Chopped liver is one of the most iconic Jewish dishes. It’s been consumed spread on top of challah and matzah for generations. But the Ashkenazi version doesn’t really do much to impress me, with only onions to add flavor, I find the taste bland.
I wanted to create something that would enhance the naturally rich flavor of liver. So I looked for inspiration from more Middle Eastern flavors. Ironically, nothing is more Israeli than Turkish coffee. And perhaps also surprising is that the bitterness of the coffee really compliments the liver and apple flavors.
The result is a classic Jewish dish with an elegant twist and a really delicious taste.
1 heaping Tbsp Turkish coffee or instant espresso
2 Tbsp honey
1 lb chicken livers
½ cup warm water
½ tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 green apples, peeled and diced
Place the Turkish coffee (or instant espresso) and honey in the bottom of a heat proof bowl. Stir in the hot water until the honey dissolves.
Add the livers and let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Heat a small pot over a medium heat along with the cloves, vinegars and brown sugar.
Once the contents of the pot begins to simmer add the apples.
Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the apples to cook for half an hour.
The apples should be soft and darkened slightly when they are ready. After the apples are done cooking, use a slotted spoon and remove them from the pot leaving whatever liquid remains in the pot.
Raise the heat under the pot to medium high and drain all the liquid from the bowl except approximately 2 Tbsp worth of the marinade.
Add the liver and marinade to the pot and cook the livers until there are no more visible pink parts.
Combine the liver and cooked apples in a medium bowl and mash until desired consistency. For a smoother consistency you can use a food processor fitted with blade attachment.
A few years ago my dear friend and fellow food-enthusiast Rachel traveled to the Czech Republic to explore her father’s family roots. While there she experienced some amazing native and Jewish-inspired food including a chicken schnitzel wrapped in potato pancakes.
STOP THE PRESSES.CHICKEN WRAPPED IN POTATO PANCAKES. YUM.
When I heard about latke-crusted chicken, I was enamored. In love. I had to recreate this masterpiece.
So as I was thinking about Passover and something new to make this year, it dawned on me that this chicken dish could easily be Passover-friendly. And while I don’t normally use matzo meal or potato starch in my Passover cooking, this recipe does require small amounts of both. But it’s so delicious, it’s worth it.
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 small yellow onion
¼ cup matzo meal (or flour)
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup potato starch (or flour)
2 eggs, beaten
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Oil for frying
Using a food processor fitted with the shredding disk or a hand-grater, shred potatoes and onion. Place in a large bowl. Add egg, matzo meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Stir until combined. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Squeeze excess liquid out of potato latke mixture.
In a large pan, heat oil on medium-high heat.
Coat each chicken breast in potato starch, then beaten egg. Place thin layer of potato latke mixture on one side of chicken and place potato-side down in frying pan. Add additional layer of potato mixture on top of chicken while the first side is cooking.
Cook for around 4 minutes, or until potato side is golden brown and starting to crisp. Carefully flip to other side and cook another 3-4 minutes.
When both sides are golden brown, place pan into oven or place chicken onto a baking sheet and cook in oven 15 minutes or until cooked-through. This may vary depending on thickness of chicken.
There are no shortage of Jewish cookbooks out there these days, and Passover is no exception. With the holiday fast approaching, I am furiously recipe testing, menu planning and pouring over the stack of Passover cookbooks that has collected on my desk.
Here are a few of my favorites and a few new releases special for Passover 2014.
This e-book cookook exclusive is the collaborative effort of four prominent Jewish food bloggers including Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me; Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat, Whitney Fisch of Jewhungry and Sara Lasry of The Patchke Princess. The photos are beautiful and the recipes are innovative. And at less than $5, you’re not likely to have buyer’s remorse.
Passover Made Easy, Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek
The first thing I noticed about the Passover Made Easy cookbook was how beautiful it was. The second thing I noticed was that there is potato starch in nearly everything, which is not my my personal preference in how I approach Passover cooking.
