Why We Love Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is the primary salt I use for general cooking (not baking, although that has become more popular too). Why do I use it? A few reasons…

First, the coarse texture makes it preferable to table salt fro general cooking. Its flaky texture makes kosher salt easier than fine-grained table salt to pinch and sprinkle. It sticks to foods better and dissolves more quickly. It results in milder salt flavor and more enhanced flavor from the food it is added to.

Second, although there is little chemical difference between kosher and table salt since both are made predominantly from sodium chloride, table salt often contains anitcaking agents and additives like sodium iodide, while kosher salt is typically additive-free. Bottom line it’s a purer ingredient.

Salting Tips

• Salt your vegetables after roasting. Salt draws out water in vegetables so they will stay crisper if you salt them after cooking. Super simple side dish is any vegetable drizzled olive oil, roasted in a 400-degree oven, for 10 – 25 minutes, depending on the vegetables. Toss with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
• When substituting kosher salt for table salt in a recipe, use about ¼ to ½ teaspoon more kosher salt. Taste before adding too much though.
• Sprinkle kosher salt on super sweet brownies or other chocolate ganache desserts. It gives the dessert a great sweet and salty contrast.
• Sprinkle your challah with egg wash and a little kosher salt. Super tasty!

Kosher Food and Wine Experience, February 13, Chelsea Pier, Are you coming? Get $18 off with GKC

On February 13 at Chelsea Pier, Kosher Food and Wine Experience is returning bigger and better than ever. GKC will be there and we hope you join us too.

Remember last year we loved Prime Grill’s mushroom velouti (btw, we’ve been trying to get that recipe ever since!), we met new superstar chefs like Andy Blackstone at Gemstone Catering (remember the seared tuna over mango chutney) and of course the wonderful wines like Capcanes, Covenant, and Binyamina.

What’s new this year? First, Royal wines will be unveiling some of their new wines. Insiders say it may include New Pacifica wines (Pinot Noir & Meritage) from New Pacific Northwest winery. Personally, I can’t wait to try the new ultra high-end wine from The Cave, the new “old vine” Cave. Herzog sellers may share a new single vineyard Cab from Herzog, Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, and many others. This may be the only time you taste all these high-end wines at one time!

Plus us GKC foodies can’t wait to taste the fabulous restaurant foods the event always includes. New vendors include Joburg, Silverleaf caterers, and many more. We will certainly keep you posted on the menu items they are serving as we hear the inside scoop. GKC hopes to see favorites from Pomegranate, Jack’s Gourmet, Jeffrey Nathan, Moshe Wendel, Udi Ezra and other old friends.

One other new addition that we are so excited about is a mixologist at the event, mixing wine cocktails (we love those!). We know GKC readers will be waiting in line for those recipes.

So?!?! Who is joining us? Act fast, they sell out every year. For tickets, go to www.kfwe2012.com . $100 per ticket but use GKC18 at checkout to receive $18 off the ticket price. Please let us know that you are coming, email me at ekurtz@gourmetkoshercooking.com so that we can personally meet you. Can’t wait to see you there!


Yeast, ahhh, patience. Which type do you use? GKC uses all types and had to demystify them for our GKC friends.

Fresh yeast, also called cake or compressed yeast, is perishable and it is not unusual to buy a block that is dead (I always buy one extra when I’m using it). The flavor is bold and fresh and I love it in challah baking. The water used to activate the yeast should be 80 – 90 degrees. You do not need to add sugar during the proofing process. Remember to keep it refrigerated until use and buy it only a few days before needed.

For less maintenance and sensitivity, we recommend using active dry yeast, which is more reliable and easier to use. Granulated active dry yeast is made by putting yeast on a dryer to remove 90 percent of its moisture. It’s a harsh process that produces many dead yeast cells, which form a hard coating around each granule. That’s why the granules must be proofed or soaked in water at a temperature of 100 to 115 degrees before they are used. This process dissolves that coating and awakens the active yeast within.

Instant, or Rapid Rise Yeast requires no proofing. The drying process for this kind of yeast, developed in the 1970’s, is gentler so that fewer cells are killed and the yeast is faster acting and can be added directly to dry ingredients. The liquid you add to make the dough should be warm, 110 to 130 degrees to activate it. It is more potent so you should use less (3/4 of a teaspoon to a single teaspoon of active yeast).

Both types of dry yeast keep up to a year at room temperature. And all types will be killed with water above 132 degrees. For faster challah making try the rapid rise yeast; just dump and stir all ingredients together. And for extremely fresh bread tasting recipes try the fresh yeast. When in doubt, you can always use the active dry yeast. Remember to “feed” both fresh and active dry yeast with a teaspoon of sugar to start the proofing.

Yeast Conversion Rates
To substitute rapid rise yeast for active dry yeast, use 25% less instant yeast than active dry.
A .6-oz cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast or 2 to 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast.

Each little .25-ounce packet of active dry yeast contains about 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast.

How to Proof Yeast
To proof (either type of dry yeast), dissolve in warm water (100 to 115 degrees), feed it with a teaspoon of sugar and wait for it to bubble and grow in volume. Let it stand for 10 minutes until creamy and bubbly.

Adequate “proof” is visible bubbles (a by-product of yeast multiplication) or a “yeasty” smell or froth at the top of the liquid. I like yeast to puff up about 3 inches or double in size.


photo: shockinglydelicious.com

It just wouldn’t be Chanukah without doughnuts and latkes. And it wouldn’t be latkes without sour cream and applesauce. While there is certainly no lack of jarred versions, nothing beats homemade. And it’s so easy. Our family’s favorite go-to homemade applesauce is sweet without the addition of any sugar. Everyone, from young to old, loves it, even those who normally turn up their noses at fruit. You don’t even need latkes as an excuse to eat it! The more daring among you can try this caramel version with cumin but whatever your version, whether you eat it with latkes or alone, applesauce is a not-to-be-missed treat that you can eat year round. It is also a great after-school snack. Chag Sameach!

Hanukah and More on Frying….

photo by sunset.com

The more latkes and doughnuts we taste as we prepare our Hanukah recipes, the more I feel I have to write about the latke and doughnut-making process. What I’ve learned actually applies to frying anything but it makes the difference between a soggy fried item and a crisp, crunchy and decadent dish. So forgive me…a few more frying tips for 2011.

Use enough oil: To cook food evenly, you need about ¾ inch of oil for shallow frying and 1 inch for deep-frying.
Watch the temperature: Between 300 degrees and 350 for latkes and 275 to 350 for doughnuts gives you a crisp crust and tender interior. Too low, and food will suck up oil like a sponge. Too high and the food will burn.
Get a good thermometer: See our great products section for my favorite one.

Try a few more recipes
Latkes on the Lighter Side
Jam Filled Doughnuts

Latkes on the Lighter Side

Frying in olive oil results in a lighter, healthier latke.

3 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium onion
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons bread crumbs or matzo meal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
About 3 cups olive oil for frying

Peel potatoes, rinse, and coarsely shred on a box grater, transferring to a bowl of water as you go. Shred onion into a fine-mesh colander, discarding any uneven chunks. Pour potato mixture on top and drain. Rinse and dry bowl.

Squeeze handfuls of potatoes and onion to remove liquid, drain as much liquid with towels. Wrap and wring well. Whisk eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, salt and the pepper in dry bowl. Add potato mixture and toss with hands until evenly coated. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Filling a 1/4-cup measure three-quarters full, scoop potato mixture onto baking sheets. Pour 3/4 inch oil into a large frying pan with sides at least 2 inches high. Insert a deep-fry thermometer and heat oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Put a portion of potatoes on a wide metal spatula, press into a 3-inch cake, and push into hot oil with another metal spatula. Shape 3 more latkes, sliding into oil; cook, turning once, until browned at edges but still soft in center, 2 minutes. Adjust heat to keep oil between 300 and 350 degrees.

