Sunday, December 25, 2011

Beer and Sherry Braised Brisket

Yum. I upped the anti and the slow cooking on traditional brisket with this one.  The aroma was so strong, I tempted a long time vegetarian into considering taking the meaty plunge... Clearly a success by any measure!  I made two briskets simultaneously and froze one ... how can you resist red meat on sale, I wonder? Feel free to add root vegetables to the roasting pan - I didn't want to deprive the vegetarians, so I didn't... but I saved the sauce/gravy and added it to both chicken soup and roasted parsnips and carrots the following week.

Dry Rub:
1/3 brown sugar (I use  turbinado brownulated)
1/3 garlic powder
1/3 onion powder
(I didn't put measurements above, usually pour in about 1/3cup or less)
2 tbsp Emeril's essence
1 tbsp Mustard seed (ground)
1-2 tsp Allspice
2 tsp cumin

Mix all ingredients in a ziploc bag
Coat both sides, leave fatty side up.

3/4 c Harpoon (I used summer ale.... but any beer will do the job)
1/2-1c Gonzales Byass Tio Pepe kosher Sherry

Seal really tightly w/aluminum foil

Cook at 225 for 3 hours
Flip (If serving for shabbat/holiday lunch, this is where I put it in the fridge)
Then 200 for 4-5 hours
Let cool for 10-15 min before you slice it to serve.
Cut against the grain!!!It's the slow and low that makes it fork tender. It can stand to be in the oven tightly sealed a bit longer ... But 8 hrs is my gauge. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crockpot Coconut Curry Chicken

This delicious dish can be made a variety of ways 
1 hour into the Coconut Currying process...
... But this week's version used off the bone chicken thighs which i cubed and browned before sliding into the crockpot. I did this mostly because I didn't have 'all day' to wait and wanted to make sure the meat was properly cooked. I do think it added to how excellent the flavor was, but then again, I'm not sure I've evercooked w/deboned chicken thighs before. In other instances, I've used (whole cut) chicken on the bone, cooked the whole dish longer and shredded the chicken off the bone before serving. When I use skin on chicken, I replace the chicken broth below with water. The latter version are also great budget saving swaps.

I have to admit, and you can probably tell by the fullness of the pot, that this was one of those meals where I had a lot of "maybes" coming to dinner - none of whom made it in the end, but it meant I had to prepare the kind of dish where I might enjoy leftovers for days. The side dishes to this menu are recipes which will be forthcoming: Broccoli & Spinach sauteed with meyer lemons, purple coconut rice. I'd tell you how to make the Burmese tea leaf salad my friend made, but the key ingredients were brought from Burma by way of Thailand. I do recommend a colorful side salad with nuts, red onion, purple cabbage and tomatoes though.

1 3/4 lbs Chicken Thighs (skinless, boneless) I found empire's at trader joes, but picked up more at Seasons because of those maybes.
1-1 1/2 cans coconut milk (not lite!)
1/3 cup curries: I used Butter Chicken Masala* and Tandoori Masala
2 tsp ground mustard seed (I really like this flavor)
4-6 cloves Garlic, smashed to release flavor
3/4 inch Fresh Ginger, matchstick sliced (I never know how to describe this measurement!)
1 grated lemon peel (I mircoplaned the meyer lemon that wound up in the broccoli)
1 bunch Celery, incl greens, chopped
3/4 large Sweet Onion, (the other 1/4 went to the broccoli)
4 medium Carrots sliced (or 1/2 bag of baby carrots)
2 c. chicken broth/stock (homemade or low sodium)
1/3 c. Tio Pepe Sherry
1 tbs virgin coconut oil (or whatever you have on hand)
optional: Scallions, Chili peppers**
Serves 10+

One thing I love about this recipe is that you can do the major prep in advance, which is what I'd have done were it not for a friend in town and 1/2 price wine bottles at our local tapas place. So, instead, here's how this incarnation of the dish happened, the reviews were fabulous, so maybe I did it just right.

