Bloody Mary Burgers with Horseradish Dressing

Bloody Mary BurgersSo for today’s burger, I thought I’d go for something a little different. Bloody Mary’s anyone? Admittedly, this has to be hands down my favourite cocktail. Now while I’m not too particular over the brand of vodka used (or tequila for what I call a Bloody Maria), I am quite particular that I only like hot sauce used, and NOT horseradish! Horseradish is for gefilte fish and roast beef! Which is why I make the exception in this recipe using horseradish with this beef burger. There is something about the sharp bite of the root, mixed with the dense meat of the burger that just works well together. As a bonus to today’s recipe, I’m going to throw in a quick recipe for Bloody Mary’s to accompany your meal. You can always skip the alcohol for those who are underage or don’t drink. I’m sure everyone will enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 ¼ teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
6 to 12 dashes hot sauce, plus more as necessary
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of medium and lean)
A little canola or olive oil, for brushing

For the dressing:
1 (1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inch piece) fresh horseradish root, freshly grated
3 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
6 good bread buns, ciabatta rolls, or thick slices of baguette
A few romaine lettuce leaves*
A few tomatoes, sliced
ketchup, optional

* Click here to learn how to clean romaine lettuce.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce in meat dishes.

Directions:
For the burgers: In a medium bowl, mix together the tomato paste, horseradish, celery seeds, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Add the beef and mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure the seasonings are spread throughout the meat. Let stand for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Meanwhile, make the horseradish dressing.

For the dressing: Mix the grated horseradish, non-dairy sour cream and vinegar together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Break off a small piece of the beef mixture, the size of a walnut, and fry in a little oil until well cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

To serve: Heat a grill. Shape the meat into 6 patties about ¾ inch thick. Lightly brush each one with oil, then place on a grill over high heat. It’s hard to give exact cooking instructions due to variables such as the thickness of the burger, the heat of the grill, and personal preference. For a medium-rare burger, you will probably need to grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. If you’re cooking the burgers indoors, use a lightly oiled grill pan set over medium-high heat. Let the burgers rest for a minute or two while you prepare the buns.

Toast the buns or other bread lightly on the cut side, then top with the lettuce leaves and tomato slices. Add the burgers and smear with horseradish sauce, and a dollop of ketchup if you like. Top with the other half of the bread.


Bloody Mary Cocktail

Classic Bloody Mary Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the vodka and top up with tomato juice.

Ingredients:
¼ cup vodka
¾ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
celery salt, for rimming the glass
salt and pepper
lemon wedge and celery stalk, for garnish

Directions:
Pour some celery salt on to a small plate. Take the lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the glass. Turn the glass upside down, and dip it in the celery salt on the plate. The celery salt will now coat the rim of the glass. Pour the tomato juice and vodka into the glass, and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce , hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add ice if desired. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge and a celery stalk. Enjoy!

Papas Arrugadas with Red & Green Mojo Sauce

Canarian Potatoes

The humble potato. Where would be without it? As a Jew just coming off of Passover, I can tell you I’d be lost without it! So in honour of our starchy, tuberous friend from the nightshade family, I dedicate this week to the ever versatile potato!

We’re going to be starting our international dedication with a recipe from the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory just off the southern coast of Morocco. It is fitting to choose a recipe with Spanish roots, since the English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).  The Spanish say that patata is derived from the Taíno (native language of the people of the Caribbean) batata and the Quechua (native language of the people of the Andes) papa. So as you can see, even the name is international!

This recipe makes a great little appetizer if you’re serving a tapas style meal or hors d’oeuvres and wine, as something savoury to nibble on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the green mojo sauce:
½ green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
½ cup cilantro or parsley leaves*
2 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the red mojo sauce:
4 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¾ teaspoon pimentón picante, chile pepper, or cayenne
2 teaspoons pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste

For the potatoes:
2 pounds small new potatoes (in their skins), washed
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* Click here to learn how to clean cliantro and parsely.

