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

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Rainbow Chard with Arabic spices and Israeli couscous

Somewhere over the rainbow,
In my backyard,
Growing green, red, and yellow,
Organic rainbow chard.

My daughter and I invented this recipe together on Mother’s Day. We started in the backyard where we are growing rainbow chard. This grows in red, white and yellow colors.

We chop it, stems and all, and sauté with onions, shallots, garlic, mushrooms and lemon, and add  the Arabic spices sumac and coriander. When the vegetables are tender, we stir into Israeli couscous. We garnish it with cilantro, and toasted pine nuts.

Israeli couscous or Maftoul,  is shaped like small pearls and is chewier than its Moroccan cousin. I cook it in broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version). You can make this dish vegan by using the vegetable broth.

If only achieving peace in the Holy Land was as easy as blending Palestinian and Israeli cuisines!

Serves 6 side dishes:

Israeli couscous:
1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
1 ¾ broth (chicken or vegetable)
½ teaspoon salt to taste
2 Tb  lemon juice (Meyer lemon is nice)
Vegetables:
1 bunch chard: 10 -12 leaves and stems, washed
10 mushrooms
2 large cloves shallots, minced
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp zataar or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup broth
Zest of 1  lemon (Meyer is best)
 
Garnish:
¼  cup pine nuts
2 Tb cilantro leaves
 

Boil 2 cups broth in a medium saucepan with salt and lemon juice. Remove ¼ cup and reserve.

While broth is coming to a boil, toast the Israeli couscous in a  skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently about 7 minutes until golden-brown. Add it to the 1 3/4 cups broth and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes  until couscous is tender.

While  couscous is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Heat 2 Tb olive oil in heavy frying pan. Add onions, sumac, coriander, zataar or thyme, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.

 

Cut mushrooms into quarters and add to onions.

Mince garlic and shallots and add to the onions. Sauté them a few minutes until they turn golden.

Slice the chard stems thinly, and chop the leaves. Add to the onion mixture with the reserved broth, lemon juice and zest. Mix well and cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chard softens.

Toss with the Israeli couscous. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh cilantro leaves if desired.

Hanukkah Latkes (potato pancakes)

On Hanukkah, Jews light a menorah for 8 nights and eat foods fried in oil to celebrate the miracle of the oil in the holy lamp lasting for 8 days. Some eat doughnuts, but I prefer latkes, fried potato pancakes. This is my mother’s recipe, but I added the onion on my friend Vivian’s suggestion.

Serves 4

4 cups raw grated Russet potatoes. Use 4 large or 5 medium

1 onion, grated

4 large eggs

2 Tb matzo meal

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups canola oil per frying pan

Peel potatoes and soak in water until ready to grate. Grate by hand or in a food processor. Place in a colander so that potatoes can drain their water, until rest of ingredients are mixed and oil is hot. Pour oil into a heavy frying pan, such as cast iron and put on medium high heat. Beat eggs well and add matzo meal, onion and salt. Add potatoes and stir well.

Using a large slotted serving spoon and a large solid serving spoon, mold a spoonful of batter on the slotted spoon, squeezing down with the solid spoon. You will need to squeeze more water out of the potatoes toward the end of the frying. Gently place the latke in the hot oil.

Fry until golden brown, then flip over using the slotted spoon. Don’t crowd the pan, usually 3 or 4  latkes are good for a 9” pan. When latkes are golden brown on both sides, lift each one with the slotted spoon and let the oil drain back into the pan.

Place them on a rack over a cookie sheet. Put the rack in a low oven, about 275’. This will help the oil drain from the latkes and keep them warm and crispy until all the latkes are ready to serve.

Serve with applesauce. (Some people eat them with sour cream, but not in our family.)

Happy Hanukkah!

Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans)

¡Frijoles! Mexican Pinto Beans

This recipe evolved from my mother-in-law’s frijoles al charro. She made hers with bacon to flavor the beans. I usually omit the bacon, but it’s good either way. The chipotle powder and smoked paprika give it a nice smokiness.  It’s a favorite of my friends and family.

There are many opinions  in this family about cooking beans. My husband is  insistent about not soaking the beans first, as he swears that takes away the flavor. I boil the beans with all the flavorings on the theory that they will soak up the flavors. My mother-in-law says the garlic will help eliminate the gas from the beans. She told me never to put salt in until the end because it will toughen the beans. And I add cocoa powder to bring out the flavor of the chilies, just as the ancient Aztecs did.

Add chipotle powder to taste depending on how spicy you like it. I pick mine up at Mexican markets in the cellophane packets. If you can’t find chipotle powder, you can add a one or two whole dried chipotles, and snap off the stems before adding them.

8 cups of water

1 chopped onion

4 minced garlic cloves

2 – 4 tsp. chipotle powder (to taste)

1 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

1 Tb. cumin powder (comino)

1 tsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 diced Roma (plum) tomato

1 diced bell pepper or 1 cup frozen diced bell peppers

3 cups dry pinto beans

2-3 tsp. salt to taste

Wash beans thoroughly, checking that there are no stones.

Heat water to boil in large pot.

Add  chopped onion, garlic and seasonings.

When water is boiling again, add beans and boil for a minute or two.

Pour into a crock pot. Cook on low until very tender, usually 5 hours. You can make it in the evening and let it cook overnight or make it in the morning and it will be ready for dinner. Add 2-3 tsp salt to taste when cooked. Serve with fresh cilantro, either queso cotija, queso fresco, cheddar or jack cheese, and chopped onion if desired.  Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Excellent for making tostadas. Simply mash well-cooked beans with the pot liquor, no frying necessary.

Vegetarian/ Vegan tacos: Fill a warmed tortilla with beans, fresh tomato, avocado and cilantro. Top with salsa and a shake of sea salt.

Store beans in small containers in the freezer. Sure beats opening a can!