dairy free

Dried Fig and Coconut Charoset

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Every year I make two charosets for our Seders: the family favorite (a Persian style with pistachios, dried fruit and a hint of cayenne), and also a new one.

Last year the newbie was this Dried Fig and Coconut charoset. It was a BIG HIT!

It’s easy to make, you can make it ahead and it is NUT FREE.

Dried Fig and Coconut Charoset

  • 1 cup chopped dried figs

  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

  • 1 navel orange

  • 1 cup flaked coconut

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

  • 1/4 cup sweet white or red Passover wine

Combine the figs, apricots and cherries in a bowl. Peel the orange and remove the outer white pith (leaving only the orange flesh). Cut the flesh into small pieces and add to the bowl. Add the coconut, ginger, cinnamon apricot jam and wine and mix ingredients. Let rest for at least one hour (preferably several hours) before serving. May be made a day ahead.

Makes about 3 cups

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff It: Matzo Stuffing

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Almost everyone I know makes brisket for the first Seder.

But my grandma, and then my mother — for all the years that I remember — served turkey. So, so do I.

I may also make a brisket, depending on how many people are coming to celebrate with us. Or, I may make brisket for the second night. Depends.

But there’s always a turkey. And that means stuffing.

And so, the chosen stuffing for this year: crushed matzo with apples and portobello mushrooms. It’s easy and can be prepared in advance; just pop it in the oven to cook about 40 minutes before serving time. Sometimes I add thyme to this dish, sometimes I don’t, depending on the crowd. It’s delicious either way, although of course, the fresh herb gives it a bit more flavor.

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

  • 6 pieces of matzo, broken up into little pieces

  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock (or vegetable stock)

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps, chopped

  • 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, optional

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the matzot in a bowl and pour the stock over them. Let soak for 5-6 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Set aside. While the matzot are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, parsley and thyme, if used, and cook for another minute. Spoon the contents of the pan into the bowl with the matzot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs, mix the ingredients thoroughly. Spoon the ingredients into a baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Crumbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Crumbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Crumbs

I recently read Mark Twain’s novel “The Tragedy of Puddin’head Wilson,” a story about what happens after two babies are switched and their real identities are lost almost forever.

In addition to being a good read, filled with humor and irony, this book also includes a character who keeps a diary where he writes wise sayings.

I always wondered where this famous Twain quote came from: “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Now I know.

I recommend the book. Also recommend this cauliflower dish, which is so easy to prepare you don’t need a college eduction to make it.

Roasted Cauliflower with Crumbs

  • 3/4 cup Panko

  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the Panko, garlic and dill together and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil and mustard together until thoroughly blended. Place the cauliflower in the mustard-oil bowl and toss to coat the pieces on all sides. Place the coated pieces on a baking sheet. Scatter the Panko over the pieces and toss to coat the pieces lightly. Roast for about 15 minutes or until crispy and tender, turning the pieces once or twice. Most of the crumbs will separate from the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower in a serving dish, scatter the crumbs on top.

Makes 6 servings

Hawaij Chicken

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People send me all sorts of press releases about different foods and ingredients. But one that recently caught my attention was about Pereg’s new Hawaij spice combos. I was intrigued enough to say “yes” when samples were offered. I love trying out new spice blends and experimenting with them in recipes.

Of course Hawaij is not new — just new to me. It is a traditional Yemenite seasoning, the word in Arabic translates as “mixture.”

In fact there are two such mixtures: savory Hawaij for soups, meats, vegetables and so on, and sweet Hawaij for coffee. The Pereg savory blend includes ground cumin, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, cardamom and cloves, a flavorful combination of warmth and spice, an aroma that’s magical. The coffee-blend contains ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

The company sent me both, so — I got cooking.

The first recipe was so good I have made it several times already: braised Cornish hens in a coconut milk based curry-type sauce, served with cooked rice and a green vegetable. I have since made this recipe a few more times using chicken wings and bone-in chicken breasts.

The coffee spice? I used it to season homemade honey muffins. I added some to my afternoon coffee (a middle-eastern counterpart to American pumpkin-spice latte). And I couldn’t leave it at that so I made some Hawaij-coffee-spice ice cream.

