Starters & Sides Made Easy: Review & Giveaway

startsaandsidesforwpA new cookbook in the mail is some of the best kind of mail out there. I was very excited when the Starters & Sides Cookbook showed up in my mailbox recently. This cookbook, by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek of Ami Magazine and CookKosher.com fame, is just as beautiful and just as well laid out as their Passover Made Easy cookbook that I featured this past Spring.

This cookbook features pages and pages of easy to follow recipes for tasty and innovate side dishes, appetizers and salads. This cookbook is totally made for me. I love side dishes! I could make a dinner out of the appetizer menu!

When this cookbook showed up, I quickly ripped it out of the packaging to page through the book. Like the Passover cookbook, the book features some fantastic tips and ideas. The recipes are simple, without complicated ingredients. Every recipe features a full-color photo, which is always helpful.

I especially liked that there were many recipes in the cookbook that were vegetarian and most of the recipes didn’t use processed products. I tried to stick to whole foods as much as possible.

A recipe that caught my eye, that I thought would be perfect for an upcoming dinner I was hosting, were the kishka and zucchini towers. Homemade kishka is a fantastic treat once in a while. This vegetarian appetizer is perfect for shabbat or any other dinner when entertaining. Sharing the recipe with you today.

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In addition to the cookbook that the publisher sent me, they have also graciously offered one cookbook for one of my lucky readers. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Good luck! Hope you enjoy the cookbook as much as I did!

Kishka and Zucchini Towers
 
From Starters & Sides Made Easy by Leah Scapira & Victoria Dwek
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Side Dish

Ingredients
For the Zucchini:
  • 3 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper to taste
Kishka
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  • ⅔ cup oil

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the kishka: In a small bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir in water and oil. Mold the mixture into a log that is the same width as your zucchinis. Freeze log for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Place zucchini rounds on one prepared baking sheet. Remove kishka from freezer and slice into ½-inch rounds. Place kishka rounds on second prepared baking sheet.
  5. Brush zucchini and kishka rounds with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes until zucchini is tender and kishka and zucchini are golden on the edges.
  6. Remove from oven. Create towers by topping a kishka round with a zucchini round, another kishka round, and a second zucchini round.

 

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The No-Potato Passover: Cookbook Review and Giveaway

It was another cookbook mail day in this house. Another day of excitement. I recently received the The No Potato Passover cookbook by Aviva Kanoff. Before this showed up at my door step, I had heard many good things about this cookbook. Just the title alone had me intrigued.

Aviva Kanoff uses this cookbook to take us on a tour of her various travels. Her food spans all cuisines, and just happens to be kosher for Passover. The book stresses that you don’t have to eat a dozen eggs and a pound of potatoes to have a good and filling meal. Using whole veggies and proteins,  you will not miss the potatoes. When looking for a starch, Kanoff turns to spaghetti squash and quinoa – two fabulous and healthy alternatives.

The cookbook itself is sure to please many of you. It is filled with recipes and photos. A photo is available for each recipe in the book. The book covers everything from salads to desserts. The most complicated ingredients in this book are imitation soy sauce and imitation mustard. For the most part, the recipe ingredients are easy to find. You don’t need to have a specialty kosher store to make these dishes. I especially loved the variety of salad recipes. Many of the recipes are ones that I would use year-round.

One recipe that intrigued me was the Poached Peach & Chicken Salad. I definitely see myself serving this for an upcoming holiday lunch meal. I am including the recipe below.

Poached Peach & Chicken Salad
(The No Potato Passover by Aviva Kanoff, February 2013, Hardcover, $29.99)

Ingredients:

¾ cup balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt & ground black pepper
2 peaches
(12 oz. total), halved & pitted
4½ tsp. olive oil
4 cups baby greens

Chicken:
1 lb. chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. paprika
1⁄8 tsp. garlic powder
1⁄8 tsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. rosemary
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire. (Note: If you don’t have a grill, you can
cook the chicken in a sauté pan in its marinade.)
2. Combine vinegar and thyme in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium
heat.
3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, syrupy, and
reduced to ¼ cup, about 6-9 minutes.
4. Cook peaches in the syrup for 2 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat, discard
the thyme sprigs, and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
5. Season chicken and grill or sauté in a pan until cooked.
6. In a medium bowl, toss the baby greens with the remaining 2½ tsp. oil and season to
taste with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter.
7. Top with the chicken and peaches. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp. of the reduced
balsamic, adding more to taste. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining
juice from chicken and peaches.
Tip: Substitute chicken with 1/4 cup feta cheese for a dairy meal.

I am thrilled to let you know that I have one cookbook available for a giveaway. Don’t forget to enter! You will love this book!


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Passover Made Easy: Cookbook Review & Giveaway

The most exciting mail days in my house are when cookbooks happen to show up at my door. I get jittery with excitement at the prospect of new recipe ideas. I quickly open the door, put everything down and rip open the package.  The excitement of a Passover cookbook is no different.

When I heard that Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek, the women behind CookKosher.com and Whisk Magazine, would be creating a Passover cookbook, I got excited. I have a few Passover cookbooks on my shelves, but nothing terribly new and innovative has joined the ranks in the past few years. I was so curious what would await. Leah Schapira’s earlier cookbook, Fresh & Easy, is a fantastic cookbook with bright photos and easy to follow recipes that covered all bases. So I had high expectations. Once again, Leah Schapira did not disappoint.

