Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

  

Roasted_Vegetables-FPO_650

Apples, the symbolic fruit for the Jewish New Year, can find their way onto your holiday menu in many ways. This recipe may not have its origins in Europe or the Middle East, but it plays on the tradition of elevating even the simplest of ingredients into a festive dish.

I serve this as a side for brisket or chicken, but you can also combine it with quinoa or barley as a more substantial side dish or vegetarian main course. Although you can buy a whole butternut squash and peel and cube it yourself, I find it’s worth the time and money to buy the squash already peeled and cubed. You might have to cut some of the chunks into smaller pieces if they’re too large, but otherwise this is a fast and easy dish to make. You don’t even have to peel the apples!IMG_2987_650

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp or Jonagold)
  • 20 oz. cubed butternut squash (about 4-5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)

 

Directions:sliced_onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut onion in half and slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Using an apple slicer, cut apple into eighths and then cut each wedge into three or four chunks. Add to the onions, along with the squash cubes.

diced_apples_butternut_squash

4. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. If onions are not yet golden and squash is still firm, gently turn the mixture and return to the oven for another 6 minutes, or until done.

toss_apples_squash

5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and serve.

sprinkle_apples_squash_serve

Dairy Matzah Kugel for Passover

  

Matzah Kugel served with gefilte fish and side salad

Some people have strong feelings about the kind of recipe that aims to create a Passover-friendly version of a dish that is typically leavened. Detractors think creating Passover bagels, muffins, and rolls miss the point of the holiday’s specific diet. Those in favor see the practice as helping to make a difficult holiday more bearable. Some will even point to foods like Passover Popovers as an example of Jewish ingenuity.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t see the point suffering through a week of “I can’t believe you want to call this a bagel.” (But hey, if you can convince yourself that whatever you’ve come up with tastes like a bagel, more power to you. I’ll have eggs for breakfast this week.) On the other hand, when the introduction of matzah into a dish creates a delightful new twist on an old favorite, I’m all for it.

This brings us to Matzah Kugel, a sweet, dairy-filled confection of matzah layered with sweetened cheese. Sure, you could make a kugel with Passover noodles and come up with an almost-but-not-quite-satisfying proxy for the regular version, but you will never forget that it’s not the “real” thing. Matzah kugel, on the other hand, takes the idea of a noodle kugel as a jumping off point and transforms it into something different but equally delicious.

This dish can function as a side dish or a main course. (It pairs well with a side salad and a piece of gefilte fish.) You can freeze leftover portions: they reheat well in the microwave and even make a delicious and quick breakfast when you just can’t take one more piece of matzah with cream cheese.

Cheese Matzah Kugel for Passover

(Serves 9)

Kugel ingredientsIngredients:

  • 6 sheets matzah, broken into large pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 pound cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, plus additional butter to grease the pan

 

Directions:

Matzah layered in the baking dish1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.

2.  Add cottage cheese, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix to combine thoroughly.

3.  Grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.

4.  Arrange half of the matzah so that it covers the bottom of the dish.

5.  Pour half of the cheese mixture over it. Repeat with balance of the matzah and cheese mixture. If you wish, sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar over the top of the kugel.

6.  Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set.

The matzah kugel when it's done baking

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

  

baked chocolate hamentaschen

Chocolate-chocolate hamentaschenHamentaschen or “Haman’s Pockets” are the traditional dessert of Ashkenazi Jews on the holiday of Purim. Originally containing poppy seed filling in medieval Germany, it later became popular to fill the Hamentashen with prune filling. This tradition was started in 1731 to honor a Jewish prune jam merchant named David Brandeis. David was acquitted after being charged erroneously with trying to poison the magistrate of Jungbunzlau in northeastern Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). To celebrate his acquittal the people in his community filled Hamantashen with his plum jam and called it Poivadl (plum/prune) Purim. Today Hamentaschen are filled with many different flavors of fruit jams, nuts and even chocolate.

