Crepes – 4 Ways!

Crepes

So the 9 Days are wrapping up, but I thought I would give you one last menu idea to add to your repertoire that like the frittata, once you know the base, you can fit to match your own taste buds. Crepes! Or for our Yiddish followers, blintzes! Despite what you might think, crepes are easy and they are not just for dessert.

I’ll start you off with the basic crepes recipe, as well as give you an egg dish, some vegetarian options, and  a salmon dish to end. With each case, you will have to prepare the crepes first, and then make whatever filling you choose. While the crepe recipe below is not a sweet one, you can also use it with sweet fillings easily, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, or chocolate-hazelnut spread. The choices are really endless.

The Basic Crepes Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
¾ cup water
⅓ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually stir in the milk and water and continue stirring until combine. Add the salt and butter, and beat until smooth. For best results, cover and place in refrigerator for one hour.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, brush with oil. Pour ¼ cup of the batter into the heated pan. Quickly lift and tilt the pan, swirling the batter to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  Leave on the burner for about 2 minutes, or until the crepe is just firm and begins to brown at the edges. Use a spatula to gently release from the pan, flip onto a plate and repeat until all the batter is used. For crispy crepes, cook a little longer on the second side until bottom is browned.


Egg Crepes with Pico de GalloSavoury Scrambled Egg Crepes with Avocado Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:
Scrambled Eggs:
8 large eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Pico de Gallo:
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced*
2 tablespoons lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
To prepare the eggs:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat. Pour the eggs into the skillet and gently fold the eggs as they begin to set. Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To make the pico de gallo:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

To assemble the crepes:
Fill the crepes with the warm scrambled eggs, and fold crepes into quarters. Serve the crepes with pico de gallo on top.


Mushroom, Spinach and Parmesan CrepesMushroom Spinach and Parm Crepes

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 large shallots, small dice
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
¾ tablespoon dried thyme
kosher salt
1 ½ pounds mushrooms, sliced thin
8 cups baby spinach leaves*
2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 green onion/scallion, sliced thin, to serve*
12 (9-inch) crepes

* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach and green onions/scallions.

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, dried thyme, and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the shallot has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet, turn the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Due to the volume of mushrooms, you may want to brown them in batches, so that they get browned evenly and nicely. If so, you might need to add a little more butter to the pan to brown the second batch of mushrooms, as they tend to soak up the oil pretty quickly.

Once all the mushrooms have been browned, if you did them in batches, return everything to the pan, and add the spinach and cook it until it wilts, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. In your oven, turn the broiler on and arrange a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Smear a baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Lay the crepes out on a work surface. Distribute the mushroom-spinach filling between the crepes, arranging it in a line along the diameter of each one. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top of the filling, leaving some to top the crepes with. Carefully roll up the crepes to form cylinders. Place the rolled crepes in the buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Place the crepes under the broiler to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the crepes to a warmed plate, top with sliced green onion/scallion, and serve each person two.


Summer Vegetable CrepesSummer Vegetables and Cheese Crepes

Ingredients:
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish*
4 ½ tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped green beans
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
¾ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 (9-inch) crepes

* Click here to learn how to clean chives.

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside. Stir the sour cream, ⅓ cup chives, milk, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined, and then set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the ricotta, monterey jack, and the remaining chives, plus the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese has melted, about 1 to 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat.

To roll the crepes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Spoon one-sixth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about ¾ cup) down the centre of the crepe. Use the paper to help you gently roll the crepe around the filling. Place the crepe seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Serve each crepe topped with 2 tablespoons of the sauce you set aside earlier, and more chives, if desired.


Salmon Crepes with Mornay SauceSalmon crepes

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh salmon filets, skin removed
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced in thin rounds*
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup grated gruyère cheese, divided (you could also use parmesan or swiss)
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
12 crepes

* Click here to learn how to clean leeks.

Directions:
Prepare the crepes first and set aside, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they start to soften – about 3 minutes. Add in the salmon filets, flaking the fish into small pieces as it cooks. When the fish is cooked through, sprinkle on the flour and stir to mix completely with the fish and leeks. Pour in the wine and milk and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture boils and thickens – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup of the cheese. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

For each crepe, mound a generous ¼ cup of the salmon mixture in a log shape in the centre of the crepe. Fold over about ½ inch of the side edges to hold in the filling, then roll the crepe up. Place the crepes seam-side down in a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

Chicken Katsu

So in our schnitzel tour around the world, how about a stop in the Far East? Katsu is one of Japan’s favourite Western-style foods. So, what is it? Simply, it’s a bread crumbed cut of meat, usually served with shredded cabbage and a thick, salty and sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce.

