No Peel Potato Latkes for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah falls really early this year, beginning Sunday, December 2nd (which is tomorrow!) and the holiday season starts with a bang. You know what that means… chocolate and latkes!  So, I want to share my easy no-peel latke recipe which, besides skipping the tedious and time consuming job of peeling potatoes, serves two purposes. The skin has much of the nutrition and leaving it on helps make the latkes extra crispy and tasty.  Warm latkes topped with applesauce and sour cream, are a family favorite. The only problem is, that no matter how many I make, they disappear! Feel free to try my No Peel Applesauce recipe as a great topper. Click HERE for the recipe

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Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Once a year, latkes (and even doughnuts) which are fried in oil are the reigning treats.  So what is the significance of the oil?  Hanukkah, (Hanukah, Chanukkah or Chanukah depending on the transliteration) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday in which candles are lit for eight nights to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which had been desecrated and a statue of Zeus built in it’s place back when Greek Gods were in favor (2nd century BCE). During the dedication a cask of oil which should have only been enough to burn the temple menorah for one night miraculously burned for eight, thus the eight days of celebration today incorporating candles, menorahs and oil.

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Dreidel is a popular game played during Hanukkah.  Tradition has it that the reason the dreidel game is played is to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed at the time by the Ancient Greeks. The Jews would gather to study, posting a lookout to alert the group to the presence of soldiers. If soldiers were spotted, the Jews would hide their scrolls and start to spin tops, so it would look like they were gambling instead of studying Torah. My family loves playing dreidel for chocolate coins, and I have been collecting dreidels for over 20 years.  Every year I hunt for a new one to add to our collection. It’s getting harder to find something unique but I always find one.  Here is the new addition.

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The other ubiquitous Hanukkah treat is the chocolate coins given as gifts or used as collateral in dreidel. Gold are milk chocolate and silver are dark, so pick your favorite!

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Latkes are easy to make but it does take a toll on your kitchen as the splattering oil makes a bit of a mess – but they are worth it!  There are many kinds of latkes, made with grated, shredded or mashed potatoes but my family prefers them extra crispy made with long thin strips of potato that allows the oil to  seep in through the middle, crisping them the whole way through.  Topped with applesauce and sour cream, they are hard to beat.

TIPS:  This recipe calls for potato only latkes but it’s fun to add other veggies or even fruit.  I often add shredded apple strips which makes them salty sweet.  You can also try grated or shredded carrots or any other root vegetable.  Get creative!

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NO-PEEL POTATO LATKES
4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

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  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning.  Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.

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  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. It will not look like batter.

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  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.

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  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.

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  • Drain on paper towels.

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  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven covered loosely with aluminum foil.  Latkes can be made ahead and reheated in single layers in a 350 degree oven.

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  • Serve plain or with applesauce and sour cream.

 

Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning. Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs.
  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.
  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

 

 

 

Latkes, Applesauce and Jelly Doughnuts…

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Hanukkah begins tomorrow night. Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Hanukkah features foods fried in oil in remembrance of the oil that miraculously burned for 8 days back in the day. The two most popular delicacies would be potato latkes and jelly doughnuts, also known as sufganiyot.  I also added a recipe for a really easy no-peel applesauce, since no latke is complete without (in my opinion).  Of course, a nice 6 braid challah is always a good idea too.  Click through for recipes and original posts.

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Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes are the poster child for any Hanukkah celebration.  These are deliciously salty and crispy.  Top them with sour cream and applesauce for ultimate pleasure. You creative cooks can shred in apples or other root vegetables in place of some of the potatoes.  For gluten free, substitute any non-wheat flour.  Warning:  Make more than you think you need…

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Easy No-Peel Applesauce

If you have an abundance of apples or just like to make things from scratch, here is an easy recipe for apple sauce.  If you have made apple sauce before, you know that the most time consuming part is peeling the apples.  Well this recipe breaks all the rules – no peeling!  No kidding…

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Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts)

Dough fried in oil, filled with jelly and sprinkled with powdered sugar – need I say more?  Just do it.

