Jeweled Veggie Orzo with Wheatberries

Yield:
6-8 servings

Oh, how I love pasta. Almost all of my favorite comfort foods involve pasta: egg noodles with cottage cheese (a childhood favorite); any kind of gnocchi smothered in just about any kind of sauce; and my pregnancy comfort food, spaghetti with butter and Parmesan.

But I have been trying to cut back on my pasta recently, adding in bulgur and even zucchini noodles as an alternate.

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For Thanksgiving though I really wanted to create (and eat) an orzo side dish. Orzo somehow seems like a compromise of carb: it looks like rice, but it’s actually pasta.  And to make it a little healthier than just some plain old pasta, I added some hearty wheatberries, an array of colorful vegetables and even some vitamin-rich pumpkin seeds into the mix.

The result is a scrumptious and satisfying side dish that can also serve as an entree for any vegetarian guests. Want to add some more protein into the mix? Add 1/2 cup cooked lentils or small white beans and you have a complete dish.

If you can’t find purple carrots at your local market, you can use a roasted beet instead to achieve the same color and texture. I also love this dish because you can prepare it a day ahead and either serve room temperature, or heat it back up to serve.

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Jeweled Veggie Orzo with Wheatberries

Posted on November 23, 2014

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Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

Hopefully you are just about ready for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. I can picture the family around the table, reflecting on the year and soaking up the aroma of freshly carved turkey. Just remember, when you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving wine pairings, there’s more to consider than just the bird. I know it can seem confusing or even scary to pick the perfect wine for your celebration, or really any wine, but I hope to make that part a little bit easier with some great kosher wine suggestions.

thanksgiving wine bottles

As The Day Gets Going

When the kitchen starts to come alive with the buzz of Thanksgiving morning, nothing puts me in the holiday spirit more than an ice cold glass of Chardonnay.  This year, I’d recommend the Odem Mountain Volcanic Chardonnay 2012.  It’s a dry white wine that won’t give you a sugar rush too early in the day. The slow and cold 5 month fermentation process leaves this wine with a delightful golden color and an aromatic nose.  In plain terms, this chardonnay is refreshing, crisp and is a delight to sip.

While You Are Snacking On The Stuffing

Nothing says “get this party started” quite like a bottle of Brut.  Gilgal Brut  is a 50-50 mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and it presents floral apple and pear notes. While it is fresh and invigorating, it’s bright acidity pairs excellently with the sausage and chestnuts I put in my stuffing muffins.

thanksgiving wine and turkey

But What About My Turkey?

You’d think that pairing turkey with a white wine was a no-brainer. Nope. Wine Folly has written the perfect definitive guide to pairing wine with poultry and you have more to choose from than you would have thought. You won’t go wrong with Carmel’s Kayoumi White Riesling 2012, rated 90 points by Daniel Rogev. This is an impressive wine with a slight sweetness and a delightful color. I’d also recommend Pacifica Pinot Noir 2010 for it’s balanced acidity and generous fruity flavor. Not only with the Pinot Noir pair with the turkey, it’s the perfect match for many of the flavors of the day.

Something With The Side Dishes

Your Thanksgiving table will be complimented by attention to detail, so think about the perfect wine for your side dishes too.  Ramon Cardova Garnacha 2011 is a Spanish wine with a unique character that comes to life when paired with fall favorites like mushrooms and butternut. Similarly, Covenant Red C Sauvignon Blanc 2013 would compliments grains like rice and quinoa, wild mushrooms or green bean casserole. Now that I think of it, Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is an equally impressive choice to par with your Thanksgiving side dishes.

Thanksgiving wine 2014

And For Dessert…

Thanksgiving desserts lean nicely toward being paired with a full bodied glass of port. If Pecan Pie is on your menu, you deserve a bottle of Shiloh Fort. This is an intensely purple dessert wine with a massively full body. It’s sweetness is married to notes of raisin and caramel so it’s well balanced sweetness is great with rich dessert.

