Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook
 E-mail
Cook It Kosher

The kosher cookbook market continues to flourish, and it can be difficult to know which cookbooks are the right match for each home cook. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen; some like to try varied international cuisines, while others prefer to stick with the more familiar; and, of course, some people are happy to spend time making complex recipes, but others are staunchly in the quick-and-easy-only camp.

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 Something Sweet, the new dessert cookbook by Miriam Pascal? The author is a popular kosher food blogger, and her readers were very pleased when she came out with this cookbook full of exciting new recipes. 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 name of the dish to be taken to the recipe). We also have a second copy of the cookbook for one of you!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Pie



Photography

The photography in this book is outstanding. Each recipe has a full-page, vibrant, beautifully styled photograph. Many food bloggers hire an outside photographer when writing a cookbook, but Miriam did all her own photography and in my opinion she couldn't have made a better choice.

Other Features

The cookbook comes with an informative introduction, explaining many baking terms, offering ingredient substitution suggestions and clarifying terms used throughout the book. And in the back of the book you'll find a holiday guide, suggesting four or five recipes that relate to each Jewish holiday. Many of the recipes also include "plan ahead" instructions and advice on how to best freeze the dessert.

Neapolitan Trifles



Cuisine

The recipes in this book are very American. For example, there is significant use of cream cheese and sour cream in many of the recipes, and lots of classic American flavors like apple-cinnamon, peanut-chocolate and caramel everything. The recipes also use mostly easy-to-find ingredients and are not complicated.

My main criticism would be lack of originality. The photos are great, but I didn't find a single recipe that took me by surprise, or made me say, "Wow, I've never heard of that. I'd love to try it." There are a lot of basics—blueberry pie, carrot cake, marble cake, strawberry-rhubarb tarts— andmany assorted cupcakes and cookies and cakes. So if that's what you're looking for, you will probably enjoy this cookbook. If you're looking for the next level, you may be disappointed.

Chocolate Pretzel Cookies



Who Will Enjoy this Cookbook?

Is this cookbook for you? I can’t answer that question for you, but we’ve shared four recipes here with you, which you can try out for yourselves, and then decide.


One of the recipes that really caught my eye were these very visually appealing pomegranate cupcakes.

Pomegranate Cupcakes



Pomegranates are beautiful fruits, loaded with health benefits and delicious flavors, so it’s a shame they aren’t used more in baking! These easy-to-make and unusual cupcakes have a delicate fruity flavor and pretty pink appearance, thanks to the glaze.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • ½ cup oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup pomegranate juice

Pomegranate Glaze Ingredients

  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice, divided
  • pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard (12-cup) cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together oil and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and eggs. Beat until combined.
  4. Alternately add half the flour and half the pomegranate juice, beating after each addition until incorporated.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about three-quarters full.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are set. Remove from oven; cool completely before glazing.
  7. Prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice; mix until smooth. Gradually add an additional 1-3 teaspoons juice if needed to form a thick but spreadable glaze.
  8. Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the glaze, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Yield: 1 dozen

Plan Ahead: These cupcakes freeze well in an airtight container. For best results, freeze them without the glaze and add it just before serving, but you can glaze them before freezing if necessary. Be sure to let the glaze set before you cover the cupcakes.


Giveaway!

So, is Something Sweet a cookbook you’d love to own? We are giving away a free copy to one lucky reader. It could be you!

Purim is coming up, when it's a mitzvah to give food gifts to others. This book could help you bake up a storm to include in your mishloach manot or festive Purim meal. To enter, leave a comment sharing a memorable Purim experience you had. If you haven't had the opportunity to celebrate Purim yet, you can share a different Jewish holiday experience. (Also, we can hook you up with your closest Chabad center and you can join their Purim festivities this year. Click here to find a center near you.)

NOTE: Cookbook can be shipped only in the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. Winner will be chosen on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Crunchy taco shells filled with warm shredded beef, piled high with fresh salsa, cool and creamy non-dairy sour cream and avocado. . . . These tacos were even better than I expected.

Make sure you keep lots of napkins on hand, because they are as messy as they are delicious.


Good news! This is the same meat recipe I used for my pulled beef and coleslaw sandwiches a couple of weeks ago. You can make one batch of meat and use it for both meals. It also freezes well and defrosts quickly, so you can make a lot, divide it up, freeze it, and pull out a container or two as needed.

