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Cook It Kosher

Parsnip seems to have been relegated to the role of "soup vegetable" by many home cooks, but it can be so much more. I hope this recipe helps you view parsnip in a new and better light.


Here's the one rule with this recipe: do not use margarine!

The butter here is for flavor, which margarine simply cannot do (health concerns aside). If you can't make it dairy, just skip it. But Chanukah's coming up, when it's traditional to eat dairy, so you can always save it for then.



Also don't skimp on the oven time. You want these well cooked so they are crunchy, chewy, smokey tasting.


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. parsnip (4 medium sized)
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. light olive oil
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger grated
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Peel the parsnips and cut into baton-shaped pieces (see picture above).
  2. Place parsnip in a single layer in a baking pan.
  3. Evenly distribute the honey, butter, oil, ginger and salt over the parsnip.
  4. Bake on 375°F covered for 40 minutes. Uncover, increase temperature to 400°F and bake for another 10-20 minutes.

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 Kosher Taste, the new cookbook by Amy Stopnicki? 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 of you!

The Food

There are so many recipes in this book! I didn’t count, but it must be close to 300. And the overwhelming majority of them are on the healthier side. Lots of vibrant, fresh fruit and vegetables, a number of quinoa-based dishes and even some of the desserts have a healthier twist.

Oh, and it has an entire section devoted to mushrooms! Need I say more? There is a mushroom focaccia that looks incredible—I will definitely be giving it a go, and I’ve got the mushroom chicken recipe further down the page for ya’all to try yourselves.

If mushrooms don’t excite you, there is plenty more that will. Some of the dishes that jumped out at me: Balsamic Roast Chicken, Salmon Pad Thai, Roasted Tomato Soup, Soba Noodles with Bok Choy, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, and my very favorite—Cranberry Lemon Tart.

There were a couple of things that bothered me in the recipes—like a recipe for 1-inch round pieces of London broil, which doesn’t seem like something a home-cook could easily make. How would you cut it exactly? A cookie cutter isn’t strong enough to cut through a slab of raw meat and most kosher cooks probably keep their cookie cutters dairy/pareve anyway. And I’m pretty sure my butcher would laugh me down the block if I asked him for 1-inch round pieces of London broil!

But on the whole, the recipes look easy and do-able even for beginner cooks.

Baby Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad



Elephant Garlic Soup



Photography

This is where the book fell short, in my opinion. The styling and photography is nothing to write home about, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a “coffee-table” book. But because the book is heavy, hardcover and has full-page pictures, it builds expectation that it does not fill. You expect a photo with every recipe, and a beautiful one at that. But only about one third of the recipes have pictures at all, and most of them are not that great. Then again, although they are basic, they do appear to accurately depict the dish (which, sometimes the more professionally styled and photographed ones do not). I think if the book were soft-cover and half the price, it would be a better match for what you’re actually getting.

I also think the cover was a poor choice, because it makes the cookbook looks dated even though it just came out a couple of months ago. Stacks are already considered old and stale in the culinary world, and there were definitely better pictures inside that would’ve made the cover look much more enticing.

Having said all that, there are the things I look for, and they may not bother you at all, which is also fine.

Other Features

The cookbook comes with an index of all the recipes which are kosher for Passover, which is definitely something useful. There is also a page of conversion tables in the back.

Who Will Enjoy this Cookbook?

Is this cookbook for you? I can’t answer that question for you, but I hope I’ve given you some insight, and we’ve also shared three recipes here, which you can try out for yourselves and then decide.


One of the recipes that really caught my eye was this very visually appealing mushroom chicken.

Mushroom Chicken


Yield: serves 6-8

Plan

The sauce for this chicken can be made and stored for later use. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen for up to three months. The chicken can be grilled, if you prefer.

Chicken

  • 8 chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • salt and pepper to season chicken

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and checked, sliced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat chicken with oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. To prepare mushroom sauce, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
  5. Sauté onions until translucent.
  6. Add mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add soy sauce and wine, and let reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Mix in flour and cold water, adding slowly to mushroom mixture in stages.
  9. Mix continuously until sauce thickens. Pour over chicken.

Plate

Serve this for a weekday or Friday night dinner. Always add sauce directly before serving. It can also be served over your favorite steak or salmon.


Giveaway!

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

At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Israel. Wildfires, many of which are reported to have been set by arsonists, have injured more than 100 people and destroyed homes, synagogues, schools and businesses. Close to 80,000 have been forced to evacuate, some of whom now have no homes to return to, and thousands of firefighters are still battling the blazes, putting their lives at risk to protect their country.

What can we do? A mitzvah, a G‑dly deed, no matter how small, helps to ensure the continued safety of our brothers and sisters under attack. Please take a minute to think about what you can do: light Shabbat candles, give charity, pray, study Torah, put a mezuzah on your front door, say the shema prayer before going to sleep…or do any other mitzvah for the safety and wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Israel. To enter the giveaway, share your commitment in the comment box below.

Note: Cookbook can be shipped only in the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59 PM on Thursday, December 8, 2016. Winner will be chosen on Monday, December 11, 2016.

