Sweet Pickle Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish

Ahhhh relish… some people love it, and some hate it! And if you’re from Chicago it must be neon green! Well today’s recipe is for a classic version of the hot dog/hamburger relish, but without any high fructose corn syrup added, like you often see with commercial brands. For me, it’s not bad on the aforementioned BBQ treats, but I LOVE it in tartar sauce (simply add mayo!) or added to salmon or tuna salad.

For those of you who want a more unique vegetable relish, I suggest heading back to my recipe for Chow Chow (click here for the recipe), which is a variety of pickled vegetables cut up into a relish favoured in the South. No matter which relish you choose, as always, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 medium sized cucumbers – finely diced
1 medium sized green bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium sized red bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium/large onion – finely diced
1 tablespoon pickling salt*
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt)
½ teaspoon mustard seed
⅛ teaspoon turmeric

* You have to use a pickling salt or kosher salt, not table salt, as the iodine with affect the pickle relish while it sits.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the diced cucumbers, peppers and onions, and sprinkle with the pickling salt. Toss to coat, and then let stand covered at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Once you have “pickled” the vegetables, pour the vegetables into a strainer and rinse well with cold water and set to drain.

While the vegetable mix has been rinsed and is draining, go ahead and get the seasoning mix a boiling. Combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric in a large pot on high heat. Once boiling, add the vegetable mix, and return to boil.

Let the relish cook on medium heat uncovered to let some of the liquid evaporate. It will be done once the vegetables have cooked through, but have not become mushy, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow the relish to cool, and then transfer to a covered dish or jar with a lid, and refrigerate. This will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

Homemade Ketchup – And 5 Ways to Take It For a Spin!

Ketchup

So how can you have a week on condiments and not touch on ketchup? It is quintessential! Here in Canada we’re just nuts about the thick, slightly sweet treat, boasting the second highest per capita consumption of ketchup in the world, second only to Finland, (Finland?!). With that said, I really don’t know anyone that makes their own, when buying a bottle is just so convenient. However, that being said, how could I not offer up a recipe? Don’t worry though, for those of you who are not going to actually make their own (I count myself amongst you), I’ve added 5 bonus recipes below on ways to spice up your homemade or purchased ketchup! Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup water, divided
⅔ cup white sugar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoon celery salt
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole clove

Directions:

Pour the crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker. Swirl ¼ cup water in each emptied cans and pour it into the slow cooker. Add the sugar, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, celery salt, mustard powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and whole clove. Whisk everything together to combine. Cook on high, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half and becomes very thick, about 10 to 12 hours, stirring every hour or so.

Once the ketchup has reduced, you can smooth the texture of the ketchup by using an immersion blender on it for about 20 seconds (optional). Ladle the ketchup into a fine strainer and press mixture with the back of a ladle to strain out any skins and seeds. Transfer the strained ketchup to a bowl. Cool completely before tasting to adjust salt, black pepper, or cayenne pepper.

Five-Spice Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup ketchup, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Curry Ketchup:
Cook ¼ cup minced onion in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon margarine until soft, about 3 minutes. To the onions, add 1 teaspoon each of curry powder and paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for another minute, then add 1 cup of ketchup and ½ a cup of water. Simmer the ketchup until thick, about 25 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ⅓ cup peanut butter, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon harissa or other chili paste and ¼ teaspoon each of coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon and cayenne.

Bloody Mary Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ¼ cup horseradish, 2 teaspoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon celery salt and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.*

Jerk Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning, 1 tablespoon pineapple or peach preserves and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

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

Roast Bison or Venison with Red Wine and Onion Jus (Northwest Territories)

Roasted Venison

Wanna hear something cool about the the Northwest Territories (NWT)? Did you know that the Northern Lights (that crazy natural laser light show seen in the utmost northern part of the globe) can be seen about 243 nights out of the year? In the NWT, game meat such as Bison and Venison are a big seller, as they tend to have readier access to such meats, rather than beef. Personally, I’m jealous! I kinda feel that today’s game meat, tastes the way that beef used to taste before we over commercialized the industry. Keep in mind though that game meat is always leaner than domestic meat, so special care must be taken when roasting to prevent it from drying out. It’s important to never cook it past medium. This roast will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pound bison or venison roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.

Directions:

In small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Make some slits (about 8) around the roast, about an inch wide. Stuff some of the spice mixture into the slits, and use the remainder to rub over the whole roast.

Place roast in re-sealable plastic bag, along with the regular onion, carrots, bay leaves and wine. Seal the bag, and let it marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Once the roast is finished marinating, remove the roast from the bag, reserving the vegetables and the marinating liquid separately. Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pour in about 1 cup of water. Set the roasting pan aside for now.

