Sometimes it’s not just what’s in season that helps me decide what to eat, but how the season feels. Today was sunny and breezy. The air smelled sweet. Seriously, it did. This menu is all about capturing that feeling in a spring meal.
I highly recommend introducing your vegan (and non-vegan) friends to this Greek challah. As a sourdough novice, I’ve been working on perfecting this recipe for sourdough Pan de Horiadaki. It’s tangy from the sourdough and full of flavor from the olive oil.
Nothing says rejuvenation like fresh mint. Incorporate it into your meal with some lemonade or in a salad, like cucumber and tomato or, if you’re going the dairy route, watermelon and feta.
This pan-roasted, herb-seasoned Greek grilled chicken looks light and crisp. Serve it with some oven-roasted red potatoes and your seasonal vegetable of choice cooked with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Here are some of my tried and true methods for restoring balance:
Amaranth. Amaranth is a high-protein, gluten-free grain indigenous to Mexico. Rich in dietary fibers and essential amino acids, amaranth can lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase energy, and strengthen bones. This amaranth porridge is a powerful way to kickstart the day.
Kombucha. A happy pairing of bacteria and yeast, a good swig of kombucha can bring your digestive system back up to full performance. It’s also chock full of the enzymes our bodies use to detox, helps reverse the effects of candida (yeast) overgrowth, relieves arthritis, and can increase energy levels. As tempting as it may be, keep in mind that you should not shake kombucha before drinking, since that upsets the delicate ecosystem within the bottle.
Miso. While most people hear miso and immediately think “sushi appetizer,” there’s a lot more to this paste than a salty soup. A fermented soy product, miso is full of micro-organisms that help our bodies process proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also contains lactic acids that promote a healthy environment for digestion. Miso is a great addition to salad dressing and sauces, but if you want to stick with soup, make sure to add the miso last, once the broth has been removed from the heat, so you don’t kill the bacteria.
Pickles. Consuming lacto-fermented pickles (which don’t have to be cucumbers, by the way) is a great way to bring lactic acid, active cultures, and enzymes into your digestive system. Pickling vegetables also helps reduces the impact of harmful compounds like oxalic acid found in beet greens and increases the bodies ability to absorb minerals like iron by breaking down phytates.
Seaweed. I was hesitant about seaweed when I was first introduced to it, but now I can’t imagine giving it up. Full of a range of vitamins, including the hard-to-come-by B12, seaweed can help your digestion, regulate your blood sugar, strengthen your nails and hair, improve thyroid function, and relive stress, among countless other benefits. One of my favorite seaweed dishes is hiziki (or hijiki) caviar served on a cracker.
What food remedies work best for you?
Before you head off into the wonders/horrors of a three day yom tov there’s still time for one more dairy recipe. (Technically, this recipe is pareve, but it makes a great vehicle for dairy foods, i.e. cheese.)
A friend of mine here in Chicago is using Shavuot as an excuse for an interactive lunch: make your own pizza. For the purpose of this lunch, we’ll be eating store bought crusts, but if we wanted to take it up a notch, we could make this great whole wheat dough.
The recipe makes a chewy crust that browns nicely. Like any other recipe for pizza dough, the key to this one is a really hot oven. You can change the proportion of whole wheat to bread flour, but I wouldn’t go more than 50-50. If you are using vegetable toppings remember to put them under the cheese so they don’t burn.
What’s your favorite way to eat a pizza?
2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup whole wheat dough
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a bowl.
While mixing, add the water and 2 tablespoons of oil until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
Scrape the ball onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a bowl with the remaining oil, add the dough, and cover it with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let it double in size, about one hour.
After 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Press each dough ball into a 1/2 inch thick flat round, adding flour or oil to the work surface as necessary. Press or roll the dough until it is as thin as you can make it. Allow the dough to rest if it becomes difficult to work with.
Brush lightly with olive oil and top as desired.
Bake for at least 10 minutes, rotating once, until crisp.
Lest you think we forgot about Memorial Day with all of the excitement about the dairy-filled weekend ahead, here’s a menu dedicated to barbecued goodness.
Start off your meal with a tangy grilled caesar salad. Feel free to leave off the cheese if you want a pareve meal. Once everyone is crunching into their toasty romaine, serve any one of these great summer drink ideas.
Whip up a batch of my absolute favorite barbecue sauce from Grow and Behold. This sauce is a great marinade for chicken (they recommend wings), but I recently discovered that it makes a delicious boozy condiment for hotdogs.
In addition to tossing your regular onion, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers onto the grill, consider mixing things up with some sweet and spicy grilled pickles. If you want to make things really fancy, make some pickled spring onions.
Finish off the evening by channeling the delights of the campfire with these S’more Truffles.
It’s customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot. Though I used to pull all-nighters with relative frequency, those days are (thankfully) behind me, and a 2am study session can be a little tough. Enter the affogato, a recipe brought to us from Ariel Pollock, that combines a delicious brownie with ice cream (dairy is also customary on Shavuot) and a shot of espresso. The brownie will be something to look forward to, and the espresso will keep you going for the few more hours until sunrise.
I was in charge of loading this recipe onto MyJewishLearning yesterday, and it looked and sounded so delicious that I was distracted for the rest of the day, thinking about how I might be able to either go to a restaurant and get one, or make one myself. I didn’t get a chance to have one yesterday, but it’s the first item on my agenda tonight. No, it’s not quite Shavuot yet, but I’m just preparing myself… To see the recipe and make it yourself, click here.
