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.

Challah

Challah

So if you’re going to do bread recipes, how can you not do a challah recipe? My mom and sister make their doughs and do a first rise in a bread machine, and then take out the dough to shape, do a second rise, and then bake in the oven. Personally, I like to make my dough in my food processor, then take it out to rise, shape, rise again, and bake. Maybe that’s just because I’m not lucky enough to own a bread machine. But hey, whatever works for you, works for me.

I’m going to be setting up a separate page about the laws of taking challah, for those of you who wish to learn more about the it and get the chance to partake in the mitzvah when they are baking bread. You can click here to be taken directly to the page. I am also going to be setting up a how-to page on different braiding techniques for some easy, and some not-so-easy, ways to make a beautiful loaf for your table.

So, having said all that, please enjoy the recipe below. It will make two medium loaves or three small.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups water, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup oil
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar, divided
⅓ cup honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 egg (for the egg wash)

Directions:

If you are making this in a bread machine, place all of the wet ingredients first (except for the 3rd egg, that is for an egg wash on top of your braided challahs), then all of your dry ingredients, adding your yeast last. Set your machine on the dough setting. Once the machine is done, remove the dough from the machine and braid or shape the bread to your liking. Make an egg wash from the remaining egg and a little water mixed together, brushed on top of the bread. Bake in a preheated 350°F degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the challahs are golden brown and sound hollow when knocked on. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

If you are making this recipe by hand or in a food processor, use these directions:

In a medium sized bowl add the yeast, ¼ cup of warm water (heated to 105°F-110°F) and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy, like beer.

In a large bowl or in your food processor fitted with your dough blade, mix together the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Slowly add the wet ingredients until dough begins to form, including the yeast mixture. If using a processor, let the processor run until a ball begins to form around the blade. In either prep method, once a ball has formed, turn it out onto a floured counter and knead the dough for a few minutes so that it comes together to form a nice cohesive elastic dough. 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/braid 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. You can top with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or just egg wash the tops.

Bake at 350°F until bottom of the loaf(s) sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

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!

Acadian Cod Pancakes (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Fish Cakes with Applesauce
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most easterly province, and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland portion of Labrador. In 1583 Newfoundland became England’s first North American possession when it was claimed by Sir Humphrey Gilbert for Queen Elizabeth. While Labrador was part of the Portuguese Empire (going back as far as 1500). The French formed a colony in Newfoundland in 1655, and went to war in the 1690’s, destroying nearly every English settlement on the island. The French however ceded their claims to the British and to the French possessions in Acadia (hello Acadian connection!) in 1713. For the next 150 years or so, the land goes back and forth between the French, the Spanish and the English… To be honest, it is all very confusing!

In the end however they became a part of Canada, and we are happy to have them! With all that history and culture, you know the food is going to have its roots steeped in some pretty interesting traditions! One of the biggest yields from this area though is its fish, particularly cod. Traditionally what was not sold right away was salted and preserved. Today, salt cod is still a popular ethnic ingredient. For today’s recipe though, we’re going to use the unsalted version, either fresh or frozen, to make Acadian Cod Pancakes. If you want to be a real Newfie, make sure to eat them with apple sauce! This recipe will make enough cakes for 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or frozen cod fillets
6-8 potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
2 small onions, diced
¼ cup water
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of pepper
oil, for frying
apple sauce, for serving

Directions:

Peel and boil your potatoes, until cooked through, then drain and mash the potatoes, allowing them to cool enough to handle. Thaw your fish fillets if necessary, then break them apart and chop the fish very finely. In a small pan, cook the onions with the water, so that they become translucent, but do not brown. Once the onions have cooked through, set them aside and allow them to cool enough to be handled.

Beat the eggs so that they are well blended. In a large bowl mix together the fish, mashed potatoes, cooked onions, eggs, flour, parsley, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Make sure to combine the ingredients well. If you find the mixture is too loose, you can add a bit more flour. If you find the mixture to dry or not forming cakes well, you can add another egg.

Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick pan, until very hot but not smoking. Using a ⅓ cup as a measure, form small cakes or patties. Place the cakes onto the pan in the hot oil. Do not over crowd your pan, or you will find it difficult to flip them. Fry the cakes for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. If you find your cakes browning too quickly, lower the heat. Flip the cakes over with a spatula, and then fry for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the cakes to a piece of paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve the cakes hot with apple sauce for a true Newfie treat, or with cocktail or tartar sauce.

Cowboy Beef & Bean Chili (Alberta)

Beef & Beans ChiliSo in Canada, Alberta is known as our “Cowboy Country”. Wedged between the Rocky Mountains to the west, and the plains of Saskatchewan to the east, Alberta has a great mix of highs and lows, literally. Known for its bountiful cattle trade, as well as its vast natural gas and oil reserves, Alberta is a rich province. Every summer, Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, hosts the Calgary Stampede, a rodeo, exhibition and festival held annually every July since 1923 (though its roots date back to 1886). So what better to celebrate the cowboy spirit than a nice big bowl of chili? This dish will hit all the right spots, goes great with cornbread, and will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 pound medium ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, diced (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce*
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (see note below)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 (540ml) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups beef broth
1 12-ounce bottle lager-style beer**
½ red onion, diced (for garnish)
1 avocado, diced (for garnish)

* Click here to see notes about the use of Worcestershire sauce with meat products.
** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.
Note: Ancho chili powder, made from dried poblano peppers, has a mild, sweet spicy flavor. Look for it in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets. Other mildly spicy chili powder can be used in its place.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot with a lid, or a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, ancho chili powder, regular chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in kidney beans, then pour in broth and beer, and then bring the chili to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 50 minutes. Garnish with diced red onion and avocado. A great accompaniment would be corn bread with caramelized onion jam!

Chital Macher Muitha (Chital Fried Fish Dumplings)

Fish BallsIn the Calcutta or Kolkata region of India, Chital, also known as Clown Knife fish, is a popular fish used in many dishes. It is an interesting fish, in that it is carnivorous (meat eating) and often cannibalistic (eats its own kind). I’m not sure if it is in fact a kosher fish, but it is almost a moot point for those of us in North America, as it is very hard to get outside of certain specialty ethnic stores, and even then it’s frozen. Fresh, if it was kosher and possible to find, it’s apparently a nightmare to debone! Having said all that, I’m making this recipe less authentic by substituting Chital with any ground white fish. I’m sorry to all my Bengali enthusiasts out there, but sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in the name of food! All that being said, this recipe will serve 6 if served as a main entrée and can easily be cut in half for appetizer portions instead. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 ⅓ pounds ground fish (any white fish)
1 ¼ cups cooking oil
6 medium potatoes, peeled
4 large tomatoes
6 medium onions
4-5 inch piece of fresh ginger (or 4 ½ tablespoons ginger paste)
2-3 green chilies (optional)
12 cloves of garlic (of ¼ cup bottled minced garlic)
4-5 bay leaves
3 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons butter/olive oil (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
4 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 ½ cups water
cilantro (for garnish)*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring the potatoes to a boil and cook through. While the potatoes are cooking, dice the tomatoes and onions, and set them aside. In food processor or blender puree the ginger and garlic (separately) so that you get a paste formed from them. If you are using chilies in this recipe, you can puree them as well with either the ginger or garlic.

Once the potatoes are done, drain the potatoes and mash them to a smooth consistency. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix them together with the ground fish, 2 ¼ tablespoons of the ginger paste, the garlic paste, ½ the diced onions and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.

