Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

This month's theme for What's Baking is "Baking with Garlic".  My mind immediately went to garlic knots or garlic breadsticks or even a delicious garlic rosemary bread I found online.  But I wanted to think outside the box.  Plus, I eat enough bread as it is, did I really need that much extra bread in my house??  Of course my answer would still have been YES!! But, alas, I had nowhere to add it to my menu plan, plus I needed a side dish to my Shabbat chicken dinner.

Then I remembered a delicious rice pilaf I had made a few years back and realized I had never shared it here!  I don't remember how I first came across this exact recipe, but it is from my dear friend Jessica's blog.

Rice pilaf is rice cooked in stock (and not, as one contestant on Top Chef a few seasons ago thought, rice with 'a lot of stuff in it").  And this baked version uses some stock at the beginning and adds more partway through cooking.  I made a small adjustment to make this dish appropriate for a meat meal, then satisfied my own garlic craving by adding extra garlic.  The original recipe called for crushed garlic only, but just wait until you get the smooth deliciousness of a cooked garlic chunk.  It is like a little bite of heaven.  I had first made this back when coconut oil was becoming a thing so I used that as a parve substitute for butter and think that it really adds to the flavor of this dish.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else made this month.  Garlic just might be my favorite ingredient to use!

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf (slightly adapted from Sunny Side Up)

2 Tbsp coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 garlic cloves halved, quartered or roughly chopped
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided  **use vegetable broth if you want to make this a parve dish

salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 375
- Melt the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and rice and cook for approx 3 minutes, or until the garlic starts to turn golden brown.
- Add 1 cup of broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Transfer the rice, garlic and broth to a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid or use two sheets of foil to seal a deep dish.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the rest of the broth (1 1/2 cups).
- Re-cover the dish and continue baking for 45 minutes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fried Chicken Strips

Every year for Chanukah my grandmother makes fried chicken which she serves along with biscuits, latkes, and applesauce.  She coats her chicken in matzah meal before frying and it comes out crispy and delicious.  So when I was looking through my copy of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking and came to the chapter called "A Baker Becomes a Cook", I wasn't surprised to see a recipe for chicken cutlets in the Passover section.

This can be a good lunch or dinner and should appeal to the whole family.  I would use this same recipe throughout the year (most likely only adjusting the oil I use for frying and maybe using flour instead of the potato starch if we didn't have any more on hand).

Fried Chicken Strips (slightly adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup potato starch
2 1/2 cups matzah meal
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
4 eggs
oil for frying (cottonseed oil during Passover, canola oil the rest of the year)

- Using kitchen shears, cut the chicken into 1 inch thick strips.
- In a large skillet, pour in enough oil to come about half an inch up the side of the pan and heat until approx 350 degrees F.
- Into a shallow bowl or dish with high sides (I use deep paper plates), pour the potato starch.
- In a second shallow bowl, crack the eggs and lightly beat them.
- In a third shallow bowl, mix together the matzah meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
-  Set your plates in an assembly line - potato starch, egg, then matzah meal closest to the skillet.  Take a chicken strip and dredge in the potato starch, shaking off the excess.  Dip the strip in the beaten egg next, letting the excess drip off.  Last, press the strip into the matzah meal until fully coated.  Place the strip in the heated oil.
- Working in batches, heat the strips until golden brown, turning once.
- Place the cooked chicken on paper towels to drain.
- Serve warm or cold with any dipping sauce you desire (or no sauce at all!)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Roasted Lemon-Pepper Tilapia

I use my copy of Kosher by Design Short on Time frequently, so when I saw that the author also had a Passover cookbook, I made sure to buy it ahead of this holiday.  While several recipes are a tailored specifically for Passover, many are just favorites from her other books that happen to be Kosher for Passover.  One of those recipes that caught my eye was the one for roasted lemon-pepper cod.  I added it to the menu plan for this week and I have to say, it did not disappoint!  Even my cream-sauce hating husband liked it!

I made a few adjustments to make it work better for my family (including switching the fish out for tilapia due to the size of the filets available at my market) and will be sure to make this again in the future.  I ended up with a lot of leftover sauce (I changed the measurements in the recipe below so you shouldn't have this issue) and I'll say, this sauce was also delicious when eaten with my leftover gnocchi.


Roasted Lemon-Pepper Tilapia (slightly adapted from Passover by Design)

four 6oz filets of tilapia, cod, or halibut
1 large lemon
coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp onion powder
scant 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper
- Season both sides of fish with salt, then place them on the prepared pan
- Using a microplane, zest the lemon over the fish, reserving the lemon.  Sprinkle with pepper.
- Roast for 20 min.
- While fish is cooking, heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it starts to form bubbles around the edges.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the juice from the lemon and onion powder.  Simmer on low heat for 7-10 minutes to reduce until slightly thickened.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream.
- Transfer fish to plates or serving platter, spoon the sauce over the fish (or spoon the sauce onto the plate, place the fish on top, then drizzle more sauce over the fish).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach

Did you know that quinoa is Kosher for Passover?  Well, it is!  This was a welcome fact as I set about menu planning.  Aside from veggies there aren't many other sides that don't involve some sort of matzah/matzah meal/etc so quinoa is a nice break from that.

Last summer I decided to add more quinoa to our diet and started looking for good recipes.  I came upon this one on MyRecipes.com in my search and it wasn't until the second or third time I made it that I noticed the author was Mary Ellen from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, a friend of mine from an online community.  I made a few small adjustments (most importantly was making it a parve side) and have made it several times since.  Quinoa is considered a "superfood" because of its health benefits so I should probably make it more often than I do.

