Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cooking My Books: The New Jewish Table {Book Review}

As a parent you want to teach your kids about traditions, but you also want to build on them and create your own. That is how I feel about recipes and cooking too. You need a place to start, familiar favorites that area  jumping off place for creation. And that is also how Judaism is for me – tradition, with individual interpretation to make things meaningful to you. 


Our new Jewish table! Rye for me, wheat for the hubby and little man.

I had the opportunity to receive a copy of The New Jewish Table, Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray for review back in the fall before our family expanded from 3 to 4. After trying to dive right into the bowl of matzo ball soup on the cover, I dove into the contents inside. Organized by season and type of meal, the book interweaves stories of family traditions, passed-down recipes and the evolution of them into the recipes in the books pages. The book is not strictly Kosher, but does indicate if a recipe is meat, dairy, or pareve with suggested substitutions. After a preface about the author’s relationships and background the book showcases recipes and the stories of their origins and evolution. By the end you feel as if you are a member of the authors’ extended family. The authors are owners of the Washington DC restaurant Equinox.

Included in the book are new takes on favorite dishes like chicken salad, matzo ball soup, kugel, and more. I love a good chicken salad sandwich. Ingredients need to be in the right balance and the chicken has to be the right texture. The authors include two great chicken salad recipes each with a little different twist. I started with a pulled chicken salad with cranberries and toasted pecans. According to Todd, the dish was a favorite at the White House and one of Equinox's signature items. I can see why! Using a whole poached chicken and then pulling it gives the chicken just the right texture. 


Piled onto two slices of good rye with a side of pickles and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda, this sandwich was deli-worthy!



I also used the recipe for Not Exactly Aunt Lil's Matzo Ball Soup, pictured on the book cover, for Passover this year. My grandmother passed along her matzo ball recipe, but her soup recipe hasn’t been written down yet. My mom tweaks her soup every time she makes it, much like I do. So I loved to read the journey this recipe took from Ellen's Aunt Lil to Equinox. The authors describe the soups evolution from "rustic, homey and satisfying"  to more refined and elevated to the next level for the book.



The addition of finely diced vegetables at the end (about 10 minutes of simmering at the end before adding and simmering noodles and chicken for 10 more minutes) gives me a solution to my lifelong dislike of cooked carrots in soup! The original vegetables are strained out, having given their flavor to the broth. The freshly added vegetables retain a slight crunch and all of their flavor.




This book is a great addition to the my cookbook collection. If you have a traditional with a twist streak, I recommend checking it out. The recipes offer a new interpretation of traditional dishes that make them a welcome addition to the table for holidays or everyday. Next on my to-make list are curried chicken salad with golden raisins and slivered almonds, Todd's deviled egg salad, and the Kassoffs' sweet noodle kugel. 


Starting a tradition, little man asked me to take a picture of his dinner!


Pulled Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Pecans
This is a signature item on their restaurant menu and the most popular lunch dish. 

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 whole poached chicken
1 cup mayo
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup minced red onion
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup chopped toasted cashews
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the cranberries in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to soak while doing the next step.
Pull or cut the chicken from the bones pull into bite size pieces, shredding with your hands. Place in a large bowl.
Drain the cranberries with a strainer.
With a fork, mix the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, slat, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the onions, celery, cranberries, cashews and mayonnaise mixture to the bowl with the chicken; mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Mix in the parsley. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: I omitted the onions and served the nuts on the side since we had a toddler dining with us. This allowed everyone to customize their sandwich to their liking. 

Book Info: 
The New Jewish Table, Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes
Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray 
Photos by Renee Comet (I met her at Eat Write Retreat!)
2013

I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are 100% mine and I was not compensated for this post. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maple...Chocolate...Matzo...Passover Deliciousness

Passover snuck up on me this year. Since early February, the Good Cook Doris house has been abuzz with the activity of a new baby in the house. We welcomed taste tester #2 and have been having a blast with big brother and little sister in the house. Thankfully she doesn't mind hanging out in the kitchen with mom, but she doesn't have the patience for long drawn out recipes. When the time came to prepare for our two Passover seders, I knew a few sacrifices would have to be made.

