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Cook It Kosher

The holiday of Shavuot is almost upon us, when it's traditional to eat dairy foods, and these cheesy stuffed shells definitely fit the brief.


For the filling, I sautéed some onion, garlic, shredded carrot, celery and mushrooms, and mixed that in with ricotta, parmesan and an egg.


You can tailor the filling to your taste. The amounts don't need to be exact, and you can leave out, or exchange some of the ingredients for others.


You can cook the shells in one large pan, or divide them up into smaller pans (like I did).


You can also adjust the amount of cheese you sprinkle over the top. You could also do a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan.


Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
  • 3 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1 12oz. box jumbo shells
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or more, if you prefer)
  • 2-3 cups marinara sauce
  • fresh basil (optional)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onion in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic, carrot and celery and cook until wilted. Add the mushrooms and cook 1-2 minutes more. Salt mixture to taste and set aside to cool.
  2. Mix the vegetables with the ricotta, parmesan and egg.
  3. Cook the shells according to the instructions on the box. Then fill each shell with the ricotta filling.
  4. Spread a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking pan. Place the shells in a single layer, with the opening facing upwards. Pour the rest of the marinara over the shells and sprinkle with fresh basil (optional).
  5. Cover tightly with foil and bake on 350°F for 30 minutes. Take the pan out, remove the foil and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the shells. Return to the oven, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Yields: 25-30 shells


I’ve been wanting to play around with miso for a while, and I recently chanced upon it in a local grocery, so this miso-maple glazed London broil came to be.


The glaze is easy, delicious, and can be used on meat or chicken. Probably fish too, but I haven’t tried it.


I’ve been thinking about grilling, because Lag BaOmer is coming up, a day on which many people spend time outdoors, at parades, hikes, and barbecues. Beyond hot dogs and burgers, there’s a whole world of grilling. Kebabs and chicken cutlets, drumettes and wings all do well on the grill. London broil is a cut of meat which lends itself well to grilling, too.

You just need a robust, flavorful glaze or sauce, and you’re all set. If you’re looking to experiment, or change it up from the typical barbecue sauce, give this miso-maple glaze a try.




Miso Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. miso paste
  • 1 tbsp. mirin or rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: toasted sesame seeds

Miso Glaze Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the miso paste has dissolved and mixture has reduced to about ⅓ cup.
  2. Strain the glaze to remove the garlic and ginger, and set aside until ready to glaze the meat/chicken.

This glaze is delicious on meat or chicken. Here I’ve used it on London broil.

To prepare the meat:

  • 1 piece London broil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle each side of the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and brush with oil.
  2. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Once the pan is very hot, put the meat down and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Or, cook on an outdoor grill/barbecue. You can also broil it in the oven on high for 5–6 minutes on each side, if you don’t have a grill. Note: If your meat is thicker, you will need to cook it for longer.
  3. Remove meat from the pan and brush with the glaze. Let meat rest 5–7 minutes, and brush with the glaze again. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cut into strips and serve.

Until recently I had never made falafel from scratch. For some reason I thought it was extremely complicated, fiddly and time-consuming, with only mediocre results, but I’m happy to report that I was entirely incorrect. Once I started experimenting, I discovered that it’s really quite easy, and the taste is infinitely better than the packet-mix ones.


The main thing I discovered during my research and experimentation phase is that you need to use raw chickpeas, not cooked or canned. Using canned chickpeas makes them taste like mushy fried hummus balls instead of crispy, light falafel.

I also used to look at the long ingredient list on some falafel recipes and feel overwhelmed. I’ve found that using a variety of herbs and spices is definitely necessary, but the process is extremely simple. It all goes into the food processor and gets pulsed together. That’s it. No need to crush your garlic or dice your onion. Just dump it all in. Like this:


Until it looks like this:


Stick it in the fridge for an hour, and roll it into balls:


Fry until crispy and brown on the outside, and fully cooked on the inside:


Mmm . . . just look at those delicious, crispy bundles of Israeli, falafely goodness!

