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Cook It Kosher

There's not much to say about this one. If you like good, fresh food, and clean, summery flavors, I imagine you'll enjoy it.


The only thing I've left up in the air is whether to grill the pineapple or not. You'll be grilling the corn to add a charred flavor, and the pineapple is up to you. When the pineapple is sweet and ripe, I prefer to leave it raw, but if it's not a good one, I like to grill it. You can also do half and half, which is what I've done here.


For the Tuna:

  • 1 lb. (500 grams) raw sushi-grade tuna
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp. oil

Cut tuna into rectangular blocks. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides. Heat oil in a pan and sear tuna for 30-60 seconds on each side. Remove and allow to rest several minutes before slicing.

For the Salsa:

  • 3 corn cobs
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
  • ½ large purple onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • handful of cilantro, leaves picked
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt to taste

Grill the corn on an outdoor grill or a stove-top grill pan. Cut the kernels off and set aside to cool. You may wish to grill some or all of the pineapple, too. If it's sweet, I prefer it raw. If it's not the sweetest, I like to grill it. Toss all ingredients together and serve.

For the Avocado Puree:

  • 2 avocadoes
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 5-6 stalks of cilantro, leaves picked
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer. Serve with the fish.


This is my go-to cookie recipe, and I wanted to share it a while ago but I wasn't satisfied with the pictures, so I put it on hold. Now I've had a chance to re-shoot and I'm happier.


You can make this with a hand-mixer or a wooden spoon. Towards the end you'll want to mix with your hands just to bring the mixture together into a firm ball of dough.






I roll mine quite small, but you can definitely make them bigger. For the small ones, you'll get about 50 and baking time is 9 minutes. For larger cookies, you'll get about 30 from this recipe and baking time is 10-11 minutes.


It's very important not to over-bake these. They should come out of the oven still very soft and they will firm up as they cool.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter/margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups flour (you may need up to ½ a cup more)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter or margarine.
  2. Mix the brown sugar, white sugar and margarine together. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract and salt and mix to combine.
  3. Add two cups of flour and baking soda. Mix until it resembles a loose batter. Slowly add in the third cup while mixing.
  4. Mix in the rolled oats, and if the dough still feels sticky, add some more flour (not more than 4-8 tablespoons).
  5. At the very end, mix in the chocolate chips.
  6. Roll the dough into small balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave some space between the balls of dough.
  7. Bake on 350°F. For small cookies, bake for 9 minutes. For slightly larger cookies, increase the baking time to 11 minutes.

Yields: 50 small or 30 medium cookies


With Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

After living, breathing, eating and thinking cauliflower for a couple of weeks straight, I’ve emerged from the haze with two new recipes up my sleeve, and just in time for The Nine Days—a period of mourning during which we refrain from eating meat and chicken (aside from Shabbat).


I’m sharing this recipe today, and the other one—a lemon and thyme crumbed cauliflower—I’ll keep for a later date. I’m serious about the cauliflower haze, by the way. It was major. So, months from now, when the snow is piling up in the dead of winter, I’ll feel quite smug pulling out my lemony cauliflower recipe and pictures, done and dusted months earlier. I’m excited already! And it’ll be a bonus for the Southern Hemisphere folks who will actually be enjoying summer then. (For some reason, lemon = summer.)


These can be baked or fried. I was very much enjoying them in baked form, but then I fried a batch to test it out and let’s face it—fried is almost always better. But baked is still good. I’ve left instructions for both methods below, so it’s up to you.


Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cornflake crumbs
  • ½ cup matzah meal
  • ½ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • Optional: sweet chili sauce for dipping

Directions:

  1. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets. Wash and check for bugs.
  2. Beat the eggs together in a bowl.
  3. Mix the cornflake crumbs, matzah meal, sesame seeds, salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and mustard powder together in a separate bowl.
  4. Dip each piece of cauliflower into the egg mixture, and then into the crumb mixture.
  5. To Bake: Place the coated florets on a greased baking sheet and drizzle with a small amount of oil (or spray with cooking oil spray). Bake on 400°F (200°C) for 25 minutes.
  6. To Fry: Heat 2-3 inches of vegetable or canola oil in a pot. Drop in 6-8 florets and cook until golden and crispy. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Continue frying in batches until all the florets are fried.
  7. Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. I like these with sweet chili sauce.

