Did you catch me on Rachael Ray last Monday?

Did you catch me on Rachael Ray last Monday? No, I didn’t make a special guest appearance (who knows, maybe one day), but for now I was a special guest in the audience. We had fantastic front rows seats, and got to watch the pro in action. And she is a pro! I loved being a guest in the audience and feeling the friendliness of Rachael and her incredible talent to cook and connect with the audience.

I’ve seen quite a few television shows being taped and wow! Rachael does everything, in one take. The interviews are natural and engaging, the shopping sections are personal and fun and of course the cooking segments make it look so easy. She has a lot of fun with the audience but clearly seems to have a vision and exact idea of how she expects the quality of the show to go.

After the show, we got an amazing tour of the set, backstage, “green rooms”, the test kitchen, the pantry (heaven! see all the pics) and of course, Rachael in her office in the studio. Ahhhh! So cool. She was friendly and took a quick photo, squeezing it all in between her many roles.

Rachael Ray is hosting 3 televisions shows, running her magazine, launching a new book (New book release! My Year in Meals, twelve month’s of Rachael’s homemade favorites, plus A Year in Cocktails from her husband is included!), a cookware line and working on numerous other endeavors including her charities.

While we were there on the show, Rachael made Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken with Sweet and Salty Stuffing. I did the GKC makeover to make it kosher and the results are terrific!

See all the pics below, check out her new book , and try the GKC version of Rachael’s recipe below. Many thanks to Rachael Ray and her entire team for such a fun day.

Pastrami Wrapped Chicken with Sweet and Salty Stuffing

Rachael Ray and Elizabeth and Arielle

Test kitchen at work

One of the many lux rooms for guests of the show

Rows and rows of fabulous Rachael Ray cookware

Pastrami Wrapped Chicken with Sweet and Salty Stuffing

Serves 4

This is the GKC makeover of Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken by Rachael Ray. I loved being a guest in the audience and feeling the friendliness of Rachael and her incredible talent to cook and connect with the audience. Try our version.

2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 (4- to 5-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken or veal cutlets
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dry sherry or red wine
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds toasted
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest
4 thin slices pastrami **
1 tablespoon margarine, cut into 4 pieces
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Season the chicken (or veal) with salt and pepper, and cook, turning once, for 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

In the same skillet, bring about 1/4 cup water and the sherry or wine, to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. In a small bowl, pour the liquid over the raisins and let plump for 5 minutes, then drain and chop. In another bowl, combine the raisins, breadcrumbs, parsley, pine nuts or almonds, jalapeno pepper, capers, garlic and zest.

Mound the stuffing onto the cutlets and wrap with the pastrami. Top each with 1 piece of margarine. Bake on a baking sheet until the pastrami is browned and a bit crisp, about 8 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.

** There is a new kosher product called Facon, made by Jack’s Gourmet that will be in stores in the next two months. This would be even better to use than the pastrami because it crisps up like real prosciutto or bacon. If you use Facon, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees and cook for 5 minutes (just like the original recipe).

Kosherfest 2012

Wow! Another year of new kosher food, lots of tasting, so many special guests and a lot of fun.  GKC loved meeting up with old friends from Royal Wines (see the post on the Pacifica Meritage, so good!), Osem, and Jack’s Gourmet.  While still meeting new friends from new companies that wow our taste buds enough to mention.

So what was newsworthy or blog worthy this year?  First, Facon, by Jack’s Gourmet, was one of the highlights of the show.  Many companies have tried to replicate the taste and texture of bacon but have failed in some way.  Facon,”bacon-like” meat is a big winner!  Facon cooks up crispy and crunchy, just like real bacon and tastes great and even has that bacon-cooking aroma.  The product opens a whole new world to the kosher consumer. I am already imagining it as a great soup starter, crumbled on mashed potatoes, or wrapped around a hearty meatloaf.  No surprise, Facon and Jack’s Gourmet’s Italian Style Salami were Kosherfest product winners.

