Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roast ChickenOkay, so back in Queen Victoria’s day, she had multiple main courses, there was the entree course, the removes course and the roast course… for me, that’s about 2 courses too much, but what do I know, I’m not the queen. So in her honour I’ve found a modern take on one of the dishes from her roast course. She served (or more accurately was served) Rots les Poulets (see picture below), or Roasted Chicken. My modern take uses garlic, lemon and thyme and roasts the chicken with onion, carrots and fennel. It will serve 6-8 people, and I hope you enjoy!

Poulet RotiIngredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs*
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges*
olive oil

* Click here to learn how to clean fennel and thyme.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets, or any other extra chicken parts that were stuffed inside the carcass. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the margarine and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Potage à la Julienne (Julienne Soup)

What gives this soup it’s name is the way all of the vegetables are sliced in it. They are all done up “Julienne Style” or in thin matchstick pieces. Back in Victoria’s time, this was all done by hand, but if you have a food processor, it will definitely help with the cutting. For those of you that get a kick out of this kinda thing (like I do), I found an old recipe for this soup that was published during the time. I hope you find my modernized version a little easier to make 🙂

Potage a la JulienneVegetable Soup Julienne
Serves 6-8 people

4 carrots (if you are able to get them use a purple carrot as well, it looks amazing)
4 turnips
2 celery stalks
4 red cabbage leaves*
4 green cabbage leaves*
6 stalks of chard*
4 leeks*
4 spring onions*
12 French green beans
2 litre vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons margarine
salt, pepper to taste
Few sprigs of tarragon or marjoram*
1 clove of garlic, grated into a paste
2 cups cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice

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

Once all your vegetables are cut into thin batons, add the red and green cabbage, the chard, and beans to the cold water with lemon juice.

In a large soup pot, melt the margarine over a low heat until it is just foaming. Add the carrots, turnips, leaks and onions and garlic paste. Sauté in the margarine for about four minutes, or until tender.

Strain the water from the soaked vegetables, and add them to the pot, letting them sauté for a minute or two, then add the vegetable or chicken stock. Let the soup gently simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add half of the tarragon or marjoram, and a squeeze of lemon juice, then let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Taste and add salt, pepper as desired, adding the last of the herbs just before serving.

Lag B’Omer Carob Cake

Carob CakeThis Carob cake is very apropos for Lag B’Omer, but can be served any day of the year! It is especially good for those that want the flavour of a chocolate cake, without the chocolate. This cake will serve 9.

Ingredients:

½ cup margarine
⅔ cup honey
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
icing sugar (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Sift together the flour, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the banana and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the water. Stir in chopped nuts (if using). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan PieThere is nothing like a good pecan pie! This southern classic gets a kick from the chocolate layer and the hit of bourbon! You can make this dessert dairy free by using margarine instead of butter, and alcohol free by omitting the bourbon. Make sure that you get a deep-dish style pie shell though, or else you might get some spill over! This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2-4 tablespoons bourbon* (depending on taste)
3 eggs
⅓ cup melted butter/margarine
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups pecans (either halves or pieces)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (9 inch) refrigerated deep pie crust (brought to room temperature)

* Click here to see a list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, eggs, butter/margarine, and salt together in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Fold in the pecans. Line the bottom of your pie crust with the chocolate chips, then pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. If desired, cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips to prevent excessive browning. Bake in until the centre sets, about 60 minutes. Cool before serving.

Matzo Brei

Matzah BreiMatzo Brei is a long standing Passover tradition in my house, and we tend to be purists, using only the basic recipe below and topped with a little ketchup (’cause despite what you may think, ketchup pretty much goes with everything). My co-worker’s husband goes sweet, adding pancake syrup to his freshly cooked dish, while my boyfriend goes savoury, adding sauteed veggies and cheese to the dish while it cooks. To each his own I guess! No matter how you make it, I hope you like it! This recipe will serve 2-4 people.

Ingredients:

4 Matzos
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter/margarine

Optional Ingredients:
For a savoury dish try adding any or all of the following: sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, sliced onions, cheese
For a sweet dish try adding any or all of the following: canned fruit, applesauce, sour cream or syrup.

Directions:

Crumble matzos into a large sieve placed over a bowl to catch crumbs, then hold sieve under running cold water until matzos are moist and softened but not completely disintegrated, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl with crumbs, then add eggs and salt and mix gently with a fork.

Heat butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add matzo mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are scrambled and matzo has begun to crisp, about 3 minutes.

