Ravioli with Creamy Roasted Pepper Sauce

What’s for dinner? I cringe when I get asked that question. I always get my act together, but typically that question is asked the moment I step in the door after a chaotic day. There’s typically a few hungry people just staring at me waiting for me to answer. That’s when the stopwatch starts. That 30-minute countdown to get something on the table.

It can be hard to menu plan for a typical week as my week typically shifts from day to day and the schedule is always changing. Working full-time during the day, combined with the kids’ busy after-school plans, means that I’m typically getting home at 5:30 or 6 in the evening. So I get it. The kids are validly hungry.

Those same kids though are pretty critical about dinner options and their appetites for flavor change on day to day. So it’s always a gamble whether or not they’ll like what I’m about to prepare. I get excited if I get some input from the kids when it comes to the menu planning.

When my older daughter, my pickiest eater, called me in the middle of the day and asked if we could pretty please have some ravioli for dinner tonight, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t a clue what ingredients I had in my house, I would try to figure out some way to oblige.

I do typically try to have some cheese ravioli in my freezer though. It’s a great shortcut to have ready to go. In moments like this, I would typically just toss the simple ravioli with a simple doctored up jar of marinara sauce, but I wanted to do something different this time. I had all these good intentions for specific ravioli accompaniments, but quickly learned that my fridge wasn’t as stocked as I wanted it. But I did have sweet peppers sitting in my fridge that needed to get used up. Alas, my family doesn’t like sauteed or cooked peppers. But maybe I could do something else with them.

I decided to roast the peppers. I threw the papers on a foil lined baking sheet and a broiled them, turning them every so often so they were charred all over. Next, I peeled off the outer char layer.

Afterwards, I tossed them in my Vitamix along with some fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, and lemon. I love using my Vitamix. It takes like 30 seconds to do anything in there.

Next,  I sauteed up some onion and garlic and I added the sauce mixture into the onion mixture. To that mixture, I stirred in some ricotta cheese and a little bit of veggie broth to thin the mixture a little. I then tossed the cooked ravioli into the sauce. Stirring well. And done. I served the ravioli with a spinach salad and everyone was happy. My picky family members who typically aren’t pepper fans loved the sauce. Dinner was served. And it took less than 30 minutes.

The best thing about this sauce? It can be used on anything. Try it on veggies. Try it on grilled chicken. This flavorful sauce is perfect for anything that needs a boost. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ravioli with Creamy Roasted Pepper Sauce
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • Frozen Cheese Ravioli
  • 20 Assorted Sweet Baby Peppers or 2 regular size red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup veggie broth
  • additional salt and pepper as needed

Instructions
  1. Cook the ravioli according to the directions on the package, drain and set aside.
  2. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the peppers on it. Set your oven to broil and broil the peppers for about 8-10 minutes, turning the peppers every couple of minutes for even charring.
  3. Once the peppers are charred on all sides, transfer them to a large glass bowl and tightly cover with foil. Let sit for a few minutes.
  4. After about five minutes, remove the foil cover. Remove the skin from the peppers – it should have detached a bit. Slice open the peppers and remove any stems or seeds.
  5. Transfer seeded peppers to a blender or food processor. Add in the oil, basil, lemon juice, garlic clove, salt and pepper. Blend until pureed.
  6. Heat up a large saute pan with olive oil. Add in chopped onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.
  7. Pour in pepper sauce mixture. Stir in ricotta cheese and broth.
  8. Stir completely. Toss in pasta and let it absorb some of the sauce.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

 

Brussel Sprout, Cauliflower & Mushroom Hash

 

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m a little bit obsessed with brussel sprouts. These little cabbage-like balls of goodness are so tasty and so surprisingly versatile. As soon as brussel sprouts are in season, I pounce. Brussel sprouts tend to appear at the local markets sometime in November and I totally dance a little jig when I see that bucket at my favorite market stand for the first time in the seaons. And sometimes, during the fall and winter holidays, I get all silly and buy them on the stalk. Because I am fancy like that. But really, on most days, I toss them with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and just let them roast. But not this time. I went all out with my brussel sprouts.

A lunch with my mom this past fall inspired this dish. We went to this funky pub near her hotel where I had a simple brussel sprout hash with eggs and creme fraiche. The lunch was a perfect treat, and its’ simplicity made me really happy. I knew I had to create a dinner inspired by this dish. I knew that cauliflower would work well with brussel sprouts. And well, mushrooms, because mushrooms. I always add mushrooms to everything. Or so it seems.