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World’s Best Challah

This is the real deal.  It’s a six braid challah that is always a crowd pleaser.  It also makes the best french toast the next morning if you are lucky enough to have any left over…

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Wishing you the happiest of holidays! May the best dreidel win… -J

Meatless Monday – Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach & Morel Mushrooms

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50 Shades of…. Spring.  Israeli Couscous, sometimes called pearl couscous (especially in the U.S.) or even Maftoul (aka Palestinian couscous), is the perfect backdrop for this lovely dish featuring spring’s finest;  asparagus, baby spinach, morel mushrooms and sweet peas topped with lemon zest and fresh herbs.  This is another easy and delicious dinner you can get on the table in about 20 minutes.  It’s so pretty it doesn’t look like a nutritional powerhouse but it happens to be loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  All of the vegetables are low in fat and calories but high in food value, and all four are surprising sources of protein.  Morels are also a great source of Iron and Vitamin D. For another boost of nutrients use whole wheat couscous.

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So what is couscous anyway?  I’ve been wanting to make this dish for a while and I even tried to get away with making it during Passover with the claim that Israeli couscous should be kosher for Passover, until I was advised by my son, Eric, that couscous is actually a pasta product made with wheat.  I never gave it much thought but I suppose I always thought it was it’s own grain, like quinoa or bulgur.  Whoops!  Pearled couscous is larger than traditional couscous and round and smooth like a small pearl. It has a wonderful chewy consistency and makes a delicious and attractive base that showcases whatever you toss it with.  If you are unable to find pearled couscous, orzo, which is a rice shaped pasta product, would be a good substitute.  This spring dish is mostly shades of green (perhaps not quite 50) except for the splash of color given by the lemon zest.  Other good and coorful vegetable choices would be strips of sauteed red bell pepper or carrots.
TIPS: If you want to make this more filling, add a sprinkle of feta cheese or drained and rinsed garbanzo beans.
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ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH ASPARAGUS, SPINACH AND MOREL MUSHROOMS
8 oz couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
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  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole. Chop parsely and chop or slice garlic into slivers.

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  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

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  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes. Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus and reduce a few minutes.

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  • Add peas and the morels.  Simmer 4- 5 minutes. Asparagus should be cooked but still bright green and slightly al dente.

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  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.

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  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.

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  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.  Sprinkle with feta if desired.

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach and Morel Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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8 oz Couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes
  • Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus, add peas and the morels back in.  Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.
  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.
  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.

Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

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OMG!  I see why sufganiyot is all the rage in Israel during Hanukkah! Fried dough still warm from the pan, filled with yummy jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar, is pretty hard to beat. I tend to stay away from fried foods, however, on Hanukkah when it’s traditional to eat foods fried in oil, I make an exception. I recently posted a recipe for yummy Potato Latkes, which are a classic Hanukkah treat, in case you prefer savory over sweet.   I made sufganiyot quite a few years ago, following a recipe I got from Temple Emanu-El when Eric and I were taking a Mommy and Me Tot Shabbat class. We had a lot of fun making doughnuts and I remember it being a fun kid activity (the jelly and powdered sugar part anyway).  That was quite a while ago, since Eric is now turning 26!  I know the recipe is around here somewhere and I will probably find it when I’m no longer looking for it, such is the way of misplaced objects which seem to turn up right in front of your nose.  I’m fully expecting to stumble upon this recipe within the next couple of days.

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Since I couldn’t find my recipe, I turned to “The Mile End Cookbook – Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen” given to me by my friend, Karin, for my birthday.  It’s a great cookbook filled with recipes for all kinds of dishes I have heard of (mostly from my Mother in Law) but never knew what they were, like Kasha Varnishkes and Kreplach.  By the way, for those left wondering, they are a noodle/grain dish and meat dumplings, respectively.  “The Mile End Cookbook” offers an easy recipe for Jelly Doughnuts, called Sufganiyot in Hebrew.  These doughnuts are light and delicious but not too sweet, although that is partly determined by the type and quantity of the jelly that is used.  I used a Santa Rosa Plum jam that I made last year from plums from my garden, which is a blend of sweet and tart that offsets the sugar nicely.  A strawberry or grape jelly will yield a sweeter result.

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TIPS: I used a bread maker set on the dough setting to make the dough but I have provided directions for both ways below.  This recipe makes 2 dozen or more doughnuts.  I made half and refrigerated the other half but it never rose quite well enough. I am not an expert baker though, so perhaps there are tips on saving dough that I don’t know.  Unless you are making for a large crowd, I would recommend halving the recipe.