Non-dairy desserts have come a long way with so many options but more are on the way and these are going to cure your “fear of fleishig”.  I tasted just a few sorbet flavors from Gelato Petrini; chocolate peanut butter, strawberry, cookies and cream, and peach ginger and was so impressed.  Gelato Petrini, all pareve sorbets (they have a dairy line too) are rich, delicious, smooth and well worth serving to company.  Available in stores soon.  Don’t forget to request lots of flavors at your local market because you don’t want to miss out on all their creative genius.

Kosherfest was studded with companies addressing the gluten free needs of so many consumers.  GKC recommends Finchi’s desserts (she started as a Passover baker – yup all of her desserts are kosher for Passover, gluten free, nut-free, and dairy-free).  Delicious chocolate desserts like mousse, torte, brownie fudge. My Dad’s Cookies came out with some additional gluten-free cookies including a “Milano” like treat that looks and taste pretty close to the original by Pepperidge Farms.

GKC friends at Osem have some great Passover and everyday products. Congratulations on their big win at Kosherfest “best new rice or grain product” for Couscous with rice, roasted garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  For Passover, I love the soft keep fresh bag that comes in every 5 lb. set of matzos.  And the mix for Passover rolls will help all those fussy kids who live on air all Pesach.  Bread-like rolls that are kosher for Passover, moist and tasty.

You asked for it, you got it…Both Norman’s and Mehadrin have Cholov Yisroel Greek yogurt coming soon to markets.  And two new just add water challah mixes. My best of the show and great pantry item is called Voila’ Hallah, by Tribes a Dozen.  I tried both the whole wheat and the spelt mixes with great success. Terrific flavor, so easy and mess free.

Snacking is an important part of Kosherfest.  The super winners for me? Sweet Tammy’s cookies and challahs, especially the snickerdoodles.  These cookies are a perfect combination of soft, sweet and a little crunchy.  In very generous sizes and cute packaging you should keep an eye out for them.  Brownie Brittle has been a big hit here on the East coast.  A rustic snack of rich brownie taste with a crisp cookie crunch.  It’s like brownie meets brittle and the only problem is that I can eat the whole bag because it’s such an addictive snack. They have new flavors too, but try any of them, they are all terrific.

Manischewitz is so trendy too, with great new products like red velvet macaroons, frozen macaroon dough for delicious homemade macaroons out of your own oven without the work.

Lastly, well, hardly lastly because I could tell you more about the Golan Beer, or the super products from Pereg (do they make the best spices or what? Wait until you taste their Passover couscous, almost fooled me), yes lastly I wanted to tell you about a terrific new company that I hope we see in National markets soon. Woops, an Israeli company that makes frozen Belgium waffles, super chunky extra large cookies and some really moist and rich molten cakes was a show fav for me.  I loved the waffles and apparently I’m in good company because Max Brenner Chocolates (another chocoholic and talented Israeli) carries their waffles, cookies and more in his chocolate bars

Now, I must get on my treadmill or close my mouth for a bit, well at least until I get home and munch on some of my favorite Kosherfest take home treats.


We are “Thanksgiving celebraters”.  We enjoy the extended family being together for what we call a “neutral” holiday, no rules, no trouble keeping things at the right temperature, all celebrating being grateful.  Most years we stay in NY with my in-laws and my husbands cousins because its too difficult to travel that weekend and it’s a fun tradition at their home.  My mother-in-law is not the patcha in the kitchen type (don’t worry she is a proud reservation maker and I am not offending her in any way) but she really works hard to make Thanksgiving a delicious and warm experience for all. She loves a potpourri of stuff like pigs in a blanket, hummos and veggies, stuffed cabbage (that’s her trademark dish that she learned from her mother-in-law and admittedly it’s the recipe I make too because it’s the best ever), smoked and regular turkey, sweet potatoes with crushed pineapple, steamed green beans, and someone brings store bought pies.  Until it’s in my house, I eat what I am served. I always bring a few of the side dishes in the Thanksgiving recipe ideas section, but in general I enjoy that I am a guest and love that it is not all on my shoulders.  My best recommendation, check out all these great recipes and give them out to all your guests to make.  Make it a pot luck and be grateful for good friends, family and good food.

In addition to the new recipes for Thanksgiving, make sure you check out the
a href=”https://gourmetkoshercooking.com/?s=turkey&cat=0″ target=”_blank”>Turkey recipes
Stuffing recipes
Cranberry Sauce recipes
Mashed Potato recipes
Squash recipes
Green Bean recipes
Pie recipes

Hurricane Sandy

In the days after Hurricane Sandy, many of us are managing (well barely!) with no power, heat, hot water, closed schools, and an inability to get around easily. Honestly, we are the lucky ones who are just suffering without these luxuries. Many people lost their homes, or sustained tremendous damage that they must somehow manage. It’s always amazing to see how friends and communities pull together to help one another in these types of emergencies – from calling to say, “come stay with us”, to sharing their generator electricity, to late night rescues from water-flooded homes or just enjoying a game of Monopoly by flashlight. I am so privileged to know these types of people and grateful for the welcome they gave us.

On a much lighter note, I cannot help thinking about some of the ideas that came to mind while trying to cook without power. The main goal was to use whatever perishable ingredients I had on hand. Second, I only have a gas powered cooktop so I was limited to cooktop items.

The first night we enjoyed a homemade marinara sauce. I added some flanken that I browned in a pan and then slow cooked it in the marinara sauce for about 45 minutes. The result was a delicious, thick and rich tomato sauce. I cooked some pasta, added a bit of the pasta water to the marinara sauce pan and coated the pasta with the meat sauce. Dinner 1 is done!

The second night I made Asian Chicken Salad Cups. It used up all my leftover chicken from Shabbos and quite a few other refrigerator and pantry items. We devoured the No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bundles while playing board games by flashlight. Mission accomplished.

The third night, we went to a friend….game over 🙂

Chicken or Meat Stir-Fry with Vegetables

photo: thechinesecookbook.com

Serves 6

This recipe can be make with chicken or meat and any vegetables of your choice. Make sure to follow the Master Stir-Fry quick tips to ensure perfect stir fry results.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 package shiitake mushrooms
2 to 3 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a large skillet, sauté pan or wok, heat the pan over high heat. When smoking, reduce heat to medium-high and add oil.Add the chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, pepper, and onion and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the water chestnuts. In a small bowl, combine broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and cornstarch. Add to chicken mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium to medium-low, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

Susie Fishbein’s new Kosher by Design, Cooking Coach

Last Tuesday evening, GKC got to rub shoulders with the best of Kosher foodies at Pomegranate market in Brooklyn for the official press launch of Susie Fishbein’s latest book, Kosher by Design, Cooking Coach.  It was a packed house with GKC friends, Sarah Lasry of Kosherstreet, Marlene Mamiye from The Jewish Hostess, the winner of journalist for a night, Chanie, for Lois and Roberta at Koshereye, Tamar from Joyofkosher as well as press representatives for all the Jewish papers.

Susie Fishbein put her experience of years of teaching to hundreds of audiences into her newest books.  It’s filled with 120 new recipes and John Uher’s famous photos.  Susie says, “Here are the best tips and techniques I’ve used and taught over the last ten years.  And now, they’re yours!”

What’s special about this book? I like the “playbook”  as Susie calls it.  It’s an upfront section of the book that helps readers who serve leftover snobs, like my family and myself.  Bottom line, my family does not like the same food served the same way, even on a different night.  Susie addresses this issue in her book and gives you time and budget saving ideas for how to reuse the leftovers from recipes in the book with additional recipes that include the leftovers.  I also like the inclusion of some new foods available to the kosher market like S’riachi sauce (GKC fav), Silan, a new date syrup and some delicious spice blends like Hawaij for soup.

Susie is comfortable and confident in front of audiences and enjoys talking about food about as much as GKC.  GKC asked, “Have any favorite recipes from the new book?” “Yemenite Beef Soup”, Susie said, with a confident nod of agreement from her husband.  She added that she loved writing this book and there are so many recipes that she enjoyed creating, testing and retesting to get them just right.

Whether you are a cooking novice or a seasoned gourmet, Cooking Coach has tons of great ideas to make everyone a more creative cook.

Available from Artscroll for $29.59 or submit to win one from GKC.  See our Featured Giveaway to win.