I started by caramelizing some diced onion and garlic while I shredded up the brussel sprouts. I like buying my brussel sprouts whole and chopping myself, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you picked up a bag of already shredded brussel sprouts over at Trader Joe’s.

Once the onions were done, I added the shredded sprouts to my cast iron skillet. I let those cook a bit while I chopped up my cauliflower. If you wanted a shortcut here, you could also use a bag of that riced cauliflower. I quickly chopped half a head of cauliflower – stalks and crowns. I added that to the pan and let that cook a few minutes before adding in the chopped mushrooms. I continued to let it cook in the skillet for another 7-10 minutes or so, stirring every so often.

I served this brussel sprout hash over some baby spinach and then topped it with a gloriously fried egg. You can also go for a poached egg, if fried isn’t your style. If you’re vegan or just not in the mood for an egg, you can certainly leave it out. It’s all good. This was dinner in our house, but I could totally see this being served again as breakfast, brunch or lunch as well.

Enjoy!

Brussel Sprout, Cauliflower & Mushroom Hash
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion, dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter (additional)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1.5 pounds of brussel sprouts, washed and trimmed
  • 4 cups chopped or riced cauliflower
  • 8 oz. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste
  • Eggs (optional)
  • Butter for frying the eggs

Instructions
  1. Heat up the oil or butter in a large, deep skillet. I like using my cast iron pan for this.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add in the onion and garlic let it soften and caramelize.
  3. While the onion cooks, shred the brussel sprouts by halving and slicing thinly.
  4. Add the salt and pepper to the onions.
  5. After about 7 minutes, add in the brussel sprouts. Stir a bit and turn the heat to medium.
  6. Let the brussel sprouts cook down for 3-5 minutes and then stir in the cauliflower and chopped mushrooms.
  7. Mix everything well and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  9. Fry up some eggs, sunny side up if you like.
  10. Serve the hash with some fried eggs or salad, or even with some meat – if that’s your speed.
  11. Enjoy!

 

 

Swiss Chard & Chickpea Curry

 

So I peeked in my fridge the other night and was saddened by the dire vegetable situation in my kitchen after a long holiday weekend. So I headed out to Trader Joe’s in search of some hope for my cooking situation. Lo’ and behold, the shelves were bare. So I headed down the block to the trusty local kosher grocery store, and amazingly, there was some beautiful fresh swiss chard. It being the beginning of the new year and time for healthy new year’s resolutions and better eating plans, swiss chard is the perfect healthy green to be that representative to ease us into this special moment.

Swiss chard is a fabulous, hearty green that can adapt to any situation. It’s somewhere in between kale and spinach in terms of durability? Can greens be durable? I say, yes. Anyhow, they cook down nicely and pair well with most flavors. It also cooks up quickly, so it’s great for those evenings where you get home at 6pm and dinner needs to be ready before the half hour episode of The Simpsons is over. Am I the only crazy busy mom who does that? I try not to, but to be honest, the occasional park the kid in front of a show moment is the only way that dinner will be cooked and bellies will get filled.

Curry is the perfect wintery dish. It’s comforting, warm, spicy and pretty healthy. And if you follow some of my other recipes on here and also my instagram, you’ve probably seen a fair amount of similar dishes. It’s such an easy meal to turn to as I usually have all of the base ingredients at home already.

I quickly set up some basmati rice to cook. Basmati rice also mostly babysits itself while it cooks.

I sauteed up some onions, garlic and ginger and curry spices. Next, I added in the chopped swiss chard and let that cook down a little bit. I then added some chickpeas, a small amount of broth and some diced tomatoes. I added in a small amount of salt. I let everything simmer for a little bit – five to seven minutes and I was ready to go. By the time the curry was ready, so was the rice.

I tried to keep the heat level on this dish more mild so my kids would eat it, and eat it they did! Hope you enjoy this as well!

Swiss Chard & Chickpea Curry
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • half teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 large bunch of green swiss chard, washed and chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • additional salt to taste

Instructions
  1. Heat up the oil in a large pan.
  2. Add in the onions, ginger and garlic and let soften for a couple minutes.
  3. Stir in the spices and cook another minute.
  4. Add in the swiss chard and let it cook down for a few minutes, stirring well.
  5. Add in the drained chickpeas, tomatoes and broth. Stir everything well.
  6. Let simmer for five to seven minutes, stirring every so often.
  7. Taste and add salt as necessary. If you’d like some heat, add in some cayenne or red pepper flakes.
  8. Serve with warm Basmati rice.
  9. Enjoy!

Carrot & Parsnip Latkes

Happy Chanukah! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. I know I am!

It’s great to try and slow down a bit and enjoy the holiday week with the family. We try and lighten the mood a bit and focus on family coming together, a bit of together time – with the kids off from school, and a few days off from work. We can all appreciate this holiday time.

With Chanukah, comes latkes. And as you know, each year, I try and shake things up a bit – moving away from the traditional potato latke. I mean, I still love a basic potato latke, but I like to look deeper in to my fridge and see what other flavor combos will work as a fried patty of yummy goodness. I’m still thinking about those rosemary, fig and goat cheese latkes that I made a few years ago. I’m always looking for new latke ideas.

These carrot and parsnip latkes, were originally just going to be plain parsnip. I was thinking a simple parsnip latke with a horseradish cream sauce. Well, the carrots were a last minute addition. I thought that the flavors would work well together, and I’m glad I went in that direction. I shredded up the parsnip and carrot with some onion and garlic – along with one small russet potato. I squeezed any liquid out. There wasn’t much to squeeze out. I placed it all in a mixing bowl and added some egg, flour, salt and pepper. I then got to frying. These came together so quickly and so simple to do. Totally hit the spot.

I do still recommend a horseradish cream sauce to go with, but you can really dip in to whatever preferred latke topping you like. I’m just usually a sour cream girl. Anyhow, enjoy!

 

Carrot & Parsnip Latkes
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 3 large parsnips
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 small Idaho Russet Potato
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • canola oil for frying

Instructions
  1. Shred all of the veggies in a food processor with a grating disc.
  2. Transfer the shredded mixture to a thin towel and squeeze any liquid out.
  3. Transfer mixture to large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
  5. Since parsnips and carrots tend to be very dry, if you feel like the mixture isn’t wet enough, add one more egg.
  6. Heat oil in a deep fry pan to medium-high heat.
  7. Form in to thin patties and drop in oil, frying a couple minutes each side – until browned and crisp.
  8. Drain latkes on paper towels or on a cooling rack lined baking sheet,
  9. Serve and enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato & Fennel Latkes

I’m back with some latkes for Chanukah! I couldn’t neglect the blog for this holiday – one of my favorite foodie holidays! Each year, I love coming up with fun, new twists on the traditional latke. From carrot ginger to corned beef and cabbage, I always have fun with this holiday treat. And this year, Chanukah coincides with Christmas, giving us Christmukkah. Did I spell it right? Just like Hanukkah, it has a bunch of different spellings. Anyhow, it’s time to have some fun.

This latke recipe that I’m sharing with you came about when I was eyeing the fennel at the local vegetable market. I love fennel, but I was thinking about how I could do something other than my standard of roasting it. And then I thought about Chanukah and latkes. I didn’t think it would stand up on it’s own as a latke, but I figured that if I combined it with a more starchy veggie, it could work. A regular potato is too plain in flavor, so I looked to the sweet potato and thought that the flavor combo could work. The sweet with the anise flavor.

I shredded up a couple of sweet potatoes with two fennel bulbs, along with some onion and garlic. I squeezed out whatever liquid I could get out of it. I mixed everything in a bowl with some egg, flour, salt and pepper. Then I fried the latke patties in some canola oil – draining them when they were crisp on both sides. You do have to be careful when frying, because these latkes go from nicely crisp to very burnt very quickly.

I’m so happy  with the way these latkes turned out though. It’s a nice change from the standard potato pancake. I served these latkes with the traditional sour cream, but these would also be great with creme fraiche or maybe a horseradish sauce. Have fun with it! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Fennel Latkes
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. all purpose flour or gluten free flour
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  • canola oil for frying

Instructions
  1. Shred all of the veggie in your food processor with a grating disc, or shred by hand
  2. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible
  3. Mix everything together in a large bowl with the salt, pepper, eggs and flour
  4. Heat a large fry pan on medium high. Add oil to pan.
  5. Form mixture into small thin patties and fry in oil. About two minutes per side, until evenly brown and crispy.
  6. Drain on a cooling rack or on paper towels.
  7. Serve with sour cream or other topping.
  8. Enjoy!

Italian Sausage & Monterey Jack Grilled Cheese

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Happy National Grilled Cheese Day! Now this is a holiday I can get behind every year. Grilled cheese is definitely one of my all-time favorite comfort foods out there. From my loaded grilled cheese to my grilled cheese with pears and caramelized onions, this is one sandwich that truly has a place in my heart. So when the folks over at Rumiano Cheese sent me some coupons for this momentous foodie holiday, I had to oblige.

Cheese-bricks

When I was out picking up the cheese at Whole Foods, I picked up some Upton’s Italian Sausage seitan. I had a hunch that the cheese would pair well with the seitan and I was right.

I set out to make this amazing sandwich. It’s a special occasion, so I had to go full steam ahead, right?

I sautéed up some onions and cremini mushrooms along with the seitan.

I then buttered up a skillet and also buttered two slices of bread. I piled the bread with cheese and then the onion/seitan mixture and then more cheese. Topped with a piece of bread, and then in to the pan it went.

Whoa Nelly. I birthed a grilled cheese baby. And it was good.

The Monterey Jack from Rumiano was the perfect match for the onions, mushrooms and seitan. I love how all the flavors stand out in the sandwich.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Italian Sausage & Monterey Jack Grilled Cheese
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 package of Italian Sausage flavored seitan
  • Butter
  • Bread (2 slices per sandwich)
  • 1 brick of Monterey Jack Cheese, sliced up

Instructions
  1. Heat up some olive oil in a pan.
  2. Add in the onions and cook a few minutes. Add in the mushrooms and seitan and cook until cooked through and liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a separate pan, heat up some butter.
  4. Butter Slices of bread and make sandwiches, piling cheese then filling then more cheese.
  5. Grill in pan until brown on each side and cheese has melted.
  6. Serve.
  7. Enjoy!

Grilled Cheese Vertical

Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Toaster Oven & Giveaway

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Are you a pop-up toaster person or a toaster oven type of person? It’s actually often cause for debate in my house.  I grew up with toaster ovens. They were a constant fixture in my house at breakfast time. From toasting bagels to reheating pizza, it had its’ place. When I got engaged, my grandmother bought me a simple pop-up toaster. I was pretty skeptical about it. My husband on the other hand, was firmly in the pop-up toaster camp.  So we’ve lived with both kinds of toasters over the years.

So the fine folks at Hamilton Beach recently sent me this Easy Reach 4-Slice Toaster Oven to try out. I was definitely excited to check it out.

toaster-main

This unit has the traditional toaster oven features. You can time-cook it based on how well done you like your toast, you can set it on a timer set to temperature, or you can simply bake with it – set to a particular temperature. What’s different about this toaster is that it has a unique roll-top door to make it easier for you to take your food in and out of the oven without getting burned. The oven door really did open smoothly and it definitely allows better access to the food inside. It’s like a toaster garage!

When it came time to cook with it, I first surveyed my daughter as to what to cook and she suggested bagels. Well, I had to test it with something more than just bagels. The bagels did toast well – just how I like it, but I was curious as to how the baking feature worked.

I decided to bake some cookies in the oven. Sometimes I like to mix up some cookie dough ahead of time and then freeze it so I can bake as needed. I mean, who doesn’t love fresh baked cookies? Anyhow, I whipped up a batch of my favorite oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies. Don’t tell anyone my secret, but I have a special place in my heart for the oatmeal cookie recipe on the lid of the Quaker Oats can. Anyhow, I do a doctored up version of that recipe and it never fails.

I set the toaster oven to 350. It seemed to heat up very fast, which is great.

I scooped up the cookie dough on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet (which is included) and let it go.

cookie-balls

The cookies cooked up nicely. I like to take them out a little earlier, since I like a chewier cookie.

Cookies-Baking

Overall, I really like the way the toaster baked the cookies and toasted my daughter’s bagel. The only con I think of with this toaster is that I wish it had more space. Toaster ovens always seem to show what seems like big food items in their marketing photos. In this case, the box showed a pizza. Well, that must have been a personal sized pizza. But that’s ok. It’s a toaster oven. This is perfect for toasting your breakfast, heating up that leftover pizza and even the occasional small baking job.

baked-cookies

Definitely worth checking out.

For a chance to get in on the toaster action, enter the giveaway below!

*Full disclosure: Hamilton Beach provided me with this toaster. All opinions are my own.

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Kosher By Design Brings it Home + Giveaway

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Whenever someone asks for a kosher cookbook recommendation, I typically have a couple cookbook authors on my mind. And Susie Fishbein is always one of them. Her Kosher by Design cookbook series feature a variety of flavorful recipes that any home cook can follow.

Anyhow, we’re having a virtual cookbook party today! I’m excited to share with you news about Susie Fishbein’s latest cookbook, Kosher by Design Brings it Home. Her new cookbook features new and innovative recipes inspired by all of her travels around the globe. It’s being released this Thursday, but you can pre-order it now here! I’m so excited to get my hands on this book. I cooked up her Freekeh Pilaf this week and it was a real winner.

To celebrate the release of her new cookbook, the kosher blogging community has an exciting giveaway for you! You can win a full set of Kosher By Design cookbooks, a Bosch mixer or $500 Visa gift card! Enter now! In addition to the book party giveaway package, I’m also giving away one copy of the Kosher by Design Brings it Home to one lucky winner. So be sure to enter below.

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Vegetable and Tofu Pad Thai

pad-thai-m

 

I’ve never revisited or republished a recipe on this blog before, but I’m sharing a revamped recipe with you today. I made pad thai recently for dinner and after sharing it on instagram and facebook, I got many requests for the recipe. So I reviewed my old recipe to see if it still held up. Well, that old post was from 2008. That’s almost prehistoric for blog history. So I decided to clean it up a bit. It’s still the same basic ingredients. I’ve had seven years of pad thai practice, both the cooking and the eating. So I think it’s time. Red Boat fish sauce, one of the best anchovy-based fish sauces out there, released a kosher fish sauce, so now, kosher pad thai dreams can really come true for everyone.

I visited a new local to me Asian market on Sunday, so I had just replenished my supply of rice noodles and other goodies, so this week has been filled with various Thai and Chinese treats.

The important thing about pad thai is having everything ready to go when you want to start cooking. Everything cooks quickly.

Start by cooking the pad thai sauce in a small sauce pan. You will want to mix equal parts brown sugar, fish sauce and tamarind concentrate. To that mixture, you will add some vegetable or chicken broth. Boil the mixture and then let it simmer so it can thicken.

While the sauce is cooking, get your rice noodles ready. Fresh rice noodles are amazing, but the dried rice sticks work fine and are simple to cook. Just submerge the noodles in boiling and let them sit for several minutes until soft. Drain and then rinse with cold water until ready to use.

I beat up some eggs and let them cook in a pan. I set those aside.

Next, I sauteed up some shallots and garlic and then added some tofu and chicken style seitan to the pan.

Then, I added some Chinese broccoli and some shiitake mushrooms to the pan. I let those cook a few minutes.

Next, I added the rice noodles to the pan and stirred in the sauce.

After everything was incorporated, I stirred in some bean sprouts and scallions and got ready to plate it.

Serve the finished pad thai with some crushed up peanuts and lime wedges. I love what the lime juice does to this dish.

Enjoy!

Vegetable and Tofu Pad Thai
 
Author:
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. tamarind Concentrate
  • ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 8 oz. pad thai rice noodles
  • canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup diced extra firm tofu
  • 8 oz. chicken or seitan
  • 1.5 cups slices shiitake mushrooms
  • 1.5 cups sliced chinese broccoli
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, washed
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ⅕ cup crushed peanuts
  • Lime wedges

Instructions
  1. Combine the fish sauce, brown sugar and tamarind concentrate in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium. Add in the broth. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down.
  2. Soak the rice noodles in boiling water until soft. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat up a couple of teaspoons of canola oil in a wok or large pan. Beat the eggs and add to the pan. Scramble them a bit. Transfer eggs to plate and set aside.
  4. Add another teaspoon or two of oil to the hot pan and add your proteins. I like adding tofu or seitan, but feel free to play around with it. Add some beef or chicken or shrimp if that’s more your speed. Let it cook a few minutes.
  5. Add in some veggies. This is where I added mushrooms and broccoli. Let that cook a bit.
  6. Now, add the noodles to the pan and stir.
  7. Stir in the sauce.
  8. Finally, add the bean sprouts and the scallions and turn off the heat.
  9. You’re just about done!
  10. Serve pad thai topped with some peanuts and some lime wedges on the side. I love fresh squeezed lime juice on mine!

 

 

The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen Cookbook Review & Giveaway

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Happy Chanukah! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I’m taking a break from Latkefest 2015 to tell you about this fabulous new cookbook – The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman. I’m also hosting a giveaway for this cookbook, so don’t forget to enter.

SJK-Cover

The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman is a fabulous cookbook that explores traditional Jewish foods while sticking to the Jewish calendar. Filled with beautiful photos and wonderful stories, this book really spoke to me. As someone who tries to cook seasonally, I felt like this cookbook was made for someone like me. I also loved that even as a Jewish cookbook, it wasn’t just about the potato kugel and the brisket. Amelia writes about the history of various foods and where they came from, while sharing about why they’re important to the Jewish calendar. I love that all of the foods in her cookbook are fresh and inspirational – using very clean ingredients. I recently made her Lamb, Butternut Squash & Quince Tagine and it was a huge hit with my family and guests. I also made her Winter Greens Saute and I know it will be a staple on our table over the next several weeks. I highly recommend this cookbook for anyone who loves exploring new flavors, while sticking to the traditional Jewish calendar. Even putting aside the Jewish calendar, this book stands out as a fabulous cookbook with fresh recipes. This Shabbat, I plan on serving Amelia’s Braised Beef with Semolina Dumplings. It’s the perfect Shabbat Chanukah meal.

Because I rarely share desserts with you, I decided to share this fabulous winter cake recipe with you. Blood Orange & Olive Oil Polenta Upside Down Cake evokes flavors of the Middle East and would be a special treat for your holiday table.

Blood Orange & Olive Oil Polenta Upside Down Cake
 
Syrup-soaked cakes, usually made with semolina and called tishpishti or namoura, are popular throughout the Middle East. With its stained-glass effect from the variegated colors of blood oranges, this upside-down cake, which gets its nubbly texture from sunny cornmeal, is drenched in a sophisticated ruby-red blood-orange syrup. Use fine-grind cornmeal or polenta; stone-ground meal doesn’t get tender enough in baking.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert

Ingredients
FOR THE CAKE
  • 4 blood oranges
  • 2⁄3 cup (145 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2⁄3 cup (105 g) cornmeal (not stone-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup (165 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
FOR THE SYRUP
  • ½ packet (¹⁄8 ounce/3.5 g) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Using a Microplane grater, grate zest from 2 of the blood oranges and reserve. Juice the 2 oranges and reserve. Cut both ends off of each of the remaining 2 oranges, then cut each orange crosswise into rounds ⅛ to 1/16 inch (3 to 2 mm) thick. Cut all but one of the slices in half and discard any center pith.
  2. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the bottom of a flameproof and ovenproof 10-inch (25-cm) skillet (a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is perfect) and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Heat skillet over medium-low heat until most of the sugar is bubbling. Remove from the heat.
  3. Starting at the outer edge of the pan, lay the halved orange slices in the melted sugar with the “scalloped” edge of each slice touching the edge of the pan. Fit as many orange slices as you can into the circle, pinching their corners as you set them into the hot sugar (use a knife point or tongs to adjust the fruit as needed). Some slices will have a “prettier” side; make sure those are placed face down in the sugar. Arrange the remaining halved orange slices in concentric circles toward the center, finishing with the reserved whole slice in the center.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and granulated sugar on medium speed until thickened and golden. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is thick and creamy gold, 3 to 5 minutes total. Beat in the zest and 1 tablespoon of the juice. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition just until blended.
  5. Pour batter evenly over the orange slices and gently smooth the top. Bake the cake until golden brown, the top springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Invert a serving plate over the cake, invert the pan and plate together, and lift off the pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, loosen it with a spatula and place it on the cake. While the cake is hot, use a fork or bamboo skewer to make holes in it without going all the way through.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the soaking syrup. Fill a medium bowl one-third full with ice and a little water and nestle a smaller bowl, preferably metal, in the ice bath. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of the remaining orange juice into a small pot, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and let soften for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir granulated sugar, Cointreau, and lemon juice into the remaining orange juice, then stir the mixture into the softened gelatin. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar and gelatin, about 1 minute. Do not allow to boil. Pour syrup into the waiting bowl and stir from time to time until it thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, about 15 minutes. Spoon or brush some of the syrup over the cake. Allow it to soak in, then spoon or brush on more. Repeat until you have used all the syrup.
  8. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing, then cut into wedges with a serrated offset knife to serve.

 

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