Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Pere al Vino Rosso (Pears Poached in Red Wine)

Pears poached in wineIngredients:

8 pears, peeled
1 bottle of red wine, or enough to cover the pears
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 whole cloves
Zest of half a lemon or orange*

Directions:

Peel your pears—one per serving—leaving on the stem if the pear has one. Then place them snugly in a saucepan with just enough room to hold the pears in a single layer.

Pour over the wine over the pears, so that they are at least ¾ of the way covered. Then add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and if you like, some lemon or orange zest.

Allow the pears to simmer for about 20 minutes, turning them if need be so that they cook and colour evenly, until they are quite tender but not falling apart.

Remove the pears onto a shallow serving bowl or plate, and continue to simmer the wine until has reduced into a syrupy consistency, then strain and pour over the pears. Allow the pears and their sauce to cool before serving.

* Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Sauce 2 – Béchamel Sauce

bechamel-sauceThis is a basic béchamel sauce recipe that is used for dishes like moussaka or the base for an Alfredo. This recipe will make about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ¼ stick unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ onion, peeled
1 whole clove
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it’s liquefied. Don’t let it turn brown, though — that will affect the flavor. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-coloured paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.

Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps. Now stick the pointy end of the clove into the onion and drop them into the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth. Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper — and the nutmeg, if you’re using it. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you’re ready to use it.

Mornay SauceMornay Sauce Recipe

The Mornay Sauce is a classic cheese sauce made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with Gruyère and Parmesan cheese. The Mornay Sauce is an ideal accompaniment for eggs, vegetables, pasta or fish. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

cheddar cheese sauceCheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

The cheddar cheese sauce is a classic cheese sauce for vegetables made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with cheddar cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. It’s an ideal accompaniment for vegetables, pasta or fish. Oh, and did I mention nachos? Or macaroni? I mean, honestly, it’s a cheddar cheese sauce. Is there anything you can’t serve it with? This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the cheddar cheese and mustard powder and stir until the cheese has melted. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

Soubise SauceSoubise Sauce Recipe

The Soubise Sauce is a classic cream sauce for vegetables made by sautéing onions and then puréeing them before adding to a basic Béchamel sauce. The Soubise Sauce is an excellent accompaniment for vegetables, eggs or chicken. Note: For a simple variation on the classic soubise sauce, add some tomato purée to the sauce just before serving. This recipe will make about 1 quart of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 lb onions, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart Béchamel sauce
2 cups tomato purée (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and translucent, but don’t let them turn brown. Transfer cooked onions to a food processor. Purée briefly and then return them to the pot. Whisk the Béchamel into the puréed onions and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add optional tomato purée and serve right away.

Mango Chutney

Mango ChutneyStrangely enough, I’m not a huge fan of mangoes, but I find I LOVE mango chutney. I think it’s the sweet, spicy balance that it adds as a condiment that gets me. This chutney will go great with the Samosas that we made the other day, or even non-Indian foods. You’d be surprised how well a little dab of chutney goes with cholent! This recipe makes about 3 cups of chutney.

Ingredients:

4 green (under ripe) mangoes – peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 ½ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 cardamom pods
4 cardamom seeds
1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 cup distilled white vinegar
5 black peppercorns, crushed

Directions:

Place the mangoes into a large pot. Crush the ginger and garlic using a mortar and pestle until they become a smooth paste (or be all fancy and use the food processor for a faster easier time of it!); stir the paste into the mangoes. Stir in the sugar, and season with salt, red pepper flakes, cumin seed, cardamom pods and seeds, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Stir to blend, and then cover the pot. Leave the pot sitting out at room temperature overnight.

The next day, place the pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and peppercorns; cook for 1 more minute. Remove the whole spices as best as possible (as they can be unpleasant to bite into). Cool before using. Keep stored in the fridge when you’re not using it.

Latkes – 3 Ways

Potato LatkeRegular Potato Latkes

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes
1 onion
2 eggs
½ cup flour or matzo meal
1 teaspoon chicken soup mix (bullion)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Oil for frying

Directions:

Shred potatoes in a food processor. Rinse and drain the potatoes shreddings very well. Take half of the shreddings and puree them along with the onion. Add the eggs, flour, chicken soup mix, baking powder, salt and pepper to the puree. Mix the puree together with the remaining portion of shredded potatoes. Pour oil to about ⅛” depth into a large skillet. When hot, drop in potato mixture by large spoonfuls to form pancakes. Brown well on both sides. Drain well on paper towels. Yields about 2 dozen or 5 dozen miniatures.

Sweet Potato LatkesSweet Potato Latkes

Ingredients:

2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams
2 tablespoons matzoh meal or flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 – 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
Oil for frying

Directions:

Shred potatoes in a food processor. Rinse and drain the potatoes shreddings very well. Take half of the shreddings and puree them. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, and spices to the puree. Mix the puree together with the remaining portion of shredded potatoes. Pour oil to about ⅛” depth into a large skillet. When hot, drop in potato mixture by large spoonfuls to form pancakes. Brown well on both sides. Drain well on paper towels. Makes about 18 – 20 pancakes.

Zucchini LatkesZucchini Latkes

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini
1 large potato
1 small onion
3 tablespoons matzoh meal or flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Oil for frying

Directions:

Shred the zucchini and potato in a food processor. Rinse and drain the potato shreddings very well. Remove the excess water from the rinsed potato shreddings and the zucchini shredding as well (you can put them in dish towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out moisture). Take half of the shreddings and puree them along with the onion. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, and spices to the puree. Mix the puree together with the remaining portion of shredded potato/zucchini. Pour oil to about ⅛” depth into a large skillet. When hot, drop in batter mixture by large spoonfuls to form pancakes. Brown well on both sides. Drain well on paper towels. Makes about 12 – 18 pancakes.

Orange, Tea, Bourbon-Brined Paprika Turkey

Turkey Breast

Brine a turkey breast for hours in a savoury, flavorful combination of spices, black tea, and bourbon. The breast is seasoned with a spiced margarine and roasted until golden brown and tender.

Ingredients:

1 (8 pound) whole turkey breast

Brine:
2 quarts water
5 oranges – juiced and zest cut off in large strips
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup white sugar
12 black tea bags
4 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
12 whole black peppercorns
1 cup bourbon whisky (or other strong alcohol of choice)
4 quarts cold water, or as needed

Seasoned Margarine:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
6 tablespoons margarine, softened

Directions:

Pour 2 quarts of water into a very large soup pot and stir in orange juice and zest, kosher salt, sugar, black tea bags, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and bourbon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix 4 quarts cold water into brine and let cool. Submerge turkey breast in brine, adding more water if needed to cover. Refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set oven rack to the lowest position in the oven. Remove turkey from marinade; discard marinade. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix coriander seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, and garlic into softened butter in a bowl. Loosen the skin over turkey breast with your fingers and spread ¼ cup of the seasoned margarine beneath the skin. Rub remaining margarine over the turkey breast. Place turkey breast onto a roasting rack and set rack into a roasting pan.

Roast in the preheated oven until skin is golden brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F, about 2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let turkey breast rest 30 minutes before slicing.

Baklava

Baklava

Baklava is an interesting dessert in that many different regions claim ownership over it. The Greeks, the Persians, the Turks and Arabs, they all want it! Truth is, I can’t blame them! It really is delicious! I got this recipe from Mrs. Alexopoulos, a wonderful Greek woman, who while not Moroccan, I’m sure wouldn’t mind me using it here during Moroccan week.

Ingredients:

8 oz. walnuts, finely ground
8 oz. almonds, finely ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup unsalted melted butter or margarine
1 lbs. Fyllo pastry

Sauce:
3 cups sugar
2 lemon slices
4 cups water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with some of the butter/margarine. Lay a sheet of fyllo dough in the bottom of the pan, brushing lightly with the butter/margarine. Layer 4 more sheets in the pan, brushing each with butter/margarine. Sprinkle the fyllo with some of the nut mixture and cover with 2 more fyllo sheets, brushing each with butter/margarine. Sprinkle the fyllo with the nut mixture. Repeat the layers of fyllo and nuts until all the nut mixture is used, making 4 or 5 layers. Cover the last layer of nuts with 4 to 6 sheets of fyllo that should be left, again brushing each lightly with butter/margarine. Turn under the edges of the fyllo and score the surface into diamond shaped serving pieces with a sharp knife. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the syrup; put the sugar, lemon slices and water in a large sauce pan and boil over a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lemon slices. The syrup should be thin, but not watery. When the baklava has cooled completely, pour the hot syrup over it. Let it stand for at least 3 hours before serving, so that the syrup is absorbed completely.

Moroccan Mains: Chicken & Couscous

tumeric chicken

Moroccan Chicken

Serves 8
Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
2 onions, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, sliced ¼” rounds
4 stalks celery, sliced ¼” rounds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
2 zucchini, sliced ½” rounds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat adding a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the saucepan until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan. When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to a simmer once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve over the rice, plain couscous or the delicious couscous recipe below.

CouscousMoroccan Couscous

Ingredients:

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ¾” pieces
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
grated zest of one orange
1 540ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup orange juice
1 ½ cups couscous
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint*

Directions:

Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

*To learn how to inspect fresh mint, click here.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

This recipe calls for dairy ingredients, however they can be substituted for non-dairy (parve) items of the same type: i.e.: margarine or shortening instead of butter, soy cream cheese instead of regular. Regarding the use of the crystallized ginger, it is a really wonderful and unique ingredient. It starts off slightly citrusy when you first bite into it, and then you get the heat of the ginger. If you’re finding it difficult to find crystallized ginger, just know that it is the same as candied ginger, sugared ginger, or ginger chips – they are all just different names/sizes. If you choose not to use it, just up the total amount of powdered ginger to 1 ¼ teaspoons instead.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅓ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 -25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon allspice

Directions:

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and allspice. Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until the mixture is spreadable. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

A Treat With No Trick

Pumpkin Spice

So we are coming to the end of October, and around here, that pretty much means only thing: Halloween. Now Halloween is not a Jewish holiday, and in fact has it’s roots in the Christian All Hallows’ Eve, but it has become, like many holidays throughout the year, completely secularized and commercialized. Now Halloween is all about the costumes and the candy, and not about remembering the dead. Even though it is not a holiday that I celebrate, I can’t help but look around and be inspired by all of the pumpkins! So with that in mind I thought a Pumpkin Spice Cupcake with rich Allspice Cream Cheese frosting would be a hit! I mean, everywhere you look these days, something, ANYTHING, is flavoured with pumpkin spice! The rich, warm flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove just fill you up with toasty goodness. So I say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!