Put the crockpot on high and add in the can of coconut milk, the curry seasoning, mustard powder, next add ginger, lemon peel and smashed garlic. Stir together.
As those ingredients warm, chop all the veggies (if pre-chopped, proceed with), brown stir fry sized pieces of chicken thighs in sautee pan or wok w/a tsp of coconut oil and a tbsp of curry powder over medium-high heat.

Add in the veggies (I saved 1/2 the celery to add later so they would stay more crisp... this works better if shabbat starts later), then the browned chicken. Cover with chicken broth, sherry and water. Let flavors meld, stirring occasionally.

I kept it on high the whole time because I only gave it 4 hours to cook, traditionally, it's a slow and low dish - 6-8 hours on low.

** Chili pepper tip: I have dry on hand, it's the seeds that provide most of the heat, so if you soak and slice those out, the spice level will be more moderate.

*I only have the container for the butter chicken masala curry blend, which contains: Red Chilis, Onion, Coriander, Garlic, Tumeric, Black Pepper, Salt, Cumin, Fenugreek, Cardamom seeds, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, Black Cumin, Saccharum, Ginger

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newlywed Meatloaf

Honey Love Layered Meatloaf

This layered dish ups the anti on meatloaf but just takes one extra step to turn traditional into fancy pants in a simple way. I was ready to kick up my cooking a notch because it felt like I had a rare opportunity to make a celebratory meal. Even though shabbat comes every week, and I managed the holidays with quite a bit of fanfare, this particular celebration was layered on top of Shabbat, so held more significance than a traditional meal around the table. I made this dish for a newlywed couple's first shabbat dinner after their wedding, this meal served as a night of their "Sheva Brachot." I wanted the ingredients to reflect some Jewish and general wedding customs, so I played around a bit there. Reviews say that the results were delicious. (Note the bold ingredients which will be explained below.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
For Meatloaf
1/3 of a cup honey
1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce
1lb ground beef
1lb ground turkey (not white meat)
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup corn flakes, crushed
Nutmeg (fresh ground)
3 tbs Grill seasoning (Jaime Gwen's Chicken & Turkey spice rub - rosemary, sage, thyme)
1tbs Emeril's Essence seasoning blend
2 tbs Garlic Powder
Chili Flakes (to taste)
White Pepper (a guest was allergic to black, use tricolor if you have it on hand)
(I don't add salt because it's kosher meat, which is already salted. Add to taste if the meat isn't kosher)

For Veggie filling/topping:
1/2 cup Tio Pepe Sherry (or dry white wine), + 1tbs sherry for egg mixture
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 sweet onion, large
3 large celery stalks (leafy parts too)
10 oz mushrooms (1/2 cup)
2 cups spinach

  • Add the honey, teriyaki sauce, and spices to a big bowl then folded both meats together with spices and honey, and let sit.
  • Chop the veggies really small and added them to a pot to cook along with the sherry, adding the spinach last. You may want to use a bit extra of the same seasoning when you saute the veggies, I only added the garlic. Feel free to use fresh garlic if you have it.
  • While the veggies saute, take a small bowl and crack two eggs, whisking them with a tbs of sherry.
  • Add crushed cornflakes into the egg mixture to soften.
  • When the veggies are done sauteing, create a well in the seasoned meat and added in the egg mixture, combining thoroughly.
  • The next steps depend on whether you're folding the veggies into the meatloaf (particularly great if you're hiding them from picky eaters) or layering them (if you want to give permission to your picky eaters to just avoid them). I filled the large meatloaf pan half way, added 3/4 of the veggies, and spread out, then added the second half, decorating the top with a design of the remaining vegetables.
  • Place in the 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until sides crisp.
  • Strain the excess gravy into a bowl and discard or save to serve later.
Enjoy! (this version had a little difficulty staying together - so if you have recommendations for how to improve that, feel free to share. Also, typically I *always* add mustard or mustard powder to my meatloaves, but somehow forgot this go around. Feel free to experiment.)