Now for a little bit of history… Pork katsuretsu (cutlet) was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s.

Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Emperor Meiji – in his bid for Japan to become a more modern country and lead the way in terms of development – encouraged Western influence. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken (torikatsu), fish and vegetables.

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 chicken breast fillets
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
olive oil spray
½ – ¾ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded to serve*
½ – ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded to serve*
¼ cup mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

For the tonkatsu sauce:
¾ cup tomato sauce
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ teaspoon ground allspice

* Click here to learn how to clean different types of cabbage.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
To make the tonkatsu sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and allspice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

To make the chicken:
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded chicken to the lined tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Spray the top of the chicken with oil. Cook for the chicken for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and spray with oil. Cook the chicken for a further 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Thickly slice the chicken diagonally. Arrange the Chinese cabbage and red cabbage on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle the mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce over the chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

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.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Breads!

So one of the downsides of keeping kosher, is that you do not get to partake in the wide world of non-kosher eating establishments, and some of their notoriously, good and addictive dishes. This week I thought I would track down some famous restaurant recipes and get you as close a copycat recipe as possible so that you could make them at home, kosherizing where needed.

I thought I’d start like you would if you were actually dining in one of these restaurants, and get you some of their delicious bread recipes that for those that keep kosher could only previously dream and drool about. You will notice that several of these recipes are in fact dairy. You can read up about the ins and outs of dairy bread here, or you can make these breads non-dairy, or pareve, by replacing the milk and butter with non-dairy alternatives, such as soy milk and margarine.

For the “Olive Garden” Bread Sticks, if you wish to make them non-dairy, change the butter to margarine and leave out the Parmesan cheese altogether. The only recipe that I would not suggest changing would be the “Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits, as the non-dairy cheese alternatives do not tend to melt the same way that regular cheese does, but you can always try!


“Texas Roadhouse” Rolls Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Ingredients:
1 cup warm milk (100°F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
⅓ cup sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the board
1 egg
⅓ cup butter, melted plus ¼ cup butter, melted (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

Honey Cinnamon Butter:
½ cup softened butter (salted butter)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:
In a cup or small bowl, stir together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Allow the yeast to proof and begin to activate while you prepare the other ingredients. Using a stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, egg, ⅓ cup melted butter, and salt. Add the milk mixture and process until you have a smooth dough; it will be stickier and wetter than regular bread dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn the dough to grease all sides, and cover with a towel. Let rise until it has doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out on a floured board. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a large, flat rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Cut into 16 portions with a sharp knife and place on a greased baking sheet and let rise again, until doubled. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes on the greased baking sheet. They will be light brown when removed from the oven. If desired you can brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining ¼ cup melted butter before serving.

Prepare honey cinnamon butter by combining butter, cinnamon, honey, and powdered sugar until well blended.


Olive Garden Breadsticks“Olive Garden” Bread Sticks

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 ½ cups flour + extra flour for dusting board

Buttery topping:
4 tablespoons butter melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
⅛ teaspoon oregano

Directions:
Combine warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast in a large bowl of a mixer or a food processor. Add 4 ½ cups of flour and salt and process until the dough forms a nice uniform ball. Place dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size (this should take about an hour) place dough on a well-floured board and roll out dough. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Cut in half horizontally, and then cut vertical strips of dough about 1 ½ inches thick. Roll the strips of dough into sticks. Place dough on a greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise until they have doubled in size (this should take about 45 minutes). You should get between 20 and 24 bread sticks from this recipe.

Melt butter, and stir in Parmesan cheese and oregano. For best results rub the oregano between your fingers as you place it into the butter. This will help release the oils of the oregano and make it taste even better. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking bread sticks brush them with the butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush any left-over butter topping on these just before serving.