In a large enough skillet to fit the roast, heat the vegetable oil over high heat, and then sear the roast, turning it in the skillet so that all sides get seared. Lay the seared roast over the vegetables in the roasting pan, and sprinkle with half of the salt.

Cover the roast loosely with foil, and roast for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reads 125 to 140 degrees for rare to medium. Do not cook beyond medium. Transfer to warm platter and tent with foil; let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

To prepare Onions and Jus:
In heatproof bowl, cover the pearl onions with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. This will loosen their skins. Drain the water and peel the onions.

In the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the margarine over medium-high heat, and brown the pearl onions. You are not cooking the onions through at this point, just browning them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl (keeping the oil in the skillet).

Add the sugar to the skillet and stir over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and remaining salt. Bring the jus to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half to about ⅔ cup, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth into small saucepan.

Strain liquid found in the roasting pan into glass measuring cup, and add enough water, if necessary, to make ½ cup. Add the roast liquid to the reduced marinating liquid and bring to a boil.

Add the pearl onions to the saucepan, and cover, cooking over a medium heat until the onions are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon a little sauce over the roast slices and serve with remaining sauce.

Potato Galette (PEI)

Potato Galette

So the little province with the big heart, and name, is Prince Edward Island. This small province (only 5660 square kilometres or 2190 square miles), is one of Canada’s three maritime provinces and sits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When I think of PEI though, two things come to mind. The Anne of Green Gables book series and Potatoes! For those of you that are not familiar, Anne of Green Gables is a book series published from 1908 through 1921 and written by PEI born author Lucy Maud Montgomery. The series pivoted around a young woman named Anne, and her adventures and family who all lived in PEI. The series became quite famous, and spawned movies and televisions series based on Anne’s character. The other PEI claim to fame that I mentioned is their potatoes! Known for its red soil, PEI grows a bounty of potatoes, and in fact produces 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada! So, when it came to a recipe to showcase PEI, how could I not choose a potato one?! Today’s galette, or pie, will make a yummy, cheesy side dish and will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pounds of peeled, thinly sliced PEI potatoes
½ cup olive oil
½ cup puréed onion (about 1 onion)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 teaspoons salt (or less if desired)
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs and let the mixture cool. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes very thin, using a mandolin if you have one. While you are slicing the potatoes, keep the cut ones in a large bowl with water. This will remove the excess starch from the potatoes and keep them from turning brownish/grey. Drain the sliced potatoes and dry them, then toss the potato slices with the cooled down onion mixture. Take a 9″ x 13″ pan, and rub or spray with oil. Combine the salt and pepper with the two cheeses. Place a layer of potato slices on bottom of pan. Sprinkle a layer of cheese mixture alternating with potatoes and finishing with cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and let bake for another 20 minutes, so that the cheese can become golden brown. Let cool. Cut into 8 pieces (1 across, 4 down) then cut squares in half to make 16 triangles.

Chicken Fricot (New Brunswick)

Chicken Fricot

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, boarding on Quebec and sharing its entire southern border with the state of Maine. Its eastern border is entirely coastal – along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. It even has warm sandy beaches, with the warmest salt water north of Virginia. It is probably most well-known though for the Bay of Fundy and the Confederation Bridge, which connects it with Prince Edward Island. It’s food however has quite a French flavour, with it being so close to Quebec and having many Acadians living in the province. So with that I bring you today’s recipe, Chicken Fricot, which is like the southern classic Chicken and Dumplings, but highlights the herb savoury, which is very popular amongst the New Brunswickers. This hearty one-pot meal will serve 6-8. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, divided (about 3-4 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 6 potatoes)
2 teaspoons dried savoury
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 ice cubes

Dumplings:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup cooking liquid from soup

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat the margarine and oil over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then add chicken pieces to the pot. Brown the chicken all over, turning the pieces as needed. You are not cooking this all the way through at this point. Once browned all over, (about 8 minutes) transfer the pieces to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not coloured, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, savoury, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes, letting all of the ingredients combine. Return the chicken pieces and any juices that have rendered to the pot, and stir in the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, skimming any foam or debris from the surface as needed. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover, letting the soup simmer for about 45 minutes.

Next, place the 2 ice cubes in a measuring cup, and add enough of the soup to make ⅔ cup. Set this aside to cool. Meanwhile, remove the pieces of chicken with slotted spoon, and transfer them to a plate. Let the chicken cool enough to be handled, and then strip the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred or coarsely chop the chicken. Before returning the chicken to the pot, skim any excess fat the surface, then return the chicken to pot and bring it back to a simmer.