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SUFGANIYOT

4 Tbsn instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground nutmeg
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup jelly
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch coarse salt

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING HAND METHOD:

  • Add the first 6 ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt and stir (or mix with your hands) until the dough comes together (it will still be wet and sticky).  On a well-floured surface, knead and shape the dough into a thick disk, transfer it to a bowl that’s greased with oil and let it rest in a warm, draft free area for 1 hour.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING BREAD MAKER:

  •  Add the water(warmer than lukewarm but not hot), butter and eggs to the bread maker.  Then add salt, flour, sugar and yeast in that order.  Turn the bread maker to dough setting (which is usually about 20 minutes or so).  Let dough rise another half hour but watch to make sure it doesn’t hit the lid.

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FOR DOUGHNUTS:

  • On a well-floured surface, flatten the dough and roll it out into a 1/4 inch thick disk (Like a really thick pizza dough).

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  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.

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  • Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter or juice glass, cut out as many circles of dough as you can.

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  • Transfer circles to cookie sheet, leaving room for expansion. Collect the dough trimmings and form them into another ball, roll it out again and cut more circles.  Repeat until dough is used.

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  • Let the dough circles rest in a warm, draft free area for 1/2 hour.

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  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a high sided skillet over medium high heat until very hot but not smoking (365 to 375 degrees).  Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until they’re golden brown on one side.

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  • Flip them over to fry the other side. (2 or 3 minutes total)

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  • Transfer to papertowels to drain.

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  • Put jelly in a pastry or Ziploc bag with a small hole cut from one corner.  When cool enough to handle, insert a small knife (I used a chopstick) into the side of each doughnut and more it around to make room in the center for jelly.

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  • Insert the tip of the bag in the opening and pipe in as much jelly as possible. If you have a cake decorating tip you can insert that in the hole before adding the jelly to the bag for easier piping.

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  • Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

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  • Dust the doughnuts generously with powdered sugar and a pinch of coarse salt.

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Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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4 Tbsn instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground nutmeg
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup jelly
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch coarse salt

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING HAND METHOD:

  • Add the first 6 ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt and stir (or mix with your hands) until the dough comes together (it will still be wet and sticky).  On a well-floured surface, knead and shape the dough into a thick disk, transfer it to a bowl that’s greased with oil and let it rest in a warm, draft free area for 1 hour.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING BREAD MAKER:

  •  Add the water(warmer than lukewarm but not hot), butter and eggs to the bread maker.  Then add salt, flour, sugar and yeast in that order.  Turn the bread maker to dough setting (which is usually about 20 minutes or so).  Let dough rise another half hour but watch to make sure it doesn’t hit the lid.

FOR DOUGHNUTS:

  • On a well-floured surface, flatten the dough and roll it out into a 1/4 inch thick disk (Like a really thick pizza dough).
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.
  • Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter or juice glass, cut out as many circles of dough as you can.
  • Transfer circles to cookie sheet, leaving room for expansion. Collect the dough trimmings and form them into another ball, roll it out again and cut more circles.  Repeat until dough is used.
  • Let the dough circles rest in a warm, draft free area for 1/2 hour.
  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a high sided skillet over medium high heat until very hot but not smoking (365 to 375 degrees).  Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until they’re golden brown on one side.
  • Flip them over to fry the other side. (2 or 3 minutes total)
  • Transfer to papertowels to drain.
  • Put jelly in a pastry or Ziploc bag with a small hole cut from one corner.  When cool enough to handle, insert a small knife (I used a chopstick) into the side of each doughnut and more it around to make room in the center for jelly.
  • Insert the tip of the bag in the opening and pipe in as much jelly as possible. If you have a cake decorating tip you can insert that in the hole before adding the jelly to the bag for easier piping.
  • Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
  • Dust the doughnuts generously with powdered sugar and a pinch of coarse salt.

 

Happy Hanukkah! Potato Latkes

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Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!  You know what that means… It’s Hanukkah!  Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Once a year, latkes (and even doughnuts) which are fried in oil are the reigning treats.  Latkes, crispy and salty potato pancakes topped with applesauce and sour cream, are a family favorite. The only problem is, that no matter how many I make, they disappear! So what is the significance of the oil?  Hanukkah, (Hanukah, Chanukkah or Chanukah depending on the transliteration) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday in which candles are lit for eight nights to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which had been desecrated and a statue of Zeus built in it’s place back when Greek Gods were in favor (2nd century BCE). During the dedication a cask of oil which should have only been enough to burn the temple menorah for one night miraculously burned for eight, thus the eight days of celebration today incorporating candles, menorahs and oil.

