appetizer

An Egg Roll Like No Other

IMG_4325 (1).jpg

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

Easy Guacamole

_DSC9961.jpg

Recently I posted a recipe for an Avocado, Egg and Tomato Sandwich with Pesto Mayonnaise, in which I mentioned that I eat a lot of avocados. In fact there are always 4-5 avocados in my house, some in the crisper bin of the fridge, others ripening on the counter top.

Besides eating avocados as a snack, I find that when I am at a loss for a vegetable side dish or when I am rushed, stressed or busy, an avocado comes in really handy (not to mention delicious and also healthy). Just peel and cut it up and serve with anything: chicken, beef, eggs, whatever. Maybe sprinkle a little lime juice on top.

But of course, as I mentioned in that previous post, there's always Guacamole! One of the tastiest, easiest, well-loved dips there ever was.

Here are some ideas for guacamole in addition to serving it with chips:

1. spread on top of toast for a sandwich (by itself or with tomato slices, chicken or turkey)

2. use instead of ketchup for burgers

3. use to replace the butter on a baked potato

4. tuck inside eggs within an omelet 

5. stuff inside hollowed tomatoes

Here's my easy recipe for guacamole. It will take you far.

Guacamole

  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 small serrano chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • chips

Peel the avocado and scoop the flesh into a food processor (or bowl or molcajete). Chop the tomato and add the tomato pieces, chili pepper, garlic, cilantro, if used, juice and salt to taste to the food processor. Process to desired texture using pulse feature (or mash with a fork or tejolete). 

Serve with corn chips.

Makes about 2 cups

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

You know that old ad that says you don't have to be Jewish to eat Levy's rye bread? I feel the same way about Irish food. I'm not Irish, but love Irish food. Especially Irish Soda Bread and Irish Oat Scones

Ed and I visited Ireland several years ago and despite warnings to the contrary we found the food there was scrumptious. We had salmon almost every night, and I remember fondly one dish of broiled salmon with a horseradish crust. So simple, fresh and fabulous for dinner. 

And of course, we had lots of those famous Irish potatoes. Mashed with kale or cabbage. And just plain boiled.

Oh, I do love those earthy, mineral-y potatoes.

Every year on St. Patrick's Day I make one or more of these recipes, and sometimes Irish potato soup. Classic Irish potato soup usually starts with bacon, but for a vegetarian version of that smoky, bacony flavor, roast some shiitake mushrooms (see below) and add them as a final garnish. But the soup is also wonderful if you skip that step and garnish with some fresh, chopped chives.

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, optional
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, optional
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, optional

Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir for a minute. Pour in the vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pan. Add the cream and heat through. If desired, serve with a garnish of chopped chives or chopped, roasted shiitake mushrooms.

To make the roasted mushrooms: while the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry the mushrooms and coat them with the 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until well browned. Chop and sprinkle over the soup.

Makes 6 servings

Apricot Sticky Wings

Okay, there's actually no dish that's a must for Superbowl Sunday. It's not like Thanksgiving with a turkey or doughnuts during Hanukkah.

BUT, a whole lot of people are probably going to be eating chicken wings some time during that day.

Me? I never needed an excuse or a holiday or an event to eat chicken wings. They have always been my favorite part of the chicken. So I have lots of recipes. Lots.

Here's the latest.

Apricot Sticky Wings

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into sections

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the jam, brown sugar, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, ginger, garlic, scallions, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to blend ingredients thoroughly. Wipe the chicken wing parts and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with half the jam mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the wings. Brush with the remaining jam mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the wings are lightly crispy.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Celebrate! with Sun-dried Tomato Dip

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip.jpg

A colleague of mine, Elizabeth Kurtz, who blogs at GourmetKosherCooking, has written a beautiful cookbook.

"Celebrate" celebrates not only good food and the beauty of Shabbat, but also benefits an organization called Emunah, a social service agency that helps families in physical or emotional distress -- at-risk teens, lonely seniors, young children who may have been neglected or abandoned. And much more. 

The book is filled with interesting recipes. Like the Everything Bagel Chicken, which I made for dinner last weekend. You know that bagel topping that has poppy seeds and sesame seeds and garlic and all? That's a really good coating for boneless chicken breasts!

I also loved the Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Sweet Apples, a comforting dish on cold winter days.

There's lots to love here, including the luscious photos.

But my cooking mind is turning to Superbowl this week, so I looked for a recipe that I could bring to my brother and sister-in-law's annual party. I picked the Sun-Dried Tomato Dip -- it's easy to make, you can cook it a couple of days ahead, serve it with crudites or crackers. Elizabeth says it's also wonderful as a spread for challah (I liked it with warm pita) and even as a topping for chicken or salmon (I think it would be terrific, mixed with some mayo, on a burger). I made this for my New Year's Eve get-together and everyone gave it a thumbs up! (I used vegetable stock, not pareve chicken broth).

Whether it's a day of rest, a day together with friends and football, a birthday or anything else, it's always good to celebrate with good food. Like this:

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip (from "Celebrate" by Elizabeth Kurtz)

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped, 1 tablespoon oil reserved
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pareve chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Heat reserved sun-dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium. Add tomatoes, onion, and garlic; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until onion is soft and beginning to brown at the edges.

Add water, broth, vinegar, wine, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper to skillet; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering another 5 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture is the consistency of jam.

 With an immersion blender or food processor, puree until blended but still a little chunky.

Serve warm or at room temperature with pita chips or vegetable crudite. Store refrigerated in a clean glass jar (the one from the sun-dried tomatoes works great!) if not using immediately. It will keep 2 weeks.

