Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Salmon for a change

Sometimes I just don't want chicken.  If you knew my eating habits, you wouldn't believe I could ever say that - I love chicken.  Every so often, I just don't want to eat any more meat (or poultry) for a while.  But, I was having guests over for Shabbat dinner; I needed a dish that was presentable for company.  I made what I am calling "Tri-Colored Salmon".  The recipe is an adaptation from a recipe I saw in "Kosher by Design: Entertains" by Susie Fishbein called Salmon Primavera.

I bought a big piece of salmon - over 2 lbs - and although there were only 4 people eating, I didnt have any leftovers!  The vegetables that I used were yellow squash, green zucchini, and tomatoes.  But I would experiement with you favorite and seasonal selections (thinking of trying sweet potatoes with a sweet/tangy mustard next!).  The picture is from before I put the fish in the oven.

Tri Colored Salmon

Large filet of Salmon (mine was just over 2lbs with skin on)
Yellow Squash
Dijon Mustard
Parmesan Cheese

Pre heat oven to 375.  Place fish, skin side down, on large baking sheet.  Brush top of salmon with mustard.  Place thin slices of vegetables over fish, alternating for color presentation (if you have a mandolin slicer, this process will be much easier).  Top with a little grated cheese and chopped dill.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sarah’s “Montreal” Chicken

Sarah was one of my best friends in college.  During our senior year, I lived in a dorm with a kitchen, Sarah didn’t.  This meant that we didn’t see each other for dinner every night like we used too, so we made a date night.  Every Monday night we would take turns cooking, in my kitchen, for each other.  This is when I really learned to cook.  Sarah and I would be on the phone with our mothers all day Sunday or Monday as we wrote down our mother’s recipes, went to the grocery store, and cooked.  One day Sarah was excited that she got her mother’s “Montreal Chicken” recipe (not sure why it is called Montreal – Sarah was from St. Louis!).  She told me that this was one of her favorite Shabbat dinner meals, the meal she requested for Shabbat when she would go home during school breaks.  Sarah passed away a few years ago, but I make this dish often and it always brings me back to that night in my dorm having dinner with her. 

Ingredients & Directions
Pre-heat oven to 400.  
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 extra large egg
1 cup bread crumbs

Sauce:  (I adjusted the amounts in this sauce because I like the chicken a little spicy, and not as sweet.  If you prefer sweeter, add more sugar.)

1/3 c sugar
1/2 c lemon juice (juice from 2 lemons)
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t paprika
2 t curry powder

Dip chicken in egg and then bread crumbs, place on foil  or parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, wisk sauce together.  Flip chicken then pour 1/2 sauce over chicken.  Return chicken for another 10 minutes. Then flip chicken again and pour remainder of sauce.  Return to oven for 10 more minutes, until done.

Classic Potato Kugel

Let’s start this blog with some real tradition: Potato Kugel.  
Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish homes.  Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole and it can be made out of potatoes, noodles, vegetables, or even fruit.  My friend Naomi gave me the recipe for her grandmother’s Potato Kugel.  Naomi is always asked to bring over the kugel when she is invited over to her friends’ homes for Shabbat and holidays.  Below is her Polish grandmother’s recipe that Naomi shared with me, including her secret to delicious success – making sure the oil is very hot before adding it to the potato mixture! 

I FINALLY opened my food processor (the one that I was given for my wedding 2 years ago and never opened) to grate the potaotes... only to realize that I had no idea how to use it, and that I would just be easier to hand grate the potaotes and onions. 
*Note to self: learn how to use a food processor!

Ingredients & Directions

6 potatoes
1 yellow onion
2 extra large eggs
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 + cup vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Heat up oil in oven in 8x8 baking pan till it sizzles (about 3 minutes).
Grate potatoes and onion, add eggs, salt and pepper to potato/onion mixture and mix.  
Add hot oil to the potatoe mixture. 
Use some cooking spray on the pan and pour in the potato mixture.  
Bake uncovered for about an hour. 

The kugel tastes like a big potato latke - Amazing!
This Friday night, I am serving this kugel along with Sara’s “Montreal” Chicken, recipe follows.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


People are asking: what is Jewish Identity?  Some answers that I’ve heard are that they are a religious Jew, a cultural Jew, a Jew-by-choice.  My favorite: the Gastronomical Jew.  The person that connects to their Jewish identity through FOOD!   There is the old joke that all Jewish holidays have the same pretext: they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!  

Food has always been a way for my family to come together to celebrate any and all things Jewish.  My earliest memories are of large holiday dinners with my extended family at my grandmother’s house.  These dinners were so important that my aunts, uncles, and cousins would travel hundreds of miles just for some brisket!  I don’t blame them; my grandmother’s brisket recipe is the best!

As I grew up, I still associated my Jewish identity strongly with those moments around the table.  But the table changed – it became my table.  I love cooking for my friends and family and inviting them over for an intimate Shabbat dinner filled with hot soups, comforting kugels, and conversation about our lives, the news, and little a Torah, too. 

At Congregation Beth El, there is a program called Lighten Up: Friday Night Invites.  It is a program in which congregants invite other congregants over to their home for Shabbat dinner in order to build relationships within the larger Beth El community.  I hope that the combination of this program and this blog will encourage people to have Shabbat dinners in their homes – and to eat well!