Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chilled soba noodles

This quick and easy dinner is popular in Japanese noodle shops. There are bottled soba sauces, but it's difficult to find one that is also kosher so I just make my own. And now you can too.


Chilled soba noodles



1 8-oz package soba noodles
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbs Gold's Wasabi sauce
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tbs orange juice (no pulp)
sesame seeds

Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove and place the noodles in, reducing the heat to a simmer for 6-8 minutes, or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, ginger, garlic, and wasabi sauce (use more if you want more heat) in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

When the noodles are done, drain them and reserve about two tablespoons of the starchy water. Stir that into the soy sauce mixture and then garnish the sauce with sesame seeds. Let the sauce sit for about 10 minutes so the flavors can meld.

Meanwhile, rinse the noodles under cold water to chill them (or you can serve them hot, it's your preference but I like them chilled). Make sure they are completely drained and then serve the noodles on a separate dish from the sauce, dipping into the sauce as desired.

I also suggest this as an appetizer or side dish to the tofu stir fry from last week.

Enjoy!

Stuffed French toast

Breakfast time! Breakfast time!

I was inspired after watching an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" featuring stuffed French toast and decided to take a crack at it and put my own spin on the dish.

I used sliced whole wheat bread but the best French toast is made from sliced up challah, which makes this the perfect Sunday brunch item as you use up your leftover challah from Shabbat. Thicker breads tend to make better French toast, but if you don't have any on hand, you can still use the regular packaged stuff.

Here we go!

Stuffed French toast

1 large egg
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
4 slices bread
Strawberry flavored cream cheese
Sugar
Cinnamon



Scramble your egg and mix in the soy milk to make your batter. Make a cream cheese sandwich with the sliced bread and cream cheese and then dunk them in the egg mixture until they are coated. Shake off the excess.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan until it is frothy, but don't let it brown. Place the egg-coated sandwiches in the pan and brown on both sides. Keep a close on it to get a rich, brown color.

Plate the French toast and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.



You'll get a hint of vanilla flavor, the great flavor of regular French toast, and a burst of flavor from the cream cheese. Very simple and very tasty. Makes a great breakfast or brunch for friends.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tofu stir fry

I was wandering through a Japanese market today and the smells of the teriyaki, the sesame, and the ramen were so tantalizing that I bought some tofu and decided to go Japanese for dinner. Often when I make stir fry I use a combination of different sauces. This is something I put together using a pre-made base sauce for a quick and easy dinner. Instead of of mixing together sesame oil, soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, I just used Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki, which includes all three already mixed together. Stir fry is a very fast form of cooking and this meal is quick and easy to prepare. The longest part will be waiting for the rice to cook. Ready? Let's wok and roll.

Tofu stir fry

12 oz package extra firm tofu

1 tbs chopped garlic

2/3 cup Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce

1 tbs sriracha sauce (a spicy Thai red chili sauce, usually with a rooster on the bottle)

8 oz can water chestnuts

8 oz can cut-up baby corn

Handful of shredded green cabbage and carrots (Just grab a handful from a bagged coleslaw mix in your grocer's produce section)

Sesame seeds

1 heaping spoonful of flour

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs kosher salt

White sushi rice

1 tbs rice wine vinegar

Start off by removing the tofu from the package and cutting it in half. Pat the two pieces dry and place them on paper towels for about 20 minutes so that the towels absorb the excess moisture.

While the tofu is drying, place the rice in the rice cooker or a pot using a 3:1 water to rice ratio and add the rice wine vinegar. Cook according to directions or set it in a rice cooker.

After the tofu is dry, cut the pieces into cubes. Remember, they will cook more evenly if the pieces are equal size. Mix together the flour, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Dredge the cubes in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil in a large wok on a high flame. To see if the oil is hot enough, run your hand under the faucet and then shake a few drops into the wok. If the oil pops, it’s ready.

Once the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic and the tofu. Stir until the tofu is lightly browned. Add in the baby corn, water chestnuts, and cabbage. Stir and then add the teriyaki sauce and sriracha. Mix thoroughly. Stir in a teaspoon of flour to the sauce, which will help it thicken. Once the vegetables are softened and the sauce is thickened, remove it from the heat until the rice is ready. Add more garlic powder and sriracha if you wish stronger flavors.When the rice is done, allow it to cool for a few minutes. Turn the heat under the wok back on to low while the rice cools, and sprinkle the tofu with the sesame seeds.

Serve the tofu with the rice on the side, or scoop the tofu and sauce on top of the rice. Serves four.


Itadakimasu! (Bon app├ętit in Japanese)

Friday, February 17, 2012

An introduction to Israeli spices

Wow, one day in and I've gotten a great response so far. I've also gotten a couple of questions about za' atar and schug and where to get them.


Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend, usually a combination of thyme, sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, salt, and other spices depending on which country you're in. This aromatic spice mix is also very versatile. It goes great on chicken and other meats as a seasoning, but it's also terrific as a condiment. I recommend sprinkling it over grilled pita with some olive oil drizzled on top. You could also mix it into labane - a Middle Eastern yogurt/cheese - with some olive oil. Another quick, easy, and delicious idea is to sprinkle some za'atar with some shredded mozzarella on a pita and a little olive oil and heat it up in the oven for a few minutes for a tasty, and quick snack.



Schug is a Yemenite hot pepper mixture popular in Israel. It combines either red or green peppers with coriander, garlic, and other spices. If you go to a falafel place and they ask if you want hot sauce, chances are it's schug they are offering. Israelis might use the Hebrew name harif, but it's the same thing. That spicy hummus you see in the store? It's probably flavored with schug. I personally like the red pepper mixture better than the green, but I recommend trying both.

I have a terrific recipe that uses schug with harissa - another Middle Eastern hot pepper mix, which I'll get into later - as a spice rub on chicken. I'll get to that one soon.



Now, where can you get these items? If you are fortunate enough to live near a kosher market, chances are good that it will stock both of these items. Your local supermarket might also carry them in its kosher section, or a local Middle Eastern store will likely have them. If none of those options work out, you can always turn to the Internet and mail-order.

B'tayavon!




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lamb kabobs with tzatziki over rice


The local Pathmark recently expanded its kosher section and while perusing the shelves yesterday I picked up a pound of ground lamb.

I thought about lamb burgers, but felt like I was in a Middle Eastern mood tonight. The final product: Lamb kabobs with pareve tzatziki sauce over brown basmati rice.

Here's what I did.






First, prepare brown basmati rice according to directions on the package. I used a rice cooker, which is pretty simple: Just put in a cup of rice, add 3 cups of water per 1 cup of rice, and set it. Some people like to use a stove top, it's your choice.

Lamb kabobs

1 lb ground lamb
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp red pepper schug (a spicy Yeminite hot pepper mixture widely used in Israel)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tsp mint
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup matzah meal
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a small grill (George Foreman or other approved indoor grill, I used a Japanese model from the local Asian market). Measure out dry ingredients into a large bowl and add the schug. Since the lamb is kosher, it's already been salted so go easy on the salt, two or three light shakes of kosher salt should be all you need. Add pepper to your liking. Lightly mix together. Add the lamb, egg, and matzah meal and mix together with your hands. Cup your hands together under a faucet to collect a small amount of water and add to the meat mixture to keep it moist. Mix until all the spices have been worked into the meat and the liquids have been absorbed. The meat should take on a slight orange color (from the turmeric).

Spray your grill with cooking spray. Break off a small portion of the meat and roll it into the shape of a cigar, about 3 inches in length. Place the kabobs on the grill for about 7 minutes (depending whether your grill has adjustable heat settings, set it to medium if it does). Flip the kabobs over and cook another 7 minutes on the other side. Cut into one in the middle to check its doneness and continue grilling if you prefer the meat more well done.

Makes 12 kabobs.

Tzatziki

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

Mix cucumber and dry ingredients into the sour cream. Stir in the lemon juice until the sauce is the desired thickness, usually a whole lemon thins it out and adds enough citrus to give it a nice bite. together. Add more sour cream to increase quantity.


Assemble

When all components are done, scoop the rice onto a plate and place kabobs on top. Drizzle the tzatziki over them and enjoy!

Welcome to The Kosher Bachelor!

The Kosher Bachelor is an idea that's been rattling around in my brain for a while. It was born of my love of cooking, my love of entertaining, and the inexplicable stereotype that single guys live off canned baked beans and cheese sandwiches.

Not so!

During my freshman year of college I volunteered as food chair of Hillel. Week in and week out, my co-chair and I prepared Shabbat dinners for 60-plus people. I've been cooking ever since and about once a month host a Shabbat meal. I look to cookbooks more for general inspiration and rarely follow recipes. Most of my recipes are my own creation, while the rest are family secrets.

A few years ago, I invited a rather large group of people over for Shabbat dinner. Many were regulars but one couple had never been over before. That couple figured that a single guy in his 20s, living alone, and working full time is not going to have the time or skill to prepare a decent meal, and so they ate before they arrived.

After the first course of homemade sushi and Thai peanut noodles, they admitted - and regretted - their deed as they piled more noodles on their plates. By the time I served the harissa chicken they were sold on my cooking.

Now, I am going to share some of those recipes with you. Some will be tried and true dishes I'm preparing for guests, others will be dishes I create one night on a whim. Please join me on this culinary adventure as I prove that it is possible for a bachelor living alone AND keeping kosher to prepare simple, delicious meals for himself and guests.

B'tayavon!