Directions:

To make the green mojo sauce:
Blend all the ingredients except the oil to a paste in the food processor. Gradually add the oil and blend to a light creamy consistency.

To make the red mojo sauce:
Mix the garlic with the pimentón, and cumin in a bowl, then beat in the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

To cook the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan that holds them in one layer, and add just enough water to cover and the salt. If you have to boil the potatoes in two pans, do so, this way they each get the salty coating.

Bring the salty water to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, letting the water bubble for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the water has evaporated. Leave them over very low heat for a few minutes, moving them and turning them over in the dry pan, until they are wrinkled and covered with a fine powder of salt. Serve hot or warm, with one or both of the sauces.

Israeli Hot Sauces – Zhug & Amba

So as we round out Condiment Week, I was trying to decide what today’s final recipe should be. We did the classics of mayo, mustard, ketchup and relish…. but what would be a good final note? So I thought to myself, what do you see on tables at restaurants? I know! Hot sauce! But no one is really going to make their own Tabasco or Texas Pete sauce at home (well, some people will, but most of us won’t).

But then I remembered one of my mom’s favourites! Amba! A slightly pickled, slightly spicy, savoury mango sauce that she just loves on her laffa! And of course, when you’re ordering up your laffa, you can always ask for it to be cha’reef (hot in Hebrew), which means the addition of Zhug, a spicy herb paste that really kicks it up a notch. So for today, we get two recipes, Amba and Zhug. Remember, you can always adjust the heat level by adding more or less chilies to the recipes. Enjoy and MAKE SURE TO WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE TOUCHING YOUR EYES!

Zhug

Zhug – Israeli/Yemeni Hot Sauce
Makes about 1 ¼ cup

Ingredients:

10 to 14 fresh green chilies or jalapeños, seeded if you like and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 to 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro*
½ cup packed parsley leaves*
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro and parsley.

Directions:

Place the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse several times, until you get a smooth paste. You will have to scrape down all the bits and pieces that stick to the sides of the bowl.

Pack in a jar and store in the refrigerator. Zhug will keep for one to two weeks. You can also freeze it, but it will lose some of its garlicky flavor.

Amba

Amba – Spicy/Savoury Israeli Condiment
Makes about 1 one-cup

Ingredients:

2 ½ green mangoes
1 ¼ tablespoons salt
½ tablespoon corn oil
2 ½ tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seed (whole, not ground)
1 tablespoon dried red pepper (about 2 ½ tiny ones, or more to taste)
½ tablespoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon hot paprika
½ tablespoon turmeric
½ head garlic, peeled and finely chopped (HEAD, not cloves)
¼ cup corn oil (more or less, for finishing)

Directions:

Wash the mangoes well and cut them up (including the peel) into slices the size of your pinky finger. Coat with the 1 ¼ tablespoons of salt, and place the slices into a large jar. Close the jar and shake it to evenly distribute the salt. Place the jar in a sunny spot for 4 to 5 days to release all the liquid in the fruit. At the end of this time the mangoes should be a very light, yellow colour.

Drain the mangoes, but make sure to save the liquid. Allow the mango slices to dry, preferably in the sun, for 3 to 4 hours. Heat the ½ tablespoon of corn oil in a pot, and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, peppers, fenugreek, paprika and turmeric. Cook and constantly stir for a few seconds, until the spices begin to pop and make tiny explosive noises.

In a separate small pot, boil the saved mango liquid and then add it to the heated spice mixture. Add the mango pieces and the chopped garlic. Stir, and continue cooking for 5 minutes on a low flame. Make sure the mixture does not dry out too much. Remove from the flame and let cool completely. At this point you can leave it chunky, or use a blender to purée it smooth.

Pour the mixture into a clean container with a lid and cover with the remaining corn oil, and then seal. The amba will keep in the fridge for at least six months.