Once your meat is cooked (which you can do in advance), the rest is quick and easy to assemble, making this a convenient weeknight dinner.


Make sure you stick with fresh lime, not the bottled stuff. It makes all the difference.

Note: I’m generally not a fan of non-dairy cheeses and sour cream, and I try to stay away from them. But in this case I waived that. The tacos were just so much better with the sour cream. I definitely recommend it.


Pulled Beef Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, sliced in half rounds
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2.5 lb. short ribs (bone in)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp. ginger powder

Directions:

  1. In medium-sized pot, fry the onions with the oil and salt until golden. Remove the onions and set aside. Return pot to the heat.
  2. Cut the ribs between the bones (but do not remove the bones) and brown on each side, in the same pot. Brown the meat in small batches. If the pot is overcrowded, the meat will steam instead of browning.
  3. When all the meat has browned, add the onions back into the pot.
  4. Pour in all the sauce ingredients over the meat, and mix to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over a very low flame for 3 hours.
  5. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred. (If the meat does not fall apart easily, you need to cook it for longer.) Discard the bones and any lumps of fat.
  6. Return the meat to the sauce and keep warm until ready to assemble the tacos.
  7. Meat keeps well in either the refrigerator or freezer.

Pico de Gallo Ingredients:

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small purple onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 1 small green jalapeño pepper, sliced

Pico de Gallo Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Best served immediately, but you can make and refrigerate a few hours ahead.

You will also need:

  • Taco shells
  • Avocado
  • Non-dairy sour cream
  • (Lots of napkins!)

To assemble:

  1. Spoon the pulled beef into the taco shells.
  2. Top with pico de gallo, avocado and non-dairy sour cream.
  3. Eat and enjoy.

Putting pastrami in egg rolls may not make for authentic Asian cuisine, but it sure tastes good. As does the sauce. Trust me, once you taste this, you will never go back to dipping in plain old duck sauce.


Egg rolls are not the simplest thing to throw together. There are quite a few ingredients and steps, but none of it is difficult, just a little messy and possibly time-consuming.


You’ll need to make some decisions before you start:

  • Do you want to use cellophane noodles? I’ve done it both ways. (In the pictures you don’t see the noodles, because I left them in the bowl on the side and forgot to add them to the filling. When I remembered, I added it to the rest, but it’s not visible here.) It can, though, be difficult to find certified kosher cellophane noodles, depending on where you live, or you may not be familiar with them. They do add texture, but you can leave them out and double the amount of cabbage mix you use, if you prefer.
  • Do you want to bake or fry? They do come out differently, but both taste good. It’s mainly a difference of texture. The fried ones get that soft but crispy texture, where the wrapper bubbles up. The baked ones do not bubble, and often end up with crunchy ends and soft sides.

Some other changes you can make:

  • Don’t have access to pastrami? You can use ground beef instead. After you fry the onion, add in the ground beef and brown it. Then add the cabbage mix and continue.
  • Don’t have access to coleslaw mix? It is simply a combination of shredded carrot and cabbage which you can easily make yourself.

Egg Roll Ingredients

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3–4 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ lb. thinly sliced pastrami
  • ½ lb. coleslaw mix (shredded white cabbage and carrot)
  • Optional: 3 oz. cellophane/glass noodles (note: if you’re not using the noodles, double the amount of coleslaw mix)
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • 12–16 egg roll wrappers
  • Oil for frying

Egg Roll Directions

  1. Place the glass noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until limp.
  2. Sauté the diced onion in the olive oil and salt until translucent.
  3. Add the pastrami, cabbage and cellophane/glass noodles, and cook until the cabbage is just starting to wilt. (Note: If you’re not using cellophane noodles, use double the amount of cabbage instead.)
  4. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and cook over a low flame for 4–5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft (but not soggy) and the flavors have melded. Place the mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Lay out the egg roll wrappers and place 2–3 tablespoons of mixture on each one. Roll according to the diagram above. Seal by dipping your fingertips in cold water and gently smoothing over the edge.
  6. Decide if you want to fry or bake the egg rolls. To fry, fill a frying pan with an inch or so of oil. Bring to medium-high heat, and gently drop in a few egg rolls, seam side down. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 2–3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Repeat until all egg rolls are fried.
  7. To bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the egg rolls seam-side down on the parchment paper. Brush each one with oil (or spray with Pam), and bake at 425° F for 20 minutes.

Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • ⅛ tsp. ginger powder
  • ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ cup water

Sauce Directions

  1. Cook all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer over a very low flame for 10–15 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Make sure to stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn.
  3. When it’s ready, take the sauce off the fire and pour it through a fine mesh strainer.
  4. Serve alongside the egg rolls for dipping. The sauce can be refrigerated; just warm it up again before serving.

Yields: 12–16 egg rolls (and enough sauce for them). Both recipes can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.


This Monday, Jews around the world will celebrate the 15th of Shevat, the New Year for the trees. Traditionally we celebrate by eating fruit, specifically the seven fruits of Israel, including grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Of course you can eat the fruit plain, but you can also have fun with it—like I did when I made this two-toned chocolate bark with fruit and nuts. It’s easy, delicious and eye-catching. Best of all, you can easily adjust it to suit your taste—just use whichever fruit and nuts you enjoy eating.


For Tu B’Shevat, you can use figs, dates, raisins and pomegranate seeds (fresh or dried). You can also use any other dried fruit, nuts and seeds. As you can see, I used a variety.


In terms of chocolate, it’s important to use good quality chocolate. The type you would eat, not baking chocolate. The best way to melt it is over a double boiler. You can make one yourself with a small pot and a bowl, like this:


Place the chocolate in the bowl and about an inch of water in the pot. Put the pot over the fire and the bowl over the pot. As the water heats, the steam will gently melt the chocolate.

Then follow the assembly instructions below, and enjoy!



Ingredients:

  • 200 grams (7 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 200 grams (7 oz) good quality white chocolate
  • Assorted dried fruit and nuts (approximately one cup each)
  • Sea salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a 11″×17″ cookie sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Choose which dried fruit and nuts you will use, and chop them into medium-small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. When the chocolate is fully melted, spread it over the parchment paper. Freeze for approximately 10 minutes, until chocolate is firm.
  4. Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. Spread the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and immediately sprinkle the fruit and nuts over it, before the chocolate sets. (Note: Some white chocolate doesn’t melt well—usually the lower-quality stuff. If you’re having that problem, try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. It often helps.)
  5. Optional: sprinkle some sea salt over the bark to provide a contrasting flavor which will heighten the taste.
  6. Freeze for 1–2 hours, then break into jagged pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. (If your kitchen is very warm, or if it’s summer, store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.)

I’ll let these pulled beef and coleslaw sandwiches speak for themselves . . .


The meat is slow cooked and then easily shredded using two forks. I’ve chosen a tart, more acidic coleslaw, which helps cut the heaviness of the fatty meat. Beyond that, you can add lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickle, avocado, corn, and any other add-ins you choose.


You do need to use a fatty cut for pulled beef, so you can get that nice, soft, falling-apart texture. The long cook on a lower temperature helps break down the fat, making the meat absolutely succulent. I used short ribs (bone in, which gives it extra flavor), but you could also use a second cut brisket.

Although the meat takes a while to cook, it keeps in the fridge for at least 4 days (stored in an airtight container), so you can make it on Sunday and use it in these sandwiches one night, and use the leftovers another night. It goes well in tacos, or over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta. It also freezes well if you want to use it again, but not the same week.


Pulled Beef Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, sliced in half rounds
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2.5 lb. short ribs (bone in)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp. ginger powder

Directions:

  1. In medium-sized pot, fry the onions with the oil and salt until golden. Remove the onions and set aside. Return pot to the heat.
  2. Cut the ribs between the bones (but do not remove the bones) and brown on each side, in the same pot. Brown the meat in small batches. If the pot is overcrowded, the meat will steam instead of browning.
  3. When all the meat has browned, add the onions back into the pot.
  4. Pour in all the sauce ingredients over the meat and mix to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over a very low flame for 3 hours.
  5. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred. (If the meat does not fall apart easily, you need to cook it for longer.) Discard the bones and any lumps of fat.
  6. Return the meat to the sauce and keep warm until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
  7. Meat keeps well in either the refrigerator or freezer.

Coleslaw Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. purple coleslaw mix (you can use pre-bagged mix, or if you’re making your own, the ratio is about 70% shredded purple cabbage, 15% shredded green cabbage, 15% shredded carrot)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. light olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. mustard
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Dash of garlic powder and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pour the honey, apple cider vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic into a saucepan and cook over low heat until combined. Let the dressing cool, then pour it over the coleslaw mix. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to marinate.

