It’s really hard to believe that I’m back in the kitchen. Passover has just barely ended and I really thought I wouldn’t want to see another pot or pan for at least a month! But the kids are hungry and guests are coming so duty calls. To liven things up, I’ve peeked at some new cookbooks and I really like what I discovered in The Kosher Carnivore by June Hersh, published by St. Martin’s Press. She’s got some updated takes on some old favorites and I’m eager to try many of her recipes. To whet your appetite and get you back in the kitchen also, here is a preview of some of her offerings.
When making a big burger, nothing beats ground beef, but for these small sliders, where you want a punch of flavor, nothing comes close to the taste of lamb. Most markets now sell kitschy tiny buns to house sliders, but mini pocket pitas would work too. Top the sliders with a schmeer of scallion mayo and the usual suspects such as sliced tomatoes or peppery arugula.
Behind the Counter Have your butcher grind the lamb for you, it can come from the shoulder, neck, breast or shank- or a combination.
Yields about 1- dozen sliders or 4 full size burgers
Start to Finish Under 15 minutes
For the sliders
- 1½ pounds ground lamb
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 scallion finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons), white and green portion
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped scallion
- 1 teaspoon finely minced flat-leaf parsley
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of cumin
- Squeeze of a lemon
Gently combine all the ingredients and form the ground lamb into small patties, about 3 inches in diameter. Press your thumb into the top of the burger, this will prevent it from puffing up while cooking. Light the broiler or grill, heat till nice and hot, and cook the burgers just till they are pink, several minutes on each side. Serve with the scallion mayo and your favorite toppings.
Oregano is a principle flavor in Mediterranean cooking, and is the primary herb in many Greek and Italian dishes. Oregano is one herb that I prefer dried to fresh. The drying mellows the intense flavor and prevents the oregano from overpowering the dish. There are many varieties of oregano on the market, if buying one look for Italian oregano, which is a hybrid blend of sweet and spicy elements and imparts a spirited flavor. If your pantry can hold two types, definitely reach for Greek oregano as well. Its pungent zip will wake up your taste buds.
The pushcarts of New York are famous for their soft salted pretzels and steaming franks. By combining the two, right in your kitchen, you create sidewalk paradise. When filled with plump beef franks, these are terrific for Sunday game day, or to make any time with children as fun pick-up food.
MAKES 10 PUSHCART PUPPIES
Start to Finish: Under 2 hours
For the dough
- 1 cup lukewarm water (about 110 to 115 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
For the hot dogs
- 10 fat (knockwurst or dinner--size) beef, chicken, or turkey hot dogs
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
For the egg wash
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Coarse salt
- Spicy brown mustard for serving
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Gently stir and let the yeast bubble for 10 minutes (if it doesn’t, the yeast isn’t fresh). After 10 minutes, add the salt, flour, and margarine. Place the bowl on the mixer, and with the dough hook attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed, then increase to medium speed and continue to mix the all the ingredients are well combined and the dough completely pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead with your hands for just a minute. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour, as needed, and up to 1/4 cup. Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly greased with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour, until roughly doubled in size.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Fill a shallow pot with 8 cups of water and the baking soda and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 10 pieces. Dry the hot dogs with paper towels; you don’t want them to make the dough soggy. Take a piece of dough and gently roll or pull it into a 4- to 5-inch circle. Roll the hot dog up in the dough, just like a blanket; you can tuck in the ends as you roll or let the ends of the hot dog peek out. Continue until you have prepared all 10 pieces.
Drop the wrapped hot dogs, one at a time, into the boiling water, and allow them to boil for 40 to 50 seconds each. Remove them with a slotted spoon, shake off the water, and place on the lined baking sheet. Brush each hot dog with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt. Bake at 450 degrees, for 12 minutes, or until the blankets are a golden brown. Serve whole, cut in half, or sliced on the diagonal for smaller bites. Dunk liberally in spicy brown mustard.
Grandma Rose's Cabbage Soup
My grandmother Rose would cook up a pot of this Russian inspired soup all year long, with thick pieces of flanken flavoring the soup and hotdogs swimming happily in the broth. Some preferred bowls ladled with more meat and cabbage, while others dunked chunks of bread in the beefy broth. We never knew whether to eat it with a spoon or a fork, so I put both out and let my guests choose.