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Dreidel is a popular game played during Hanukkah.  Tradition has it that the reason the dreidel game is played is to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed at the time by the Ancient Greeks. The Jews would gather to study, posting a lookout to alert the group to the presence of soldiers. If soldiers were spotted, the Jews would hide their scrolls and start to spin tops, so it would look like they were gambling instead of studying Torah. My family loves playing dreidel, and I have been collecting dreidels for over 20 years.  Every year I hunt for a new dreidel to add to our collection. It’s getting harder to find something unique but I always find one.  Here is this year’s new addition.

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The other ubiquitous Hanukkah treat is the chocolate coins given as gifts or used as collateral in dreidel. Gold are milk chocolate and silver are dark, so pick your favorite!

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Latkes are easy to make but it does take a toll on your kitchen as the splattering oil makes a bit of a mess – but they are worth it!  There are many kinds of latkes, made with grated, shredded or mashed potatoes but my family prefers them extra crispy made with long thin strips of potato that allows the oil to  seep in through the middle, crisping them the whole way through.  Topped with applesauce and sour cream, they are hard to beat.

TIPS: I like to keep the skins on the potatoes for two reasons:  the skin has much of the nutrition and it helps make the latkes extra crispy.  I would recommend scrubbing the skins and then drying them with a towel to remove any remaining residue.  Of course, you can always peel them if you want but it’s not necessary.

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LATKES
4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

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  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning.

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  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. It will not look like batter.

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  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.

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  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.

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  • Drain on paper towels.

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  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven covered loosely with aluminum foil.  Latkes can be made ahead and reheated in single layers in a 350 degree oven.

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  • Serve plain or with applesauce and sour cream.

 

Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Latkes1

4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs.
  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.
  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

 

 

 

 

World’s Best Six Braid Challah

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This is the real deal! It’s been carefully smuggled onto airplanes in backpacks and suitcases, as a prized possession, leaving little room for clothing or personal belongings.  It has graced many a Break Fast and dinner table as guest of honor.  It has been slathered with butter and devoured by many teenagers who learned to show up in my kitchen on Fridays.  In my house it’s called MaryBeth’s Challah because I got the recipe from my friend, Marybeth.  My next door neighbors call it Joyce’s Challah because… well you see the pattern here.

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I initially resisted making or buying challah on Fridays because it’s not usually made with whole grains, and I was trying to limit the amount of processed white flour that my kids consumed.  I mean something has to offset the truckloads of pizza that kids and teenagers eat.   However, tradition won out and once I got the coveted recipe from Marybeth, I started making challah almost every Friday. It helps that MaryBeth’s recipe is for a breadmaker which takes much of the work and most of the risk out of making bread.  At first using a breakmaker seemed like cheating, like it wouldn’t be ‘real’ challah.  But if Marybeth, who is President of her temple, can use a breadmaker it must be kosher.  I have very fond memories of fresh bread hot from the oven in my Mom’s kitchen. She even made challah once in a while, even though she called it egg bread not challah.  Heavenly!  Sometimes creating or honoring a tradition just has to be more important than being the food police.  So even though my challah is made with white flour (good quality from King Arthur, but still white) it is also made with love, that very important ingredient that feeds, not only the belly but also the soul.  I knew I was on the right track when my youngest son, Jackson, walked in the door one afternoon and said, “Mmmm, it smells like Friday!”

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In addition to making a gorgeous bread, some people say there is a reason we use six strands to braid the challah for Shabbat.  The six strands represent the six days of the week that we work and the challah represents the day of rest.  Braiding a six strand challah is easier than it looks.  I have illustrated step by step instructions below but if you get confused, or just like to watch how to videos, here you go:   How to Braid a Six Strand Challah  You can make one large challah, like I have done here.  It is quite impressive in size and shape and, Warning!, hits both ends of my oven.  If your oven (or pan) is not large enough, you can divide the dough in half and make two smaller but equally beautiful challahs.

The times listed are suggestions and not rigid guidelines.  You do not have to wait around the house while the dough is rising.  If you are out doing errands, don’t stress about the timing.  The dough will still be ready when you get home (within reason).  On the flip side, if your dough has risen to the top of the breadmaker but the clock says you still have 20 minutes left to rise, just take it out and start rolling.  It’s ready.  Above all, enjoy the process, especially the braiding.  It’s fun and the end result is quite rewarding.

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TIPS: All ingredients must be at room temperature, including the yeast or it won’t activate properly.  If you have forgotten to take the eggs out of the refrigerator, put them in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.  Cold yeast can be premeasured into a small dish and left to warm up for about 10 minutes. In measuring flour, never scoop the flour out of the container as it can be more condensed and your measurements can be off.  Instead, put your measuring cup in the bottom of a medium sized bowl and pour the flour into the cup.  Using the flat edge of a knife, remove extra flour.  After measuring, pour excess flour back into the container.

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MORE TIPS: Make sure you have your breadmaker pushed far enough back on the counter as they can move around during the mixing process.  My breadmaker has a death wish and has actually flung itself off the counter twice and somehow, is still going strong.  Maybe it’s part cat too.  Other words of wisdom would include pinching (or securing) the two ends of the challah well before cooking.  If not done properly you can end up with a male challah.  Just saying…
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  • Put ingredients in breadmaker in the order listed.  Make a shallow well after adding the sugar and put the yeast it it.  Process on the “Dough Only” cycle.  In my machine this is an hour and a half process but sometimes I let it continue to rise another 30 minutes.

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  • Remove the dough from the machine.  If it seems slightly sticky, lightly flour your working surface.

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  • Divide the challah dough into 6 equal pieces, easiest done by cutting first in half and then each half into thirds.  It’s okay if they aren’t exact.

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  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.

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  • Line up the ropes and pinch them together at the top and fold the pinch under.

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  • Braid from the right.  Take the rope on the far right and go over two ropes and under one and then over two.

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  • Repeat this process, always working from the right, pulling on the ropes a little if need be, until they get too short to braid.

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  • Tuck ends under and give them a pinch underneath to get them to stay.

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  • Reshape the top if necessary and check both ends to make sure they are secure.

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  • Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.

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  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat remaining egg and brush it over the top of the challah.  Reserve egg wash.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  It’s better to overbake than underbake.  Check at the 15 or 20 minute mark to see if any white cracks have formed near the folds from expansion.  IF so brush on a light layer of egg wash and continue baking.

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You Made It2

If you make this or any other Goodmotherdiet recipe, please send me a photo either by posting a message in comments or send a message to  the Goodmotherdiet Facebook Page and I will post your photo and comments to my new You Made It! Page.  Love my readers! Check out what they’ve made so far. Click the link or the tab at the top of the page.

MaryBeth's Challah

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Challah23

3 eggs (2 lightly beaten, 1 saved for the egg wash before baking)
1 cup warm water (warm to the wrist, about 100 degrees)
1/2 cup oil (my preference is Grapeseed but another good vegetable oil will work fine)
2 tsp salt
5 cups white flour (preferably bread flour but all purpose is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsn yeast

  • Put ingredients in breadmaker in the order listed.  Make a shallow well after adding the sugar and put the yeast it it.  Process on the “Dough Only” cycle.  In my machine this is an hour and a half process but sometimes I let it continue to rise another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the machine.  If it seems slightly sticky, lightly flour your working surface.
  • Divide the challah dough into 6 equal pieces, easiest done by cutting first in half and then each half into thirds.  It’s okay if they aren’t exact.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.
  • Line up the ropes and pinch them together at the top and fold the pinch under.
  • Braid from the right.  Take the rope on the far right and go over two ropes and under one and then over two.
  • Repeat this process, always working from the right, pulling on the ropes a little if need be, until they get too short to braid.
  • Tuck ends under and give them a pinch underneath to get them to stay.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat remaining egg and brush it over the top of the challah.  Reserve egg wash.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.
  • Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  It’s better to overbake than underbake.  Check at the 15 or 20 minute mark to see if any white cracks have formed near the folds from expansion.  If so brush on a bit of egg wash and continue baking.
  • Enjoy!

 

 

 

Apple Honey Challah

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Apple Honey Challah21

Happy 5775!  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is next week! What is Rosh Hashanah?  Rosh Hashanah, literally“Head of the Year“, is observed on the first day of the Jewish year which is based on the Hebrew Calendar rather than the Gregorian or Western Calendar (which is the calendar we use every day). Unlike the Western New Year which is a big celebration, Rosh Hashanah is more a time for reflection and introspection, forgiveness and hope.   As is true with all Jewish holidays, there is a great emphasis on food.

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During Rosh Hashanah, a round challah is usually served, symbolizing the circle of life and the cyclical nature of the year – the completion of the old year and the beginning of the new year. Apples dipped in honey are also traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana, symbolizing wishes for a sweet new year. First you dip the challah in the honey and then the apple.  It’s a delicious little slice of heaven! I also love the challah slathered in butter AND dripping with honey.  Delish!

