Zucchini Muffins

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This summer I was finally able to grow tomatoes. I had lots of them and there are still more to come!

I feel as if I finally did it right because I have failed every year up to now.

It makes me confident about next year, and not just about tomatoes. I might try to grow peppers and string beans and all sorts of things.

Maybe even zucchini. Now's the time of year that several people I know are harvesting their zucchinis, and some are gigantic! I'd like to see those in my garden.

For now I have to rely on my neighbors' and friends' generosity!

Here's what I did with zucchini this week. These muffins are not too sweet so you can have them for breakfast as well as snack.

 

Zucchini Muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 1 cup raisins, optional 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. In a large bowl whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl combine the vegetable oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until well blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fold in the zucchini and optional raisins. Spoon the batter into the tins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the muffins onto the rack to cool completely.

Makes 12



 

New LaLa Lunchbox kosher content

My daughter Gillian, mother of three kids and creator of the best-selling lalalunchbox app, is expanding the content of this wildly successful tool that helps parents and children plan lunches for school, camp, field trips and so on.

It involves cute monsters and shopping lists that make it easy to get all that's needed, but mostly it encourages children to make decisions and healthy food choices. You can read more about it here.

Now there is going to be a special section geared for kosher food. Yes, many of the original items can already be kosher -- chicken leg, for example. Or made with kosher substitutions. But now there is a special section that is kosher-only. With no need to make changes or substitutions.

And I am thrilled to be curating the kosher items for the app!

Here are some of the items you can choose from when you download this app:

Traditional favorites such as: Pierogies! Blintzes! Banana bread! Hamantaschen! Potato Latkes! Matzo Ball Soup!

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But also lots of up-to-date foods that kids love, like Date Snack Balls, Roasted Carrots, Grilled ChickenHummus, and much, much more.

 

I am happy to shard my recipes with you so you can make them with your family.

Check it out today so you can be ahead of the game in time for back-to-school!

Blueberry Streusel Pie

Recently I bought a load of blueberries because they were on sale (Fairway: $1.00 per pint carton!) and I couldn't resist.

So then of course I had to use them.

Pie came to mind first. It's always pie first for me.

My mother, who was a master pie baker, never baked blueberry pie because she said the insides were either too thick and gloppy or too runny. I experimented with the fruit, sweetener and thickening agent a few times before the filling consistency was right.

Here it is: 

Blueberry Crumb Pie

Crumb crust:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, margarine, shortening, coconut oil or a mixture

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter in chunks and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal. If you use a food processor, add the ingredients to the work bowl and mix using 18-24 quick, short pulses (enough for the mixture to resemble coarse meal). Set aside.

 Filling:

  •  6 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 unbaked pie crust bottom

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Cover the top with the crumbs. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until  golden brown.

Note: you can use almost 3 “1-pint” boxes of blueberries. Although a liquid pint equals 2 cups, a dry pint of blueberries from most markets is about 2-1/2 cups.

Makes 8 servings

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Garlic, Sea Salt and Lime

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Recently, Faye Levy, noted cookbook author and food writer, wrote a piece for the Jerusalem Post about Cara Mangini, the "Vegetable Butcher." She also posted about it on Facebook. Then she asked if anyone else prepared "cauliflower steaks."

I do! Have done. Many times!

We are a family of cauliflower lovers and the "steaks" -- that is, thick slices cut from a whole head of cauliflower -- look beautiful on a plate, making them a special side dish at dinner.

I have a recipe for cauliflower steaks in my latest cookbook, The Modern Kosher Kitchen. Thanks for posting this, Liz Rueven, at kosherlikeme.com.

Note -- the steaks taste the same as any other "cut" of cauliflower.

The cutting takes some doing, and a very sharp chef's knife. Also, truth to tell, the smaller sections at the side of the cauliflower head fall away into regular florets. No worries. Cook them alongside the steaks. They're like the "burnt ends" that you get from barbecue -- no one ever complains about those, do they?

After the cutting, its' simple. A bit of oil and seasoning.

Like this recipe:

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic, Sea Salt and Lime

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the green leaves at the bottom of the cauliflower and trim most of the fibrous stem attached to the head. Slice the head into “steaks” about 3/8-inch thick. Rinse and dry the slices on paper towels. Combine the olive oil, garlic and Dijon mustard and brush this mixture on both sides of the cauliflower slices. Place the slices on the parchment. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and roast for another 10-15 minutes or until tender and crispy. Sprinkle the roasted cauliflowers steaks with lime juice. Note: for smaller pieces that fall away when you slice the head, cook along with the steaks. They may be done sooner, so look at them about 5 minutes ahead, or let them get browner, no harm done.

