Channukah Food Gifts…

On my father’s side of the family we started giving each other food gifts for Channukah. As the oldest cousin, and the only one keeping kosher, I decided to show them that there are actually some really good kosher foods out there… This year I decided to make some easy & delicious desserts paired with a really great food find.

  1. Candied Pecans… This recipe is super easy and tastes great! I just made it for my school pot luck too! The left over sugar stuck to the parchment paper is pretty amazing so this time I saved it and used it in my #2 recipe…unnamed-15.jpg
  2. Toasted coconut bark… First cover your baking sheet with parchment paper, then toast shredded sweetened coconut in a 350*F oven until it begins to brown. Mix  to prevent it from burning. It is done when most of it is golden brown. Move the toasted coconut to another container, then cover the pan with mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is the best one- 3 bags was perfect to cover my cookie sheet). Place in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are melted. Take out of the oven and mix/smooth with a fork or spoon. Sprinkle the leftover sugar crumbs from the candied pecans. Then sprinkle the toasted coconut and a dash of cinnamon and a light dash of salt. Be liberal with the coconut and with another piece of parchment paper, press it in to the chocolate. Leave it out overnight  until it is solid. Then break it up & wrap it up really pretty 🙂
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  3. Since I live in the great state of MD, I was fortunate enough to find these DELICIOUS salted caramels, that are CHOLOV YISROEL, in my local grocery store when they were advertising some new local products. Needless to say, I bought all 4 of the remaining packages…Shays_6ozCaramelPouch_SeaSalt.jpg
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Salmon with “Honey” Mustard Glaze

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This salmon is easy, can be made whole 30 approved, and can be baked either open or double wrapped. It tastes best fresh, but I’ve been known to make a few days worth in advance…

Ingredients:

  • Fresh salmon (you can use frozen if it’s all you have, but regarding fish, I’m a snob so it’s gotta be fresh!)
  • Your favorite mustard
  • Honey (or date sugar /fresh dates blended into a paste if you are into the whole no processed sugar thing/whole 30)

Directions:

Rinse your salmon and using a knife against the grain, scratch the scales off the skin of the fish and rinse again. Mix equal parts mustard and honey/date sugar/date paste in a ziplock bag and add your salmon. Let the fish marinade for at least an hour, or over night in the fridge. Bake on parchment paper at 400*F for 10-15 minutes (if double wrapping in foil, add an additional 10 minutes and make sure your oven is fully pre-heated)

Enjoy!

Great Snack ala Trader Joe’s!

The first thing my sister and I did was a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. I’ve spoken about how much kosher stuff they have at TJ’s before, but especially when traveling it’s nice to be able to go to one store and stock up.

We were hungry so as soon as we got to my sister’s apartment we enjoyed a great twist on the classic after school snack of Apples and Peanut butter…

I present you with: Apples, Almond Butter & Coconut!

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Ingredients:

  • Apples (we used Braeburn…)
  • Raw Almond Butter (ours had no salt)
  • Unsweetened Flake Coconut

Directions:

Cut your apple and if you do it like me… use your knife as a spoon. (Hey sometimes you’re hungry and finding the plastic silverware takes too long!). Sprinkle on some coconut and enjoy!

 

The oven is currently being kashered… stay tuned for tonight’s dinner of chicken with carrots and parsnips… I should mention that my sister is doing the Whole 30 diet this month…

Peaches & Cream

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Peaches are the major highlight of my summer. But travel is also a big component of my summer so when ingredients are fresh, but I’m leaving town, I’ve got to figure out what can be eaten, what can travel, and what can freeze… and how to do all that in a way that leaves me with good food …

So here’s what I’ve learned about cream. Have you ever frozen cream? Freezing milk works for the most part, but cream… not so much. When you freeze cream, you might find it looks clumpy when you de-frost it. After extensive google research, I’ve read that it’s still edible, but you will notice a difference in texture, and that difference kind of takes the fun out of cream…after all, who wants clumps in their cream?

However, if you make something with your cream, you can freeze the product and and it works perfectly. This is obvious when it comes to making ice-cream, but you might be surprised to hear that making a basic whipped cream will work too!

Basic Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla

Tools Needed:

  • Electric mixer or you can try an immersion blender as long as you are careful not to over whip and turn your cream in to butter… although butter will keep well too 🙂

Directions:

In a large bowl, begin whipping the cream and sugar. I generally will add about 1/4 cup sugar for 2 cups of cream, but if you like it sweeter you can add more. Be careful when whipping the cream. You want peaks to form (meaning when you lift the mixer the cream will hold it’s shape a bit) but if you over whip, it will become butter.  Toward the end add a tsp of vanilla.

