Salads for Every Meal

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Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore, there is a salad here for you. Every Shabbat I make at least four salads and dips, several of which we will enjoy throughout the week. It’s a delicious habit that I adopted after spending time in Israel where salads are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Aside from being delicious, they add so much color to any meal. And don’t we eat with all of our senses?

There are fresh salads, roasted vegetable salads and salads with a profusion of herbs and grains. Some of the salads are made with beans which add protein and heartiness. Almost any veg and many fruits, legumes and grains can be made into cold or warm salads. And when I want to make a light meal of salads I simply add some feta cheese or a piquant provolone and delicious bread, like the flaky flatbread or focaccia. The more I make these flatbreads the better I get at it. My last batch were nice and poufy and round! I simply refrigerate leftover breads and warm them in the toaster. They also freeze well. Yummmmmmmmmm!

Over the years, I have posted a number of salads and will link to some of them below. But here are three new ones (for me) that hopefully you will enjoy as well. They are guaranteed to brighten up just about any meal. The inspiration for this post comes from Sonya’s Prep. She is lovely young Orthodox Jewish vlogger that I have recently begun following. Her energy, charm and creativity make watching her a delight. And if anyone is looking to be more organized, she is someone to watch.

The three new salads are: Roasted Eggplant Peppers and Red Onion Salad; Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad; and Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

When you are feeding a crowd these salads can be doubled or tripled. And most people will enjoy these salads so much that you can go easy on the meat, if serving. Better for us and better for the planet.

I will give suggested measurements, but please don’t get too bogged down with being exact. When preparing these, I almost never truly measure, especially when it comes to adding fresh herbs. Taste as you go along, especially with the salt and dried spices. You can always add more but it is difficult to impossible to remove them once added.

For those interested in other delicious salad ideas here are just some of the ones available through my blog:

Twice-Cooked Eggplant Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Green Fattoush Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Farro Salad

Lentils du Puy and Potato Salad with Tarragon

Spiced Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

Red Cabbage, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad

Armenian Lentil Salad

Moroccan Beet Salad (Barba)

Sunshine Kale Salad

Roasted Tomato and Olive Pearl Couscous Salad

Lentil Salad with Raisins, Tomatoes and Tarragon

Get your Freekeh on – with this lemony, herbed salad

Apple, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Horta Salata: Fancy Salad

Beet and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Easy Feta and Roasted Tomato Salad

Herbed Farro Salad

Orange and Radish Salad

Recipes

Roasted Eggplant Peppers and Red Onion Salad

1 medium eggplant – about 1.25 pounds

2 smallish bell peppers in different colors

1 medium red onion

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

About 1/4 cup EVOO

About 1/4 cup of white wine or apple cider vinegar

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced including dark green stems

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Chop the eggplant, onions and peppers into a large dice of approximately equal size. Place on a baking sheet and toss together with the EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the veggies across the baking sheet in a single layer. (If you want to use foil for easier clean-up, go ahead. But it does end up in a landfill….)

Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, turning the pan once. They should be golden and tender but not mushy. Ovens vary so check after 25 minutes or it could go as along as 35.

When cool enough to handle, transfer everything to a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad

Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

About 6 ounces pre-packaged shredded carrots OR about 4 cups carrots that are trimmed and julienned

About 1 cup of shredded red cabbage

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced into pieces about the size of the carrot shreds

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

1.5 teaspoons granulated or Demerara sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper or Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1 to 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

Juice from 1 lemon

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1.5 Tablespoons dried dill

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Directions

Place everything in bowl large enough to comfortably hold the ingredients. Mix everything well, preferably with your hands. You want to massage the carrots to soften them a bit. Taste to adjust seasonings. Yup, that’s it!

Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked hard winter wheatberries (You could use farro or barley if wheatberry isn’t available; however, they will not have that unique chewy nuttiness that a properly cooked wheatberry has.)

1/2 of a small red onion, peeled and chopped

4 to 5 thinly sliced red radishes

2 Persian cucumbers cut in to quarters and diced

1/2 cup dried barberries (You could use currants instead but they won’t be as flavorful.)

2 generous cups, finely chopped fresh herbs (I used dill, cilantro and parsley, but mint would also be good)

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon or more to taste

1 teaspoon of kosher salt or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 to 3 Tablespoons flavorful EVOO

Directions

Soak the wheatberries for at least 8 hours or overnight. Bring 3 cups of water or broth with a glug of olive oil to a boil in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid. If using water or unsalted broth, add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Drained the wheatberries and add to the boiling liquid. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. This can be done a few days ahead. Just refrigerate the cooked wheatberries in their liquid.