Makes 4 servings

Malaysian Style Fish in Coconut Curry

When it's fish on the menu I usually grill, broil or roast salmon with lots of different glazes or toppings. Either as filets or steaks. Ed likes salmon (and not much other fish), so, no complaints at dinner.

But recently we had company for dinner and even though some of my salmon recipes are suitable for a somewhat fancier meal than on any old Tuesday or such, I wanted to cook something different, something special.

So I experimented a few times to develop a good recipe for Malaysian style fish curry, because, (in my opinion anyway), Malaysian food is one of the most interesting, most intriguing and most delicious of all world cuisines.

This was the winner. I served it to our dinner guests. All plates were scraped clean.

But the recipe isn't that time consuming or elaborate, so you don't need to save it for a special occasion. Cook it anytime -- during the Nine Days before Tisha B'av, for example, when you might be more likely to be preparing fish for dinner. 

Or any Tuesday and such.

Although I served the curry with cooked rice, it would also be wonderful with rice noodles.

Malaysian Style Fish Curry

  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick, cut in half
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small chili pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 24 ounces snapper, tilapia or halibut, cut into chunks (or 24 extra large shrimp)
  • cooked rice or rice noodles

Remove and discard the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass stalk. Remove some of the thinner, softer leaves and set them aside. Chop the tender portions (the thinnest inner leaves plus the bulb at the bottom). Combine the coconut milk, set-aside lemongrass leaves, cinnamon stick and whole cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat (or use a wok or stir fry pan). Add the onion and cook for a minute, stirring often. Add the garlic, chopped lemongrass, chili pepper, ginger, turmeric and salt to taste and stir fry for another minute. Add the fish and cook, stirring gently, for 3-4 minutes or until the pieces are lightly cooked. Strain the coconut milk mixture and pour the liquid into the pan with the fish. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Serve with cooked rice or rice noodles.

Makes 4 servings

Philly Cheese Steak, the Kosher way

Philadelphia. City of Brotherly Love. So named (from the Greek words "philos" meaning love and "adelphos" meaning brother) because the city's founder, William Penn, wanted the place to be a refuge from religious persecution. 

I wonder what Penn might think of that today, what with this year's contentious election and the Democratic National Convention at hand in the city.

But, current times aside, Philadelphia has a lovely history.

Home of the Liberty Bell. And Independence Hall, where the founding fathers debated (and adopted) the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.

Once the temporary capital of the United States while the newly minted America waited for the District of Columbia to be built.

And, among the more mundane of matters, home of the Philly Cheese Steak.

Philly Cheese Steak.

I have to say, I've been to Philadelphia several times and never ate one.

But thoughts of the city and its famous hoagie (hero sandwich, sub, whatever others may call it) got me to think about trying one at home.

Kosher.

I looked at lots of recipes and saw that they called for different cuts of beef, cut into strips. I decided on skirt steak because it's so juicy and flavorful.

I also noticed that the cheese could be cheddar or American or provolone and even -- OY -- cheese whiz. 

I opted for provolone (non-dairy, soy-based from Daiya Foods) because it has such a magnificent tang to it.

Some recipes called for sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables in addition to the more usual onions and red bell pepper. I decided not to.

In the end -- magnifico!!

Does it taste the way a Philly Cheese Steak is supposed to? 

I have no clue.

All I know is that it tasted good. Very good.

And so, in honor of Philadelphia's few days in the sun again -- my recipe for Philly Cheese Steak.

 

Kosher Philly Cheese Steak

  • 8 ounces skirt steak, semi-frozen
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into narrow strips
  • 2 hoagie rolls
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices Daiya soy “provolone style cheese”

Cut the beef into thin slices against the grain. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Cut the rolls in half. Move the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan (or temporarily spoon into a plate) and place the 4 pieces of roll, cut side down in the pan. Cook for a minute or so, to lightly toast the rolls. Turn the rolls cut side up. Using equal quantities, place equal quantities of meat and vegetables on each of the two roll bottoms. Top with equal amounts of the soy cheese. Cover with the tops of the rolls. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for a minute or so or until the cheese has melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Cleveland Cuisine! Really.

Cleveland cuisine? Really?

Yes!

Cleveland is an important place.

For one thing, it's the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And that should be enough.

