The Only Frittata Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Frittata

So since we are still in the period known as the Nine Days (see more about this by checking out two of my earlier posts from last year, here and here, or by visiting Chabad.org by clicking here.) I thought I would give you a quick and easy meatless supper idea that has an easy base, that can then be customized to meet your family’s personal tastes. A frittata fits the bill on all those counts! It’s meatless, it’s easy, it’s quick and it is totally customizable! In fact, you can make two different flavours! Or you can just make a lot of frittata, ’cause to be honest, it tastes even better cold/room temperature the next day!

The recipe below will give you the basic technique along with a few winning flavor combinations. These are great starting points for those who are new to frittatas, but they’re definitely not the end. The whole point of a frittata is that you can make it anytime, with almost anything. Just keep these few tips in mind.

Keep the size of your dish in mind:
Any 2-quart baking dish works well for this frittata. (For a classic look, bake your frittata in a cast-iron skillet.) Larger dimensions will work, too, but will yield shallower frittatas and require shorter cooking times.

Be kind to your eggs:
Beat the eggs only enough to blend the whites and yolks. Overbeating will cause the frittata to poof in the oven, then fall into a denser layer when cooling.

Mix-in moisture:
While just about anything can be stirred into the egg base, you should stick to ingredients that are already cooked. For anything with excess moisture, such as sautéed greens, be sure to squeeze out any liquid first, otherwise it will make your frittata soggy.

Ingredients:
4 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup diced onions
12 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon pepper

To customize:
Provençal:
1 ½ cups sautéed diced red bell pepper
1 ½ cups sautéed zucchini
⅓ cup finely chopped fresh basil*

Italiano:
12 ounces vegetarian Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
¾ cup cooked broccoli rabe, cut in 2 inch segments*
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

Springtide:
3 cups sliced cooked asparagus*
6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
⅓ cup chopped fresh chives*
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley*

Greco:
1 ½ pounds baby spinach, wilted and squeezed dry*
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
3 tablespoons sliced scallions/green onions*

* Click here to learn how to clean basil, broccoli rabe, asparagus, chives, parsley, baby spinach, dill and scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a 10” oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the diced onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, along with the milk, salt and pepper. Add whatever mix-ins you wish, any of the above suggestions, or one of your own creation.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, stir and cook, until the edges start to pull away from the pan, about 5 to 7 minutes. Bake at 350°F until set, about 16-18 minutes.  To serve, cut into wedges and serve with a nice side salad.

If you are using a baking dish instead of an oven safe skillet, you can start the frittata on the stove-top, then very lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish and carefully transfer the frittata to the dish, to finish baking in the oven. It won’t be as pretty, but it will do the job in a pinch.

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.

Make-Ahead Soup Mixes

Soup Mixes in a Jar

So according to the weatherman, this afternoon with the Humidex it is supposed to feel like 39°C, or 102°F. For those of you that don’t know what a Humidex is, you are SO lucky! Humidex is the humidity index, that takes the actual temperature, and then adds the humidity factor, so it tells you that while it may only be x degrees out, it feels like the surface of the sun. In Toronto, we’re fortunate enough to have both the Humidex in the summer and the Windchill in the winter, which calculates how much colder the lake effects wind makes it seem, so again, it may be x degrees out, but now it feels like the dark side of the moon. What can I say, we can’t seem to win here… except for our falls (autumns) which are pretty awesome. Oh well, one out of four ain’t bad. (yes it is, it’s very bad.)

So continuing on our theme of prepping ahead, and making it look like we are uber organized, I thought today in honour of the heat, we’d hit up some soups. It may seem strange, but trust me, when the days start getting cooler, you’ll appreciate being able to open your pantry and see these beautifully layered, labelled jars of soupy goodness. Again, these also make great hostess gifts or last minute grab-n-give ideas for a friend who has a cold. I’ve even included a recipe for the traditional condensed “Cream of _____” soup. You know what I’m talking about. You come across a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom, or celery or asparagus, and at least here in Canada, it’s pretty hard to get a decent kosher one. With this recipe, you will have the base for any flavour “Cream of” soup you want. You’re welcome.


Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound stew meat, cut in 1″ cubes
6 cups water
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 jar Beef Vegetable & Barley Soup Starter Mix
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned on all sides. Add the water, tomatoes, and soup mix. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf.  Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Beef Chili Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup dried red kidney beans
½ cup dried navy beans
½ cup dried black beans
⅓ cup dried minced onions
2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried cilantro or parsley flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef or stew meat
6 cups water
1 jar Beef Chili Soup Mix
1 (1.36 L) can tomato juice

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned. Drain any excess fat that has come off the meat, then add the contents of the soup mix, plus the water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add the tomato juice, and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Colourful Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
¼ cup dried minced onion
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked macaroni
¼ cup barley
½ cup dry lentils
⅓ cup long-grain white rice
1 cup uncooked tri-colour spiral pasta

Measure all of the above ingredients, except for the tri-colour pasta and macaroni, into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Put the pastas in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in the larger container with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound ground beef or stew beef
12 cups water
1 jar Colourful Soup Mix

In large pot, brown the ground beef or stew beef the oil. Remove the pastas from top of jar and set aside. Add 12 cups of water and the remaining jar contents to the pot. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tri-colour pasta and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve with your favourite bread or rolls and a tossed salad.


Country Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked white rice
½ cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon powder
½ cup uncooked alphabet pasta
1 cup uncooked macaroni

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Country Soup Mix
3 quarts of water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage* (optional)
2 large tomatoes, diced

*Click here to learn how to clean cabbage.

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least an hour, until the veggies are tender and the barley and peas are cooked through.


Cream of Anything Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered milk
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons pareve chicken/beef/vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoons dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This makes the equivalent of 4 cans of Cream of “Something” soup and can be stored for up to a year. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
⅓ cup cream mix
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
½ cup minced or chopped “______” Choose one or more for whatever “cream of” flavour you need: onions, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, celery, etc.

In a pot, melt the butter and sauté the “something” that you are using (mushrooms, onions, etc.). Cook until translucent, then add the cream mix, and stir to combine. Add the water, and whisk gently over a low/medium heat until thickened.

This can now be used directly in a recipe that calls for a can of condensed “Cream of ___” soup or you can dilute it with milk and water to make “Cream of ____” soup.


Layered Bean Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup kidney beans
½ cup split yellow peas
½ cup black beans
½ cup red lentils
½ cup small red beans
½ cup split green peas
1 tablespoon dried sweet pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Measure all of the above ingredients, keeping the spices separate from the beans, peas and lentils. Put the spices in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in a larger contain with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Layered Bean Soup Mix
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
10 cups water, divided

Rinse the beans and place in large stock pot. Pour 4 cups boiling water over beans; cover and let soak overnight. Drain the beans and return to the stock pot. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are almost tender. Add the tomatoes and seasoning mix. Stirring occasionally, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover beans and continue to simmer about 1 hour longer or until beans are tender and soup thickens. Serve warm.


Mushroom Barley Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
¼ cup dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
¼ cup dried carrot slices (optional)
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Mushroom Barley Soup Mix
1 quart water
2 carrots, sliced (if you didn’t use the dried variety)

In a large pot, add the carrots and soup mix to 1 quart boiling water and simmer until the barley and carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.


Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other variety)
¼ cup dried onion flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (540ml) can cannelloni (white kidney beans) beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, except for the beans. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until the pasta and veggies are tender. Add in the beans and simmer an additional 15 minutes or so. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

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!

Wheat Berries with Charred Onions and Kale

Wheatberries & Kale
So today’s final grain is the wheat berry. For those of you not familiar with this one, it is the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. The grains, or berries, are a tan to reddish brown colour. What I love about them is their al dente bite and yummy taste. They are a great alternative to rice or other grains, and can be easily found in health food stores and some of your larger supermarkets. They are great as the base for a cold salad, mixed with diced veggies and feta. For this recipe we’re using them in a hot side dish, along with that trendy green kale! Be sure to check out my tips on how to de-stem and slice up the kale for best eating! The recipe below will serve six as a side dish and is definitely what should be on your table tonight! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups wheat berries
2 medium onions, halved, divided
5 sprigs thyme*
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes, divided (to taste)
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into chiffonade/ribbons (about 8 packed cups)* §
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme and kale.
§ Click here to learn how to destem and chiffonade kale.

Directions:

Combine wheat berries, ½ of 1 onion, the thyme sprigs, 1 garlic clove and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2″. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35 minutes. Drain; discard onion, thyme and garlic clove. Place the wheat berries in a large bowl and allow them to let cool.

Cut remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into ½” slices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Mince the remaining garlic clove, and add half of it to the onions, along with ¼ of a teaspoon chilli flakes. Season the onions lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until onions are charred in spots, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the onions to the bowl with the wheat berries.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Working in 3 batches, add the kale and the remaining garlic and chilli pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Add oil as needed between batches, until the kale is charred in spots, about 1-3 minutes per batch. Add the charred kale to the bowl. Drizzle the wheat berries and vegetables with the lemon juice and any remaining oil; tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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.

