A Fresh Spin on Summer Salads

multi colored beets

As the season heats up and farmers’ markets everywhere suddenly have heaping piles of crisp, rainbow hued salad ingredients to offer, I needed a little jump start to get me thinking about new combinations and uses for all those spicy greens and plump beans. So when I ran across an article about Haven’s Kitchen in the NY TIMES a few weeks back, I promptly registered for a class there,  called  ”All Sorts of Salad”. Continue reading

Brazilian Foodie shares Traditions and Recipes

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By Melissa Roberts

On a recent, chilly March evening, members of the Westport, CT Chabad community were treated to a taste from the warmer shores of Brazil, featuring chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz.  Leticia, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York and a Weston, CT resident by way of Rio, honed her considerable skills in restaurants, including Le Cirque 2000, La Grenouille, and Payard, and as a writer for magazines such as Saveur and Fine Cooking.

Brazilian and kosher cuisine may not seem a natural pair; in fact, Leticia admitted that keeping a kosher home while growing up in Brazil was difficult for her parents. Kosher butchers, for example, weren’t easily accessible, and overall the country’s Jewish population is small–150,000 in total with roughly 30,000 in Rio alone. Conversely, she recalls Jewish culture, as rich and very much alive, heavily influenced by an Israeli connection.

Leticia spoke fondly of being educated in Hebrew day schools, and having a strong sense of her heritage through music and song. And while Jewish life didn’t have a huge impact on her cooking, the backdrop of her native country did.

Brazilian food is a varied mix of flavors that reflect an equally diverse and far reaching population. African, Portuguese and Indigenous cultures all have an overriding influence, though other European countries, even Lebanon and India make an appearance, dashes of each exemplified in the dishes Leticia presented in her warm, lively way.

Chef Leticia Schwartz

A side dish featured hearts of palm. The tender trunk of a tree with over 100 varieties in Brazil alone, many of us have seen it in jarred or canned form, nestled in salads. Leticia brought it front and center, sauteed with shallots and parsley, perhaps a nod to France, the palm hearts very Brazilian.

photo:  Leticia Schwartz

photo: Leticia Schwartz

Xim Xim de Galinha, a braised chicken stew in a tomato and coconut based sauce was enriched with ground cashews and peanuts, an African technique, the tomatoes an addition from the New World, the turmeric and paprika nods to India and Hungary, the chopped cilantro at the end, Latino. The sauce was creamy and rich without a lick of dairy. Different and delicious all at once.

The recipe featured here, Guava Thumbprint Cookies, sums up the mongrel nature of Brazilian cuisine perfectly. Guava being indigenous to the country and its tropical climes, the crumbly nut based cookie drenched in powdered sugar reminiscent of a Mexican wedding cookie, the thumbprint, very American. Leticia omitted dairy from her recipes accordingly, easily adapting them to a meat centered meal.

Thanks to Leticia, it was a special lesson in the diversity and flexibility of Brazilian cooking, and how kosher can go beyond familiar borders.

Leticia Moreinos Schwartz  is the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and the upcoming My Rio de Janeiro. To learn more about participating in Leticia’s cooking classes you may contact her at http://www.chefleticia.com/cookingclasses.

Portrait of Leticia: Chia Messina.

 

Guava Thumbprint Cookies

approximately 60 small cookies

Guava Thumbprint Cookies

These fragrant cookies are a specialty of Leticia Schwartz, The Brazilian Foodie. She blogs at http://www.chefleticia.com/

These tasty bites may be dairy or parve (dairy free).

We found kosher guava paste at www.earthy.com. One lb is $7.50.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks ( 1 cup) margarine or butter substitute (such as Fleishman’s or Earth Balance) or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
  • 1 cup guava paste
  • Few drops of lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the walnuts in the food processor and whir until finely ground, being careful not to turn into a paste. Add the flour and pulse until well combined.
  3. Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine or butter and sugar together on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the extracts and beat to blend. Reduce the speed to low, and add the nut-flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl, mixing only until it is incorporated into the dough.
  4. Working with a teaspoon of dough at a time, roll between the palms of your hand to form small balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Secure each cookie with one hand down at the sheet pan, and use the pinkie of your other hand, or the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie (be careful not to go all the way through). Bake until slightly colored (pale golden), about 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet at the mid time point.
  5. Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and let them cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. When it’s cool, dust with confectioners sugar. Repeat baking procedure with all the dough.
  6. Place the guava paste in a small saucepan and add just a few drops of water to melt the paste to the consistency of jam. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness to taste (optional). You want to fill the cookies while the jam is still warm, so that it sets inside the cookie. Fill the indentations of all cookies with enough warm guava jam to come to the level with the tops. Cool to room temperature.
http://kosherlikeme.com/in-the-kitchen/brazilian-foodie-shares-traditions-and-recipes

Turkish Temptations? Tell Me More!

photo by Debra Somerville

photo by Debra Somerville

I shared an hour on the phone with Moshe Aelyon last Friday afternoon and hung up with a deep hankering for Turkish cuisine.  I had planned to spend the afternoon with him,  chatting in his handsome kitchen while he prepared a distinctly Turkish, kosher style, Sabbath dinner for his regular, weekly client. Continue reading

Roll Your Own

When eating sushi, NEVER pass food to someone using your chopsticks. That act parallels passing cremated bones of a deceased relative at a Japanese funeral. Instead, pass the plate, allowing the sushi to be plucked from it.

Good to know.

I learned so much in the “Roll Your Own” vegetarian sushi making class at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, that I will never again eat sushi without deep appreciation and a (hopefully) more discerning and knowledgeable palate. Continue reading

Dining After Sunset in Aspen

Cool mountain breezes waft across snow capped mountains reaching towards implausibly blue skies. I have returned to one of my favorite vacation spots.

Summer in Aspen has it all: awe inspiring hiking, invigorating biking, unique shopping, the eight week long classical Aspen Music Festival and to top it all off,  a vibrant and highly creative dining scene. Continue reading

Icy Frozen Treats from Hannah Kaminsky

 

Sweltering temps have blanketed the Northeast again just as Hannah Kaminsky’s third book, Vegan A La Mode, has hit the shelves.  Icy cold treats are the perfect solution and Kaminsky’s sumptuous photos and highly creative recipes will have you ordering an ice cream maker before you can click outa this post. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season: Gifts from the Desert

Neot Smadar

For young lovers and their parents, ‘tis the season of gift giving as summer weddings approach and engagements are announced.

How about considering unique, edible gifts?

I ran across information about Negev Nectars and was taken by their mission “to support small- scale, sustainable agriculture in Israel, and to provide a market for these farmers.” All products sold through this American company come from Israeli farms located in the Negev desert. Continue reading