Thursday, December 1, 2016

Béchamel Brown Rice Mac & Cheese

   Creamy and sharp, this mac and cheese is always perfect. Whisked butter, flour, and milk turn into a light béchamel with added cheddar, resulting in a rich and salty sauce. I've made this many times and every time it comes out special. You can make this with regular white rigatoni-or any pasta for that matter however, I prefer to use brown rice pasta when I can. The key to cooking the brown rice pasta correctly is not to over stir the pasta- keeping it from becoming mushy- and rinsing it very well once it is finished boiling. 

16 oz bag Trader Joe's brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour 
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Prepare pasta according to package- add kosher salt to the water. Do not over stir pasta and rinse well with cold water to avoid it becoming too soft. 2. In a small sauce pan heat the butter until it melts, whisk in the flour until a paste forms. In a large glass microwave milk until it is hot. slowly whisk milk into butter and flour until combined. Continue to actively whisk in the cheddar cheese until melted and a light sauce forms. Add a pinch of salt for flavor. Toss béchamel over pasta before ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cookbook Gift Guide

  Cookbooks make a perfect holiday gift. If you want to get someone a gift that is memorable, useful, and special- a cookbook maybe the way to go. I love giving cookbooks as gifts because they always feel beautiful and useful; they are always well received. All of the cookbooks listed below have beautiful layouts, and are content heavy. They are filled with concrete cooking techniques, recipes, and plating tips. I have over forty cookbooks in my apartment. I keep them in a cabinet but like to display five in my living room. Not only are they for my guests, but when I sit down to have a coffee in the morning, I like to flip through them for inspiration; this allows me to zoom in on only a few cookbooks at a time. I'll rotate my cookbook display every few weeks until I've read through all of them and reread favorites. 

1. Taste & Technique: Recipes To Elevate Your Home Cooking by: Naomi Pomeroy, $22.00
2. Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs by: Julia Turshen, $22.00
3. Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes by: Cortney Burns, $25.00
4. Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by: Masaharu Morimoto, $35.00
5. A Bird in the Hand: Chicken recipes for every day and every mood by: Diana Henry, $19.00
6. The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods by: Jeffrey Yoskowitz, $24.00
7.  Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi by: Yotam Ottolenghi, $20.00
8. Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking by: Uri Scheft, $28.00
9. The Love and Lemons Cookbook by: Jeanine Donofrio, $21.00
10. Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California by: Travis Lett, $24.00
11. Molly on the Range: Recipe and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm by Molly Yeh, $20.00
12. Nopi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, $29.00
13. Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes by: Dana Shultz, $21.00
14. Bon Appetit: The Food Lover's Cleanse by: Sara Dickerman, $22.00
15. Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by: Michael Solomonov & Steven Cook, $24.00
16. Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh by: Janna Gur, $25.00

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mocha Rum Truffles

  Being a good gift giver is a talent and an art; my mom has mastered both. Not only is she talented at knowing what to buy and give to whom, but she wraps, and packages each gift with precision, and attention to all the details. She also knows the perfect timing, and most unexpected way to give a gift. About a week ago, my mom mentioned that she was playing around in the kitchen- experimenting making different truffles. She not only mastered making the most decadent and beautiful truffles, but upon arrival of our thanksgiving trip, all the truffles were wrapped in the perfect size containers, neatly nestled in gold mini baking tins. She had a refrigerator full of these, put together for small future gifts. 
3 1/2 cups toasted pecans
14 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon pure coffee flavor
2 tablespoon maple syrup/ date syrup
2 oz bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate
2 teaspoon coconut oil

1. In a processor pulse pecans until small chopped. set 2 cups chopped pecans aside in a medium bowl; leave remaining 1 1/2 cups in the processor. peel the skin off the soaked dates. discard skin. add dates, coconut, vanilla extract, rum, and coffee flavor to processor. Pulse until coarsely combine. In a medium bowl add the chocolate and coconut oil. Melt in microwave for 40 seconds- to a minute (depending on your microwave). Stir until chocolate is evenly melted. Add maple syrup, and melted chocolate to food processor. Pulse until ingredients are just smooth. form 1" balls and roll in chopped pecans until evenly covered. Place truffles in mini baking cups and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating. Keep truffles in an airtight container in refrigerator or freezer to store. 

Yields: 36 truffles
Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Braised Short Ribs & Parsnip Mash

 Deep in flavor, and rich in color this low maintenance dish is a crowd-pleaser, and show stopper. Nestle these ribs back into the sauce, and serve them from stove to table in your cast iron pot. This dinner checks off in the 'ultimate comfort food' category, with out having to use any heavy, or unhealthy ingredients. The parsnip puree makes this dish a great twist from regular beef and mashed potatoes. Enjoy this over your thanksgiving weekend, or throughout this holiday season.