In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil to about 350-375 degrees, or that when a bit of the fish mixture is dropped in, it starts to fry and bubble immediately. Make small balls out the fish mixture, like you would a meat ball, and drop them one-by-one into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the balls, as the more balls in the oil at once, the lower the oil temperature will drop, and you’ll wind up with oily fish balls rather than nicely fried ones. It is best to fry them in batches. Once the balls turn nice and golden, remove them from the oil and set them aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

After all the fish mixture has been fried, add the bay leaves and remaining onions to the left over oil and fry for 2 minutes. After 3-4 minutes add the diced tomato and stir for another 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ginger paste, turmeric powder and cumin, combining it well and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and salt to the mixture, and bring to a boil.

Once the sauce has come together, return the fried fish balls to the sauce, and let simmer for another 5 minutes. After that, add the butter or olive oil, if adding, and the garam masala powder. Taste for salt, and mix well. Serve the fish balls and sauce hot over white rice.

Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)

KoshariSo this dish is great for those that love carbs! Known as one of the national dishes of Egypt, you can find this inexpensive dish served on street carts throughout the cities. Note of forewarning, this recipe does call for multi-tasking and having several pots cooking at once, however, not much needs to be done to those pots once they are cooking away. I am also including a recipe for the spice blend used in this recipe. It is fairly simple to make and you can do it up in bulk and keep on hand for dishes that you want to add a Middle-East taste to. This recipe will serve 6, and the spice mixture in the measurements shown will make just less than half a cup of the blend, enough for this recipe and a few more dishes.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups medium grain rice
1 ½ cups brown lentils
3 cups small macaroni
3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (796ml) can crushed/pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon baharat spice blend (see recipe below)
¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Crispy Onion Garnish:
3 large onions, finely sliced
Oil for deep-frying
1 (540ml) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry it for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils under cold water and add them to another medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the salt and stir to combine. Strain any excess liquid if necessary.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente.

To make the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, baharat, salt and pepper to taste, chili flakes (if using) and red wine vinegar. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the crispy onions:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.

To Serve:
Add the rice, lentils and macaroni to a large bowl and toss to combine (or simply scoop out desired amounts of each onto the plates). Sprinkle a little baharat over each portion and serve topped with some of the spicy tomato sauce. Top with garbanzo beans, the crispy onions and another sprinkle of baharat. Serve warm.

Baharat (Middle Eastern Spice Blend)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1½ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and dry roast the whole spices/seeds (except for the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg) until they become very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, tossing regularly to prevent burning. Transfer them to a bowl and allow them to cool completely before grinding them in a spice or coffee grinder along with the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep stored in an airtight glass jar.

English Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce

Fish and ChipsA classic English dish is Fish and Chips, served with a side of Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce. The trick to this dish is making sure that the oil is HOT! As for the peas, it may sound strange, but it’s savoury flavoured peas, that have been mushed or mashed, hence the name! This dish will serve 6 and the tartar sauce recipe will make about a cup of sauce. I suggest serving this with wedges of fresh lemon and malt vinegar!

Ingredients:

6 cod fish fillets or 6 haddock fillets
2 ¼ cups flour, plus more for dredging
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
12 oz. beer (preferably a dark stout)*
1 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper
6 large russet potatoes, peeled & cut into chips
good quality cooking fat or oil

For Peas:
3 cups frozen green peas
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

* Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

General tips:

  • Keep whatever you’re frying cold until you’re ready to submerge it. This will help with the frying process, giving you crispness rather than sogginess. I would even suggest resting the bowl of batter in a larger bowl filled with ice, so that it’s kept nice and chilly.
  • Set your oven to 200 degrees to keep the ready pieces of fish and chips warm while you’re preparing the rest.

For Fish & Chips:
Heat oil up in a large pot or deep fat fryer, you’re going to want to get it to about 375 degrees (You can test this with a cooking thermometer). Peel the potatoes and cut into chunky sized chips. Rinse and DRY THOROUGHLY. Water and hot oil are a VERY BAD combination! Fry the chips for about 3 minutes until soft but NOT browned or golden. Drain and shake well and set to one side.

Put some flour onto a plate. Dredge the fish fillets in the flour thoroughly – this is VERY important, it stops the batter sliding off when fried! Leave the fish fillets in the flour whilst you make the batter.