You want the wheatberries to be cold or no warmer than room temperature. Place them, drained of any accumulated liquid, in a bowl and add all of the other ingredients. Gently but thoroughly toss well. Now enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup is the cure for the autumn drears that I need NOW! Easy comfort food in a single pot. Fall can be the most beautiful season. The trees are sporting their colorful adornment before the leaves dance off until the spring. The days can be beautifully crisp and clear, making walks in forest preserves a delight. OR, it can be grey, dreary and damp like it has been this whole week, making getting out of bed a major achievement.

These are the days that make me hunker down, burying my head in a good book with a pot of delicious soup bubbling on the stove. This easy Lasagna Soup gives me everything I need to conquer the drears. And it can be vegan or beefy and cheesy or something in between, made with ground turkey. With just a few swaps (included below) this comforting soup can make anyone happy. I mean, who doesn’t love a good lasagna – in a fraction of the time?!

I love a good lasagna and my mother made one of the best. But even with the no-boil lasagna pasta now available, it’s still a bit of a production. This soup won’t replace lasagna when I have the time and inclination to make it, but it definitely gives me a lot of that satisfaction in a much easier, quicker format.

When deciding to make this soup, I checked out a bunch of different recipes. It’s one of those things that wasn’t there a week ago and now is EVERYWHERE. Since most of the ingredients are pantry staples, it’s the kind of thing that can be made without a run to the grocery store. And thanks to the pandemic, don’t most of us have great pantries and a few things like ground beef, turkey or vegan crumbles in our freezers?

So if you are ready to rise above the autumn drears or simply just want a bowl of warming comfort, give this a try.

Recipe

Lasagna Soup

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

Lasagna Soup

1 Tablespoon of EVOO

1 large yellow onion, peeled and medium diced

2 to 4 garlic cloves (I use 4), peeled and minced

4 cups of broth (Vegan, chicken or beef)

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

24-ish ounces of marinara sauce OR 24 to 28 ounces of diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)

1.5 teaspoons each: dried oregano, basil, onion powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper or to taste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar)

13 ounces (390 g) soy veggie crumbles or vegan ground “meat” or 1 pound of ground beef or turkey

About 3 cups of roughly diced fresh mushrooms (button, baby bellas or cremini (They lend umami and great mouthfeel, especially if you are going with the vegan version.)

8 to 10 ounces of dried lasagna or Gigli pasta

About 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach (Optional but recommended) or thawed frozen spinach with extra liquid squeezed out

Lasagna Soup

Optional Garnishes

If you are not making this vegan, you can add a dollop of ricotta cheese or parmigiana before serving.

Ribbons or torn fresh basil leaves or chopped flat-leaf parsley

A few chili flakes if you want this spicier

Directions

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until just becoming golden, about 7 minutes. If the onion seems to be sticking you can add a splash of water or red wine to deglaze.

Once the onion is golden, add the garlic, tomato paste and spices and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. (If using, you could also add the chili flakes here instead of as a garnish.)

Next add the ground meat or meat substitute along with the mushrooms, if using and cook for about 5 minutes or until much of the mushroom moisture evaporates. The mushrooms add a “meatiness” of their own. My mushrooms were very fresh and actually had almost no additional moisture, so I cooked them down enough to just begin to soften.

Lasagna Soup

Add the marinara sauce or canned tomatoes, vinegar and the broth. Bring everything to a boil and then add the noodles. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the noodles are al dente. Stir in the spinach until wilted, if using. Remove from the heat, garnish and enjoy! A great crusty garlic bread or focaccia and some nice red wine wouldn’t go amiss.

NOTES:

This recipe will produce a wonderful cross between a thick soup and a saucy pasta. If you have left-overs, you likely will need to add some liquid when you go to reheat it. We are not vegan so I did serve the soup with some real cheese. However, I have been googling and there are a number of pretty simple recipes for all kinds of vegan cheeses should you wish to go that route and they are not readily available in your local stores. Some are made with cashews and others with soy milk. Some day, simply out of curiosity, I may try one or two.

Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)


Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira) is hearty and fragrant – a soul-satisfying one-dish meal. There are many versions of this soup – some with meat and others like this one, which is vegan. In some families it is traditional to serve this as the “break-the-fast” meal following Yom Kippur. But it could and should be enjoyed throughout the fall and winter. This is a make-ahead meal that only improves with a bit of age.

To show how vastly different our family traditions can be, my family’s break-the-fast meal was always bagels, lox and smoked fish. We came from New York via Russia Poland. But the truth is that I actually don’t like lox and smoked fish in the Midwest just doesn’t cut it for me. So, as I have with much of our diet during the rest of the year, I have adopted a more Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/South Asian food culture. And a heavily plant-based diet.

I came across a version of this soup on the Jewish Food Society website. It’s a wonderful site that has made it its mission to collect stories and recipes of the myriad Jewish communities across the globe. These are recipes that have been passed down through the generations, but which might have so easily been lost. Because so many of these families were forced from their homes under terrible conditions, it was easy for these unwritten treasures to have fallen by the wayside. While I have found that the recipes on the site are not always easy to follow, especially if you are a novice cook, the family histories alone make the website worth a visit.

While we Jews lived among the local communities, we also remained outside of them, keeping to our own traditions. Local cuisine was adapted to meet the laws of kashrut. Harira, Moroccan Chickpea Soup is a perfect example. Moroccan Muslims would eat harira to break the fast on Ramadan. Whereas many Jews ate it to break the fast on Yom Kippur.

The original recipe for this harira uses fine egg noodles and since I am not a vegan, I did as well. However, there is no reason why an angel hair pasta or spaghettini couldn’t be used instead. That is the only change required to make this wonderful soup vegan.

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Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

If you choose to cook your own soaked chickpeas as I have done, you need to start the process the night before. If you prefer to use canned chickpeas, you can still make a delicious and hearty soup. I happen to enjoy cooking my own beans and use the liquid from the cooking process to replace most of the water called for in the recipe. It adds an extra level of nourishment and flavor and helps to further thicken the soup. Unless you are using organic canned beans, however, I would not recommend using the liquid. You could use water, as called for, adding a vegetable bouillon cube or you could use a vegetable stock.

After I had decided to make the recipe I found from the Jewish Food Society, I came across another version from My Jewish Learning, The Nosher. So I ended up doing what I usually do and took the elements that I liked best from both and then tweaked it!

My sister-in-law is from Morocco and I asked what her family’s tradition was for breaking the fast. She told me that their tradition was to eat an egg-drop soup before the fast and cake to break the fast, followed by a full meal. So whatever tradition your family follows – or if you are starting a tradition of your own, I definitely encourage you to fit this wonderful and incredibly soul-satisfying soup in there somehow.

For a version of harira with lamb: Harira – Moroccan Chickpea and Lamb Soup

Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

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Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained OR one 15 oz. can of drained chickpeas

4 Tablespoons olive or a neutral oil like Canola

3 medium carrots (or 2 large), peeled and cut into small dice or rounds

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon Harissa paste, or to taste (I used 2 Tablespoons of a milder Harissa and added a few crushed red chili flakes)

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup brown lentils OR 1/2 cup red lentils and 1/2 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (If making this in the winter, use canned tomatoes, about 28 oz. can)

3 cups fine egg noodles OR angel hair pasta broken into thirds (About 4 to 5 oz. depending on the kind of noodle that you use)

8 cups of vegetable stock, OR water with a couple of bouillon cubes OR the cooking liquid from the chickpeas plus additional water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

A large handful of cilantro and/or parsley, stems and leaves roughly chopped

Directions

If you are cooking your own soaked chickpeas, place the drained chickpeas in a pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and 4.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim off any white foam. Cover and cook for 50 minutes at a simmer.

In a large pot, add 4 Tablespoons olive or Canola oil. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook for about 6 minutes on medium high heat or until softened. I like to add 1 teaspoon of salt here. I will probably add more later since it is a big pot of soup. However, if you are using broth or bouillon and depending on your Harissa, you might not need much more salt. You can always add it but you cannot easily remove it!

Once the veggies are softened, add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.

Now add the Harissa, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper and stir through to coat everything well. Cook for 1 minute and then add the tomato paste to the bottom of the pot. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

If you are using your own chickpeas you can add them to the pot. I find that when I cook chickpeas myself, they retain their shape and bite even when cooked longer. If you are using canned chickpeas, you will add them in later. Your lentils are also added now. Give everything a good stir to coat with the spices and tomato paste.

