Colcannon

Colcannon

When looking back in history, you don’t often hear about great famines or blights being brought about by a single type of vegetation, but the potato did just that. In Ireland between 1845 and 1852, the potato crop was devastated by a fungus known as “potato blight” or Phytophthora infestans. At the time, the peasantry of Ireland was very dependent upon the potato. The “Great Potato Famine,” caused a million deaths and another million emigrations (many to the U.S.). This caused the population of Ireland to drop by 20 to 25% during this period.

The potato remained Ireland’s staple crop after the famine and by the end of the 19th century, the Irish per capita consumption of four pounds a day was the highest in the world.  Because of their history and their first-hand experience Ireland has been at the forefront of international famine relief. In 1985 Bob Geldof, Irish rock star and founder of Live Aid, revealed that the people of Ireland had given more to his fundraising efforts per head of population than any other nation in the world. In 2000, Bono, lead singer with Irish band U2, played a central role in campaigning for debt relief for African nations in the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The Irish famine experience continues to influence many Irish people in their attitudes towards the developing world and famine victims everywhere. It is good to see that tragedy can turn into triumph, and bring about positive change in the world.

Ingredients:

6 medium/large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons butter/margarine, divided
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)*
4 green onions/scallions, sliced*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage, shredded*
2 ½ cups water, divided
3-4 cups green kale, washed, stalks removed and shredded*
salt & pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean cabbage, kale and green onions/scallions, and leeks.

Directions:

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain the potatoes, saving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, adding salt, pepper, a little butter/margarine to taste, and as much of the cooking liquid as needed to make the potatoes fluffy.

While the potatoes are cooking put 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine in a deep skillet and sauté the leeks, green onions/scallions and garlic until everything is translucent, about 7-10 minutes, over medium heat. Add the savoy cabbage and ½ cup of water, then cover the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender.

In another skillet add the remaining water and cook the kale until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the kale well, and then mix everything together, and taste to adjust your seasonings. Serve and enjoy!

Cioppino

CioppinoSo aside from the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cable Cars, San Francisco is known for quite a few food items. Top on my list (’cause it has it’s own jingle) is Rice-a-Roni a.k.a. the San Francisco Treat! Well, I can’t give you a recipe for something that comes in a box can I? Well, I mean I could, but it’s just so much easier to get a box of the stuff (or the kosher equivalent). So what else is SF famous for food wise? Cioppino and Sourdough Bread!

For the Sourdough, you need a starter or “mother” to start the dough from. You can make one yourself (though this takes some time and care) or buy some from a bakery store or online. Again, yeah, not much of a recipe for this blog. But Cioppino? Now we’re talking! Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco in the 1800’s. It was developed by Italian immigrant fishermen, who after taking their catch to market, would put together a stew of whatever was left over that wound up to be this wonderful dish. Normally, Cioppino is chock full of shellfish, but this being a kosher recipe, there won’t be any in this dish. This recipe will make a huge pot of the soup/stew, as it is definitely a one-dish meal. I suggest buying some crusty sourdough to serve with it!

Ingredients

⅓ cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
4 ribs celery, peeled
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 large onion, quartered
2 (2 oz.) can anchovies, drained and rinsed
1 fennel bulb, quartered, centres removed, sliced thin*
3 leeks, white/pale green parts only, sliced thin*
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
6 cups water
4-6 bay leaves
2 good pinches saffron
2 tablespoons paprika
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon anise/fennel seeds
Good pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
4 sprigs fresh thyme*
½ pound halibut, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound salmon, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound snapper, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound sea bass or cod, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound flaked mock crab
1 large bunch flat parsley, minced*
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse together the garlic, celery, red pepper, green pepper and onion so that it makes a coarse purée.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the rinsed anchovies and sauté so that they start to break up. Add the pureed vegetable mix to the hot oil, along with the sliced leeks and fennel. Sauté until the leeks and fennel become translucent.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, and then add the crushed tomatoes, water, bay leaves, saffron, paprika, tomato paste, anise/fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and thyme. Reduce to heat to medium, and allow the soup to cook covered for about 30 minutes.