“KFC” Buttermilk BiscuitsKFC Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup chilled butter (you can use shortening)
2 tablespoons of butter melted (to top biscuits with)
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Cut butter into small cubes, if you use shortening chill it so you cut into small pieces. It is important to cut the butter into small pieces so it will make it easier to cut the butter into the flour. In a medium sized bowl combine self-rising flour, sugar, and cream of tartar. Add in cubed butter, and work butter into the flour until it reaches a large sand grained texture. Add buttermilk, and stir long enough to stir buttermilk into the dough.

On a floured surface turn dough out of the bowl, and shape flour into a round shape, use a rolling pin to gently roll out dough to about ¾ of an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes.


Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits“Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ⅓ tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cold water
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda until combined. Slowly add the oil, until all the lumps are gone and the mixture takes on a uniform texture. To this add the water and the grated cheese. Pat or roll out the dough to ¾ inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a cutter or drinking glass, and place in a baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, in a small saucepan, melt the butter together with the parsley, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. After you remove the biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with the seasoned butter and serve immediately.


“Outback Steakhouse” Honey Wheat BreadOutback Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (100°-110°F)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
3 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups bread flour
rolled oats (for dusting loaves)

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a dough hook, stir together water, oil, and honey until mixed well. Add wheat flour to water mixture. Add the cocoa, yeast, coffee, salt, and stir until blended. Allow mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in bread flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost clears the sides of mixer, about 3-4 minutes. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in the bowl until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Divide into 2 pieces. Cover each piece with greased plastic wrap, and let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Shape pieces into loaves, and sprinkle with oats. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Let dough rise until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350 F. Bake at for 30-40 minutes.

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.

Iced Coffee, Cubes and Syrups

Iced Coffees

So as I sit here in my office, for what seems like the one millionth day without proper air conditioning (today’s issue: blown fuse in the compressor), I am sipping on my regular decaf coffee, only iced, rather than hot. Yes, I am aware that there is the theory that when it’s 10 billion degrees out (give or take a degree) you’re actually supposed to have hot drinks, rather than cold, as it’s supposed to make you in fact cooler. So of course, my next step was to Google that to check it out!

According to the Smithsonian Magazine (www.smithsonianmag.com) their answer, in short: Yes, a hot drink can cool you down, but only in specific circumstances. and I quote:

“If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate”

The key is however that the increased perspiration needs to be able evaporate off your skin. If you are wearing a lot of clothing, or you are sweating so much that it’s just beading up and running off you rather than evaporating, then you are not cooling yourself off at all, and are better off going for a cold drink.

So, since we dress quite modestly here in the office, the chances of any overproduction of perspiration evaporating off my skin directly, while not slim to none, is close. So, I’m skipping the hot coffee and going for cold.

Sorry, that was a heck of a long into just to tell you that today is Iced Coffee Day! Since the basic recipe for Iced Coffee is pretty simple, I’m going to play up the variations by giving you recipes for a host of syrups that you can add to make your iced coffee taste just like something you paid $25 for at a store that rhymes with “Carbucks”! I’m also throwing in a recipe for coffee ice cubes. These are great for when you have a little coffee left in the pot, or just brew a pot for this recipe specifically, and then add these cubes to your coffee, and you’re not watering it down!  Enjoy everyone!


Iced Coffee Concentrate (Cold Brew)

Ingredients:
For the concentrate:
2 cup coffee beans, coarsely ground
8 cups water

For your iced coffee:
½ cup iced coffee concentrate
½ cup water
ice
sugar or coffee syrup if desired
creamer such as half-and-half, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk or coffee creamer

Directions:
Add the grounds and the water to a 64-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid. Stir. Put the lid on and put the jar/pitcher somewhere out of the way on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. Let it sit for at least 6 hours, up to 12.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the water and grounds over the strainer and discard grounds. Pour the iced coffee concentrate into an airtight jar or pitcher and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for up to one week.

To make iced coffee, fill a glass with ice and add ½ cup coffee concentrate and ½ cup water. Add cream/sweetener as desired and serve.


Coffee Ice Cubes

Ingredients:
black coffee, cooled
ice cube trays

Directions:
Brew a pot of hot coffee in your usual method and allow to cool to room temperature. Use whatever coffee is your preference, but the nicer the coffee the nicer the end result will be, so don’t scrimp on the flavour! If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, add in some sugar or sweetener at this point.

