Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Challah

  

Besides the occasional pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I didn’t grow up eating a lot of pumpkin-flavored dishes. Instead, the women in my Japanese-American family made stewed kabocha (also called Japanese pumpkin) at this time of year. Whenever I see kabocha at the store, it takes me back to the delicious aroma of sweet kabocha stewed with soy sauce.

When I got to college and started cooking for myself, I tried my hand at the pumpkin soups, pies and baked goods I’d see in magazines at this time of year. Each time, I felt disappointed by the relatively mellow and mild flavor. Even the shade of orange was mellow and mild.

This year, I decided to make a kabocha challah for fall Shabbat dinners. The color is beautifully vibrant and the flavor has more depth and is more complex (savory and sweet at the same time!) than that of its sugar pumpkin cousin. You’ll have extra puréed kabocha left over that you can use to make this kabocha soup, which would be perfect on a Thanksgiving table.

Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Challah

Makes: 2 large challahs
Total Cooking time: 5 hours
Active Cooking time: 1.5 hours

Tools:

  • Kitchen Aid mixer with whisk and dough hook attachments*
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Food processor or immersion blender
  • Candy thermometer
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pastry scraper
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Small bowl
  • Small whisk
  • Pastry brush

*can be made without Kitchen Aid mixer

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup white cane sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups kabocha squash purĂ©e
  • 8 cups bread flour

 

Egg wash:

  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. water

 

Toppings:

  • 3 Tbsp. everything-bagel mix
  • 3 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

 

 

Instructions:

Cut kabocha1. Take 9 eggs out of the refrigerator.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour a half cup of the warm water.

4. Using a candy thermometer, check to make sure it is about 110°F. Pour in the two packets of dry yeast and one Tbsp. of sugar (from the 1/3 cup) into the bowl. Stir gently to dissolve everything into the water. Set the bowl aside for 15 minutes.

 

5. Your yeast mixture should look foamy at the end of the 15 minutes. If it does not, you need to get new yeast and start over or your challah will not rise. Better to find out now, rather than later!

6. Now that your yeast is activated, add the remaining lukewarm water to the bowl, then the remainder of the sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, salt and spices. Whisk on medium speed.

7. Once everything is evenly incorporated, add your kabocha purée and keep whisking.

8. Once the mixture is smooth, thick and bright orange, change out your whisk for a dough hook.

9. Add each cup of flour slowly on low speed. With a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides down with each addition. When you’re on the seventh or eighth cup, the dough will become too thick for your mixer. At this point, you can start to knead with your hands. When you’re done, the dough should be smooth and stretchy but not super sticky. If you need to, add a bit more flour until you reach this consistency.

10. Oil the entire inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Place dough in this bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. I like to put my dough in my oven (but not turn it on).

11. After one hour, punch the dough back down to remove the air and let it rise again for another hour.

12. Once it’s risen again for a second hour, punch the dough down again and knead it into a smooth ball on a floured countertop. Cut the ball in half with a pastry scraper.

13. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg yolks and water in a small bowl with a small whisk.

14. Now it’s time for braiding! There are many different ways to braid challah, and I prefer the look of the four-strand braid because it’s simple but still looks impressive! I like to use Tori Avey’s Four-Strand Braided Challah tutorial.

15. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Using a pastry brush, generously apply egg wash to each of your challahs. Generously sprinkle them with everything bagel mix, and black and white sesame seeds in sections (see photo). Alternatively, you can also just season them generously with everything bagel mix and let them rise for 30 more minutes.

16. Bake challah for 40 minutes, but set your timer for 30 minutes. At this point, check on your challah to see if it needs to be rotated. If it’s browning quite quickly, you may need to cover it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.

Shabbat Shalom!

kabocha japanese pumpkin challah

Seven Species Cheese Spread for Havdalah

  

All photos by Laurel Street Kitchen

Havdalah spread

When my now-husband Bryan and I began talking about spending our lives together, we enrolled in Introduction to Judaism classes at a local a reform synagogue in San Francisco. Bryan’s Jewish education had ended at 13 and I was not Jewish, so we both learned so much from those classes.