Yemenite Beef Soup

Serves 8-10

This is a sneak peak recipe from Susie Fishbein’s newest book, Kosher By Design, Cooking Coach. It’s one of Susie’s favorite recipes.

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds beef marrow bones
1-½ pounds cubed shell roast or beef stew meat
1 onion, peeled cut into ½ inch dice
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons hawaij, Yemenite spice mixture *
¼ cup tomato paste
3 carrots, peeled, cut into thick rounds
6 cups chicken stock
2 large or 3 small russet potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the marrow bones. Stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beef cubes, cover, and cook for 10 minutes longer, until there is some brown coloring on both the bones and the meat.

Uncover the pot and add the onion and garlic: cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the hawaij. Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, coating the meat and bones. Cook for 3 -4 minutes to deepen the tomato flavor. Add the carrots and stock. Cover the pot. Turn the heat to low and cook, simmering for 1 hour. Skim off any foam or fat.

Add the potatoes. Cover and cook for an additional hour.

Discard the bones. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Easy Chocolate Mousse

Okay, we aren’t quite sick of cooking any longer and we are back in the kitchen. But the creative juices aren’t exactly flowing and our desire for “easy” is at its peak!! Here is a great and versatile chocolate mousse recipe that is an easy dessert, an elegant dessert and a popular dessert! What more could you ask? It is guaranteed to become one of your favorites.

Easy Chocolate Mousse

Makes 12 – 16 large portions or 24 – 30 small ones

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons margarine
2 egg yolks
2 cups pareve whip
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate and margarine together in a microwave. Stir until smooth. Rapidly whisk in egg yolks so they don’t have time to cook. Set aside to cool briefly.

In a mixer, beat pareve whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar and vanilla. On low speed, add chocolate to whip until completely combined. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Serve in martini glasses with a cookie on the side or spread across a batch of brownies (use Duncan Hines to make this super easy!)

Yom Kippur

Even though our focus is on teshuvah, we still need to eat – both before and after the fast.  After in our family is the easiest.  We like to break all fasts with soup and bread.  It’s soothing and filling – but not too filling.  Usually we prefer a pareve or dairy soup but after Yom Kippur, we like something heartier so I usually pick a meat option.  Check out GKC’s soup section and try something new for your family.

Before the fast, it’s appropriate to have a festive meal, beginning with bread and moving through the other courses. We like to eat chicken here because it’s a little lighter than beef and some bland sides (harder to find on GKC because we like to think of our sides as anything but!).  We finish off the meal with some refreshing fruit – watermelon or honeydew perhaps.  GKC wishes all its readers an easy and meaningful fast and would like express its hope for a peaceful year for the land of Israel and all the Jewish people.

A Taste of Sweetness

Many GKC readers request recipes and products for children and adults that have food sensitivities and allergies. Although this is not our specialty, GKC is fortunate to have other readers and friends who have expert experience and advice. Tamar Warga, mother of 10 children, 4 with severe allergies shares some of her personal experience and recipes for a family with allergic children. She has written a Rosh Hashannah e-cookbook called, “A Taste of Sweetness” (she wrote a Passover e-cookbook also, called “A Taste of Freedom”. Through the crucible of allergic emergencies, this cookbook was forged.

GKC spoke to Tamar and she shared how she created and adapted her life to meet the needs of her family, as if parenting 10 children was already not a full time job.

Here is her story, “My first experience with food allergies was when my oldest son was 15 months old. After eating scrambled eggs, he began rubbing his eyes and breaking out in hives around his eyes and the bridge of his nose. My first impulse was to bathe him (thinking he had rubbed food into his eyes). When I realized the rash was spreading quickly I called his pediatrician who advised “give him Benadryl and go to the nearest ER if he shows any signs of difficulty breathing.” DIFFICULTY BREATHING?!

Over the next few months his food allergy list grew to include tree nuts, peanuts, melon, pineapple, and kiwi. Thankfully, my oldest son outgrew most of his food allergies by the age of three. Little did I know that a few years later we’d be forced to deal with his twin brothers, food allergies that would make his experience look like a stroll in the park.