Pour coffee into your ice cube tray and place in the freezer to harden overnight. Place any left over coffee into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for later. When the ice cubes are ready, fill into a tall glass to serve.


Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
1 5-inch cinnamon stick

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Vanilla Bean Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water, scraped vanilla beans and pod and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. I usually don’t remove the vanilla pod and just leave it in for flavor. You can remove it if you wish!


Blackberry Syrup

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries*
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
* click here to learn how to clean blackberries.

Directions:
Add the blackberries to a blender with the water. Puree until completely smooth and blended, then strain over a fine mesh sieve into a bowl – so all you have is blackberry juice. Combine the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. This syrup can get extra sweet due to the flavor of your berries, so feel free to play along with water and sugar ratios.

You can use the same recipe to make raspberry, strawberry or blueberry syrup as well.


Almond Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar.


Toffee Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup toffee bits (such as a Skor™ bar)*

*Please note that this will make this syrup dairy.

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and toffee bits in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a cup.  Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, and then use a spoon to skim any solids off of the top.  Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Peppermint Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 candy cane, crumbled (optional, for colour)
½ to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and candy cane in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup.  Stir in the peppermint extract. Half a teaspoon is a good starting point and then you can add an additional half a teaspoon if you desire.  (Word to the wise – do not take a giant whiff of the still hot syrup unless you want a peppermint burn inside your nostrils.) Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Gingerbread Syrup

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon molasses
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into quarters
2 5-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or large jar and strain syrup. Discard solids. Pour into an airtight storage container and transfer to refrigerator. Contents may settle, so just give it a quick shake before enjoying pumpkin spice deliciousness in your morning coffee or latte.

Lots of Lemonade!

Lemonade.jpg

We all know the saying, “When life hands you lemons….” well today on Drink Week, I thought I’d make lemonade out of those lemons. And not just any lemonade of course! Sure, I’m going to start out with a classic straight forward lemonade, but then we’re going to switch it up with some wonderful plays on the golden oldie. I’m talking about adding varieties of herbs and different fruits to the mix to bring out a different taste than you might be expecting. You can even make an “Arnold Palmer” by mixing one of today’s recipes with one of yesterday’s iced teas, for a great summer treat.

As always, please be sure to check out our produce checking guide by clicking here to learn how to clean the different fruits and herbs used in the recipes below. As well, don’t forget to scrub the lemons and other citrus before cutting it up to use as garnish.


Classic Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 12 lemons)
7 cups water, divided
ice and lemon slices to serve

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved; let cool. In a pitcher, combine the syrup with the lemon juice and 5 to 6 cups water. Serve over ice with slices of lemon.


Hibiscus and Mint Lemonade

Ingredients:
8 bags hibiscus tea (such as Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger or 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers)
4 cups fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
¼ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
6 cups water, divided
ice for serving

Directions:
In a small saucepan, steep the tea and mint in 4 cups boiling water, using a wooden spoon to gently mash the mint; let cool. Discard the tea bags and mint. At the same time, in another small saucepan, combine the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved; let cool and mix with the fresh lemon juice and remaining water. In a large pitcher combine the tea and lemonade. Serve over ice and garnish with the mint sprigs.


Strawberry-Thyme Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
8 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for serving
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 2 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 lemons)
6 cups water
ice for serving

Directions:
Combine the sugar, thyme, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and discard the thyme.

Combine the thyme syrup with the strawberries, lemon juice, and 5 cups cold water in a large pitcher. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. Serve over ice, garnished with additional thyme.


Ginger Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups white sugar
8 cups water
7 slices fresh ginger root
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 12 lemons)
1 lemon, sliced
ice for serving

Directions:
In an 8-quart saucepan combine sugar, water and ginger root. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool 15 minutes. Remove ginger. Refrigerate lemonade at least 1 hour, or until chilled. Serve over ice, and garnish with the lemon slices.


Lavender Lemonade

Ingredients:
12 ice cubes
¼ cup dried lavender
2 cups boiling water
¾ cup white sugar
1 ¼ cups fresh lemon juice (from about 8 lemons)
5 cups cold water, or as needed
ice and lemon slices to serve

Directions:
Place ice cubes into a 2 quart pitcher. Place the lavender into a large heat-proof bowl, and pour boiling water over it. Allow to steep for about 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender and discard. Mix the sugar into the hot lavender water, and stir to dissolve. Pour the lavender water into the pitcher with the ice. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pitcher, getting as much juice as you can. Top off the pitcher with cold water, and stir. Taste, and adjust lemon juice or sugar if desired. Serve over ice with lemon slices.


