Crepes – 4 Ways!

Crepes

So the 9 Days are wrapping up, but I thought I would give you one last menu idea to add to your repertoire that like the frittata, once you know the base, you can fit to match your own taste buds. Crepes! Or for our Yiddish followers, blintzes! Despite what you might think, crepes are easy and they are not just for dessert.

I’ll start you off with the basic crepes recipe, as well as give you an egg dish, some vegetarian options, and  a salmon dish to end. With each case, you will have to prepare the crepes first, and then make whatever filling you choose. While the crepe recipe below is not a sweet one, you can also use it with sweet fillings easily, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, or chocolate-hazelnut spread. The choices are really endless.

The Basic Crepes Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
¾ cup water
⅓ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually stir in the milk and water and continue stirring until combine. Add the salt and butter, and beat until smooth. For best results, cover and place in refrigerator for one hour.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, brush with oil. Pour ¼ cup of the batter into the heated pan. Quickly lift and tilt the pan, swirling the batter to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  Leave on the burner for about 2 minutes, or until the crepe is just firm and begins to brown at the edges. Use a spatula to gently release from the pan, flip onto a plate and repeat until all the batter is used. For crispy crepes, cook a little longer on the second side until bottom is browned.


Egg Crepes with Pico de GalloSavoury Scrambled Egg Crepes with Avocado Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:
Scrambled Eggs:
8 large eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Pico de Gallo:
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced*
2 tablespoons lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
To prepare the eggs:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat. Pour the eggs into the skillet and gently fold the eggs as they begin to set. Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To make the pico de gallo:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

To assemble the crepes:
Fill the crepes with the warm scrambled eggs, and fold crepes into quarters. Serve the crepes with pico de gallo on top.


Mushroom, Spinach and Parmesan CrepesMushroom Spinach and Parm Crepes

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 large shallots, small dice
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
¾ tablespoon dried thyme
kosher salt
1 ½ pounds mushrooms, sliced thin
8 cups baby spinach leaves*
2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 green onion/scallion, sliced thin, to serve*
12 (9-inch) crepes

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

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, dried thyme, and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the shallot has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet, turn the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Due to the volume of mushrooms, you may want to brown them in batches, so that they get browned evenly and nicely. If so, you might need to add a little more butter to the pan to brown the second batch of mushrooms, as they tend to soak up the oil pretty quickly.

Once all the mushrooms have been browned, if you did them in batches, return everything to the pan, and add the spinach and cook it until it wilts, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. In your oven, turn the broiler on and arrange a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Smear a baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Lay the crepes out on a work surface. Distribute the mushroom-spinach filling between the crepes, arranging it in a line along the diameter of each one. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top of the filling, leaving some to top the crepes with. Carefully roll up the crepes to form cylinders. Place the rolled crepes in the buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Place the crepes under the broiler to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the crepes to a warmed plate, top with sliced green onion/scallion, and serve each person two.


Summer Vegetable CrepesSummer Vegetables and Cheese Crepes

Ingredients:
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish*
4 ½ tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped green beans
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
¾ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 (9-inch) crepes

* Click here to learn how to clean chives.

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside. Stir the sour cream, ⅓ cup chives, milk, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined, and then set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the ricotta, monterey jack, and the remaining chives, plus the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese has melted, about 1 to 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat.

To roll the crepes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Spoon one-sixth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about ¾ cup) down the centre of the crepe. Use the paper to help you gently roll the crepe around the filling. Place the crepe seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Serve each crepe topped with 2 tablespoons of the sauce you set aside earlier, and more chives, if desired.


Salmon Crepes with Mornay SauceSalmon crepes

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh salmon filets, skin removed
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced in thin rounds*
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup grated gruyère cheese, divided (you could also use parmesan or swiss)
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
12 crepes

* Click here to learn how to clean leeks.

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they start to soften – about 3 minutes. Add in the salmon filets, flaking the fish into small pieces as it cooks. When the fish is cooked through, sprinkle on the flour and stir to mix completely with the fish and leeks. Pour in the wine and milk and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture boils and thickens – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup of the cheese. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

For each crepe, mound a generous ¼ cup of the salmon mixture in a log shape in the centre of the crepe. Fold over about ½ inch of the side edges to hold in the filling, then roll the crepe up. Place the crepes seam-side down in a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

The Only Frittata Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Frittata

So since we are still in the period known as the Nine Days (see more about this by checking out two of my earlier posts from last year, here and here, or by visiting Chabad.org by clicking here.) I thought I would give you a quick and easy meatless supper idea that has an easy base, that can then be customized to meet your family’s personal tastes. A frittata fits the bill on all those counts! It’s meatless, it’s easy, it’s quick and it is totally customizable! In fact, you can make two different flavours! Or you can just make a lot of frittata, ’cause to be honest, it tastes even better cold/room temperature the next day!

The recipe below will give you the basic technique along with a few winning flavor combinations. These are great starting points for those who are new to frittatas, but they’re definitely not the end. The whole point of a frittata is that you can make it anytime, with almost anything. Just keep these few tips in mind.

Keep the size of your dish in mind:
Any 2-quart baking dish works well for this frittata. (For a classic look, bake your frittata in a cast-iron skillet.) Larger dimensions will work, too, but will yield shallower frittatas and require shorter cooking times.

Be kind to your eggs:
Beat the eggs only enough to blend the whites and yolks. Overbeating will cause the frittata to poof in the oven, then fall into a denser layer when cooling.

Mix-in moisture:
While just about anything can be stirred into the egg base, you should stick to ingredients that are already cooked. For anything with excess moisture, such as sautéed greens, be sure to squeeze out any liquid first, otherwise it will make your frittata soggy.

Ingredients:
4 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup diced onions
12 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon pepper

To customize:
Provençal:
1 ½ cups sautéed diced red bell pepper
1 ½ cups sautéed zucchini
⅓ cup finely chopped fresh basil*

Italiano:
12 ounces vegetarian Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
¾ cup cooked broccoli rabe, cut in 2 inch segments*
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

Springtide:
3 cups sliced cooked asparagus*
6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
⅓ cup chopped fresh chives*
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley*

Greco:
1 ½ pounds baby spinach, wilted and squeezed dry*
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
3 tablespoons sliced scallions/green onions*

* Click here to learn how to clean basil, broccoli rabe, asparagus, chives, parsley, baby spinach, dill and scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a 10” oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the diced onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, along with the milk, salt and pepper. Add whatever mix-ins you wish, any of the above suggestions, or one of your own creation.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, stir and cook, until the edges start to pull away from the pan, about 5 to 7 minutes. Bake at 350°F until set, about 16-18 minutes.  To serve, cut into wedges and serve with a nice side salad.

If you are using a baking dish instead of an oven safe skillet, you can start the frittata on the stove-top, then very lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish and carefully transfer the frittata to the dish, to finish baking in the oven. It won’t be as pretty, but it will do the job in a pinch.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Picatta

Last on our tour of schnitzel around the world is the Italian inspired chicken piccata. Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several Italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities.  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from.

One of the main reasons piccata is so popular though is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic Italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Traditionally, the chicken may only be dusted in flour before being lightly fried, but you can also lightly bread it as I have in the recipe here. It will give the chicken a little more substance, and by flavouring the breadcrumbs, give another layer of seasoning, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup margarine
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced*

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter into the oven to warm. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate, and season them with the garlic powder and lemon zest. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and pan-fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not over crowd the skillet, adding more oil as needed. Place the chicken onto the warmed platter in the oven.

When you are finished with all of the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook and stir the minced garlic and shallot in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and scrape up and dissolve any brown bits that may have become stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces by about a third, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers, and simmer again until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the margarine into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the margarine is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley, and remove the sauce from heat and set aside. Arrange the chicken on a serving plate and spoon the sauce over to serve.

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!

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

Chicken Katsu

So in our schnitzel tour around the world, how about a stop in the Far East? Katsu is one of Japan’s favourite Western-style foods. So, what is it? Simply, it’s a bread crumbed cut of meat, usually served with shredded cabbage and a thick, salty and sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce.

Now for a little bit of history… Pork katsuretsu (cutlet) was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s.

Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Emperor Meiji – in his bid for Japan to become a more modern country and lead the way in terms of development – encouraged Western influence. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken (torikatsu), fish and vegetables.

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 chicken breast fillets
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
olive oil spray
½ – ¾ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded to serve*
½ – ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded to serve*
¼ cup mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

For the tonkatsu sauce:
¾ cup tomato sauce
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ teaspoon ground allspice

* Click here to learn how to clean different types of cabbage.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
To make the tonkatsu sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and allspice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

To make the chicken:
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded chicken to the lined tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Spray the top of the chicken with oil. Cook for the chicken for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and spray with oil. Cook the chicken for a further 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Thickly slice the chicken diagonally. Arrange the Chinese cabbage and red cabbage on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle the mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce over the chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

German-Style Chicken Schnitzel

German Chicken SchnitzelSo one of my favourite foods on this planet is schnitzel. I don’t know why. I just love it. It is so simple, and yet, so easy to mess up! It can be over fried and dried out, or burnt, or greasy… or, worse, undercooked! Salmonella poisoning anyone? What I also find interesting is that depending on where you’re from, you can vary it to match your local dining style. Did you know that pretty much every culture has some version of schnitzel? I thought this week I would show some of the ways a simple breaded chicken breast can be adapted and savoured all over the world!