I see more to come in the future of this fabulous spice blend.

Chicken or Cornish Hen with Hawaij Spice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cornish hens, split down the back or 4 large pieces of chicken

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons hawaij

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1-1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 3 cups cooked rice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Dry the surface of the hens or chicken, place them in the pan and cook them for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice, to brown the surface. Remove the pieces to a dish and set aside. Add the onion, lemon slices and garlic to the pan. Sprinkle with hawaij and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat the ingredients evenly. Return the hens/chicken to the pan, spoon some of the onion mixture on top. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to blend it in. Cover the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the meat is tender and cooked through. Place the rice on a serving platter. Remove the hen/chicken pieces from the oven and place them on top of the rice. Keep the platter warm in the oven. Place the saute pan over high heat on the cooktop. Bring to a boil, then simmer the pan juices for about 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour over the hen/chicken and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Rack of Lamb with Mustard, Apricot and Rosemary

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We never eat out on Valentine’s Day. Restaurants are too crowded, the service is usually awful and the food not worth leaving the comforts of home.

Besides, there’s always the next day. My taste buds don’t know and don’t care if it’s February 14th or 15th. Valentine’s Day is an “extra” that, for us, doesn’t need the same kind of clock-like precision of Rosh Hashanah or Passover.

But I do always make a lovely dinner and serve on lovely plates with lovely utensils.

Ed would prefer Chinese food, but that’s too much of a fuss for the evening. So: rack of lamb. It’s easy. Simple. No fuss at all. An indulgence, but we deserve it, don’t we?

Roast Rack of Lamb with Mustard, Apricot and Rosemary

  •  1 whole rack of lamb

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon apricot preserves

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or use 1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the meat in a roasting pan. Mix the mustard and preserves and spread on the top surface. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Roast for 20-35 minutes, depending on degree of doneness desired (a meat thermometer should register between 120-140 degrees). Let the meat rest a few minutes before carving.

 

Makes 2-3 servings

 

Kosher Baked Beans and "Bacon"

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It’s really cold outside.

Really cold.

And yesterday there was a snow squall. Cold, snowy and blowy with no visibility for about a half hour.

I can’t complain though. It’s MUCH colder in the midwest.

Also my house is nice and warm and toasty.

And I have these baked beans for dinner. Real, authentic Boston baked beans with bacon. Ok, kosher bacon. There are many brands to choose from, but I used Abeles & Heymann’s newish chunk beef bacon because Seth Leavitt, A&H owner, gave me a piece of it a while ago. He said “go experiment.” Which I did. And out came these fabulous beans.

Dinner. Add a green vegetable.

Just like in Colonial times (minus the green vegetable).

Btw, this is a good dish for Superbowl parties — by itself, but it’s also a nice accompaniment to chicken wings.

Kosher Baked Beans and “Bacon”

  • 1 pound dried navy or great northern beans

  • water

  • 6 ounces kosher bacon, cut into chunks

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 2 teaspoons powdered mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans soak for one hour. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Cover the beans again with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, cover the beans with water and let them soak for at least 8 hours.) Drain. Place the beans in a casserole. Add the bacon, onion, ketchup, honey, molasses, cloves, mustard and salt and mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Stir in 3 cups water. Pour the mixture over the bean mixture. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven. Set the temperature at 300 degrees and cook the beans at least 4 hours, or until they are tender, stirring them occasionally and adding water, if necessary to keep the beans moist. 

 Makes 8 servings

More Chicken Wings: Maple-Mustard

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In our family we don’t wait for Superbowl Sunday to feast on chicken wings. We eat them throughout the year, often.

In fact, I have an enormous file folder filled with recipes, maybe almost as many recipes for wings as for banana bread (and as everyone who reads this blog knows, I have a lot of recipes for banana bread!).

Here’s one of the latest versions. Eat anytime. Don’t wait.

Grilled Maple-Mustard Chicken Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings, separated into pieces

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion

  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • salt to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Wash and dry the wings and cut them into separate pieces. Brush with olive oil and grill, turning once, for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. While the wings are cooking, mix the maple syrup, mustard, chives, cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt to taste until well blended. Brush this glaze on the wings and cook for another 10-12 minutes, turning the wings occasionally and brushing with remaining glaze, until crispy and fully cooked.