While I am grateful for the wonderfully welcoming community at our very reform temple, there were also some Jewish rituals I had only heard about and longed to participate in. I found Havdalah for example, the beautiful ritual that utilizes all five senses to mark the end of Shabbat, particularly enchanting.

Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to participate in a meaningful Havdalah ceremony in Jerusalem on a trip with Honeymoon Israel. When we returned, I decided to host a Shabbat walk and Havdalah ceremony at our home with our new Honeymoon Israel community. I found this InterfaithFamily guide to Havdalah very useful! Since it was early in the evening, I decided to do a spread of small bites.

One new thing I loved learning about in Israel was the Seven Species, seven agricultural products listed in the Torah as being special products to the Land of Israel. Everywhere we went, we saw them featured on everything from challah covers to watercolor paintings. Inspired by this, I decided to create a 7 Species Cheese Spread for our gathering. You can play with the ingredients however you wish. Here are the ingredients and one easy recipe I created using store-bought hummus to create a gourmet platter even if you’re limited on time.

Cheese spread

Seven Species Cheese Spread
Serves: 12

  1. Aged manchego: You can use any mild hard cheese.
  2. Triple creme goats milk brie: You can use any mild soft cheese.
  3. Humboldt fog: You can use any flavorful, unconventional cheese like Gorgonzola.

7 species:

  1. Wheat- pita, cut into small slices
  2. Barley- barley hummus (see recipe below)
  3. Grapes- rinsed and stems cut into smaller pieces
  4. Figs- rinsed, stemmed and cut in half
  5. Pomegranates- seeded
  6. Olives- I used Castelvetrano
  7. Dates- honey also works

Havdalah spreadBarley Hummus

Instructions:

Arrange cheeses on a cheeseboard or use cake stands for more height and drama. Place pita in a pretty basket or bowl lined with a napkin. Place smaller items like figs, dates and olives into small bowls on or around the cheese board. If your dates and olives are not pitted, be sure to add a small bowl on the side for pits. Right before guests arrive, drizzle a small amount of honey on the mild soft cheese (I recommend a brie). Be careful to only add a small drizzle so it doesn’t drip off the platter! I used honeycomb here instead.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces homemade or store-bought hummus
  • 1/2 tsp. sumac
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley, cooked
  • 2 x 1.5 ounce containers of cherry or grape tomatoes (in the fall you can use any roasted squash instead)
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano or Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • handful of chopped chives
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt or flaked sea salt, if you have it

 

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 300°F and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each tomato in half lengthwise and place tomatoes, cut side up onto the baking sheets. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and a sprinkle a bit of salt on them. Place them in the oven for 90 minutes, then set them aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.

2. Boil one-and-a-half cups of salted water. When the water comes to a boil, pour in the barley and turn the heat down to a simmer for 30 minutes. Check the barley at this time–it should have some chew to it but be springy and not too hard. It took me about 45 minutes. When the barley is done, rinse with cool water and set it aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.

3. Spread hummus with the back of a large spoon onto a large serving platter. Sprinkle the sumac over the hummus evenly, then barley, then tomatoes, then olives, then chives. Drizzle with olive oil, then sea salt and serve with fresh pita.

Havdalah spread

Challah With a Twist: Scallion Pancake Challah

  

By Molly Yeh

Scallion challah bread by Molly Yeh

Reprinted with permission from Molly Yeh, adapted from MyJewishLearning.

I enjoy being a Chinese Jew. I eat plenty of matzah balls and potstickers and I get to celebrate three New Years.

I’ve often had to convince people that I’m Jewish, which is amusing and usually results in a new friend feeling like they can connect with me better due to a shared religion. Other than that, I can’t say I really thought about what it meant to Chinese and Jewish while I was growing up.