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

So this past week at COR’s offices, we found out that a popular prepared roasted garlic mayonnaise spread was unfortunately no longer under certification. It came as quite a disappointment to several consumers of this product, and sparked one of the Rabbis in the office to suggest that I make this week Condiment Week! Brilliant I said! So in honour of our fallen condiment friend, I bring you a roasted garlic mayonnaise that you make yourself, that I promise will taste just as good, if not better! This mayo will be great on burgers, with fish or as a dip for fries! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 whole head of garlic, sliced in ½
4 sprigs fresh thyme*
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large egg yolks**
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ cups canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives, sliced*

* Click here to learn how to clean fresh thyme and chives.
** See note below regarding the use of raw eggs in a recipe.

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the garlic onto a sheet of aluminum foil, top it with the thyme, drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. Close the foil up and roast the garlic until it is soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft pulp into a bowl and set aside.

In a non-reactive bowl or in a food processor, combine the egg yolks, mustard, water, and salt and pepper. Whisk or pulse with the machine to break up the yolks. If you’re making the mayonnaise by hand, put the bowl on a damp towel to keep it from moving around while you work. Then drizzle in the oils, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If the mayonnaise breaks, stop drizzling and whisk until it comes together again. If you’re using the food processor, pour in the oils in a thin stream with the machine running. Then whisk or process in the garlic, lemon juice and chives. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon juice, salt, or pepper. Thin the mayonnaise with more water if it is too thick.

NOTE: CONTAINS RAW EGGS: COR suggests caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

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.

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.

Pan Fried Fish with Mango Salsa

Fried fish with mango salsaWhen I was thinking about Fish Week, I knew I wanted to do some type of fried fish, and immediately thought of the classic fish and chips. These days, most people tend to stay away from a heavy battered piece of fish, deep fried served alongside deep fried starchy french fries. Can you blame them? I still wanted something with a crunch though, I thought a lightly breaded pan-fried tilapia fit the bill! Served along side the refreshing sweet and spicy mango salsa, you can get your fried fix without feeling too guilty. I’d even throw in some oven-baked sweet potato “fries” to go along with this meal. The recipe below will serve six. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Fish:
1 ½ pounds tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 egg
½ cup milk
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons blackened or Cajun/Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground sea salt, or to taste
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Salsa:
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean herbs.

Directions:

Prepare the mango salsa by combining the mango, red bell pepper, red onion, parsley/cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the fish, beat the egg with milk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, onion flakes, garlic, blackened seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and sea salt.

Dip a tilapia fillet into the egg mixture, then press gently into the crumb mixture on both sides; set the coated fillet onto a plate. Repeat with remaining fillets; refrigerate the coated fillets for about 15 minutes to help set the crumbs.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Lay the fillets into the skillet, and pan-fry until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. The fish should be opaque and flaky underneath the coating. Remove and drain fillets on paper towels. Serve warm, topped with salsa.

Pasta Salad with Red Peppers, Chives, & Goat Cheese

Pasta Salad with with Red Peppers, Chives, & Goat CheeseThis is a nice light pasta salad that would go well with some crusty bread, or a light fish dish for a complete meal. I personally LOVE goat cheese, but you can add as little, or as much, as you like to this dish. If you wanted to make it more of a Greek style, change the goat cheese to feta, and the green olives to kalamata. This salad will serve 6-8 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ red onion, finely chopped
sea salt, to taste
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 (12-ounce) jar fire-roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed, patted dry with paper towels, and chopped*
2 cups cooked shell pasta (about 1 ½ cups uncooked)
¼ cup chopped chives**
¾ cup chopped marinated pitted green olives (if possible, look for olives marinated in garlic and extra virgin olive oil from your deli olive bar)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ – ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (to taste)

* You can also make your own roasted red peppers, using the recipe found here.
** Click here to learn how to clean chives properly.

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and sauté for 3–4 minutes, or until onion is softened. Season onion with salt and pepper to taste. Add frozen corn to the skillet and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Mix in the red peppers and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Transfer the onion, corn, and red pepper mixture to a large serving bowl. Toss in the cooked pasta shells, chives, olives, and cherry tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano and thyme. Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta salad and gently toss to mix. Stir in the crumbled goat cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

Note: Pasta salad can be made up to one day in advance.