Transfer latkes to paper towels, then to a wire rack over a rimmed baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and keep warm in oven. Repeat to make remaining latkes; use a second pan when the first is full.

Jam filled Doughnuts

photo by sunset.com

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2-3/4 to 3 cups flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 to 5 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup other favorite jam

Combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Put 2-3/4 cups flour in bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, the margarine, nutmeg, and salt. Mix with dough hook on medium speed, scraping inside of bowl occasionally, until dough is smooth and stretchy, 8 to 10 minutes. If needed, add about 1/4 cup more flour and mix until dough pulls free from bowl and is no longer sticky. (To mix by hand, stir with a spoon, then knead on a board until smooth and stretchy, 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour to keep dough from sticking.)

Rub dough with a bit of oil, turn over in bowl, and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 hour. In a bowl, mix remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

Push dough down to release air and shape into a smooth ball. Roll on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 in. thick. Using a 2-3/4-in. round cutter or drinking glass, cut rounds and place on 2 lightly oiled baking sheets; gather scraps and re-roll as needed. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy, 20 minutes.

Pour 1 inch oil into a 5- to 6-qt. pan, insert a deep-fry thermometer, and warm oil over medium-high heat to 325 to 350 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, slip 4 rounds into oil, one by one. Fry until deep golden, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes total; adjust heat as needed to keep oil between 275 and 350 degrees.

Lift out doughnuts with slotted spoon, letting drain slightly, and put in bowl of cinnamon sugar. Turn in sugar while warm, using a fork, then set on a platter. Repeat with remaining rounds.

Poke each doughnut to center with a teaspoon handle. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/3-in.-wide round tip (or snip a corner off a resealable plastic freezer bag), then fill with jam. Pipe or squeeze about 2 teaspoons jam into each doughnut (you may need to squeeze doughnuts to hold them open).

Doughnut Round-Up

photo: http://kosherscene

I can’t resist a good doughnut (see great products section). I like them plain, I like them glazed, I like apple fritters and crullers and custard-filled. The only ones I really don’t enjoy are the jelly ones – but I can always eat around the jelly! It’s so easy to buy doughnuts but once in a while you just feel like making your own. And boy is it worth it! Try these Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes and you will be the most popular mom on the block. Or how about these Oreo-Stuffed Doughnuts – you can make them pareve or even dairy. If you have leftover store-bought pizza dough (or homemade) from the oreo-stuffed extravaganzas, you can make these simple zeppoles. To involve your kids, put the powdered sugar in a bag, drop the hot fried dough in and let your children shake, shake, shake until the dough is coated. Eat immediately.

And if you get sick of doughnuts (unlikely!) or have any leftover (equally unlikely!), you can make this special Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding. It’s worth buying new doughnuts for!!

Hanukah is coming, Latke Roundup

photo: hellogiggles.com

It’s that time of year again, latke making! Do you make the traditional potato latke or do you get a little fancier or more exotic? Better yet, do you make a different type for each night? GKC has posted many latke recipes and thought we would do a little latke roundup, some old and some new, just to refresh your memory and inspire some good latke making.

Classic Potato Latkes
Cheese Latkes
Wild Mushroom and Potato Latkes
Apple Fritters
Sweet Potato Latkes
Mini Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Apple Cream
Breaksfast Bran Latkes
Zucchini Latkes

And remember these freezing tips will keep them fresh and delicious for all eight days.

Latke Troubleshooting:

The latkes are too greasy
The oil is probably not hot enough. Allow it to come back up to temperature between batches of latkes.

The latkes fall apart
Did you squeeze out excess moisture from the shredded potato mixture? Extra eggs, matzo meal, and shredded cheese will all help bind the mixture together if it seems too “loose.”

The potatoes turn brown
Keep peeled potatoes immersed in a bowl of cool water until the second you’re ready to shred them.