I like some of the special touches in the cookbook such as a brief wine guide at the beginning, some pretty plating ideas for Seder dinners and a replacement index to provide alternatives to different ingredients. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of meatballs in blueberry sauce, which sounds like something my 2 year old might suggest for dinner, so I probably won’t be giving that one a try.
But the brisket egg rolls, citrus beet salad and potato flanken kugel sound like my cup of tea, so can’t wait to try them out.
Tired of potatoes during Passover? Aviva Kanoff was too which is why she wrote the No Potato Passover cookbook. The recipes are no frills, but simple enough for most cooks. The photos of Aviva’s recipes and travels are stunning. You can read more here about Aviva’s journey as a cookbook author and check out her recipe for Spaghetti Squash Kugel.
A Taste of Pesach, multiple contributors
If your family loves meat and kugel, then this is the cookbook for you. There are so many kinds of roasts, steak and kugel in this cookbook, it will keep you busy all week long. The dessert selection features several mousse recipes, a personal favorite during Passover as well as an intriguing Tri-Color Sorbet Ring that is striking if only in appearance. And while many of the recipes seem like they could also have featured prominently in a Sisterhood Synagogue cookbook, there are also some surprising recipes like the White Velvet Soup with Honeyed Chestnut Garnish and Rhubarb Compote.
While looking at cooked spaghetti squash one day and noticing its remarkable likeness to its namesake, spaghetti, I was inspired to experiment with a noodle kugel. I researched classic recipes for a “yerushalmi kugel” calling for caramelized sugar using 2 cups of oil and two cups of sugar, in addition to eggs. At first I attempted it, but seeing all that oil and sugar in the pan, I couldn’t bare to expose my beautiful and healthful squash to such a fatty fate and decided to experiment starting with just a teaspoon of sugar and a few tablespoons of oil. To my surprise and delight, the kugel came out light, fluffy and delicious.
To cook the spaghetti squash, follow these directions which I love. I hope you enjoy this healthy alternative!
3 cups shredded spaghetti squash
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp sugar
¼ cup matzah meal
¼ cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients except for the oil.
Pour oil into a 9x12 pan and place in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Pour squash mixture into hot oil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove kugel from oven and pour off excess oil.
If the kugel is still too watery, bake out some of the moisture before serving.
Aviva Kanoff, author of No-Potato Passover, and I have “known” each other for years, but never actually met until last week. I had followed her career as a cookbook author the past few years, partially because I loved her approach to fresh cooking for Passover and her mouth-wateringly beautiful photography, and also because we have several mutual friends in common – such a small world!
We finally had the chance to sit down for coffee together last week so I could hear about her latest project, Gluten Free Around the World and talk all things Passover.
Where did the idea for No-Potato Passover come from?
Several years ago I came up with the idea to do a no-potato Passover challenge with my family. I thought: what would happen if we didn’t use ANY potatoes this year during Passover!? And because I am the kind of person who likes to really do things full-force, this wasn’t going to be just a Passover with limited potatoes: it would be literally no potatoes. When I told my mom she had a heart attack. But finally she came around. I did let my family have a few potatoes for carpas.
When I went shopping for the no-potato Passover Seder, it was like I was seeing color for the first time: green brussel sprouts! Purple eggplants! Red beets! Prior to that year I had had potato tunnel vision. I felt very excited at this challenge. It was like an adventure.
So how did the book come about?
I actually have a degree from the French Culinary Institute, but it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to pursue professionally. At least not being a restaurant chef. But I also would never have pictured myself as a cookbook author. Now in hindsight it makes perfect sense; it seems so obvious. I love cooking, food, travel and photography. Writing a cookbook really combined all my passions.
After that first no-potato Passover with my family, I gave myself a year to write the book and said if I could get it done I would try to publish it myself.
How has the cookbook influenced you and your cooking?
I actually now want to be a food educator after writing these two cookbooks. I have realized that I love turning people on to new foods that they never would have tried otherwise. My family didn’t even eat brussel sprouts until two years ago, and now they love them!
Too many people think that healthy eating is expensive and time-consuming. I want to educate people about accessible, healthy eating. I think people don’t want to believe that healthy cooking is so simple because then they don’t have an excuse.