Psagot Prat is another port style wine that I admire greatly. After being aged in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, this wine has a sweet fig-like aroma that can cut through the subtle flavors and creamy textures of homemade pumpkin pie. This is a dessert wine that screams of decadence. This would be my choice with pumpkin pie

When The Day Is Still Young

As the day draws to a close and your guests move to the couch, some might move on to scotch or brandy but this is when I like open a bottle of one of my favorite wines. Ella Valley EverRed. This is a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Syrah perfect for any occasion. The grapes for this wine are harvested by night and the wine is aged in French oak. On a personal note, this is one of the first bottles that taught me to explore and discover the wonderful world of wine. It really is a personal favorite so light a log fire and pour yourself a well-earned glass. The dishes can wait till tomorrow.

thanksgiving red wine pouring

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Posted on November 21, 2014

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Thanksgiving Chutney Three Ways

This Thanksgiving, I’m adding an array of chutneys to my holiday spread as a way to jazz up the traditional meal with simmered combinations of fruits or veggies. Chutneys are the perfect accompaniment to long roasted, rich turkey or braised meats because their vinegary bases help to balance the fat of heavier proteins and side dishes.

This selection of chutneys cover a range of flavors to please any palate. With that in mind, I simmered one sweet, one savory and one spicy condiment. They make use of seasonal ingredients and readily available herbs and spices. Best of all, they come together in one pot and with little fuss. And each of these combinations will be tastier and more nuanced when prepared in advance.

sweet cranberry chutney

Sweet Cranberry and Cherry Chutney

This chutney hints at Thanksgiving tradition with ruby red cranberries, nuts and dried fruit. It is believed that cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Serve this Cranberry and Cherry Chutney alongside roasted meat, turkey or chicken. Add a few tablespoons to mayonnaise and use as a spread on lightly toasted challah for turkey sandwiches with leftovers from your feast. Or place this chutney in a small serving dish alongside creamy, mild cheeses as a sweet element on a cheese plate.

Note: This chutney has a very strong vinegar odor when it’s simmering. The first time I made this, I was alarmed by the strength of the vinegary presence. After it’s cooked, cooled and refrigerated, the vinegar- sugar- honey combination settles into a perfectly balanced, slightly sweet condiment for your holiday meal.

Ingredients:

2 cups dried tart cherries
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh cranberries (rinsed)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup raisins or currants
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
6 Tbsp water (or a little more if the pan appears too dry)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart. saucepan over medium heat. Cook 20-25 minutes, stirring well.

Cranberries should burst open. The texture should be slightly sticky and chunky, with little liquid remaining after the simmer. Chutney will continue to thicken as it cools.

Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. Serve at room temperature.

cauliflower chutney

Savory Cauliflower and Lentil Chutney

This vegetable and legume based chutney doesn’t include any added sweetness, making it a welcome savory addition to a holiday meal that tends to include lots of sweet flavors. It’s warm spices and toasted undertones provide unexpected flavors next to traditional dishes like sweet or mashed potatoes. This dish could easily be the star dish for vegetarians at your table.

Serve alongside turkey leftovers or as a condiment with pan-seared fish. If using this as a main dish for vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table, be sure to make stuffing without chicken or turkey broth so that they may enjoy stuffing with this savory chutney.

Ingredients:

¼ cup good olive oil
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp ras- el- hanout*
½ tsp mustard powder
1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups cauliflower florets, small pieces
1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes
½ cup water
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves- minced
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
*Middle Eastern spice mix found at well stocked markets like Whole Foods or at online on Amazon

Directions:

Heat oil and add onion, shallot and ginger until softened, about 4-5 minutes.

Add ras-el-hanout and mustard powder and stir, cooking one minute.

Rinse and examine lentils for particles of debris. Remove if found. Add lentils and wine to onion and spice mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cover pot and cook 10 minutes.

Add cauliflower, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper and paprika.

Cover and cook over medium heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until lentils and cauliflower are tender but not mushy. Stir occasionally. Add ¼- ½ cup more water if chutney appears dry.

Cool mixture and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

May be refrigerated for up to one week in airtight container. Serve at room temperature.

tomato chutney

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Posted on November 19, 2014

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Butternut Squash and Sage Challah

Butternut squash and sage are one of my favorite flavor pairings. It makes a wonderful soup, and who doesn’t want to smother butternut squash filled pasta in a sage butter sauce? I do, and I would happily eat it for breakfast.

Butternut Squash Challah Nosher3

Pumpkin challah I have made and conquered, and I have even seen recipes for sweet potato challah. Still, I wanted to try my hand at using butternut squash, which is why I was thrilled to write a guest post for my friend and fellow blogger Melinda of Kitchen-Tested based on this idea.

