My friend Eileen Cohen knows her chocolate. In a blind taste test she can tell Tobleron from Godiva with her hands tied behind her back.
That’s why, when she raved about the chocolate mousse that nutrition expert and cookbook author Jennifer Flynn had served, I was intrigued. A healthy chocolate mousse? What was the secret? Would you believe avocado?
“Nobody believes me when I tell them they are eating avocado,” said Flynn, author of “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing.”
“It’s amazing how well the other ingredients mask the flavor of this buttery fruit. The heart-healthy fat of the avocado is a perfect replacement for the dairy cream used in traditional mousse.”
Flynn became a vegetarian when a friend brought her an article about the conditions in slaughterhouses.
“I’m a really big animal lover, and I thought, I don’t want to be a part of this. My family didn’t think it would last, but I started paying attention to ingredients and noticing the hidden animal byproducts and ingredients you can’t even pronounce the names of.”
“The Super Food Generation” is not a diet book. “I wanted to get back to basics and promote healthy foods and ingredients rather than a particular diet,” she explained. “I want people be open-minded and not think so much about having to stick to a diet, but become more familiar with the healthy foods out there and adapt them to their own particular diet.”
Besides the avocado, pumpkin – along with carrots, sweet potatoes and its relatives in the squash family – is another of the 14 super foods that work “synergistically with the human body to unlock vitality, strengthen immunity and literally slow down the aging process,” Flynn writes.
Excuse me? Pumpkin Pie a health food? We’re talking about a healthy Thanksgiving feast now?
When I think back to my grandmother’s cooking, nothing green comes to mind. Beets, carrots, onions, radishes – those familiar vegetables of Eastern Europe graced her table in America as well. When I asked my mother if she could remember eating any vegetables when she was growing up, she said, “Sure. We had potatoes.”
Oh, I suppose you could say my grandmother had a Victory garden – if you can call winning the war against aphids a victory. She grew roses, not vegetables! Which is not to say she wasn’t fiercely patriotic. For my grandparents, proud to be American citizens, Election Day was a major event, requiring hours of preparation and wardrobe consultation. But my grandmother contributed to the war effort by rolling miles of bandages for the Red Cross, not by harvesting broccoli.
By the 1950s, when I was growing up, the Jolly Green Giant had cut a mighty swath across the land and convenience was in. My generation, however, remembers vegetables as a toll to be paid for crossing the bridge to the treasure on the other side, as in “Eat your vegetables and you can have dessert.” Or so I’m told. No one had to coax us to eat anything in our house.
Ahead of her time, my mother actually steamed a veggie or two. For company she’d present a gorgeous display: a whole head of cauliflower surrounded by bursts of red, green, and orange. But in truth, she did it more for presentation than nutrition. And as for the vegetables she served for family dinners, I suspect she was more concerned about filling us up low-calorically than she was about our vitamin consumption.
Fireworks! Parades! Barbecues! Flag-waving! It’s our nation’s birthday, and celebrating the Fourth of July with any of the above is as American as apple pie. But is our beloved classic dessert really American, I wonder?
There were no apples in the New World until the early European explorers brought the seeds
Read the whole story
Passover's coming - we like the traditional with just enough new stuff to keep it interesting. Try Shiitake Mushroom Matzoh Balls for a new twist on an old favorite.
Both my daughters-in-law never liked matzoh balls until I came up with this one. I doctored up plain old matzoh ball mix – and a fine product it is! – with shiitake mushrooms and scallions for a shtetl favorite with an Asian twist. (Not surprising. Jews have had a long love affair with Chinese food!) Go ahead and double or even triple the recipe (and you may have to!), but be careful not to crowd the pot when you are cooking them. For the recipe click here.
Happy Easter to our Christian friends!
What is your most indispensable ingredient, whether you’re preparing an elegant company repast or a humble weekday family dinner? The onion, of course!
“A good onion is always worth the tears,” said Linda Griffith, who with husband Fred wrote “Onions, Onions, Onions: Delicious Recipes for the World’s Favorite Secret Ingredient” (Chapters Publishing, $14.95).
This James Beard award-winning cookbook tells you everything you ever wanted to know and then some about onions in all its colors and forms – from Spanish to Pearl to Walla Walla – and its cousins in the allium family: leeks, ramps, scallions, chives, shallots and garlic. Try cooking without them – I dare you!
As much fun to read as to cook from, this passionate book is filled with onion lore from the tombs of Egyptian mummies – “[Onions] were placed in the thorax or pelvis, or in the ear or near the eyes, perhaps because they were believed to improve breathing” – to the use of onions in language – Yiddish curse: “ You should grow like an onion with your head in the dirt and your feet in the air!”
Mouth-watering recipes ensure that this cookbook will soon become splatter stained: Chive Crêpes with Smoked Salmon; Alsatian Onion Quiche; Chicken Liver Pâté with Applejack, Scallions and Chives; Crisp-Roasted Duck with Leek and Orange Stuffing.
For your Easter feast, try Potatoes and Onions, Alsatian-Style, a rich and creamy casserole that the Griffiths claim is “not for the faint of heart”!
“It gets its inspiration from a traditional potato and Muenster cheese combination that we first encountered in the dining room of a tiny inn high in the Vosges Mountains in Alsace,” they write. You can substitute Pont l’Évêque or Port Salut for the Alsatian Muenster or even Monterey Jack.
Pastor Paul Wirth of a Tampa area church made headlines last week – I swear I’m not making this up! – when he challenged married couples in his congregation to have sex for 30 days in a row as a reaction to the nation's 50-percent divorce rate. (Unmarried couples were encouraged to abstain.)
Note that this pronouncement came after Valentine’s Day and not before, causing me to ponder – why is only one day a year set aside for showing love? A new cookbook proves the old maxim: A couple that cooks together stays together. Okay, that’s not the maxim, but you get the idea.
Meredith Phillips, best known for her starring role in ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” has compiled her favorite couple-friendly recipes in “The Date Night Cookbook: Romantic Recipes for the Busy Couple” (Terrace Publishing, $29.95).
Lamb Vindaloo, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne, Buffalo Chicken Satay, Rosemary-Orange Cream Brûlée. Think these dishes are only for “company”? Read on.
“Food is about nourishing people, but cooking together is about nourishing your relationship,” she writes. “People today seem so much busier than they were in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. It’s hard to make time to cook a meal at home.”
Phillips, a classically trained chef, met her live-in boyfriend Fritz in cooking school. Drawn together by their love of food and cooking, they make one day a week date night, but with a twist. On this night they stay home and cook together.
“When we’re cooking we have fun, which is so important in a relationship,” she says. “Our tastes and styles intermingle, especially on date night, because it’s done together and with love.”
Molly O'Neill brings the story of my grandmother's cholent to grandparents.com. Read the story.
It has all the elements of pulp fiction biblical style: the foolish king (Ahasuerus), the spurned wife (Vashti), the wicked first minister (Haman), the brave and beautiful maiden (Esther) and her honorable protector (Mordecai). Add to the mix an assassination plot foiled and a people saved...To celebrate our deliverance, sweets are the order of the day.
To read the complete story, see OU's Shabbat Shalom.
Don your aprons, light those ovens and…go!
by Judy Bart Kancigor
OU's e-zine Shabbat Shalom
Thirty contestants in last month’s Second Annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off semi-finals chopped, seared and sautéed their way for the chance to compete in the finals, to be held in New York on February 27. The grand prizewinner will take home a $25,000 prize package, including a GE Profile kitchen, cash and READ MORE
Kosher cooking contest winners to compete in finals
by Judy Bart Kancigor
Canadian Jewish News, Thursday, Feb 21, 2008
“While the other kids were playing house, I was playing restaurant,” Evan Levy
of Danville, Calif., recalled. He was one of the semifinalists in the
Second Annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off western regional competition
held Dec. 20 at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco.
Lucky me – I was one of the judges!
“I started very young – I went to Mom’s cooking school,” Levy said. “My READ MORE
If you’re the type who thinks of the “main course” as dessert rather than the entrée, read on.
Alice Medrich knows a thing or two about dessert. Dubbed the “patron saint of chocoholics” by the San Francisco Chronicle, she is the founder of Cocolat, the legendary and innovative Bay Area pastry company that revolutionized chocolate making from the mid 1970’s to the early ‘90’s. Since then her books have won the coveted Cookbook of the Year and Book of the Year awards from the James Beard Foundation and The International Association of Culinary Professionals three times.
While we know and love Medrich for her life in chocolate, her latest cookbook “Pure Dessert” (Artisan, $35) focuses on our favorite course using flavorful, inspired ingredients, from fresh cheeses and yogurts to Tahitian vanilla, all prepared simply.
Sour Cream Ice Cream. Plum and Almond Tart. Chestnut Tuiles. Jasmine Panna Cotta. If overly sweetened, frilly, gooey desserts are your thing, look elsewhere. The emphasis here is simply flavor.
“The best chefs cook savory food simply, with the best ingredients,” she writes. “Why don’t we make more desserts that way?”
Each chapter offers recipes centered on natural ingredients: milk; grain, nuts and seeds; fruit; chocolate (of course!); honey and sugar; herbs and spices, flowers and leaves; wine, beer and spirits.
Whether she’s brewing jasmine tea for tuiles or caramelizing sugar for honey caramels, this master teacher encourages rather than intimidates with clear, precise instructions. Thirty-one introductory pages guide you through proper techniques, equipment and shopping for ingredients.
The most important tip for a beginner, she advises, is what the French call mise en place, setting out and preparing all the ingredients in advance.