It is difficult for people suffering from Celiac Disease and others whose bodies are sensitive to gluten to participate in many food customs when one’s diet is restricted in this way. Creating recipes that allow people on restricted diets to participate fully in the enjoyment of Jewish culinary traditions is a very important goal of mine. The following two recipes can be made dairy free as well as  gluten-free if you so choose and it is delicious either way. Choose either to make chocolate cookie dough or traditional sugar cookie dough, both with delicious chocolate filling. Enjoy!

Chocolate Filling

For your chocolate filling, you can either follow the instructions below, or use Nutella or Israeli chocolate spread Hashachar H’aole.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 oz. chocolate chips + 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3.5 oz. bar of 78% cacao
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour

 

Directions:

1.  Place butter and chocolate in a 1 ½ quart glass mixing bowl and microwave on 80 percent power for 45 seconds; if butter is not completely melted then heat on high for 15 more seconds. Stir contents of bowl until smooth.

2.  Whisk the sugar, extracts and salt into the chocolate mixture. Combine well to dissolve some of the sugar.

3.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.

4.  Add the rice flour and whisk until a smooth, shiny mass is formed and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

5.  Place mixture in a sealed container and refrigerate until needed. Filling will become firm but not too firm to scoop into little mounds for filling Hamentaschen.

Note: Chocolate often retains it shape when melted, so don’t over heat or it will burn. One tablespoon rice flour is equivalent to two tablespoons flour if gluten is not a concern and you don’t have rice flour at home.

 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

Makes about 2 dozen hamentaschen

gluten-free hamentaschen ingredientsIngredients*:

  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 cups Gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 to regular flour)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, Crisco or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. xanthan powder
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • filling of your choice

 

chocolate doughFor chocolate cookie dough, do not use almond extract, but instead use 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract. Instead of 2 cups flour, use 1 3/4 cup Gluten-free flour and 1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa.

 

 

 

 

mixing dough for hamentaschenDirections:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

3.  Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat until lighter in color and fluffy.

4.  Combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan in a 1 quart bowl. Add to mixer bowl and mix on medium speed just until the dough starts to hold together.

 

 

 

kneaded dough5.  Very gently knead the dough on a surface lightly floured with additional flour about ten strokes or until the dough is smooth and holds together. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

6.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper that have been lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness.

Carefully remove one sheet of paper (you might have to scrape some of the dough off if it sticks) and then place dough side down on a board that is heavily covered with confectioner’s sugar. Carefully remove the paper on top and, if necessary dust with additional confectioner’s sugar and lightly roll to make the surface uniform in thickness. (NOTE: This is only necessary if dough was very sticky and pulled apart when removing paper.)

roll out your hamentaschen

cut your dough

7.  Cut the dough into 2 ½ inch circles using the mouth of a glass. Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Using your thumbs and forefingers shape the hamentaschen. Imagine the circle is a clock; place your two thumbs at 6 o’clock and your forefingers at 2 and 10. Gently bring your fingers together and you will have formed a perfect hamantashen triangle! Pinch the dough together so that the filling is exposed only at the top of the cookie.

shape your hamentaschen

8.  Bake hamentaschen in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Can be stored in a plastic bag or airtight container when cool or freeze for later use. Share with friends! Happy Purim!

ready to bake hamentaschen

 

chocolate gluten free hamentaschen

Nutella Bites (A Neat and Easy Breakfast in Bed)

  

By Mari Levine

nutellabites.jpg

Serving someone breakfast in bed is a terrific, thoughtful idea. But it has some logistical issues, including stealthily preparing the meal so your light-sleeping target doesn’t arouse, and, if you accomplish that, anxiously watching them try to balance a plate full of pancakes in bed without causing a mess. Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but you don’t want that thought to be tinged with inconvenience.

This quick recipe satisfies a loved one’s sweet tooth and takes only minutes to prepare. Each piece is bite-sized, so the mess—both in the kitchen and in bed—is minimal. It’s a nice way to express your appreciation sweetly and neatly!

Nutella Bites

Makes 32

  • 4 (9-inch) flour wraps
  • 6 tablespoons Nutella
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 8 strawberries, quartered
  • Confectioners’ sugar

 

1. Spread 1½ tablespoons Nutella into thin layer over each wrap, leaving ½-inch border. Roll each wrap and flatten slightly. Brush one side of each roll with melted butter.

