Matzo Brei

Matzah BreiMatzo Brei is a long standing Passover tradition in my house, and we tend to be purists, using only the basic recipe below and topped with a little ketchup (’cause despite what you may think, ketchup pretty much goes with everything). My co-worker’s husband goes sweet, adding pancake syrup to his freshly cooked dish, while my boyfriend goes savoury, adding sauteed veggies and cheese to the dish while it cooks. To each his own I guess! No matter how you make it, I hope you like it! This recipe will serve 2-4 people.

Ingredients:

4 Matzos
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter/margarine

Optional Ingredients:
For a savoury dish try adding any or all of the following: sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, sliced onions, cheese
For a sweet dish try adding any or all of the following: canned fruit, applesauce, sour cream or syrup.

Directions:

Crumble matzos into a large sieve placed over a bowl to catch crumbs, then hold sieve under running cold water until matzos are moist and softened but not completely disintegrated, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl with crumbs, then add eggs and salt and mix gently with a fork.

Heat butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add matzo mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are scrambled and matzo has begun to crisp, about 3 minutes.

Ram’s Head – ראש כבש

The following is said while eating a piece of the meat from a ram’s head (or the head of another kosher animal or fish).

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that we be a head and not a tail.

(The following is added only over the head of a ram:

וְתִזְכֹּר לָנוּ עֲקֵדָתוֹ וְאֵילוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק אָבִינוּ בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עַלֵיהֶם הַשָּׁלוֹם

…And You shall remember for us the binding and the ram of our forefather Isaac, the son of our forefather Abraham, peace be onto them.)

Spanish Morrocan Fish

Spanish Moroccan Fish

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
4 green olives, sliced (optional)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chicken soup powder
Salt to taste
5 pounds tilapia fillets

Directions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, olives, and chickpeas and continue to cook until the peppers are slightly tender, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the parsley, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and chicken soup powder over the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Stir to incorporate. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and add enough water to cover the vegetables. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork and juices run clear, about 30-40 minutes. Serve over rice, couscous or with crusty bread. Can be served hot or cold. This dish serves 6 as an entrée, 12 as an appetizer.

Kebabs

Grilled Ground Lamb Kebabs with Fresh Hot-Pepper Paste

Ingredients:

1 ¼ pounds ground lamb
¾ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
4 garlic cloves, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 bamboo skewers
Olive oil
Warm pita bread
Fresh Hot-Pepper Paste

Directions:

Combine lamb, onion, parsley, mint, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in large bowl and mix well. (Can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Place bamboo skewers in shallow dish. Cover with cold water and let stand at least 1 hour. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Drain skewers. Form generous ¼ cup lamb mixture into 3-inch-long sausage around centre of 1 bamboo skewer. Repeat with remaining lamb mixture and skewers. Brush lamb kebabs with oil. Grill kebabs until brown and cooked through, turning frequently, about 12 minutes. Serve in warm pita bread with Fresh Hot-Pepper Paste. Makes 12 skewers.

hot pepper sauce

Fresh Hot-Pepper Paste

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped seeded fresh red serrano or red jalapeño chilies
¼ cup water
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in processor and blend until very finely chopped. Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Pomegranate – רימון

On Rosh HaShannah we eat a pomegranate and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה מְלֵאִים מִצְוֹת כָּרִמּוֹן

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that we be filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate [is filled with seeds].

With 613 to choose from, I’m sure we can find a way to be filled with mitzvot and pomegranates this year!