This cookbook, Passover Made Easy, is filled with bright photos for every recipe in the book. It includes simple step-by-step recipes, along with plating suggestions and wine pairings.  I love that this cookbook covers all bases that is sure to make the week of Passover easting much easier.

Beginning with a section on “Building Blocks,” there are recipes for basics like Passover crepes and mayonnaise  These simple items show up in various recipes, tweaked in to different forms, with amazing outcomes. I for one was excited about the mayonnaise. I am always disappointed by the mayo on the store shelves during Pesach. It always disappoints. Making it at home is so simple and tastes so much better!  The crepes too, can be used for so many different recipes – as a noodle or sandwich wrap – or even a brisket egg roll! Fantastic!

The plating recommendations are extremely helpful. So much of Passover is spent entertaining guests at meals, that the recommendations for artfully plating the food is extremely helpful.

The recipes in this cookbook are varied and run the gamut from perfect Seder dishes like Eggplant Wrapped Chicken to casual weekday dishes like the Matzaroni & Cheese recipe. This cookbook is sure to have something for everyone. I for one am especially pleased that most of the recipes use whole ingredients, and not the processed jarred and boxed stuff on the shelves. Using fresh veggies, herbs and proteins, with very little matza meal involved is a welcome treat in my house.

I highly recommend you go out and get this cookbook. You will be happy you did.

I am pleased to be offering a giveaway of this cookbook, Passover Made Easy: Favorite Triple-Tested Recipes by Leah Schapira & Victoria Dwek. The giveaway will end next Sunday morning, March 17, so be sure to enter!

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Cookbook Review: "The Kosher Baker" by Paul Shoyer

When I say I’m a hesitant baker, I really do mean it. I can tackle challahs and and make a mean oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but when it comes to real baking – I get the jitters. I need good, easy recipes and techniques or a Betty Crocker mix to get me through the yummy sweet stuff.

So, when “The Kosher Baker” by Paula Shoyer showed up at my doorstep, I was excited and nervous. I have a lot of cookbooks on my shelves, but very few baking books. I asked my daughter to pick out a few recipes. Then I sat in a corner and paged through the book – deciding what to make first.

uprightbook

I was impressed by the variety of recipes in this book. From simple cookies and cakes to tarts and babkas to macarons and challahs. This cookbook has a baked treat for everyone.

I love that right from the beginning, the table of contents breaks the recipes down by ease of preparation. It makes someone like me more at ease. I also love that this cookbook is dairy-free. It gives options for margarine and soy-based dairy alternatives, allowing  the home cook to delve in to all areas of baking. Throughout the cookbook, you will also find that the recipe ingredients are not very complicated. Many of the ingredients are those that you already have in your home and the others are very easy to find in a regular supermarket.

Paula Shoyer eases the home cook in to baking with a nice introduction to baking – instructing cooks on the basic tools and pantry staples. She also gives us some helpful cooking tips to help with the process. From how to crack eggs, to baking in water baths – Shoyer explains the various tricks of the trade.

In addition to the nice overview of the kitchen to help you, there are numerous photos to draw you in to each recipe.  I know that the photo is often the deciding factor of whether or not I will try that recipe. Her photos even include some lovely step-by-step shots for some of the more intricate recipes.

The first recipe I was pulled in to, were the Scones au Chocolate. The chocolate oozing out of the scone got to me. I had to make that first. The recipe and instructions were spot on. The Scones pleased everyone in the room.

Later, I decided to try out something fruity. I turned to her rasbperry bars. I am always a sucker for raspberry bars and I had all of the ingredients in my house. I was also struck by her technique for the crust topping – which included shaving the dough on to the raspberry filling. So creative!

When I set out to make the raspberry bars, I was once again left feeling happy. Paula Shoyer’s step-by-step instructions leave nothing out and are very easy to understand. The rasbperry bars came out perfectly, with no complaints.

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Overall, I would definitely recommend “The Kosher Baker” for someone looking for a baking book to ease in to. If you are looking for simple and easy to follow recipes that happen to be pareve, then this is the book for you. I am sure I will be turning to this cookbook when the holidays come around again, as there are so many recipes to pick from.

I am sharing with you her raspberry bar recipe. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Raspberry Bars
by Paula Shoyer, “The Kosher Baker”

Crust: 
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) pareve margarine, frozen for 15 minutes, plus extra for greasing pan and parchment paper
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) seedless red raspberry jam

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with some margarine.

Place a piece of parchment in the pan that is large enough to go up the sides and hang over a few inches. Grease the top and sides of the parchment.

To make the crust:Place the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for 10 seconds. Cut the margarine into pieces and add to the bowl with the vanilla. (You can also make the crust by hand by cutting the margarine in to the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or two knives.) Process or hand mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough in to two parts, 1/3 and 2/3 of the dough. Wrap the smaller piece in plastic, flatten and place in the freezer. Take the larger piece and break it into pieces and scatter over the parchment. Press the pieces into the pan as evenly as you can. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.Use a silicone spatula to spread the jam all over the crust in the pan. Remove the other dough piece from the freezer, and using the large holes of a box grater, grate the remaining dough over the filling. Use your hands to spread the grated dough all over to cover the filling.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let cool. Trim off about 1/4 inch of the sides and then cut into squares or long bars.

Enjoy!

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