As you may have picked up by now, when it’s hot outside I am a staunch member of the Cold Foods Only club. This salad is one of my favorites because the earthy beets, rich nuts and salty cheese make it quite filling. The pear is fresh and sweet, and I’ve kept it light with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


The only element which requires cooking is the beets, and those can be done in advance and kept in the fridge. I like to do a batch at the beginning of the week, and then I have them on hand for this salad and other dishes as needed.

If you don’t like arugula, you can use the greens of your choice. I often use romaine lettuce because that’s something I always have on hand. Spinach or spring mix would also be good. I’ve even made it using blanched green beans for a sturdier, crunchier base. It works well!


Ingredients:

  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 2 medium-sized beets
  • 2 pears
  • 3 oz. feta cheese
  • ¼ cup pecans (plain or honey-glazed)
  • 4 tbsp. light olive oil
  • 2–3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt (optional)
Directions:
  1. Wash and dry the beets. Prick each one with a fork several times, then wrap in two layers of foil and bake at 400° F until cooked through. Let the beets cool, then unwrap the foil, peel the beets and slice then in thin rounds. (Beets can be cooked in advance and refrigerated for up to a week.)
  2. Wash and check the arugula for bugs. Pat dry.
  3. Cut the pears into quarters, and then slice thinly. You can also use Asian pears.
  4. Roughly chop the pecans and crumble the feta.
  5. Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl or on a flat platter.
  6. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad immediately prior to serving.

Serves: 4–6


It’s been far too hot to do any serious cooking lately, so I’ve been experimenting with some new cold dishes. This is certainly not my typical style of cooking, but I enjoy branching out from time to time.


I think cold soups are an acquired taste. I’m not talking about fruit soups, which are basically glorified smoothies, but real, savory soups. So if this doesn’t appeal to you, I understand. What excites me is the vibrancy of the broth in both color and flavor—just look at that green!


The soup is cucumber-based, with ginger and miso undertones, and I’ve added raw sushi-grade tuna, soba noodles, pickled radishes, avocado and cucumber ribbons to bulk it up a bit, while still keeping it fresh and light.

Yields: 4 servings

Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (500 grams) Persian cucumbers—approximately 5
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 5 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cold water

Add-ins:

  • 1 lb. (500 grams) raw sushi-grade tuna
  • 1 avocado
  • 2–3 pickled radishes, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 oz. (55 grams) raw soba noodles

Directions:

  1. Cut both ends off the cucumbers and slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
  2. Roughly chop the cucumbers and place them in a blender with the rest of the soup ingredients. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pass the mixture through a very fine mesh sieve or a piece of cheesecloth. (You can also use a clean kitchen towel, if you do not have a sieve or cheesecloth.) Yields approximately 1 cup of broth. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the packet. Drain, rinse and set aside to cool.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, prepare four bowls.
  6. Slice the tuna thinly.
  7. Use a peeler to shave the cucumber thinly.
  8. Cut the avocado lengthwise. Slice and remove from peel.
  9. Divide the tuna, soba noodles, avocado, radishes and cucumber ribbons evenly between the four bowls.
  10. Immediately before eating, pour approximately ¼ cup of broth into each bowl.

Note: Recipe adapted from a similar recipe on Gourmet Traveller.


As the kosher cookbook market continues to flourish, it can be difficult to know which cookbooks are the right match for each home cook. From time to time I’ll be reviewing different cookbooks here, giving you a little glimpse inside each one, to help you decide which ones might be a good investment for you.


Have you heard about the new Celebrate cookbook by Elizabeth Kurtz? It came out a few months ago, and it’s definitely my favorite of all the kosher cookbooks that have come out in the last year or two. The publishers have sent me a copy to review, as well as several recipes from the book that I’ve included below (click on the picture or the name of the dish to be taken to the recipe). We also have a second copy of the cookbook for one lucky reader!


I am generally not much of a cookbook person. Most of the time I don’t cook from a recipe, and when I do I prefer to look online, compare several recipes for the same dish, read the reviews and choose the one I think will work best for me (or patch them together to create a better version). I find that most people use only 5–6 recipes from each cookbook they own, which seems like a waste, but this cookbook excites me because there are so many recipes in here I actually want to try!

