Friday, September 14, 2012

Mediterranean Meatloaf

   Is there any better comfort food than meatloaf? My mom always made a great meatloaf when I was growing up, and when I decided to start hosting dinners I thought it'd be a great addition to my menu. I wanted to spice it up a little, though, so I added some Israeli flavors. One neighbor says this is the best meatloaf he's ever had and demands I make it every time he comes over. My parents love it, even though my father insists on putting ketchup on it, like he does with everything. I love ketchup and it goes great on meatloaf, but not this meatloaf. For this one, you really want to use the the non-dairy tzatziki sauce. Trust me, it's fantastic. 

Mediterranean Meatloaf 

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp zahatar
1/3 cup matzah meal
½ cup water
Pinch of kosher salt

Dry rub

Black pepper
Kosher salt

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with the meat.  Add in the eggs and mix everything together with your hands. Add in the water (this helps bind it) and continue folding the meat until everything is combined into one giant ball. 

Create your shape and place the meat in a loaf pan that has been greased with cooking spray, smoothing out the edges of the meat. 

Separately, combine some black pepper, zahatar, and a small amount of salt, then rub the mixture over the top of the meatloaf.  This dry rub will give you an added flavor boost. 

 Lightly sprinkle top with salt.

Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours or until the top of the meatloaf forms a crust. 


½ cup of Tofutti Sour Supreme (pareve sour cream)
2 inches of English cucumber, finely diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp dill weed (more to taste)
½ tsp onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Scoop out your sour cream into a small bowl and mix in the cucumbers and dry ingredients. Squeeze the lemon juice in (be careful to avoid dropping in seeds). Mix together until the consistency is that of heavy cream, adding more lemon juice as needed to break down the sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste.  

This goes great with the meatloaf, challah, gefilte fish, or just with some veggies as a snack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ramen stir fry

You're probably thinking, "Ramen? I haven't had that since college! That's not a real meal for an adult!"

On a rainy and gloomy night (which tonight happens to be), this meal goes perfectly with a cold beer and a good movie.

You could add in pieces of chicken or beef to this as well, and fresh vegetables will, of course, give you a much better flavor. Tonight I decided to keep it simple and pareve, and it was quite tasty.

Ramen stir fry

1 package chicken flavored Oriental ramen noodles (I used Tradition brand)
1 12-oz package of frozen vegetable mix (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
2 tbs teriyaki sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha sauce
2 capfuls vegetable oil
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the noodles with the seasoning packet according to the package's directions, then drain the noodles and set aside, reserving a few tablespoons of the broth.

 In a non-stick frying pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, fry the egg and then set it aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in the pan and add the frozen vegetables and the garlic. Turn the heat down to medium and stir until the vegetables are softened and begin to cook.  Add the noodles and stir to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients and stir to coat. Place the fried egg on top and, using your spatula, break it into chunks. Add in the remaining soup and continue stirring until all the veggies, noodles and egg have been coated in the sauces, about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serves two people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grilled goat cheese sandwich

Following along with my sandwich kick, I decided to take my grilled cheese to another level. This is a play on my Mediterranean grilled cheese.

Grilled goat cheese sandwich

Basil and garlic flavored goat cheese spread
Ready made tahini spread
Half an avocado (the other half is to enjoy), thinly sliced lengthwise
2 slices whole wheat challah, cut about 1-inch thick
Thin slices of seedless cucumber

Spread the goat cheese on one slice of challah and the tahina on the other.

Place the avocado over the goat cheese and the cucumbers on the tahina. Sprinkle some zaatar over the cucumbers.

Heat a cap-full of olive oil in a large frying pan. Bring the sandwich together and place in the pan when the oil is hot - splash a few drops of water and if the oil pops, it's ready. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sandwich sit about 2 minutes. Flip the sandwich and let sit another minute so that the cheese melts and both sides are browned.

Remove the sandwich and let it cool for a minute and then slice in half and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of the best PB&J sandwiches you'll ever eat

Yesterday I posted about a video of how to make a PB&J sandwich. Today I actually tried it. Man, I totally been eating PB&J the wrong way! The flavors in this were fantastic. Like Chow recommended, I used sriracha sauce and fresh basil, but I also added some sesame seeds. I think a little lime juice might go well with it as well, for an extra tang and a little more of that pad thai flavor. I might have to try that tomorrow.

