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Judaism Starts In the Kitchen

Judaism Starts In the Kitchen

Select recipes from the new cookbook, Kosher By Design Entertains: Fabulous Recipes for Parties & Every Day

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Click here to pre-order your copy of Kosher By Design Entertains at 15% off retail price, and help support Aish.com!

One of the greatest joys of Jewish living is sharing celebrations. We have so many! From the rhythm of holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah to special gatherings to mark rites of passage, such as a bar mitzvah or a 50th wedding anniversary, there's always a simcha (happy occasion) around the corner.

In recent years, I've noticed more and more people choosing to outsource preparations rather than doing it on their own. And I feel a twinge of sadness. Why? Because I recall how bonding, how tradition instilling, and how identity forming were the times my family worked together to create an event. Often it was readying the house for guests for Shabbat; other times it was preparing to host a Seder for extended family; sometimes it was a birthday, an engagement party, or my own bat mitzvah. The preparations shaped me.

As a busy wife and mother, I understand the pressures of leading a Jewish life in a modern world. That's why I work very hard to make our home the focal point of Jewish learning. In my kitchen, I know I'm giving my kids practical kosher experience. As we work together to prepare a guest room, I'm imparting the value of hospitality we learn from our ancestor Abraham. When we prepare a milestone birthday party for their father, I'm training them in the principle of kibud av (honoring a parent). These are life lessons that last beyond a lifetime. These are behavioral links in the chain of Jewish continuity.

In the last two years, I've authored two wonderful cookbooks -- Kosher By Design and Kosher By Design Entertains. (My deepest thanks to ArtScroll for making them so beautiful!) Each is suffused with the sentiment that Judaism is really a home-based business. While anyone can import a meal for guests, there is no substitute for a feast that starts in the heart. Today, with so many choices in kosher products, it's never been easier to be a kosher entertainer -- especially with a little creative guidance.

In cooking demonstrations across the country, I've met many readers who claim they are having a revolution at home. In using Kosher By Design recipes and planning suggestions, they are enjoying cooking and entertaining more than ever. Of course, this brings the Jewish mother in me great nachas since they are actually using the books! But my greatest joy comes from knowing this publishing effort is inspiring more Jews to appreciate and share the richness of our heritage.

I hope you enjoy the following recipes from my new cookbook, Kosher By Design Entertains.

Mini Chicken Wellingtons (Meat)

Mini Chicken Wellingtons:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness, trimmed into square shapes
salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped shiitake mushroom caps
1/3 cup chopped oyster mushrooms or other wild mushrooms
1 shallot, very finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sheets puff pastry
(from 2 17.5-ounce boxes)
24 baby spinach leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten

Raspberry Sauce:
1 (10-ounce) box frozen raspberries, in light syrup
zest and juice of 1 lime
10 chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Remove tenders from chicken if they are attached. Set aside for another use. Cut each breast in half lengthwise. Cut each strip in half widthwise. You will end up with 12 square pieces. Season both sides of each piece of chicken with salt and pepper.

3. In a medium saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and sear each side for 1-2 minutes. Don't overcook or the chicken will dry out when it bakes in the oven. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. To the same pan, add the cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. Add in the shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté for 4-6 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Refrigerate if necessary to hasten the cooling.

4. Cut each of the two sheets of puff pastry into 6 equal squares, totaling 12 squares. Season the puff pastry with salt and pepper. Lay 1 spinach leaf in the center of each square. Top with 1/12th of the cooled mushroom mixture. Top with a second baby spinach leaf. Place a square of chicken on top of the spinach leaf. Wrap the puff pastry around the mound, sealing it on the bottom and tucking the ends underneath. Place seamside down on prepared baking sheet.

5. Using a mini cookie cutter, cut out leaves or flowers from the third puff pastry sheet. Place 1 leaf or flower on top of each mini wellington. Brush the whole packet with the beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

6. Meanwhile prepare raspberry sauce. Pour the frozen raspberries and syrup into a small pot. Add the zest and juice of the lime. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade or with an immersion blender in the pot, purée the raspberries. Strain though a fine mesh strainer and discard the seeds. Mix in the chives and parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature with mini wellingtons.

Yield: 12 servings

Cream of Sweet Potato Soup with Maple Roasted Pecans (Meat, Parve, or Dairy)

I dropped a container off at my neighbor Ed David's house and got the following message from him on my answering machine. "Hi, it's Ed, now you're just showing off." Nothing more to say except try this recipe.

Maple Roasted Pecans:
2 tablespoons margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup
Cream of
Sweet Potato Soup:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
11/2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 medium or 2 large, peeled and cut into small chunks
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, divided
1/2 cup pumpkin purée from a can, NOT pumpkin pie filling
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk, or light cream

1. Prepare the pecans. In a small frying pan over medium-low heat melt the margarine. Add the pecans and maple syrup. Cook, stirring for 4-5 minutes, until roasted. Transfer to a paper towel. The pecans can be made two days in advance and kept in an airtight container.

2. Prepare the soup. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the celery, leek, shallot, and onion until soft and shiny, about 4-6 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, Sauté 2 minutes longer.

3. Add 4 cups of the stock and bring to a boil.

4. Turn down to a simmer and cook covered for 20-25 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft. Add in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

5. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender right in the pot, purée for a full 3 minutes. Add in remaining 2 cups stock and soy milk or light cream. Purée 1 minute and heat through.

