Roasted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Dill

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Whether you are about to mourn the end of summer or celebrate the Jewish New Year, it's the right time to take advantage of local tomatoes, still at their glorious peak-of-the-season and soon to disappear until next year.

Here's a scrumptious way. Sure, you can make this dish anytime, but it's so much better with end-of-summer tomatoes.

This easy, easy recipe takes almost no time to prepare, is quick to cook and can be set up to the point of actual cooking several hours ahead.

Perfect for last minute dinners. Busy week dinners. Rosh Hashanah fish course.

 

Roasted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Dill

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds halibut
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2-3 scallions or 3-4 tablespoons chopped red onion

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the fish in a baking dish. Brush the olive oil over the surface of the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the tomatoes on top of the fish. Scatter the dill and scallions on top. Roast the fish for 15-18 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish, or until just cooked through.

Makes 4 servings

S'mores for all Seasons

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

Summer may be almost over and with it the picnics and going to the beach.

And s'mores over the campfire.

But I had this eureka moment the other day when I thought about incorporating the s'mores ingredients into a chocolate chip cookie. 

I made several versions, some stacked, some stuffed, some with cut up marshmallows, some with shaved chocolate.

But they were all too thick, too soft, too just not right.

This one is exactly what I had hoped: crispy, chocolate-y, marshmallow-y and just the right amount of graham cracker crumbs to give it extra sweetness and a gorgeous golden glow.

 

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini-marshmallows 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Beat the butter, coconut oil, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Add the eggs and beat the mixture until well blended. Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder and salt and blend them in thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and place each scoop on the cookie sheet, leaving room for the cookies to spread. Tuck the marshmallows beneath the dough as much as possible. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining dough.

 

Makes about 48 cookies

Banana Bread with Blueberries

When I saw purple prune plums for sale last week I realized that summer is almost over. This plum variety is usually a September fruit but everything seems to be growing earlier or quicker this year or maybe it's just that I'm growing older and life is flying by faster.

Fortunately the peaches are still lush and sweet, the tomatoes juicy, so there's that.

But fall is coming and alas, the blueberries are past prime. I bought a couple of pint boxes and found that their up-to-now summer flavor has faded.

I decided the leftovers were best used as a secondary player, not the star. And at that they were perfect.

 

Banana Bread with Blueberries

  • 2-½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a (10-inch) 8-cup bundt pan. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and lemon peel together in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and beat for one minute or until thoroughly blended. Add the bananas and yogurt and beat them in. Add the flour mixture and beat until the batter is well blended. Fold in the blueberries. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 12-16

Salmon Melt with Tomatoes, Squash and Chives

Salmon Melt

Salmon Melt

Everyone I know who has a garden says that it's overflowing with tomatoes and zucchini. Eggplants and basil. Lettuce and bell peppers.

What should they do with all this produce?

A question for the ages, because this happens to everyone who has a garden, every year.

Except for me. I got exactly one tomato on one plant, one tomato on another and the third one has three teeny green ones and a few flowers. Most of my basil was devoured by local animals and the few that were left have just a few leaves. 

I didn't even bother to plant anything else because I have failed summer after summer.

EXCEPT for the chives! I have a lovely, flourishing pot of chives!

So I snipped some of those lovely, fragrant stalks and added them to a Salmon Melt Sandwich. Leftover salmon of course, plus tomatoes and summer squash from someone else's garden.

I am certain that the chives make all the difference in how wonderful this tastes.

 

Salmon Melts with TOMATOES, SQUASH and Chives

  • 2 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
  • 8-12 thin slices yellow squash or zucchini
  • 4-8 slices tomato
  • 5-6 ounces cooked salmon, broken into chunks
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the butter equally on one side of each of the toast slices. Place the slices on a cookie sheet. Place 2-3 slices of squash and 1-2 slices of tomato on top. Place equal amounts of the salmon on top of the tomato. Scatter with the chives. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake the sandwiches for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

 

Makes 4 pieces

Tips on Salt Free, Plus Blueberry Muffins, salt free and vanilla-y

Salt Free Blueberry Muffins

Salt Free Blueberry Muffins

Everyone pokes fun at the "old folks" who talk about their "conditions" and "ailments" and their pills.

But it's okay because sometimes it makes serious stuff easier to handle if you can joke about it, as long as you actually take the serious stuff seriously.

So recently, when we invited our cousins to stay over for the weekend and I asked if there were any new dietary restrictions, they said "no salt." We joked about our conditions and ailments and pills. And understood that we weren't talking about our grandparents or even our parents, but about ourselves. 

We had become them.

When did that happen?

Don't laugh youngsters. If you're lucky, this will happen to you too. It's one of the costs of growing older.

On the other hand, from a food point of view? Not lucky. No salt is a real UGH.

