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.

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.

Potato Kugel

Potato Kugel

Potatoes are a fresh vegetable, and they seriously deserve a place on your plate. You should know that one medium potato with the skin on is:

  1. naturally fat-free and sodium-free!
  2. has only 110 calories!
  3. Contains 45% of the daily value for vitamin C!
  4. Is packed with as much or more potassium (620 mg) than bananas, spinach, or broccoli!
  5. Provides 10 percent of the daily value of B6; and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc!

Of course all of that changes once we start adding the sour cream, the butter, and in the Ashkenazi tradition, make today’s recipe for potato kugel! Let’s not worry about the calories in this one and just enjoy! Besides, don’t you know that everything that you consume on Shabbos gets absorbed by the extra spirit that Hashem gives you during this holy time? All the joy, none of the guilt! Good Shabbos Everyone!

Ingredients:

5 large potatoes
1 small onion
5 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken soup mix
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 stick of margarine, melted
paprika

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a food processor or grater, shred the potatoes and onion. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle the top with a bit of paprika. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, until browned and crisp on top and the kugel is set.

* Note: If doubling this recipe – Double all of the ingredients except for the margarine. Keept that at 1 stick (1/2 cup).

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!

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

So the recipe that you would have had for “Potages À la Crème de Riz” or “Cream of Rice Soup” back in the Victorian era would have looked a little more like this:

la Crème de Riz

Admittedly, not very exciting. I’m sure knowing the chefs of the era, they would have served it up in a solid gold tureen or a reconstructed sea tortoise just to make a splash. The recipe I have posted below is a little humbler in presentation, but it’s comforting creaminess will definitely fill you up! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, chopped
¼ cup margarine
½ cup all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup non-dairy creamer
¼ cup minced chives*

* Click here to learn how to clean chives.

Directions:

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the margarine until tender. Stir in the flour until it has become completely blended. Gradually add the broth. Stir in the rice, chicken, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the creamer and cook for 3-5 minutes longer. Garnish with chives.

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

Onion & Garlic Cheese Bread

Cheese BreadSo as we know, bread is a staple. It has been around forever, in one form or another, be it loaf, bun or pita. Because of this, our wise Sages worried that  an unsuspecting person might mistake dairy bread for plain pareve bread and eat it together with meat. In doing this, he  would inadvertently violate the prohibition of eating milk and meat together.

So, to stop this problem before it happened, they decreed (Gemara: Pesachim 30a and 36a) that one may not bake dairy bread unless certain criteria are met:

  1. either changing the shape or look of the dough prior to baking, making it instantly recognizable to all as dairy. So if all your loaves are rectangles, then ONLY your dairy ones are round, or having cheese on top of the loaf so one can see at a glance that it is dairy.
  2. baking dairy bread exclusively in small quantities, so that it is consumed all at once and inventory control is in place. You serve the dairy bread at a dairy meal, and don’t have to worry about a leftover roll being used for a meat sandwich.

(FYI – The same prohibition and exclusions apply to meaty bread as well, due to bread’s propensity to be eaten with a dairy meal)

So, having said all that, let’s bring on the cheese bread! Make sure however to follow the guidelines above and to top the loaf with lots of cheese so that is it visible to all that it is a dairy loaf.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup + 2 tablespoons warm water (between 105°F – 110°F)
½ cup warm milk (same temperature as the water)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 cups flour + flour for dusting
2 tablespoons margarine
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons dried minced onion, divided
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese + more for topping the loaf
Oil to grease a bowl & pans

Directions:

Combine the yeast, water, milk and sugar in a large bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy (like beer).

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of the minced onion, margarine, and cheese. Add the foamy yeast mixture to the flour mixture and combine to make a dough ball. Knead the dough for a few minutes so that you have a cohesive mix, and it is not too sticky or too dry. Add more flour or water as needed.

Lightly grease a large bowl and put your dough in it to rise. Cover the dough with a dish towel and place in a warm area for about an hour or so, until it has doubled in size.

Turn out your dough on to a floured surface, and punch the bread down to release air bubbles. Knead the dough for another few minutes and then shape your loaf into whatever shape you desire.

Place loaf(s) in oiled pans and cover with a dish towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until again doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Sprinkle the remaining dried minced onion and cheese over the top of the loaf.

Bake at 350°F until bottom of the loaf(s) sound hollow when tapped, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with your dairy meal!

Quick & Easy Beer Bread

Beer Bread

So as a double whammy, for a splurge after Pesach, how about a quick and easy Beer Bread? It’s got both wheat flour and beer! How can you go wrong? Check out the recipe below and you will want to bake some for dinner tonight! As always, feel free to play with the savoury aspect of the recipe. Don’t have onion power or Italian seasoning? Don’t like them? Switch to garlic powder, rosemary or sage. Use whatever seasoning your family prefers, including not adding any at all.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups self-rising flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
¼ cup margarine, melted

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch baking pan.

In a bowl, mix the self-rising flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, onion powder, and Italian seasoning. Pour in the beer, and mix just until moistened. You will get more of a sticky batter rather than a dough ball. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan, and pour the melted margarine over top.

Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!

Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date & Almond Stuffing and Honey Pomegranate Glaze

Cornish Hens

So on Rosh HaShanah we eat many symbolic foods, in order to have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. This entrée includes 4 of these foods! The apple symbolizes Gan Eden(The Garden of Eden), which according to the Sages had the scent of an apple orchard. The word date in Hebrew is תמרים and related to the word תם – to end. So on Rosh HaShanah we eat dates so that G-d will bring an end to our enemies.

Honey, as you know is sweet, and what could be a better symbol for a sweet new year? Lastly, the pomegranate is full of seeds (some say 613 seeds to be exact, just like the number of laws in the Torah). So we eat pomegranates so that we will be as full of mitzvot (good deeds) and the pomegranate is seeds. This recipe is geared for 8 guests, and will give some extra stuffing and sauce to serve along with your final dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¼ cup unsalted margarine (½ a stick)
8-12 (about 4 pounds) Fuji apples, chopped
20 Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped*
2 lemons, zest and juice**
2 oranges, zest and juice**
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
8 Cornish hens (1 ¼ pounds each)
¾ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup chopped shallots (about 1 ½ large shallots or 3 small ones)
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons margarine

* Click here to learn how to inspect dates.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons and oranges.
♦ Click here to learn how to truss a Cornish hen.

Directions:

Melt margarine in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until brown but still crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Add dates, zests, and juices; cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in almonds and salt.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or divide into two smaller pans) and mix the vegetables so that they are combined.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets and necks from the hens. Rinse the hens under cold water and then pat dry. Trim off any excess fat. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, and then loosely stuff with apple mixture. Truss the hens♦. Place the hens, breast-side up, on top of the chopped vegetables.

Boil the wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan until most of the wine has evaporated, about 4-6 minutes. Add the broth, pomegranate juice and honey. Boil again until the sauce has reduced to about 1 ¾ – 2 cups, about 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the margarine and then remove from the heat.

Brush the hens with the honey-pomegranate sauce. Roast the hens at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. While the hens are roasting, baste them occasionally with more of the sauce, about every 10 minutes or so. Serve the hens with any remaining stuffing and remaining sauce.

Safety Note: Before serving the remaining sauce or giving a final basting to the fully cooked hens, put the sauce back on the stove and bring it back up to a quick boil. The reason for this is because you have been dipping your basting brush back and forth between the hens while they were cooking, and therefore at various stages of rawness, and then dipping the brush back into the sauce pot. You want to eliminate any chances of salmonella or other food borne pathogens from contaminating your final dish. The re-boiling of the sauce will kill off these pathogens. Safety first!