One could argue that pot stickers are The Perfect Food. Crispy on the bottom, soft and tender on top, juicy, plump and flavorful inside... what more could you want? A little heat? That's what the dipping sauce is for!


I wouldn't call this a difficult dish to prepare, but can definitely be time-consuming, especially the first time. So I wouldn't recommend it for an I-just-got-home-from-work-and-dinner-needs-to-be-ready-in-30-minutes meal. But do make it! Save it for an I'm-in-the-mood-for-cooking-and-not-particularly-rushed occasion.




Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (450 grams) ground chicken
  • 3 mushrooms, very finely diced
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Mix the dough ingredients together until the mixture forms a smooth ball. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Remove one piece at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp towel so it doesn't dry out. Roll the first piece of dough thinly (approximately 2mm or 1/16th of an inch) and cut out as many circles as will fit. Peel away the extra dough and place it back under the towel so you can re-roll it later. (For easy non-stick rolling, roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper.)
  4. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Gently pinch together the sides to form a half-moon shape with pleated edges. (You can find tutorials of this on YouTube if you're not sure how.) Be careful not to overfill, or they will be too difficult to seal.
  5. Set sealed dumplings aside and cover with a damp towel while you work through the remaining dough and filling.
  6. Heat 1-2 tbsp. oil in a frying pan that has a lid (or a wide-bottomed pot). When the oil is hot, place as many potstickers as will fit without touching each other. Fry for approximately 2 minutes, then add a splash of water to the pan (1-2 tbsp.) and cover. Let the dumplings steam through for a couple of minutes so the filling gets cooked. Uncover and leave over the heat for another minute. Remove the largest dumpling and cut it open to check that the filling is cooked. If it is, remove the rest and repeat with the next batch. If it's not cooked through, add another splash of water, cover, cook, and check again. When ready, the bottoms should be crispy, the sides tender, the filling plump and juicy.
  7. Repeat until all dumplings have been cooked. Serve with dipping sauce (recipe below) and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallion (optional).

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1/2 chili pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp. honey
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Slice scallions, red chili pepper, garlic and ginger.
  2. Whisk all ingredients together.
  3. Serve with dumplings.

Note: The longer the sauce sits, the spicier it gets, so if you prepare it in advance, you may want to leave out the chili pepper and add it in shortly before serving.

Yields: 40 dumplings


I'm celebrating four(!) years of blogging with this no-special-skills-required decorating technique, perfect for birthdays and other special occasions. You could use this technique to decorate cakes for a bat mitzvah, bar mitzvah, brit milah, upsherin, birthday, chanukah party, etc. It's easier than fondant or buttercream, and always a crowd-pleaser.


What's more fun and festive than sprinkles? You can use multicolor, one color, or personalize the colors to fit in with a theme. They're versatile, pretty much universally loved, and appropriate for most parties.


I've covered the cake with ganache and then covered the ganache with sprinkles. Ganache is the easiest way to cover a cake, in my opinion. It tastes delicious, it's quick to make, easy to use, and is especially great if you dislike eating or working with buttercream.


There's not much more to say, except that be prepared for the mess sprinkles can make. To help with that, I like to place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet. Place the cake on the rack and start to cover. This way, the sprinkles will fall down into the pan, where you can easily scoop them back up and re-use.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped
  • salt (optional)
  • 2 cups sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Make your favorite cake recipe, or even use a cake mix. Bake 2-3 layers, and let them cool completely. Level the cakes so the tops are not rounded.
  2. Place the chopped dark chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until just simmering.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and do not mix. Let it sit for two minutes, then whisk until smooth and glossy.
  4. Let the ganache cool for a while so that it starts to thicken but is not fully set. Spread ganache between the cake layers and stack.
  5. Pour the rest of the ganach over the top so it covers the cake and begins to drip down the sides. Use an offset spatula (or knife) to spread the ganach over the sides.
  6. Pour sprinkles over the top of the cake until it's covered. To cover the sides, pour sprinkles into your hand and gently press into the ganache so they stick. Repeat until entire cake is covered. Gently move the cake to a cake plate and serve.

TIP: Place a wire cooling rack into a baking dish. Place the cake on the rack. This way, when the extra sprinkles will fall into the pan and can be scooped up again and used.


I'm not sure this qualifies as a proper recipe, but it's fun and easy and quick to prepare. These are definitely not traditional nachos—more like pizza ingredients but on tortilla chips instead of a base.



Toppings are up to you. I used my favorite pizza toppings: mushrooms, peppers, purple onion and olives. Keep in mind that you'll want to cut the veggies pretty small so that you can get lots of them on each chip.


One more tip: if possible, use a block of cheese and grate it yourself. Cheese that comes pre-shredded is usually coated with a solution to prevent it from sticking together, but the downside is that the cheese does not melt as well. Go for the block! Always!


Ingredients:

  • tortilla chips
  • tomato sauce
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • peppers, finely diced
  • purple onions, finely diced
  • olives, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper
  2. Spread a layer of tortilla chips over the pan.
  3. Drizzle the chips with tomato sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  4. Add your toppings and another layer of cheese.
  5. Bake on 400°F until cheese is bubbly—approximately 10 minutes. Be careful not to leave them in the oven too long because the chips will start to burn.
  6. Serve immediately.

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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