This cream will taste wonderful fresh, but if you are in a hurry to leave town, or don’t want to end up eating two cups worth of fresh whipped cream all on your own, then you can keep your whipped cream in the freezer. When you want to eat it, scoop it on to you favorite fruits, cakes, pies etc. and let it sit out for a few minutes to defrost. You should find that your whipped cream will quickly return to it’s light and fluffy texture in no time. Enjoy!

National S’mores Day

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Happy Belated National S’mores day! Apparently it was yesterday, August 10th 2016! Well in honor of National S’mores Day, what would be better than having great, gooey, sweet, chocolaty kosher s’mores…

One of the lesser known kosher problem products is marshmallows. Most marshmallows are made with geletin, specifically pork gelatin and are not kosher. There are kosher marshmallows out there, but many leave what to be desired… Enter, Trader Joes!

I’m not sure when these came in to my local TJ’s but I’m certainly happy they did. They look like they are falling apart in the bag, and they are a bit delicate and very sticky, but they are soft and gooey and when toasted over an open flame, they help make really great s’mores!

Pair these marshmellows with your favorite graham cracker (I love the cinnamon ones) and use the Enjoy Life Brand mini chocolate chips to finish off the treat!

Apple Slices with Fresh Marscapone and Rose Sugar

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About 9 years ago I stumbled in to a fancy cheese shop in DC and was offered a sample- fresh marscapone cheese with Rose petal sugar on an apple slice. This thing was so good that I became a frequent marscapone cheese purchaser and also bought a good amount of the Rose sugar too.

Well about a year later I started keeping kosher and sadly said goodbye for now to my light, delicious, and flavorful snack. While marscapone cheese is often found kosher, I have yet to find it cholov yisroel and there is no substitute for it’s creamy lightness. And for years, that’s been all there is to it.

Well just before pesach I went to Israel and found dried whole rose tea in the shuk. The smell alone reminded me so much of my former favorite snack that I bought it and became determined to find a way to re-create it.

Well today it finally happened. I made my own fresh marscapone cheese… With slightly too much lemon, but all in all, it’s pretty darn good… I then blended those roses with some sugar, sliced myself and apple and here I am, in foodie cloud 9.

And here is the recipe so you can join me 🙂
Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3/8 Cup Sugar
  • 1/8 Cup Dried Food-Grade Rose buds/rose petals- purchase here https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/rose-buds-whole/profile
  • Apple

Special Tools:

  • Sauce pot
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Cheesecloth with colander
  • Blender/food processor

Directions:

Start out by making the marscapone cheese. Put 2 cups of heavy cream in the pot and heat until just before boiling then add the lemon juice and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer it should be around 190, but if you don’t have one, just keep it just before the boiling point. After 5 minutes it should have thickened slightly (mine was just barely noticeable). Let it cool to room-temperature then pour into the colander lined with cheesecloth and put it in the fridge to cool and strain for about 8 hours. When I made it, the mixture thickened to the perfect consistency in the fridge, but barely any whey (liquid) drained out. Transfer the finished marscapone to an airtight container and use within the week.

Mix the dried food-grade rose buds/petals with the sugar in a blender. When you are ready for an other-worldly treat, thinly slice an apple and plate it with a heaping spoon of marscapone and some rose sugar. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Watermelon Basil Cooler

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With all the summer heat, sometimes you just want something cool and refreshing. Sometimes you want that to be something other than water. This drink is inspired by one served at Bison & Bourbon in Brooklyn. I didn’t get it exactly like theirs, but this tastes pretty good too! If you are having a summer get together, it will definitely impress your family!

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon
  • A few basil leaves
  • Seltzer
  • Crushed ice
  • (optional) Honey, date sugar/syrup, or sugar to taste

Supplies:

  • Cheese cloth
  • Blender/food processor/nurtri-bullet*

Directions:
Scoop pieces of fresh watermelon and a few leaves of fresh basil in to your food processor and process until smooth. Depending on how powerful your machine is this may take a few minutes. Strain the juice using the cheese cloth into a container with a good lid and add one to two leaves of crushed fresh basil. Let sit for at least 1 hour. When you are ready to serve, fill a glass halfway with crushed ice. Then add seltzer to the halfway point. Fill to the top with the watermelon mixture and garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy!

*I recommend the nutri-bullet if you have one. The powerful blade will help you get the most juice out of your watermelon!