a Spin!

Ketchup

So how can you have a week on condiments and not touch on ketchup? It is quintessential! Here in Canada we’re just nuts about the thick, slightly sweet treat, boasting the second highest per capita consumption of ketchup in the world, second only to Finland, (Finland?!). With that said, I really don’t know anyone that makes their own, when buying a bottle is just so convenient. However, that being said, how could I not offer up a recipe? Don’t worry though, for those of you who are not going to actually make their own (I count myself amongst you), I’ve added 5 bonus recipes below on ways to spice up your homemade or purchased ketchup! Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup water, divided
⅔ cup white sugar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoon celery salt
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole clove

Directions:

Pour the crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker. Swirl ¼ cup water in each emptied cans and pour it into the slow cooker. Add the sugar, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, celery salt, mustard powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and whole clove. Whisk everything together to combine. Cook on high, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half and becomes very thick, about 10 to 12 hours, stirring every hour or so.

Once the ketchup has reduced, you can smooth the texture of the ketchup by using an immersion blender on it for about 20 seconds (optional). Ladle the ketchup into a fine strainer and press mixture with the back of a ladle to strain out any skins and seeds. Transfer the strained ketchup to a bowl. Cool completely before tasting to adjust salt, black pepper, or cayenne pepper.

Five-Spice Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup ketchup, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Curry Ketchup:
Cook ¼ cup minced onion in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon margarine until soft, about 3 minutes. To the onions, add 1 teaspoon each of curry powder and paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for another minute, then add 1 cup of ketchup and ½ a cup of water. Simmer the ketchup until thick, about 25 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ⅓ cup peanut butter, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon harissa or other chili paste and ¼ teaspoon each of coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon and cayenne.

Bloody Mary Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ¼ cup horseradish, 2 teaspoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon celery salt and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.*

Jerk Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning, 1 tablespoon pineapple or peach preserves and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Roast Bison or Venison with Red Wine and Onion Jus (Northwest Territories)

Roasted Venison

Wanna hear something cool about the the Northwest Territories (NWT)? Did you know that the Northern Lights (that crazy natural laser light show seen in the utmost northern part of the globe) can be seen about 243 nights out of the year? In the NWT, game meat such as Bison and Venison are a big seller, as they tend to have readier access to such meats, rather than beef. Personally, I’m jealous! I kinda feel that today’s game meat, tastes the way that beef used to taste before we over commercialized the industry. Keep in mind though that game meat is always leaner than domestic meat, so special care must be taken when roasting to prevent it from drying out. It’s important to never cook it past medium. This roast will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pound bison or venison roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.

Directions:

In small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Make some slits (about 8) around the roast, about an inch wide. Stuff some of the spice mixture into the slits, and use the remainder to rub over the whole roast.

Place roast in re-sealable plastic bag, along with the regular onion, carrots, bay leaves and wine. Seal the bag, and let it marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Once the roast is finished marinating, remove the roast from the bag, reserving the vegetables and the marinating liquid separately. Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pour in about 1 cup of water. Set the roasting pan aside for now.

In a large enough skillet to fit the roast, heat the vegetable oil over high heat, and then sear the roast, turning it in the skillet so that all sides get seared. Lay the seared roast over the vegetables in the roasting pan, and sprinkle with half of the salt.

Cover the roast loosely with foil, and roast for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reads 125 to 140 degrees for rare to medium. Do not cook beyond medium. Transfer to warm platter and tent with foil; let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

To prepare Onions and Jus:
In heatproof bowl, cover the pearl onions with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. This will loosen their skins. Drain the water and peel the onions.

In the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the margarine over medium-high heat, and brown the pearl onions. You are not cooking the onions through at this point, just browning them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl (keeping the oil in the skillet).

Add the sugar to the skillet and stir over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and remaining salt. Bring the jus to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half to about ⅔ cup, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth into small saucepan.

Strain liquid found in the roasting pan into glass measuring cup, and add enough water, if necessary, to make ½ cup. Add the roast liquid to the reduced marinating liquid and bring to a boil.

Add the pearl onions to the saucepan, and cover, cooking over a medium heat until the onions are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon a little sauce over the roast slices and serve with remaining sauce.

Classic Tourtière (Quebec)

Tourtiere

Ahhh…. La belle province! The nickname for Quebec is “The beautiful province” and it is easy to see why. Quebec has a little bit of everything when it comes to its geography, and it has more culture than any one province has a right to! While most major cities are bilingual to an extent, the majority of Quebecois speak French as their daily language. But with French life, comes French food! And there is so much to choose from! Unfortunately, most of this tends to be not kosher, as there is a large amount of pork and shellfish in these dishes, along with the combinations of dairy and meat products (oh, but a REAL poutine would be so delicious!) However, I’ve taken a French classic, a Tourtière or meat pie, and given it a kosher twist, changing the pork to beef, and taking the lard and butter out of the pie crust. It may not be authentic, but I’m sure you’ll love it just the same! This pie will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cubed peeled potatoes (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound of mushrooms)
¾ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 ½ stalks)
¾ cup chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 Really Flaky Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Directions:

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, in deep skillet, sauté the beef over medium-high heat, mashing with fork, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savoury, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to scant ¼ inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Roll out remaining pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, and crimp them to create a tight seal.