Next add the tomatoes, broth, water or liquid from the chickpeas, the chopped stems of the parsley and/or cilantro. Don’t worry if there are some leaves in there as well. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. This can be done ahead.

When you are ready to eat, return the heat to a boil and add the noodles and canned chickpeas, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and check your seasonings. The soup should be very thick, almost stew like. If you want it thinner then add more liquid. Add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon. Garnish with the chopped parsley/cilantro leaves.

Enjoy!



Cider-Braised Duck Legs with Leeks, Prunes and Apple

A Wet Wintery Sunday

This past week in Chicago we went from a polar vortex to a spring thaw. In the span of seven days, there was snow, ice, rain, wind and slush. So the idea of spending Sunday snuggled at home with my husband while something delicious bubbled away on the stove seemed like the perfect antidote. While the duck slowly cooked, I happily needlepointed while my husband tinkered.

I came across this recipe in our local newspaper a few weeks ago and knew that it was something that I wanted to try. All I needed were the duck legs and leeks. Little did I know that I would not only get this wonderful meal, but I was able to render almost a quart of lovely golden duck fat to enjoy throughout the coming months. More on that later.

Chasing Away Those Blues

With a little bit of planning, this delicious recipe will yield four generous servings along with the aforementioned duck fat and cracklings. I served it with polenta, a green salad a lovely fruity red wine. Chase those winter blues away with this rich and flavorful duck stew. The duck falls off the bone and is juicy without being fatty. The apples and prunes are the perfect complement to the dark duck meat while the Calvados and cider cut through any overt sweetness of the fruit.

While the stew simmers, you can use that time to get those nasty little chores done around the house. Or better yet, take a long soak in a warm tub or curl up with a good book and a better companion.

Recipe from Chicago Tribune, Food and Dining January 16, 2019 and tweaked by me

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large duck legs, about 10-12 ounces each
  • 1.66 cups apple cider, preferably fresh
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 7-8 ounces of pitted prunes
  • 2 flavorful apples, cored and sliced with the skin left on (I used Honeycrisp. Fuji or Braeburn would also be good.)
  • 1/4 cup good quality apple brandy such as Calvados (If you don’t plan on actually drinking the brandy, you don’t have to buy the most expensive Calvados on the market. Any decent bottle will do and closed tightly, it will last for some time. It’s great to use with apple tarts, by the way.) 
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. Trim the excess fat and skin from the duck legs. [Do NOT throw this away. At the end of the recipe are directions how to render the fat and make cracklings.]
  2. Prick the skin on the legs all over with a fork and season the legs generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven or covered braising pan over medium heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the duck legs in a single layer, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is a lovely brown and the duck has given off excess fat. Turn over the legs and cook the underside until brown. The second side will cook much faster than the skin side so don’t walk away and leave it. Remove the browned legs to a platter and loosely cover with foil. Allow the fat to cool down slightly and then CAREFULLY pour the fat through a fine sieve into a clean glass jar. This is just the beginning of the duck fat that you will render.
  4. Deglaze the pan, using 2/3 cup of the cider, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the leeks, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are tender – about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the herbs and spices. Add the chicken broth and remaining 1 cup of cider. Stir through and then add back the duck legs. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 2 hours, untouched, until the duck legs are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife. [The braise can be made ahead up to this point. It can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days, if desired. I didn’t do this, but it’s good to know that you can.]
  6. When you are ready to serve the duck, remove the legs from the pan and skim as much fat as you can from the braising liquid. [I actually didn’t have that much at this point, because of judicious trimming and pricking and browning the duck initially.] Add in the prunes and sliced apples and stir through. Add back the duck legs. Bring the mixture to a lively simmer and cover the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes and then add in the apple brandy. Cook for 5 minutes more. Serve over polenta or a sturdy noodle like a spaetzle so that you don’t lose a drop of that wonderful braising liquid.