Put flour, baking soda, salt and pepper into a large roomy bowl. Add the beer gradually, stop when you have a thick coating type of batter. Drink any beer that is left! Whisk thoroughly until it is smooth and there are no lumps. Add the lemon juice OR a splash of malt vinegar if desired. Mix thoroughly again.

Adjust deep fat fryer to fish frying temperature of 320-325 degrees for frying the fish. Take one fillet of fish at a time and holding it by the tail or thin end and swirl it around the batter until well coated – plunge into hot fat immediately. As soon as it has crisped up and set, add your other fillets one at a time, taking out the first ones as they cook – about 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Place onto a tray and keep warm in the oven.

Once the fish is done turn up the heat setting to 375 degrees again and cook your chips until golden and crisp. Once done, toss your hot chips with salt. Serve on plates or newspaper with salt & vinegar!

For Mushy Peas:
Bring a shallow pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add frozen peas, and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain peas, and transfer back into the pot. Add the cream, butter, salt and pepper to peas, and mash with a potato masher, until the ingredients are blended, but still thick with small pieces of peas. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve immediately.

For Tartar Sauce:
In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and the onion and garlic powders. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Spicy Tuna Pashtida

Tuna PashtidaFor those of you not in the know, a Pashtida (pash-ti-DA), is the Hebrew word a savoury pie, quiche or casserole. This fish recipe originally came from a family friend and neighbour, Esther Prisman, but we’ve made a few changes to adapt to the tastes of our family. The biggest change is that ours is more tomato-y with a can of diced tomatoes added, rather than two tomatoes, peeled and diced. Note, the tastes of my family seem to include lowering the intensity of the labour needed, as opening a can is a heck of a lot easier than peeling and dicing! You can also use pre-sliced olives, rather than cutting them up yourself. This can either be made as a large casserole, or as individual spring rolls for a fun appetizer!

Ingredients:

2 small onions, chopped
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes
½ – 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
½ – ¾ cup green olives, sliced (about 15 olives)
2 cans tuna, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package puff pastry dough (for casserole)
sesame seeds (for garnish)
~ or ~
1 package egg roll wrappers (for spring rolls)
oil for frying

Directions:

In a sauté pan, cook onions, tomatoes, chili flakes, olives, tuna, salt and pepper until all the liquids have evaporated. If making a casserole, take half of the pastry dough and place on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon on the filling mixture, and then top with remaining half of dough. Make a light egg wash (one egg and some water, beaten) and brush the top of the dough. Score the top of the casserole and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

If preparing as individual spring rolls, spoon about a tablespoon or so of the filling on to an egg roll wrapper. Roll the wrapper up, tucking in the sides. Seal with water or egg wash along the edges. To cook the rolls, there are two options: You can either fry them in a sauté pan, with a few tablespoons of oil, until brown and crispy; or you can place them in a 375 degree oven on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Israeli Couscous Salad

Couscous SaladSo I first had a version of this salad at a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. The woman who made it was one of my favourite Rebbitzens growing up, Mrs. Dassi Smolarcik. Subsequently, she and her family moved to Miami, (my Rebbitzen, not my sister-in-law…. my s-i-l moved to Savannah!), but what is Canada’s loss is Florida’s gain. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, but I’m sure Mrs. Smo will forgive me. I suggest making this for your next meal, dairy or meat, where you’d like a nice, light salad in the mix. This recipe will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4-5 radishes, sliced thin*
4-5 green onions, sliced thin*
1 can of corn kernels, drained
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine*
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped fine*

Dressing:

½ cup oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (more or less to taste)

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

Instructions:

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package. Drain, and set aside to cool. Combine the cooled couscous, along with the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a small container and combine well, tasting for flavour. Once you are happy with it, pour it over the couscous salad and mix well to combine. This salad is best if let to sit covered in the refrigerator to marinate, preferably overnight. If you preparing it the day before, you may wish to leave the tomatoes out until about an hour before serving, so they don’t get soft.