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Mar 29, 2015

Inspiraled!

Meet our new favorite kitchen tool. You may have heard it called the spiralizer, the zoodler—a cute term for a zucchini noodle—or a spiral vegetable slicer. However you choose to identify to this nifty kitchen tool, know one thing: you will be joining the hottest culinary trend in years! It will slice your standard vegetable into spaghetti-like shapes. Instead of carrot sticks, zucchini slices or cucumber half-circles that top boring lettuce salads, you'll be dining on ribbons and spirals.
So if you are a vegetable fanatic or just attempting to clean up your diet the opportunity to convert a carb-heavy meal into lighter fare is for you.
The process is pretty simple: either peel or wash the raw piece of produce (you can cook it later) and use the tool to spiral it down into a noodle shape. There are two basic varieties of vegetable spiralizers on the market to consider. One is an hourglass-shaped tool that is the choice for smaller kitchens. It's two-sided for thin or thicker noodles, and calls for an easy manual twisting of the vegetable similar to a pencil sharpener. It is simple and efficient.
For those with more room in their kitchens and a desire for both culinary adventure and a variety of attachments, you will enjoy a triple blade vegetable slicer. This noodler is sold with 3 different blades to give you spiral slices, thick noodles and angel hair-thin noodles.  But the process is still simple: Secure the vegetable onto the blade and crank out some noodles. Both tools above can transform virtually any hearty vegetable into spaghetti form.
By spiralizing, you’re naturally eating more vegetables – without even noticing (especially when they’re covered in a delicious marinara sauce!) Vegetables have an abundance of dietary fiber, which helps keep you fuller longer and help with your everyday digestion. Most importantly, after eating a bowl of vegetable noodles, you’re left feeling light and energized.
Spiralized vegetables are for everyone, but they are especially helpful for those who have sensitivities to gluten, since they’re obviously gluten-free. They’re clean and unprocessed and perfect for Pesach!



A favorite for Pesach and all year!

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pesach mayonnaise with garlic to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and spiralize sweet potatoes using the medium blade.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Add sweet potatoes and spread out evenly. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until crispy, turning once or twice to ensure even baking. Serve immediately with garlicky mayonnaise.

This hearty meat sauce will hide the fact that your spaghetti is not actually pasta!

½ cup chopped celery
¾ cup peeled and chopped carrots
2 tbsp light olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, diced
½ lb ground turkey
2 tsp oregano flakes, optional
1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or purchased)
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium zucchinis, spiralized using the fine blade

Place the chopped carrots and celery in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Put a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then add in the onions. Cook onions for 2 minutes or until they begin to soften; add in carrot and celery mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
Push the vegetables to one side of the skillet and add in the ground turkey, crumbling the meat. Break up the meat further with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add in ½ tsp oregano flakes if using and cook the meat until it is no longer pink.
Combine the vegetables with the turkey in the skillet. Add the tomato sauce and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is completely reduced.

Add in the zucchini pasta and mix thoroughly to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes or until zucchini softens and heats through. Divide among 4 bowls and serve.

Help! Too Much Chametz!

By now you might have eaten most of the nosh and treats you received for shalach manos. Now comes the hard part…cleaning out your pantry. Figuring out how to use up the last bit of chametz ingredients that you cannot sell or do not want to store over Pesach can be daunting. Whether it’s an open bag of flour, small quantities of chips or nuts or the last cup of brown sugar in the box, our recipes here will allow you to be creative while you produce a mouthwatering treat.  You can stick with each recipe as we have written it or add your own favorite ingredient. As long as you don’t change the ratio of wet to dry ingredients the results will turn out fine. In most cases you will have family members asking for more!

