Spring Greens and Cream Cheese Penne

Greens and Cream Cheese PenneThis beautiful white and green pasta dish will hit the spot for Shavout lunch! The bright green of the spring vegetables and herbs, mixed with the creamy cheese will comfort those who have been up all night learning. This dish will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds penne rigate (or other short cut pasta)
2 tablespoons butter
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches green onions, cut into 1” lengths*
2 bunches asparagus, cut into 2” lengths*
2 cups frozen green peas
500g cream cheese (equal to two tubs or bars)
2 shallots, diced*
4 tablespoons chives, chopped*
2 tablespoons lemon zest**
Salt and pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.
** Click here for tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, when it is done, drain the pasta, but keep about 3 cups of the cooking water (the starchy water will help the sauce cling to the pasta).

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and cook the garlic with the green onions, shallots and asparagus for 5 minutes. Add the chives and peas and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour 3 cups of pasta cooking water into the saucepan and add the cream cheese. Keep over a low heat to let the cheese melt and stir until smooth. Add the drained pasta to the pan, along with the lemon zest, and mix together to combine. Serve hot.

Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea SandwichesThese three recipes will make the most adorable, and yummy, sandwiches for your tea service. They are just as good if you “up-size” them to a regular sandwich for lunch in stead. If you’re expecting a large crowd, you can easily double the recipes.

Curried Egg Salad in Mini Pitas
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons scallion/green onion, thinly sliced*
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon (heaping) curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped**
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into ⅛ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 mini pita pockets, halved
Arugula leaves*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.
** Click here to learn how to make the perfect hard boiled egg.

Directions:

Whisk mayonnaise, scallion, shallot, apple cider vinegar, mustard, curry powder, and cumin in a large bowl. Fold in eggs and apple. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fill pita pockets with about 1 tablespoon egg salad each. Top pita sandwiches with arugula leaves.


Sesame-Crusted Crab and Mango Tea Sandwiches
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:

¼ cup plain yogourt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro/parsley, chopped*
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ pound lump-style artificial crab meat
½ cup mango, finely diced
16 slices Pullman or white sandwich bread, cut ¼ inch-thick, toasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

Directions:

Whisk yogourt and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro/parsley and mint, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Fold in crab meat and mango.

Thinly spread yogourt on one side of each slice of bread. Divide crab mixture among 8 slices; top with remaining bread, yogourt side down. Trim crusts. Cut each sandwich in half on a diagonal.

Place toasted sesame seeds on a plate, if desired. Dip one cut side of each sandwich in sesame seeds.

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.


Shaved-Radish Sandwiches with Herb Butter
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) room-temperature salted butter
5 anchovy fillets, mashed and drained
1 small garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped*
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest**
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
32 slices of baguette, diagonally cut ⅛ inch thick
12 radishes, very thinly sliced
16 green radish leaves*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Spread herb butter on one side of each slice of baguette. Toss radishes with salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Top half of bread slices with radish leaves and radish slices. Top with remaining bread slices, butter side down.

Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

Charred Jalapeno, Mango, Citrus & Tequila Rub

Charred Chile, Mango, Lemon Verbena and Tequila RubThis marinade/rub will give your meat a bit of a Latino kick! You can cut down on the amount of jalapenos you use if you want it to be milder, however when the jalapenos are charred they tend to lose a bit of their potency. Additionally, if you remove the seeds and inner membranes (the white parts that the seeds cling to) from the peppers, that will greatly reduce the heat level. This recipe will make about 2 cups of marinade.

Ingredients:

6 jalapenos
1 mango, diced
3 limes, juiced and zested*
¼ sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped lemon verbena (you can substitute lemon thyme, lemon grass or lemon zest)**
2 ounces silver tequila***
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

* Click here for tips on zesting limes.
** Click here to learn how to properly clean lemon verbena.
*** Click here to see the approved kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Place the jalapenos on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred black. Allow jalapenos to cool. Once cooled, remove the stem and seeds. Combine the seeded and stemmed jalapenos and remaining ingredients in a food processor. Using the pulse control, process until almost smooth and combined. Rub steaks (or other protein) about one hour before grilling, using only enough to coat the steak. This recipe should be enough for about 4 steaks.

Lemony Almond Macaroons

Lemony Almond MacaroonsAdmittedly, these are not Manischewitz macaroons, but I think you’ll forgive me. That, and those that don’t like the store bought kind, may in fact like these type instead! This recipe will make 30-35 macaroons and can be used as a base for other flavours. Just leave out the lemon and add cocoa for chocolate almond ones! The possibilities for the creative cook are endless!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups shredded coconut flakes
1 ½ cups blanched skinless almond slivers
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In this recipe, you can use either grated fresh coconut or dried coconut flakes. If using dried coconut, rehydrate it by pouring it into a bowl and covering it with warm water. Let the coconut soak for 5 minutes, then drain. Squeeze all the excess liquid out firmly with your fingers. Proceed with recipe. If using fresh coconut, no need to prep it– simply proceed with recipe.

Place almond slivers and coconut in a food processor, pulse into fine crumbs. Add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond extract, vanilla, egg and salt to the food processor. Process for about 1 minute until the mixture becomes a sticky mixture of fine crumbles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced, forming the mounds into haystack-like shapes.

Place the macaroons in the oven and let them bake for 30-40 minutes, till the tops of the haystacks turn golden brown. Remove the macaroons from the oven and allow to cool directly on the baking sheet. Do not try to remove them before they’ll cool; when hot, they are delicate and prone to crumbling. They become firmer as they cool.

When cooled completely, gently pull them from the baking sheet. The bottoms should be golden brown. Store macaroons in a sealed, airtight plastic container. When fresh from the oven, the macaroons will be crisp on the outside, soft inside. They become softer over time when stored in a sealed container.

Fish Cakes with Citrus “Tartar” Sauce

Citrus Fish Cakes

This recipe will make fish cakes for a crowd, and is a nice alternative to traditional gefilte fish. The citrus in this recipe lightens up the dish, taking away from the fried aspect of it, and would make it a great idea for a lunch meal! Before you start wondering where you’re going to get such small amounts of freshly squeezed juices, simply use the lemon and orange that you just zested!

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)*
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)*
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch sugar
Pinch cayenne

Fish Cakes:
2 pounds carp (or perch or bass) fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley**
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup matzoh meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup or more oil (for frying)
1 tablespoon sea salt

* Click here to see my tips on zesting citrus.
** Click here to see how to properly clean fresh parsley.

Directions:

To make the sauce:
In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill.

To make the fish cakes:
Line large baking sheet with waxed paper. Working in 2 batches, in food processor pulse the fish until coarsely ground (do not purée to paste). Transfer to large bowl and add onion, parsley, mayonnaise, egg, lemon juice, and orange juice. Mix gently until well blended, then add matzoh meal, salt, and pepper and mix gently until incorporated.

Using wet hands, roll mixture into 1 ¼ inch-diameter balls and press into ½ inch-thick patties. Arrange on baking sheet with additional waxed paper between each layer of patties. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

In large heavy skillet over high heat, heat ¼ inch oil. Working in batches of 5 and adding more oil as needed, fry patties until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt while still hot. Serve warm with sauce.

Hamentashen

HamentashenThere are a million different flavours out there for Hamentashen! You can go old fashioned with prune or poppy seed, traditional with jam, or try some new modern twists! Below you’ll find a basic dough recipe, and then some new fillings to try this year! I hope you like them!

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ cup margarine
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
Filling of choice (See below for some options!)
egg wash (egg + water)

Instructions:

Sift together the baking powder, flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the margarine. Add well beaten eggs and mix together to form a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board to ¼” thickness. Cut with a large, round cookie cutter. Put a spoonful of desired filling in centre, and pinch together to form triangular pocket. Brush with an egg wash, put on a well-greased pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Poppy Seed Filling:

Ingredients:
¾ cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons margarine
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

Directions:
Beat the egg in a bowl and set aside. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Whisk in the coconut milk, sugar and honey and simmer over a low flame until the sugar is melted. Pour half the hot mixture into a cup. Very slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes until it thickens. Remove from fire. Whisk in the poppy seeds and refrigerate until fully cooled before using.

Fresh Cranberry Filling:

Ingredients:
1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 ¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 ¼ water
Zest of one orange

Directions:
Bring water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes, until mixture is syrup–like. Add cranberries and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until berries pop. Remove from heat. Pour into bowl and refrigerate overnight or until chilled.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
2 apples, very finely diced
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:
Peel and dice the apples very finely. Mix in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are fully coated.

Coffee Cake Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
2 tablespoons melted margarine
1 to 2 tablespoons apple butter

Directions:
Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nuts together. Slowly drizzle in the margarine in, and then toss to mix with the apple butter. You may find it easier to blend in the butter if you microwave it first for about 15 seconds.

Pecan Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup almond milk
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup pecan pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Whisk together the maple syrup, almond milk, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep stirring continuously with a whisk until the mixture boils and thickens. Once boiling, turn off the heat and stir-in pecan pieces and vanilla. Allow to fully cool.

Lemon Bar Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 lemons, juiced (just under 1 cup juice)
zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs
¾ cup honey
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
Combine arrowroot or tapioca, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, palm sugar, and maple syrup. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until dry ingredients are completely dissolved. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan on low-medium heat, and whisk continuously for 8-10 minutes until a thick custard forms. Be very careful to continue whisking on a lower flame or the eggs might scramble. Allow to completely cool.

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.