English Cottage Pie with Flanken Short Ribs

  

Shepherd’s pie is an old English, Irish and Scottish peasant food. It’s traditionally made with minced lamb and is topped with mashed potatoes. An earlier version of this dish is known as cottage pie. Cottage pie was typically made with ground beef. Whether it’s cottage pie or shepherd’s pie the essentials are potatoes and an inexpensive cut of meat.

English cottage pie

This version fuses cultures, inviting a Jewish flair by using flanken cut beef short ribs rather than ground beef. Flanken is a Yiddish word for the cut of meat that goes across the bone so the meat is in strips wrapped around sections of bone rather than lying along the bone. This is a tough, typically undesirable cut of meat, which is why it was easily available, and, like so many peasant foods, is absolutely delicious if treated just right.

Flanken would have been used for cholent and stews that could sit for hours on the stove to be enjoyed during Shabbat or for the holidays. Although this recipe does take a little time, it doesn’t take hours. It is quick to prepare and slow to cook, which is perfect for a cool fall day.

Cottage pie with flanken short ribs

English Cottage Pie with Yiddish Flanken Cut Short Ribs

vegetablesIngredients:

  • 4 flanked cut short ribs 2 in. thick
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 medium/large yukon potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 1 – 1 1/2  cups of rice milk, stock or water
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

DIrections:

1.  Preheat oven to 350° F. flanken

2.  Pat the flanked short ribs dry with a paper towel. Then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of salt. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil into a dutch oven or a frying pan. If you are using a dutch oven or oven-safe pan with a lid you can make this all in one pot. If you do not have a dutch oven you can transfer the meat to a roasting pan once it has browned. Brown the short ribs on high/medium high on both sides.

3.  While the meat is browning, wash and trim cauliflower. Remove core and slice in half. Wash potatoes and wipe dry. Cut root side off of the head of garlic. Pour 1/8 of a cup of olive oil over the potatoes, garlic and cauliflower and rub with oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of salt over the vegetables and place them together in a separate roasting pan.

 

Add the wine4.  If you are using a roasting pan for your meat as well, transfer the browned ribs to the pan now. Deglaze your frying pan with 1 1/2 cups of red wine then pour that into the roasting pan as well. If you are using a dutch oven, just add the wine to the dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste and cover with a lid or heavy duty tin foil.

5.  Place everything in the oven for 90 minutes. Be prepared to check the vegetables within an hour. If they are still hard, you can add a few tablespoons of water to the roasting pan.

6.  After 90 minutes, carefully remove the dishes from the oven. Check that the potatoes and cauliflower are tender and there is no resistance when a knife is inserted into either. Remove the bones from the flanken cut short ribs. They should pop out with a spoon or fork. The meat should be very tender. After removing the bones, put the meat back in the oven with the lid on for another 30 minutes while you prepare the mash.cauliflower

7.  In a food processor or blender puree the roasted garlic, cauliflower and 1 cup of water, stock or rice milk. You want a smooth texture. If the puree is too thick (like mashed potatoes) add a little more liquid until the puree is more like a thin applesauce. Slice the potatoes (if you prefer no skin, remove the potato skins as soon as the potatoes are cool enough to touch). Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over the potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Mash in 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of freshly ground pepper. Next, stir the cauliflower mash into the mashed potatoes.

8.  Take the ribs out of the oven and carefully take out the meat one rib or piece at a time.  With two forks, shred the meat. As you shred the meat remove the pieces of cartilage that can be found near where the bones were. Once you have shredded all the meat, scoop out the tomato paste that is left in the pan and mix it with the shredded meat. Add two cups of (defrosted) frozen peas to the shredded meat and stir together.

9.  Layer the meat into a baking dish or deep dish pie plate. Then add a thick layer of the mash until the meat is all sealed in below.Adding the potatoes

10.  You can sprinkle the potato with paprika for color if you like. Take a teaspoonful of the rendered fat from the short ribs and drizzle it over the potatoes. Cover the shepherd’s pie with tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.finished product

The pie can be prepared (steps 1-9) and frozen or left overnight in the fridge and then cooked the following day.