3⁄4 cup margarine, (1 ½ sticks) softened to room temperature
1⁄2 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, light or dark but not brownulated
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract (or both) or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or both)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup craisins or dried fruit, chopped
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat mats
In the bowl of your mixer, using the flat beater attachment, cream margarine, peanut butter, and sugars until light and airy.  Add eggs and extracts, mixing well. Stir in dry ingredients, mix well.
Using a medium cookie scoop, form into balls about 1 1/2" in diameter. Place them on the cookie sheets and press down lightly.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.


1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup butterscotch or nougat chips
3/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
¾ cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup roughly chopped salted pretzels
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together margarine and both sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder. With the mixer on low, gradually add to the margarine mixture; continue mixing until well combined. Add the oats, coconut, chips chocolate, pecans, walnuts and pretzels and mix on low until just combined.
Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop batter onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press tops down with the bottom of a glass, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, to flatten cookies evenly. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until golden, 12 to 14 minutes.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2-2 cups candy-coated chocolate lentils, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, whatever you want

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, beat margarine, sugars, vanilla and salt until creamy. Add eggs and beat well.
In a separate bowl, stir together cocoa, flour, and baking soda. Gradually add to the mixer, beating until well blended (the dough will be quite thick).
Stir in whatever candies or nuts you are using.
Using a cookie scoop, drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes, until set. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet to wire racks to cool completely.



Mar 16, 2015

Causing a Stir


Stir frying Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok. The technique originated in China but by now many countries have adopted the technique to their own dishes. Many chefs claim that this quick, hot cooking seals in the flavors of the foods, as well as preserving their nutrients, color and texture.

Stir-frying is easily learned mastered.  The key is to be prepared before you begin cooking.  Recipes often talk about prepping ingredients before you begin; with stir-frying, this is essential.  In fact, preparing the ingredients will take longer than cooking the dish.  Once your pan gets hot you can’t stop and chop the vegetables.   

Preparing to stir-fry will also give you some practice with your knife skills since each ingredient will be bite sized.   Chicken cutlets should be thinly sliced to promote quick cooking.  Likewise, meat should be thinly sliced against the grain. We like a cut of beef with some visible fat to add tenderness.  Carrots and zucchini are cut into thin rounds or matchsticks; celery into angled slices.  Peppers are cut in strips and snow peas are cut on the diagonal.  Checked broccoli florets work well and canned vegetables add flavor but be sure to drain them well.  Whichever vegetables you choose, cut them into similarly-sized pieces so they cook in the same amount of time.   In addition, if you are using a homemade sauce, be sure it is also prepared before you begin cooking. 

Once prepped, put the ingredients in small bowls, arranged by cooking times.  Because the technique is to quickly fry the ingredients in a large pan over high heat, comparable cooking times are very important.   Constant stirring while cooking will preserve flavor, color and texture of the food and keep the vegetables crisp.   Cooking small quantities of meat or chicken slices for 3-4 minutes will give you tender pieces that are not dried out.   Remove the meat or chicken for your pan while still slightly pink—the meat will continue to cook from the residual internal heat. 

Many stir-fry recipes call for a wok.  A wok is a large rounded pan that is flat only at the bottom center.  The rounded shape allows the food to slide back down to the heat source as the pieces are tossed and stirred and the open sides promote evaporation of the liquids, keeping the vegetables crunchy.  If your family enjoys Chinese food it is a great investment.  Stir-frying can also be done in a large, low-sided skillet but a deep pan is not a good idea because the high sides trap steam which will soften your vegetables. 

 


 

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 carrot, julienned or sliced thin

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup thickly cut zucchini (half-moon slices)

2 cups broccoli florets

1/2 cup snow peas

1 clove garlic, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

1/3 cup sliced bamboo shoots or baby corn

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Start by preparing and cutting all the vegetables and measuring your ingredients so that they are ready to go. Once you begin stir-frying, it goes very quickly.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat canola oil over high heat to almost smoking. While stirring constantly, 1 at a time, add in the peppers, carrots and onions, followed by the zucchini, broccoli, snow peas, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and teriyaki sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add in the remaining ingredients and seasonings. Cook about 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Feb 26, 2015

Unveiled!



SugarVeil Icing is a dry icing mixture that can be used in many ways to decorate cakes, cookies and desserts. Mixing boiling water with SugarVeil powder creates a new variety of decorative icing: one which combines the fine detail of royal icing, the flexibility of buttercream and the piping ease of whipped cream in one amazing product. SugarVeil may be spread on a mold or piped.  You can work with it on or off the cake, and when it is set, it can be cut with scissors and draped like fabric onto or around a cake or plated dessert. SugarVeil contains no additives or preservatives, and is gluten-free and OU Pareve.
When using SugarVeil some advance planning is required as it needs to rest for a day or two before using the lace Confectioners’ Mats. Beat SugarVeil again for a full minute before using it on the mat the next day. When spreading, the mat may look as though it is completely covered, but it is important to spread SugarVeil repeatedly lengthwise, crosswise, and diagonally to be sure you got into all the tiny lines.
The amount of time needed for the icing to set once it has been piped or molded is also dependent on humidity, and may be anywhere from 15 minutes in an air conditioned environment, to overnight. It is best to use SugarVeil on a day that has low humidity.
Paste food colors and flavors may be added to the SugarVeil mixture. Mix the color with the dry SugarVeil before adding water.  While the package directions suggest mixing the SugarVeil and water for 4 minutes in your mixer, decorating professionals have found that mixing for 10 minutes will help avoid pitfalls that may occur when using SugarVeil in a place that has higher humidity levels.  And since the extended mixing time will not harm the mixture, we think it’s a good rule of thumb.
The easiest way to use SugarVeil is by spreading it on a lace mat. The mats are very thin and flat to achieve the lacey open-work look that is desired when using SugarVeil.  Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture as evenly as possible across the mat.  Use a bench scraper or longer spatula to scrape away any excess mixture and allow it to set. When removing the SugarVeil from the mat or parchment, you can dust your fingers with corn or potato starch, and even lightly dust the decorations for easier handling. Peel the lace carefully from the mat. If you are not directly placing the set SugarVeil onto a cake, be sure to store the decorations between parchment sheets in a zipped bag to keep out the humidity. 
In order to dry out the air, which will allow SugarVeil to set faster, you need dry heat. A good solution to setting SugarVeil in high humidity is to simply place the decorations into an oven set low. Other cake decorators suggest actually baking the SugarVeil lace decorations for a bit of time to add strength and stability to the pieces.
If after spreading the lace you have left it to set for too long and it has started to dry, or if after removing a corner you discover that it is too thin, spread SugarVeil again over the lace and scrape cleanly. This second layer will strengthen and moisten partially-dried lace, and will set quickly.
While working, keep unused SugarVeil mixture in a closed container to keep it from drying.
We are really excited by this product and love that you can create amazingly beautiful decorations with a few simple steps!

Feb 24, 2015

Jar it!


Even if you have attended only one simcha this year you are no doubt familiar with the newest food trend to be gobbled up. Cake in a jar has become so popular that no party is complete without it! Of course you can easily order a selection of mouth watering flavors; we know many of our readers would love to try some at home.  And Purim is the perfect time to come up with a few of these tasty and transportable treats. Neat and compact, jar cakes fit into pretty bags or boxes and will withstand jostling by the six-year old delivery boy.

Any of your favorite layer cakes can be transformed to jar cakes. If you don’t have a favorite try one of our delicious options below.


You can cut your cakes in circles to fit right into the jar but we prefer the rustic look of cubes.


For the cake:

1/3 cup oil

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder


For the caramelized apple filling:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds tart green apples, peeled, cored and cut in small cubes
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (such as Old Williamsburg)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

For assembly:

¼ cup bourbon whiskey

2 pounds prepared caramel filling

1 16 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup chopped pecans or almonds, toasted

24 8 ounce jars with lids

Line a 12” x 18” sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Beat the oil with egg yolks, add the water and vanilla.   Sift together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar and baking powder.  Stir this into the yolk mixture and beat at high speed.  Set aside. 

Whip egg whites until foamy.  Add remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff.  Carefully fold whites into yolk mixture. 

Pour batter into the lined pan and bake 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  Allow cake to cool on a cooling rack.

Stir sugar, water and cinnamon in large saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Add apples and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bourbon. Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in small bowl; add to apple mixture and stir until liquid thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat thawed whipped topping until stiff.  Place in an 18” piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

Cut cake into 2” cubes using a serrated knife. Drizzle cake with the bourbon.  Drop a few cubes of cake into each jar. Top with a heaping tablespoon of caramel. Place a heaping tablespoon of caramelized apples over caramel.  Drop in some more cake cubes. Pipe a dollop of whipped topping on the cake.  Top with toasted pecans or almonds.  Refrigerate until needed. 

 


Cake as directed above

For the cream:

2 pounds lemon custard cream

16 ounces whipped topping, thawed

For assembly:

½ cup esrog, lemon or orange  liquor

1 30 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup sweetened coconut

 

Prepare cake as directed above.  Cut cake into cubes, approximately 2” square. Drizzle entire cake with liquor.

In a clean bowl, beat thawed whipped topping until stiff.  Stir into lemon custard.  Place in an 18” piping bag fitted with a star tip. Set aside.

Place half the cake cubes in twenty four 8 ounce jars.  Pipe a rosette of lemon cream over cake cubes.  Arrange mandarins over lemon cream, standing some around the edge so you see them through the glass.  Sprinkle with sweetened coconut.  Place remaining cake cubes into the jars.  Top with remaining lemon cream. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Arrange remaining mandarins on top of whipped topping.  Refrigerate until needed. 

Feb 12, 2015

Cookie Artistry


 

The latest trend in the cookie decorating is stenciling. Stenciling on cookies is a quick and easy way of adding a pretty design to simple cookies. There are lots of beautiful designs that will allow your creativity free rein. And remember—don’t let fear of imperfection get in the way of having fun!

To begin with you will need to bake and cool your cookies. Here is one of our favorite sugar cookie recipes:

 


1 cup (2 sticks) margarine

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups flour

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Cream margarine and sugar in your mixer bowl, scraping the sides of the bowl, if necessary.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Add the flour and optional baking powder one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Dough will be stiff. 

Divide dough in half and roll out on a silicone mat, cut the cookies and lift the scraps.  Never move the cookies; cookies that are lifted and moved to a pan will inevitably be misshapen.  Rolling out dough on a silicone mat will prevent this.   Slide the Silpat right onto a sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven.  

Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes or until they are lightly browned at the edges.  Remove and allow to cool 10 minutes.  Place the cookies on a rack to continue cooling.  Wait for cookies to be completely cooled before decorating.

Then you will need 1 recipe Royal Icing.

 

Royal Icing:

3 tablespoons meringue powder

3-4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar

5 tablespoons warm water

Yield:  3 cups of icing

 

Begin by flooding your cookies with royal icing. Let them dry overnight.

Put aside remaining icing in an airtight container. Make your stenciling icing a little bit thicker than flood icing by adding some more confectioners’ sugar. When you drag a knife through the surface of the icing, it should still hold its shape. Add a few drops of food color to the remaining icing and stir thoroughly to combine.

Place your stencil on the dry iced cookie. Work with one cookie at a time. With one hand, hold the stencil firmly against the cookie top. Check to make sure the stencil is still lying flush against the cookie top coat in all areas. You can also place small round magnets above and below the stencil outside the cookie to hold it in place.  See photo so you know how to properly position the magnets.