Makes about 24

 

Banana Bread with Orange Flavor

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Once again I was loaded down with bananas. We had sleepover guests for New Year’s weekend and I bought a lot of fruit. Too many bananas as it turns out.

Which is fine, because I love baking new versions of banana bread.

If you read my blog you know I hate to waste food. So for me, this particular recipe is really good because it’s a three-fer. Not only did I get to use up the bananas, I also was able to use fresh orange peel from some of the fruit I squeezed for juice. And I used up the date sugar I had in my cabinet (although this recipe is also fine with brown or white sugar as well).

The added citrus peel gives this bread a perky citrus taste. A refreshing thing, much needed in the gloom of January.

Because it isn’t very sweet, this is also especially good as a breakfast or brunch bread. You can use it to make cream cheese sandwiches too.

Banana Bread with Orange Flavor

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 cup date sugar

  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Mix the flour, orange peel, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the shortening and date sugar until well blended. Add the bananas and beat them in thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat them in thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and beat for a minute or so until the batter is well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about one hour or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 16-18

 

Beet Tarte Tatin

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Every New Year’s Eve my brother and sister-in-law come over for the day, my cousins sleep over for a couple of days. We start our celebration early with a round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre. A few hours later we have another round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre.

No dinner.

We have dessert much later, near midnight. The anticipation of something sweet helps keep us up so we can watch the ball drop and then go to bed.

Some of the hors d’oeuvre I serve are fancy, some plain; some homemade, some from a package (like the Spring Valley or Hebrew National franks-in-blankets that everyone loves).

A while ago I read a blog post about Beet tarte tatins and was inspired to make some because they looked and sounded so appealing. I made up my own recipe, tried it a few times and decided that they would be perfect as one of the fancies at this year’s New Year get-together.

I wrote down whose blog it was, so I could credit her with the inspiration, but I can’t find the paper and forgot the name.

But — to that wonderfully creative person who alerted me to beet tarte tatin —- thank you.

Here’s my recipe.

Beet Tarte Tatins

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large beet (8-10 ounces)

  • 2 small chopped shallots or 1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • 1 teaspoon Mirin (rice vinegar)

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon crushed, dried rosemary (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary)

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 pound puff pastry

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a small amount of the olive oil to brush the insides of 6 muffin tins. Peel the beet and cut it into thin slices, then cut the slice to make them small enough to fit inside the muffin tins. Place the cut beet slices in a bowl. Add the shallots and toss the ingredients. In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, Mirin and brown sugar and pour the dressing over the beet mixture. Sprinkle with the rosemary and salt and spoon equal amounts of the beet mixture inside the muffin tins. Cover the filled tins with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven. Raise the oven heat to 400 degrees. Cut out 6 circles from the puff pastry to cover the top of the muffin tins. Place over the beets. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Carefully spoon each beet mixture from the bottom and turn it over onto a dish so that the pastry is at the bottom. Spoon any remaining beets that do not come up and place them on the tarte tatins. Garnish with the orange peel and serve (may be served hot or at room temperature).

Makes 6

Barley with Carrots, Raisins and Almonds

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For me, the appeal of winter foods is their ability make me feel warm and well-nourished. I don’t expect them to be gorgeous. When I look at dishes such as beef stew or a beloved chicken-and-soup, I don’t see art, I see safety and memory and the expectation of comfort.

This is why, when winter comes, I look for side dishes or desserts or an appetizer that can provide some color or add some beauty to the entree or the meal.

This barley casserole fits the bill. It’s a substantial side dish that works with meat, fish and poultry, with stews and hearty winter casseroles and for vegetarian meals too. It’s colorful and makes for an attractive addition to a winter dinner.

Barley with Carrots, Raisins and Almonds

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2-3 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick

  • 3-4 scallions, chopped

  • 1 cup pearled barley

  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable stock

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrots and scallions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the barley and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the stock and add the salt, pepper and thyme. Stir, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 50 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the raisins and almonds and toss gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Cover the pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 6-8 servings