Feb 20, 2013

Seuda on a Stick

If your family is like many others, people come and go at the Purim seuda. Families are growing and children are visiting every grandparent’s house. To simplify these visits, some people serve their seuda buffet style so guests can wash and serve themselves as they arrive.
Of course, kugels can stay warm over sterno flames on buffet tables for quite a while but if you want to serve something a bit different and easy to eat try preparing foods on a stick.
While the idea of food on a skewer is gaining popularity in our cuisine it actually has its origins in ancient cultures. Long before pots and pans, people would cook their food over open flames on the ground. Long before forks and knives, they would skewer the foods with their swords to keep from burning their hands when turning food over or when removing it from the flames. They would eat it directly off the sword—no utensils required. In fact, the words “shish kabob” mean “sword meat” or “bits of food roasted on a stick.”
Nowadays food on a stick has certainly become more genteel, there is a wide selection of attractive skewers to dress up any meal.  It is a bit more casual than a formally served meal but can serve the purpose of feeding hungry guests who come and go all day long.
We have some recipes here for food on skewers that taste good hot or at room temperature so there’s no need to keep cooking all day.

These salmon kabobs can be prepared in advance and cooked as you need them.
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger (about a 3” piece)
1 3/4 pounds salmon cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks
3 scallions, checked and chopped
Soak skewers in a bowl of water for 30 minutes.
Bring soy, vinegar, mirin, sugar, garlic and ginger to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat and briskly simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes. Divide sauce in half and place in two metal bowls and cool to room temperature.
Toss salmon cubes with sauce in one bowl. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat broiler or grill pan. Oil surface with a paper towel dampened with canola oil.
Drain skewers, then thread with salmon and put on broiler rack or grill pan. Discard marinade in the bowl. Broil or grill until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan and brush with some of remaining sauce in the other bowl.
Serve kebabs over rice then drizzle with remaining sauce and sprinkle with scallions.

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pound boneless chicken bottoms

1 cup chummus
¼ cup lemon juice

To make the grilled chicken skewers: Soak 10 wooden skewers in water.
Stir together the cumin, cinnamon, oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cut each chicken bottom in half and place in the bowl with the spices. Turn chicken to coat well.  Thread the chicken fillets onto the skewers. 
Heat a broiler or grill pan and oil with an oil-dampened paper towel, Broil or grill chicken about 14-15 minutes, turning around to cook all sides. Remove from pan and place on a platter. Cover to chicken with some foil and allow it to rest 5 minutes before serving.
Mix chummus and lemon juice.  Serve alongside the chicken.

Traditional schnitzel is made with veal but you can do this with chicken breast as well.

1 pounds thinly sliced veal scaloppini
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 ¾ cups bread crumbs or panko
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying
1 lemon, cut into wedges
If necessary, gently pound veal cutlets 1/4-inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with a meat pounder, then cut into strips about 1 1/2 - by 3-inches.
Beat eggs with salt in a large shallow bowl.
Whisk together flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow plate
Stir together bread crumbs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in another shallow plate.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Dip 1 piece veal in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then press into bread crumbs, coating completely. Thread onto skewers in a back and forth manner. Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or foil.
Prepare a sheet pan lined with paper towel.
Heat 2-inches oil in a 6-qt heavy pot over moderate heat to 375 F on a thermometer.  Fry cutlets a few at a time. The ends of the skewers should be poking out of oil), turning occasionally, until golden brown and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then to a platter. Fry remaining cutlets in same manner. Serve hot or at room temperature.  

If you want to use different vegetables—feel free!

1 each red, green and yellow pepper
2 medium red onions
15-18 white mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Soak the wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, garlic and oregano to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.
Wash and cut the vegetables into large, evenly sized, chunks. Thread the vegetables on the skewers. Heat a grill pan until very hot. Grill vegetables until they are just tender. Baste with the vinaigrette and serve hot or room temperature.
Ah freilichen Purim to one and all!

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