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I have been making a braided challah for many years and have only tried making a round challah with apples and honey once, with less than stellar success.  The apples were too wet and the dough turned into a sticky mess.  Undaunted, I decided to try again, because who can resist putting all three yummy Rosh Hashanah foods together into one delicious dish?  I decided to attempt the braiding instructions by food personality and blogger Tori Avey who not only provides numbered braiding instructions but step by step instructions for making dough from scratch.   I opted to use my handy bread machine to make the dough and then followed the braiding instructions.   I adapted my recipe for a bread maker, so check out Tori Avey for  info on making the dough by hand. The result was quite wonderful! The apples and cinnamon add a touch of yummy sweetness inside.  I used Pink Lady Apples from my garden but you can use pretty much any variety you like.  Granny Smith and Pippin are particularly good for cooking.   The braiding looks intimidating but is actually quite easy.

Apple Honey Challah16

TIP: I was concerned that the apples would cause the braiding to fall apart – again, so I separated my dough into four sections and flattened them into long rectangles.  Then I filled one section at a time (to avoid the lemon water bath which prevents the apples from browning but also leaves the apples wet and hard to dry).  I cut about a half an apple into small pieces and spread them onto the dough rectangle, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and pinched it closed to form a ‘rope’.  Then I repeated with the other three.  The braiding process is not that complicated once you get started.  I loved Tori’s numbered strands but got lost going into the third round so figured out an easy method to follow. I made one large challah but you can also make two smaller loaves by dividing the dough into 8 pieces.

Next week I will feature the challah I make for Fridays (and for Break Fast) which is a gorgeous six braid challah – so don’t forget to check back…

L’ Shana Tovah!

 

Apple Honey Challah

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Ingredients: All at room temperature
3 eggs (2 lightly beaten , one saved for the egg wash)
1 cup warm water (warm to wrist, about 100 degrees)
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oil (I prefer grapeseed, but any good lighter oil works well)
2 tsp salt
5 cups white flour (bread flour preferably but all purpose is fine)
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsn yeast
Apple Honey Challah19

  • Put all ingredients in bread machine in the order listed.  It’s very important that all ingredients are at room temperature (except the water) or the yeast will not activate. Set the bread machine to the dough cycle which should take about an hour and a half.  I usually let it sit another half hour.  If you don’t have a bread machine, click on Tori Avey for great instructions on making handmade dough.

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  • Lightly flour your work surface to prevent sticking. Remove dough from bread machine and cut into four equal pieces if making one large challah or eight pieces if making two. If you are making two, keep half the dough in a bowl covered with a towel while you prepare the first one.

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  • Flatten the four pieces into rectangular pieces, making sure they don’t get too thin or the apples will fall out.

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  • Peel, core and cut one half apple into a fine dice and spread onto the first dough rectangle.  Sprinkle with a bit of sugar and cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired)

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  •  Pinch the rectangle closed, enclosing the apples, and make into a rope.  You might have to stretch it a bit.  Make sure the ends are closed.  Repeat with other three rectangles.

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  • Arrange the four strands into a criss cross pattern, shown above (tighter is better than loose) You can follow the directions below or for printable numbered illustrations from Shiksa in the Kitchen click HERE

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  • Cross the top left strand over the one to it’s right.

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  • Going clockwise, repeat with the three other sides.  It’s less complicated than it looks.

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  •  Now going counterclockwise, cross the remaining straight pieces over the strands you just crossed.

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  • Keep going around the circle, stretching a bit if necessary, until you’re left with short ends.

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  • Tuck the shorts ends under and secure them with a pinch (underneath). Cover with a clean, dry towel and let raise 20 minutes or so.

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  • Place challah on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Beat the remaining egg and add a dash of salt.  Brush the eggwash over the braided challah.  You can top with sesame or poppy seeds, or even add honey to your wash.  Reserve eggwash.

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  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.  My oven is hot so I bake at 325.  After 20 minutes remove from the oven and brush with a light layer of the eggwash, especially in the grooves where the dough expands (and sometimes cracks).

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  • Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks. You can test the bread for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of the loaf—if it makes a hollow sound, and it’s golden brown all the way across, it’s done. Because of the apples in this challah, it may take a bit longer to bake than your regular challah recipe. Its better to overcook than undercook.  If it’s brown but not yet fully cooked, tent with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning.  To serve, slice or pull apart.