You will also need:

  • Fresh, crusty bread
  • Other fixings of your choice, such as tomatoes, pickles, cucumbers
  • Lots and lots of napkins!

The kosher cookbook market continues to flourish, and it can be difficult to know which cookbooks are the right match for each home cook. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen; some like to try varied international cuisines, while others prefer to stick with the more familiar; and, of course, some people are happy to spend time making complex recipes, but others are staunchly in the quick-and-easy-only camp.

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 Silver Platter cookbook? It came out a few months ago, and I’ve heard so much about it. 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 name of the dish to be taken to the recipe). We also have a second copy of the cookbook for one lucky reader!


What’s so special about this cookbook? Norene Gilletz, the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada, has teamed up with Daniella Silver, a previously unpublished newcomer to the kosher cooking scene. Together they have created a masterpiece—The Silver Platter.

Israeli-Style Satay with Tahini Dipping Sauce



Photography

Each recipe in this book is accompanied by a vibrant full-page color photograph, so you know exactly what to expect. To me, that is what makes or breaks a cookbook. For the most part, the photos are nicely styled but still realistic-looking.

Rocky Road Brownie Cake



Cuisine

I’d say The Silver Platter is very American-style. It features elegant appetizers such as Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs, everyday favorites like Chunky Chili and Sesame Ginger Chicken, kid-friendly offerings such as Halibut Fish Sticks, and succulent mains including Bourbon Marinated Prime Rib, innovative sides like Apple Cranberry Couscous, plus plenty of sweet treats, like Fudgy Pretzel Brownies.

Its tagline is “Wholesome, family-friendly recipes,” which is mostly accurate, although almost every time I have seen people recommending this book it seems to be promoted as “all-natural” and “whole ingredients,” which I did not find to be true. Many of the meat and chicken recipes do use significant amounts of ketchup/brown sugar/apricot jam/barbecue sauce/honey etc., which I found disappointing. Nevertheless, there are many, many genuinely fresh, healthy and innovative vegetable soups, salads and sides.

In all, The Silver Platter contains 160 recipes, most of which do not call for any specialty or hard-to-find ingredients, and each recipe includes tips and comments from Norene Gilletz. Many of the recipes are gluten-free and kosher for Passover, and nutrition information for all the recipes is included at the back of the book.

Black Rice with Mango, Pomegranate and Avocado



Who Will Enjoy this Cookbook?

Is this cookbook for you? I can’t answer that question for you, but we’ve shared four recipes here with you, which you can try out for yourselves, and then decide.

One of the recipes that really caught my eye was this exciting and visually appealing salmon:

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Strawberry-Chili Salsa



Grilling on a cedar plank is a simple way to cook and serve salmon, infusing it with a subtle smokiness. Strawberries make a perfect counterpoint to the salsa’s chili pepper. The plank keeps the fish warm while serving.

You will need:

  • 1 or 2 untreated cedar planks (about 12 × 7 inches)

Salsa Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chili pepper, finely diced (remove seeds first for less heat)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Fish Ingredients:

  • 4–6 salmon fillets (about 6 oz/180 g each)
  • 1–2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Soak 1 or 2 cedar planks in cold water for at least 1 hour. Top planks with two or three unopened cans to keep them submerged while soaking.
  2. Salsa: In a medium bowl, stir together strawberries, onion, mint, oil, lime juice, chili pepper, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Fish: Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove plank(s) from water and place on hot grate over indirect heat for 6–8 minutes, until hot. Using tongs, carefully turn plank(s) over and place salmon fillets on top. Brush fillets with oil; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover grill and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until salmon flakes when lightly pressed with a fork. It’s not necessary to turn the salmon.
  5. Remove from grill and spoon salsa over the salmon. Serve salmon directly from the plank(s).

Yields: 4–6 servings


Norene’s Notes:

Oven Method: Place soaked planks onto a baking sheet. Top with salmon; brush fish with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 12–15 minutes. As the water evaporates from the plank(s), steam will be released, keeping the fish moist and aromatic.

Giveaway!

So, is The Silver Platter 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 letting us know why kosher cooking is important to you.

NOTE: Cookbook can be shipped only in the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. Winner will be chosen on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

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!
Related