In case you haven't noticed, I am now on a sandwich kick. I stocked on assorted cheeses at the supermarket last night and will be posting about various experiments for the next few days.  One standby I've been eating for years is a Mediterranean grilled cheese I created, which is basically feta and schug (or harissa) stuffed inside a pita, which is then grilled in olive oil. Zaatar is then sprinkled on the outside of the sandwich as well.

But you're here for PB&J! So here is what I did.

Two slices of challah, cut about 1-inch thick
Chunky peanut butter
Grape jelly
Approximately 7 fresh basil leaves
Sriracha sauce
Sesame seeds

Spread the peanut butter and jelly on opposite sides of the bread.

Lay out the basil leaves on the jelly.

Drizzle the sriracha sauce on the peanut butter and then sprinkle the sesame seeds over it.

Close the sandwich.

In a large frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil (it's OK to use the cheap stuff for this), about half a cap-full.  When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and place the sandwich in the pan.

You don't want to overdo it, you just want the bread to get a nice, golden brown, so keep a close eye on the sandwich. I recommend maybe 30 seconds on each side.

Remove the sandwich using a slotted spatula to drain off excess oil, and set aside for a minute. After the sandwich cools a little, slice it down the middle and enjoy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making PB&J

I just had to share this video on how to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich from One of the key ingredients, as most people already know, is bread, but imagine my surprise when Chow recommended using challah.

Challah makes great French toast and bread pudding, and tastes great with some chopped liver lathered on top. But PB&J? Hadn't thought about it before, but it makes sense. And I have actually been using challah rolls for all sorts of sandwiches already, including PB&J, but now I will try slicing off that big challah loaf and, as Chow recommends, adding some sriracha and basil, which basically sounds like a Pad Thai sandwich - which sounds delicious. 

On my way to the market now to restock my PB&J supplies, and it looks like I know what I'm making for lunch tomorrow. I will be sure to update you on my progress.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beat the heat with a pickle

Boy, is it hot outside. What better snack is there than a crisp, cool, refreshing, sour pickle?

With people heading out to barbecues and picnics, I don't think it's coincidence that July is also National Pickle Month. I gave you a great recipe for potato salad last week, and one of the key ingredients in that potato salad is pickles. In a recent article for JTA, I explored the history of the kosher dill and pickle popularity.


Popularized in America by Jews, pickles pack a punch

And after this experience, I think I may just try some home-pickling of my own! Stay tuned for results!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Potato salad

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

Like many other proud Americans today, I attended a barbecue and I brought with me some of my famous homemade potato salad. This recipe was handed down to me from my mother, who got it from her father. It's a very old-world style potato salad, like you'd find in a good Jewish deli.

I remember I made it for a party a few years ago and one person there said he really liked it and he doesn't typically like potato salad because most use pickles and he hates pickles. Imagine his surprise when I told him the secret ingredient was a couple of sour pickles. Chop them up fine enough and they accentuate the flavors of the salad instead of overpowering.

I also made my coleslaw for the barbecue, which I recommend reviewing. With summer BBQ season officially underway these recipes will be great standbys for you.

Potato salad

5 lbs russet potatoes
4 large sour pickles
5 stalks of celery
2 cups mayonnaise (or more to taste)
Canola oil

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add in the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in their skins until they become fork tender and the skins begin to fall off, about 25 minutes. Boiling the potatoes in their skins makes them much easier to peel afterward.

Drain the potatoes and let them cool a bit, then peel them and cut them into chunks. Place the chunks into a large bowl and coat with a small amount of oil, I used about four cap-fulls. Toss well to coat. 

Finely chop the celery and pickles. I use a food processor fitted with a blade on pulse until just about before the pickles become relish. Add the mixture to the potatoes. 

Add in the mayo and mix well. Salt to taste and then mix it again. Refrigerate overnight in a covered container to allow the flavors to meld and enjoy the next day. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Bachelor Returns

Hi everybody! Just a quick note to let you all know that yes, I am still alive.  Lately I've been hitting the wedding circuit (not my own just yet), as you can see below, and haven't really been home for dinner.

By the way, that's a Shirley Temple in my hand. I think I had at least seven at one wedding last week and at least four at a wedding tonight.

The past two weeks have just been non-stop busy and I haven't had time to cook much that's been blog-worthy. Sure, I grilled some great hot dogs, but do you need me to tell you how to do that?