Pom Dip

Pomegranate Pepper Dip

This version of muhammara, a Turkish dip made with red peppers, pomegranate molasses, and walnuts, uses fresh pomegranate seeds instead of reduced pomegranate molasses, and pecans instead of walnuts. It has a fresh, bright flavor and is delicious spread on crackers or pita bread or used as a dip for fresh or lightly steamed veggies.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 red bell peppers
1 pomegranate
1 to 1 ½ cups pecans
1 clove garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh lemon juice to taste

Directions:

Use either the broiler method or live flame method, roast the red peppers until they are charred. Let them sit, covered, about 15 minutes. Heat an oven to 350°F. While it heats, seed the pomegranate and set the seeds aside. You should have about ¾ cup. Lay the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Cook until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Set a timer and check frequently – pecans can go from raw to burnt very quickly. Set pecans aside to cool. While the pecans cool, remove the skin from the peppers – the charred skin should slip right off. Feel free to rinse them under cool running water, if you like. Gently rub the pecans with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and lift the pecans off the towels. You won’t remove all the pecans skin, nor do you need to, but it should remove a fair amount of it. Put the peppers, pecans, pomegranate seeds (save a few for garnish, if you like), garlic clove, olive oil, and salt in a blender or food processor and whirl until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Add lemon juice to taste and adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately or cover and chill to serve later (the dip will keep for several days). Garnish with reserved pomegranate seeds, if you like.

Pom Relish

Pomegranate Relish

Ingredients:

2 pomegranates, seeded (About 1 ½ cups of seeds)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
Dash of salt

Directions:

Seed pomegranates – see How to Seed a Pomegranate. Be careful because the juice does stain! Combine all ingredients and mix well with wooden spoon. Refrigerate for 4 hours prior to serving. Remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before serving so that it is not ice cold.

Small beans – רוביא—לוביא

Small beans in Hebrew is רוביא or לוביא and is related to the words, רב—many, and לב—heart. So we eat these symbolic beans and ask the following request:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּרְבּוּ זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ וּתְלַבְּבֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that our merits shall increase and that You hearten us.

So to be heart healthy this year, here are two recipes involving beans that you can serve up to your guests!

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar

Ingredients:

½ red onion, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or 2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 15oz. can corn niblets, drained
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz. can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoons garlic powder
½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro (optional)*

Directions:

In a very large bowl, mix together the coriander, vinegar, oil, sugar and garlic powder. Once combined, add all of the vegetables and beans to the dressing, mixing well to make sure everything is coated. Be sure to mix well, but lightly so that you don’t crush the beans. If using cilantro, chop it finely and toss in with the salad. Let the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours meld. Take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before serving so that it is not ice cold. *See the produce cleaning guide on how to inspect green onions  and cilantro.

 

Black Eyed Peas

Deep Fried Black Eyed Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 bay leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Canola oil for frying
2 teaspoons of your favourite seasoning blend (I suggest a Creole/Cajun type)
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Place the black-eyed peas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the peas. Pour in enough water to cover the peas by 3-inches, then stir in the onion, bay leaves, and jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the peas are tender but not mushy, 40 to 50 minutes. Add more water if needed to keep the peas covered while cooking. Drain the peas in a colander set in the sink, and spread them onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels or dish towels to drain. Discard bay leaves, and refrigerate the peas until ready to fry.

WARNING: The peas need to be dry before you drop them in the oil. Excess water will cause the oil to splash up and potentially cause a nasty burn!

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Use a thermometer, or here’s a neat tip: Take a wooden mixing spoon hold it standing up with the handle submerged in the oil and the wood touching the bottom of your saucepan. If bubbles start to rise from the tip of the handle, your oil is ready! If you don’t have a thermometer or a wooden spoon, you can always test a few peas first by dropping them in. They should immediately start to bubble, but not burn. Adjust your temperature as needed. Carefully pour about 1 ½ cups of peas into the hot oil per batch, and fry until crisp, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the peas, drain on paper towels, and toss the hot peas in a bowl with your seasoning blend and kosher salt. Serve hot.

