Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Equipment You Must Have

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Food

I’ve given a bunch of recipes on here – and I will give out more – but no matter how good the recipes you have are, if you don’t have the equipment, you’re not going to be able to make them.  Here is a list – and I’m sure other people will have things that they say they can’t live without – of things I think every kitchen should have.

  • Knives – This is something of a no-brainer, but every kitchen needs to have good knives.  A good knife is one that is comfortable in your hands – I can tell you what knives I like, but you have to hold them and feel them for yourself.  At a very minimum you need a good chef’s knife, a good serrated blade for bread and cakes, and a tournet knife.  99% of the time I don’t use any knife beyond those – including when I was in a professional kitchen environment.
  • Cutting boards – You should have a few – at least one a “show” cutting board that you can bring to the table for carving meat or cutting bread.  Cutting boards should be wood or plastic – never glass.  Glass cutting boards will kill your knives.
  • Spatulas – for both spreading and flipping.  I have bamboo, plastic and metal for flipping and plastic and silicon for spreading.  When it comes to flipping – or anything else – and non-stick pans: DON’T USE METAL!  Metal will scratch the coating and you’ll end up with a pan you paid a lot of money for that no longer has it’s non-stickiness.
  • Pots and pans – Make sure you have different sizes – if you want to heat up enough of the spaghetti sauce that you made the other day for dinner tonight you want to use a small sauce pan, but if you want to make a soup you’re going need a bigger pot.  I like cast aluminum frying pans – they distribute the heat well and aren’t as heavy as cast iron and they have teflon or other non-stick coating on them.
  • Blender stick – These are amazing.  This is the primary electrical appliance I use in the kitchen.  Mine can work as a blender, an electric whisk, or a mini-chopper.  For most day to day use, this is it.

Now I could go and give you the big list of things that I have in my kitchen like my big mixer that I use when I make breads and cakes, or my food processor (that mostly makes bread-crumbs), but the list above represents most of my everyday tools.  There are lots of things that I take out once a month (or not even as much) like a mortar and pestle, a mandolin, or a coffee grinder (for grinding spices) that I have – but before you buy something and spend a lot of money on it (and some of thee things can be really expensive) think how often you’re going to use it.  And if you know someone that wants to buy a used bread maker, let me know.

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Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit

Posted: December 9, 2011 in Food
Tags: , ,

This was dinner last Friday night.  I posted a picture on Facebook and a few people asked me for the recipe so I decided I’d put it up here. Since I never actually wrote down a recipe for this and was improvising at the time, bear in mind that cooking is are and not science.

Ingredients

1.5 kg Short Ribs (What the Israelis call Asado)

Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit

Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit served with mashed potatoes

20 shallots, peeled

1 head garlic, peeled

20 dried apricots, quartered

10 seedless prunes, quartered

1/4 cup craisins

1 cup Jack Daniels

1/4 cup honey

Water

3 whole cloves

20 whole peppercorns

6 whole allspice

Salt, pepper, vegetable oil

Directions

Heat a medium sized pot (it needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients).  While the pot is heating, season the ribs with salt and pepper.  Once the pot is very hot, put about 1 tbsp of oil in (don’t worry if it starts smoking – the pot should be that hot!) and then sear the ribs on all sides to a nice brown color.  Once the ribs are brown on all sides, take them out and put them on a plate.  Put the shallots in and brown them on all sides, add in the garlic and then the fruit.  Add the whiskey and then put the ribs back in.  Put in the honey and add water until the ribs are covered.  Put in the peppercorns, allspice and cloves.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on a very low heat for about 2.5 hours.  If the level of the liquids drops too low, add more water until the meat is covered.  If, when the meat is done there is still a lot of liquid, bring the heat back to high and reduce the liquid.

Holiday Recipe – Matzo Brie

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Family, Food
Tags: , , ,

This is the traditional breakfast for Jewish families everywhere during Passover. It’s essentially French toast made from matzo. Personally, I like to eat it with jelly. My wife – for some reason – likes to eat it with cottage cheese. Every family has it’s own recipe and tweaks. This is the recipe that my father taught me when I was just a kid.