Twin boys with allergies? Yup, identical twins with identical multiple severe food allergies. They were miserable from the get go even when they were exclusively breastfed (reacting to the allergens in my diet- unbeknownst to me). Their “no list” included eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, wheat, oats, all grains (oats, spelts, etc…).Reactions were frequent even when the ingredients weren’t problematic. Cross-contamination and even skin contact would elicit reactions. Thank Gd the ER was close by. At first, finding a “yes list” for them was overwhelming.

Overwhelming, but not impossible. I did manage to find things for them (and their younger brother who is also food allergic) to eat that were not only edible but enjoyable. They were my inspiration for my first cookbook “A Taste of Freedom” (Allergy friendly Passover Cookbook) and for my latest one ” A Taste of Sweetness”. My hope is that other people who have to avoid common allergens will see that living with allergies while challenging can be very sweet.”

GKC previewed A Taste of Sweetness. It’s easy, delicious, allergic sensitive recipes that is available as an e-book through this link. A Taste of Sweetness celebrates the flavors, textures, and traditions of Rosh Hashana cooking.

All recipes are dairy and nut free. Most recipes are egg-free, and without fish. Many are gluten free as well.

A Taste of Sweetness is just $5. Click here to receive the link and start enjoying Tamar’s delicious recipes like Pomegranate Leek Quinoa and Honey Chicken for Rosh Hashanah today.

Read recipe for Eggless Round Challah.

The High Holidays are Around the Corner

The High Holidays are around the corner.  I know; I don’t believe it either.  Isn’t it still summer? The kids are still around (reminding me of the line in Pride and Prejudice, “You have delighted us long enough!”) and we don’t even have the list of school supplies.  Yet three weeks from today is Rosh HaShanah and it’s not too soon to begin menu planning.  We are putting together a great new selection of recipes for this year’s chagim but please check our indexes from 2010 and 2011 for some other great ideas. One of the things we like to do is play around with the simanim and whip up special dishes to highlight the experience. Here are some of our past favorites:

Rosh Hashanah Salad
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
Apple Challah
Leek Patties
Coconut Date Balls
Pomegranate Sweet Custard Tart

You are now well on your way to creating a sweet new year!

A Special Recommendation

It’s official.  This July is the hottest month on record.  But we don’t need the newspaper to tell us that.  We experience it every time we walk outside.  We frequently experience it even when we stay indoors!  And the last thing we feel like doing in over 90 degree weather is cooking.  Even die-hard GKC staff are feeling a little wilted in this heat.  So we have a special recommendation this week.  Visit our restaurant section, find your state and city and see what’s available.  This is the time to either go out to eat or bring something in. Sometimes it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  And for those who still feel like cooking, you can check out our new weekly recipes or of course all the other recipes on the site.  But me, I’m going out…I’m anticipating air conditioning, good food and no clean-up. Need I say more?

We are Nuts for No Nut Nation!

Calling all moms and kids with nut allergies and all those who love tasting new delicious treats! GKC found another great company, No Nut Nation, that makes adorable, scrumptious, all natural, peanut free, and tree nut free products that you must find in your area.  People with and without allergies are going to love them.

We love their Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes because they are party perfect in both taste and appearance.  They are so cute you could serve them at a birthday party and we loved the moist cakes, the pure flavors and especially the swirl of cream cheese frosting. Best yet, they are not only nut free, they are egg free, AND all natural.  No artificial coloring in these cupcakes. No Nut Nation figured out how to use beet juice as a coloring agent so effectively that it colors the cupcakes without affecting the flavor or texture.  They sure fooled GKC.  The mini cupcakes are also available in chocolate and chocolate chip.

We also tasted their Whoopie Pies, OMG so super cute, individually wrapped and just delicious.  Available in an assortment of flavors, including chocolate, chocolate chip, and red velvet, they are elegant enough for a sophisticated palate and fun for kids too.

No Nut Nation has other products too. Try the “Perfect Brownie” or “Brownie Bites”.  What’s so great in these rich, chocolaty, nut free, and moist brownies? They are loaded with antioxidants.  How great is that? Eat a treat and remain healthy! No Nut Nation, does not stop there, their product list is complete with other items like chocolate chip cookies and cookie bites. Crunchy and moist chocolate chip cookies are terrific for school snacks or a mid week treat.