I mean, my dream is to swim around in a large pot of pappardelle pasta with butter. But who can do that?! Just because it’s yummy doesn’t mean it’s good for you. And I want people to choose more foods that are good for them.
How do you plan your Passover menu?
I always have a tentative menu, which I print out and put up on the front of the fridge. But even after I write it up, it varies. I will leave room for changes and improvising especially because I like to see what’s fresh at the supermarket. I will go shopping and get carried away with beautiful artichokes or purple cauliflower, and then suddenly we have an addition to the menu. I get distracted by beautiful produce like a kid in a candy shop.
I also like to make sure my menus are inclusive. I am sensitive towards special diets and preferences, so I always try to incorporate dishes that everyone can eat.
What’s your favorite dish to make during Passover?
My coconut-crusted chicken with plum dipping sauce. I was always envious when I saw coconut-crusted shrimp and so I wanted to make a version I could eat. The plum dipping sauce is a great way to use up fruit that is starting to go bad so it doesn’t go to waste.
So what’s next in the world of Aviva Kanoff?
My next cookbook is coming out in June 2014 – Gluten Free Around the World. With this cookbook I wanted to create something beautiful for people with gluten free diets. But I didn’t want it to be negative. I wanted this to be a gluten free “adventure” instead of “dealing with your disease.”
Have you seen the gorgeous rainbow hamantaschen making its way around the internet in time for Purim? I first noticed the beautiful and innovative hamantaschen on the instagram feed of Kitchen Tested and also featured them in my own round-up of Sweet, Savory & Booze-Inspired Hamantaschen. What a beautiful and creative labor of love.
And just this week one of our friends over at the Keshet blog decided to try her hand at making the colorful treats. Check out Jordyn’s version—not too shabby for a non-baker!
Make sure to check out Jordyn’s adventures in rainbow hamantaschen-baking!
Some things don’t require a lengthy intro, and these hamantaschen are precisely that. I made them last year and was determined to recreate them this year in time for Purim. With only a few days until Purim, I got to work late last night and I am happy to share that they are as delicious as I remember!
The filling is creamy, with a hint of coconut inside, and the perfect amount of toasted coconut on top. Tip: note in the directions to chill the assembled cookies before baking them. This will ensure your filling doesn’t leak out and the cookie remains intact.
For the dough:
½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp sugar
extra shredded coconut
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by ½ cupfuls until firm.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
To make the filling, combine cream cheese, vanilla, heavy cream or coconut milk, shredded coconut and sugar until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dust surface with powdered sugar or flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in powdered sugar before each cut!
Fill each round with the coconut cream cheese filling, and using your favorite method, pinch corners together tightly. Add extra shredded coconut on top.
Place in fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.
I love when friends and family send me baking or cooking questions – it always gets me excited! And just last week a friend on Facebook reached out to me seeking ideas for recipes that would satisfy both her daughter and her and her husband. I mean, isn’t that always the question for busy parents? What can I cook up quickly that my kid will eat and I can enjoy as well?
So to answer her question, here are a few of my favorite cookbooks, blogs and recipes that have proven crowd-pleasers for my family.
When my daughter was first born my friend Sara sent me a copy of Parents Need to Eat Too, from writer Debbie Koenig, Not only does this book contain a host of great recipes, it really got me thinking on how to cook things that could be adapted for both kids and parents. I loved reading through this book and highly recommend it as a great starting point for the busy parent who likes to cook.
Some of the ways this book got me thinking was around how to use one ingredient or dish several ways. For example, a simple roast chicken (bought or made) is one of the most versatile items you can cook weekly in order to satisfy all your family members. Chicken breasts can be sliced and put on top of a hearty salad, mixed in with veggies and pasta or made into chicken salad. And now that my daughter is almost 2, she loves getting her little hands on a drumstick. When she was younger we might mix up some finely diced chicken with rice for a yummy dinner.
Steamed broccoli and diced, roasted sweet potato pieces are another favorite to keep in the fridge. Broccoli gets eaten plain by our daughter, and we can use the broccoli to put on top of pizza or served alongside a weeknight entrée.