The latkes are still chewy and starchy on the inside
To remedy this problem, you can shred the potatoes more finely, make sure the oil is hot enough, make the latkes thinner, or pre-cook the potatoes.

Breakfast Bran Latkes

Recipe submitted by GKC reader Rivki Eisner

Makes 5 small latkes

2 ounces whipped cottage cheese (she uses J&J)
1 ounce oat bran
1 egg
Pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spary. “Fry”/brown in the pan.

– Easy shmeezy healthy breakfast. (serve with pancake syrup if you want)
– Can easily be doubled
– Does not taste good fried in oil

Zucchini Latkes

photo: delicioushouse.com

4 cups zucchini, grated
1 medium white potato, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
Pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix together the zucchini, potato and onion. Whisk the eggs together and add to the vegetable/potato mixture. Mix together the flour, breadcrumbs, pepper, garlic powder and salt and combine with the egg/vegetable mixture. Heat large nonstick frying pan with 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry until crisp, turning to fry on the other side. Add small amounts of oil as needed when frying. Turn out on towel paper to drain. Serve quickly, best while hot.

Hot Coffee with Something Extra

photo: life123.com

With the days and nights getting cooler, the appeal of an after-dinner hot drink is heightened. And if that coffee (decaf of course) is laced with a little liqueur or something stronger…sounds good to me. It will help you relax with your spouse, with friends, before bed – and it tastes good too. For those who don’t like coffee, we’ve provided a hot chocolate version as well. Bottoms up! Each recipe serves 2 because no one likes to drink alone!

Polynesian Coffee
This evokes tropical breezes and lazy days and nights.
2 ounces rum
1 ounce amaretto
2 cups hot black coffee
Whipped Cream (pareve or dairy, depending on your situation)

Pour the rum and amaretto into a heat-proof coffee glass. Fill with hot coffee. Top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

photo: myrecipes.com

Mocha Coffee
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
2 cups hot coffee
Whipped cream (pareve or dairy)

Melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in liqueur and coffee and pour into cups. Top with whipped cream. Save some for me!

Reggae Coffee
2 ounces coffee liqueur
2 ounces rum
2 cups strong hot coffee
Whipped cream (pareve or dairy)
Dash nutmeg

Mix the liqueur and rum and pour into heat-proof coffee glasses. Fill with coffee and stir. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

photo: breakfastonthect.com

Russian Hot chocolate
2 ounces coffee liqueur
1 ounce vodka
2 cups hot chocolate (instant or homemade)

Whipped cream and marshmallows

Pour liqueur and vodka into mug and fill with hot chocolate. Stir. Garnish with whipped cream and/or marshmallows, if desired.

Get Prepped for Thanksgiving

For those of you who enjoy Thanksgiving or for anyone who enjoys a turkey now and then, GKC has our “Best Turkey” tips of 2011.

1. Accurate Temperature: Make sure you have a calibrated oven, meaning the oven thermostat is reading correctly and a good meat thermometer. Turkeys take about 20 minutes per pound (for a 8 – 12 lb bird) and about 15 minutes per pound for a 12 – 16 lb turkey. Another more accurate way to test doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The turkey should be cooked until an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I also like those pop-up disposable turkey plastic thermometers that are available this time of year. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees it pops up indicating that the turkey is cooked through.

2. Let the turkey rest. Let the turkey rest after it is cooked so that the juices remain in the meat and not all over the cutting board. To keep the turkey warm, as a whole or after slicing, cover the tray or cooking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and then with a bath towel. This forms a nice steam bath and keeps everything inside warm and moist.

3. To stuff or not to stuff? That is a popular question we get. Personally, I love the way the stuffing tastes when made in the turkey, BUT my general vote is to make stuffing muffins, or a separate stuffing, because the turkey, even big ones, just do not make enough stuffing to please a crowd. This way you can make plenty of stuffing, and still have room in the oven for other items.