I recently moved out to rural North Dakota with my Norwegian husband, population six Jews and about 10,000 Scandinavian descendants. Things are quiet here, people are Midwestern nice, and the small town life is pretty darn wonderful.

For the first time in my life, I feel a bit like an oddball, in a sea of light-haired Lutherans, but people embrace me when I introduce them to challah. North Dakotans love challah! And I love their food too, like Lefse and dessert bars of all sorts.

All of my challah here is homemade. As are my latkes, kugel, matzah balls… you get the picture. There’s not a deli in sight. Not even a bagel. I do miss bopping down to Zabar’s for babka and bagels, but on the other hand, with the necessity to make everything from scratch comes the opportunity to put my own spin on things and mash up my Chinese/Jewish/Midwesternness.

Brisket in my potstickers, ginger sugar beet latkes, egg rolls with home cured pastrami from a cow that I’ll one day raise…

I’m getting carried away.

But this recipe is me in bread form! Chinese, Jewish and pretty doughy, whether I can help it or not. Inspired by the scallion pancake, here is an Asian twist on my all-time favorite challah.

Scallion Pancake Challah

Makes one large loaf

Basic challah dough

Based on Food 52’s Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/3 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs

 

Filling and Topping

  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 stalks scallions or green onions, minced
  • salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • A few pinches of toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds

 

Directions

1.  In a small bowl, proof yeast in 1/2 cup warm water mixed with 1 tsp. of sugar.

2. While yeast is proofing, mix flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar in a large bowl.

3. In a medium bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup of water, honey, oil and eggs.

4. Once yeast has finished proofing, add it to the flour, followed by the wet ingredients. Mix with a large wooden spoon until dough becomes too thick to stir. Empty dough onto well-floured surface and knead by hand. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.

5. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for about two hours, or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Divide dough into three equal parts and then roll each part into a 1-foot log. Gently flatten each log so that it is about 3 inches wide.

8. Brush each with toasted sesame oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and scallions. Roll them up lengthwise like a jellyroll, and then braid.

9. Place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and black pepper.

10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the challah is cooked through.

Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

  

I grew up with Easter baskets, but I didn’t grow up “celebrating” Easter by any means. When I visited dad’s house during Easter time, though, my stepmother would have beautiful Easter baskets prepared for my brother, myself and of course, my half-sister. If you follow me on my blog, Jewhungry, then you know I am the product of a Jewish mother and a Christian father. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I was primarily raised by my Jewish mother and I am an observant Jewish woman today. That said, I have so much respect and gratitude for the experiences from the exposure to Christianity that I had growing up. At the time, I would’ve said I had respect for it because of the awesome Easter baskets and Christmas presents. Now, as a grown woman and mother, I have respect for it because it’s part of my heritage and what brought me to where I am today.

While I toyed with the idea of figuring out how to do a Passover basket, I realized it just wouldn’t be the same. Also, I’m not a huge fan of cultural religious appropriation. However, if I were to put anything in a Passover basket, these cute little funfetti bites would be it. Not all nuts are kosher for Passover, but hazelnuts and cashews are definitely kosher. Plus, they pair beautifully with the dates. And what doesn’t look good with rainbow sprinkles? You also don’t actually bake these guys so, win-win!

I was inspired by the vegan goddess that is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. If you don’t know her stuff, well, I’m just gonna assume you’ve been in a coma for years because that’s the only conceivable reason I could understand for not knowing her.

I hope this dessert brings you and your loved ones sweet holidays. Happy no baking!

 Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites {No-Bake + GF}

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

 

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, quick soaked*
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more) rainbow sprinkles

 

Instructions:

1. Add ingredients for the crust into a food processor and process until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add a few more hazelnuts or almonds.

2. Grease a standard mini muffin tin.

3. Scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp. amounts of crust and press with fingers, making sure to really pack it in there. Set in freezer to firm up.