Weelicious is one of my favorite kid-focused blogs where I get inspired. And while I originally started making these Broccoli Cheese Patties for my daughter, my husband now covets the bite-sized morsels.
Speaking of family-friendly macaroni and cheese, my Mac ‘n Sweet Potato Cheesy Sauce is another recipe I created specifically for my daughter, but it turned out so delicious that my husband, me and even my brother can’t help but dishing out a bowl of it for ourselves too.
Another blog I love that has family-friendly recipes is Two Peas and their Pod. Sure, they feature lots of cookies (who says that isn’t family friendly) but I also love their simple, healthful ideas for meals like Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich. Yum!
Looking to get interactive with your kids in the kitchen? Then you may want to try Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen cookbook. I love involving my daughter in the kitchen with me, whether it’s “mixing” or rolling out dough, Ella loves standing next to me no matter what I am whipping up. So don’t be nervous – just pull up a kid-safe stool and let your kids help, even if they do make a mess.
Ah, Manischewitz, The classic, sweet Jewish wine at the butt of so many jokes about Jews.
I am not really a fan of drinking it by itself, except of course for that time I drank it straight from the bottle with a straw. But otherwise. I think it makes a good base for sangria in a pinch. And I like to use it in my Tuscan-style chopped liver. But straight up in a glass? Probably not.
But recently I was asked to teach a cocktails-making session at Limmud, a conference dedicated to Jewish learning “without limts.” I wanted to bring some uniquely Jewish flavors to cocktails, and so I immediately began to think of how I could include Manischewitz as part of the fun.
While it may sound from the ingredients that this is a very sweet cocktail, its actually quite subtle. You can add more or less syrup according to your tastes so try it a few ways until you find the right balance for your taste buds.
3 Tbsp Manischewitz syrup (see directions below)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 oz (1 ½ shots) good-quality gin such as Hendricks or Bombay Saphire
Cava or prosecco sparkling wine
lemon slice for garnish
Special equipment: Cocktail shaker
To make the Manischewitz Syrup:
Place 2 cups of Manischewitz wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then continue to reduce 15-20 minutes until it is thick, syrupy and about half its original size. Allow to cool and place in fridge for one hour.
To assembly the drink:
Place about 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add Manischewitz syrup, gin and fresh lemon juice.
Shake vigorously up and down until white and frothy on top.
Strain into serving glass. Top with approximately 1/2 cup prosecco or cava. Garnish with fresh lemon slice.
Purim is less than two weeks away which means it is more than time to start planning for your festive celebrations and making sure you are ready for some hamantaschen baking. I always find that I look forward to baking much more when I have just the right gear, so I thought I’d share what’s been most useful to me in prepping for Purim.
I hate getting bits of flour and dough all over my counter when I am baking, so I love using one of these Jumbo pastry mats in order to roll out dough.
I doubted it at first, but I’ve actually found that a great rolling pin makes a difference. I love this silicone one. It’s really easy to clean and the dough almost never sticks to the surface.
I also want to highly recommend my absolute favorite Silpat. If you don’t already own one of these silicone baking mats, your baking life is about to improve forever. I love baking cookies and challah on these to ensure nothing sticks or burns and everything comes out perfect.
What to put inside those hamantaschen? My personal vote is for creamy, nutty, chocolatey Nutella. It’s easy, delicious but also a bit outside the bounds of traditional apricot or poppyseed.
Scientific fact: kids love to dress up. And maybe it will keep them quiet for 3 minutes while you finish your hamantachen baking. Well, we can hope. Get them this set of Purim masks.
But since adults love to dress up, too (at least, I do) I love this set of fancy feather masks perfect to distribute at a Purim party.
I also really love this silly but classic wooden Haman grogger! Forget using it as a noisemaker—I think it would make a great decorative accent for your Purim tablescape.
And if your heart’s in the right place but you want someone else to do the baking for you, send a delicious basket like this one. (Use code AFPUR14 for 10% off orders over $50, before 3/16).
Hope these picks were fun for you. Happy Purim 2014!