Directions

How to Render Duck Fat and Be Happy All Year

Duck fat is possibly the eighth wonder of the world. Okay, I exaggerate. But it is a slow-burning fat that makes a humble pot of beans or potatoes or simple scrambled eggs into something truly special. Stored in the fridge or freezer it lasts almost indefinitely and a little goes a long way. It’s easy to prepare and while it takes a bit of time, it requires little effort and supervision. Here’s how:

Remember all of those trimmings of excess skin and fat? Coarsely chop them and place them in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup of tap water. Cook low and slow, allowing the trimmings to render the fat (liquefy) while the water evaporates. Any bits of skin will turn toasty, crunchy brown and these cracklings can be used in salads or however you like. Don’t be impatient. This takes about an hour or more. Once all of the fat has liquefied and the skin has browned, carefully remove the cracklings to a paper towel using a slotted spoon. Allow the duck fat to cool slightly. Then carefully pour it through the fine-meshed sieve into the bottle with the other reserved fat. Cover the jar. Once the jar cools, it should be refrigerated.

Moussaka

Moussaka3 (2)

One of the highlights of our trip to Greece a few years ago was certainly the food. The smells from cooking Greek classics at home always conjures up memories of that fantastic trip, and so while a bit tedious, we enjoy making this meal for “events.” This time we were cooking for my parents in sunny LA. When I first took it out of the oven there were protestations of “oh my! So much food – it will be enough for leftovers for weeks!” But after seconds… and thirds… there really wasn’t much left. On the other hand, I like to think that when people get thirds, whatever the dish is is *really* good. We found this recipe after using a different one for moussaka, but when we saw this claim to be the “Best ever moussaka” we decided to put it to the test. And sure enough, this really was the best ever that we’ve had, especially when paired with the wine used to make it!

Ingredients

2 medium globe eggplants (or 3 small eggplants)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pounds ground lamb
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fines herbes
¼ cup minced parsley
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
¾ cup red wine
½ cup plain bread crumbs
¾ pound feta cheese

Sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk, beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish: chopped parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut tops off eggplants and cut lengthwise in ¼-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and place on paper towels for 30 minutes to absorb the moisture. Rinse, wipe eggplant dry, and place in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, cook the lamb, onions, and garlic, crumbling the lamb with a fork and stirring frequently until browned.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly in a strainer. Place meat mixture on paper towels and pat dry to further remove fat.
  4. Return the meat to the cleaned pan and add remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, fines herbes, parsley, and tomato paste. Stir well. Add wine and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Grease the bottom of a 9 X 13 ovenproof baking dish and dust with all but 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Reserve remaining bread crumbs for sauce.Sauce
  6. To make sauce, in a medium sauté pan over low-medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour. Stir in milk, nutmeg, and salt and stir until thickened. In a separate mixing bowl, spoon a little of the hot sauce into the egg yolk and add the 3 tablespoons of reserved bread crumbs. Then, blend the egg-bread crumb mixture into the sauce. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Layer dish first with eggplant, then meat, and then with a generous portion of feta cheese. Repeat layers and top with sauce.
  8. Lower oven heat to 350°F. Top the dish with Parmesan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until top of cheese is golden brown. Cut into square servings. Garnish with chopped parsley. The Wine Lover’s Cookbook by Sid Goldstein  

     

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Somewhat recently a new fishmonger opened shop near our apartment, and when we popped by most recently, they had delicious looking, shelled lobster.  I also happened to have a hankering for fra diavolo and so we decided to get the lobster and the lobster stock they had on hand.

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There are quite a few recipes out there for fra diavolo, and most were either for a generic seafood medley (which we felt wouldn’t highlight flavors from the lobster) or just in photos looked totally different from what we’ve always seen when we (rarely) ordered lobster fra diavolo in restaurants.  It was also surprising how many recipes for specifically “lobster” fra diavolo called for Cognac or some variation of brandy.  When we asked our friendly local fishmonger about this, he mentioned that apparently lobster and brandy are considered a classic taste pairing.  He also noted that he had tried lobster fra diavolo both with and without the brandy and didn’t seem to know the difference.

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The recipe that we finally decided appeared to be the closest to the fra diavolos of memory was this one from Saveur.  Given the cost of the lobster and the stock, we figured we would go all in and made the recipe with some Armagnac, and we would argue that you really could taste it in the sauce.  It turned out fantastic, and if you can moderate the amount of chili pepper flakes for the “spicy” levels.