4. Use chicken stock! Chicken stock is an amazing moisture enhancer. I drizzle some over the sliced turkey to keep it moist. Even the most perfectly roasted turkeys get dry very fast so keeping a little stock warmed on the side is a great way to keep everything moist.

5. Carve it right.
• Let the meat rest.
• Set up a large cutting board so that it will not move while cutting. Sharpen a large knife.
• Cut the turkey along the breastbone with a sharp knife, pulling the meat away from the bone as you cut so you can see where you’re going. This is a crosswise cut against the grain.
• Cut down and around on an angle, separating the entire breast from the bird.
• Carve the breast on an angle, then place pieces on a serving platter.
• Pull the leg away from the carcass and find the joint between the leg and thighbone and separate them with the knife. If you like, cut the meat off the leg.

Kosherfest 2011

Kosherfest 2011 was a big success and by the looks of the crowds trying lots of kosher food, well attended. GKC was there, visiting some of our favorite vendors and making some new friends.

So what’s new in 2011 for kosher food? Here are some of our favorites….

GKC congratulates friends at Jack’s Gourmet who took the prize for Best New Meat with their zesty and savory new flavor, Jamaican Style Jerk Chicken Sausage. Jack’s Gourmet just gets better and better and remains a family favorite.

Osem came out with some fabulous new Bamba flavors including peanut cream filled bamba, butterscotch bamba, and strawberry bamba. All are kosher for Passover if you eat kitniyot. My favorite new Osem product is the Sandwich matzah strips available in both whole wheat and regular. Each box contains packages of matza strips that break into three perfect sized sandwhich strips (I tried it and it works!). No more wasting those odd shapes and sizes of boxed matza for chol hamoed trips!

Tishbi won us over again this year with their Strawberry Champagne preserves. The delicate and balanced taste is worthy of the Queen’s tea. Tishbi won for the Passion Fruit Champagne Preserves but the strawberry was my favorite.

Dorot continues to strengthen their product line. Now in addition to cubed, ready-to-use herbs that we have all come to depend on because they are just so good and so easy, they have cubed cooked onions (is that awesome or what?) and cubed sauces like, pesto, tomato and herb, alfredo, and garlic herb. This is fresh and flavorful dinner made easy. I also think the pesto works great as a meat stuffing or on top of leftover chicken and pasta.

GKC tried lots of great wines at the Royal Wine booth and loved seeing the huge line of wines they make and distribute. Many thanks to them for changing the wine industry for the kosher world. In addition to wine, they distribute lots of kosher products. One Kosherfest new product favorite in their line of distribution, and very exciting for parents, is Sugarfree Bazooka made by Elite. I loved it and can’t wait until it appears in kosher markets nationwide. Parents; there is hope for those children who consume 5 pieces of Bazooka each Shabbos.

Another new fun favorite is Rabbimints, a great kosher alternative to Altoid and a real mint, not a candy, created by personal friend Rabbi Mintz (get it? Rabbi Mintz – Rabbimints?) and two of his students with a good sense of humor and great entrepreneurial experience. The cool thing is that not only is the product good but they advertise that a portion of the product sales goes to charity.

One more that needs mention are the Rogue Confections. Absolutely gorgeous chocolate transfers, chocolate mini pops, cupcake toppers, personalized cookies and more.

Stay tuned, GKC favorite Pesach products from Kosherfest will be reserved for pre-Passover time and no one is ready for that now.