Salt is the salt of the earth. It's what makes so many foods taste so good.

Food without salt is, well, not as tasty. Let's just admit it and move on.

And, moving on, if you have to cook without salt, you have to and that's that. So you have to come up with ways to make the food taste good without it.

Among the salt-free dishes I prepared over the weekend were blueberry muffins. 

What did I do to make sure they didn't taste like a box of Cheerios? (I don't mean the Cheerios, I mean the box.)

I added extra vanilla to my standard recipe. A good brand of pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla.

I could also have added 2 teaspoons of grated fresh orange or lemon peel but I knew this particular company would not have enjoyed that. 

I could have included 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts -- both of these nuts pack plenty of flavor, but I don't keep those nuts in my house because of allergies.

The tip here is to add powerful, flavorful ingredients that perk up the dish so you won't miss the salt.

We didn't.

Blueberry Muffins

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon peel, optional
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 8 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Place the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract and orange peel (if used) in a second bowl and whisk to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined. Fold in the blueberries and optional nuts. Fill muffin tins evenly with the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins and serve warm or let cool to room temperature.

Makes 8

Panzanella -- the Ultimate Summer Salad for a Crowd?

Panzanella Salad 

Panzanella Salad 

There's a crowd coming to my house for lunch. 

Not really. It's a "virtual" lunch, connecting my fellow kosher bloggers who live throughout the world. We are celebrating three years of friendship. Everyone will post a recipe so we can feast together, if only in our imaginations.

So, what to feed a kosher crowd?

It isn't as straightforward as you might think. The rules of kashruth are not simple. In fact, books have been written on the subject. Most people, even those who aren't Jewish and/or kosher, know the basics: no pig, no shellfish, no meat with dairy; only kosher meat, etc. etc.

But there's more to it and not everyone who is kosher follows the same rules. For example, some people only eat dairy products produced under the supervision of a Jewish person who will make sure the animals are kosher. People who are orthodox won't eat fish together with meat, whereas people who are conservative will. 

And more, too much to go into here.

That, plus all the other, nonkosher dietary stuff -- lots of folks these days are lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant. Some people don't eat meat. There are fish allergies! Nut allergies!

I want to avoid all that.

Oh myohmyohmy. 

Here's what I decided to make:

It's August and it's hot out. No one want s a heavy meal. The best food on the market now?

Tomatoes.

So my lunch is a salad built around summer's gorgeous produce. Plus a sprinkling of August's other culinary gem: fresh basil from my garden.

It's still a filling lunch, because I've added lots of vegetables to the usual bread-and-tomato salad. For the gluten-free folk there are plenty of good, crusty breads to substitute for the Tuscan-style or ciabatta called or in my recipe.

This dish has no meat, no fish, no poultry, no cheese, no dairy. Can be gluten-free. Strictly kosher. Delicious too.

Happy 3rd everyone!

 

Panzanella

 

  • 1 pound crusty, 2-day old Tuscan style bread or ciabatta
  • cold water
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 sweet red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 yellow or green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 7-8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bread into large dice and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the bread for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and place the pieces in a large bowl. Let cool. Add the red onion, tomatoes, red pepper, yellow pepper, zucchini, peas, capers, basil and garlic and toss the ingredients. Mix the smaller quantities of olive oil and red wine vinegar and pour over the salad. Sprinkle with freshly ground back pepper to taste. Toss the salad and add more olive oil and/or vinegar as needed to taste. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Makes 6 servings

More delicious Kosher Connection recipes right here

BEEF RIBS WITH SPICY RIB RUB

I don't have a lot of go-to meals. I like to mix things up, change recipes, add a new ingredient or change a seasoning or try a different sauce and so on.

But when I'm in a hurry or too busy to cook I make something quick and simple, usually something I've done dozens of times. One of my favorite go-to quickie recipes is: beef ribs. I preheat the grill or broiler, sprinkle the ribs with salt, pepper and garlic and that's that. Dinner (add a vegetable or salad or maybe some cut up avocado/tomato) is done.

Before last week I had never made beef ribs with a rub. I know you can buy all sorts of rubs and marinades but I wanted to try my hand at it so I made my own rub mixture. Instead of my usual -- grill the meat for 10-12 minutes -- I let them cook ever so slowly, tightly wrapped in foil, for 3 hours, until they were as soft as .... fill this in for yourself. Then I quickly grilled them until the surfaces were crispy.

Oh my, dinner was awesome. I will make this again.

And by the way, I poured the pan juices into a jar, put it in the refrigerator for a few days, then scooped the fat that rose to the top and used the juices to baste a chicken. So with this rub we got double the flavor, fun and good food.