Let me assure you: the result was fantastic. The butternut squash blended incredibly well into the challah dough and the color was just so pretty: a subtle orange flecked with tiny bits of fresh sage.

If you are looking for something uniquely Jewish to add to your Thanksgiving table this challah is definitely the thing.

For the full recipe, head over to Kitchen-Tested.

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Posted on November 18, 2014

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The Turkey Round-Up

The first time I made a turkey was actually for Passover, not Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but got lucky enough that my turkey came out well. I marinated the turkey overnight in a mixture of fresh oranges, lemons, herbs and pomegranate juice. I googled how long to cook the turkey, and somehow, it came out juicy. I was also lucky to have someone at the dinner who knew how to carve a turkey, because I certainly did not. In fact I still don’t know how to carve a turkey.

Thankfully (get it – thankfully!?), my family takes care of roasting the turkey, and I just show up with dessert and a side dish. But for all you folks out there prepping to roast a turkey next week, we wanted to pull together some of the best tips, tricks and recipe ideas the internet has to offer in order to make your turkey roasting a little easier and a little more delicious.

turkey dinner1

Are you trying to figure out how much turkey to buy for your guests? How long to roast it? What’s the difference between fresh or frozen? Then check out 20 Thanksgiving cooking Dilemmas Solved from Thanksgiving.com.

Have you decided that brining is the way you want to go to ensure a moist and flavorful turkey? Then check out Food and Wine’s 5 Best Brines for Thanksgiving Turkey.

How do I thaw a turkey? What equipment will I need to roast? These questions answered and more from The Kitchn’s How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Way.

Need some carving tips? Here’s a tutorial in How to Carve a Turkey from Pop Sugar.

No butter? No problem! I realize many turkey recipes call for butter, which can be frustrating when looking for cooking inspiration. But I have found replacing olive oil with butter works just fine in almost all poultry recipes, so peruse all the non-kosher recipes you like for inspiration, and then just swap out the butter for olive oil instead.

simple roast turkey

Go simple:

The Simplest Roast Turkey from Epicurious

Classic Roast Turkey from Joy of Kosher

Citrus and Herb Turkey from Martha Stewart

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

turkey w pear and sage

Go gourmet:

Roast Turkey with Pear and Sage from Adventures in Cooking

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Wild Rice and Cranberries from The Perfect Pantry

Roast Turkey with Pomegranate Gravy from Epicurious

Honey Roasted Turkey with Butternut-Shiitake Stuffing from Joy of Kosher

Cider Sage Gravy from Food52

thanksgiving dinner1

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Posted on November 16, 2014

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Mushroom, Onion, and Challah-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Challah stuffing stuffed acorn squash

Thanksgiving is one of my family’s favorite holidays. Besides Passover, it is one of the only times we all come together during the year and so my mother and I get pretty excited about planning; we spend months working on the perfect place cards, décor, side dishes and desserts. We went all out for Thanksgivukkah last year creating this recipe for sweet potato latkes with toasted marshmallows.

This year we are very much in the midst of menu planning, and can’t wait to make this new dish for challah stuffing stuffed acorn squash, made with classic Thanksgiving flavors like squash, dried cranberries, thyme and even pecans.

Challah stuffing stuffed acorn squash

This dish has a great “wow factor” due to its eye-catching presentation but is quite simple to make. You can even make it ahead of time to save time the day of Thanksgiving. This dish also serves as a great vegetarian entree for your guests.

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Challah Stuffing Stuffed Acorn Squash

Posted on November 12, 2014

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Curry Pumpkin Corn Soup

Yield:
4-6 servings

curry pumpkin corn soup

When you think of pumpkin and spices, your mind likely jumps to pumpkin pie spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. But did you know that pumpkin and curry also pair perfectly?

A quick google search for pumpkin curry will reveal an array of recipes such as pumpkin curry empanadas (does someone want to make these for me?), pumpkin curry with chickpeas and slow cooker vegan pumpkin curry.