Rappie Pie (Nova Scotia)

Rappie Pie

Ahhh Nova Scotia, Latin for New Scotland, is the last of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and is located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. While it is the second smallest province in Canada with a land mass of 55,284 square kilometres or 21,300 square miles, it is in fact the second most-densely populated province (behind PEI) with a population of just under 950,000. Speaking of its people, you have a vast mixture here between old Scot and French, with the colourful history of the Acadians thrown in for good measure. Like a lot of food in this part of Canada, it has French roots, as you will see with today’s recipe for Rappie Pie. The name Rappie Pie originates from the French word râper, which means to grate. Although râpure was a favourite dish among Acadians throughout South West Nova Scotia, it was not an easy dish to prepare for a large family. The grating and draining does take a pit out of a person, however the end result is delicious! This can definitely be a one-dish meal, or you could always serve the left over broth as a first course. This recipe will make enough pie for at least 6 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large whole chicken
3 large chopped onions
2 ribs of celery
2 large whole carrots
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
chicken soup base (optional)
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can keep the chicken whole, or cut it into large pieces. Place the chicken into a large soup pot, along with the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme, and fill with just enough water to completely cover. Simmer the stock until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot, as well as the celery and carrots, but leave the onions and the broth in the pot. Taste the broth; if it needs to be more “chicken-y” add some of the chicken soup base to the mix. Keep the broth warm, not too hot, but allow the meat to cool so that you can handle it. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, and cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

For this recipe, you want to grate the potatoes, not shred. You can do this with a hand grater (and elbow grease) or by using a juicer that collects the pulp in a side compartment. Another method would be to purée the potatoes using the steel blade on a food processor. No matter what method you choose, you are going to want to remove as much (read ALL) the liquid from the potatoes.

Important note: Do not throw out the liquid drained from the potatoes! It has two purposes:

  1. You’re going to want to measure how much liquid you drained in the end, because you’re going to want to use that same amount of chicken broth to add the moisture back to the dish and;
  2. You’re going to want to save any of the starch that collects at the bottom of your measuring container (that whitish sludgy stuff) to add back you’re your strained potato mixture.

To remove the liquid, place the grated/puréed potatoes in a cotton bag (like a clean pillow case), a dish-towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and twist it until you have a tight package. The liquid will just pour off of it.

Using an equal amount of chicken broth to the amount of liquid you drained, blend the potatoes and broth liquid. You may want to do this in stages so that it gets very well mixed. Potato mixture consistency is correct when the spoon just slightly falls over when made to stand up in the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add half of the potato mixture into a greased rectangular baking pan or a large casserole dish. Then layer on the cut up chicken, and top with remaining potato mixture. Bake for about 2 hours, or until top is uniformly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Classic Tourtière (Quebec)

Tourtiere

Ahhh…. La belle province! The nickname for Quebec is “The beautiful province” and it is easy to see why. Quebec has a little bit of everything when it comes to its geography, and it has more culture than any one province has a right to! While most major cities are bilingual to an extent, the majority of Quebecois speak French as their daily language. But with French life, comes French food! And there is so much to choose from! Unfortunately, most of this tends to be not kosher, as there is a large amount of pork and shellfish in these dishes, along with the combinations of dairy and meat products (oh, but a REAL poutine would be so delicious!) However, I’ve taken a French classic, a Tourtière or meat pie, and given it a kosher twist, changing the pork to beef, and taking the lard and butter out of the pie crust. It may not be authentic, but I’m sure you’ll love it just the same! This pie will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cubed peeled potatoes (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound of mushrooms)
¾ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 ½ stalks)
¾ cup chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 Really Flaky Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Directions:

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, in deep skillet, sauté the beef over medium-high heat, mashing with fork, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savoury, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to scant ¼ inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Roll out remaining pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, and crimp them to create a tight seal.

If you like, you can use the leftover scraps of dough to cut out nice shapes to decorate the top of your pie. Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water. With a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Cut steam vents in the top of the pie. Bake in bottom third of a 400 degree oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really Flaky Pastry:

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted margarine, cubed
½ cup cold Crisco or other vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
ice water

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the salt. Using a pastry blender/cutter or 2 knives, cut in the margarine and the vegetable shortening until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measuring cup beat the egg with the vinegar and add enough ice water to make ⅔ cup. Drizzle over the flour mixture, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. If you like you can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.

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.

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.