6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with a small handful of maple roasted pecans in the center of each bowl.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Whipped Root Vegetables with Caramelized Onions (Parve or Dairy)

3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium turnips, peeled
and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large onion, cut into
1/2-inch dice
canola oil
1/4 cup non-dairy sour cream or dairy sour cream
3 tablespoons margarine
or butter
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
or kosher salt
1/2-1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1. Place the parsnips, potato, and turnips into a pot with enough salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 30-40 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pour 1/4-inch of canola oil into a large pan and place over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion. Allow to slowly cook until caramelized and brown, about 30 minutes.

3. When the vegetables are done, drain them well and place them in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the onions with the 1 tablespoon of oil into the bowl. Whip all the vegetables until mashed and creamy.

4. Add in the sour cream, margarine, salt, and pepper. Whip until all combined.

Yield: 6 servings

Cookie crunch brownies (Dairy or Parve)

My husband teases me that I married him for his brownie recipe. Growing up in his house, Purim meant a brownie assembly line. His family would churn out dozens of batches, and heard rumors that there were neighbors who gave Shalach Manot to his family just to get the brownies in return! His family's heirloom uses unsweetened chocolate. The brand we always used became dairy and I could not find a replacement brand so I set out to create an equally fabulous brownie using other kinds of chocolates. Much to my family's happiness, many batches of brownies later, I think we have a winner, and yes, to my husband's amazement, a real contender for best brownie recipe. It is the basis for both this recipe and Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies that follow. If you use cookie cutters to make fun shaped brownies like we did on the opposite page, save the scraps. Mix them into chocolate ice cream for a delicious fudge brownie flavor.

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken up
11/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter or margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
15 Oreo® cookies, or parve chocolate sandwich cookies, broken into chunks
4-5 extra Oreo® or parve chocolate sandwich cookies, broken in half for garnish

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350° F. Spray an 11-by 7-by 1 1/2 inch brownie pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tablespoon of flour into the pan. Shake it all around and tap it over a sink or garbage can to discard excess.

2. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, heat the chocolate, sugar, and butter or margarine. Whisk until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

4. In a medium bowl, with a mixer at medium speed, beat the eggs, coffee granules, and vanilla until foamy. If your stand mixer has a whisk attachment, it will work well here.

5. Blend the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.

6. Sprinkle all but four tablespoons of the flour/cocoa mixture into the chocolate mixture. Place the 15 broken Oreos® into the remaining flour/cocoa mixture and toss to combine. Add the Oreo® mixture into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently to combine; try not to crush the cookies. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place the extra broken cookies on top of the batter for garnish.

7. Bake 35 minutes; do not overbake. Allow to cool. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, until cold. Cut into squares. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator. Serve chilled.

Yield: 15-18 brownies

Sorbet Ruffles (Parve or Dairy)

No time too bake? Too hot to be in your kitchen? Here's the perfect answer. A gorgeous little layered ruffle of sorbet and ice-cream. A perfect light end to summer meal. My favorite parve sorbet is Sharon's Sorbet as it is so creamy but any brand will do. One of my favorite food finds was a gift from Barbara Strashun. She was my wonderful tour guide when I did a cooking show at the Viking Culinary Arts Center for her school in St. Louis. On our way to the airport we detoured to a food warehouse for this goodie. They are squeeze bottles of incredible parve dessert sauces in chocolate, vanilla, kiwi, mango and raspberry. See the resource guide page 315 for buying information. If you don't have these, parve chocolate syrup like Bosco® works fine too.

1 pint raspberry sorbet
1 pint vanilla ice-cream, can be parve
1 pint mango, passion fruit, or lemon sorbet
16 (21/2-inch) pleated paper baking cups (muffin sized)
dessert sauces (see note above) or chocolate syrup like Bosco
16 red or black raspberries

1. Let the sorbets and the ice-cream sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften. Transfer the sorbets and ice-cream to bowls to better stir them and make them spreadable.

2. Place the muffin cups into metal muffin tins. If you don't have muffin tins, create a double thickness of the paper muffin cups and place them into a metal baking pan so that they support each other.

3. Spread an even layer of raspberry sorbet into the bottom 1/3rd of each cup. Place into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and spread dollops of vanilla ice-cream to evenly cover the raspberry layer and come up to the second 1/3rd of the cup. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes. Repeat procedure with the mango sorbet. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight. Can be made 4 days ahead, keep frozen.

4. When ready to serve, invert each sorbet cup onto a dessert plate. Remove muffin cup. Decorate plate with desired sauce. Top each with a fresh raspberry.

Yield: 16 servings

Click here to pre-order your copy of Kosher By Design Entertains at 15% off retail price, and help support Aish.com!

Published: February 5, 2005


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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Aurellia, May 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Your recipes sound absolutely delicious- especially those brownies in the book "Kosher by Design". Would you guys happen to have a kosher recipe for green beans?

(3) Rachel, February 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Very nice!

NEed some Sephardic salad receipes! Please! :)

(2) Marilyn Bennett, February 7, 2005 12:00 AM

FANTASTIC!!!

DEAR SUSIE, YOUR RECIPES ON THIS PAGE SOUND DEVINE!! I WILL SURELY TRY THEM. BUT COULD YOU EMAIL ME A RECIPE FOR "TZIBELAH KICHEL" Jewish Onion cookies. My mother , may she rest in peace, used to make them and they were delicious. Ironically, I hear they are in a German cookbook, but wonder if maybe you have the haimishe recipe. Thanks ever so much!! Marilyn Bennett, Jerusaelm

(1) Janet Hershey, February 6, 2005 12:00 AM

loved your site!

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