 

Broiled/Grilled Beef Ribs with Spicy Rib Rub

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 pounds beef ribs

Combine the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, chipotle and cayenne in a bowl and whisk to blend the seasonings evenly. Add the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture all over the ribs. Refrigerate the ribs for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs on a cookie sheet. Bake for 3 hours. Remove the package from the oven. Remove the ribs from the package (there will be pan fluids*).

To broil: preheat the oven broiler. Place the ribs on a cookie sheet. Broil for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy.

To grill: preheat an outdoor grill. Place ribs directly on the grids and grill for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy.

Makes 4 servings

*Pour the pan fluids into a jar, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the fat rises to the top. Remove and discard the fat. Use the fluids as a basting sauce for beef or chicken.

Mamaliga with Creamy Mushroom Ragout

Today is one of those days when I don't feel like eating meat. I don't even feel like removing the grill cover to cook up an easy burger or hot dog. I don't want fish or chicken either. It's just one of those days.

But I do want something substantial, filling and savory. For this kind of mood, nothing fills the bill better than something with mushrooms. 

Mushroom Pot Pie is one of our family favorites. But today I decided on a creamy mushroom ragout served over cooked cornmeal -- also known as polenta, but which my grandma called mamaliga (and my father called cornmeal mush).

Bonus: it can be reheated either in the microwave or preheated 350 degree oven.

Dinner's done. Maybe some sliced tomatoes on the side.

 

Mamaliga with Mushrooms in Sour Cream Sauce

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • salt, approximately one teaspoon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup dairy sour cream or plain, Greek style yogurt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Pour the 4 cups of water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Gradually add the cornmeal and about one teaspoon salt, while also stirring constantly. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Cover the pan and set it aside. Heat the olive oil and the remaining one tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and all the juices have evaporated from the pan. Stir in the sour cream, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Spoon the mamaliga into serving bowls, spoon the mushrooms on top, sprinkle with chives and serve.

 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

 

Breast of Veal with Mushroom "Dust"

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Breast of Veal is either "peasant food" or "holiday festive food" depending on who you ask.

I don't care about such things. If I like how it tastes I want to eat it.

Like Breast of Veal. The meat is sweet and soft. The bones are gnaw-worthy.

I usually braise or stew this portion. But I decided to roast one, inspired by a recipe I saw in Bon Appetit Magazine for Grilled Porcini Rubbed Rack of Veal

Okay, theirs was rack, mine breast. Theirs was grilled, mine roasted. The ingredients are different, except for the dried mushrooms (they called for mushroom powder, I crushed my own dried mushrooms) and crushed red pepper.

But I do have to credit them for the inspiration. Dried mushrooms and veal -- perfecto!

 

Breast of Veal with Mushroom Dust

  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 medium clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 3-4 pound breast of veal
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crush the mushrooms using a rolling pin (or use a food processor) until they are ground to "dust." Place the mushroom dust in a bowl. Add the olive oil, chives, red pepper, garlic and lemon juice. Stir to blend the ingredients. Place the veal breast in a roasting pan. Brush the mushroom mixture over the top surface of the meat. Sprinkle with salt. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast for one hour. Remove the cover and raise the oven heat to 425 degrees. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the surface is crispy.

Makes 4 servings

Honey Poached Plums

When my kids come for a few days I buy a ton of fruit. And then usually have to shop again during the visit to get more, because there's none left. 

When my kids don't come I buy much less fruit but never run out of it. In fact, the fruit I buy frequently sits there in the fruit bowl, washed and waiting. Then gets too soft for actually eating out of hand and winds up in a banana bread or cold, summer fruit soup or some other recipe that works well when fruit is past its prime.

Like these plums. They looked so good when I bought them. Alas, they were not as compelling this week as the chocolate covered cherries or the chocolate covered almonds or the NoMoo Cookies I bought.

However -- when I poached them in a little honey, added a few cardamom pods and some orange peel, well, then the plums seemed more like real dessert and therefore more welcome. Especially when drizzled with boiled down poaching juices and accompanied by yogurt (plain, mixed with some of those boiled down juices) and chopped, roasted almonds.

So the fruit did get eaten after all. No leftovers.

 

Honey Poached Plums with Yogurt and Roasted Almonds

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 slightly crushed cardamom pods (or use 2" cinnamon stick)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 6 large plums
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Place the honey, water, cardamom pods and orange peel in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pit if possible (if not it will be easy to remove after poaching). Place the plum halves in the poaching liquid. Mix in the vanilla extract. Let rest until the liquid cools, at least 2 hours. Remove the plums and set them aside. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil over high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes or until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Let cool. Place 2 plum halves per person on dessert plates. Mix a small amount of the boiled down liquid into the yogurt and spoon some of the yogurt next to the plum halves. Drizzle the plums with the remaining poaching liquid. Scatter the nuts on top of the plums and yogurt.

Makes 6 servings