But there's also The Cleveland Museum of Art -- it has a large, diverse collection. And unlike so many museums of its kind, admission is FREE!!!!

Also -- Cleveland has a world-famous orchestra, a distinguished university (Case Western Reserve), an AFC football team (the Browns) and a major league baseball team (the Indians).

AND, of course, their basketball team is this year's NBA Champions! (You've surely heard of the Cavaliers!)

I'm impressed!

And now there's more. This summer Cleveland will be home to the 2016 Republican National Convention (July 18-21).

And, whatever the goings on at the convention itself, the city will get lots of extra attention in the press. There will be loads and loads of extra people in Cleveland.

So, me being me, I got to wondering about what those people might be eating during their stay. 

I don't mean the food they're going to get at the convention. I mean real, special, famous Cleveland food. 

Not every city has its own culinary specialties. Surely nothing in Stamford, CT., where I live. 

But Cleveland does! And some real goodies, at that! 

For example, because the city is home to large numbers of families whose origins trace back to central and eastern Europe, bratwurst (on a bun) and crunchy apple fritters are really popular.

The apple fritters alone are worth a visit I think.

But also this -- among the most famous of "Cleveland food" is something called the Polish Boy (basically a kielbasa sandwich with coleslaw, french fries and barbecue sauce all on a club roll).

Well, okay. Maybe.

Then I discovered that among the iconic Cleveland dishes are pierogi.

Pierogi. Do you hear my heart pounding? Can you see my grin?

Oh! How I love pierogi! Doughy dumplings stuffed with stuff. Like beef cheeks or potato and cheese (served with thick, tangy sour cream).

Pierogi. The kind of food some of us used to get at grandma's, if we were lucky.

I haven't had a pierogi for as long as I can remember. Thanks to Cleveland I was reminded of that fact.

I had to have some. But the only ones I could find in Stamford, CT. were packaged.

So I decided to make some myself. And after a couple of tries -- oh!

They are as wonderful as I remember.

Thank you, Cleveland, for inspiring this recipe. Good luck this summer.

 

Potato Cheese Pierogi

Filling:

  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about one pound), peeled, cut into chunks (about 3 cups mashed potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup farmer cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and spoon into a bowl. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the farmer cheese, sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix the ingredients until well blended. Set aside to cool before filling the dough.

Dough:

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup water, approximately
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

Extras:

  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • sour cream

To make the dough: place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dough until the mixture is crumbly. Add 1/2 cup of the water and the sour cream and mix the dough until it is smooth, soft and well blended. If the dough seems too dry, add more water. (You can do this in a food processor.) Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. Using portions of the dough, roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thick and cut out circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the circles on a board or cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel while you cut the rest of the dough. Fill the dough using about one tablespoon of the filling for each circle.

To fill the pierogis: place the filling in the center of the dough circle. Fold the circle in half, pinching the edges to seal in the filling.

To cook the pierogis: bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the filled pierogis, 6-8 at a time, and boil for about 3-8 minutes depending on whether they are at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen (or until they float to the surface). Remove the pierogis with a slotted spoon and set aside; repeat with remaining pierogis.

Extras: To serve the pierogis: serve boiled (as above), with sour cream (can also serve with caramelized onions – make more when making filling above). OR, heat 1 tablespoon butter plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add some of the pierogi (do not crowd the pan) and cook for 3-4 minutes on the flat side, or until golden brown on the bottom, then turn the pierogis over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until crusty and golden brown. Repeat using more butter/vegetable oil with the remaining pierogis. Serve with sour cream (and sautéed onion if desired). 

Makes about 4 dozen

An Egg Roll Like No Other

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A few weeks ago I attended a dinner at Six Thirteen, a local kosher restaurant in Stamford, CT. It was a fabulous multi-course offering served as a "pop up" with the fabulous Dini Schuman Klein of "Dini Delivers" doing the cooking.

Dini is a personal chef, a caterer, food demonstrator, blogger.

Yes, she does it all. She's an energetic young woman whose enthusiasm as well as her food ---- delivers!

The entire meal was wonderful. But two courses stand out as memorable. One was a chicken dish that my friend Liz Arronson Rueven will be blogging about.

The other was an egg roll like you've never had egg roll.

With avocado and cumin. Herb marinated mahi-mahi. Pineapple Salsa. Jalapeno peppers.

That kind of egg roll.

Oh my.

I could have eaten 4 of them, but I was trying to be polite and besides I was at a table with several other people, including Liz and her husband as well as Rabbi Yehuda Kantor and Dina Kantor, so I didn't want to appear gluttonous.