Ingredients

  • 1 board matzo
  • 1 egg
  • hot water
  • Salt, pepper, oil
  • Directions

  • Soak the matzo in the hot water until it is softened. Strain.
  • Add the egg to the matzo and mix well. Season to taste.
  • Fry in the oil until golden brown on both sides.
  • Comments
  • This is a minimum recipe. 1 board of matzo is probably a bit too much for one person, but not enough for two people. Just do some math to figure out who many is right for your table. I generally use 3/4 boards of matzo per person (ie – one board for 1 person, 2 for 2 people, and 3 for either 3 or 4 people.)
  • Some families like to serve it up us big pieces – either making pancake size individual ones, or large ones and cutting a piece for each person. My family tradition is to cut it up like scrambled eggs.
  • Unlike french toast – where I make different batters for sweet and savory – this works well with either jelly or a more savory topping like cottage cheese. Choose whatever you like.
  • This is the one time of year where I really hate living in Israel.  I understand that the large majority of the population is Jewish.  I understand that a fair percentage of that population keeps kosher for Passover.  But not everyone does.  I don’t understand why the sale of products that aren’t kosher for Passover are outlawed.  Shouldn’t I – as an adult – be able to buy a beer if I want?  The other 358 days of the year I can – but for this week, it’s illegal to sell one.  If I want bread, well I guess I’d better bake it myself – that’s the only way I’m really going to be able to find it.  I can understand the major supermarkets – which only sell kosher products – making the transition.  But the ones that don’t keep kosher still have to take the products off the shelf.

    In this modern day of choice and freedom – why is such a basic choice – like what to eat – being regulated by the government?  I’m not saying I’m going to eat that bread (OK. I probably will but that’s besides the point.) but why, if I want to go to a non-kosher restaurant and order a BLT do I have to get it on Matzo?  It’s time to go to the supermarket and stock up on cereal, bread and flour – because next week there’ll be none to be found.

    Weekend Recipe – Pea Soup

    Posted: April 2, 2011 in Food
    Tags: ,

    Ingredients

    • 400g peas
    • 1 medium sized carrot, medium dice
    • 1 medium onion, medium dice
    • 1 liter chicken stock
    • salt, pepper

    Instructions

    • Put all ingredients in a pot without the seasoning and bring to a boil.
    • Simmer until the carrots are fully cooked – about 15-20 minutes.
    • Blend into a smooth puree
    • Bring back to a boil and season to taste.

    Comments

    If you don’t have chicken stock, use water and the appropriate amount of stock cubes or soup powder.  I usually use frozen peas, if you decide to use dried peas, use about 300g and soak them for about 20 minutes prior to cooking – make sure to discard the water you soaked them in.  If you’re using fresh or frozen peas and want a brighter green only put half the peas in at the start, put the rest in immediately prior to using the blender.  If you’re using a regular blender and not a blender stick hold back about 1/3 of the water when blending – then add it back in to get the consistency you like.  Serve it with croutons, grated parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon.

    Well – Passover is almost upon us and I figured I’d start with an old family recipe.  Every year my grandmother would make the soup, my aunt would make the matzoh balls and Mom would make stuffed cabbage…  Personally, I don’t like the cabbage – so mom would always make twice the meat, half stuffed and half unstuffed – and I tried it without the cabbage once but it wasn’t the same.  If you really don’t like cabbage, line the pot with some cleaned cabbage leaves – you’ll get the same flavor in the sauce without wrapping the meat balls.

    Ingredients

    • 1 Large Head Cabbage – separated into leaves and softened in boiling water
    • 1 kg Chopped Beef
    • 1 Onion, chopped
    • 1 egg
    • ½ cup ketchup
    • 2 12 oz (330 g.) cans tomato sauce
    • ¼ tsp sour salt (lemon salt)
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar

    Instructions

    1. Mix meat, onion, ketchup and egg in a large bowl until the mixture is uniform.
    2. Form balls out of the mixture, place each ball into a cabbage leaf and close the leaf around the ball.  Place in pot.
    3. Pour the rest of the ingredients into the pot.
    4. Partially cover and bring to a boil.
    5. Let simmer for 1 hour and taste.  If too sweet, add sour salt.  If too sour, add brown sugar.  Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes after adjusting flavor and taste again.  If the taste is right, it’s ready.

    Comments

    As I said – cabbage has to be in the pot for it to taste right.  If you don’t want to wrap the meatballs you can either put some cabbage leaves at the bottom or chop the cabbage up and put it in – I’ve done both and I don’t mind the cabbage so much chopped up.  I tend to make a lot of this at a time and freeze it – it’s great as an appetizer or served over rice or mashed potatoes as a main dish.  This is a copy of my mother’s recipe – you can just as easily sub the canned tomato sauce for homemade using the recipe I gave a few weeks ago… If you decide to use canned, we always used Hunts and that’s the flavor I recognize from my childhood (I always go out of my way to get it since it’s hard to find in Israel…)

    Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts, in cutlets
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 1 loaf bread, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 stems of basil, leaves only
  • 2-3 stems of oregano, leaves only
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • flour (for dredging the chicken)
  • oil (for frying)
  • 3 balls fresh mozzarella, sliced
    Instructions 
  • Put bread, herbs, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper into a food processor and chop until you have uniform bread crumbs.
  • Beat the eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Season the chicken with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Dredge the chicken through the flour making sure that each cutlet has an even, thin coating.
  • Dredge the chicken through the egg, letting all excess egg drip off
  • Dredge the chicken through the breadcrumbs making sure that each cutlet has an even coating.
  • Heat about 1cm oil in a frying pan until it is nice and hot (if you drop a cube of bread in, bubbles should start forming almost immediately)
  • Fry the chicken cutlets until golden brown on both sides.
  • Coat the base of a roasting pan with tomato sauce
  • Place the chicken cutlets in the roasting pan and cover them (don’t smother – you should see the brown around the edges) with tomato sauce.
  • Place the cheese on top of the cutlets – you should be able to see the tomato sauce on the cutlet after you place the cheese.
  • Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for about 20 minutes – until the cheese starts to brown.
    Comments 
  • For Kosher alternatives – you can use eggplant instead of chicken. If you do, slightly salt the egplant slices and let them sit for a few minutes before dredging in flour.

    This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. I tend to serve it with spaghetti – or some other pasta – in the same tomato sauce. Because my family likes the fried chicken cutlets so much, I tend to make 2-3kg of chicken cutlets and then freeze what didn’t make it into the roasting pan – we just reheat it later and eat. While I tend to like making my own bread crumbs you can use store bought. If you do use store bought -get unseasoned and add the seasoning yourself. The seasoning of the breadcrumbs can have a big effect on flavor – just make sure that any herbs you use (whether fresh or dried) are chopped extremely fine.
    Bon apetit! 

  • I’ve decided that I’m going to do a series of my favorite Italian recipes over the next few weeks.  Since almost all of them are red sauce Italian, I’m going to start with that basic recipe – tomato sauce.

    Ingredients

    • *1kg peeled, chopped tomatoes
    • 100g onions, finely diced
    • 50g carrots, finely diced
    • 3-4 bay leaves
    • 700ml water
    • 6-8 stems of thyme or oregano, finely chopped
    • 4-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 bunch basil, finely sliced
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 200g tomato paste
    • salt, pepper, olive oil
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • * Preferably fresh tomatoes, when using canned I tend to go with crushed.

    Instructions

    • In some olive oil, sautee onions, carrots, celery and thyme or oregano until is starts to brown.
    • Add in the garlic and once the smell of garlic starts to come up, add the tomato paste.
    • Add in the red wine. You should now have a very thick liquid with the vegetable chunks.
    • Add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil.
    • Add the sugar and give it its initial seasoning. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes
    • Add in the basil.
    • OPTIONAL – with a blender stick, blend it until you have a smooth puree
    • Adjust seasoning (and sweetener) to taste.

    Comments
    Since tomato sauce is a base ingredient in so many recipes I tend to make about 3-4 times this recipe at once and freeze it. I also take great care to leave it a relatively neutral flavor – not to sweet and not too overpowering. If I want to make pizza I’ll use some of this sauce and sprinkle a drop of sugar on before I add the cheese and toppings. By adding things such as ground beef, olives, capers, etc. when reheatign you can change this basic sauce from tomato sauce to bolognese, putanesca or whichever tomato based sauce you like on your pasta – and still have only made one huge batch (which doesn’t require that much work).

    Next week – Chicken parmesan!

    Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce is one of my favorite dishes to get in Chinese restaurants. I know some places make it spicier and some smoother – this is the way I make it. Special thanks to my sister-in-law Steph for giving me the original recipe!

    Ingredients

  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 ½ TBS sesame oil
  • 2 TBS peanut butter (smooth) or 2½ TBS peanut butter (chunky)
  • 2 ½ TBS water
  • 2-3 TBS soy sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • Instructions

  • Mix dry mustard with 2 tsp water, set aside.
  • Add all ingredients one at a time in the order they appear, stirring well after adding each ingredient. Add the mustard last.
  • Cover and chill in fridge.
  • Comments
    This is a good dipping sauce for things like fried chicken cutlets as well as being great over cold noodles. You can serve it with cold noodles with chicken – I would recommend grilled or nuggets – that is either hot or cold and it can make an excellent meal. This recipe will make enough sauce for 1 500g (or 1 1lb) box of spaghetti. I have – on occasion – switched the sesame oil with Asian chili oil and it makes a very nice spicy version. If you are going to serve it over noodles traditional garnishes include thin peeled cucumber strips, sesame seeds and crushed peanuts.

    Recipe Requests…

    Posted: March 3, 2011 in Food
    Tags: , ,

    Since I started posting recipes every Friday they’ve become some of my most popular posts.  So now, I’m going to let you – the loyal readers – let me know what you want.  Add a comment with suggestions for different recipes that you’d like me to post and I’ll try do as many of them as I can over the next few weeks.  Thanks!