This past Sunday, The Food Network aired a special “The Big Waste,” which featured chefs Alex Guarneschelli, Ann Burell, Michael Symon, and Bobby Flay. The chefs were challenged to compete against one another to create a meal for some 100+ foodies, bloggers and other food personalities using only ingredients from farms that would have otherwise been thrown out.
It was definitely an interesting watch (I believe it will be airing another few times this weekend), and perhaps the most disturbing moment was when some of the farmers brought the chefs to see their compost piles: the camera scrolled across piles and piles of beautiful-looking produce, that was considered unusable because it did not appear “perfect” by the average American consumer.
I hate wasting food, and try to do everything I can to use my leftovers in creative ways, so I loved seeing the top-notch meals the chefs put together using discarded tomatoes, chicken and ricotta cheese, among other ingredients.
In the meantime, here are two of my go-to recipes that I use almost weekly in order to make the most out of stale bread, and vegetable peelings. Would love to hear your favorite waste-not tips!
Shannon’s Waste-Not Croutons
- 3 Cups leftover bread, cut into cubes
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper and olive oil (also add the cheese if you’re making the croutons dairy). Toss mixture over the bread cubes, and lay out on a cookie sheet.
Bake bread cubes around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle over your favorite salad, or serve on top of your favorite soup.
- 4 quarts water
- 3 whole carrots
- leftover carrot peels
- 2 whole celery stalks
- leftover celery stalks
- 1 whole onion
- leftover onion peels
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- leftover garlic peels
- 2 whole parsnips
- leftover parsnip peels
- leftover tomatoes
- fresh parsley
- whole peppercorns
- 4 Tbsp salt
Other vegetables you can throw in: asparagus stalks, brussel sprout leaves, sweet potato, bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
In a large stockpot, add leftover vegetables, parsley and peppercorns. Fill the pot with three quarts of cold water, and cover pot with lid.
Bring soup up to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for one hour. Pour soup through a strainer into a large bowl, discarding vegetables and herbs, then season stock with salt.
Freeze vegetable stock in plastic containers or ice cube trays for up to 6 months.
Winter may not seem like the ideal time to experiment with salads, but with all the different varieties of citrus fruit that are in season currently, its a great time get ready to peel! Not to mention, a little bit of citrus may be just what you need to help get over the winter blues.
My new favorite citrus inspired salad is easy to make, and super flavorful! I use blood oranges, pink grapefruit, cucumber, avocado and edamame in my Winter Citrus Edamame Salad.
A great flavor pairing is fennel and citrus, and if that gets you excited, try this Winter Citrus Salad featuring fennel, citrus, goat cheese and olives.
Looking for a salad that can serve as more of a meal? Try this Winter Chicken Salad with Citrus and Celery. (Leave off the cheese!)
And if you’re looking to drink your citrus, not eat it, well forget the salad – try this Blood Orange Margarita, which is one of my favorite combinations of flavors.
When I was a kid I was only aware of one cookbook. Not the Joy of Cooking. Not Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not Kosher By Design. No, for me it was Alphabet Soup, the cookbook published by my Solomon Schechter school and featuring the recipes of my teachers and my friends’ parents. Later, when I was in college, my minyan put together a cookbook that I still use all the time. I still own both of these cookbooks and they are covered in flour and stains and have notes written in the margins the way any good cookbook should.
I don’t want to knock professionally published cookbooks. I just got Plenty and it’s divine. You’ve already heard me wax poetic about Leah’s Koenig’s Hadassah Everyday Cookbook. It’s drop dead gorgeous and chock full of deliciousness. The Book of New Israeli Food will make you drool. But, there is something so wonderful and authentic about a cookbook full of tried and true recipes from people you trust and maybe even love. That’s why whenever I am at a used bookstore I go to the food section and look for Bnai Brith cookbooks, and recipes collected by the Junior League of Cleveland or what have you.
For years now, the most used recipe source in my life has been a cookbook my sister’s and I made for my mom before she died. It’s called Vixens in the Kitchen (get it? Cuz we’re foxes) and it’s full of recipes that we love and have made hundreds of times. We included pictures, and notes, and used the fancy program at tastebook.com to create something really beautiful. Something that I still use to plan my Shabbat menu pretty much every week.
So what’s your favorite cookbook? And what cookbook taught you to cook?