4. To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.

5. Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is. (Pro tip – Put a can of coconut milk right into the fridge as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This will guarantee you have the ‘cream’ on hand for just such an occasion as making raw cheesecake bites!)

6. Blend all filling ingredients for roughly 1 minute or until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Pour filling into a separate medium size bowl. Add in your sprinkles leaving a handful to the side for sprinkling on top just before freezing.

8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles.

9. Evenly disperse the last sprinkles
onto the tops of each cheesecake to create a pretty little topping. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.

10. Once set, remove by running a butter knife along the sides of the crust. They should pop right out. Let sit for a few minutes so you don’t break your teeth on them. Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.

This recipe was reprinted with permission from jewhungrytheblog.com

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese

  

bruschetta_mac_and_cheese_holding_650There’s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)—macaroni and cheese. To give you a clue as to just how much I love mac and cheese, for my 30th birthday my husband took me out to a well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI, where I was in graduate school at the time, and ordered a flight of four different kinds of made-to-order mac and cheese. Six years later, I still remember it as one of my most favorite meals.

So when it comes to hosting a vegetarian friend for a Shabbat meal, I see it as an opportunity to embrace my mac and cheese side. I like to get creative and go bananas with mac and cheese. For Sukkot one year, I had some friends over for a mac and cheese bar that included every kind of vegetarian-friendly topping you can think of, and about four different kinds of hot sauces. It was awesome! But when I want to bring out a showstopper, the recipe below is the one I go for. The balsamic vinegar pairs perfectly with the cheeses that have been kissed with a hint of mustard. Plus you can never go wrong with a beautiful, colorful topping like tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. And if your kids don’t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the “untouched” pasta on the side. Everyone wins!

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

Mac and Cheese

  • 13 oz. rotini pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Bruschetta Topping

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Roughly 8 whole basil leaves, finely chopped (or chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Bruschetta Topping

1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil and salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat, and by the handful stir in the cheeses, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard and salt. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

4. Once complete, either spoon all of your mac and cheese into a serving dish and serve with artfully placed bruschetta topping (this is what I recommend for the wow factor!) or spoon into individual bowls and add toppings.

bruschetta 2_650

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime & Yogurt Chicken Wings

  

wings title horizontal

Gang, summer is coming to an end! We need to embrace all of its delights as much as we can, including swimming and eating as much ice cream as possible, because that’s what summer’s about, right? I think we should also embrace the later Shabbat start times, and one of my favorite ways to do this is by hosting a “Sha-barbecue”! The first time I enjoyed a Sha-barbecue was almost 10 years ago when I was living in Chicago. I was invited over to my friend Taron’s place for Shabbat dinner. When I asked him what I could bring, he casually said, “Well, it’s a Sha-barbecue, so maybe some guacamole and chips?” I loved how casually he said Sha-barbecue, like it was a thing everyone knew about the world over. But never in my whole Jewish life had I heard of or attended a Sha-barbecue! Ever since that fateful night, I have fully embraced the Sha-barbecue. With Shabbat not starting until almost 8 in the summer, I’ve found that as a religiously observant Jew it’s easy to have friends over and enjoy some adult beverages while barbecuing up the main course and then sitting down to a lovely Sha-barbecue meal. You know, like our forefathers and mothers used to do!

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime and Yogurt Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole chicken wings, tips trimmed and discarded
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. pepper
  • ½ Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ Tbsp. cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powderwings 4

 

Marinade:

  • 1 cup coconut-milk yogurt (plain)
  • 4 key limes, juiced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. smoked paprika

 

For serving:

  • Maldon sea salt
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

 

Directions:

1. Wash and dry the chicken wings, making sure they are free of any feathers. Next, separate drumettes from wingettes by slicing a sharp knife through the joints.

2. Place the chicken wings in a medium bowl. Add the cumin, sweet paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper. Toss to coat the wings.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade. Stir to combine, tasting for adjustments in seasoning.