2. Heat 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Add rolls, buttered-side and seam-side down, and lightly flatten with metal spatula. Cook until wrap is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Brush tops with remaining butter and flip. Cook until second side is golden brown, another 2 minutes. Transfer to cutting board.

3. Using chef’s knife, cut each wrap crosswise into 8 even pieces. Place strawberry quarter on top of each bite and spear with toothpick. Using fine-mesh strainer, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over top. Serve.

chosenfinal290pxcolor_largeReprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.

 

Spring Bone Broth with Potato Knaidlach

  

spring bone broth with parsley potato knaidlichMatzoh ball soup is a staple in many Jewish homes and if you recently attended a Passover seder, you likely indulged in this comforting winter dish. It is the soup many of us crave when we’re not feeling well and the soup that has become known as Jewish penicillin. Lately (or, like, a few years ago on the West Coast), there has been a new “buzz word” in the world of soup: Bone broth.) The basic recipe for bone broth hasn’t changed from the days of our nonna, bubbe or grandmother. What has changed is that we’re talking more and more about ingredients and cooking methods. We’re going back to our roots where there wasn’t a fear of using all the parts of all our ingredients, but rather, our grandparents embraced the versatility of their ingredients and took pride in stretching them, wasting nothing.

Soup is just broth until you add dumplings. Dumplings are a comfort food and every culture’s cuisine has some sort of dumplings. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are dropped in soups, served with chicken, fried up, steamed, filled with soup and meat, folded, rolled, pinched and pressed.

The universal truth when it comes to dumplings is that there are perhaps never enough. Whether you grew up alongside your Italian nonna cutting and rolling gnocchi on a Sunday morning or you poured matzoh ball mix out of a box with your father on Sunday afternoons, you know what’s in the back of everyone’s mind is, “Will this be enough?”. This recipe for brodo with potato knaidlach makes so many dumplings there are extras to freeze for a quick weekday meal.

This Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach takes us on a trip to Italy with inspiration from brodo (broth) and potato gnocchi (knaidlach). If you or your partner has Italian ancestry, this is a fun way to combine your cultures in a meal that’s fun to make together. You may want to save this one for the weekend because it takes a little time, but not so much that you can’t whip up a batch on a weekday evening either.

Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach
(soup serves 4-6 with additional knaidlach to freeze)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large Russet (or baking) potatoes
  • 2-3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 8 cups of boxed bone broth or chicken stock
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 bunch of curly parsley
  • 1-2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Bones from 1 rotisserie chicken or two chicken legs
  • 1 bunch of fresh herbs (choose one): chives, basil, parsley, dill
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

For this recipe we’ll be doctoring up a boxed broth to save time, but you can try this fabulous brodo if you enjoy going the extra mile.

1.  Begin by preparing the potatoes for the potato dumplings. Scrub the potatoes with a brush and place them in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and let the potatoes boil for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes a toothpick or skewer should easily go into and slide out of the flesh of the potato with no resistance.

potatoes

2.  Once the potatoes are ready, let them cool on a plate for about 10 minutes until the skins are cold enough to peel off by hand. In the meantime, set your toaster oven or oven to 350℉.  Put some parchment or foil down on a tray (for easier clean-up) and drizzle 1 Tbsp. of oil on the tray.

3.  Slice your onion in half and wash (no need to peel) your carrots and cut them into thirds. Place the vegetables on the tray (onions cut side down) and just slide them through the olive oil so they are well coated. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables (about 1 tsp) and roast them for 25-30 minutes.

onion and carrots

4.  Now, the potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Peel them by pinching the skin and pulling it away from the potato.

peel potatoes5.  If you have a food mill (you know, the hand crank one you bought to make baby food), then use a food mill to process the potatoes. If you don’t have a food mill, a fork will work just as well. Make sure you use a large cutting board. Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices (a little bigger is OK too) then take your fork and press it through each slice so that the potato breaks into little strips.

Fork or food mill: it's all good.  Do not use a blender because it will make the potato gluey.