No Nut Nation is a company launched by a concerned mom whose daughter has tree nut and nut allergies.  She began baking nut-free treats in her home as a necessity.  She got so good at it that other parents starting asking for them.  She teamed up with another mom, and in 2010, they created No Nut Nation.  GKC gives our seal of appoval.

Lucky East Coasters, No Nut Nation, products are available in Whole Foods Stores and Fairway Markets.  They are very popular for schools and specialty stores too.  Ask your school or store to carry them!

Find them at NoNutNation.com
Kosher certified by OK Kosher. Most items are OK Dairy.

Meatless Mexican

Mexican food is one of our favorite options during these meatless nine days.  You can use the vegetarian ground round or just vegetables to make many flavorful and spicy dishes.  They are colorful, filling and a treat. No one will even miss the meat. Some of our new favorites are:

Guacamole with Grilled Jalapenos
Black Bean Chili
Jalapeno Grilled Cheese

Or check out some of our old favorites: Mexican Black Bean Lasagna, Mexican Cole Slaw and this Vegetarian Corn Chips Pie

Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A spicy variety on an easy favorite. Recipe is for 1 – can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled etc. etc.

1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
2 slices crusty bread
1 tablespoon butter, softened
¼ cup shredded pizza cheese

Place jalapeno on a baking sheet, cut side down. Broil for about 10 minutes or until blackened. Cool and chop. Mix with grated cheese. Butter outsides of bread. Place cheese and jalapeno mixture on top of one bread slice. Cover with other slice and grill in pan – about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Yum!

Black Bean Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) can diced, roasted green chilies
1 jalapeno, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably Corona)
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or pareve chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Accompaniments: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, guacamole, sliced olive rings

In a medium Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chilies, jalapeno, onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in beer. Cook until reduced by half. Add beans, chili powder, cumin, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Stir in lime juice, remove from heat and serve. Good over rice with some or all of the accompaniments listed above.

Burgers, Burgers, and more Burgers

The food trend of the summer is the burger. Everyone from Rachael Ray to Jean George is making them, featuring them, and writing books about them. GKC just had to get our two cents in about them. Here’s what we’ve learned from the newest articles and columns on making burgers plus our own practical and delicious experimenting.

Fat is Good in a meat burger. You want to use ground beef (FRESHLY ground by the butcher) that contains about 80% beef and 20% fat.

Be Gentle! Kneading is for bread. Handle the meat gently and form loose patties to retain flavor. Packed patties become tough.

Burgers need salt and pepper. We recommend kosher salt and pepper and then whatever other seasonings you like, mesquite, onion, etc. The experts are claiming that they need little other than salt and pepper. I still like a few dried spices like onion powder and mustard.

Spatulas are NOT for pressing. Use them for flipping and DO NOT press on your burgers. All that juice that drips out is the flavor.

Make a small indentation in the center of each burger. Burgers contract as they cook, causing the middle to form a dome-like top. Making a small indentation in the center of the patty will keep the burger flat and even and therefore allow all the toppings to stay on under the bun.

Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. A rare burger is about 125 degrees, and a well-done burger is 160 degrees.

Add a little liquid. Some experts disagree with GKC here, but Cook’s Illustrated and Bobby Flay agree that moisture is the key to a juicy burger. Remember no pressing on the burgers to lose moisture. We recommend adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of ice water to the meat or any other liquid of your choice, like a combination of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, seltzer, beer, mustard, you name it but add a bit to add moisture to the patty.

Buy lots of condiments for a burger bar. We love serving fried onions, guacamole, spicy mustard, sautéed mushrooms, and tons of store bought mustards, salsas, tapenades, or whatever you like, for a fun burger bar evening with guests.

Let us know your best burger tips. And find lots of great burger recipes on GKC!