Behind the Counter Have your butcher cut the flanken short rib style into 2-inch long riblets. I wouldn’t think of substituting any other meat, some things you just don’t mess with. For the hotdogs, the thicker the better.
About 8 to 10 servings
Start to Finish Under 2 ½ hours
- 1 large head of green cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with ½ cup of its juice
- 3 to 4 pounds short ribs cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 (15-ounce) can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 2 quarts beef stock
- 8 jumbo hotdogs, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
- The juice of 1 lemon (more or less to taste)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the shredded cabbage in a very large soup pot. Add the tomatoes, crushing them over the pot with your hands, allowing the juices to stream in. Add ½ cup of the juice from the can. Tuck the ribs into the cabbage and top with the sauerkraut. Pour the stock into the pot and bring to a strong simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1½ to 2 hours. If the meat is not falling off the bone, cook an additional 30 minutes. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pot, and cut the meat into large chunks and reserve. Add the hotdogs and the juice from the lemon and cook for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If time allows, refrigerate the soup overnight, and remove the solidified fat. Reheat and serve the soup with a piece of short rib in each bowl, plenty of hotdogs and extra lemon to squeeze for a more sour taste.
Moroccan and Indian cuisine, although separated by land and water, both feature foods that elevate exotic spice blends. This dish is a fusion of both Indian and Moroccan flavor profiles, bringing out the best in their global influences. Authentically a tajine, earthen clay pot, is used to slow bake the dish, but you can easily recreate this fragrant and intoxicating stew with your braising pot. This recipe utilizes Indian yellow curry, which has a pungent combination of spices including turmeric, which gives it its yellow color, coriander and red pepper, for a pop of heat. The addition of preserved lemons (see page 258-259) and brined green olives are classic Moroccan ingredients that add a salty tart essence, while the chickpeas, a common Indian ingredient adds a playful element to the stew.
Side Note The perfect landing spot for the chicken would be a bed of rice, and nothing would be more authentic then basmati rice with a hint of the preserved lemon. (See pages 232-233)
About 4 servings
Start to Finish 2 hours or up to overnight to marinate the chicken, then under 1 ½ hours to cook
- 1 (3 ½-4 pound) chicken, cut into eights
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the rub
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon yellow curry
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch ground cloves, optional
For the stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, add only if your curry does not have red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon good saffron threads
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon yellow curry
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 slices preserved lemon, rind only (homemade or look for citrons confits at your market)
- 1 cup Picholine olives or caper berries, un-pitted
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained, optional
Dry the chicken and place it on a small baking pan, rub the pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with the rub mixture. Cover the tray and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a braising pot or tajine. Brown the chicken, over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side, the chicken will easily release from the pan when it is ready to turn. You might need to do this in batches. Reserve the chicken.
In the same pot, cook and stir the onion, garlic, red pepper, if using, saffron, cumin and curry. You want the spices to toast while the onions and garlic cook, over medium heat, about 10 minutes. The aroma will be irresistible and the onions should look like little niblets of corn from the infusion of spices.
Add the chicken back to the pot along with the stock and a cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, the chicken should be fork tender. At that time, add the preserved lemon, olives and chickpeas, if using. Continue cooking another 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into deep dishes and serve with warmed pita bread to mop up the sauce.
Coffee Crusted Hanger Steak
Why not save time and have your coffee with your dinner rather than after. Freshly ground espresso beans and lots of companion spices combine to give a little jolt to the seared crust of this full-flavored steak.
Side Note For the complete steakhouse experience, try whipping up a batch of creamed spinach to serve on the side.
Behind the Counter Have your butcher cut hanger steak, remove the sinewy vein and present two halves, each half makes one perfect serving. Alternate cuts rib eye, rub steak (+$) or a “London broil” cut from the shoulder (-$).
About 2 servings
Start to finish Under 30 minutes
- 1 (1- to – 1 ¼ – pound) hanger steak, halved
- 2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee beans, ground
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
Preheat the grill or a stovetop grill pan. Grind the coffee and spices in a spice or coffee grinder and pour that out onto a large plate. Let the steaks come to room temp, coat them in oil and then roll in the ground coffee and spice mixture. Grill, about 15 minutes for rare – medium/rare turning the steaks to brown all sides. After a 10 minutes rest, cut into large slices on the diagonal.