Kitchen Sink Vegetarian Chili

Chili

The great thing about this chili is that you don’t like one of the ingredients? Leave it out! Add something else! Play around with it! Want it spicier? Up the chili powder or hit it with some Tabasco sauce. This really acts as more of a guide to let your inner cook out to experiment and see what happens. You can always add meat if you wish. If you do, brown off the meat first, then follow the rest of the directions as listed below. Serve this chili up over rice or on top of baked potatoes for a great filling meal. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup onions, diced small
¾ cup carrots, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
¾ cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ cups chopped fresh mushrooms
1 (796 ml) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
1 (540 ml) can kidney beans, drained
1 (540 ml) can black beans, drained
1 (341 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and corn. Season with paprika, salt, cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once all the vegetables are tender and cooked through, and remove lid and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes to reduce the liquid in the chili as needed. Serve over rice or baked potato.

To make this into Cincinnati Chili, serve the chili on top of cooked spaghetti and top with shredded cheese and raw diced onions. To make this into a Frito Pie, line a pie or casserole dish with corn-chips, then top with the chili. Top the chili with shredded cheese, raw diced onions and a few slices of jalapeno and bake in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and melted.

Crisp n’ Crunchy Stir-Fry

Stir Fry

Serve this with short grain brown rice which has a really nice nutty flavour and pleasantly chewy texture. Add tofu or shredded chicken if you like, though it will no longer be vegetarian if you do. Some tips regarding the ingredients listed: If you do not have rice wine, you can always use Gin or Dry White Wine instead. If you do not have Coconut Oil, you can use Vegetable, Canola or Olive; just as long as it doesn’t have a strong flavour. With regards to the broccoli, I do not recommend using fresh, as it is close to impossible to check for insects. Instead, frozen florets are available with reliable hechshers at your local grocery store.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup stock or water
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoon coconut oil
½ cup raw cashews
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon chili flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1 cup finely sliced carrots (1-2 medium sized carrots)
2 cups broccoli small florets
1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
1½ cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

Directions:

Remember the number one stir-fry rule: prepare everything before you start cooking. Wash, dry and trim all of the vegetables and then slice and chop them as described above, keeping them in neat separate piles, perhaps in small bowls. Portion out the cashews and chili flakes.

Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients but the cornstarch. Mix a little liquid with the cornstarch to make a smooth paste before combining it with the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.

In a wide skillet or wok, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cashews and toss and stir until browned; remove pan from heat and cashews to a kitchen towel. Return the pan to the heat add the other tablespoon of coconut oil, when hot, add the garlic, ginger and chili; cook quickly for not even a minute, briskly stirring. Add the carrots, broccoli and celery, stir several times. Add the mushrooms and pepper; stir fry for a minute or two and then pour in the sauce; bring to a bubble and cover. Cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, until the liquid has thickened and coated everything well. Add the cashews back in, stir to combine and serve on rice.

Cheese, Red Pepper & Mushroom Strata

Strata

This strata (a fancy term for a layered bread casserole) makes a wonderful brunch dish or great for a milchig dinner. Serve with a nice salad and you’ve got a great meal. You can even prepare this dish the night before and let it sit covered in the fridge then bake off the night you wish to serve it. This tends to make an even better dish because it gives the bread more time to soak up all of the flavours! If you don’t have Shiitake mushrooms, any kind will do. If you don’t have your own roasted red peppers (though you should, see my recipe for them!) you can use jarred.

Ingredients:

¼ cup of butter
1 lbs. Shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into thin strips
12 slices of challah – cut into 1 inch dice
2 ¼ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups cream
5 large eggs
¾ cup fresh chives, chopped (same quantity dried)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (2 teaspoons if using dried)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups goat cheese (soft)
1 ½ cups parmesan, grated
1 cup fontina, grated

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium sized skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. Add sliced red pepper to the mushrooms. Submerge challah cubs in a large bowl of the milk. The bread should absorb all of the milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, eggs, chives, thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and add the crumbled goat cheese, and whisk together until fully incorporated.

In the buttered glass dish, lay half of the bread mixture down and don’t worry if it does not fill the entire base. Top with a layer of mushroom/pepper mixture. Add grated fontina and parmesan, then the cream/egg mixture. Repeat the layering process using the remaining ingredients. Bake strata uncovered for 1 hour or until golden brown and firm in the middle.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

An easy way to up the nutrition on this dish is to use high fibre or whole wheat pasta instead of regular. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can used dried instead. The rule of thumb when converting is to use ⅓ of the amount dried that you would fresh. So this recipe calls for ½ a cup of fresh, so you would use 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of dried. This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

12 chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Olive oil spray or enough oil to coat a pan
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup chicken broth, more if needed*
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups cooked (12 oz. uncooked) pasta

Directions:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray with cooking oil. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on each side for about 3-4 minutes. Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker, except the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms in the last hour, mushrooms can be omitted if you are not around to toss them in. Cook on low for 6 hours. In the last hour add the mushrooms. Serve over pasta. If you are preparing this ahead of time, complete the steps above, however after browning the chicken, allow to cool and then add all of the ingredients, minus the mushrooms and pasta into a gallon sized freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and store in your freezer. On the day you wish to make your Cacciatore, allow it to cook on low for 8 hours. Again, add the mushrooms in at the last hour and then serve over pasta. *Depending on your crock pot you may need to add more liquid.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow Relish

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh green beans
1 cup of cauliflower, separated into florets (use frozen checked cauliflower)
⅓ cup fresh lima beans, shelled
⅓ cup fresh corn kernels
½ cup chopped onions
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup green tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
½ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
¾ teaspoon celery seed
¾ teaspoon mustard seed
¾ teaspoon ground mustard powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Note: Canned green beans, lima beans and corn can be used in this recipe if fresh is unavailable.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans, cauliflower, lima beans, and corn. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or just until tender; drain. If you are using canned vegetables, you can skip this step, as the vegetables are already par-cooked. Return vegetables to pot, and mix in onions, bell peppers, and green tomatoes. Heat vinegar in a separate saucepan until boiling. Stir in sugar, salt, celery seed, mustard seed, ground mustard powder, and ground turmeric until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over vegetables in pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a sterilized pint jar, and seal. Let the relish sit for a day or two in the fridge before using to give the flavours a chance to blend.

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

Ingredients:

12 Red Bell Peppers
12 cloves of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 bunch fresh Basil
Kosher Salt
Air-Tight Storage Containers

Directions:

In order to make Roasted Peppers, there are two practical methods for the home cook. If you have a gas oven, with exposed flame elements, then you can simply rest the peppers on top of the elements to blacken the skin of the pepper (or use tongs to hold over the element to get all the angles). If you do not have a gas oven, then move your oven shelf to the top portion of the oven and set your oven to broil. If you are using the oven method, you can roast the peppers whole, rotating them occasionally to get all the sides, or you can slice the peppers away from the core, and place them on a greased cookie sheet, flesh side down, and just let them roast. Remember however to leave your oven door ajar so that you do not set off your smoke detectors!

Once you have completely blackened the skin of the peppers, place the hot peppers in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will trap the steam, and make it easier to remove the skins once the peppers have cooled. While the peppers are resting, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Make sure that the containers you will be storing your peppers in are 100% clean, as you will be storing your peppers for a long time, (or until they’re all eaten up!) and you do not want bacteria to grow.

Finely mince the garlic and divide it up amongst your containers equally. Wash and dry the basil, making sure you have checked for any dirt or insects. Take 5-6 leaves of basil, and stack them on top of each other, then roll them up, making a little basil cigar. Take your knife and slice through the cigar, making fine strips of basil (this technique is called chiffonade for those who want to be fancy!). Divide the basil amongst your containers. Remove the plastic wrap from the peppers, and slide the skins off the peppers. It does not have to be perfect, in fact, a little bit of the charred skin adds flavour. Make sure to remove all the seeds, then slice into strips and equally distribute the peppers into your containers. Add salt to taste, and cover with EVOO.

These peppers will keep for weeks, but make sure to keep them REFRIGERATED! You do not want to risk botulism (which can form if left for a length of time un-refridgerated). Botulism can’t grow below 40F.