Instead of peeling the hard-boiled eggs, a sign of spring and new life, for our gefilte fish platter I decided to spend my few minutes in the kitchen making this:


Maple Matzo Crunch! I think that it was a wise decision to forgo the stress of peeling eggs for this crunchy, sweet, addictive matzo treat. If you have about 15-20 minutes you too can be enjoying this! Perfect for Passover and honestly anytime of the year. 

The maple flavor gives it a unique New England twist. Top with nuts or leave it plain - either way it won't last long. Note, use Kosher for Passover products according your level of observance.

Maple Matzo Crunch
Serves ?? (not too many people if you are home alone with this!)
5 matzos (you may need more) 
1 cup of butter
1 cup granulated maple sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B)
2-4 oz. chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
1/4 cup toasted pecans (or your favorite nut), chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange matzo pieces in a single layer
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, maple sugar, and maple syrup
Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula
Remove from heat and pour evenly over matzo
Bake maple covered matzo for 4 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the matzo pieces
Return to oven for 1-2 minutes, until chocolate is melted (the chips will still hold their shape)
Using a spatula, spread the chocolate on the matzo, creating a smooth layer
Sprinkle toasted nuts on top of the chocolate, if using
Allow to cool completely and break into smaller pieces
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Chag Sameach!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner? Yes, Please! {Book Review}

I love breakfast food. When presented with the option to order breakfast at a restaurant, I usually take it no matter what time it is. It really isn't fair that breakfast gets hurried over, rushed, and forgotten about so often. In our house we have breakfast for dinner (or lunch) at least once a week. No need to relegate breakfast foods to the morning!

For the past few months I've been making recipes from a new cookbook called Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth. They write about their culinary adventures on the blog Love and Olive Oil. I received a review copy of their book from Quirk Books and from the moment I opened it I was excited to get cooking. Breakfast can be savory or sweet and I have a preference for the savory side. Because the recipes are geared for dinner, this book includes many savory recipes. I immediately picked a few to try - three the first week I had the book and quite a few since!

The recipes I have tried have been easy to follow and most importantly result in delicious dishes. My test for whether or not I would by a cookbook is how many recipes I would realistically make. With the exception of foods we don't cook at our house (shellfish and pork) we would eat almost all of the other recipes in this book. And the pictures are so nice that I find myself flipping through the book while I sit on the couch (although it does make me really hungry).

The recipes we have made so far include:

Chicken and Biscuit Waffles (made a few times!)



I love biscuits, fried chicken, and waffles. This is a perfect combination of all three. I keep mixing up the sides and toppings for this one. First way: side of spicy apple sauce, and salad with lemon-honey dressing. Second way: drizzled with habanero-infused maple syrup and a side of sauteed apples with cinnamon. With a base of chicken and biscuit waffles, the topping combinations are really endless!

Bonus? This fried chicken method means delicious fried chicken anytime - with or without the waffles! Same for biscuit waffles, when the craving hits I am now ready!




Chocolate Peanut Butter Glazed Banana Bread Bundt Cake



With a few bananas and a bundt pan, you can turn out a decadent dessert treat. This recipe uses my favorite flavor combination of chocolate and bananas. For an extra sweet twist, I made the glaze using chocolate peanut butter (plus, somehow no chocolate chips on hand).


Just like the authors' family recipe, my Aunt Patti's banana bread is always full of chocolate chips. This won't replace hers as a favorite but I can report that this cake did not stick around very long at our house.

Goat Cheese Monte Cristos



The idea of the Monte Cristo has always intrigued me. However I've only encountered them with ham. I was excited to find a recipe for a Monte Cristo that I would eat. Who wouldn't love a sandwich with creamy goat cheese, pepper jelly, and roasted turkey? I decided to make this on a whim and didn't have all the ingredients that the recipe called for but this was still great! We sandwiched fig jam, turkey and goat cheese between slices of whole wheat bread and cooked it up according to the recipe. The result was a flavorful take on the Monte Cristo!

All three recipes were kid-approved by our resident 2 year-old diner. Our little taste tester now gets excited when the waffle maker comes out - even if he calls them "awfuls" half the time. And even though he ate the sandwich in his own unique was as shown below, I know he liked it!



I received a complementary copy of this book for review. I was not obligated to post and received no other compensation. My love of chicken and waffles and banana, chocolate, and peanut butter is real and honest. Ask anyone who knows me! 

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails