Seasonal Snippets: Leeks in Midwinter

Leeks recently pulled

Contributed by Katy Morris

We are very excited to introduce a brand new series…Seasonal Snippets! These monthly posts will provide you with everything you need to know about the most interesting seasonal fruits and veggies so that locavores can continue to eat the diverse bounties of our land all year long. Continue reading

Celebrating with Figs in Winter Salad

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Earth Day in January?  Well, in Israel, the promise of spring is waking up the senses as warmer air pushes buds forth, even in January. For those of us caught in the frozen tundra of the Northeast, we can try to connect with the beauty of Spring’s promise of regeneration by celebrating the holiday of Tu b’Shvat on January 15. Continue reading

Roasted Butternut-Sage Waffles

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contributed by Melissa Roberts

Squash and sage are quintessential flavors of fall, particularly a northeastern autumn. Here they are featured in a waffle that, drenched with maple syrup, fits in easily on the breakfast table. Continue reading

Portabella Mushroom Pizza Satisfies that Craving

Bette's vegan portobello pizza and some cheesy

There’s something about ‘shrooms that speaks of Autumn to me. Perhaps it’s their meaty heft and deep, rich flavors.  Yet somehow, I didn’t mind feasting on these when we ate them in Bend, Oregon this summer. These vegetarian, gluten-free mushroom pizzas  are simple to whip up and would be a blast for teens to take charge of.   Continue reading

Pear & Maple Roasted Squash Bruschetta

array of squash

Recipe: Marcia Selden Catering

Farmers’ Markets are piled high with brilliant orange squash of all shapes and sizes. The great harbinger of Autumn has arrived, and there are as many ways to cook and serve them as there are varieties.

This recipe signals the change of seasons in more than a few ways. The natural sweetness of butternut squash is heightened by roasting it in a light bath of local maple syrup and then layered with thinly sliced, firm pears and a smear of bold, stinky cheeseContinue reading

What’s YOUR 4:00?

 

image courtesy of Nothin' But

image courtesy of Nothin’ But

You wonder how you’ve arrived at this hour, AGAIN, without being prepared. It’s not a surprise, after all, that sometime between lunch and twilight you will be rummaging through your bag or desk frantically searching for a snack to satisfy that grumbling.

When that late afternoon craving finally settles in, what do you reach for?

What’s YOUR 4:00? 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

Macarons, the True French Way

photo courtesy of Cecile Cannone and Ulysses Press

photo courtesy of Cecile Cannone and Ulysses Press

As promised, here is the recipe from Cecile Cannone, baker and owner of Macaron Cafe, NYC. Her book, FRENCH MACARONS, AUTHENTIC COOKIE RECIPES FROM THE MACARON CAFE, will guide you clearly through every step of the process. Many thanks to Cecile Cannone and Ulysses Press for sharing these photos and this recipe.

French Meringue Macarons

makes 50-60 shells for 25-30 filled macarons

French Meringue Macarons

Thanks to Cecile Cannone, owner of Macaron Cafe, NYC, and her publisher: Ulysses Press, for this recipe and these photos.

Before you bake: To make a template for piping your macaron shells, draw 2½- inch circles on a large sheet of paper, using a compass or tracing around a cookie cutter or a small glass. Space the circles 1 inch apart. Position this pattern on your baking sheet, then place parchment paper on top of it. After piping your shells, carefully pull out the pattern to use on the next baking sheet.

Ingredients

  • 2¾ cups (8.8 ounces/250 grams) almond flour
  • 2¾ cups (12.4 ounces/350 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup egg whites (from 7 or 8 eggs), at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons powdered egg whites, if weather is humid
  • ¾ cup (5.3 ounces/150 grams) superfine granulated sugar
  • 5 to 7 drops gel paste food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Step 2: Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor to make a fine powder (or sift together, discarding any large crumbs and adding a bit more almond flour and powdered sugar as needed to compensate). Then sift the mixture through a strainer until it’s as fine as you can get it. This keeps crumbs from forming on the macaron tops as they bake.
  3. Step 3: With the wire whip attachment on the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt and the powdered egg whites (if you’re using them), starting slowly and then increasing speed as the whites start to rise. Add the granulated sugar and the food coloring. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and your meringue is firm and shiny.
  4. Step 4: Pour the beaten egg whites onto your almond flour mixture and gently fold them in, using a rubber spatula. Move your spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the edges with one hand, using your other hand to rotate the bowl. Now hit the spatula against the rim of the bowl until the batter falls in a wide ribbon when you raise the spatula. When you can’t see any crumbs of almond flour and the mixture is shiny and flowing, you’re ready to start piping.
  5. Step 5: Fit your pastry bag with a number-8 tip and fill with batter. Start by squeezing out a small amount of mix onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to form a 2½-inch circle. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space between macarons so they will not touch each other while they bake.
  6. If the peak that forms on the top of the macaron does not disappear after piping, it means the batter could have been beaten a little more. To eliminate the peaks, tap the baking sheet on the tabletop, making sure to hold the parchment paper in place with your thumbs.
  7. Let the piped macarons rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F (325°F for a non-convection oven).
  8. Using a pastry bag requires some practice. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
  9. Prepare the bag (if it hasn’t been used before) by cutting about 2 inches off the narrow end—just enough so that when you insert a number-8 decorating tip, about a third of the tip extends outside the bag. Push the tip firmly in place and spoon in your filling, leaving enough room at the top to twist the bag shut. It’s best to fill the bag with half of the batter at a time so it’s not too heavy. To make it easier to fill your pastry bag, place it upright in an empty jar or other straight-sided container. This will help steady the bag while you fill it with batter.
  10. Squeezing the bag slowly, pipe each macaron shell out in a single dollop. Lift the bag quickly to finish.
  11. Step 6: Bake for 14 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, open the oven door briefly to let the steam out.
  12. Let the macarons cool completely on a rack before taking them off the parchment paper. Press the bottom of a cooled baked macaron shell with your finger; it should be soft. If the bottom of the shell is hard, reduce the baking time for the rest of your macarons from 14 minutes to 13 minutes.

Notes

The French have a special word—macaronner—to describe the physical action of mixing all the ingredients for macarons. This has to be done by hand. You cannot do it with your mixer—you must be able to feel the consistency of the macaron batter.

http://kosherlikeme.com/recipes/macarons-the-true-french-way

White Chocolate Ganache Filling- Dairy

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces (200 grams) white chocolate, cut in little pieces, O R white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3½ tablespoons (1.7 ounces/50 grams) unsalted butter, preferably European-style

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, gently stir together the white chocolate, heavy cream, and honey until the chocolate is melted and perfectly blended in. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature; or put it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to cool more quickly, checking to make sure the chocolate doesn’t get too hard.
  2. When the ganache is completely cool, transfer it to your mixer bowl and begin beating at high speed using the paddle accessory or wire whip attachment. Add the butter in small pieces and let it work in until you have a light and fluffy white chocolate cream.
http://kosherlikeme.com/recipes/macarons-the-true-french-way

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Launching Your Thanksgiving Feast

With Thanksgiving one week away, there is still plenty of time to deliberate over the menu.  One thing is for sure, though, and that is that I’ll be serving soup as a warming and tantalizing opener at our Autumnal Feast.

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