Kitchen Therapy

90898907_10157093345801370_8068704009566814208_oThese are unusual times. We usually active-even frenetic-individuals are stuck inside. Our calendar pages are blank or filled with strike outs for cancelled events.

We need to rediscover and reinvent ways to make the time pass. Stores report that sales of puzzles and games, personal exercise equipment and craft supplies have risen.

The market shelves are bare of flour, sugar and other baking items. As my daughter, the baker says: when stuck inside, the baking genes become dominant.

We have reverted to the activities that our parents and grandparents used to pass the time.

Here are some easy recipes for when that cooking gene strikes. They can all be made from kitchen staples. Don’t be afraid to substitute if one ingredient is not available. BATAYAVON!

Next time’s recipes will be just right for Passover. And I won’t forget the chocolate. 

My son-in-law thought the following chicken dish tasted a little like chicken piccata, nice and lemony but with a bit of a difference added by the olives.

IMG_2947Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with Olives (serves 4)


1 T. extra virgin olive oil
8 bone in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
1 c pitted green olives
6 springs of fresh thyme
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley


  1. Turn the Instant Pot on to Sauté. Heat the olive oil.
  2. Dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add half the chicken, skin side down and cook until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken and cook for one minute more. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  5. Add the garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the onion, lemon, olives and thyme and cook, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, for 2 minutes. Place the chicken on top and press Cancel.
  7. Lock the lid. Press pressure cook and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  8. Use quick release to vent the steam, then open the lid.
  9. Serve the chicken with rice or another grain and top with the onions, lemon and olives. Sprinkle with the parley.

NOTES: This can easily be converted to a stove-top and oven dish.  If you use kosher chicken, omit the salt. Chicken breast also works although the chicken may be a little drier.  Artichokes would be a good addition to this dish, too. Serve with rice or another grain and the sauce.  If you want lots of sauce, add 1/2-1 cup of chicken broth. Delish!

If you are looking for something to liven up breakfast or even to serve on a breakfast-for-dinner day, try this next dish. 

scrambled-egg-potato-basketsScrambled Egg Potato Muffins  (makes 12 muffins)


2 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes
3 large eggs
1 1/2 T. milk
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper or another vegetable
1/4 cup cheese (cheddar, goat, feta are all good)
Salt and pepper


1.Preheat oven to 400. Place whole potatoes in the oven and roast until almost cooked but still not edible (around 25 minutes).

  1. Cut potatoes open and allow to cool. Peel of the skin. This can be done the night before.
  2. Grate potatoes and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 425.
  4. Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  5. Grease a standard size muffin tin. Push shredded potatoes into the bottom and sides of each cup.
  6. Pour about 2 T. of egg mixture into each cup and top with diced pepper.
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes until the eggs are golden brown and baked and the sides of the potatoes are starting to brown.
  8. Using a small spatula or butter knife, loosen sides of egg-potato muffins and remove. Serve warm.

NOTES:  Frozen shredded potatoes might work and will make this a quick breakfast dish. Defrost slightly so that they can be shaped in the muffin tin and proceed. Bake for a few minutes before adding the egg mixture.

Here’s a quick vegetarian dish that should make everyone happy. Thank you New York Times!

as-black-bean-bake-articleLarge-v2Easy, Spicy Black Bean Bake  (Serves 4)


3 T extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 (14 ounce ) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. boiling water
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar or Manchebo cheese (from a 6-ounce block)


  1. Preheat the oven to 475.
  2. In a 10 inch oven proof skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Fry the garlic until lightly golden, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, paprika, red-pepper flakes, and cumin. Beware of splattering. Fry for 30 seconds, reducing the heat to prevent the garlic from burning.
  5. Add the beans, water and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over the top then bake until the cheese has melted, 5-10 minutes.
  7. If the top is not as brown as you like, run the skillet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately over rice, with cornbread or tortilla chips.

NOTES: This is good as is but you could add sautéed onions , put in some canned or frozen corn,  top with cilantro, scallions  or parsley. Since it’s vegetarian, sour cream  is a nice touch.


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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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One thought on “Kitchen Therapy

  1. I made the spicy black bean bake and it was delicious! We put it in corn tortillas for tacos and ate it with corn chips as a dip. White onions and hot sauce were great additions for an extra kick. Thanks for sharing!

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