Falafel is usually served in a warm pita, or on a plate, with your preferred condiments. My “go-to” accompaniments are hummus, tahini, pickles and Israeli salad. In a pita, of course!


Falafel Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 small onion, cut into quarters (or half a larger onion)
  • 3–4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Falafel Directions:

  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl or container and cover with water. The water should be a couple of inches higher than the chickpeas, because they will expand while soaking. Soak the chickpeas overnight, or for at least 3–4 hours. When ready, drain and rinse well.
  2. Pour the chickpeas into the food processor, with all the other ingredients (except the oil). Pulse until mixture resembles a coarse crumb. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  3. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Gently roll the mixture into balls. If it feels a little crumbly, apply some pressure while rolling, to help the balls come together. If the mixture is too crumbly and you cannot get it to stick together at all, you may need to return it to the food processor and pulse a few more times. But you don’t want the mixture to be too dense. It should not feel like meatballs or matzah balls. It should feel light and delicate, but able to hold its shape.
  5. Pour oil into a pot or frying pan, about 1½ inches deep. Heat the oil over a medium-high flame until ready. To test if the oil is ready, drop in a small piece of the mixture. If the oil bubbles and the mixture floats, the oil is ready and you can begin frying your falafel balls. Fry the balls for 2–3 minutes on the first side, then gently flip them and fry for another 1–2 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot/pan. I like to fry them in batches of 6–8. When the falafel balls are fully cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel, to help soak up the excess oil so they don’t get soggy.
  6. Serve with your choice of accompaniments, such as hummus, tahini, Israeli salad and pickles. Many people enjoy eating the falafel and condiments inside a warm, soft pita.

Yields: Approximately 30 falafel balls

Recipe is based on Tori Avey’s recipe, with a few tweaks.


Preparing the Seder plate items can seem overwhelming, but it needn’t be.


Although there are six or seven different components, none of them are particularly complex. Here I’ll explain what each element represents, how it’s prepared and when it’s used. For more detailed information, check out the Seder preparation section on our Passover site.


Please note: Some of the items used may vary depending on your community and family. I am going according to the Chabad custom.

Zeroa: The Shank Bone

The shank bone represents the paschal sacrifice brought in Temple times. For this we use a chicken neck, roasted on the stovetop.

Hold the chicken neck over a burner with a pair of tongs, until blackened on both sides. Prepare one for each Seder plate. The shank bone is not eaten, and the same one can be used for both nights.

Beitza: The Egg

The hard-boiled egg represents the holiday offering brought in Temple times.


Prepare one egg per Seder plate. You may also wish to prepare one for anyone else at the table who is not using a Seder plate.

The egg is traditionally dipped in salt water and eaten at the beginning of the meal.

To prepare: Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the fire off and leave the eggs in the covered pot for about 12 minutes. For easier peeling, run the eggs under cold water.

Maror: The Bitter Herbs

The bitter herbs remind us of the bitter slavery and exile in Egypt.


We use freshly grated horseradish root wrapped in romaine lettuce.

To prepare the horseradish, peel and grate the horseradish root. You can use a hand grater or a food processor. Store in a glass jar for maximum freshness.

Chazeret: The Lettuce

The lettuce symbolizes the bitter enslavement of our fathers in Egypt. The leaves of romaine lettuce are not bitter, but the stem, when left to grow in the ground, turns hard and bitter.

Likewise, when we were enslaved in Egypt, at first the deceitful approach of Pharaoh was soft and sensible, and the work was done voluntarily and even for pay. Gradually, it evolved into forced and cruel labor.


To prepare the lettuce, wash it well and check for bugs. I find the easiest way is to cut off the stem and place the leaves in a big bowl of water. Remove and check each leaf, and pat dry with a paper towel.


