Drunken onion brisket

???????????????????????????????My cousin’s wife Marcia gave me her succulent and tender brisket recipe. It calls for 20 onions and half a bottle of cabernet.

Marcia recommends making it a day before serving. Although I made it the same day I served it, it was even better the next day.

sliced brisketIngredients:

5 -6 lbs first cut (flat cut) brisket. It is less fatty than the 2nd cut (point cut)

10 garlic cloves

2 Tb salt, 1 Tb each paprika and white pepper

20 onions (either yellow or red onions)

Olive oil to sauté onions

3 carrots

4 celery stalks

2 parsnips

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Oil a roasting pan. Rinse brisket and pat dry.

rub in spiceSprinkle salt, pepper, paprika on top of the brisket and rub into the meat.

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Cut garlic cloves into thin slivers. Using a paring knife, make slits on the top (fatty side) of the brisket, and stick the garlic slivers in them.

Cover brisket with foil and place in the oven to sear the meat for 20 minutes.

While meat is searing, slice the onions. Working in batches, sauté them in olive oil, until soft but not quite caramelized.

Remove brisket from oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

brisket on and surrounded by onionsLift brisket and place sautéed onions under the brisket. Surround the brisket with extra onions.

???????????????????????????????Peel and chop the carrots, celery stalks, and parsnips and put them on top of the onions. Pour in 1/2 bottle Cabernet red wine over the brisket and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????Cover pan with foil and braise at 350 degrees for 3 hours.

Slice the brisket and place it back in the gravy it made. Serve with the vegetables.

???????????????????????????????I like to serve the brisket over Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs

Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour kasha mixture into hot broth; add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Stir in chopped parsley.

Passover Chocolate covered Almond – Coconut Macaroons

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These crunchy macaroons are the perfect dessert for Seder or anytime. I used unsweetened shredded coconut with only 3 Tablespoons sugar for a not–too-sweet macaroon. I added chopped, roasted almonds, vanilla and almond extract. Then I spread it with dairy free chocolate sauce for a treat that’s just sweet enough.

Makes about 10 macaroons

Macaroon dough:
3 large egg whites
3 Tb sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup roasted and crushed almonds (I buy mine at Berkeley Bowl, but you can roasted almonds and crush in food processor)

chocolate chips and coconut oilChocolate dip:

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or Guittard chocolate baking chunks

2 teaspoons coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

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Whisk together sugar and egg whites until frothy.

Stir in vanilla, almond extract, coconut and nuts

???????????????????????????????Grab a handful of the dough in your hand and squeeze together until it feels solid. Place macaroons on the parchment lined baking sheet.

baked macaroonsBake macaroons about 18 minutes or until they are light golden on top. Let cool on baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When macaroons are cool, make the chocolate spread:

Microwave chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small bowl, on high for 1 to 1½ minutes until melted; stir until smooth.pouring chocolate sauce on macarooms

Spread melted chocolate onto macaroon. Place on parchment paper until chocolate is set.

chocolate covered matzo

You can spread the chocolate onto matzo pieces as well.

 

Unbeetable Borscht!

borscht serving

This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes  on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.

I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.

Ingredients:

lemons and roasted beets

1 bunch of 4 medium beets, leaves included

1 Meyer lemon

A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste

Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.

washed beet greets

While beets are roasting, rinse leaves and stems and thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times.

beet greens boiling

Boil 4 cups water in a medium pot. Add washed greens and boil for 15 min until tender. Drain greens. Reserve the water and pour it back into the pot. Set greens aside to cool.

grating beets

Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them and then grate on a box grater. Be prepared for hot pink hands!

grated beets

Add grated beets to reserved water. Boil for 20 minutes. When greens are cool, chop them finely, and then add to beets.

Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) from a Meyer lemon on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon. Stir in a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate.

Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)

Hannukah and Christmas Orange-Nutty Cookies

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This mufti-denominational cookie is based on my mom’s Hanukkah cookie recipe. I added some grated orange zest to heighten the fruity notes. The nuts are optional, but I love the crunch of nuts in cookies.