The blintz itself is essentially the same as a French crepe. Flour, eggs, and milk made into a thin batter and quickly cooked on a nonstick surface. We have a few variations here and here. Plus, there is always the frozen option.
I’ve never been a lover of blintzes. They always seem kind of mushy or gummy. So in preparation for this year, I did some research. I asked everyone I knew about blintzes. After a number of polls and brainstorming, we struck gold. My friend came up with the idea of mixing chunks of apple into the sweetened ricotta. Another friend added thinly sliced apples as a delicate garnish. By making the pancakes fresh and filling them with a honey-sweetened mixture, these blintzes are tasty and light.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup green apples, peeled and diced, plus slices for garnish
salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Mix ricotta, honey, apples, nutmeg, and salt.
Warm a crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat with butter.
Spoon 1 tablespoon onto one end of the blintz and begin to roll. Before reaching the other end, fold in the sides and finish rolling to make a sealed package.
Brown the blintzes in the hot pan, folded side down. Remove when golden.
Layer the apple slices over the blintzes and serve hot.
When in doubt, break out the puff pastry. Easy to work with, and always yielding a mouth-watering result, you really can’t go wrong with a dish that uses puff pastry as a base. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and is perfect for Shavuot, brunch, or a weeknight dinner. It can be done as a rectangle shaped tart or as individual turnovers.
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted and rolled out
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper (or 1 jarred roasted red pepper)
1 cup artichoke hearts (about half a box)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons pesto (my favorite recipe)
Salt, pepper, crushed chilies, to taste
Saute the onion on low heat, until the onion is very soft and lightly browned. If you are using a fresh red pepper, roast it under the broiler until it is charred on all sides. Put it in a bowl, cover it with saran wrap, and let it cool. When it is fully cooled, peel the skin off and cut the pepper into slices.
Meanwhile prepare the puff pastry. Lay it flat on a baking sheet. Cut lines down each side, about a third of the way in, on the diagonal.
Mix the ricotta and pesto together. Season with salt, pepper and crushed chilies. (This is also an awesome dip for vegetables or pita chips!) Shmear the cheese mixture onto the middle third of the puff pastry. Top with an even layer of carmelized onions, artichoke hearts and sliced roasted red bell pepper.
Now to make it fancy looking. Fold over the sides, one strip at a time (right, then left, then right, then left…you get it) until the tart is closed. Brush with egg. Sprinkle the top with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Bake at 375F for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Serve with a salad. I like serving it with a sweet salad to contrast the flavors in the tart.
Want to mix it up? Use this as a model. Include something creamy(cheese), something sweet (like the onions), and whatever vegetables you have lying around!
When we moved to Chicago, my roommate and I decided we wanted to have a dairy-only kitchen. We had a whole bunch of reasons, but, as it turns out, there aren’t too many hecksher kosher dairy kitchens. People around here give us a pretty hard time for it.
Over the next few days, we’ll be posting all kinds of dairy recipes–from appetizers to entrees to desserts.
In the mean time, here are some of our old favorites:
I love the slow ramp up into summer when it comes to Shabbat. We’re early enough in the season that I’m not sick of the never-ending Saturday afternoons and, instead, I’m grateful for the extra time on Fridays. I can come home, take some deep breaths, and get to work on dinner. It means my food is actually fresh and I don’t feel wiped from staying up late cooking the night before.
This extra time has other benefits, too. I like to have my guests come before Shabbat starts and do some of their own cooking. Everyone can make their own pizzas, pop them in the oven, and then we’ll bring in Shabbat together.
As a sucker for pastries made with anything other than white flour, I think this light spring meal would benefit greatly from this chocolate buckwheat cake. The buckwheat and almond flour mellow out the richness of the dark chocolate. It’s gluten free, which is always a plus these days, and if you want to make it dairy free, I would substitute deodorized coconut oil for the butter. Serve it with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and some fresh berries. You won’t regret it.
Whether eating seasonally is important to you or it’s just something you read about on food blogs, I bet you’ve been paying attention to at least one thing as spring makes way for summer: rhubarb season. Rhubarb is one of the few produce items that is nearly impossible to get out of season. But good news–the time is here and the rhubarb is ready for all of your creativity.
To get the creative/rhubarb juices flowing, here are a few tantalizing recipes to try:
Are you the type of person who likes to come home and treat yourself to a trendy cocktail? If that’s your thing, try making your own Rhubarb Bitters for your next drink.
Although it’s often relegated to the dessert course, rhubarb can wear other hats, too, like in this Chicken with Rhubarb and Fennel from the Wall Street Journal. The rich, flavorful thighs provide a good balance to the tangy rhubarb.
For vegetarians looking to add some pop to their entrees, try this Curried Lentil with Rhubarb Chutney. This dish is impressive for a host of reasons, but mostly because, unlike typical chutney, this rhubarb condiment is only sweetened with chopped dates. As the recipe’s author points out–don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients. You probably already have many of the ingredients.
As a follow-up to these exoctic spice combinations, take a tip from the Brittish and treat yourself to Rhubarb Fool with Cardamon Cream. The man behind Lottie and Doof has a serious soft spot for rhubarb, so if you aren’t feeling fool-ish (pun definitely intended), check out his archives.
Finally, check out La Domestique’s “10 Ways Tuesday” for ten very different ways to use your rhubarb this season. (Consider substituting some more of those chicken thighs and drumsticks for the crispy pork dish.)