Fear not! I will soon have some great recipes for you! I just bought some cream and a bottle of vodka, which means soon you will be treated to my special vodka sauce! And I have some more corned beef and chicken, so that means lots of experimentation is coming soon.

Just be patient and next week, hopefully, the cooking will return.

In the meantime, I've heard from a few people who have been trying out my recipes, what have you tried and what have you liked?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cheese Kugel for Shavuot

My mother started making this for me around the time of my bar mitzvah, after I tasted somebody else's cheese kugel and begged her to learn to make it. She came up with this recipe and it's been a favorite of mine since. I prepared this kugel to bring to a wonderful family that's hosting me for lunch over Shavuot and I just had to do some quality control and taste test. (Shhh, don't tell them!)  Well, it was delicious and if you make this kugel I guarantee you will think so too.

Chag sameach!

Cheese Kugel

1 lb medium egg noodles
5 eggs (room temperature) beaten until bubbly
1/2 lb cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 lb cream cheese
1/2 lb pot cheese
1/2 lb farmers cheese
1/4 lb sweet butter
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
8 oz whole milk
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 c slivered almonds
1/2 c light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.

In a mixer, mix together the eggs and the sugar.

Add all the dairy ingredients except for the milk and mix on a low setting for 3 minutes.

Very slowly add the milk, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg.

Combine the cheese mixture  in a very large mixing bowl with the drained noodles and mix thoroughly.

Pour the mixture slowly into a greased 9"x13" pan or baking dish. Place onto a cookie sheet to catch spillover and for easier transport.

Bake for 1/2 hour. While baking, mix together the brown sugar and almonds in a small bowl.

Remove the kugel from the oven and and sprinkle the topping evenly over the noodles. Bake for 1 hour.

For easiest slicing, refrigerate the kugel overnight and slice it while cold before reheating. The kugel also freezes beautifully if tightly wrapped up. 

Sloppy Joes (Dairy) for Shavuot

A lot of kosher restaurants seem to think Sloppy Joes mean sandwiches with layered slices of various deli meats. I'm talking about classic Sloppy Joes here ground beef, tomato sauce, and spices. This is just like what they served at camp or the school cafeteria. They're messy and they're delicious.

And in this case, they're dairy.

I used MorningStar Farms soy ground beef crumbles, which are dairy. So technically, these are not 100 percent traditional Sloppy Joes, but you can easily swap out the soy beef for real ground beef and the rest of the recipe will remain the same. I chose to use the fake stuff because 1) I just watched Bobby Flay do a Sloppy Joe throwdown on Food Network and got inspired, and B) I wanted something tasty to bring to a Shavuot potluck this weekend.

And let me tell you, this is delicious. If you didn't know it was fake beef, you wouldn't know the difference once it's piled high on a bun and you're biting in.

Sloppy Joes

1 tbs chopped garlic
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
½ cup tomato sauce
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp mustard powder
1 medium size onion, diced
1 c water
2 tbs vegetable oil
Hamburger or slider rolls (how many depends on how sloppy you want to make your sandwiches)

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sweat the onions, stirring frequently, until they are nearly translucent. Add the ground beef and garlic and stir to combine.

Separately, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, mustard powder, and Worcestershire sauce.  Fold the sauce into the “meat” mixture and then add 1 cup of water. Stir in 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. 

Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  If it starts to look too dry, add a little more water.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toasted hamburger buns.  And, since this recipe uses fake ground beef, feel free to add a slice of American cheese on top.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stuffed French Toast Part Deux

Shavuot is coming and that means dairy! And with a three-day Yom Tov you'll probably be stocking up on lots of challah. Remember the stuffed French toast from a few months back? As you recall, I made that one spur of the moment with some whole-wheat bread I had on hand, but when it comes to French toast as with many other recipes challah just makes it better.

The recipe is exactly the same, except instead of making a cream cheese sandwich, you're going to cut a 1-inch pocket into a slice of challah (cut thick from the loaf, about 2 inches) and then stuff that with cream cheese. Then proceed to dunk the bread into your egg mixture, fry, and enjoy!

Chag sameach!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Hummus Day!

Yes, apparently - as I just learned on Facebook - today is Hummus Day! Calloo Callay! I was actually thinking earlier today about making some hummus, and now I really have no excuse not to.

One of my favorite Youtube sensations is Remmy, who does a hilarious hummus rap, which should be the anthem for the day.

I'll leave you now with an oldie but goodie, my recipe for hummus.  B'tayavon!