Maple and Soy Roasted Duck

Maple and Soy Roasted DuckSo out of the three entrees served at Queen Victoria’s May 15, 1879, one of them was for Filet de Canetons aux Petits Pois or for those non-Frenchies, Fillets of Roasted Ducklings with Small Peas. Of course, I was able to find a Victorian Era recipe for the dish, but the recipe doesn’t fit with today’s tastes, it’s actually strangely both simple and rich at the same time. To fit with more modern tastes, today’s recipe is for a Maple and Soy Roasted Duck with a wine, thyme and grape sauce. Delicious! This dish will serve 6-8 people or can be halved easily for 4 people.

Filets de Canetons aux petits poisIngredients:

2 whole ducks (2 ½ kg each)
Fine sea salt to taste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 clementine or mandarin oranges, rinsed and quartered
3 teaspoons good quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Sauce:
2 ½ cups cabernet sauvignon red wine
2 sprigs of fresh thyme*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed and halved
2 tablespoons jelly of choice (I recommend cherry, currant or raspberry)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme properly.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the ducks from their packaging, empty the cavities and rinse under cold water. Make sure to pat dry the ducks inside and out. Cut off excess fat from the ends. Using a fork, prick the skin of the duck on top and underneath (on the fatty parts), without piercing the meat.

Season the duck with salt on the outside and inside the cavity. Stuff the each duck with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the 4 cloves of garlic and 1 clementine or mandarin orange worth of quarters, and then truss.

Place the duck, breast side down, on a grill in an approximately 13 x 9 in broiling pan. If you don’t have a grill for your roasting pan, you can place a wire cooling rack used for baking in a deep casserole dish instead. Just make sure to indicate that the cooling rack is now considered a meat utensil. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, turn the ducks over to breast side up, and roast for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, put the wine, grapes, 2 sprigs of thyme and jelly in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce to half over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or more to taste. Mix. Set aside. Take the ducks out of the oven, and baste with the fat and cooking juices. Put the ducks back in the oven and continue cooking until the skin turns golden brown, approximately 60 minutes.

Take the ducks out of the broiling pan. Mix the soy sauce and remaining maple syrup together and then brush the mixture over the ducks. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Empty the accumulated fat. Tilt the ducks to empty the cooking juices that have accumulated in the cavity. Skim off the juice and add to the sauce. Transfer the ducks to a serving plate. Remove string and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce on the side.

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crunch

Chocolate Toffee Matzo CrunchThese make a nice dessert, or “something” to serve with afternoon tea. As to how much the recipe makes, well, enough for a family of five, but it all depends on how small you break up the pieces. Here’s a tip: If you’re finding it hard to spread the toffee or chocolate out smoothly, coat your spatula in a little oil or melted butter/margarine. This will allow you to apply a bit of pressure while you spread without the toffee or chocolate sticking to the spatula.

Ingredients:

4-6 matzos
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (butter recommended)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cups chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate for pareve/vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or your favourite Passover-friendly nut – optional)
Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet tray with a layer of foil, then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment. Evenly cover the sheet tray with matzos. Break or cut the matzos into smaller pieces if necessary.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter/margarine, brown sugar, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 additional minutes and continue stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the toffee mixture over the matzos. Use a spatula to spread evenly across the entire surface of the matzo. Make sure you spread it out fairly quickly or it will start to get sticky and become harder to smooth over.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check frequently to be sure that the mixture is not burning. If it appears to browning too quickly, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees, then replace the tray when the temperature drops a bit.

Once 15 minutes have passed, remove the matzos from the oven and evenly sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzo. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and a light sprinkle of sea salt over the top of the melted chocolate. While the matzos are still warm, break them into smaller squares or pieces. You can use a knife to break them up, but I like the rustic look of the “natural break”. Place in the freezer until the topping has set. Serve straight from the freezer, chilled, or at room temperature.