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!

Bloody Mary Burgers with Horseradish Dressing

Bloody Mary BurgersSo for today’s burger, I thought I’d go for something a little different. Bloody Mary’s anyone? Admittedly, this has to be hands down my favourite cocktail. Now while I’m not too particular over the brand of vodka used (or tequila for what I call a Bloody Maria), I am quite particular that I only like hot sauce used, and NOT horseradish! Horseradish is for gefilte fish and roast beef! Which is why I make the exception in this recipe using horseradish with this beef burger. There is something about the sharp bite of the root, mixed with the dense meat of the burger that just works well together. As a bonus to today’s recipe, I’m going to throw in a quick recipe for Bloody Mary’s to accompany your meal. You can always skip the alcohol for those who are underage or don’t drink. I’m sure everyone will enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 ¼ teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
6 to 12 dashes hot sauce, plus more as necessary
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of medium and lean)
A little canola or olive oil, for brushing

For the dressing:
1 (1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inch piece) fresh horseradish root, freshly grated
3 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
6 good bread buns, ciabatta rolls, or thick slices of baguette
A few romaine lettuce leaves*
A few tomatoes, sliced
ketchup, optional

* Click here to learn how to clean romaine lettuce.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce in meat dishes.

Directions:
For the burgers: In a medium bowl, mix together the tomato paste, horseradish, celery seeds, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Add the beef and mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure the seasonings are spread throughout the meat. Let stand for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Meanwhile, make the horseradish dressing.

For the dressing: Mix the grated horseradish, non-dairy sour cream and vinegar together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Break off a small piece of the beef mixture, the size of a walnut, and fry in a little oil until well cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

To serve: Heat a grill. Shape the meat into 6 patties about ¾ inch thick. Lightly brush each one with oil, then place on a grill over high heat. It’s hard to give exact cooking instructions due to variables such as the thickness of the burger, the heat of the grill, and personal preference. For a medium-rare burger, you will probably need to grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. If you’re cooking the burgers indoors, use a lightly oiled grill pan set over medium-high heat. Let the burgers rest for a minute or two while you prepare the buns.

Toast the buns or other bread lightly on the cut side, then top with the lettuce leaves and tomato slices. Add the burgers and smear with horseradish sauce, and a dollop of ketchup if you like. Top with the other half of the bread.


Bloody Mary Cocktail

Classic Bloody Mary Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the vodka and top up with tomato juice.

Ingredients:
¼ cup vodka
¾ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
celery salt, for rimming the glass
salt and pepper
lemon wedge and celery stalk, for garnish

Directions:
Pour some celery salt on to a small plate. Take the lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the glass. Turn the glass upside down, and dip it in the celery salt on the plate. The celery salt will now coat the rim of the glass. Pour the tomato juice and vodka into the glass, and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce , hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add ice if desired. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge and a celery stalk. 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 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.

Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

Long Beans and Beef

Long Beans and BeefFor those not familiar with Chinese Long Beans, they are a legume cultivated to be eaten as green pods. Also known as the yard long bean the pods are actually only about half a yard long. This plant is of a different genus than the common bean as it is actually a vigorous climbing annual vine. The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern China and has uses very similar to that of the green bean. They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey)
1 lb. chinese long beans (or regular fresh green beans)
1 cup ketchup
Rice to serve with

Instructions:

In a wok or large sauté pan, brown the ground meat, draining off the majority of any excess fat. Slice the beans into 1 ½ inch sections and add to the meat. Toss to coat the beans in the drippings from the meat. Once beans are cooked through (5 to 10 minutes), add the ketchup, tossing to coat the meat and beans. Lower the temperature and allow the mixture to reduce, an additional 10 minutes or so. Serve hot over rice.

Samosas

SamosasThese stuffed savoury pastries are a traditional Indian favourite. Lamb meat and spices are cooked together to create a mouth-watering filling for the easy to make dough. The recipe may seem complex, but it’s actually fairly simple. This recipe will make about 30 Samosas.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ pound ground lamb/beef/chicken
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
30 won-ton wrappers
1 quart oil for deep frying
1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, green chili peppers and ginger. Cook 5 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Stir in turmeric, chili powder, ground meat and salt. Cook until the meat is evenly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garam masala and lemon juice. Continue cooking 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Work with the won-ton wrappers one at a time, keeping the remaining ones under a damp dish-towel so they don’t dry out. Lay out the wrapper, and run some egg wash along 3 edges of the square wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, making a triangle, and press together one half of the triangle, but leaving the other side open, making a small pocket package. Fill the won-ton will a few tablespoons of the meat filling, then using more egg wash, seal the final edge of the triangle, pinching it together as tightly as possible.

Carefully lower triangles into your preheated (350-375 degrees F) oil a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with a great mango chutney!

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Now while I don’t know any Jewish wedding that this amount of soup would fit the bill for, you can feed about 8-10 people with it as a nice starter. Think of it as an Italian chicken soup, but with meatballs instead of matzo balls! Not that the edition of matzo balls would be a bad idea… hmm…

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon salt, or to taste
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
⅓ cup coarsely chopped onion
⅓ cup coarsely chopped carrot
⅓ cup coarsely chopped celery
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 ½ quarts chicken broth
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
salt to taste
1 cup seashell pasta (or other small-shaped noodle)
2 cups spinach – packed, rinsed* and thinly sliced

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, but do not over mix. Shape the meat into ¾ inch balls, and set aside. In a large stockpot, on medium-high heat, add the oil and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until the onion becomes slightly translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, and let cook a few minutes more until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the broth, bay leaf and peppercorns and any salt that is desired, bringing the broth to a boil. You may wish to put the bay leaf and peppercorns in a little cheesecloth bundle, to make for easy removal later, but you can skip this step, and simply fish them out later. Once boiling, slowly drop in the meatballs and pasta. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. At the last minute add the spinach and wilt it into the soup. Serve hot with crusty bread and enjoy!

* click here to check out how to clean spinach properly.

Maple Beer Chili

Maple Chili

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced, depending on your heat tolerance
1 (540ml ) can tomato sauce
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
½ – ¾ cup maple syrup cup maple syrup, depending on your sweet tolerance
1 (540ml) can kidney beans, drained
1 (540ml) can pinto beans, drained
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 pounds lean ground beef
salt to taste
2 bottles of beer, or as needed

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeno peppers. Cook and stir until the onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, maple syrup, and beans. Season with black pepper and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the ground beef. Sprinkle beef with salt. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease; then stir the cooked beef into the chili along with 1 beer. Cook and stir for 1 hour, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt, and thin to desired consistency with the remaining beer before serving.