Gluten-Free GKC

GKC has received lots of requests for gluten free recipes and it seems we’re not the only ones. In the past few years gluten free eating has become more and more commonplace and when I typed a “gl” into Google to start reading up on the topic, gluten showed up, not before a slew of “Glee” related searches, but before “global warming”. So, what exactly is gluten and why are more and more children and adults banishing it from their diets? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For most people it is harmless. However, people with Celiac disease have an immune response to it which damages the villa lining in their small intestine which are needed for absorption of nutrition. Celiac disease can develop at any point of a person’s life. A person with undiagnosed celiac disease can be malnourished no matter how much they eat because nutrients cannot be absorbed. There is currently no cure for this condition and the only way to manage it is through a gluten free diet. Today, gluten free packaged foods represent about 2.6 billion dollars in the US market, up from just 210 million in 2001. GKC found it very interesting though that many people who tout the gluten free label are not celiacs, but are gluten intolerant. Basically this means that they are sensitive to this protein and although it doesn’t damage their intestines, they experience symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, gas pains, and general digestive discomfort. This condition has not been well researched and there are no medical tests or diagnosis however there is significant clinical evidence to suggest that by eliminating gluten from their diets these people can to benefit and enjoy improved health. In response to the numerous requests from GKC readers, we have partnered with some popular gluten-free experts and are excited to periodically include their recipes in our recipe posts. We will always indicate that they are gluten-free and we hope that you also share the gluten-free recipes that you have mastered.

Gluten Free Fudgy Brownie
Asparagus with Maple Dressing

Many thanks to Esther Wilamowsky, GKC friend and reader, for her contributions on this post.

Gluten Free Fudgy Brownies

photo: elanaspantry.com

Makes 9 – 12 brownies

Adapted by GKC, original recipe by glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

I am not a gluten free specialist but tried these with both gluten free guests along with others who are not gluten sensitive. All raved about these.

5 ounces high quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 rounded cup almonds, processed into a fine meal, or 1/4 ground almonds
1/4 cup rice flour (original recipe calls for brown rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup extra semi-sweet chocolate chips for the top (I recommend this)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly oil the bottom.

Using the microwave, melt the dark chocolate and margarine in a large (microwave safe) measuring cup. Stir together to combine. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs on medium high till frothy. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the melted chocolate mixture into the egg-sugar mixture a little at a time – incorporate it slowly- and beat well for a minute. The chocolate will look smooth and glossy.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: almond meal, rice flour, fine sea salt and baking soda; whisk together. Add the dry flour mix into the chocolate mixture and beat well for a minute. Add the vanilla, beat another half a minute or so. If adding nuts, stir in the nuts by hand and spread the batter into the prepared baking pan [this brownie batter is much thinner than any brownie batter, don’t worry]. Shake the pan a little bit to even out the batter.

Layer the semi-sweet chips all over the top of the batter and press them in slightly, if adding. Bake in the center of a preheated 350 degree F oven for 33 to 35 minutes, or until the brownies are set. Don’t overcook. (The Gluten free Goddess recommends to err on the side of gooey. Gluten-free brownies taste better slightly undercooked and soft in the middle than over-cooked and crumbly.)

Cool on a wire rack; and remove the brownies from the pan by gripping the foil edges. Chill before cutting. These brownies were outstanding slightly chilled.

Asparagus with Sesame Maple Dressing

photo: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

Recipe by the Gluten-Free Goddess

1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon, divided
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper

Garnish: Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks, rinse, and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place them in a low-sided pan. Cook for 7 minutes or until cooked through but still crisp.

Whisk the tahini, 1 tablespoon olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Add a little bit of hot water to thin. Whisk until smooth. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Place the asparagus on a platter. Drizzle the asparagus with the dressing. Top with fresh Italian parsley.

JCC of Manhattan

The Succah is put away; we successfully fed our families 19 holiday meals and took a well-needed break last week. GKC is back and ready for fall. Here in New York that means changing leaves, changing wardrobe, and eating seasonal foods. That’s trendy anyway, eating foods of the season especially those that are grown close to home.

We suggest you take a minute or two to explore a few activities that you enjoy. For us, that means more cooking and cooking classes. Recently we bonded with the JCC of Manhattan and were so impressed with the line-up of chefs and classes they offer. Unique at the JCC, The Patti Gelman Culinary Arts Center is the only fully equipped kosher kitchen to offer both dairy and meat cooking classes in Manhattan. The culinary studio remains bustling throughout the week with instructive cooking classes held daily for adults, teenagers and children. Their intimate, hands-on classes are an ideal place for beginners as well as experienced cooks to improve their cooking skills. I can’t wait!

