For Busy Cooks

apricot chickenmujaderrasquash kugel

In the run up to Thanksgiving dinner, busy cooks look for simple meals. Even if your guest list is drastically reduced, Thanksgiving dinner takes extra effort. Included in this recipe column are some simple weeknight meals and some which are suitable for the holiday.

I don’t use a lot of prepared food, but I just rediscovered this super simple chicken recipe from the ‘70s that packs lots of flavor. You may even have the ingredients on hand. This is a very forgiving recipe that begs for your own personal touch. Continue reading

As the Nights Grow Longer: Good Books with Cookie Chaser

Screenshot 2020-10-22 09.09.41

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, we will be inside more than ever. Tear your eyes away from the screen and pick up a real book. Most libraries are open for limited in-person visits or at the very least, offer pick-up service.

The synagogue library will pull books for you and leave them in the office. The library is also open for browsing. Please wear your mask, sanitize your hands and put books in the designated basket. Continue reading

Feasting in Fall

dining

It’s officially fall with Sukkot just a day away. Often called the Jewish Thanksgiving, ( and supposedly the actual inspiration for Thanksgiving)  Sukkot is the time when we usually say good -bye to the outdoors and begin to snuggle down in the warmth of our homes. Of course, this year is a little different and we may want to extend that dinner on the deck experience as long as we can.

So what to prepare to celebrate the harvest and still be served easily  outdoors?

Here are some suggestions many of which make use of fall’s bounty.

Dinner on a cool evening is always enhanced by soup. Make it easy and try a packaged butternut squash soup. Trader Joe’s is excellent and will fool most guests and it’s so much easier to open a box than to cut up squash. A sprinkle of ginger or toasted pine nuts on top makes it your own.

Joan Nathan is one of my favorite chef’s. Her recipes always are tasty even if they don’t look quite like the pictures. Watching her cook is like watching someone’s mother or grandmother. She is a self-confessed messy cook who often says-just as i do- now where is that spatula or whatever.  Try this egg dish for a light Sukkot supper.

IMG_3446Bulgarian Zucchini Frittata  (serves 4-6)

Ingredients
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 pound zucchini, half chopped and half sliced into thin rounds
4 large eggs
4 ounces feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian
2 Tablespoons fresh dill
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan or Kashkaval cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Saute onion in 2 Tablespoons butter or oil
  2. Add chopped zucchini, cooking for just a few minutes until zucchini starts to get golden. Remove from pan and cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 inch pie pan with rest of butter or oil.
  4. Beat the eggs. Stir in the zucchini-onion mixture, dill,crumbled feta, salt and pepper,
  5. Top the mixture with the zucchini rounds, gently pressing them down. Brush with oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Serve with good bread and a big salad.

Notes: Other herbs can be substituted for dill. Add some sautéed eggplant or mushrooms to the mixture for a heartier dish or even some vegetarian sausage. This reheats well.

A pickled salad is always a nice side dish. This is a twist on the usual oil/lemon juice or vinegar brine.

Cucumbers lime ginger and green leaves Products for healthy eatingLime-Pickled Cucumbers

Ingredients
1 English cucumber, quartered and cut into 3/4” pieces
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally for up to 24 hours.

Notes: Try adding halved grape or cherry tomatoes and sliced radishes for a colorful side dish.

If you want to get a little fancies for dinner, try this next dish, perfect for company or Shabbat. While it uses fruit, it is not overly sweet.

fishLemon Pomegranate Salmon (serves 6)

Ingredients
6 (6 oz) salmon fillets or a 1and a half pound fillet
1/3 c. olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses or concentrate
1/4 c. plus 1  Tablespoon honey, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 lemons, sliced thin
pomegranate seeds for garnish
Fresh mint or micro greens for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Place salmon on parchment lined baking sheet
  3. Whisk oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, 1tablespoon honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until emulsified. Brush over salmon. Save the rest.
  4. Arrange lemon slices on top of salmon. Drizzle with honey.
  5. Cook 12-15 minutes
  6. Garnish with sauce, pomegranate seeds and mint.

Notes: To get the most juice out of the lemon, roll it on the counter before juicing.   This sauce would also work on chicken or tofu. For a vegan meal, substitute silan (date honey) or agave for the honey. Try using Aleppo pepper as a seasoning instead of ground black pepper. Aleppo pepper is a lovely red color and, while it has a peppery bite, there is also a note of sweetness tempering the bite. Lovely.

