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
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
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
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 cheese. Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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)
- Step 1: Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the piped macarons rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F (325°F for a non-convection oven).
- Using a pastry bag requires some practice. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
- 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.
- Squeezing the bag slowly, pipe each macaron shell out in a single dollop. Lift the bag quickly to finish.
- Step 6: Bake for 14 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, open the oven door briefly to let the steam out.
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
The oh-so true adage that it’s all about location, location, location was as clear as the impossibly azure sky as we pulled off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach soon after landing at LAX. We headed straight for the beach, hankering for that quintessentially California view of the sunny southern coast.
Too many sporty convertibles passed us while we ogled the Pacific, so we pulled off the road for a good long gaze at the very California view. Below the 80 foot drop, descending through dense shrub and lush patches of thick grasses, was a wide open view of sandy beach stretching 3.2 miles and protected by the CA. state parks, known as Crystal Cove State Park.
It was the perfect introduction to what would be our favorite place in the sand, aptly named The Beachcomber.
The next morning, with jet lag on our side, we scrambled out of bed early enough to see the sunrise, parked across PCH and walked down to the beach before the Beachcomber opened at 7 AM.
The cafe is elevated just a few steps up from the sand and is the ideal spot to ease into the day, take a midday break for lunch or retreat under the heat lamps for dinner. Twelve tables are squeezed onto the deck (umbrellas, fleece blankets and heaters are thoughtfully provided) and another few along a wraparound porch where spillover from lunch and happy hour lands.
My favorite breakfast dish was Smoked Salmon Flatbread, a deconstructed twist on bagels and lox. Green chile cream cheese is the foundation for thinly sliced smoked salmon, capers, pickled red onions, hard cooked eggs dotted with micro greens and capers.
With music of the 20’s and 30’s and the crashing waves keeping time, the day was starting out just fine.
Try the Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes as a carbo loading alternative. The slightly tangy, light batter oozes with fresh berries and is worth the calories.
Just across the street from the beach is a shopping center where Bear Flag Fish Co. became our go-to lunch spot for super fresh, quick, casual lunches. Beach wear is expected and acceptable.
Bear Flag is fish market, taco joint, and great salad place all at once. Seating on the sidewalk alongside the parking lot? We got over it quickly as panko grilled fish tacos bursting with freshly chopped cabbage and house made pico de gallo beckoned us day after day when we tired of the beach.
Hastily handwritten boards list the freshest fish choices of the day and surfing videos are entrancing. Sides of avocado, black beans, brown rice and sauteed veggies all cost $1-2 so we had ourselves a fiesta.
We quickly integrated Zinc Cafe and Market into our rhythm as it is vegetarian, making it all fair game for breakfast and lunch. While table service is provided, it’s fine with them if you order from the market side and bring it to a table yourself.
Deviled eggs, house baked scones dotted with berries, and breakfast burritos were highlights early in the day. Freshly baked fruit cakes and tartes are irresistible.
Lunches of personal sized chipotle sauced pizzette, easy sandwiches with runny brie and seasonal arugula or vegetable packed lasagna had us feeling happy to have landed in this veggie heaven.
Ready to whip up something special for breakfast? Check out Susie Fishbein’s recipe for light and fluffy blueberry pancakes, below. Thanks, Susie, for sharing this treat from KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP.
Watch for part 2 of Newport Coast,CA. fave spots next week! We found some great choices!
From Susie Fishbein: "Feel good in knowing that these pancakes are healthier than most. Most pancakes do not contain as much protein (milk, eggs, cottage cheese) or antioxidents from blueberries."
Susie suggests finding your own preferred balance of flour combinations, considering whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat, wheat or all purpose.
If using straight whole wheat, you may need to stir in a little milk to thin the batter.
- 1/2 c. fat free milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 T sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 T canola oil, divided
- 2 T water
- 1 c flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 c fat free cottage cheese
- heaping 1/2 c blueberries
- fat-free sour cream
- light pancake syrup
- In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons water.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
- With a spatula, mix in the cottage cheese and fold in the blueberries.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- When the skillet is hot, drop the batter by 1/4 cup measures. An ice cream scoop works well.
- Cook for 3 minutes until golden: flip and cook another 2 minutes.
- Serve with fat free sour cream or light pancake syrup.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Susie Fishbein, KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP, 2008.