4. Once marinade is complete, place the prepared chicken wings into the marinade bowl,wings stirring to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours, making sure not to over-marinate, as the recipe includes lime juice, which can break down the meat (and not in a good way).

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Using tongs, gently place the wings on the prepared baking sheets, making sure to spread them evenly so they aren’t overlapping. Don’t toss out the remaining marinade, as you will be basting while it bakes.

7. Bake wings for roughly 20 minutes. After the initial 20 minutes, baste each wing with remaining marinade. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

8. Sprinkle cooked wings with Maldon sea salt and a squeeze of lime just before serving.

wings 3 horizontal

Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

  

Buffalo quinoa burgers

I was raised on a healthy diet of my mom’s homemade buffalo wings. I remember the first time I had a ‘hot’ wing. She had brought home some leftovers from what would become our favorite wing spot, The Three Dollar Cafe. I remember taking my first bite. I remember my lips seemingly on fire but tingly with joy all at once. What was this spicy wing of deliciousness and where can I get more!?

Luckily for me, my mom was just as in love with hot wings as I was and luckily for us, my mom had gotten a buffalo wing recipe from a random man in a shoe store and so, a family recipe was born. My mom’s wings are hot and tangy and sweet and spicy. They pair perfectly with blue cheese. However, now that I keep kosher, there is no pairing of blue cheese and hot wings. Therefore, I’ve had to come up with alternatives to bring my favorite pairings to life. This vegetarian version is great for bringing to a picnic, serving your family on Shabbat or simply disguising a healthy weekday meal with a punch of flavor.

You’ll see that this recipe does not include blue cheese but I do recommend it. Heck, me being me, I recommend ANY AND ALL CHEESE. I also recommend having fun with your toppings. I enjoy some bread and butter pickles and some classic mayonnaise and maybe some grilled onions. But truly, the best thing about these burgers are that they can be built to your taste buds. Enjoy!

Quinoa burgers with toppingsBuffalo Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup Cannelloni beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 Tbsp. Canola oil

 

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, mashed Cannelloni beans, bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 balled patties (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).

3. In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Wait until oil is hot and then add 2 quinoa burger balls in at a time. Using a flat spatula, press down the ball until a thick patty forms.

4. Cook until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the an optional layer of cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil into the skillet after the first batch of burgers is cooked.

buffalo quinoa burgers and fixings

Indian Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Mint Sauce

  

Indian chicken chutney

Chicken is a mainstay in most Jewish homes. We love our chicken stock (homemade or store-bought and doctored will do) for matzah ball soup. You’ll find chopped chicken livers at the holiday table because every family has those who love it among the haters. For Shabbat, a nice roasted chicken kicks off the weekend and the Sabbath. But when you always cook with the same ingredient it is easy to get in a rut. The good news is that it isn’t that hard to get out of it! Just add a little spice. This summer, go Indian with this Indian spiced grilled chicken served with a cilantro mint sauce. For interfaith families with Indian backgrounds, this is a great way to fuse your cultures!

chicken_chutney_ 700

Indian chicken, uncookedIngredients:

  • fresh ginger, 1 inch knob
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp. of fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

Mint

Cilantro Mint Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of mint
  • 2 cups of cilantro
  • 1 large shallot
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. of white sugar
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced

Directions:

1.  Into a large bowl, grate the ginger. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime, salt, Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix that can be found at most grocery stores) and fennel seeds (I like to buy whole seeds and toast them on a pan on the stove and then crush them with a mortar and pestle). Pour in vegetable oil and mix together.

Toss the chicken into the marinade and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. 

2.  Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Wash and dry the cilantro and mint. You can use a salad spinner or dry the herbs on a towel. They do not have to be bone dry. In a blender, add the mint, cilantro, shallot cut into quarters, the juice of 1 lime, water, sugar and salt. Puree the mixture.  