Today, we’re going to start off with a traditional German-style chicken schnitzel. Most people have heard of wienerschnitzel. “Wiener” means Viennese (from Vienna) in German, not pork or veal as some people think (those words would be Schweinefleisch and Kalbfleisch). But while the Austrians may have perfected the wienerschnitzel, the origin of the schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) preferred his meat covered with sheets of gold. And of course, what the Kaiser does, the wealthy soon copied, but not everyone could afford to dine on gold. The solution? An alternative “yellow gold” coating of bread crumbs was used instead. And the rest they say, is delicious history!

Ingredients:
6 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thickness
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 ¾ cups breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley*
lemon wedges (for serving)

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick) with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in the oil to measure ½” deep and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 315°F (you want a moderate heat here because chicken breasts are so thin, they will cook quite quickly).

Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, dip into egg mixture, turning to coat evenly, then carefully coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken until it is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and season with salt. Top the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Classic Beef Burger

Classic Beef Burger

I’m actually out of the office today, but I couldn’t leave my readers hanging on such an important theme week! Okay, maybe it’s only important in my head, but my head is a cool place to hang out, y’all should come over some time! Anywho…. Today’s burger! I thought I’d end the week off with a classic “All Canadian” burger (yes, I said Canadian). This is your straight up, nothing fancy, plain, honest, but delicious burger. You can rely on it to hit the spot, and please all that try it. The only sort of spin that I do is that I add onion to the patty itself, but I hate biting into chunks of hard onion in my burger meat, so I nuke the onion (with some garlic, ‘cause, why not?) first for a minute or so, so that it gets a head start on cooking before hitting the grill. This way, the onion is nice and soft in the burger, and is not sharp in taste or texture. For those that aren’t fans of onions, feel free to skip this step. I would suggest going for the bonus round though, and grilling up some verscht (salami). It is SOOOO good and makes a nice pre-burger nibble or hipster topping to your burger! Either way, it’s a win!

Ingredients:
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
3 eggs
1 – 1 ¼ cups matzo meal
2-3 tablespoons onion soup mix
3 tablespoons ketchup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 buns
Optional: 1 log beef salami
tomatoes, pickles, onions, condiments, etc.

Directions:
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the diced onion and minced garlic for 1-2 minutes, so that they are almost cooked through. Once done, set the garlic and onions aside to cool down so that they can be easily handled. Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick!

In a large bowl mix together the beef, eggs, onion soup mix, ketchup, salt and pepper. Add the cooled semi-cooked garlic and onions. Mix together to combine. Slowly add the matzo meal, just enough to bring the mixture together without making it overly “crumby”, you want your burgers to be mainly meat, not filler! Divide the meat mixture into 6 balls, and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger!

Bonus Ingredient: If you like, after removing the plastic wrapper, slice up a log of beef salami into ¼ inch slices, and make a slit half way into the slice (so your slice looks like Pac-Man). Grill these alongside your burgers; they are delicious on their own, but will make a yummy “topping” to your burger as well!

Serve your burgers on some fresh buns, along with your favourite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!

Fresh Herb Burgers

Herb Burger

So I was wondering what to blog about this week, when I realized that I haven’t done a week on the almighty burger! This is definitely an error on my part. So seeing as we have a long weekend coming up, and people will definitely have their barbeques out, I thought, why not hit you up with a few yummy meat treats? One thing that I love to use when making burgers is a hamburger patty press. Yes, I know you can make a burger without a gadget. However, and hear me out on this one, the press is just awesome! We have an old, plain one that you can get at your local hardware/home supply store, but they make a million different kinds these days (as witnessed by late night TV infomercials). What I personally like about the press is that it allows a couple of things to happen:

  1. Uniform circumference on my burgers. You’re not going to get one that over takes the bun, while another looks like a slider.
  2. Uniform thickness. You won’t have one thin leathery burger, and one super thick meatloaf one.
  3. It allows the burgers to set up and chill. Once you’ve formed the patties, sometimes they just need to relax and bit and mellow out. Stick them in the fridge, and let the flavours get to know one another while you get the grill heated up and the toppings ready.
  4. Easy grilling! It makes it really easy to pop the patties out of the tube (the maker we have is tube shaped) and plop them on the grill. I’m not trying to delicately peel a patty off a plate, have it break, or lose its shape, or any other culinary disaster. It goes from maker to grill, in one step. It’s a thing of beauty.