It’s a new year, and I know a time when a lot of people try to lighten up their eating. For the first Shabbat of 2012, I have put together some healthful recipes perfect for wintertime, and perfect for a healthy (and tasty) start of your year.
When blood oranges are in season, I cannot get enough of them! Blood oranges and fennel are a perfect marriage in this Blood Orange, Beet and Fennel Salad.
Chicken breasts on the bone are a great way to have both a flavorful, and healthful, poultry dish. Try these Chicken Breasts with Pistachio Cilantro Pesto, which would go great along with Honey-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables and some simple brown rice.
You might also try this Broccolini with Crisp Lemon Crumbs. If you’re serving this with a meat meal, you can just swap out the butter for olive oil.
Happy cooking, and Shabbat Shalom!
My husband and I have an ongoing competition over who makes the best roasted chicken. I am not sure he and I will ever resolve this issue, but the truth is, every cook should have their own go-to roasted chicken recipe in their arsenal.
Before I share my version for the perfect roast chicken, here are a few tips that my husband and I DO agree on for making the perfect roasted chicken:
MARINATE: While my husband and I disagree about whose roast chicken reins supreme, we both agree that marinating overnight makes for the most flavorful and moist chicken. We particularly reccomend marinating the chicken by using a large, ziploc plastic bag. It allows for the chicken to be fully immersed in the marinade. For the perfect Shabbat chicken? Start marinating on Thursday night – you won’t be sorry for the extra prep!
KEEP IT WHOLE: A lot of my friends are afraid of buying an entire chicken – how do I prepare it? What do I do it without afterward? Well, first I recommend learning how to cut a chicken – it will be a skill you will wonder how you ever lived without. Once you are comfortable cutting a chicken, you will see how much more flavorful a whole, roasted chicken tastes.
UPRIGHT ROASTING: Aluminum pans are very convenient for cooking, especially on Shabbat when there is so much prep and cleanup. Nevertheless, I highly recommend switching to an upright chicken roaster. It allows for the skin to crisp on the entire chicken, and for the fat from the chicken to naturally flavor the entire bird as it cooks (not to mention its more environmentally friendly). Upright roasters are very reasonably priced, and can be found in lots of stores, such as this one from Amazon for only $12. Not only do we have two for our weekly cooking, but we also have one for Passover!
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed
- 1 orange, zested and sliced
- 1 lemon, zested and sliced
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together rosemary, thyme, olive oil, wine, orange zest, lemon zest and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken to a large plastic bag that seals, and pour the wet mixture of the chicken. Add the orange and lemon slices, as well as the whole garlic cloves.
After you seal the bag, make sure the entire chicken is covered with the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-24 hours before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you like, you can stuff some of the garlic cloves and citrus slices under the skin or in the cavity of the chicken. Roast the chicken for 45-55 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
I am not one to make lofty secular New Year’s resolutions, but as we welcome 2012, perhaps it might be a good time consider some food-related goals for the year.
Have you heard about Meatless Mondays? Its an effort to help Americans cut out meat from their diets just one day a week, for health and environment reasons. So why not try a dairy meal once a week, like this recipe for Lasagna with Chard, Tomato Sauce and Ricotta.
You might consider substituting chicken or turkey instead for red meat, which I found was a good compromise between me and my meat-loving husband. If you’re looking to switch from chopped beef to turkey, try my own recipe for Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Peppers (the best part about this recipe – you can also make it for Passover!) Another easy switch is using ground turkey in your chili recipe, instead of ground beef.
Want to try something totally new in the kitchen? Maybe its time to bake your own challah, make your own pickles or take on your grandmother’s brisket recipe. Already mastered challah? Perhaps you might enjoy trying a new twist on challah, such as one of The Challah Blog‘s unique flavors.
Another simple but fantastic food resolution is starting your own counter-top, or windowsill, herb garden! There are tons of herb gardens you can buy ready-to-go, but I just came across these Ceramic Wall Planters from West Elm, and I am already plotting out where I can mount them in our apartment, and fill them with thyme, lavender, mint and other aromatic herbs!
For me? I hope this year I will find a fruit cobbler recipe that never disappoints, and would also love to try to make my own rugelach! Have a good recipe to send me? I’d love to try it out and post the results.
Happy New Year 2012, and happy eating (and cooking, baking, jarring or planting)!