And welcome to the scene my curry pumpkin corn soup. I dreamed up this soup while trying to recreate one of my favorite lunchtime soups I enjoy at a midtown NYC eatery called Dishes. They always have a creamy, pumpkin corn bisque this time of year, and so I wanted to recreate it, but with a bit of my own spin. I added some curry to the mix, and swapped out heavy cream for coconut milk and voila: a nondairy pumpkin curry soup perfect for a Shabbat starter, light lunch or even a dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

If you have never cooked with curry before, this is a great introduction, since it really combines the familiar flavors of pumpkin and corn with the slightly exotic taste of curry. You will wonder why it’s taken you so long to combine these delicious flavors.

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Curry Pumpkin Corn Soup

Posted on November 10, 2014

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Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

Yield:
6-8 servings

Like many other traditional Ashkenazi Jewish foods I didn’t really grow up eating stuffed cabbage. Italian meatballs and sauce on Sundays? Absolutely. But the stuffed cabbage my grandmother would make to serve perhaps at Rosh Hashanah or another holiday meal was a dish that was terrifying for me as a child. And so I never really ate it.

Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

 

Fast forward about 25 years: I was given the The 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook and decided to try out their recipe for stuffed cabbage. Barely having eaten the dish, never mind cooking it myself, I actually found it surprisingly easy. Since then, it has been the only recipe for this dish I have made, and the basis for the recipe below.

But as cooks will do, I wanted to give my own spin to the recipe. So recently I decided to experiment with the classic dish, and instead of stuffing it with ground meat and rice, I opted for some super tender, pulled brisket that I cooked in a similar sweet and sour sauce.I will freely admit: this was not the quickest recipe I have ever made. It requires a hefty time commitment, since you need to cook the brisket for 3-4 hours, and then cook the stuffed cabbage all together another few hours. Despite the time, the taste was worth the effort.

Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

 

I know some of you are going to say there is too much sugar in this recipe: you are welcome and even encouraged to use whatever variation of a sweet and sour sauce you like. I also don’t advocate eating or making this kind of recipe every week; this is a “special occasion” sort of dish.

If stuffing cabbage leaves and rolling them up sounds daunting, check out Chanie Apflebaum’s step-by-step photos for Passover-friendly stuffed cabbage. Not a meat lover? Try out our recipe for a traditional but vegetarian stuffed cabbage or Amy Kritzer’s recipe for vegetarian stuffed cabbage with creamy beet sauce.

brisket-stuffed-cabbage-3

 

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Brisket Stuffed CAbbage

Posted on November 5, 2014

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Cheese and Herb Rugelach

Yield:
4 dozen rugelach

Tis’ the season for all things indulgent and rugelach is my absolute favorite thing to bake during this time of year. It reminds me of my grandma’s rugelach when I was little. She would keep a few in the cookie jar and I remember sneaking in and very carefully, or what I thought was very carefully, stealing just one more bite. Then I would hear a voice from the skies (or really, the second floor) yelling down at me “no more cookies, Samantha!” I swear she had eyes in the back of her head.

SavoryHerbRugelach-1

Not only is rugelach my favorite thing to make but even the LA Times said I did a snazzy job. I love playing with flavors and twisting ideas and cuisines around. And even though I love baking sweets during the winter holiday season, I am always craving some savory flavors. For this reason I took inspiration from some of my favorite Italian flavor pairings: salty Parmesan with creamy ricotta and freshly chopped herbs makes for a beautiful and decadent savory cookie. I recommend sprinkling some fine sea salt  for a glistening touch that will bring out the flavor even more.

SavoryHerbRugelach-3

So the next time you are thinking about making rugelach, ditch the sugar and add some cheese! I know you and your guests will mangia every last bite.

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Cheese and Herb Rugelach

Posted on November 3, 2014

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Savory Za’atar Challah

Yield:
2 loaves

Za’atar is one of my favorite ingredients to use when cooking. I roast potatoes with it and chicken too. So it was only a matter of time until I found a way to make a za’atar flavored challah.

Zaatar

I don’t make my own za’atar, but rather buy it in bulk whenever I am in Israel. You can either buy za’atar at a Middle Eastern or specialty spice store, or also make your own. Za’atar is traditionally made with a mix of oregano, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. I actually chose to add extra sumac in this recipe because the za’atar mix I bought didn’t have a strong flavor, but you can leave that out if you prefer.

Zaatar Challah

This challah has a lovely, subtle flavor that is perfect with a savory meal. I would serve this challah with hummus, tahini and baba ganouj for a lovely start to Shabbat dinner.

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Za'atar Challah

Posted on October 30, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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