3.  Carefully slice a jalapeño in half, remove the inner seeds and mince the pepper. Stir the tiny pieces of pepper into the sauce.

4.  Take the chicken out of the fridge so it can lose some of the chill. Then, pre-heat your grill. Cook the chicken on a medium heat grill until done. Timing varies based on size of the chicken pieces, so just refer to your meat thermometer for doneness. Or, cut into the chicken to see that the meat is opaque and the juices run clear.

Serve with delicious summer vegetables.

Honey Zimsterne “Star” Cookies

  

Holiday zimsterne cookiesFood pathways show the influence on recipes from region to region and neighbor to neighbor. In Germany, a recipe for gingerbread men was adapted and adopted by Eastern European Jews to make Zimsterne, or “star” cookies to be served at the end of Shabbat after Havdalah services. Containing the spices found in the Bisomim box used during the close of Shabbat service, the symbolism was to take the sweetness of Shabbat with you into the coming week.

With the holiday season coming up and relatives visiting, this cookie is the perfect bridge between Jewish tradition and Christmas cookie baking. Everyone will enjoy the treat and you can share two celebrations with all family members at one time. Best of all, everyone can help make these soft spice cookies or, you can make them in advance. They keep very well in an airtight container and their flavor gets better, as all spice cookies do, with age.

Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Zimsterne Cookies

Makes 4 or more dozen depending on size of cookie

Ingredients:

ingredients4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup honey

5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

Confectioner’s sugar for rolling out dough

Decorative Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

ÂĽ teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

1.   Cream the butter and the sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture gets lighter in color. Beat in the honey.

2.  Combine the baking soda and spices with 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.

3.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining 4 cups of flour, mixing well to form a thick dough. If your mixer is powerful, use it to add the reserved cup of flour and spices until well combined. If not, stir the remaining flour into the dough by hand. Make sure that the mixture is thoroughly combined.

4.  Pat dough into a flat round and place in a plastic storage bag or airtight container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm and easy to handle.

Cutting cookies

star cookie cutter5.  Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly dust a pastry board with some confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out on the board to ¼ inch thickness.

6.  Cut the dough into star shapes using a cookie cutter, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the icing.

 

To make the icing:

How to make icing

1.  Place the cup of confectioner’s sugar in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in some more milk until the mixture resembles mayonnaise in consistency.

Iced zimsterne cookies2.  Using a pastry brush, brush the icing over the tops of the warm cookies and let sit at room temperature until the cookies are cool and the icing is dry and no longer sticky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze until later use.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Children love to cut out cookies and transfer them to the cookie sheet. A trick to prevent the dough from dragging on the spatula and losing its shape is to rub a scrap of dough on the spatula and then dip the spatula in some of the confectioner’s sugar before you transfer the cookie onto the baking sheet.

 

  • Using a rolling pin is often challenging for young hands. However, rolling pin bands of varying thickness are sold that fit on the ends of the rolling pin to ensure the dough isn’t rolled unevenly.

 

 

Easy Shabbat Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken

  

Plated chicken and bok choy

When I say “Shabbat Dinner” what comes to mind? For me, it always connotes roast chicken. While roasting a whole chicken can seem complicated and time consuming, I promise you’ll find that it’s not, and there are easy ways to upgrade Grandma’s recipe for today’s taste buds. My grandmother Sylvia, who I’m named for, was known to say “if you can read you can cook” and while I think there’s a bit more nuance involved than that, I do think it’s true—if you can read a recipe you can create a meal. However, we’re told not to “put stumbling blocks before the blind” so those recipes shouldn’t be chock full of unfamiliar, complicated terms and ingredients. If you’re a beginner cook, a roast chicken dinner is actually a great way to hone your skills, become more comfortable in your kitchen and really impress your friends and family.

For the gold standard of the simple roast chicken, I always turn to Ina Garten’s fool proof recipe. While her recipe calls for butter, if you keep kosher or are cooking for those who do, you can certainly substitute olive oil. This recipe doesn’t require any fancy appliances or accessories, and I can tell you from experience that if you skip the step of tying up the legs, the chicken will be no worse for the wear.