So that’s my personal take on the hamburger patty maker, without an official sponsor! Hint, hint! You should see me when I’m actually being paid to endorse something! Starfrit? T-fal? Ron Popeil, I’m talking to you!


Fresh Herb Burgers

Ingredients:
2 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
¾ -1 cup matzo meal
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced*
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, minced*
Salt
Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these fresh herbs.

Directions:
Lightly oil your grill and set the heat on the BBQ to medium. In a large mixing bowl lightly whisk the eggs with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Crumble in the ground meat, mixing it with your fingers to combine it with the eggs and herbs. Add the matzo meal as needed to bind the meat mixture. Try not to overwork the meat, you want it to just come together, but not be overmixed.

Using your hamburger press or your hands, shape the mixture into about 8 patties, about ¾ of an inch thick. Using your thumb, make a shallow depression in the centre of each burger to prevent puffing up during cooking.

Place the burgers on the grill, close the lid, and cook the burgers until they are no longer pink inside, turning once, about 6 – 8 minutes per side. An instant read thermometer should read 160°F.

Don’t abuse your burgers by pressing with a spatula, pricking with a fork or turning frequently as precious juices will be lost! Tuck into a warm crusty bun and add your favourite toppings!

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 Mains!

So it was kinda hard to choose which mains to find recipes for. I actually googled, “Most Popular Restaurant Dishes” to see what would come up, and low and behold, I got a few of the beauties below. I did go for some Canadian flavour though, and threw in Swiss Chalet’s famous rotisserie chicken and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, not a kosher issue (other than, you know, the establishment itself not being kosher). I hope you all enjoy!


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp“Bonefish Grill” Bang Bang “Shrimp”

So with this recipe, the only real change is the obvious, using imitation “shrimp” instead of the real McCoy. Other than that, this recipe is pretty kosher friendly!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
2 cups buttermilk*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds imitation “shrimp”

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

* Don’t have buttermilk? Check out my cheat tips here.

Directions:
To make the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a small bowl and then set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and hot sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and set this aside as well.

In a large bowl, combine the panko, onion and garlic powders, basil, oregano, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dip a “shrimp” into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Working in batches, add the “shrimp” to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sweet chili sauce.


“Cheesecake Factory” Louisiana Chicken PastaCheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta

So with this recipe, there were quite a bit of changes needed, as there was a lot mixing of dairy and meat in this recipe. I think I’ve found a happy balance, omitting somethings, and substituting others. I hope you agree!

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup non-dairy milk

For the Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
¾ small red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups non-dairy creamer
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced*
1 (12 ounce) packages bow tie pasta
salt, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.

Directions:
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to the skillet, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the non-dairy creamer, as well as the chicken stock, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the basil, stirring to incorporate, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken.

For the chicken, pound the chicken breasts until they are very thin (the thinner the better). Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and flour. Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then in the milk and then back in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan set to medium-high heat, and fry the chicken until golden crisp and cooked through. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper-lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Once done, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce that has been reducing and toss the pasta to coat. To plate, dish up a healthy portion of the pasta, and top with a golden piece of chicken and the remaining basil.


PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps“P.F. Chang’s” Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s amazing about this recipe is that I didn’t need to change a thing! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water chestnuts, minced
2 cups mushroom, minced
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
12-15 iceberg lettuce leaves*

Special Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
⅜ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons hot water
1-2 tablespoons garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce:

Directions:
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.  Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

In a wok or large frying pan, bring the oil to a high heat. Sauté the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as small as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil (to the oil that was left over from cooking the chicken). Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the hot pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan, and sauté the mixture for a couple minutes then serve in the lettuce leaves with the special sauce.


“Swiss Chalet” Rotisserie ChickenSwiss Chalet Chicken and Dipping Sauce

As a Canadian, how can you not want just a bite of that beautifully, crispy, spinning rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken? Well, it turns out, making it kosher isn’t that hard! In fact, I didn’t have to change a thing! Keep in mind though, that unless you have a rotisserie feature on your oven/bbq, it will not come out exactly the same as the commercials.

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dehydrated tomato soup mix
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon dried savoury
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into a whole chicken. Place the chicken in the bag and let it marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Cook the chicken in a rotisserie oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.

“Swiss Chalet” Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups water
¼ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
6 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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

Directions:
In a saucepan, add the water, tomato juice and all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon juice, cornstarch, final 1 tablespoon water and vegetable oil. Using a whisk, stir the sauce thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water into a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the sauce. While still whisking, add the oil to the sauce. Continue to whisk the sauce while it cooks for a few more minutes and it will thicken up. This will make 3 cups of sauce.