If you like, you can use the leftover scraps of dough to cut out nice shapes to decorate the top of your pie. Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water. With a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Cut steam vents in the top of the pie. Bake in bottom third of a 400 degree oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really Flaky Pastry:

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted margarine, cubed
½ cup cold Crisco or other vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
ice water

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the salt. Using a pastry blender/cutter or 2 knives, cut in the margarine and the vegetable shortening until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measuring cup beat the egg with the vinegar and add enough ice water to make ⅔ cup. Drizzle over the flour mixture, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. If you like you can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.

Mango Dessert Risotto

Mango RisottoThis rice dessert is great served warm or cooled, and can be made with flavours other than mango. Just swap out the diced mango and juice and substitute with peaches, or cherries or raspberries. The possibilities are endless and will most definitely impress! If you find that your fruit is not sweet enough, you can always add a bit a sugar. If it’s too sweet, you can cut it with a dash of lemon juice. This recipe will serve 6 for dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups water
3 cups mango nectar or juice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups of fresh mango, diced
optional garnishes: toasted coconut, dried fruit, nuts or mint

Directions:

Heat water, mango nectar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a sauce pan to simmer. In another large saucepan, set on medium/high heat, measure out 1 cup Arborio rice and add one cup of the hot water/mango mixture, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the water/mango mixture one cup at a time until all the liquid is used and rice is tender. (If texture is too firm, add ½ cup additional water.) The rice should take about 25 minutes to cook, and still have some sauce left. Fold in the diced mango. Garnish with toasted coconut, nuts, dried fruit or mint.

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple Kugel

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple KugelThis recipe was passed around the office as a “keeper” on a scrap of yellowed newsprint. Wanting to track down the original source, (thank you Google!) I was able to find that the recipe was first published in the Baltimore Sun back in December of 1991*. It was part of an article written by Colleen Pierre, R.D. entitled “Veggies Don’t Have to be Bland, Boring”. While yes it is a bit old (23 years!) the article, and the recipe, still hold true. If you would like to read the original article, please click here.  This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

¼ cup margarine
1 cup grated, peeled sweet potatoes (1 medium/large sweet potato)
1 cup grated, peeled carrots (2 medium/large carrots)
1 cup grated, peeled apples (1 large apple)
½ cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sweet wine
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon oil (to grease pan)

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with about 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ingredients, and then pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.

* According to the article, the actual recipe comes from “Life After Schmaltz,” a book for heart-healthy Jewish holiday cooking by Rosalind Trieber, M.S., Ann Sussman and Janet Brigham, Ph.D., published in Baltimore by Trieber Associates.

Matzo Baklava

Matzo BaklavaThis dessert just gets better with time. I would always plan on serving it the next day, or even the day after that, as the longer it sits, the longer the matzo has a chance to soak up the sweet lemony syrup. This recipe will make 9 to 16 squares (depends how small you slice it).

Ingredients:

6 sheets matzo

For syrup:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

For assembly:
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios, chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, melted

Directions:

Briefly pass each sheet of matzo under cold running water until wet on all sides. Layer sheets between damp paper towels and let stand until somewhat pliable but not soggy or falling apart, about 2 hours. While matzo is softening, make syrup.

In small saucepan over moderately high heat, stir together the water and sugar. Bring to boil, then lower heat to moderate and cook, uncovered, until syrupy and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and honey and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool, then chill until ready to use.

To Assemble the Dessert:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Separate out ⅙ of nut mixture and reserve for topping cooked baklava.

Transfer 1 sheet of the prepared matzo to the counter. Press a rolling pin once over the sheet from one end to other to flatten. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Using a pastry brush, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with the melted butter/margarine. Lay one sheet of flattened matzo on the bottom of the pan, and then spread with more melted butter/margarine. Sprinkle the matzo with ⅕ of unreserved nut mixture. Roll out second sheet of matzo and transfer to pan. Brush with margarine and sprinkle with nut mixture. Repeat with remaining matzo sheets and remaining nut mixture, ending with matzo sheet brushed with margarine on top.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Keeping the baklava in the pan, place the pan on a cooling rack so that it can cool all around, and immediately pour the chilled syrup over. It may seem like a lot of syrup, but the matzo will absorb it all. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Let cool, then cover and let stand at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. (Do not chill.) Cut into small squares or diamonds and serve.

Candied Espresso Pecans

Coffee NutsI don’t know about you, but I always like to have a crunchy snack on hand… something a little savoury, a little salty and a little sweet. These candied espresso pecans fit the bill! Relatively low in fat and sugar, these caffeine packed nuts will help you power through the afternoon slump. If you don’t have instant espresso powder, you can substitute by using 50% more dark roast instant coffee. Just note that it will have a slightly harsher more acidic taste than the espresso powder, but it might just be okay considering the sugar and cinnamon in the recipe. This recipe will make about 4 cups of candied nuts.

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee beans
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 large egg white
4 cups pecan halves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk the sugar, ground espresso beans, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt together in small bowl. Whisk egg white in large bowl until frothy. Add pecans and toss to coat. Sprinkle the pecans with espresso mixture and toss to coat.

Spread coated pecans on prepared sheet in single layer. Bake 5 minutes. Slide spatula under the nuts to loosen them from baking sheet and stir, rearranging in single layer. Bake until the pecans are dry to touch, about 5 minutes longer. Loosen pecans from the sheet again, and then rest to cool on the sheet.

These candied pecans can be made 2 weeks ahead and stored in airtight container at room temperature.