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple Kugel

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple KugelThis recipe was passed around the office as a “keeper” on a scrap of yellowed newsprint. Wanting to track down the original source, (thank you Google!) I was able to find that the recipe was first published in the Baltimore Sun back in December of 1991*. It was part of an article written by Colleen Pierre, R.D. entitled “Veggies Don’t Have to be Bland, Boring”. While yes it is a bit old (23 years!) the article, and the recipe, still hold true. If you would like to read the original article, please click here.  This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

¼ cup margarine
1 cup grated, peeled sweet potatoes (1 medium/large sweet potato)
1 cup grated, peeled carrots (2 medium/large carrots)
1 cup grated, peeled apples (1 large apple)
½ cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sweet wine
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon oil (to grease pan)

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with about 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ingredients, and then pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.

* According to the article, the actual recipe comes from “Life After Schmaltz,” a book for heart-healthy Jewish holiday cooking by Rosalind Trieber, M.S., Ann Sussman and Janet Brigham, Ph.D., published in Baltimore by Trieber Associates.

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crunch

Chocolate Toffee Matzo CrunchThese make a nice dessert, or “something” to serve with afternoon tea. As to how much the recipe makes, well, enough for a family of five, but it all depends on how small you break up the pieces. Here’s a tip: If you’re finding it hard to spread the toffee or chocolate out smoothly, coat your spatula in a little oil or melted butter/margarine. This will allow you to apply a bit of pressure while you spread without the toffee or chocolate sticking to the spatula.

Ingredients:

4-6 matzos
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (butter recommended)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cups chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate for pareve/vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or your favourite Passover-friendly nut – optional)
Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet tray with a layer of foil, then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment. Evenly cover the sheet tray with matzos. Break or cut the matzos into smaller pieces if necessary.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter/margarine, brown sugar, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 additional minutes and continue stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the toffee mixture over the matzos. Use a spatula to spread evenly across the entire surface of the matzo. Make sure you spread it out fairly quickly or it will start to get sticky and become harder to smooth over.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check frequently to be sure that the mixture is not burning. If it appears to browning too quickly, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees, then replace the tray when the temperature drops a bit.

Once 15 minutes have passed, remove the matzos from the oven and evenly sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzo. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and a light sprinkle of sea salt over the top of the melted chocolate. While the matzos are still warm, break them into smaller squares or pieces. You can use a knife to break them up, but I like the rustic look of the “natural break”. Place in the freezer until the topping has set. Serve straight from the freezer, chilled, or at room temperature.

Matzo Baklava

Matzo BaklavaThis dessert just gets better with time. I would always plan on serving it the next day, or even the day after that, as the longer it sits, the longer the matzo has a chance to soak up the sweet lemony syrup. This recipe will make 9 to 16 squares (depends how small you slice it).

Ingredients:

6 sheets matzo

For syrup:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

For assembly:
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios, chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, melted

Directions:

Briefly pass each sheet of matzo under cold running water until wet on all sides. Layer sheets between damp paper towels and let stand until somewhat pliable but not soggy or falling apart, about 2 hours. While matzo is softening, make syrup.

In small saucepan over moderately high heat, stir together the water and sugar. Bring to boil, then lower heat to moderate and cook, uncovered, until syrupy and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and honey and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool, then chill until ready to use.

To Assemble the Dessert:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Separate out ⅙ of nut mixture and reserve for topping cooked baklava.

Transfer 1 sheet of the prepared matzo to the counter. Press a rolling pin once over the sheet from one end to other to flatten. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Using a pastry brush, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with the melted butter/margarine. Lay one sheet of flattened matzo on the bottom of the pan, and then spread with more melted butter/margarine. Sprinkle the matzo with ⅕ of unreserved nut mixture. Roll out second sheet of matzo and transfer to pan. Brush with margarine and sprinkle with nut mixture. Repeat with remaining matzo sheets and remaining nut mixture, ending with matzo sheet brushed with margarine on top.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Keeping the baklava in the pan, place the pan on a cooling rack so that it can cool all around, and immediately pour the chilled syrup over. It may seem like a lot of syrup, but the matzo will absorb it all. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Let cool, then cover and let stand at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. (Do not chill.) Cut into small squares or diamonds and serve.

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.

Twisted Chocolate Babka – Шоколад Бабка

Chocolate BabkaThis recipe will make 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
½ cup water (warm, between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
¾ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
oil, for greasing

Filling:
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cold is fine
Scant ½ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Make the dough:

In a small bowl mix together the warm water and the yeast, with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand aside and foam up. This should happen within 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to combine. Add the foamy yeast water, and the eggs (one at a time), while the mixer is on low with the dough hook. Keep the machine mixing, increasing the speed as the ingredients come together to form a dough.

It’s okay if the dough is on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic place in a warm area to rise, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled (or close to it), stick it in the fridge to cool. This will help with the rolling out of the dough in the next segment.

Make filling:

In a small pot on med-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Remove from the heat and set it aside.

Assemble loaves:

Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last ½ -inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an under baked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.