Archive for the ‘main dish’ Category

Review: Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes

November 30, 2015

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Disclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Every Day Secret Restaurant Recipes. Opinions expressed are my own.

For those of you who loved Secret Restaurant Recipes, there is good news: Artscroll has just released Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes. It is an even bigger, wider ranging cookbook than its predecessor, jam packed with lots more recipes from a much larger number of restaurants. The new book repeats the original’s successful concept of dishes from popular kosher restaurants with a side order of chef tricks and tips.

While the first book had lots of special occasion recipes, the twist of the new book is that the recipes are more down-to-earth. The authors, Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek said their readers asked for “more casual recipes that work for everyday meals (or easier recipes that can also work for special occasions!).”

There is plenty here for home cooks looking to try a new technique or trend. Authentic smokehouse BBQ is an important trend, the authors say, and they explain how to home-smoke using a regular grill. A pizza recipe uses the interesting technique of par-baking the crust before adding the toppings, which is a great do-ahead trick.

If you are thinking ahead to Chanukah, there are quite a few recipes here that call for deep-frying and that would work for a party: Avocado Egg Rolls, Kani Poppers, Champignon Crispy Rolls, Broccoli Nuggets, Buffalo Cauliflower, Tater Poppers and Churros with Strawberry-Ginger Coulis (a perfect Chanukah dessert). If you like to make rugelach for Chanukah, there is a recipe for Chocolate Rugelach from Zak the Baker.

Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes makes for great armchair travel, with fascinating descriptions of kosher restaurants across the United States, Israel and beyond. The book covers an impressive 100 restaurants from 11 countries, spanning 5 continents. And the range of places covered is broad, too, encompassing high-end restaurants, cafes, pizzerias, fish grills, falafel spots, sushi bars, burger bars, delis, sandwich shops, BBQ joints, steakhouses, bakeries and gourmet take-out places.

I worked my way through 22 of the approximately 104 recipes in the book. The soups and salads were all excellent (especially the Harvest Salad from Pantry in Toronto) and the Par-Baked Pizza (from Brooklyn Pizza in Uruguay) worked brilliantly. The Dilled Salmon with zucchini and bell peppers (from Mocha Bleu in Teaneck) was delicious, super easy and had the added benefit of being a main dish and side dish all-in-one. The Gong Bao Chicken (from the Chabad restaurant Dini’s in Beijing) worked out really well made with tofu instead of chicken. The Peanut Butter Sundaes (molten chocolate cakes topped with ice cream and peanut butter sauce, from Glatt-A-La-Carte) were easy enough to make on a weeknight and a delicious twist on the usual lava cake.

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African Vegetable Stew

July 14, 2015

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Originally called “Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew,” this recipe is really more about the vegetables than the peanuts. The flavor of peanuts is actually pretty subtle. There is so much else going on: chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and lots of spice.

I know . . . the right name is African Peanut Stew . . . and the concept is based on a real West African dish (Maafe or Domodah).

This comes from a cookbook that my sister-in-law has been steadily working her way through: The Oh She Glows Cookbook by blogger Angela Liddon. Everything my sister-in-law has made from this book has been fantastic, and she has made a lot of the recipes from the book. My sister-in-law makes this stew for company and it has become her most requested recipe.

Given the above, you would think I would just faithfully follow the recipe instead of changing it around. But, I changed it just a little bit. Just a little.

I added eggplant, increased the amount of spinach and reduced the amount of broth. Plus, I replaced the jalapeno pepper with a poblano pepper.

You can use my changes, or follow the recipe as originally written, but do try it. The combination of peanut butter and vegetables sounds improbable, but the end result is fantastic.

 

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Spinach and Chickpea Curry

January 7, 2015

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My sister gave me a stash of cooking magazine to look through and this recipe popped out at me. It is the sort of brilliant recipe that is dead simple and super quick to make, but tastes as complex as a time-consuming complicated recipe.

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Interview with the Authors of Secret Restaurant Recipes (plus recipe for Eggplant Tofu)

December 2, 2014

Secret Restaurant Recipes Cover - HI RES.jpgDisclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes and gave me access to the authors for an interview. Opinions expressed are my own.

The recently released Secret Restaurant Recipes is an especially attractive cookbook: large 9”x9” format, nicely designed layout and lots of photos of beautifully plated food. Add to this the intriguing theme of recipes “from the World’s Top Kosher Restaurants,” and you have my full attention.

Authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek spent a year getting recipes from popular kosher restaurants and then testing them and adapting them for the home cook. In the book, they reveal that “not everyone believed that we’d be able to complete a book like this, and our publisher agreed that if we could, it would be a great accomplishment.”

I asked Victoria and Leah how the challenge of creating this cookbook compared to their work on their earlier cookbooks. Leah explained that the “most difficult part was getting the chefs to give over the recipes. When we wrote our own cookbooks, we could easily go into the kitchen and create a dish. Here, we had to wait to get each recipe. Once it finally came in, we had to test it. If it didn’t test well, we’d have to get back in touch with the chef to perfect it. We couldn’t just make changes on our own, because it had to be authentic.” “Believe it or not,” added Victoria, “tracking down and testing other people’s recipes is way, way more time-consuming that simply writing our own in our kitchens.”

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Lidia’s Baked Rigatoni and Zucchini

August 12, 2014

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Zucchini, tomatoes and basil tossed with rigatoni–this pasta dish makes excellent use of later summer produce. I have made this pasta  a few times over the past several weeks and have come to prefer it without the cheese (or with less cheese) and with less pasta in relation to the vegetables. Don’t leave out the fresh basil–that is key to the flavor. If you want to replace the fontina with another cheese, you can.

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Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils and Dates

July 30, 2014

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If you want a main dish for the Nine Days that is hearty and filling, but not laden with dairy products, consider this salad. It is packed with super nutritious ingredients like lentils, spinach, tahina, dates, almonds and cauliflower.  It has a small amount of olive oil and only a teaspoon of honey. It feels light because it is a salad, but the lentils, coated with a tahina dressing, give it an almost meaty heft that will leave you completely sated.

It is the kind of unusual and exciting combination of ingredients that I usually associate with an Ottolenghi recipe, but this salad comes from Food and Wine Magazine contributors David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. David and Luise are a Stockholm-based couple that have a beautiful vegetarian blog called Green Kitchen Stories.

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Broccoli Rabe Pesto Pasta with Heirloom Grape Tomatoes

July 8, 2014

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Pesto made with broccoli rabe is pretty popular and it is also super nutritious. You can serve the pesto as a dip or spread for bread instead of as a sauce for pasta. I followed a recipe from Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto. If you follow the link, you will not only find the recipe, but a clip of Mario demonstrating its preparation along with that of two other pasta recipes (pasta with pureed red peppers and goat cheese and pasta with Swiss chard).

The original recipe called for orecchiette pasta, but I substituted farfalle and added in some heirloom grape tomatoes. Later, I served leftovers as a salad, with the addition of more blanched broccoli rabe and some cannellini beans.

The pesto is exceptionally good. I made twice as much pesto as I needed for the pasta, and I have been enjoying leftovers spread onto challah along with lemon chummus.

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Maple Tamari Tofu

June 9, 2014

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The problem with most tofu that I get in restaurants is that  the sauce just sits on the surface of  thick pieces that are flavorless on the inside.

Here is my tricks for getting  flavor all the way into the center of the tofu:

(1) Put salt and pepper on the tofu while it drains. The seasoning works its way into the tofu. The longer the tofu absorbs the seasonings, the more flavor on the inside of the tofu;

(2) Cook the tofu a long time before adding the sauce to drive off excess moisture and make the inside of the tofu a bit spongy; and

(2) Add water to the sauce. If you dilute the sauce, the sauce will soak into the tofu. After it soaks in, then you can boil down the remaining sauce into a thick glaze.

The following maple soy sauce has become my new go-to glaze for tempeh and tofu.

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Neapolitan Cannelloni (Manicotti)

May 19, 2014

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This is how I explained Neapolitan Cannelloni (also known as manicotti) to my son: “Imagine blintzes, but filled with a lasagna cheese filling and topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese. My son pondered this for a while and then said, “Okay, that sounds good.”

It is good. It tastes like lasagna, but with a more delicate texture because crepes (or, as they are called in Italian, “crespelle”) replace the usual pasta.

If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, you can use a crepe recipe based on potato starch instead of flour. I have made this on Passover with Passover crepes with huge success.

If you are already making blintzes for Shavuoth, make extra crepes. Once you have the crepes made, this recipes is a complete snap to make (especially if you use bottled tomato sauce instead of homemade marinara).

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Note: If you google manicotti and cannelloni, you will see that there is some confusion as to the difference between the two dishes.  Some say the two are interchangeable, some say that the difference is that cannelloni have a bechamel sauce instead of marinara on top, and some say that cannelloni are properly made with pasta sheets while manicotti are made with crepes.

My recipe is based on two similar recipes, both from Italians, one of whom calls the dish cannelloni and one of whom calls the dish manicotti. I went with cannelloni because I made Delma Kelechava’s recipe first (before adding some changes from Stephanie Rhode’s recipe), and Delma calls this cannelloni.

What do the experts say? Well, Lucinda Scala Quinn has a recipe for cannelloni that is similar to this recipe. Mario Batali has a cannelloni recipe that is pasta sheets rolled with cheese filling and topped with bechamel and marinara. Lidia Bastianich has a cannelloni recipe that is stuffed pasta topped with bechamel and a manicotti recipe that is crepes filled with cheese and topped with marinara.

So, it is probably more accurate to call this manicotti (maybe), but since most people associate manicotti with pasta tubes, I still prefer cannelloni.

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Cheese Blintzes

May 19, 2014

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Blintzes are not really all that hard to make. A blintz is just a thin pancake (crepe or bletlach) wrapped around a filling and then sauteed in butter until golden brown on the outside.

There are two aspects that intimidate people: (1) making the crepe and (2) wrapping the crepe around the filling.

Mostly, making crepes is a matter of practice and adjusting your standards. You are rolling the crepes up, so they do not need to look perfect. A tear here or there can usually be worked around. As you make the crepes, you will improve your technique, figuring out how much batter you need for your pan and the best way to swirl the batter around to evenly coat the pan. You will fall into a rhythm, with each succeeding crepe looking nicer and being easier to make.

Rolling up blintzes is the same as rolling burritos. You put a line of filling on the bottom of the crepe, fold over the bottom of the  crepe to cover the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll it up.

 

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