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Cook It Kosher

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 on 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 pear.
  4. Roughly chop the pecans (plain, or honey-glazed 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.

When I first started seeing “smoothie bowls” cropping up all over the Internet last year, I couldn’t understand why it was a “thing.” I’ve been eating smoothies out of bowls for years! Does it really need its own recipe? But they’re fun and easy and colorful and great for summer, so I’ve decided to share one anyway.


For those who don’t know, a smoothie bowl is literally just a smoothie, poured into a bowl, with different add-ins sprinkled over the top. Most typically: assorted fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. Here I’ve gone with a blueberry smoothie base, but if you prefer, you can use this strawberry smoothie, or this green one, instead. (Or your own smoothie recipe, of course.)


You can be as creative as you like with the toppings. Here are some suggestions: assorted berries; summer fruit like peaches, nectarines and plums; chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios; and seeds like flax, chia, wheat germ or hemp. You can also use any type of granola or muesli. It’s up to you. Have fun, change it up, keep it interesting!


Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 5–6 frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Blend all smoothie ingredients together. Pour into bowls.
  2. Top with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds of your choice. I used mango, strawberries, banana, blueberries, chia seeds and granola.

Yields: 2 servings


This is one of those deceptively simple dinners that you can make quickly, but looks fancy and tastes delicious.


This recipe is super simple. You’re basically just making a spice rub and searing the steak on both sides. Cooking times vary depending on how you like your meat and how thick you cut it. More details on that in the actual recipe below.



You can use any steak, but I’ve used a cheaper one here—club steak. No steak is cheap, but there is huge variety depending which cut you buy. The recipe also works well with minute steak, another cheaper option.

Obviously, you do not need to eat this with corn and asparagus. You can add the accompaniments of your choice. I like corn because it cooks so quickly and is so wonderfully sweet and juicy when fresh. Asparagus also cooks very quickly, and cuts easy with the meat.

As always, feel free to change it up as you see fit. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 4 club steaks
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp. black pepper
  • 3–4 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Pat the steaks dry. Rub some of the spice mix onto each side of the steaks and let them sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Heat a grill pan, or frying pan, over medium-high heat for 1–3 minutes.
  4. When the pan is very hot, drizzle each side of the steaks with a small amount of oil. Place the steaks in the hot pan so that they are not touching. (Depending on the size of your pan, you will probably do best cooking them in batches of two.)
  5. Cook for 4–5 minutes, then flip the steaks and cook another 3–4 minutes. NOTE: Timing will vary depending on how thick your meat is, and how well done you like it. If you prefer it very well done, you can sear on each side and then transfer to the oven to finish cooking there.
  6. Remove meat from the pan and let it rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4

To cook the corn:

  1. Place fresh corncobs (whole or halved) into a pot of cold water. The water should cover the corn.
  2. Cover the pot and place over high heat. When the water boils, leave the corn in for 1–2 more minutes; then the corn is ready.
  3. If serving immediately, place hot corn in a serving dish. If serving soon, pour out the cooking water and replace with cold water. Leave corn in the water until ready to serve. If you’re refrigerating the corn for much later, leave corn in the cold water until corn is fully cooled. Then remove from water, place in a container or ziptop bag and refrigerate.

To cook the asparagus:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Place asparagus into the water and cook 3–4 minutes, until bright green and tender, but not mushy. Remove and immediately place in cold water. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon (optional) and a sprinkle of salt.

It’s that time of year again, when cheesecakes galore are popping up all over the place. To be honest, I am not cheesecake’s biggest fan, but this recipe is one even I enjoy. The actual cheesecake is lighter, with a slight lemony undertone, and the fresh fruit helps temper the richness.


You can use this cheesecake as a base and add the topping of your choice. Some suggestions: caramel, chocolate ganache, fresh berries, pie filling, lemon curd, roasted rhubarb, etc. I went very simple with oranges, kiwis and strawberries.


Why are we talking about cheesecake? The holiday of Shavuot is almost upon us, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah by hearing the Ten Commandments being read in the synagogue. Some of the customs specific to this holiday include decorating our homes with greenery and eating dairy foods.


This recipe is closely based on Matt Preston’s cheesecake recipe. I’ve made one or two very small adjustments.

Prepare the pan:

  • You will need a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe. If you don’t have a springform pan, you can use a regular pan, but the cake will be difficult to remove. You may need to cut it while it’s still in the pan.
  • This cheesecake cooks best in a water bath, so you’ll need a larger pan that the springform pan can sit in.
  • Wrap the outside of the springform pan in 2–3 layers of foil. This helps keep the water from seeping through the crack around the base.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. / 120 grams tea biscuits, crushed
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp. butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

Crust Directions:

  1. Crush the tea biscuits to a fine crumb, and mix with the sugar, salt and melted butter.
  2. Press the mixture down firmly into the base of the springform pan. Use the back of a spoon to help compress the mixture.
  3. Bake at 350° F for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. cream cheese (3 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2½ tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup heavy cream

Cheesecake Directions:

  1. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature.
  2. Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld), beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the eggs one a time. Wait until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Pour in the lemon juice, vanilla and salt, and mix. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture over the base.
  6. Place the springform pan into the larger pan, and add 1 inch of water to the larger pan.
  7. Bake at 350° F for approximately 60–75 minutes. In order not to overcook the cake, turn off the oven when the center is still jiggly (but not completely wet). Leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for an hour. Then remove and let it cool completely.
  8. Refrigerate cake until cold. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then gently release the springform.
  9. Top with fresh fruit. I used orange, kiwi and strawberries.

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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