Dumplings:
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, parsley, savoury and salt. Stir the egg yolks into reserved the cooled soup, and slowly add it to the flour mixture. Bring the dumpling dough together with a fork. It will make a sticky, stretchy dough.

Increase the heat on the soup to medium, and drop the batter in 8 mounds evenly spaced around the soup. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings have puffed and a knife inserted into centre of dumpling comes out clean, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot with the dumplings.

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!

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.

Non-Dairy Butter Chicken

Butter ChickenWell, our travels now take us to India, and the city of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. This is a classic Indian dish that is local to the region, but often unattainable to those keeping a kosher diet. Here, with the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, you get the best of both worlds! This recipe will serve 6, and despite the long list of ingredients, is very simple to make! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

Tandoori Marinade:
⅓ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Chicken Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1-2 bay leaves
2 (740ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder + 1 ½ cups warm water
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh cilantro*
1 ½ tablespoons potato/corn starch (if needed)

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

Place cubed chicken in a large gallon re-sealable bag, and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pour the marinade mixture our over top of the chicken. Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible. Using your hands, mix the chicken up with the marinade through the bag, flipping it to help combine. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate the better, but do not exceed 48 hours.

Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place the marinated chicken on the sheet, spreading it out so that they cook evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter chicken sauce by sautéing the oil, onion and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until onion is brown. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you find that your sauce needs thickening, remove about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, and mix in the potato or corn starch. Once the starch has been thoroughly combined with the sauce, return the sauce to the main pot and mix through. This will thicken up the sauce. Add the cooked chicken, cilantro and remove the bay leaf, and serve with hot basmati 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.

Citrus Dill Gravlax

GravlaxSo how can you be a kosher cooking blog having a week highlighting fish, and not touch on Lox? It’s a Jewish staple! Confession time… up until a few months ago I could not stand Lox of any kind. Even the smell or thought of it turned me off completely. Now I seem obsessed with it! I don’t like it… I LOVE it! Better late than never I guess!

Now I realize that Gravlax is not Lox. Lox is cured through smoking while Gravlax is cured in a salt/acid mixture. The tastes and textures though are quite similar. That, and you can make Gravlax easily at home… Lox, not so much (I’m not counting those that have their own personal smokers at home). This dish takes a while to cure, but in truth, very little effort to make. Trust me this will be a HUGE hit at your next party and your guests will be incredibly impressed.

Ingredients:

Gravlax:
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skin on
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
zest of 1 orange**
zest of ½ lime**
zest of ½ lemon**
1 ½ tablespoons tequila/vodka/gin (plus more if needed)
1 cup chopped fresh dill, divided*

Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

To serve:
Melba toasts or toast points
capers
sliced onion
dill sprigs

* Click here to learn about cleaning dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

For Gravlax: Heat the peppercorns in a small skillet over medium-high heat until spices are fragrant and seeds jump slightly, shaking skillet frequently, about 2 minutes. Crush spices in mortar with pestle or transfer to work surface, cover with kitchen towel (not terry cloth), and crush with mallet or bottom of heavy pan. Transfer spices to small bowl. Mix in salt, sugar, and the zests of the orange, lemon and lime.

Trim the fillet so that it is uniform in size. Using small sharp knife, poke 12 small holes through skin of both pieces of salmon. Rub ⅓ of spice mixture over skin. Sprinkle ⅓ cup chopped dill in bottom of 7x7x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dill. Pour the alcohol over the fish. Rub the remaining spice mixture onto the top of the salmon. Then press the remaining chopped dill into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto fish. Place a small plate or smaller dish on top of the plastic, so that it makes direct contact with the wrapped fish. Place some heavy cans on plate so that the fish is weighted down. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days, checking on it once or twice a day, and basting the fish with the juices produced by the curing process. On the second day of curing, slice off a small piece and taste it. If it doesn’t taste like it’s getting there, add a little more salt and/or alcohol on the fish.

For Sauce: Whisk mustard and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in chopped dill and salt. Season with ground black pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To Serve: Scrape spices and dill off both sides of salmon (some spice mixture will remain). Using knife with long thin blade, thinly slice salmon diagonally at 45-degree angle from top of fillet toward skin. Cut with a back and forth sawing motion toward the narrow end to remove a thin slice of fish. Start each succeeding slice a bit farther in from the narrow end; always cut at a flat angle to keep the slices as long and thin as possible. Serve with Melba toasts, toast points, capers, dill, onions and the mustard sauce.