The Chef-Instructors hail from a wide variety of culinary backgrounds, resulting in classes that are as diverse as they are delicious. They offer classes with well-respected chefs from successful restaurants, cookbook authors (we hope to be included when our book is out this summer!), caterers and private chefs, wine experts, food purveyors, and other culinary authorities. Here are a few upcoming classes that we are considering but for a complete listing go to their website JCCManhattan.org and sign up. Many thanks to the JCC for sharing this sneak peak recipe for Tuscan White Bean Soup from a recent class, just for GKC readers. It’s just a sample of the delicious recipes that are taught, shared and distributed with each class. Sunday night soup just got a little better.

I’m currently deciding which classes to take, anyone want to come?

11/2 (9 – 11 a.m.) Moms In The Kitchen (Delicious Nibbles for Busy Moms)

Active mom and professional chef Kim Pistone leads this series featuring wholesome meal plans for busy moms. Homemade granola, wraps, hummos and more.

11/8 (7 pm) The Tuscan Table
Join chef Sarah on a special journey through creating this traditional, simple, and rustic trattoria type fare. You’ll create escarole salad with walnut red wine vinaigrette, slightly mashed roasted sunchokes with goat cheese, homemade butternut squash and ricotta ravioli with sage brown butter, whole roasted branzino with lemon anchovy radicchio, classic tomato and garlic bruschetta, and for dessert, homemade tiramisu.

11/10 (7 pm) Savory and Satisfying Soups (I think they created this one for me!)

A hearty soup served with a piece of crusty bread, salad or sandwich makes for a wonderfully delicious and nutritious meal. You’ll make tomato fennel soup with a grown-up grilled cheese panini with pesto, fontina, and gruyere; pumpkin soup with lime cream, toasted pepitas and crispy tortilla matchsticks; mushroom barley soup with cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms; green minestrone with fresh pesto and grated parmesan; oatmeal honey wheat bread; and a winter green salad.

11/17 (7 – 9:30 pm) Thanksgiving Favorites
Simplify and enjoy your holiday cooking by learning tricks for preparing traditional holiday recipes ahead of time. The mouthwatering menu includes all the trimmings: turkey and gravy, cranberry and orange relish, mashed potatoes, apple stuffing, braised Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, honey glazed carrots, and pecan pie–sure to please anyone who is coming to dinner!

12/1 (7-9:30 pm) Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

Learn time saving party planning tips and presentation ideas while you shake a festive cocktail and prepare a selection of delicious hors d’oeuvres. Create pomegranate margaritas and sparkling white sangria, crudités with roasted red pepper and walnut dip, bite–size goat cheese cheesecakes, plantains topped with mango, pomegranate and avocado salsa, honey roasted peppered pecans, truffled deviled eggs, parmesan wafers, smoked salmon, wasabi and pickled ginger tartines and perfect pissaladiere strips.

12/8 (7-9:30 pm) Delicious Dishes from Great NY Restaurants
Cheers to chef Irene who once again demystifies how to create signature restaurant dishes right in your own home! You’ll learn to prepare a mouthwatering tomato tatin from La Goulue, Telepan’s savory vegetable bread soup, Craft’s zesty beet salad with beet vinaigrette, NOBU’s famous black cod with miso, Bouley’s fabulous fingerling potato puree, The Red Cat’s sautéed zucchini with toasted almonds and pecorino, and WD50’s heavenly cherry clafouti.

At GKC, cooking is a hobby, a passion, a business, and something that we constantly try to improve. Now that the kids are back in school, and the schedules are more permitting, take a class with us at the JCC in NYC!

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Serves 4-6
Recipe Courtesy of Chef Instructor John Scoff

“This recipe is from our Culinary Boot Camp Series, it’s perfect for practicing knife skills and perfecting seasoning with herbs and spices. It is one of the most flavorful and delicious Tuscan White Bean Soups I’ve ever had! ” …….. Jennifer Goren, Director of Culinary Arts

Prep time 20 minutes, cook time 45 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 head garlic, roasted
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 large fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
1-quart vegetarian chicken broth
2 (14-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 small head green cabbage, chopped thin
1-tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 turnips, peeled and diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, anchovies and fennel, and cook until the fennel has softened, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in the tomatoes, broth, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, beans, herbs, cabbage, zucchini, turnips, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until all the vegetables and beans are tender, about 30 minutes more. Discard the bay leaf.

Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, and a little lemon juice, if needed. Serve the soup hot or at room temperature with a drizzle of peppery extra-virgin olive oil and a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Take a Break

image: zippydesignz.com

And we assume you’ve had it too! This is the week for leftovers – if you are lucky enough to have any, salad bar, omelets and easy, easy, easy (like this broiled salmon, for example). Come back next week for our regular weekly recipes, great products, wine recommendations and some new ideas for cooking with kids. In the meantime, take a break. You deserve it!

Special Chol Hamoed Recipes

Okay, it was a wonderful Yom Tov. And it’s not over yet!! But before you really immerse yourself in cooking for the last nights, let’s consider our chol hamoed options. You want time to be with your family. You want to go on trips. Let’s be honest here; you want to get out of the kitchen! But everyone still needs to eat. So you need easy options or the “make it in the morning and ignore it all day” kind. Here are some suggestions to make your chol hamoed special, enjoyable and as effortless as possible (other than take out!)

Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Cabbage
Thai Chicken in a Minute
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Cabbage

This is a hearty meal to return to after a long day at an amusement park…

1 (4-pound) corned beef, rinsed off
1 onion, sliced
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/3’s
1 bay leaf
1 head cabbage, chopped (large pieces is fine)
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer
4 cups chicken broth or enough to cover
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
½ teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in crock pot in the morning. Stir. Cook on high heat for about 6 hours or low heat for 8 to 12 (depends on when you start it and when you plan to return). Serve alongside white rice or a crusty bread. Another alternative is to add 4 peeled and chopped potatoes to stew and serve those alongside the meat and cabbage.

Thai Chicken in a Minute

photo: cookingwithali's blog

This takes 15 to 20 minutes to prepare. You can have everything ready to go and just cook it right before serving.

1-1/2 cups coconut milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 scallions, chopped
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, ginger and pepper; set aside or store in the refrigerator if saving for later. In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté chicken until no longer pink – about 10 minutes. Add scallions and sauté briefly. Stir in sauce and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Sprinkle on peanuts, if using, and serve. Also good with rice – white, jasmine or basmati. Try this ginger-cilantro rice if you are feeling motivated.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

photo: ifood.tv

If everyone still wants dessert (and you don’t have any leftover), try these delicious cookies, made from a mix.

1 Devil’s Food cake mix
¾ cup crunchy peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons nondairy creamer
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets. On low to medium speed, combine cake mix, peanut butter, eggs and nondairy creamer until no lumps of cake mix remain. On low speed, add peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to finish cooling.

If you want to try another type of easy cookie, here is our all-time favorite: Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies – also from a mix!


Succos is my favorite cooking holiday. For some reason, I feel the Succah is a perfect place to serve more ethnic menus and have a lot of fun with new foods. This year I tinkered with some old favorites and came up with some newer more gourmet versions for GKC readers. I think you will love the results and they will become your new “go-to” versions.

Mexican Meatball Soup
Gourmet Stuffed Cabbage with Veal and Sausage
Sweetbreads Braised in Wild Mushroom Broth
Wild Mushroom Barley
Roasted Pear Cake with Chocolate Sauce

What are you making? Tell us. Have a comment? Or a question? We love to hear from our readers.

Good Yom Tov
Elizabeth and Emuna