Lastly, my family loves kasha varnishkes. But over the holidays I ran out of kasha. I improvised using bulgur that I had bought at the Middle Eastern grocery on Route 46 in Totowa. Bulgur is usually used for tabouli, a cold grain salad. But it’s a great stand-in for bulgur with a slightly different taste and texture.

bulgurBulgur Pilaf  (serves 4-6)

Ingredients
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or parve margarine
2 1/2 cups hot water or broth
2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Put olive oil and butter or margarine in a pot.
  2. Add bulgur and stir over low heat for a few minutes.
  3. Add hot water and salt.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes covered on low heat without stirring.
  5. After about 15 minutes, when bulgur has swelled, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Stir gently and set aside for 5 minutes.

Notes:  Add sautéed onions, mushrooms, bowties, if desired in in kasha varnishkes. Or add other vegetables or even dried fruit.

Dessert should be simple but fruity. Try one of these previously published desserts: cinnamon sugar apple cake (The holidays are comin in, Sept 2020) or the Marian Burros classic plum torte, (Additional Things to Make and Do, Oct 2020)

Hag Sameach and Hearty Appetite!

Additional Things to Make and Do

giraffechickenHillel

Return overdue library books to Shomrei or Aileen’s front porch (no mask needed). Just place the books preferably in a plastic bag into the marked box on the front porch. 204 Park Street, just a couple of minutes up from Shomrei.

Marcia Falk’s  Days Between  looks at liturgy from a feminist point of view, breaking new ground with poems, prayers and meditations. On September 23 from 3-4, this well-known poet will lead you into the season in this session presented by the Hadassah Brandeis Institute. Click here for the link to register. Continue reading

The Holidays are Comin’ In

challahRosh Hashanah, the start of the cooking season, is just weeks away. I’m always looking for recipes that update old favorites – keeping some of the flavors but with a new twist. Some become new family favorites; some just don’t make the cut.

Try these dishes which will appear on my holiday table this year.

But first start with hallah using the previously published recipe (Summer’s coming in, June 18, 2020). Make the hallah a little sweeter to reflect the new year and certainly make it round. Here’s a link to a four-strand hallah. Or to keep it simple, just make one long strand and coil it into a spiral.  No matter what, it’ll taste great.

Continue reading

New Twists on Old favorites

IMG_3379cannellini-beansfried-zucchini-recipe-pin

For many of us, summer time used to mean picnics in the park on concert nights or  frequent dinners on a restaurant’s patio or sidewalk. This summer most of us have changed our dining patterns and are cooking more.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to eat well and with variety just because our movements may be restricted. But it’s still summer; it’s hot; we may be lazy. We want fairly quick to prepare meals that won’t overheat us or our kitchens. And we may want new ways to serve favorite foods.

Continue reading

Using Summer’s Bounty

Wild Grey Squirrel On the Run with a Crab Apple in an English Garden

I had high hopes. The eggplant and zucchini plants looked healthy and were putting out flowers; the tomato leaves were sturdy. The basil and thyme were overflowing their pot. My mini garden on our deck looked like it would be a success as the pretty eggplant flowers  morphed into lots of baby eggplants. The zucchini was promising with big yellow flowers and the tomatoes were the size of baseballs.

Then came the squirrel. He first went for a green tomato, one that was almost ready to turn red. He took a big bite and he left the rest  on the deck railing as if to taunt us. Guess the taste wasn’t right. Then he came for the four inch long eggplant, the largest on the plant.

Continue reading

Summer’s coming in

zucchini soupMango chickenhallah

As the weather warms, we look for food that takes little effort and is light to counteract the heaviness of a summer day.

Soup is always a good starter. There’s gazpacho (Fit for the Fourth, 5/5/17), cucumber soup (Cool as a …,  8/1/19) , cucumber gazpacho (Summertime and the Cooking is Easy, 7/26/18) and cucumber pineapple soup (Cool Food for a Hot Day, 6/17/17), of course. But even easier is this versatile gluten and dairy free zucchini soup discovered  by Beryl Hiller on the Allrecipes website. Continue reading

Shavuot Resources

shavuot1Shavuot was frequently called the forgotten holiday. Religious schools had often closed by the time the holiday came around in late May or June.

Shavuot didn’t have the newness of the fall holidays; it lacked the gift giving and competition with Christmas of Hanukkah; and it’s missing the nostalgia of family gatherings that Passover brings.

However, Shavuot is one of the great pilgrimage holidays that along with Sukkot and Passover that drew ancient Jews to Jerusalem for sacrifices. The holiday also marked, for an agricultural people, the summer harvest and presaged the bounty that was to come in the fall. Continue reading