But if you’re ready to kick it up a notch, my Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken might become your new go-to Shabbat meal. And if you’re planning to celebrate the Chinese New Year in February, this recipe is a great way to meld these two cultural traditions through traditional flavors.

My first “secret” to a perfect roast chicken is this: Always buy a kosher chicken. Even if you don’t keep kosher. Even if you plan to wrap it in bacon or stuff it with lobster. I promise, it will taste better. Kosher chickens are salted before packaging, and therefore retain moisture better than traditional chickens. Because of this, they’re harder to ruin (ask my husband!) and even if you cook it a bit too long, it won’t be dry. My second “secret” is: Cook the chicken at a high heat. The skin crisps up which is a great contrasting texture to the meat and the flavor is deeper.

I love to serve this with my Baked Sweet Potato Latkes that I featured last month and simple sautéed Bok Choy.

One last hint: If you’re making a roast chicken, why not make two? It takes the same amount of prep and time, and then you’ll have chicken ready to be used in everything from quesadillas, casserole, chicken salad, tortilla soup, chili and more!

Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Preparation tips:

Chopped ingredients

I love these little plastic cups. They keep everything organized and are also great for bringing salad dressing to work.

Being prepared makes cooking SO much easier. The French call pre-cooking organization “mis en place” and I find it makes everything run more smoothly in the kitchen. Get together all of your ingredients, tools and appliances before you even turn on the oven and then carefully read through the recipe to prep whatever it needs, measure ingredients, chop veggies, spray pans, etc., then you don’t have to do this as you go and you’ll never get to the middle of a recipe and realize that you’ve forgotten something. Work close to a sink so that you can dump scraps and used plates, etc. directly into it as you work.

This type of preparation is especially helpful when you’re cooking poultry and you’re concerned about cross-contamination. If everything is premeasured and chopped, you won’t need to worry. You’re going to be rinsing the chicken so make sure that your sink is empty and clean. Invest in an oven thermometer. Most ovens don’t read true, and this is an invaluable tool. But make sure not to run “self clean” on the oven with it in there—you won’t make that mistake twice…

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. whole kosher chicken
  • 2 Tbsp olive Oil
  • 1 tsp sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 12 slices (roughly ÂĽ in.) of ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves total, 1 minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 onion cut in half
  • 1 quartered lime
  • 1 thinly sliced jalapeño

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425°F

2. Line a pan generously with paper towels. Rinse chicken, remove anything inside, transfer directly to the pan and pat dry with more paper towels.
Combined ingredients(This is important, because if there is still water on the skin, the chicken won’t crisp up as well.)

3. Combine olive oil, sesame oil, grated ginger and minced garlic
(Use a microplane for both the garlic and ginger, or you can throw them both in a small food processor.)

4. Spread half of mixture under skin of chicken, other half on top of skin of chicken.
(To get under the skin, use the back of a spoon to separate the skin from the meat, and then the other side of the spoon to spread the ingredients.)

5. Salt and pepper well, including cavity.

Stuffed chicken

6. Stuff chicken with remaining ginger, garlic, onion, half of lime and jalapeño
(Don’t worry about peeling any of this, as it’s not going to be eaten.)

Prepped chicken

7. Roast breast-side-up on cooling rack set into cookie sheet with sides for 1 hour 15 minutes. Half way through add ½ cup of water to the pan.
(You can use a roasting pan but the important thing is to keep the chicken from touching the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have a rack or cookie sheet, just place the chicken on top of a few thickly slice circles of onions.)

8. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes

Chicken resting9. Slice the chicken and squeeze juice of the other half of the lime over the chicken. You can also try sprinkling fresh cilantro on top, for a delicious garnish.

 

 

 

Bon appetit! Let me know how it goes.

Finished chicken