4th of July

The 4th of July is about so much more than food – but we’ll leave that part for other more eloquent bloggers to express. Our concern is with the meal – the picnic, the barbecue, the celebration.  Every serving of fried chicken, every grilled burger or hot dog needs a good side to go with it and what could be better than classic coleslaw and its myriad variations. Here are some of our favorites – old:
Terra Chip Coleslaw
Spicy Indian Coleslaw
Jalapeno Slaw
New Year’s Cole Slaw
And new:
Southwestern Coleslaw

Southwestern Coleslaw

1-1/2 packages cole slaw
2 scallions, minced
2 radishes sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper


In a large bowl, combine cole slaw with scallions and radishes.  Whisk together all dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables. Mix until well-combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

I am not sure if it’s because I am in charge of the kitchen or if it’s because I am home earlier than my husband, but I am the one who barbeques in our family. And aside from the bbq smell that lingers on my clothing and hair, I love it. I love experimenting with different sauces and meats. I love the quick cooking and all the gadgets and I love that my kids eat up every bite.

Lately, I have been experimenting with BBQ sauce and am excited to share my new favorite. It is fantastic on chicken, meat, burgers, and lamb. I also used the leftover sauce as the base on a Roasted Vegetable Tart.

Drum roll please….

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

Roasted Vegetable Tart

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce:
1 head of garlic, roasted, squeezed from the skin
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chipolte in adobe sauce (optional: made by Roland in a can with OU hashgacha)
½ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For the sauce: Place the roasted garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, syrup, vinegar, Worcestershire, chipolte, chicken stock and pepper in a small pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to low and thicken 20 minutes. (This sauce stores well for weeks)

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Serves 10

Ratatouille Tart:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
1/2 to 3/4 cup leftover BBQ Sauce
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 to 2 roasted red peppers, julienned
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Roll the puff pastry out on a floured surface to a rectangular shape, about 12 by 10 1/2 inches. Transfer the pastry sheet to a parchment-lined baking sheet. With the tines of a fork, dock a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the sheet and dock the center of the sheet a few times as well. This will prevent the dough from rising as it cooks. 

Spread the BBQ sauce evenly over the pastry, leaving a small border around the edge of the pastry. Layer the tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini in overlapping rows, or in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the roasted red peppers around the tart. Drizzle the assembled tart with a little olive oil, making sure to brush a little on the edges, season with salt and pepper. 

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the basil before serving.

Father’s Day

photo: seriouseats.com

I don’t know how barbequing and grilling came to be a father’s job.  And I certainly know that mother’s are perfectly capable of it as well!  But if there’s a cooking job that men like to do, hey, far be it from me to stand in their way! It’s a nice way to end a slow Sunday – or any other day for that matter – and the possibilities are truly endless.  This year we are focused on burgers and we have rounded up a few of our favorites.  As always, we’d love to hear yours!

Father’s Day Burger
Asian Burgers
Grilled Burgers with Lemon Margarine
Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers
Salmon Burgers
Tuna Burgers

Is Your Lettuce Lifeless?

Crispy green lettuce is the most sought after leafy vegetable, for both salads and sandwiches. Lettuce is rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A and iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Best yet, it is helpful to maintain a healthy metabolism.. Lettuce is high in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps those suffering from constipation. Some say that the juice of lettuce mixed with rose oil and applied to the forehead can help ease a painful headache.

In my house, we use a lot of lettuce and keeping it crisp is crucial. No one wants unappetizing, limp and wrinkled lettuce in your refrigerator when you bought it only two days before. Storage is key.

Here are our best GKC tips on how to buy and store lettuce:

1. In the store, choose the leaves that look crispy and bright in color. Avoid wilted leaves that are shriveled at the edges. Looking for bright color and perky edges should help you differentiate between quality lettuce and those that arrived several days before.

2. The main storage problem is usually too much moisture. This dampness condenses on the leaves and suffocates them. The key is to store the lettuce wrapped in damp paper towels and sealed in a Ziploc bag. This will absorb the extra water without dehydrating the leaves. Store this lettuce in your crisper drawer, if you have one, otherwise store it with other vegetables.

3. Do not pile lots of other vegetables on top of the lettuce. It will bruise and become wilted.

4. Store leftover salad with a damp paper towel on top of the salad. Do not cover it with plastic wrap. This will stay surprisingly well for a day or two without become brown or wilted.

Try these great salads with your crispy lettuce
Basic Vinaigrette Salad
Spring Salad with Portobello Mushrooms
Red Leaf Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans