Leeks – כרתי

Leek in Hebrew is כרתי related to the word כרת—to cut, and so with that in mind we make the following request when eating these symbolic leeks:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G d and the G d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

In addition, the braised leek dish calls for carrots which the Hebrew word is גֶּזֶר and sounds very much like g’zar, the word for decree. Eating them is meant express our desire that G-d will nullify any negative decrees against us. Interestingly, the Yiddish words for “carrots” and “more” — mern and mer, respectively — are strikingly similar. So among Yiddish speakers, carrots symbolize the desire for increased blessings in the new year.

Leek Latkes

Leek Latkes
Yields 14-16 latkes, depending on the size you make them!

Ingredients:

4 large leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour or matzo meal, or a combination of both
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried basil (optional)
oil, for frying

Directions:

In a large soup pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Add leeks. Cover. Turn heat down to low. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks are bright green and just tender. Drain the leeks in a colander, and let them cool a bit. Place leeks in a mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add flour or matzah meal. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Mix well.

On medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, drop batter by spoonfuls into pan. Flatten the latkes a bit so they are not too thick to cook well in the middle. Fry approximately 3 minutes on each side, until browned on both sides and firm in the middle. Remove from frying pan onto paper towels to drain excess oil and cool. Repeat, starting with hot oil and then dropping spoonfuls of batter, until all the batter is used.

Tips:

  1. Adjust the heat when frying so it is just right. If you fry on too high heat, the pancakes might burn. But if you fry on too low heat, the latkes will be mushy rather than crisp.
  2. Use enough oil when frying so that the latkes won’t burn, but don’t use so much oil that the pancakes are oily.
  3. Don’t make the latkes too large that they fall apart when flipped over.

Braised Leeks and CarrotsBraised Leeks & Carrots

Ingredients:

2 leeks, washed and sliced into ¼ inch circles
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
⅓ cup chicken/vegetable broth
2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine leeks, carrots, broth, margarine, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper in a deep skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes. Cook and stir mixture until leeks and carrots are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes, adding a touch more liquid if needed so the vegetables do not burn. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve warm.

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New Year’s Countdown – 7 Days To Go!

Sweet New YearThat’s right folks, just one week to go until it’s 5775! What’s your favourite part of the New Year celebration? Is it the food? Is it the company? How about hearing the Shofar (Ram’s horn) blown? For me, it’s all of the above! I love having all the company over and especially company that eats! I think my favourite is the young men who eat like they’ve never seen food before, and may never see it again. They eat with pure abandon and joy. As we get older, and unfortunately it’s stereotypical for young girls, we tend to shy away from the simple joy of a meal prepared to be eaten fully. We worry about diets, cholesterol (which you should watch!) and appearances too much. While everything in life should be in moderation, you must remember to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour and partake of the festival meals! It’s a mitzvah!

Small beans – רוביא—לוביא

Small beans in Hebrew is רוביא or לוביא and is related to the words, רב—many, and לב—heart. So we eat these symbolic beans and ask the following request:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּרְבּוּ זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ וּתְלַבְּבֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that our merits shall increase and that You hearten us.

So to be heart healthy this year, here are two recipes involving beans that you can serve up to your guests!

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar

Ingredients:

½ red onion, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or 2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 15oz. can corn niblets, drained
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz. can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoons garlic powder
½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro (optional)*

Directions:

In a very large bowl, mix together the coriander, vinegar, oil, sugar and garlic powder. Once combined, add all of the vegetables and beans to the dressing, mixing well to make sure everything is coated. Be sure to mix well, but lightly so that you don’t crush the beans. If using cilantro, chop it finely and toss in with the salad. Let the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours meld. Take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before serving so that it is not ice cold. *See the produce cleaning guide on how to inspect green onions  and cilantro.

 

Black Eyed Peas

Deep Fried Black Eyed Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 bay leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Canola oil for frying
2 teaspoons of your favourite seasoning blend (I suggest a Creole/Cajun type)
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Place the black-eyed peas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the peas. Pour in enough water to cover the peas by 3-inches, then stir in the onion, bay leaves, and jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the peas are tender but not mushy, 40 to 50 minutes. Add more water if needed to keep the peas covered while cooking. Drain the peas in a colander set in the sink, and spread them onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels or dish towels to drain. Discard bay leaves, and refrigerate the peas until ready to fry.

WARNING: The peas need to be dry before you drop them in the oil. Excess water will cause the oil to splash up and potentially cause a nasty burn!

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Use a thermometer, or here’s a neat tip: Take a wooden mixing spoon hold it standing up with the handle submerged in the oil and the wood touching the bottom of your saucepan. If bubbles start to rise from the tip of the handle, your oil is ready! If you don’t have a thermometer or a wooden spoon, you can always test a few peas first by dropping them in. They should immediately start to bubble, but not burn. Adjust your temperature as needed. Carefully pour about 1 ½ cups of peas into the hot oil per batch, and fry until crisp, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the peas, drain on paper towels, and toss the hot peas in a bowl with your seasoning blend and kosher salt. Serve hot.

New Year’s Countdown – 8 Days To Go!

Honey New Year

Well it’s 8 days to go… Have you started cooking yet? It’s all about being organized! In my mother’s house, especially when cooking for large meals or preparing a lot in advance, we use the disposable tin-foil (aluminum) pans that come with a matching disposable lid. This way they’re easy to stack, easy to label and no washing up after! They can go in the freezer, fridge and oven or over a hot-plate warmer. Just remember to never put metal in the microwave! Another tip, if you are freezing your dishes to be eaten later, make sure to let them cool before placing them in the freezer. By putting a hot dish in the freezer, you bring change the temperature of the foods that are being stored next to, above or below your hot dish, and that could alter the food safety of the surrounding foods. No one wants food poisoning for their New Year’s wish! Enjoy, and be safe!

Dates – תמרים

Date in Hebrew is תמרים related to the word תם—to end, and so on that note we make the following request when eating this symbolic date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

So having this in mind, here are two recipes for how to serve up your war-ending dates this year!

Dolci Datteri

Dolci Datteri – Sweet Stuffed Dates

Makes 24 dates

Ingredients:

24 pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
6 tablespoons red wine
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ cup honey

Directions:

Stuff dates with chopped nuts in the empty cavity left by removing the pit. Place the dates in a medium sized sauté pan. Sprinkle with pepper if desired. Add wine, and then drizzle honey over the dates. Cook over a medium heat until the skins begin to peel off the fruit. Transfer the dates to a serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Angels on Camels

Devils on Horseback – Angels on Camels?

This recipe originally called for the use of bacon, but I’ve switched it up with the use of deli meat instead, and re-named them Angels on Camels rather than Devils!

Makes 20 dates

Ingredients:

20 wooden toothpicks
¼ cup reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup brown sugar
20 dates, pitted
20 whole smoked or roasted almonds
10 thin slices of turkey or beef pastrami, cut in half to make strips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water (so they don’t burn in the oven). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ginger. In a separate shallow bowl place the brown sugar. Spread open the pitted date, and stuff each one with an almond. Wrap a strip of the pastrami around the date and then secure in place with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in the soy mixture and then into the brown sugar, and then place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat this process with each of the dates. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over all of the bundles. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastrami is brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.

New Year’s Countdown – 9 Days To Go!

Rosh Hashana

It’s that time of year again! No, not to get your spot early at Time’s Square, but to prepare for the Jewish High Holidays and the non-stop cycle of prayer services and eating! This year, Rosh HaShanah falls out on a Wednesday evening, meaning that it will go directly into Shabbat. This means more and more cooking ahead of time, and no breaks between the bounty of the New Year and the Shabbat meals! Ladies and gentlemen… loosen your belts, pop your antacid of choice, and get your celebration started!

One of the ways we celebrate is by eating symbolic foods that promote blessings, health and well being throughout the year. Some of theses are Dates, Apples and Honey, Small Beans, Beets, Leeks, Gourd/Squash, Pomegranate, Fish Heads (or Lamb for the brave!), and a new fruit on the second night of the holiday. Each day I’m going to give you some neat ideas on how to switch up serving these tasty treats. But don’t be limited by the ingredients listed above! Get creative! One year, someone served Celery; so that we’d be blessed to merit a raise in our “Salary”. Use different languages, play on words. Just remember that it’s so that we should merit blessings and well being throughout the year, for our families, our people and and the world around us. Amen!

Kitchen Sink Vegetarian Chili

Chili

The great thing about this chili is that you don’t like one of the ingredients? Leave it out! Add something else! Play around with it! Want it spicier? Up the chili powder or hit it with some Tabasco sauce. This really acts as more of a guide to let your inner cook out to experiment and see what happens. You can always add meat if you wish. If you do, brown off the meat first, then follow the rest of the directions as listed below. Serve this chili up over rice or on top of baked potatoes for a great filling meal. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup onions, diced small
¾ cup carrots, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
¾ cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ cups chopped fresh mushrooms
1 (796 ml) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
1 (540 ml) can kidney beans, drained
1 (540 ml) can black beans, drained
1 (341 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and corn. Season with paprika, salt, cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once all the vegetables are tender and cooked through, and remove lid and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes to reduce the liquid in the chili as needed. Serve over rice or baked potato.

To make this into Cincinnati Chili, serve the chili on top of cooked spaghetti and top with shredded cheese and raw diced onions. To make this into a Frito Pie, line a pie or casserole dish with corn-chips, then top with the chili. Top the chili with shredded cheese, raw diced onions and a few slices of jalapeno and bake in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and melted.

Vegetarian Week Day 4 – Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday

Yes, I know today is Thursday! But I wanted to let you know about the Meatless Mondays movement that is spreading across the globe. People all over the world are taking one day a week to go meat-free, and they’re doing it for a whole host of reasons. There are those who look at it as nice change to their diet, or those that want to eat more veggies, but don’t want to convert to full vegetarianism. There is the health factor of cutting back on animal based protein to help lower your cholesterol and trans-fat intakes, as well as boosting your vitamin and fibre allowance. There is the economic viewpoint as well… eggplant is cheaper than ground beef! Finally, for my earth-loving readers, there is the environmental impact as well. We can cut down on our water usage, as the water needs of livestock are much greater than those of vegetables and grains.

– Approximately 7000 litres of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef.
– Approximately 148 litres of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables.

Americans consume nearly four times the amount of animal protein than the global average. When compared with current food intake in the US, a vegetarian diet could reduce water consumption by up to 58% per person.

So, you can join the movement, and make your Mondays meat-free, or any day of the week… give Bessy the cow the night off and go hunting for some carrots!

To read more about Meatless Mondays check out their website at www.meatlessmondays.ca

Butternut Squash and Orzo with Fresh Sage

Butternut

This milchig side dish is delicious enough to be a main when served with a big salad and some crusty bread. Fresh sage really makes this dish, and I would not recommend using dried. Refer to the produce checking page to learn how to check sage for insects. You can sometimes find frozen diced squash in the freezer section at the grocer. If so, this is a huge time saver; not only in the prep but in cooking time as well.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter/margarine
1 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups butternut squash, cubed
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup orzo
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash cubes and stir to coat. Add ½ cup broth and wine. Cover and simmer until squash is just tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Bring remaining 3 ½ cups of broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add orzo. Boil uncovered until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain if necessary. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in squash mixture, then cheese and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Vegetarian Week Day 3 – Mythbusters!

Vegetarian Myths

There tends to be a lot of confusion out there when it comes to the Vegetarian diet. Well, it’s time to separate fact from fiction and bust a few veggie myths!

1. You aren’t getting certain nutrients, particularly protein.

Fact: The average woman needs 46 grams of protein a day, and a one-cup serving of chickpeas gets you about a third of the way there. Problems creep up when you let simple carbs (white bread), sugars, and trans fats crowd out healthier choices. In fact, vegetarian diets tend to have higher levels of fibre, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and E , folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals.

2. You need to eat “fake” meat if you’re forgoing the real deal.

Fact: People were eating healthy vegetarian diets long before soy-based “hamburger” and other knockoffs came along. Mother Nature knows how to provide what you need.

3. It’s a repetitive, carb-rich diet.

Fact: Because they have to think outside of the meat-and-potatoes box, many vegetarians eat a wider variety of foods than their carnivore counterparts. Plan meals from the full spectrum of the food rainbow—veggies, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts—and you’ll never be bored.

4. You never really feel full.

Fact: If you’re eating plenty of plant foods, you’re loading up on fibre, the stuff that fills your belly and stifles the need to nosh soon after eating. And again, consuming legumes gives you enough hunger-satisfying protein.

5. It guarantees weight loss.

Fact: Not all vegetarians are slim—or healthy for that matter. Vegetarians who eliminate meat, but continue to eat highly processed foods are not getting the benefits of a plant-based diet, so when you sub out meat, make sure a plant, not processed junk, takes its place.

6. Vegetarian eating is expensive.

Fact: Sure, produce comes with a price tag, but at three-plus bucks per pound, meat is one of the priciest groceries money can buy, making vegetarian eating by and large less expensive. If your fresh produce is getting pricey, consider buying it frozen.