Once the soup has come together, add the fish and about half of the parsley. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the fish has cooked through and become opaque. Taste for salt and pepper, and then ladle the soup into bowls, topping with the remaining parsley and served with some fresh crusty sourdough bread.

Potage à la Julienne (Julienne Soup)

Julienne Vegetable SoupWhat gives this soup it’s name is the way all of the vegetables are sliced in it. They are all done up “Julienne Style” or in thin matchstick pieces. Back in Victoria’s time, this was all done by hand, but if you have a food processor, it will definitely help with the cutting. For those of you that get a kick out of this kinda thing (like I do), I found an old recipe for this soup that was published during the time. I hope you find my modernized version a little easier to make :)

Potage a la JulienneVegetable Soup Julienne
Serves 6-8 people

4 carrots (if you are able to get them use a purple carrot as well, it looks amazing)
4 turnips
2 celery stalks
4 red cabbage leaves*
4 green cabbage leaves*
6 stalks of chard*
4 leeks*
4 spring onions*
12 French green beans
2 litre vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons margarine
salt, pepper to taste
Few sprigs of tarragon or marjoram*
1 clove of garlic, grated into a paste
2 cups cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.

Once all your vegetables are cut into thin batons, add the red and green cabbage, the chard, and beans to the cold water with lemon juice.

In a large soup pot, melt the margarine over a low heat until it is just foaming. Add the carrots, turnips, leaks and onions and garlic paste. Sauté in the margarine for about four minutes, or until tender.

Strain the water from the soaked vegetables, and add them to the pot, letting them sauté for a minute or two, then add the vegetable or chicken stock. Let the soup gently simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add half of the tarragon or marjoram, and a squeeze of lemon juice, then let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Taste and add salt, pepper as desired, adding the last of the herbs just before serving.

Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Leeks – כרתי

Leek in Hebrew is כרתי related to the word כרת—to cut, and so with that in mind we make the following request when eating these symbolic leeks:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G d and the G d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

In addition, the braised leek dish calls for carrots which the Hebrew word is גֶּזֶר and sounds very much like g’zar, the word for decree. Eating them is meant express our desire that G-d will nullify any negative decrees against us. Interestingly, the Yiddish words for “carrots” and “more” — mern and mer, respectively — are strikingly similar. So among Yiddish speakers, carrots symbolize the desire for increased blessings in the new year.

Leek Latkes

Leek Latkes
Yields 14-16 latkes, depending on the size you make them!

Ingredients:

4 large leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour or matzo meal, or a combination of both
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried basil (optional)
oil, for frying

Directions:

In a large soup pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Add leeks. Cover. Turn heat down to low. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks are bright green and just tender. Drain the leeks in a colander, and let them cool a bit. Place leeks in a mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add flour or matzah meal. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Mix well.

On medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, drop batter by spoonfuls into pan. Flatten the latkes a bit so they are not too thick to cook well in the middle. Fry approximately 3 minutes on each side, until browned on both sides and firm in the middle. Remove from frying pan onto paper towels to drain excess oil and cool. Repeat, starting with hot oil and then dropping spoonfuls of batter, until all the batter is used.

Tips:

  1. Adjust the heat when frying so it is just right. If you fry on too high heat, the pancakes might burn. But if you fry on too low heat, the latkes will be mushy rather than crisp.
  2. Use enough oil when frying so that the latkes won’t burn, but don’t use so much oil that the pancakes are oily.
  3. Don’t make the latkes too large that they fall apart when flipped over.

Braised Leeks and CarrotsBraised Leeks & Carrots

Ingredients:

2 leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
⅓ cup chicken/vegetable broth
2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine leeks, carrots, broth, margarine, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper in a deep skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes. Cook and stir mixture until leeks and carrots are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes, adding a touch more liquid if needed so the vegetables do not burn. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve warm.