Let us know what you thought of the recipe and share your own photos on Instagram!

Multicultural Weeknight Family Dinners

  

Stir fry dish

Every week my family travels around the world without leaving our dinner table. For some people the flavors of a culturally diverse menu seem unattainable, especially when presented with challenges like keeping kosher, dealing with food allergies or health concerns related to unknown ingredients in restaurant or takeout food. When you cook at home, all of those challenges disappear, and you have complete control over what goes into each mouthful.

Every week I’m faced with feeding my family of four quick, healthy and kid-friendly food. I make the commitment to cook at home five nights, and the other two nights we either eat out, with friends or have leftovers. To keep things interesting I play mix-and-match with flavors and main components. So, most weeks we eat something Asian, something Latin-flavored, something Italian-style, breakfast-for-dinner and one of our family favorites—but it’s never the same thing two weeks in a row. One week we might eat Ground Turkey Tacos and the next Sweet Potato Enchiladas. They have the same flavor profile, so I’m not restocking my pantry all the time, but the main ingredients are different, so nobody is getting bored—myself included!

Everyone in my family loves Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese food, and in many interfaith families there can be quite a range of different cultural tastes. But take-out or eating in a restaurant gets expensive and it’s not always the most healthy, but if I use these flavors at home I can control the cost and the calories, and make sure we have leftovers for lunch at work and school the next day. We’ve been doing a lot of stir fry, since it’s simple and quick.

One of the ways I’ve tried to simplify things for myself in the kitchen lately is by doing a big round of fruit and veggie prep on Sundays. I’ll cut up peppers, carrots, squash, etc. and keep them in a large food storage container in the fridge so most of the prep work is done for me when I get ready to throw dinner together. An added bonus is that it’s now easy to reach for a healthy snack to dip in hummus or salsa, instead of the crackers or chips I may have reached for before.

Here is my recipe for a super simple stir fry. You can sub in any other protein you like (my husband is a big fan of this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which you can cook and then just pull apart with 2 forks when you are plating it) or if you’d like to avoid the protein altogether, just add more veggies. If you’re looking for another short cut, we LOVE to use Soy Vey or the Trader Joe’s version for stir fries as well; just marinate the protein in ¼ cup of the prepared marinade.

Another note: The size of the vegetables and the order you add them is important, as all these things cook at different speeds, so be aware as you prepare.

B’tayavon (eat with gusto–enjoy!),

Sarah

Close-up

Simple Veggie Stir Fry

IngredientsIngredients:

  • 3 bell Peppers (I like using red/yellow/orange), thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, small julienne
  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced

 

For Marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. honey

 

Directions:

Adding veggies to the pot

Adding veggies is a good step to let your kids jump in!

1. Prepare all ingredients, slice and dice, etc.

2. In a medium bowl, combine marinade ingredients and mix with tofu, set aside

3. In a large heavy-bottom pot (I like to use a dutch oven) or wok, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes, until starting to soften, then add garlic and ginger and sauté for 5 more minutes until fragrant and soft

4. Add carrots, cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes

5. Add peppers, cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes

6. Add ¼ cup of water and deglaze bottom of pan, cook for 5 minutes

7. Push veggies to the side, add tofu and lightly brown, combine with all other ingredients

8. Serve alongside white or brown rice, or atop rice noodles or even spaghetti

Plated dish

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 ¼ 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

Sautéed Bok Choy

  

Chicken with Bok Choy

This bok choy recipe is a companion to my Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken, but pairs well with most meats.

Ingredients

  • 3 small heads of bok choy or baby bok choy
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes (optional)


Directions

  1. Quarter bok choy, remove core, rinse thoroughly (if using baby bok choy, simply cut off about an inch at the bottom instead of quartering).
  2. Slice into 1-inch pieces
  3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large sauté pan
  4. Add onion, cook until soft
  5. Add bok choy in batches, it will shrink, until it’s all in the pan and softened
  6. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and chili flakes if desired