You can soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds if you forgot to leave it out to soften! Crush nuts by pulsing in the food processor or rolling them with a rolling pin as my mom did. They should be tiny, but not pulverized into powder.

Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tb orange juice

1/4 tsp finely grated orange zest (the orange part of the peel)

2 eggs

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1/8 tsp salt (or a couple of shakes)

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup crushed walnuts and/ or pecans

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add orange juice and zest and beat again.

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix until combined with the moist ingredients. Stir in nuts until incorporated into the dough.

???????????????????????????????Roll the dough into a large ball, then flatten into a disk with your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ½ hour. This will harden the butter and make the dough easier to roll.

Preheat the oven to 375◦.

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Lightly flour a wooden board and the rolling pin. Grab a few handfuls of dough and roll it out to about 1/8 inch. Dip cookie cutters in flour, then shake out, to prevent the dough from sticking on them, and then cut out shapes.

???????????????????????????????Spray an insulated cookie sheet with nonstick spray or oil the sheet. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar sprinkles or a bit of table sugar to make them sparkle. Bake the cookies at 375◦ for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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kneydlekh קניידלעך Matzo Ball Soup

I make Matzo balls, what my mom calls kneydlekh קניידלעך in Yiddish ki -NAY- dl-ekh (make the last sound (ekh) by clearing your throat), for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah, or just to help the heal a bad cold. Serve them in

Are you wondering if adding baking powder is kosher for Passover? All I can say is that the Manischewitz matzo ball mix which is kosher for Passover contains sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate which are the active ingredients of baking powder. So if they can make their matzo balls light and fluffy with that, so can I!

Makes about 15 medium matzo balls
4 large eggs
2 tsp schmalz (rendered chicken fat). Use the fat that rises to the top of the soup
(vegetarian version: use 1/4 cup oil only)
3 Tb  canola oil
1 tsp garlic infused olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tb minced parsley leaves
1/2 tsp dried or 1 Tb fresh minced dill weed
 
1 TB schmaltz added to boiling water
1/4 cup soup added to boiling water
 
 

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl with schmalz and oil.

Mix herbs, matzo meal, baking soda, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour

While dough is resting in the fridge, boil a large pot of water (at least a gallon). Add a tablespoonful of schmalz (unless you’re making vegetarian ones) and 1/4 cup soup. This will give the kneydlekh more flavor. If you have plenty of soup, you can just boil the kneydlekh in the soup.

Wet your hands and roll  about 12 golf-ball sized matzo balls.

Drop them in the boiling water. Cover pot tightly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Balls will double in size and should be soft. If you are going to store them for later, place them in a container with just enough broth to cover.

You can sprinkle more dill and parsley on the soup when serving.

Matzo Meal Chicken

This was one of my favorite dishes my mom made when I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tweak it! I added sesame seeds to the matzo meal and used olive oil spray instead of drizzling margarine on the chicken as she did. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless breasts, but you can make it with a cut-up  chicken as my mom did. It will just take longer to cook.

Preheat oven to 375◦

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 eggs

2/3 cup of matzo meal

1/4 cup plus a few spoonfuls sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon garlic salt

several grinds pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil spray

Combine dry ingredients in a shallow bowl

Beat the eggs well in a small bowl

Line a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) with foil. Place a rectangular rack (such as a cookie cooling rack) in it (it should just fit). Spray it with nonstick spray.

Rinse the chicken breasts and trim any excess fat.

Dip each breast in the egg

and then roll it in the matzo meal-sesame mixture until it is well coated.

(You may have to wash your hands a few times in between chicken pieces; this gets messy!)

Spray one side with olive oil spray, and then place that side down on the oiled rack. Spray the other side with the olive oil spray. Repeat for all breasts, spacing them so there is some room between them.

Bake in the oven until browned, about 1/2 an hour, then flip over. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of sesame seeds on top if some of the coating has fallen off, and bake until the other side is browned.