Other tips and tricks: More veggies will make the meatloaf go further if you're on a budget. Also, you can use more turkey which is less expensive. For nearly the same rich flavor you can go as far as a 2:1 ratio. Also, save the gravy if you're making noodles or rice and serve it on the side. Saute extra vegetables for the side too. (Using chicken or vegetable broth and sherry keeps the extra fat away from that step of the dish.)

Wondering how the ingredients I used relate to marriage?
Two kinds of meat, for the blending into one family.
Honey, traditional on shabbat throughout the first year of marriage to set up a future filled with sweetness.
Teriyaki for all the future Christmases that will be filled with Chinese food.
Eggs, as a symbol of fertility, the life cycle and wholeness.
Spices are, indeed, emblematic of the spice of life, and the flavorful life that the couple will have.
Also, I shaped the extra veggies into the shape of a heart a top the meatloaf.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best Brisket

This recipe is inspired by my childhood best friend's mom. I've turned into my own special recipe, but her slow cooking technique is what I recommend!

Either Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lower to 300 after 2 hours for an additional hour
or 250 if you plan to slow cook for 6-8 hours.

2.5 lbs Brisket, 2nd cut
1/4 c. sugar (brown, turbinado or in the raw)
1/3 c. onion soup mix or if you need low sodium, onion powder
1/2 c. garlic powder
2/3 c. sherry (tio pepe makes a kosher blend every passover and it's usually available year round)
1/3 c. water or broth
Veggetables to add: Root vegetables, celery, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms (whatever is on hand)
Optional dry ingredients: Paprika, zatar, mustard powder, rosemary or emeril's spice blend. Clove of garlic - place slices into little slits you cut in the meat

If using fresh garlic, insert first. Then mix dry ingredients and use as a dry rub on both sides of meat. Chop vegetables into big pieces, celery, parsnips and carrots on the bias. Toss into bottom of pan. Add meat and liquid. Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. See above for temperature and cooking time options. Turn over half way through cooking. (If you want to nestle the meat directly into the liquid, you won't regret it.) You may want to add more liquid half way through, or take off the aluminum foil to let the gravy thicken depending on how your oven does and how much liquid the meat gives off.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pizza Style - Rocky Mountain Toast!

Warning: This is a whole lot of YUM!

I ate it so quickly, I didn't take a picture, so for now, you'll have to take a word that this slightly messy delight is a quick and easy treat.


2 slices of bread - I used leftover whole wheat challah - centers of slice removed
2 eggs
non-stick spray (or butter)
shredded cheese (I used about 1/4 cup of 3 cheese pizza blend... but the more the merrier)
tomato sauce (I used barilla roasted garlic, about 3/4 cup)

In advance: prepare the eggs however you like them, I just crack them into a cup so they're ready to pour - having the yokes break after they cook is a super great treat. But if you want scrambled style, you can wisk them up a bit. Also if you'd like to butter your toast - go for it now - BOTH SIDES - I mean do it right if you're going to do it. (because of the cheese, I left out this butter step) cut out the center of the bread. Then...

Over med-high heat, warm a non-stick skillet and spray with non-stick spray. Put the bread in the pan and fill the hole with the eggs, after about 2 minutes, flip the bread and let the other side cook then sprinkle the cheese on top, cook for another minute and slide off on to a plate. Just toss the tomato sauce into the pan to warm quickly, then pour over the toast.


Rocky Mountain Toast (which is a campfire treat) is also known as egg in a basket, egg in a hole, one eyed monster, frog in a hole ... amongst other regional names - it's eggs and toast, pre-combined and it's delish. Try it and tell me if you have any great additions!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pomegranate Punch

This Pomegranate drink does pack a punch, in festive fall flavors that you won't be able to resist... there's no reason to make it particularly strong, because you'll want to be drinking it all celebration long... so the balance is up to you, and it tastes great with a splash of seltzer, a twist or on the rocks, so enjoy experimenting.


1pt Triple Sec
1pt Peach Schnapps
2pts Vodka
3pts Pomegranate Juice (Pom brand)
1.5pts Blood Red Orange Juice () - mine was a little bitter, I balanced it out with the Schnapps

Shake and serve chilled. Enjoy! (Responsibly, of course.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Updating Tradition: Healthy Turkey Noodle Casserole


1/4 c. Schwarma seasoning (pereg brand)
Dashes Garlic powder
Dash White Pepper
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 bag frozen peas (16 oz)
1 lb cremini mushrooms ('baby bellas') , finely chopped
1 leek (soaked to remove grit)
1/2 c. minced onion (I used dried)
1 box penne regati (whole wheat)
1/3-3/4 c white wine
1 c. unsweetened milk replacement (I used almond milk)
1/2 c. chicken or veggie broth
1/4 c. margarine

I cooked in this all in the same saucepan... some of the steps can be done simultaneously if you don't mind doing a few more dishes.

1. Prepare pasta - al dente - according to box directions. Don't rinse. Toss into casserole dish.
2. On medium heat, saute turkey for 7-10 along with shwarma seasoning and 1/2 c white wine. You can either add in all veggies (peas, mushrooms, minced onions, and leeks) now or saute separately, additional 6 minutes. Add in chicken broth or more white wine as needed. Add to casserole dish.
3. Add margarine, soy/almond milk, remaining white wine and chicken broth. bring to a boil, thicken if needed w/flour, arrowroot or cornstarch. Toss over everything in casserole dish.
4. Bake in 375°F preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. (I'm saving the baking for the next day.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pesach Perfect: Avocado Salad!

This Israeli shuk inspired dish happens to also be perfect for passover... Bright green spring colors and fresh flavors, it always gets rave reviews.

Serves 6:
4 Avocados (Ripe but not mushy)
2 Red Peppers
1 Yellow or Orange Pepper
Lemon Juice (fresh- 2 lemons or bottled 1/2 cup)
Basil (1 Tbsp dry or 1/2 cup fresh, chiffonade)
Olive oil

Tips: To prevent Avocados from browning mix up the 'dressing' in advance and add some to the bowl where the cut avocados will go. Also, slice the peppers first, their high vitamin C content will keep colors bright. Also, if you're waiting to serve, or traveling to a picnic, use an air tight container to store. It's also a great shabbat lunch dish because you can prep it the night before and let the flavors marinate or the day of and serve shortly after tossing..

Mix olive oil, lemon juice and basil (if dry... if fresh, add at end), pour half into bowl
Dice Peppers
Halve and Cube Avocados
Add salt and pepper to taste
Add remainder of dressing
Toss all ingredients and taste.
I first made this after shopping at the shuk. A combination of my ideas along with those of a great friend.

Measurement Tip: Count a 1/2 to 2/3 avocado per person and 1/3 red and yellow pepper per person

Monday, January 3, 2011

Simply Divine Red Velvet Cake

When you add two things to a box cake mix people can tell. When you add two of the BEST things to a box cake mix, everyone says YUM. That's what I did with this red velvet cake recipe. Because seriously, it's going to color everything no matter what you do. In fact, my nails still look like they've been painted red, and they haven't been anywhere near that color for more than a month!

To make regular red velvet cake mix shine, simply follow the box directions - cutting down on the amount of oil you add. My recipe called for 1/3 of a cup, so I used 1/4 - it's just a few tablespoons difference, but I replaced with with fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Spray/Greece cakepan (I forgot this step)
Red Velvet Box Mix
1 Meyer Lemon (rind and juice)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (I used trader joes semi-sweet parve chips)
1/4 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup water

Blend ingredients together according to package directions, lessening slightly the amount of oil and water, replacing with juice of one meyer lemon. Add in chocolate chips, place in pan and bake according to package. The flavor combination is really great, got nothing but compliments all weekend.

My new favorite way to serve cake is in little cupcake servers - it's really colorful, easily transportable and provides a reasonable serving size so that the 'second' piece is considered before consumed. I know I've seen it before, but I was reminded of the trick by a friend's mom at his aufruf (wedding weekend). I think it's genius.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Amaretto Orange Blossom Challah French Toast Casserole

The girls and I call this Grown Up French Toast!
The recipe needs to be prepped about 8 hours prior to cooking. If you're planning a grown up breakfast for dinner, that means you can set it up before you start your day. If you plan to serve this dish for breakfast or brunch, just set it up the night before.
Grown up French Toast - Dressed with Tangelo Zest!
  • 1 loaf of whole wheat challah
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk (or skim milk)
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water*
  • 1/2 cup amaretto
  • 1 tbsp sugar in the raw (or more if you don't plan to add powdered sugar or syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash of cardamom
  • Dash of salt
Cut loaf into medium thick slices.
Arrance slices in overlapping rows in a 9x13 pan sprayed with vegetable oil.
Combine remainder of ingredients in a bowl and wisk until blended.
Pour over the bread in the pan, making sure to cover all slices.
Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight (8 hours or longer).
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until puffed and lightly golden.

The flavors married with the maple syrup - so much so that I might try baking some in next time. I also had to warm this, so poured a little more amaretto over the top before putting it back in the oven at 200. Special thanks to my friend Sam for the low butter/dairy/fat content of this recipe. It didn't feel lacking at all.
*A note on Orange Blossom Water: This ethnic delight is used in north african and persian cuisine and can be found in some ethnic food aisles. Occasionally, I have seen it as an additive to bottled drinking water, which I've used as a sometime substitute. Alternately, you can use a splash of orange juice or triple sec. It won't be quite the same, but still tasty.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Frittatas: 3 ways

Everyone has different tastes - but these non-dairy frittatas are so easy to make that preparing a few variations are just as simple as one.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For vegetables, start with a big pan (I use my flat wok) so that you can make ingredients en masse. If you're going to go from stovetop to oven, make sure your pan is oven safe.

Mushroom and Onion Frittata
1lb cremini/baby bella mushrooms (I picked mine up pre-sliced at Trade Joes).
2/3 sweet onion
8 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
Spicy Garlic (Grinder Blend from Kirkland - or garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes)

Sautee mushrooms - I used the Pacific mushroom broth and sherry instead of oil.
Sautee onions. (Season with salt, pepper, garlic to taste.)
Place in baking dish, pour in egg and soymilk mixture.
Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until eggs set. Typically, with a frittata one starts the egg setting process on the stove (it speeds up the process), but given that I making 3 to serve a day later, I went with this more foolproof method.

Because I made three different kinds I used the "cut once" method with this whole prep process. For eggs, that meant I did the cracking and mixing into one big bowl - 18 eggs in total with 12 oz of soy milk. Some pepper and salt. Because I had non-mushroom lovers amongst my guests (when will my friends grow up and embrace the delicacy?), I cooked those separately first and then all the onions at once, splitting them amongst the mushroom pan and then stirring in the spinach for the next two frittatas.

Lox, Spinach and Onion Frittata
1/2 lb Spinach
2/3 Sweet Onion
6-8 oz Lox
5-6 Sprigs Dill (or 1 tbs dried dill)
8 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

Add spinach into the sauteed onion mixture, until cooked through.
place in baking dish.
Add fresh dill and salmon in small pieces.
Pour egg mixture into dish. Stir and bake for 45 minutes.

Pastrami, Spinach and Onion Frittata
1/2 Spinach
2/3 Sweet Onion
2 Tbs Jack Daniels Mustard
1/2-3/4 lbs Pastrami
8 eggs
1/2 cup soy milk

Add spinach into the sauteed onion mixture, until cooked through. (I did two at once and divided)
Add in pastrami and mustard to the pan with onions and spinach and sautee a bit.
Place in baking dish.
Pour egg in mixture. Stir and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, make sure the eggs have set (they shouldn't wobble in the middle), slice and serve.
I heard from guests and found that when the savory eggs wound up with maple syrup they married quiet well.