Photo Credits:

Apples and Honey – http://www.epicurious.com/images/articlesguides/holidays/highholydays/apples-honey_612.jpg

Apple + Honey – http://schechternetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/e-newsletters/2011-09-27_files/163.jpg

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Root Vegetable Slaw with Burrata

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Roots don’t get the respect that they deserve.  Don’t be fooled by the outward appearance of  most root vegetables with their tough, hairy rough exteriors which only serve to protect the lovely jewels inside.  Their gorgeous interior colors indicate their rich nutrient value with each root containing it’s own set of health benefits. This raw root salad is the epitome of Eat the Rainbow with it’s vibrant red, pink, orange, yellow and green. Roots are packed with a high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and Iron. Roots, which grow under ground, absorb vitamins and minerals from the soil and are the energy store house for the plants. Their complex carbohydrates and fiber makes us feel full and satiated, hopefully satisfying our cravings for junk food. Summer is a great time to eat root vegetables fresh when you can eat them raw and get the most health benefits.
Jerusalem

This Root Vegetable Slaw is from the “Jerusalem” cookbook which I received as a very thoughtful birthday gift from a good friend.  “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” was written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, chefs who grew up on opposite sides of Jerusalem; Mr. Tamimi in the Arab East and Mr. Ottolenghi in the Jewish West, although they didn’t know each other. They left Israel more than 20 years ago and met in London where they became close friends and business partners.  This is more than just a cookbook.  It’s a gorgeous collection of photos, recipes, history and stories about Jerusalem.  The authors describe it as “a self-indulgent, nostalgic trip into our pasts.”

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I loved this salad!  At first I wasn’t sure about the combination of raw vegetables and soft cheese but the combination of crispy fresh with creamy soft is really nice.  The recipe calls for Labneh, which is really common in the Mediterranean.  It’s not as easy to find here so I substituted Burrata which is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It’s softer and creamier than fresh mozzarella.  Burrata means “buttered” in Italian which seems very appropriate.  “Jerusalem” includes a recipe to make your own Labneh if you are so inclined, or maybe you will find it in a market near you.

Root Vegetable Slaw with Burrata

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Root Vegetable Slaw1

3 medium beets
2 medium carrots
1/2 celery root
1 medium kohlrabi (optional)
4 Tbsn lemon juice
4 Tbsn olive oil
3 Tbsn sherry vinegar (or mirin)
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup mint, ribboned or chopped
1/2 Tbsn lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 cup burrata or labneh (optional)

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  • Peel vegetables and slice then thinly into matchsticks (julienne).

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  • You can use a mandolin or food processor.  To do it by hand, stack a few slices at a time on top of one another and cut them into thin strips.

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  • For carrots, slice off ends and cut into halves or thirds, depending on the size of the carrots.  Mine were small so I used four.

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  • Try to cut all vegetables into the same sized matchsticks.

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  • Place all strips in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Set aside while you make the dressing.

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  • Wash and dry a lemon.  Zest the lemon first, then halve and squeeze the juice.

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  • Place the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a gentle simmer and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Remove from heat.

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  • Drain the vegetable strips and transfer to a paper towel to dry well.  Dry the bowl and replace the vegetables.  Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables, mix well and let cool.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

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  • Slice mint into ribbons and chop herbs, if you haven’t already done so.

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When ready to serve, add the herbs, lemon zest and 1 tsp black pepper to the salad.  Toss well, taste, and add more salt if needed.

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  • Serve with burrata or labneh on the side, if desired.

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Jerusalem Chicken with Fava & Spring Vegetable Saute

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Can there really be a cookbook co-written by an Israeli and a Palestinian?  Yes, and it is a work of art!   Yotam Ottelenghi, from the Jewish West, and Sami Tamimi, from the Arab East, have written a gloriously beautiful book, “Jerusalem”, which is a cookbook with wonderful recipes but also gorgeous photos and personal commentary that portray life in Jerusalem where they both grew up, albeit in different parts of the city.  They didn’t know each other in Jerusalem but met later in London and became good friends and then business partners.  They now own many successful restaurants together. They claim that this book was a walk down memory lane for them, “a nostalgic trip into their pasts”.  More about “Jerusalem”

Jerusalem

My friend, Stephanie, brought this book back from Israel for my birthday last year and I thought it appropriate to try one of it’s dishes for Passover.  I made their Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon which was delicious.  The combination of lemon, artichoke,  halved shallots, garlic and sliced lemon combined with saffron and fresh herbs was really flavorful.  I couldn’t find Jerusalem artichoke so substituted canned artichoke quarters packed in water.  I used local, free range chicken, herbs from my garden and lemons from my tree in an effort to make a smaller footprint (and frankly, to support the small local growers because if it’s a profitable to let chickens run around in the sunshine, maybe more will follow suit).