Watermelon Lemonade

Ingredients:
½ cup white sugar
½ cup water
4 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups cold water
½ cup fresh lemon juice
6 cups ice cubes

Directions:
Place the watermelon into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups of cold water and the lemon juice. Divide the ice into glasses, and scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of watermelon puree over the ice, then top with the lemonade. Gently stir before serving.


Citrus Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
4 lemons, juiced
4 limes, juiced
4 oranges, juiced
3 quarts cold water, divided
1 lime, sliced into rounds (optional)
12 cups ice cubes

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved; let cool. Pour the sugar water, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and remaining water into a gallon-sized container; stir to combine. Serve over ice with a slice of lime if desired.

A Collection of Iced Teas

Iced Teas

One of the classic summer drinks that we tend to go for is Iced Tea. Simple, easy, delicious and refreshing, it’s amazing how it just seems to hit the spot. One of the problems though that I seem to find though when I brew it is that it sometimes takes on a bitter taste from the tea itself. I found a tip online years ago that alleviates this problem. Simply add a pinch of baking soda to the hot water when brewing the tea. It magically counterbalances this acidity/bitterness from the tannins in the tea, and leaves you with a smooth taste.

The collection of teas below are all of a sweet variety, but you can leave out the sugar in any of them if you prefer unsweetened tea. Another tip, if you plan on keeping tea in the fridge for several days, don’t leave citrus (lemons, limes, etc.) in it with the rind/peel on. The natural oils in the peel of the fruit will leech into the tea and give a bitter taste. It is best to add fresh citrus to your glass, or to the pitcher, and then remove it before storing it for the next day.


Smooth Sweet Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
2 cups boiling water
6 tea bags
¾ cup white sugar
6 cups cool water
ice and lemon for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof pitcher. Pour in the boiling water and add the tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and discard them. Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Pour in the cool water, then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with a wedge of lemon.


Sweet Lime Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 gallon boiling water
6 black tea bags (such as orange pekoe)
1 ½ cups white sugar
4 limes, juiced
lime slices for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a heat-proof gallon sized pitcher, then add the water and tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. Stir in the sugar and lime juice until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold before serving. Serve over ice with slices of lime.


South Asian Iced Tea

This is a bit of different kind of ice tea, in that it’s a sweet milky tea. Trust me though, once you try it, it will quickly become a favourite!

Ingredients:
9 cups water
8 tea bags black tea (such as orange pekoe)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
½ cup half-and-half, divided

Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a kettle and pour over tea bags in a heat-proof pitcher. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes and then remove the bags from the pitcher. Stir in the sugar in until it has dissolved. Cool the tea to room temperature. To serve, fill a glass with ice, then pour in the cool tea until almost full. Then add 1 tablespoon condensed milk and float 1 tablespoon of half-and-half atop the iced tea.


Hawaiian Plantation Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 quart barely boiling hot water
4 orange pekoe tea bags
1 quart ice cold water
1 (16 ounce) can pineapple juice
½ cup simple syrup (optional)*
1 fresh pineapple – peeled, cored, and cut into spears

Directions:
Pour the hot water into a large pitcher, and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and pour in the ice water and the pineapple juice. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 ½ hours. Pour the tea over ice, garnish with pineapple spears, and serve.

* To make simple syrup heat ½ cup of water with ½ cup sugar over low-medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.


Peach Orange Iced Tea

This fruity tea is a nice twist on traditional ice tea. If you don’t have peaches or clementine, you can use a nectarine or mandarin.

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 large fresh peach, sliced
1 clementine, peeled and segmented
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
8 cups boiling water
4 Earl Grey tea bags
ice and peach slices for serving

Directions:
In a large heat-proof pitcher, and the sliced peach, clementine and sugar. Muddle the fruit and sugar to break it down. Add the baking soda, boiling water and tea bags and stir. Refrigerate the tea until cool, about an hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fruit and tea bags. Serve over ice with a few slices of peach.