The lettuce and bitter herbs are used twice. After we finish the maggid portion of the Seder, when we tell most of the story of the Exodus, we wash hands and eat the matzah. Then we eat the maror (the grated horseradish wrapped in a couple of lettuce leaves), and after that, we eat the sandwich (another dose of horseradish and romaine, this time sandwiched between matzah).

Charoset: The Paste

Charoset reminds us of the bricks and mortar the Jewish people were forced to make while enslaved in Egypt. We use it as a type of relish, into which the maror is dipped (and then shaken off).


For a basic charoset, mix together 1 finely diced apple, 1 finely diced pear, 1 cup ground walnuts and ½ cup red wine.

Check out more variations here.


Karpas: The Vegetable

The vegetable alludes to the backbreaking work the Jews did in Egypt. The letters of the Hebrew word karpas can be rearranged to spell perech samech. Perech means backbreaking labor, and samech numerically alludes to the number of Jews enslaved in Egypt.

The vegetable is dipped in salt water and eaten at the beginning of the Seder, after saying kiddush and washing hands. The Chabad custom is to use a piece of cooked potato or a piece of raw onion, but many others use parsley, radish or celery.


Peel and cut a potato and place in a small pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the potato is fork tender. For the onion, just peel and cut into chunks. Prepare enough karpas for each person at the Seder.

The Salt Water

The salt water represents the bitter tears our ancestors shed while enslaved for so many years. It is placed in a small bowl next to the Seder plate, and both the karpas (vegetable) and the egg are dipped into it.


Make the salt water by mixing 1–2 tablespoons of salt into 2 cups water.

And that’s it . . . you’re done!


Here are some tips to help your Seder plate preparation go quickly and easily.

  • Make a list so you can cross off each item as it’s done.
  • If your kitchen is Passover-ready in advance, get a couple of items ready early. The shank bone can be frozen after it’s roasted, for example. And if you put the lettuce in a Ziploc bag with all of the air squeezed out, it stays fresh and crunchy for a good week. Eggs can be boiled 1–2 days before, and the salt water can be prepared at any time. It also literally takes about one minute.
  • Multitask. Keep in mind that the cooking of the eggs and potato is “passive time.” You can use this time to prepare other elements.
  • Grate the horseradish in a separate room, or even outside. When it is very fresh and potent, it can make everyone’s eyes sting, just like onions. When grated, that carries through the air and is particularly strong.
  • The most time-consuming task is probably the washing, checking and drying of the lettuce. If you have kids around, this is a good job for them.

The amount of time it takes will largely depend on how many people you are preparing for. If you have a big crowd, delegate! Ask people to chip in and hand out specific jobs.

Happy Passover!

This Passover dessert excites me! It is a far cry from your typical Passover dry sponge cakes and icy sorbets. The idea began percolating in my mind a couple of months ago, and after quite a bit of rethinking, testing, fixing, refining and retesting, I can confidently say it was well worth the effort.


Passover desserts have a bad reputation, but here’s an opportunity to change that. The mousse is non-dairy, and while everyone has their own Passover customs, I think this is doable for most.

There are a number of different elements here, but don’t let that overwhelm you. For one thing, each element uses only 2–3 ingredients. And for another, you can choose to leave out some parts.

I’ve done my best to walk you through the steps with notes about all the potential pressure points, and as always, feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll help you out.

So, what is it exactly?


It’s a silky chocolate mousse, served with a chewy almond crumb, crispy meringues and fresh fruit. Oh, and it’s delicious!

The fresh fruit is just that—plain fruit. And the mint leaf garnish is optional. Which leaves you with three things to focus on: the crumb, the mousse and the meringue.

The crumb is the easiest of the three. You’re basically just mixing the ingredients like a cookie dough, but you’re looking for a slightly more crumbly texture.


Pour that out onto a baking sheet, bake for 10–12 minutes, and after it cools, crumble it gently with your hands and you’re done.


(Note: Both these pictures are of the crumb raw. It will spread and look more cookie-like after it’s baked.)

The meringue is not difficult or time-consuming, if you have mixer. A stand mixer is best, but a hand mixer will also work. You can whisk it by hand, but it will take significantly longer and a lot of elbow grease. I also have a shortcut for you with this. Instead of piping out individual mini-meringues, you can spread the mixture out and bake it as a flat sheet. Then break it into shards to use on the plate. It will taste the same and still be visually appealing.


The mousse is the most interesting element, and the hero of the dish. You probably know that water is generally chocolate’s nemesis. Get even a tiny droplet of water into your melted chocolate and it will instantly seize, becoming grainy and unsalvageable, which is what makes this recipe so surprising.

Created by Hervé This, a French chemist, the vigorous whisking in this recipe counteracts that, and you get a beautiful, creamy mousse, with pure chocolate flavor. If you’re having trouble understanding this part of the recipe, Google “Herve This chocolate mousse.” There are several videos online of people making it, and you can see how simple it actually is.

Keep in mind, the mousse is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Last week I made this dessert for 60 people at a pre-Passover event, and it was a huge success. I hope you’ll give it a try too!


You will need:

  • 4 oranges, segmented
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • Almond crumb (recipe below)
  • Mini Swiss meringues (recipe below)
  • Chocolate mousse (recipe below)
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Flaked sea salt (optional)

Note: You can prepare all the elements in advance. Just keep each part separate until serving.

Chewy Almond Crumb:

  • 1 cup natural almond butter, or 2 cups raw almonds
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Use 1 cup bought almond butter, or make your own. To make 1 cup of almond butter, spread 2 cups raw almonds on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° F (180° C) for 10–15 minutes. Pour the almonds into the bowl of a food processor and run for 5–10 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides every few minutes. (Amount of time will vary, depending on the strength of your food processor.) When the almonds have formed a smooth paste, it is ready, and you can continue with the rest of the recipe.
  2. Pour the almond butter and sugar into a bowl and mix. Add the egg and the salt, and mix until the dough resembles soft crumbs. Spread the crumbs out over a cookie sheet and bake at 350° F (180° C) for 12 minutes.

    NOTE: If you end up with a ball of smooth dough, that’s okay too. Press chunks of dough down onto the pan and bake for 12–15 minutes.
  3. Mixture will spread while baking. Remove from oven and let fully cool. Then crumble and store in an airtight container until ready to use. If you want to make it more than a day or two in advance, store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Mini Swiss Meringues:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 10 tablespoons (112 grams) sugar

Directions:

Your best bet for this is to use a stand mixer. You can use a hand mixer, which will take a bit longer. You could even whip by hand with a whisk, but that will take much, much longer.

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the mixer bowl.
  2. Fill a small pot with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer, then place the mixer bowl over the pot (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Gently whisk the egg whites and sugar for about 10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. (To check if it’s ready, rub a bit of the egg white between your fingers. If the sugar hasn’t fully dissolved, it will feel grainy.)
  3. As soon as it’s ready, take the bowl off the pot and transfer to your mixer. Beat, using the whisk attachment, until the mixture has cooled and forms stiff peaks.
  4. I piped individual mini-meringues using a piping bag and a star tip, but I have two alternatives for you, if you don’t have the equipment or aren’t comfortable with piping. A) You can spoon the mixture into a zip-top bag, seal, cut one corner off, and pipe them like that. B) You can bake the meringue as a thin sheet, then break it into rough pieces, different shapes, like shards.
  5. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Either pipe the meringues on, or spread the mixture across thinly, using a spatula.
  6. Place the baking sheet into an oven and bake at 200° F (100° C) for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for another hour or so, to finish drying out. When the meringues feel hard and dry, they are ready. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Chocolate Mousse:

  • 20 oz. (570 grams) good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Ice

Directions:

  1. Fill a large bowl about a third of the way with ice and a small amount of water. Set a second, smaller bowl aside. This bowl should fit comfortably in the larger bowl.
  2. Place the chocolate and the water in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Take the pot off the stove and pour the chocolate mixture into the small bowl. Place the small bowl in the ice bath and immediately begin to whisk vigorously. Whisk for approximately 10–15 minutes, until chocolate thickens to mousse consistency. Refrigerate until serving.

Note 1: When you feel the mixture start to thicken, be careful. If you over-beat it, it will turn grainy. If that happens, don’t panic. You don’t have to throw it out, but you do have to start again. Melt the mixture back down to a liquid and go through the steps again.

Note 2: It’s a lot of whisking, and your arm might well get tired. You can share the job around the kitchen with whoever else is around. If they want mousse, they gotta work for it! If you can’t manage to get it to the right consistency, you can still use it. Refrigerate, and it will thicken in the fridge. It will just be more of a ganache than a mousse. You can also try using a hand mixer for the first few minutes, and then switch to the whisk when it starts to thicken.

Note 3: Use good quality chocolate or chocolate chips for this recipe, since it is the primary flavor. You don’t want to use baking chocolate, but the kind of chocolate you would eat. I’ve done it with 72%, 55% and 45% chocolate. The 72% is probably too bittersweet for most people’s tastes, so I suggest going with a slightly lower option. I recently made this for an event and I used the 45%, which went over very well.

Note 4: You can halve this recipe, but do not go less than that.

To assemble:

  1. Place about 2–3 tbsp. almond crumb on each plate.
  2. Use an ice cream scoop to shape the mousse. Dip the scoop into warm water between each scoop.
  3. Place the mousse on top of the almond crumb, and now add the fresh fruit, meringues and mint leaf garnish. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt over the mousse, and enjoy!

Note: You could also serve this in a cup. Crumb on the bottom, then mousse, then fresh fruit and meringue.

Yields: Approximately 20 servings.


Kosher for Passover

Fine, I’ll say it . . . Passover begins in less than three weeks!

Now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about this kosher for Passover lemon chicken. I’ve poured the lemon sauce over juicy chunks of fried chicken mixed with very lightly sautéed vegetables, but you can also just make the sauce and serve it as a dipping sauce for chicken strips.


There are so many different community and family Passover customs that it’s almost impossible to create a recipe that works for everyone, but feel free to adjust this recipe to fit with your customs. For example, if I were to make this on Passover I would peel the vegetables, because the Chabad custom is to use only peeled vegetables.


I was also limited with ingredients for the sauce, since we use minimal processed products. But I found adding the grated horseradish was a great way to give the sauce some depth. It’s also a great way to use up leftover horseradish from the Seder plate.


I mixed my chicken with different types of peppers, but you could play around with different combinations. For example, zucchini and carrot would probably also be delicious! Likewise, you could use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of white meat. It’s up to you. There’s lots of room to play around and experiment with this recipe.


Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • Oil for frying
  • Optional: 1 purple onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper, 1 cup pineapple pieces

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup grated horseradish
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp. potato starch, mixed with 2 tsp. of water

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken into chunks or strips.
  2. Dip each piece into egg, and then into the potato starch.
  3. Heat oil in a deep frying pan or pot, and fry chicken until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked inside. Set aside.
  4. Simmer all sauce ingredients except the potato starch in a small saucepan for 15–20 minutes. Strain the sauce to remove the horseradish pieces. Return it to the fire and mix in the potato starch and water mixture. Stir continuously for a few minutes while the sauce thickens. Pour sauce over the chicken, or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce.
  5. If you want to serve this with the vegetables, dice and sauté them over a low flame, until just cooked through. Mix with the chicken and then pour the sauce over.
  6. Serve with mashed potato, or zucchini noodles.

Have you started thinking about Passover cooking yet? What’s on your menu?

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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