Makes 1-1/2 cups

 

Savory Herb and Cheese Sufganiyot

_DSC0036.jpg

I've always been more of an hors d'oeuvre person than a dessert person. So, given the choice (if I HAD to choose) of franks-in-blankets or potato puffs versus chocolate cake, it would definitely be the franks-and-potatoes for me.

This does not mean I am immune to dessert and during Hanukkah I do love to get my fill of sufganiyot, especially the tiny fried choux puffs that I make with a bit of sugar and lemon. And also a jelly doughnut or two. Or three.

But, I am who I am, so this year I decided to make savory sufganiyot.

Can that really be a thing?

Anyway, it went over bigtime at my house. I had thought about serving them with a bourbon before dinner, but it got late and we were hungry so we actually ate these as a side dish with some roasted salmon and broccoli. 

Either way, for cocktails or with dinner.

We polished these off.

 

Herb and Cheese SufganIYot

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • vegetable oil for frying

Place the water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and salt all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended and begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in the herbs and cheese. 

Heat about 1-1/2-inches of vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a tiny piece of dough sizzle, drop mounded teaspoons-worth of dough into the pan, cooking about 8 at a time. Move the puffs around using a wooden spoon, for about a minute or until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn the puffs over. Cook another half minute or until golden brown. Lift the puffs out with a large frying basket or other tool onto paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the puffs. When all the puffs have been fried, refry all of them for about one to 1-1/2 minutes, moving them around in the pan with a wooden spoon (alternately, you can fry the puffs, lift them out for 15-20 seconds and put them back in the pan for the second fry, then repeat with the rest).

 Makes about 60

 

 

Sticky Curry Wings

What's your favorite part of the chicken?

For me it's always been the wings. I was never one of those kids who liked holding a drumstick and eating off that big bone. First of all it seemed like the drumstick had too much meat on it for a little kid to handle.

Second, my mother always told me that wing meat is the softest and sweetest and therefore the best.

So that was that.

She was right. 

I love chicken wings. Any kind. Baked, fried, grilled. 

Here's a new favorite: curry seasoned and honey-sticky. You can bake these. Or grill them for a 4th of July feast.

 

Honey-Curry Sticky Wings

  • 24-30 chicken wings
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the wings and place them on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. In a small saucepan, combine the honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, curry powder, garlic powder and salt to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook for one minute, stirring to blend the ingredients thoroughly and remove from the heat. Brush the tops of the wings with some of the honey mixture. Bake the wings for 10 minutes. Turn the wings over, brush with more of the honey mixture and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the wings over again, brush with the remaining honey mixture and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the wings are golden brown and crispy looking. OR: grill the wings, turning them occasionally and brushing with the honey mixture. 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

 

 

Does Making it Three-Cornered Mean it's Hamantaschen?

DSC06277.JPG

In short, yes! 

Last year Soom Foods, who produces absolutely fabulous tahini, sponsored a contest which was basically to come up with an unusual or new riff on an old Purim favorite: hamantaschen.

I won!

I won with this idea: Spiced Lamb in Phyllo Hamantaschen with Lemon-Tahini Sauce. Sure, it's not classic cake-dessert hamantaschen with prune or poppyseed filling. But, although I love those (all year, not just on Purim), I don't think hamantaschen has to be a sweet, cakey version in order to qualify. 

My prize for winning was a jar of Soom sesame butter. What could be better when you want to make hummus or tahini sauce or anything else using sesame paste (butter, tahini)?

I've gone through a few jars of the stuff since then.

So here, folks, just in time for Purim, is:

 

Spiced Lamb in Phyllo Hamantaschen with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, approximately

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the lamb and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until the meat is completely brown. Stir in the mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, currants and pine nuts. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Place the phyllo sheets on a cutting board and cut out circles using a 3-inch cookie cutter (work with about 6 layered sheets at a time; you'll need about 12 sheets in all; some will crinkle and dry and need to be discarded). Keep the cut out phyllo circles in a pile, covered with plastic wrap. Working with three circles at a time, brush each circle with a small amount of olive oil and place a heaping tablespoon of the lamb filling in the center of the circle. Bring up the sides to form a triangle and press the edges together. Place each triangle on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until all the lamb has been used (about 24 filled triangles).

Bake the triangles for about 35 minutes or until browned and crispy. Serve hot with Lemon-Tahini Sauce.

Makes about 24

Make the sauce while the triangles are baking:

 

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste, sesame butter)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt to taste

Stir the tahini in the jar to blend in any oil that has risen to the top. Spoon the 1/2 cup tahini into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and blend it in. Add the water, olive oil, garlic and salt to taste. Blend thoroughly (use a food processor or immersion blender).

Makes one cup

 

 

 

Matzo Farfel Fattoush

DSC02462.jpg

Every year I buy a kitchen’s worth of Passover ingredients and most of it gets eaten, except for the matzo farfel. I know you can use matzo farfel for stuffing, matzo brei, granola and other foods. But I don’t. A few family members like it cooked like oatmeal, for breakfast, but that’s about it. So I always have a lot left over.

Last year I decided to experiment a bit and see how I could use matzo farfel to advantage.

Fattoush, a light and refreshing salad, was a big winner. 

The word fattoush means “crumbled bread” in Arabic and the salad is pretty basic — seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber and greens mixed with toasted flat bread.

During the year it’s a good way to use up stale bread. During Passover, matzo farfel is perfect.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Matzo Farfel Fattoush

 

  • 2 cups matzo farfel
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded Romaine lettuce (6-8 large leaves)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the farfel on a baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the farfel and toss, coating all the pieces. Bake for about 15 minutes, tossing the farfel occasionally, or until it is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Place the lettuce shreds, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, scallions, parsley and mint in a bowl. Mix the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice together. Pour the dressing over the salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss the ingredients. Add the toasted farfel, toss again and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

 

Makes 8 servings