But I did ask Dini if she would give me the recipe.

And so she did.

And so, here it is. It's an ambitious recipe, to be sure. But so, so delicious!

Herb Marinated Mahi Mahi-Avocado Eggroll Served with Papaya Salsa, Chili Lime Sace, and Jalapeño Chimichurri

Marinade:

  • 1 large bunch parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 medium fillets mahi mahi (24 oz), thinly sliced in 1-inch thick strips

Papaya Salsa:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 papaya peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste

Chili Lime Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 8 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

Jalapeño Chimichurri:

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To assemble Eggroll:

  • 10 eggroll wrappers
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • pickled onions (optional)
  • canola oil for frying

Directions:

Combine all marinade ingredients in saucepan and bring to simmer. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add fish and let marinate for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile prepare the sauces:

Papaya Salsa: Saute the onion and garlic in oil in a small pot. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes until thickened and all the flavors have mixed together. Use an immersion blender to create a slightly smoother salsa. Let chill until ready to serve.

Chili Lime Sauce: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Jalapeño Chimichurri: Using a food processor, puree all ingredients until well blended. Transfer to a bowl and cover. 

To assemble the eggrolls:

Lay out an egg roll skin with a corner pointed toward you. Place 1/4 cup fish (straining off as much marinade as possible), 2 slices of avocado in the center, and a tablespoon of pickled onions (if using). Sprinkle the avocado with a touch of salt. Fold the corner closest to you over the filling. Fold left and right corners toward the center and continue to roll. Wet the top corner with a drop of water to help seal the egg roll. Continue rolling egg rolls until you've made 10. Place in the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on a rack or paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately with all three sauces. 

Makes 10

Salmon Spread for Easy Summer Entertaining

My mother was one of those women who always had too much food in the house. Just in case.

Just in case company came. You can't just let them sit there and not eat.

Just in case you needed a little something extra for supper. Or as a snack over the weekend.

Just in case you had some leftovers and you didn't want to throw them out.

If you ever took a look in my freezer, my fridge and my kitchen cabinets you would know, like mother, like daughter.

I have a ton of food things.

Just in case.

This past weekend when my cousins came for a sleepover, I discussed this with my cousin Leslie, whose mother was my Mom's sister. She was bemoaning her overstuffed freezer, refrig, pantry. With all the "just-in-case" stuff. 

We are who we are, products of our upbringing, including our need for just-in-case food.

But I did point out to her that with the leftover salmon I made the other day, the dill, lemons, celery and cream cheese I always have on hand, I made this spread. Which is a perfectly easy-to-make, quick-as-a-wink to make hors d'oeuvre to be served with chips or crudites. And I served it over the weekend.

Easy. 

You can do it too. And if you don't have leftover salmon, you can used canned salmon, tuna or sardines. It's also delicious with leftover cooked bluefish.

 

Salmon Spread

  • 8 ounces cooked salmon, crumbled
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Place the salmon, scallions, celery, cream cheese, lemon juice, dill and Dijon mustard in the workbowl of a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. 

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Potato Salad with Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette

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Some people say potato salad comes from German cuisine. Others tell you it is French. Or from some other European country.

But I think potato salad is actually thoroughly American.

Potatoes are a "new world" plant. Back in the 16th century, before Europeans ever knew there was even another continent, Spanish explorers sailed to what would later become the "Americas." They were looking for gold and plenty in the mythical kingdom of El Dorado. 

Surprise!

What they found were plenty of potatoes, and that was their real treasure.

They brought potatoes back to Europe, where it met with mixed reviews, especially because so many people thought potatoes were poisonous. Others refused to eat potatoes because they weren't mentioned in the bible. 

Fortunately potatoes are nourishing and easy to grow, so in the poorer European communities the people were obliged to eat them or starve. 

And so by the time Europeans settled in what would become the United States, potatoes were a staple part of the diet.

With all this in mind, I say again: potato salad is an American food, because -- it all started with the potato. And so it's the perfect side dish for a 4th of July picnic, barbecue or any other sort of get-together.

For my money -- potato salad is best when served at room temperature. Not hot, not cold. There are a zillion versions. Here's one:

Potato Salad with Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette

  • 2-1/2 pounds small red potatoes        
  • lightly salted water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped        
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (1-1/2 teaspoons dried) 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain under cold water and peel, if desired. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice and toss ingredients gently. Add the scallions, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss gently. Let rest at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings