Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jewish Holiday Cooking: Calling all Hamantaschen Recipes

Before I start, a disclaimer: the book I'm discussing today, Jewish Holiday Cooking, is written by my Mom, Jayne Cohen, and will be her third book. As such, I am by no means an impartial judge and would not presume to write an actual review of the book. What I can do, however, is to recommend it to all of you and to promote it as best I can.

And that is exactly what I plan to do. I have tried the vast majority of the recipes in the book and they are all delicious. Some are taken from her first book, The Gefilte Variations, and others are new additions to her repertoire. Some are family recipes (I've shared two of them), others are international and still others are of her own invention. They are all kosher, but you certainly don't need to be Jewish to enjoy them. They are arranged by Jewish holiday, but, again, you can have most of them at any time; the holidays are the excuse to make them, not the requirement.

Where might you obtain a copy of this wonderful book for yourself, you might ask? Simple--from any online purveyors or at a *gasp* bookstore. Or, if you're lucky, you can win a copy. Over on the blog portion of her website, Food Talk with Jayne, Mom has written a post just in time for Purim on Hamantaschen, those wonderful triangular cookies filled with all sorts of yummy goodness. And she's calling for your favorite Hamantaschen recipes/filling suggestions. She will post the recipes and suggestions on her site and will send a free copy of Jewish Holiday Cooking to whomever sends in the best one. So get started, and good luck!

Jewish Holiday Cooking
To send in a Hamantaschen recipe, write it up in the Contact form on Mom's site, or else write it up on your own blog and send her an e-mail linking to your post. Or leave the link to your post in the comments section here and I'll be sure it gets to her. Happy baking!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Year of the Potato: Salade riviera, 2.0

Did you know that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato? Neither did I until the good folks at Eating Leeds told me and announced a Potato Event. And what are the guidelines? Just make a dish using Potatoes!

But let's begin with a little potato information. Potatoes are one of those ubiquitous vegetables that appear in food from around the globe. It is also the most widely grown tuber crop. It originated in Peru and was then brought to Europe in the early 18th century. It was then distributed to European territories around the world. Potatoes were extremely popular in Europe, particularly Ireland, where, because they grow underground, English soldiers were unable to locate and destroy them, meaning the Irish were able to eat. In present times, Asia is responsible for growing 80% of the world's Potato crops and it is becoming an increasingly popular crop.

For my Potato recipe, which will hopefully be the first of many, I decided to revisit a past recipe, one for Salade Riviera, but try it with a different kind of Potato and see how, if at all, it altered the taste. This time around I used Yukon Gold Potatoes, which have yelow flesh and a creamy texture. They did wonders for the salad, adding a wonderful texture contrast to the sharp bite of the Endive. Enjoy!

Salade riviera, 2.0

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Toss with Dressing to taste. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding Salad Recipes:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bisque de chou-fleur et de coquilles

They say the whole is greater

Than the sum of the parts it's made of. ("Love Song," Pippin)

The above song lyrics by Stephen Schwarz refer to love, but they could just as easily have been written for this Chowder. I knew I wanted to use my Spice Rub since I hadn't in a while and I was curious how the bite of Smoked Paprika would pair with the sweetness of Sea Scallops. My favorite way to make Scallops is to pan-fry them, so I decided to do that. To accompany my Scallops, though, I didn't want to just steam some Broccoli Raab on the side or anything quite as simple as that. It's winter and I wanted soup. So, I decided on a simple Cauliflower Chowder, that I adapted from a similar soup recipe in The Weekday Cook, a small book published by Bon Appetit in the '80's that's a compilation of fast, easy recipes from their Weekday Cook column.

My real burst of inspiration, however, came when I was plating. As I took down bowls and plates to set the table I realized--why not add the Scallops to the Chowder? That way the spiciness of the Spice Rub would be dulled by the Chowder, which could use a lift anyway. The result was sublime--a definite winner. Enjoy!

Bisque de chou-fleur et de coquilles

First, marinate Scallops. Combine Spice Rub and Garlic in Spice Grinder or with a Mortar and Pestle until you have an even paste. Toss with Scallops in a glass bowl. Cover with Plastic Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Next, make the Chowder. Cook Bacon in a large, heavy pot over a medium-low flame for 12 minutes, until Bacon begins to brown. Remove to paper towel-lined plate with a Slotted Spoon. Add 1 tablespoon Butter to pan, turn flame down to low, and melt. Add 3 Green Onions and cook 8 minutes, until tender. Add Potato, Mango, Salt and Pepper. Stir well and cook 5 minutes. Stir in Clam Juice, raise flame back up to medium-low and simmer, 5 minutes. Add Milk and Cauliflower and simmer 20 minutes, until Potato is tender.

Meanwhile, bring Scallops to room temperature. Lightly coat a saute pan with Olive Oil. Heat over a medium flame. When hot, add Scallops. Cook 3 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes on other side, until cooked through.

While Scallops are finising up, add Bacon to Chowder and simmer 3 minutes, stirring gently. Add whites of Green Onions. Ladle into Soup Bowls. Add 1 teaspoon Butter to each bowl. Sprinkle with greens of Green Onions. Add Scallops, divided evenly between the bowls.

Serves 2

Links to other delicious-sounding Chowder Recipes:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Blancs de poulet et cotelettes de porc braises, avec des olives manzanilla et kalamata et des capres

Sometimes, you're at a complete loss as to what to make for dinner. You know what you have in the fridge and you know the kind of food that you want to make, but when you go to the supermarket to pick up some essentials, nothing strikes your fancy. That's what happened to me the other day. It was quite cold out, so I wanted something slow-cooked and warming. I had quite enjoyed the last braise I made, so I considered just repeating it, but that seemed rather boring. Plus the Boy announced he didn't particularly want Chicken for dinner. So I bought some Pork Chops and figured I'd braise them. Unfortunately, I didn't read the package carefully, so, when I opened it up, I realized that if I was going through the trouble of slow-cooking something, I wanted to make more than just two pork chops. So I defrosted a couple of Chicken Breasts and added those as well. It was truly delicious, the pork falling off the bones after the long cooking. Definitely something I'd make again, but with one change--because it's cooked with two kinds of Olives as well as Capers, go easy on the Salt. You really need very little (something I didn't realize until too late). Ah, well. I'll remember next time!

Blancs de poulet et cotelettes de porc braises, avec des olives manzanilla et kalamata et des capres

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour Olive Oil into large, oven-proof pot and heat over a medium-high flame until it slides around easily. Season Pork Chops and Chicken Breasts with Salt, Poultry Seasoning and Pepper. Add Pork to pot and cook 5 minutes, until browned. Turn over and cook 5 more minutes on opposite side. Remove to a plate and add Chicken Breasts to pot. Brown about 5 minutes on one side, then turn over and repeat on other side. Add to Pork Chops on plate.

Add Bacon, Green Onion and Carrots to pot and cook 2 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add both kinds of Olives, Capers, Bay Leaf, Chicken Stock, Pork and Chicken Breasts. Submerge Meat in liquid as much as possible, then raise flame to high and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pot and place to oven to braise for 45 minutes, until Meat is cooked through and Carrots are soft.

Remove from oven and return pot to stove, over a high flame. Boil 5 minutes, to concentrate braising liquid. Lower heat and cook another 5 minutes, to better combine the flavors. Serve, preferable over pasta to soak up the extra liquid. Enjoy!