With the other hand, use a small offset spatula to spread a very thin layer of icing over the openings in the stencil. The icing should not be applied any thicker than the depth of the stencil, or you’ll leave peaks in the icing when you lift off the stencil. However, be sure to apply enough icing so you can’t see through to the top coat. Some cookie decorators use an old credit card to spread the icing on the stencil. Play around a bit with different tools to see which suits you best.

Most important: Do not move the stencil while applying the icing or the resulting pattern will be blurry.

Lift the stencil slowly and steadily off the cookie; then wipe any icing off the bottom of the stencil before proceeding to the next cookie. For the sharpest patterns, wash and thoroughly dry the stencil after every 2 or 3 cookies. Do not rub the stencil dry, or you can damage the stencil. Instead, lay it flat between sheets of paper towels and gently pat dry.

You can also use color mist or diluted paste food color and a stenciling brush to fill in a stencil. Place the stencil on the cookie in the same manner as directed above. Hold the spray approximately 12 inches away from the cookie and spray lightly back and forth. Do not over-spray or the color will run under the stencil. Carefully remove the stencil and allow the food color to dry.



Feb 5, 2015

Clementines—Winter’s Candy


While advances in technology, preserving and shipping convenience allows us access to summer fruit all year, winter peaches are not quite worth it.  We say, stick with the stuff in season! One all-time winter favorite is the seedless clementine.  Clementines are in season from late November through February and in our homes we cannot seem to get enough.  Great for snacking out of hand, clementines are also tasty in a salad or when used as a component in a sauce or dessert.

Clementines are the smallest breed of the mandarin orange. Primarily imported from Spain, Morocco, and North Africa, clementines are a hybrid of a sweet orange and the Chinese mandarin. They are small, very sweet, and usually seedless. Most people think of clementines as small tangerines, but they're actually a different variety, with their own unique taste. Their handy size and lack of seeds make it a popular snack for kids.

When buying Clementines, choose those that are shiny and heavy for their size. It's a good rule to follow for lots of fruits, but especially for oranges. They should smell good and the rind should never feel puffy; it should not feel like there's any space between it and the flesh. There should be no spotting, no signs of shriveling, no white patches on the rind, and no fermented smell. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer, and they'll keep well for one to two weeks.

The origin of Clementines is somewhat unclear. Some attribute their discovery to a monk in Algeria by the name of Clement, who found a new variety while tending his mandarin orchard. He nurtured the fruit tree and subsequently called it "clementino".

Clementines were first brought to the United States in 1982. While many quickly recognized them as a fruit with great market potential, it took 10 years hard work to make this latecomer of the citrus family the acknowledged citrus choice of children and adults alike.

The simplest way of adding Clementines to your favorite recipes is by adding them to salads.  You can also try this delicious dish for dinner tonight.

 


For the chicken:

8-10 chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, wings)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 medium onion, cut in chunks

1 parsnip, peeled and cubed

1 small knob celery, peeled and cut into chunks

½ cup orange juice

                         

For the sauce:

8 clementines

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1 finely chopped shallot

3 tablespoons orange liqueur

2 teaspoons cornstarch


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Clean and trim chicken parts of visible fat and feathers. Put chicken pieces in a roasting pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place onions, parsnips and knob celery around the chicken in the pan.  Pour in orange juice and cover pan tightly with heavy-duty foil. Place in oven and bake 1 ½ hours.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer chicken to a large platter, draining any juices inside back into pan, then transfer cooking liquid to a large bowl. Chill chickens and liquid separately, at least 4 hours. Remove all fat from chilled cooking liquid.

Squeeze juice from the Clementines to measure 1 cup and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Add vinegar and sugar and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup (glaze will bubble up and darken), about 15 minutes.

Brush 1 tablespoon glaze on chickens,

Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Roast chickens until skin is crisp, 25 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime, add cup of the cooking liquid from the roasting pan into glaze remaining in saucepan. Stir together liqueur and cornstarch and whisk into the saucepan.  Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes; then season sauce with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with sauce.