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So now I know why fava beans are so expensive.  I had planted fava beans as a cover crop to introduce nitrogen into the soil for my summer tomatoes, not realizing that you are supposed to pull or plow under cover crops when they are flowering and not let them fruit or they pull all the nitrogen back out of the soil. ( More Info on Cover Crops Thank you Sean for all the cover crop info! )  I had already messed up on the cover crop thing since I had quite a few fava bean pods growing on my plants already, so I decided to let them go a bit longer and enjoy a mini harvest.  It seemed a shame to throw out such beautiful, healthy plants so I procrastinated a bit more.  Then we had dinner at a great local restaurant, Farmshop, which offered a roasted halibut on a bed of spring vegetables with fava leaves.  What?  You can eat the leaves?  I had to order the dish just to see for myself.  The dish was delicious but more importantly I now know what to do with my favas.  Finally I can feel good about pulling out my plants before their time.  So why are fava beans so expensive?  First, a big pile of fava beans in their pods shrinks into a small bowl of edible beans.  Secondly, they require a four step process before they are edible.  First they need to be shelled, then parboiled and put straight into an ice bath and finally their skins have to be removed.  Luckily I had two capable helpers, Veronica and Eric who made quick work of the favas.  How to shell fava beans.

I paired the chicken with a spring vegetable medley which includes fava beans, fava leaves, zucchini, asparagus and baby bella mushrooms all diced to be the same size as your average fava bean.  I was really wishing my Dad was in the kitchen to help out as well.  He is the world’s best sous chef.  He wields the paring knife like a master, cutting everything beautifully into  the perfect same size so everything cooks at the same rate.  Luckily, I learned from the best!.

Jerusalem Chicken aka Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Roasted Chicken8 Roasted Chicken7

  • 1 lbs Artichokes, peeled and cut lengthwise so they are 2/3 thick
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 12 shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 12 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tspn saffron threads
  • 3.5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of cold water
  • 1.5 tbsp of crushed peppercorns
  • 1/4 fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

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  • Combine artichoke, water and half of the lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, and then lower to simmer for 10-20 minutes. If you are using canned or marinated artichokes, this is not necessary.

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  • Mix all ingredients (except the lemon juice and half of the tarragon) in a bowl. Cover and let marinade overnight, or at least 2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 475degrees. Arrange chicken with the skin up in the center of the pan. Place the remaining ingredients around them.

  • Roast for 30 minutes uncovered.

  • Roast for additional 15 minutes, covered with foil or top, or until full cooked.

  • Add the reserve tarragon and lemon juice.

Stir, taste and add salt if necessary.

Roasted Chicken2

Fava & Spring Vegetable Saute

2 – 3 dozen fava bean pods
large bunch fava leaves (optional)
1/2  bunch asparagus
1 zucchini
6 large mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp each  of fresh thyme and oregano
Roasted Chicken4 Roasted Chicken3
 
  • Dice all vegetables (except for fava beans and leaves) and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a heavy pan and sauté garlic and diced vegetables. 

 

  • Add herbs, fava beans and leaves and stir until leaves are wilted.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Passover Redux – 2014

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I’m heading out of town for the weekend to go to a family wedding, so won’t be in my kitchen or in my garden, but ran across a wonderful blog, “Nosh On It”, with some truly inspired Passover menu ideas. This article includes some traditional dishes like Matzo Brie and Matzo Ball Soup and also some very creative new treats. Highlights (for me) are Dark Chocolate-Toffee Matzo Bark, Matzo Lasagna and Coconut Rocky-Road Matzo. I’m pretty sure that  Deep Fried Matzo Balls with Wasabi Cream Sauce has my son, Eric’s name written all over it as an appetizer this year.  It sounds pretty good to me too!   Since Passover is next week, I thought I would help you WOW your guests, or at least get you through eight days of matzo.  Happy Passover!
Click on the photo or the following link to get the recipes and see the original post from Noshon.It:  Lotsa Matzo: 13 Creative Matzo Recipes for Passover

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