London Broil with Braised Shallots and Mushrooms



Photography

The photography in this book is superb. The colors are vibrant, the pictures are fully focused, and the styling is logical and appealing. The photography far surpasses that of the past few cookbooks I’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, though, there is not a photograph for every recipe. I’d say on average there’s a photo for every 3rd recipe.

Tips and Tricks

Along with gorgeous color photos and design, the book offers tips for making meals in advance, freezing, rewarming, and ingredient substitutions for making almost every dish Passover-perfect.

Extreme Chocolate Drop Cookies



The Food

The recipes in Celebrate are not limited to one specific cuisine. There are 200 recipes ranging from easy, everyday meals to more complex and holiday-themed dishes.

Some of the ones I’m most excited to try:

Wild Mushroom Soup, Fresh Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Roasted Sweet Potato, Turkey Roast with Cumin-Spiked Berry Sauce, Moroccan Lamb Stew, Standing Rib Roast Studded with Garlic, Peanut Soba Noodle Salad with Cucumbers and Carrot, Szechwan Sugar Snap Peas, Easy Creamy Lemon Tart, and Tahini Thumbprint Cookies.

What Else?

It has bookmarks! Two of them. To me this is a big advantage, because two people can use the cookbook at the same time without losing their place.

One thing I didn’t like about this cookbook (aside from not enough pictures) is the way it’s divided up. Some of it made sense, but part of it sacrificed clarity for the sake of “cutesiness.”

Who Will Enjoy This Cookbook?

Is this cookbook for you? It excites me, and I don’t usually get excited by cookbooks. I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy it too, but we’ve shared three recipes here with you, which you can try out for yourselves and then decide.

One of the recipes that really caught my eye was for these healthy and visually appealing stuffed mushrooms:


Garlic and Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk or non-dairy creamer
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 24 large button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup matzo meal or panko crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine almond milk and garlic in a small saucepan over very low heat; cook until garlic is soft enough to mash with a fork, about 45 minutes. (Almond milk will be reduced and thick.) Remove from heat and mash garlic with a fork to a rough puree.
  2. While the garlic is poaching, remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop the stems to use in the stuffing. Reserve the mushroom caps for stuffing. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium; add shallots and chopped mushroom stems. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the mashed garlic with the matzo meal/panko, pesto, 1 teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and shallot-mushroom mixture, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Preheat oven to 450° F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, vinegar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the mushroom caps and toss to coat. Arrange mushroom caps on prepared baking sheet, and fill centers evenly with reserved garlic-crumb mixture. Drizzle tops with remaining teaspoon of olive oil.
  6. Bake until just browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serves: 8


Giveaway!

So, is Celebrate a cookbook you’d love to own? We are giving away a free copy to one lucky reader. It could be you! To enter, leave a comment sharing a thought, experience or memory about Jewish celebration or kosher cooking.

Note: Cookbook can be shipped only within the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, July 21, 2016. Winner will be chosen on Monday, July 25, 2016.

There’s something about summer that just screams “pasta salad!” It’s perfect for those exceedingly hot and sticky days when no one wants to eat a hot meal. I have a couple of steady ones in my repertoire (have you tried my Greek Pasta Salad? It’s hands-down my favorite), but I felt like trying something new this year. Hence this tuna and veggie delight came into existence . . .


Honestly, it’s pretty simple. No explanations necessary, so I’m going to keep it short.

Feel free to play around with the ingredients. If you don’t like olives, switch them out. If you’re not a fish-eater, just leave out the tuna entirely. Oh, and if you’re serving this at a barbecue, be careful not to leave it out in the heat for too long, so the mayo doesn’t spoil.


And that’s it, folks. Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw pasta
  • 3 corn cobs
  • 4 carrots
  • 20–30 black olives
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 can tuna, drained

Dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. celery seed

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. Place the corn cobs in a pot, cover with water and place over high heat. When the water has been at a rolling boil for two minutes, remove the corn and place it into cold water to cool. Then cut off the kernels with a sharp knife and set aside.
  3. Peel the carrots and cut off the ends. The use the peeler to cut the carrot into long ribbons.
  4. Slice the olives and scallions into rounds.
  5. Mix the pasta with the tuna, corn, olives, scallions and carrots.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the pasta salad and toss to combine.
  7. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.

Cook It Kosher features recipes from Chabad.org food blogger Miriam Szokovski, as well as guest bloggers and cookbook authors. Let us know if you’d like to contribute!
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