Ingredients
12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb pre-cooked lobster meat (if you can find it, otherwise the Saveur recipe has some very detailed instructions on how to cook your own lobster)
12 cup flour
2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
12 cup cognac or brandy
1 cup seafood or fish stock (I used lobster stock)
1 (28-oz.) box whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. fettuccine pasta, cooked
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Directions
  1. Heat oil in an 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chile flakes, oregano, and garlic to pot; cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste; cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add cognac; cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add stock, tomatoes, and bay leaf; boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, partially covered, until thickened, about 30 minutes.
  6. Add lobster to pot; cook until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta; toss with sauce.
  8. Transfer to a large serving platter; sprinkle with parsley.

Adapted from Saveur Lobster Fra Diavolo.

North African Fish Stew

While I love a good, simply roasted salmon, I’ve often wondered what else is out there in the realm of fish dishes and in particular, fancy fish dishes.  I came across this in one of my go-to cookbooks and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was easy to make and tasted very light.

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I’ve never really been one for eating fish steeped in any sauce.  After all, as Matt has frequently told me, “if it’s good fish it doesn’t need anything else!”  However, just poached or searing or baking fish gets kind of old after a while and it’s nice to mix it up with some variety.  Also, this dish somehow managed to keep the fish flavor very intact (where the fish that was chosen – halibut – actually mattered) while melding nicely with all the sauce that it was cooked in.  (It’s kind of hard to see the fish in the photo, probably because we kept the original sauce recipe the same, but with half the fish – we like more sauce!)

In general slow cooking anything with red peppers and tomatoes with a dash of coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper seems to add a nice kick.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves
2 red bell peppers, sliced (or just buy a jar of roasted peppers and slice)
2 fresh red chili peppers, seeded
red chili pepper flakes (1 tsp or to taste depending on your spice appetite)
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsley chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, also coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sweet paprika
salt to taste
2 cups water
3 6-oz pieces of grouper, halibut or other white-fleshed saltwater fish
1 lemon, cut in wedges

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pan.  Add the garlic, bell peppers and fresh chiles and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the chili pepper flakes, cilantro, parsley, paprika, and salt and sauté for another couple minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.  Taste and adjust the seasoning (once you ad the fish it will be hard to stir the sauce and play with the flavors.)
  3. Carefully add the fish chunks (in one layer), cover, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Turn the fish and cook for 5 more minutes.  Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges over couscous.

Variation – that I use:

  • If using boneless fillets (which is what I do) cook the sauce without the fish.  When the sauce is ready, add the fillets and cook in the sauce for about 10 minutes.

From Janna Gur, Jewish Soul Food

NOTE FROM LISA: I saw this post and REALLY, REALLY wanted to make this. Unfortunately, unlike Frances, we don’t live on a coast – unless you count the coast of Lake Michigan. Halibut and Sea Bass are currently $30/pound! at my local stores and I simply cannot justify that cost. So while I was disappointed, I was undeterred. For $10 I bought almost 2 pounds of boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs. If I were really cheap, I could have skipped the organic and gotten the chicken thighs for about $3 on sale. I cooked them according to the original recipe and the only addition I made was to add 5 Persian dried limes that I pierced along with the chicken thighs. The result may not be strictly authentic, but it was delicious. I served it over couscous and I have no regrets!

Yemenite Chicken Soup

Yemenite chicken soup

Chicken soup, no matter the cuisine, is food for the soul. It can cure a cold or soothe you after a bad break-up (is there a good break-up?) I have made traditional Jewish chicken soup and Italian wedding soup and wonton soup and I love them all, but this time I wanted something with a bit more zing. I love well-seasoned foods but not overly spicy. This Yemenite soup has the ability to be very spicy, but you can also control the heat. The fresh herbs and spices smell so wonderful and while many of the individual pieces are familiar, when put together they make a dish that is surprising and incredibly satisfying. I have a good spice store near my house, but if you don’t, everything is available online. It is the spices that make this dish, so don’t skimp or substitute. And if you are into Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine as I am, you will use the spices in many other dishes. Don’t get scared off by the long list of ingredients. The dish itself is not complicated if you follow the steps. It is easiest if made over two days. There are no special techniques to learn or stressful timing. The result is incredibly delicious and totally satisfying. This is especially wonderful served with challah.  Frances made this challah last night and Matthew sent me a a photo. One day, I may even share my recipe which I developed over about 5 years. For now, only Frances and I have it. Warmed pita or na’an would also go well.

challah

Yemenite Chicken Soup adapted from Joan Nathan Yemenite Chicken Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

One 4-4.5 pound chicken left whole and with giblets removed (you can use the gizzard, heart and neck if there is one, but save the liver for another use)

2-3 onions, peeled and coursely chopped

8 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

1 large tomato, cored and almost quartered but not cut all the way through at the bottom

3 stalks celery, cut in half

2 Tablespoons Kosher salt (yes, you read that correctly. It’s a big pot of soup.)

1-2 Tablespoons hawayij (see recipe below)

4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds about 1/4 inch thick

3 medium potatoes like a red or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into a medium dice

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

z’hug or harissa to taste (I used red z’hug because I already had it, but there is also green z’hug, which is likely more what the Yemenites use. Moroccans use the red. This is the one place where I cheated!)

hilbe to taste (see recipe below) Start preparing the day before, but at least 3 hours before.

Directions

  1. Place the whole chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water by about 3 inches. Bring to a simmer and skim off the scum that rises to the top, cooking for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, tomato, celery, salt and hawayij. Simmer covered for another 45 minutes. In the meantime, you can make the hilbe.
  3. Add the carrots, cover and turn off the heat. Allow to cool.
  4. Once the pot is cool, remove the whole chicken, which should be falling apart as you lift it. Remove the skin and bones and return the chicken to the pot. For greatest ease, refrigerate overnight to allow the fat to rise to the top and solidify. You can then skim the fat and discard it. You can skim the soup without this step, but it is MUCH easier this way.
  5. Add the potatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook covered for about 15 -20 minutes. Now add the parsely, dill and cilantro and mix through. IMAG0972Cook for a few more minutes uncovered just to warm the herbs. Serve as is or over plain cooked rice and season each bowl (or let your family or guests do it) with the z’hug and hilbe.

Hawayij

IMAG0973_1

Yield: About 5 Tablespoons

2 Tablespoons black peppercorn

1 Tablespoon black caraway seed

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon of the seeds from green cardamom

2 teaspoons turmeric

pinch of saffron (optional)

Either pound the spices with a mortar and pestle or use a coffee/spice grinder. This can also be purchased online. I made mine.

Hilbe

hilbe

Yield: About 3/4 cup

Hilbe is a creamy Yemenite sauce often added to soup. Fenugreek, which is mentioned in the Bible, is a medicial herb that the Yemenite Jews most likely learned to use from the Indians. Traditionally whole fenugreek seeds were ground with water into a paste. Fenugreek powder (also called “methi” is readily available and can easily be used here.) Hilbe can also be bought online but I made mine. Because I used a red z’hug, the hilbe is pinkish. With green z’hug, it will be green.

3 Tablespoons fenugreek powder

1/2 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 generous teaspoon z’hug

  1. Soak the fenugreek powder in the water for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Add the z’hug, lemon juice and salt to the fenugreek mixture and using a wire whisk, beat until smooth. Adjust the seasonings, This should be fairly spicy since it is a condiment.

 

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Moroccan chicken plated2

This Friday, I had the family over for Shabbat. My brother and his wife are visiting so I wanted to make something extra special. My niece has taken over the challah baking for me and my nephew helped out by bringing a salad. It’s so lovely when we can all be together. Some day I hope that Matthew and Frances will be able to be here regularly for Shabbat with their children (hint hint). We also would love for our niece and nephew and their three children from Atlanta to come join us as well. I’m frankly not sure where we would put everyone, but somehow we would manage. I have one of these tables that seems to expand to feed the masses and no one has ever complained about being cozily squeezed in when the food and company are good.

Friday’s dinner included Roasted Tomato Soup, Jerusalem Salad, Moroccan Beet Salad, Roasted Eggplant Dip, Moroccan Chicken, Moroccan Carrot salad, Israeli Couscous, and my Apple Frangiapane Tart for dessert along with Glazed Apricots. There is nothing like good food shared with people you love. We were four generations sharing our love for one another and our traditions. What could be better than that?

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives adapted from Shallots New York

Moroccan chicken plated

Yield: 12-14 servings

Ingredients

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

5 chicken legs

4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut in half to make 8 pieces

10 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed

1.5 teaspoons ground dried ginger

2.5 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1.5 teaspoons ground cumin

1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste (if using Kosher chicken, do not add additional salts since the other ingredients have a great deal of salt)

EVOO

7 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

4 cinnamon sticks

1.5 cups of pitted cracked green olives and kalamata olives (or any good mix of Mediterranean green and black olives)

4 preserved lemons, quartered with pulp removed and skin sliced into thin strips (You can purchase preserved lemons from Morocco in amny places nowadays. They are not difficult to make, but you have to plan ahead since they take 2 weeks to cure.)

3 cups of good chicken stock, preferably unsalted

Juice of 2 lemons

Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. In 2 heavy gallon freezer bags, mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, cumin and turmeric, evenly divided. If not using Kosher chicken, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each bag and about 5 cracks of black pepper to each bag. Divide the chicken pieces into the bag, remove the excess air and “massage” the chicken with the spices. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 Tablespooms of EVOO and brown the chicken pieces in batches. Set the chicken aside on a platter. Don’t worry about brown bits stuck to the bottom. In the same Dutch oven, add another Tablespoon of EVOO and add the sliced onions and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Place the chicken pieces over the onions and scatter the olives over the chicken. Then scatter the strips of preserved lemon pulp over the top. Mix the chicken stock with the fresh lemon juice and pour it over everything. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the Dutch oven tightly, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 35 minutes. Moroccan chicken in pot
  4. Serve with Israeli couscous and top with minced parsley. You should serve lots of Mediterranean salads on the side.

 

Oxtail Stew

oxtail

I’ve been making oxtail stew for at least 25 years. In those days, oxtails (which do not come from an ox) were not popular in most American diets, but nowadays with the snout to tail movement in full swing, eating them is much more acceptable. Oxtails are not super meaty, but they are so rich in protein and flavor that you don’t need to eat a lot to feel a deep satisfaction. While I wouldn’t ordinarily eat meaty stews in the summertime, when the temperature drops and the wind chill rises, I start dreaming about my first batch of oxtail stew for the season. The recipe below is not the oxtail stew that I have been accustomed to making. I happened to be looking online today to see if oxtails could be a Kosher cut of meat and came across this recipe. It looked so simple and good that I decided to try it and share it with you. Perhaps later on in the winter, I will share my traditional recipe.

When buying oxtails, you will have graduated size pieces, with some larger and others very small. They all add flavor and protein richness to the dish, but you will need enough of the larger pieces for serving. Just be sure to have plenty of good bread on hand to soak up all that rich, umami-filled sauce. Serve a crisp salad and you are done! Well maybe a lovely baked apple or apple tart to finish things off. This dish is at its best when made one day ahead.

Oxtail Stew adapted from Dianne Rossen Worthington

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons EVOO

4 pounds of oxtails (there is a LOT of bone so this is not too much)

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch thick rounds

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3 cups good quality beef broth

1 cup red wine (a Zin or Cabernet or Cabernet Franc)

1(14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with its juice (I like fire roasted but any good brand is fine)

2 bay leaves, dried or fresh

1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1 cup pitted, chopped Kalamata olives

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

2-4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. In a heavy Dutch Oven 7-9 quarts) heat the EVoo over medium high heat. Season the oxtail pieces generously with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Brown the meat in batches, making sure to not crowd the pan. You are not sauteeing the meat, so in order to get a good brown, do NOT move the meat around. The meat should also be dry when it goes in the pan. Turn your kitchen fan on or your smoke detectors off! The burned brown bits forming at the bottom of the pan are not really burned and they will add lots of flavor to the stew. As you brown each batch, remove the pieces of oxtail to a platter on the side. When finished, cover lightly with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add the sliced onions and carrots and saute them until they begin to soften and the onions become translucent. Add a little salt and pepper as you do each layer. Now add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, oxtails, wine and broth. If y ou are using a 7 quart Dutch oven as I did, it will fit but be very full. Bring to a full boil, then cover the pot, turn the heat down to simmer for 1.5 hours. After that, uncover the pot, adjust your heat if necessary and cook for 1.5 hours more, uncovered. If any scum comes to the top, you can skim it offor just leave it for when you are skimming the fat later.
  4. When the oxtails are tender, add the Kalamata olives and the vinegar and cook for another minute uncovered. Turn off the heat and cover tightly. In order to skim the fat the most easily, you can refrigerate this overnight or if you are like me and the temperature permits, I just put it on my terrace overnight!
  5. When ready to serve, skim the fat which rose to the top and solidified. Then gently rehat until simmering. You can do this in a 325 degree F oven for about 30-40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or over noodles or rice and garnish with parsley.