Fork or food mill: it’s all good. Do not use a blender because it will make the potato gluey.

6.  Once the potatoes have been pressed (through the food mill or fork), let them cool briefly on the tray or board. While the potatoes cool, you can start the broth. Gather your roasted vegetables, the bones you saved from a rotisserie chicken (from earlier in the week or that you saved and froze for soup), and your soy sauce.

Set aside two of the roasted carrots for later. If you are using chicken legs, just season them with salt and pepper and add them into the pot. Pour the two containers of broth into your stock pot. There should be about 8 cups. If you are short, just top it off with some water.

Then add: your chicken bones (if you haven’t already), your vegetables and the 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce to the pot. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.

7.  While the broth is cooking, you can make your gnocchi. This is a great “play dough” style activity to do with the kids. Make sure you have a clean counter and clean hands. There will be flour on the floor but you can sweep up after.

make the gnocchi

A true Italian nonna would have to you make this on the counter, but I prefer the security of a bowl. Sprinkle a little flour (about 1/2 cup) into the bottom of the bowl and then put 1/3 of the potatoes on top of the flour. Sprinkle a cup of flour over the potatoes and add another 1/3 of the potatoes over that. Sprinkle another cup of flour (you’re up to 2 1/2 cups now) over the potatoes and top with the last 1/3 of the potatoes. Gently toss the potatoes in the flour with your fingers to coat. The extra 1/2 cup of flour (3 cups in total) will be sprinkled in as needed later if your dough is too sticky.

potato and flour

8.  Make a well in the middle of the bowl of potatoes and flour and crack in 2 eggs. Add 1 tsp of kosher salt over the eggs.

gnocchi eggs and potato

With a fork, whisk the eggs and salt until combined and then slowly mix the eggs into the potato flour mixture. You will end up with a sticky dough. Continue to add flour until you have a dough that is soft and only slightly sticky. (You should only need at most 1/2 cup of flour but you can add as much as 1 cup of flour here if needed.)

making gnocchi with Isabelle

9.  Let the dough rest for a minute or two while you chop some parsley. You will want a small bunch of fresh curly parsley (wash and dry with a towel first). If you are making all the gnocchi with parsley, you will want 2/3 cup of minced parsley. If you have some picky eaters who cringe at the sight of green, you can leave 1/2 the potato knaidlach plain and you’ll want 1/3 cup of minced parsley.

10.  Now the fun begins. Split your dough in half and knead in 1/3 cup of parsley unless you are making all of your dumplings green. To help make clean-up a little easier, I like to put some wax paper or parchment paper down on the counter. You can sprinkle a little water on the counter first so the paper doesn’t slide around when you roll out the dough. Sprinkle flour on the parchment generously and roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick.

gnocchi dough

11. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch strips. Then roll each strip out into a long rope. I like to pinch the strips first and then roll them.

roll gnocchi

12.  Then, with a butter knife, cut the ropes into dozens of beautiful little knaidlach. They should be about 3/4 to 1 inch long. Do the same with the leftover plain dough if you are making some plain.

finished parsley knaidlich

13.  Now your broth is ready (it’s OK if it simmered longer than 20 mins). Strain your broth through a sieve into a new pot. Cut the carrots you set aside into tiny cubes (about the size as a pea). Take 1-2 cups of frozen peas (based on how much your family likes peas). Add the minced carrots and peas to the broth. Once the broth comes back to a boil, add in 1/3 of your potato knaidlich (aka gnocchi). The knaidlich are cooked once they float back to the top of the broth; about 5 minutes.

For picky diners, you can cook the plain knaidlach in salted boiling water and serve them like pasta with parmesan, butter and salt, pesto or tomato sauce.

The rest of the knaidlach can be put on a tray in the freezer until they become solid, and then transfered into a plastic bag. Frozen knaidlach can be cooked straight from frozen in boiling water or stock.

Serve the knaidlich and broth in a bowl and sprinkle with fresh herbs such as chives, basil, dill or more parsley. Buon appetito!

spring dumpling soup 2 spring dumpling soup