It happens every year: Purim has just passed, and now it is time to focus on Passover right away. Yes folks, we are here whether we like it or not. For those of you who haven’t started cooking yet (oh yes, I know lots of people who have) and who haven’t had their menus planned since December (I know those too) there are a few new cookbooks out this year to help make your holiday a little more delicious.
This cookbook is anything but traditional, and shows a distinct European flare, perhaps a result of Ms. Shoyer’s time spent in culinary school in Paris. In fact, she dedicates an entire section to a French dairy menu, a welcome addition for this dairy-lover, and a distinct difference from most meat-heavy Passover cookbooks.
She also includes some more traditional favorites, like matzah ball variations, lamb stew and several kugels. But it’s her Italian, French and even BBQ dishes that really make this new book unique. And of course her desserts like date and pistachio roll and flourless chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.
Another beautiful cookbook available for Passover and year-around cooking is Aviva Kanoff‘s second cookbook, Gluten-Free Around the World. This is not an explicitly Passover cookbook, but many of it’s recipes are already appropriate for Passover without any adaptation. Aviva once again wows us with a colorful account of travel and food that brings world flavors into the kosher home.
Kanoff’s fish dishes are particularly noteworthy, including plantain crusted red snapper, rosemary walnut crusted salmon with garlic aioli and Tuscan tuna steaks with basil yogurt sauce, just to name a few. Not exactly your bubbe’s poached salmon, eh?
Passover doesn’t have to be all brisket, potato kugel and tam tams, and both these cookbooks bring flavors and cooking techniques from around the world to expand the boundaries of your kitchen. We will be featuring recipes from both Shoyer and Kanoff’s cookbooks as part of The Nosher’s Passover line-up, so stay tuned this month for more.
Tu Bishvat is the perfect holiday for locavores, school kids and home cooks, alike. It’s a fruit-focsued holiday with plenty of room for creative cooking and connecting more deeply with the land as Spring approaches.
School kids love the field trips to plant trees while home cooks and chefs dream up new ideas for integrating the seven edible species mentioned in the Torah:
When M. returned from a quick trip to visit his parents in Israel, he brought back a tightly wrapped disc of plump, moist figs in his backpack. I immediately turned to Mollie Katzen’s latest vegetarian book The Heart of the Plate for inspiration on how to integrate these beauties into a dish where figs would be the stars while I stay true to eating within the growing season here in the Northeast.
5-6 ripe figs (dried are fine)
1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime
3 ounces parmesan cheese
1 loaf ciabatta or sourdough baguette (fresh or day-old)
1 large or 2 small bunches lacinato kale (1/2 pound total)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, cut in half and then into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
lemon or lime wedges
Stem the figs and slice them lengthwise into about 5 wedges apiece. Place them in a medium dish and sprinkle with lemon or line juice. Toss gently to coat and set aside.
Shave strips of parmesan from the block of cheese, using a sturdy vegetable peeler. Lovely cheese ribbons will ensue. Set aside.
Slice the bread into approximately a dozen thin (as in almost see-through) slices. Larger slices from ciabatta can be halved for easier handling and consumption. Set aside.
Hold each kale leaf by the stem and use a very sharp knife to release the leaf from the stem (it's OK to leave the narrow part of the stem that blends into the leaf farther up).
Make a pile of leaves, roll them tightly, and cut crosswise into thin strips. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water and swish around to clean. Spin very dry and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Place a large deep skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.
Cook, stirring and/or shaking the pan a little, for 2-3 minutes, until the onion becomes shiny and is still this side of tender.
Transfer the hot onion to the kale in the bowl and stir everything around for a bit, then return the entire bowlful of kale-plus-onion to the pan. Stir-fry quickly - for just a minute or so - over medium-high heat until the kale turns an even deeper shade of green and wilts slightly.
Return it all to the bowl, tossing in the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. You can add some of the parmesan ribbons at this point, if you like them to melt in slightly.
Remove the pan from the heat, wait a minute or two, then add the vinegar to the pan (stand back - it will sizzle), swirl it around, and pour what's left of it onto the kale. (It will most likely evaporate.)
Without bothering to clean the pan, return it to the stove over medium heat. Wait another minute, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add the bread slices in a single layer and grill on each side until lightly golden and perfectly crisp.
Transfer the toasts to the kale, along with the figs and all their juice.
Toss quickly (no need to get things uniform), adding the remaining cheese and walnuts as you go.
Serve right away, passing a pepper mill over the salad and offering wedges of lemon or lime to be squeezed over the figs.
New Years has come and gone, but we’re still firmly in the midst of resolution season. If, like my own husband, you’re trying to make healthier choices and whittle your waistline a bit – we’d want to help!
We have one copy of Susie Fishbein’s Kosher By Design Lightens Up to give away! I’m really enjoying this cookbook – everything from the Huevos Rancheros (one of my breakfast favorites), to lightened versions of some traditional Jewish staples, like Deli Roll and Potato Kugel.
So here’s the deal: comment below with your favorite “lightening up” tip or recipe, and the best one will win our copy of Kosher By Design Lightens Up.