The red pepper flakes add a nice kick to it, though I think if you don't want the heat (or if you have a little mouth to feed that doesn't like too much spice) it could be left out and would still make a delicious dish.


Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach (slightly adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations)

1 bulb of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle more
small shallot, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (leave out if you don't want the heat)
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup spinach, sliced into thin strips
6-10 cherry tomatoes, halved

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Cut the top off of the bulb of garlic, exposing the cloves.  Place bulb on foil, drizzle with olive oil, then wrap the foil around the bulb, making a little pouch.
- Put the foil pouch in the oven and roast for 1 hour.  Set aside to cool (opening the packet after approx 5 min).
- As the garlic cools, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add shallots and red pepper flakes, stir and cool 1 minute.
- Add quinoa and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add wine and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in broth.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat.
- Squeeze the pulp from the roasted garlic into the quinoa, discarding the skins.
- Add the tomatoes and spinach to the quinoa and stir.
- Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Potato Spinach Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

When coming up with my menu plan for the week of Passover, I knew I could rely on many of our dishes we have throughout the year, but I wanted to be a little more adventurous and make things that needed modification to be eaten during this time.  Jewish Federation sends out a newspaper and this issue included an article with recipes for a vegetarian seder.  A few of these dishes jumped out at me so I was excited to add them to the week's lineup.

I was having dinner guests over on Sunday so I set out to try my new-found recipe.  This potato spinach gnocchi was pretty easy to make, though the rolling the dumpling part was a bit tedious.  Everyone enjoyed it and went back for seconds, so I think it was a hit!

This recipe made about 100 tater tot sized dumplings so this can definitely feed a crowd.  I made the tomato sauce included in the article, but you could serve this with any store bought or homemade sauce.  The gnocchi are finished off with a sprinkle of parmesan and baked in the oven which I think adds a nice flavor and makes the texture a little less mushy.  The dumplings stuck a bit to the baking sheet, but I plated the dumplings that side down so it still looked flawless (and gave my husband the opportunity to eat the leftover bits off the foil after our guests had left!).  I saved the leftovers and am hoping it reheats well.  I'll update once we eat the rest!

Potato Spinach Gnocchi (adapted from recipe by Marshall Weiss published in NJJN)

2lbs baking potatoes (which was 4 potatoes for me)
1 cup potato starch plus more as needed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup ricotta chese
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

- Peel potatoes and boil in water for 15-30 min, until easily stabbed through with a fork.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet by lightly oiling it (during Passover use cottonseed oil or Kosher for Passover olive oil).
- In a medium bowl, mash potatoes.  Mix potato starch, egg, salt, spinach, ricotta, and nutmeg.  If the dough is too sticky, add additional potato starch.
- Bring 4 qts of water to a boil.
- While water is heating, make the dumplings.  With wet hands, form 1/2 tbsp of dough into a tater tot shape.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully drop the gnocchi into the water (one at a time so you don't splash boiling hot water onto yourself).  They will rise to the surface when cooked, which only takes a few minutes.
- As the gnocchi rise to the top, remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and place it onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the gnocchi with the grated parmesean and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Tomato Sauce for the Gnocchi

2 tbsp Kosher for Passover olive oil (or cottonseed oil)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste

- Heat the oil in a medium pot.  Add the onion and garlic and cook on low heat until translucent (approx 5 minutes)
- Add parsley, bay leaf, tomatoes, and tomato paste.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Passover Apple Cake

I hate to show up to my grandmother's house for a seder empty handed.  I knew I was bringing gefitle fish to my in-laws the next night but that's my grandmother's specialty so I had to come up with another idea.  Dessert is usually my go-to but during Passover you have to be careful what you make since many options come out dry or tasteless.  In an effort to try new things this year, I turned to my copy of Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking.

In this book there is a gorgeous photo of a slice of apple cake.  It looks nice and cakey and delicious. Plus it was parve, which is always a good thing.  So I set out to recreate that cake.  Following his recipe I didn't exactly get the cake in the picture, but what I did end up with was absolutely delicious!  I adjusted the recipe a bit as I went since the original called for 5 apples, sliced.  I put half this amount in the middle of the cake then went to put the other half on top.  After getting 2 layers of apple slices and still having one and a half apples left (plus the batter didn't cover the first apple section) I realized this was just way too much.  I think that my adjustment will help get a better ratio of apple to cake.

The cake was incredibly moist and delicious.  Most of it was finished at the seder, and the leftovers that we divided up amongst a few of us didn't last long.  I'll be sure to make this again next year!

Passover Apple Cake (slightly adapted from Arther Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (cottonseed oil during Passover)
3/4 cup cake meal
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 in slices (preferably Golden Delicious apples)
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly oil an 8 inch square glass baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, with an handheld mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until well mixed.
- Beat in the sugar 2tbsp at a time, beating until the mixture is thick and foamy.
- Beat in the oil, adding it in a steady stream.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then using the spatula stir in the cake meal, blending well.
- Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the topping over the batter.  Top with half of the apple slices and all of the raisins (if using).
- Scrape the remaining batter over the apples, spreading it out to cover the apples evenly.  Arrange the remaining apple slices on top of the batter.  Sprinkle the remaining topping mixture over the apples.
- Bake for 1 hour 15min, until the topping has begun to carmelize.
- Let the cake cool in the baking dish for several hours before slicing and serving.