Main dishes

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It does so matter how you slice it!

Last Thankgiving for the first time I had the most beautiful platter of neat turkey slices. I followed this video from the NY Times.

The man is a genius!! End of turkey hassles! The only thing I did differently (and it actually worked even better) was I removed the drumstick first and then held on to the thigh bone and slid my knife down that bone to remove it with no meat on it. Then it was a simple matter to remove the thigh - whole! Slicing boneless meat is a breeze! We will never carve a turkey on the bone again! My platter looked just as great as his! We should have taken a picture!

My new favorite brisket recipe

Some people – even great cooks – spend their entire lives with only one brisket recipe in their repertoires. Sure, they’ll try the newest crostini or cloufuti, but their brisket is somehow sacrosanct, unchanged through the decades (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Me, I flit merrily from brisket to brisket as the mood hits. My current brisket du jour – or I perhaps I should say du anne, as I’ve been making it all year – was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Sara Moulton. (And her husband is Jewish, so she should know!)

Here are my modifications (besides some slight changes in amounts of ingredients): I roast the garlic and then add it to the gravy. I use a whole can of tomato paste and have added the onion mix and Saucy Susan. The blender thing is my idea – you get a thicker gravy while still
leaving plenty of onion bits for that homemade look and feel.

I also find with this and other braised dishes that they always taste better the next day. Another advantage is it is much easier to skim off the fat when cold. And while we’re on the subject, don’t hack off all the fat before cooking. It adds so much to the flavor and you’ll get it all later.

Sara evaporates the wine; I don’t do this. I get a ton of gravy, just the ticket, because no matter what brisket recipe I’m making, I’d better do my mother-in-law’s potatoes and carrots or face that close-but-no-cigar look on my husband’s face.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Wed, 05/22/2013 - 9:31am.

Rosh Hashanah's comin' and the livin' is easy

Orange County, CA caterer, Blueberry Hill


I can tell Rosh Hashanah is approaching, because I’m already getting phone calls from my family and friends, my mother’s friends, even strangers!

“Can I make the brisket ahead and freeze it?” “Can I freeze the kugel?” “What should I do about my burnt honey cake?” (Yes and yes to the first two and “Um, do you have a dog?” to the third.)

Jewish cooks the world over are shopping and chopping, searing and sautéing – so many dishes, so little time.

In bygone days our foremothers, stay-at-home moms before that term ever became popular, had little distractions from the task at hand: putting a holiday feast on the table for their large extended families.

Today’s cooks squeeze the job in between work, carpools, meetings, etc. – all while trying to recreate those labor-intensive recipes their grandmothers slaved over. For what is a holiday if not the gathering of families connecting to their roots and traditions?

Now Orange County boasts its own kosher caterer, Blueberry Hill, that can provide a full dinner or even help out with a dish or two so you can enjoy your guests as you celebrate together.  

(“The perception always was that kosher food is awful,” said Beverly Scheftz, who with her son Trevor owns and operates Blueberry Hill, “but it doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s definitely not that way.”

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Fri, 09/07/2012 - 7:03am.

Chicken Casserole with dried fruit on a bed of couscous

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

12 chicken drumsticks
6 whole small red onions, peeled
12 pieces (each 2 inches long) Jerusalem artichoke, peeled
9 ounces dried figs
7 ounces pitted prunes
7 ounces dried apricots
For the marinade:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups dry red wine
To serve:
1 package (about 18 ounces) instant couscous
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1. Mix all ingredients for marinade.

2. Arrange chicken, onions, Jerusalem artichoke and dried fruit in a baking dish and pour over the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

4. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until chicken turns shiny and brown. Baste chicken occasionally with liquid from bottom of pan. The dish up to this point may be prepared in advance and later heated in the oven.

5. Before serving, prepare instant couscous per the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Arrange chicken casserole and sauce over a mound of couscous, sprinkle walnuts on top and serve immediately.
Source: "The Book of New Israeli Food" by Janna Gur


3 to 4 pounds beef brisket
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup mango chutney
1 envelope onion soup mix
12 ounces Coca-Cola
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place brisket in a non-reactive pan. Combine onion, chutney, soup mix, and coke. Pour over brisket and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
2. The following day preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
3. Remove brisket from marinade mixture and set marinade aside. Heat oil in a large stove-proof roasting pan and brown brisket on both sides.
4. Place the brisket in a roasting pan and pour the reserved marinade over the meat.
5. Cover the pan with foil and cook until tender, 3 to 4 hours. Baste the meat with the pan juices every 45 minutes. Serves 6 to 8

Moroccan Spicy Apricot Lamb Shanks

From Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family (Workman) by Judy Bart Kancigor
Order on amazon

While brisket and roast chicken are standard fare for our holiday dinners, our Sephardic mishpuchah dines on dishes like this tender, spicy lamb, which was adapted from Molly O'Neill's take on a recipe by superchef Alain Ducasse.

When I interviewed Wolfgang Puck about his seders at Spago, he told me that if he had been born Jewish, he would have liked to have been born Sephardic because of the cuisine. I know what he means! I love the pungent Moroccan spice mixture and usually make extra to save for flavoring other dishes. The wine is an untraditional addition and would never be used in a Moroccan kitchen.

Interestingly, cookbook author Joyce Goldstein told me that Jews in Arab countries, despite the fact that they do not share their neighbors' prohibition against drinking wine, traditionally do not use it in cooking either. Purists may substitute additional chicken broth for the wine.

4 lamb shanks (about 1 pound each), visible fat removed
Kosher (coarse) salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size onions, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1 3/4 cups homemade chicken stock or 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
Moroccan Spice Mix (recipe follows)
1 cup dried apricots
Black pepper to taste

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sun, 09/23/2007 - 1:26pm.

Jaffa Orange-Ginger Chicken With Baharat

from "The Foods of Israel Today" by Joan Nathan
as seen in The Orange County Register, 9-14-01

Salt to taste
1 tablespoon baharat, or to taste; see cook's notes
1 tablespoon ground ginger, or to taste
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned

Cook's notes: Joan Nathan says baharat is a spice mixture that varies from cook to cook, but often includes paprika, (ground) chili, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and salt. "If you can't find the mixture at a Middle Eastern market, choose from you favorite of these spices instead, making sure you include pepper," Nathan writes.

If you prefer thicker sauce, after chicken has cooked, remove chicken from sauce and increase heat to high; boil until reduced to 3/4 to 1 cup. Return chicken to sauce and complete step 5.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sun, 09/23/2007 - 7:12am.

Chicken in Persian Pomegranate Walnut Sauce

from "A Feast from the Mideast" by Faye Levy
as seen in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
story by Judy Bart Kancigor

Makes 4 servings.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, rinsed and patted dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 cups pomegranate juice or 1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate paste
1/2 cup water or chicken broth (if using pomegranate juice), or 1 1/2 cups water or broth (if using paste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste or 3 to 4 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley (optional)
A few toasted walnuts (optional)


Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 09/15/2007 - 12:52pm.

Dja’jeh b’Ah’sal (Chicken With Prunes and Honey)

from "A Fistful of Lentils" by Jennifer Abadi
as seen in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
story by Judy Bart Kancigor


2 cups pitted prunes, soaked in 1 cup cold water for 15 minutes
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


5 to 5-1/2 pounds chicken pieces (white and dark meat), skinned
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Three 3-inch-long cinnamon sticks
2 cups cold water

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 09/15/2007 - 6:02am.

Bulgarian Chicken

from Divine Kosher Cuisine by Risé Routenberg and Barbara Wasser
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

For the sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk sauce ingredients.

For the chicken
5 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into eighths or 6 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
1 teaspoon paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Place potatoes and tomatoes in pan, cover with chicken and brush
    with half the sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered 20 minutes.
  3. Baste with remaining sauce and bake until tender.

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