2 lbs. beef short ribs,
about 6 pieces
Kosher Salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
for dusting
2 Tbsp. Canola oil
2 Spanish onions, quartered
2 cups cremini mushrooms 
1 bunch petite carrots, peeled 
6 garlic cloves
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 cups red wine
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth 

Vegetable Mash Ingredients
1 lb parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp margarine 
1 Tbsp honey
kosher salt and pepper

sprinkle short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. lightly dust each side in flour. In a large cast-iron dutch oven, heat the oil. once oil is hot, add the ribs.  over a high flame, brown all sides of ribs- about 8 minutes. transfer ribs to a plate. Add the vegetables to the dutch oven and stir over moderate high heat until vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes. nestle short ribs back into the pot with their juices. Add the bay leaves, thyme, red and white wine, and chicken broth. cover and cook over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. remove the ribs from sauce. remove all solids from pot and reduce sauce over high heat, until it reduces about one-third. serve ribs over root mash with sauce.

Yields: 4 servings

Parsnip Mash Directions:
In a medium pot bring chopped parsnips and sweet potato to a rapid boil. let vegetables cook until soft. sweet potato and parsnip are ready when easily pierced with a fork. Drain water from pot. coarsely mash parsnips and sweet potato. stir in minced garlic, margarine, honey, salt and pepper.
serve under ribs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gift Guide: 16 Kitchen Gifts

Angel Food Cake & Berry Sauce

  Airy and spongy this cake is heaven topped with a generous serving of cooked down berries and whipped cream; its truly angelic in taste and appearance. I like to pull the cake a part and serve it in uneven chunks instead of symmetrical slices. My mom has fresh berry sauce in her fridge all year round. Its deep and rich in color, compliments angel cake perfectly, and we always end up eating it with our turkey and stuffing- or mixing it into yogurt during the week. Make a large container of this and you'll be spooning it over everything you can this thanksgiving.

Cake Ingredients
9 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup cake flour 
1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. place oven rack in the lowest position. set a 10 inch tube pan on the side. in a large bowl place egg white. in a separate bowl sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together. set aside. 
2. stir cream of tartar, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt into the egg whites. beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. gradually add the remaining sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time while beating egg whites on a high speed until stiff peaks form. gradually fold in the bowl of sifted flour and sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. gently spoon batter into ungreased tube pan. bake for 37 minutes or until lightly browned and appears to be dry. immediately invert pan. cool for 1 hour. run a knife around the center and sides of tube. Place cake on a plate and serve with berry sauce.

Yields: 12 servings of cake 

Berry Sauce 
2 lbs mixed berries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large orange, juiced
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cold water

In a large sauce pan bring mixed berries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar to a boil. stir berries until sugar has liquefied. bring flame to medium heat allowing berries to lightly simmer for 15 minutes. stir every five minutes. add juice of large orange and stir. drop one large cinnamon stick into sauce, stir and remove after 5 minutes. In a cup whisk cornstarch and cold water. stir cornstarch liquid into sauce. let sauce cook for 10 more minutes uncovered. Let sauce cool- about 1 hour, and refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

yields: 5 cups 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sautéed Duck & Winter Greens

This is a perfect thanksgiving side dish or winter night's dinner. So rich in flavor from the duck, greens, and sweet butternut squash, this is extremely filling and satisfying. I recommend not going optional on the pecans and dried cherries because they add a much needed crunchy element. Try cooking this with a soft spatula or wooden spoon to avoid muddling or smashing ingredients; a good tip is to gently stir along the outer edges of the pan folding ingredients inwards. I used Pelleh smoked cherry duck sausage and Pelleh duck bacon to make this recipe. You can experiment with different sausage flavors and meats. I also like to make variations of this dish when I have extra chicken or beef in the fridge. The best part of making this is that it takes fifteen minutes to throw together- all the time I have to cook up a side dish or a fast meal.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4oz duck bacon, chopped
8oz  duck sausage, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups shredded kale
2 cups shredded brussels sprouts
2 large leeks, thinly chopped
1/2 cup toasted pecans 
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
*1/2 cup dried cherries optional

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan. once oil is hot add the bacon and sausage. don't crowd the pan. let sausage and bacon lightly crisp for 1 minute. gently stir in butternut squash; evenly spread on pan allowing each piece to lightly crisp- 2 minutes. once butternut squash begins to brown add chopped leeks. continue sautéing until leeks begin to lightly soften. Reduce flame to low and stir in shredded kale and shredded brussels sprouts. softly toss in pecan and cherries. 

In a medium bowl whisk together maple syrup, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Before serving pour over the sauté and lightly toss. Enjoy as a side dish or a main course.

Yields: 8 dinner servings- 16 side dish servings 
Bon Appétit! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Spicy Jalapeño Cornbread

 My mom always made hot chili in the winter and would serve it with a large, piping hot, soft and sweet piece of cornbread. There are two ways to eat cornbread in my opinion: with a thin layer of butter slathered on it while its still hot, or with something saucy so you can sop up any gravy, chili, or soup, with its thick chunks. Toast the cornbread during the week and enjoy it with butter and jam, or reheat it for dinner with soups, chili, and gravies. I love the heat the small chopped jalapeños add- but if you're not one for spicy you can omit them altogether.

1 1/2 cups corn meal
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 jalapeños, seeded and small chopped
2 cups sweet corn


Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 pan or pie dish. In a large bowl combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt. stir in the almond milk, oil, and eggs. Once all ingredients are well combined fold in the jalapeños and corn. Pour batter in pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until sides begin to lightly brown and top is golden.

Yields: 36 pieces
Bon Appétit!