Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chocolate, Dried Fruit and Nut Clusters (recipe, pareve) #passover

Chocolate, Dried Fruit and Nut Clusters P Yield: 24
This is a delicious confection that requires almost no cooking and can be made in minutes. I recommend making a double batch. They disappear in seconds!
1 cup chopped dried fruit: apricots, raisins, dates, figs
1 cup chopped nuts: pecans, walnuts, almonds
10 ounces non-dairy semi sweet chocolate
2 teaspoons liqueur of your choice
Microwave or double boiler
Wooden spoon
Mixing bowl
Waxed paper

  1. Mix dried fruit and nuts together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Melt chocolate in microwave or in a double boiler. Add liqueur ad stir well.
  3. Add chopped fruit and nuts to chocolate. Drop by tablespoonful onto waxed paper. If you’re making these in a relatively cool room (or using nuts from the freezer), the clusters will harden immediately. You might have to refrigerate them if your kitchen is very warm.

 Leave out the nuts and double the fruit if you need some "nut free" candy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Spinach and Mushrooms (recipe, meat)

 This is the recipe that is on the Kosher Cookbook App-except for my replacing the margarine with vegetable oil. I also added about 1 cup of packaged shredded coconut to the crumbs. You can replace the crumbs with ground nuts or even matzah meal for Passover. This is a delicious recipe that is good hot or room temp.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Spinach and Mushrooms M Yield: 8
This chicken is moist and delicious hot and equally delicious when sliced and served cold.
Prep time: 20 min.  Rolling + breading breasts:  20 min.  Baking: 30-40 min.
8 chicken cutlets- flattened               
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach       
¼ pound fresh mushrooms               
1 medium onion
1 large clove garlic
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups cornflake crumbs/bread crumbs
3 eggs
olive oil
Large skillet
Baking pan large enough to hold chicken rolls

  1. Defrost spinach (a microwave does this quickly). Squeeze water out of spinach. Set aside.
  2. Remove stems from mushrooms and wipe caps clean. Slice mushroom caps thinly. Halve the slices if they are large. Set aside.
  3. Mince onion and garlic together.
  4. Melt margarine in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add spinach and sauté until any remaining liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms and sauté until they just begin release their juices. Remove from heat. Stir sautéed vegetables well. Season with pepper to taste. Cool.
  5. Beat eggs in a dish large enough to roll chicken in. Pour crumbs into another dish.
  6. Rinse flattened cutlets. Take one breast at a time and lay it on work surface smooth side down. Place 3 tablespoons spinach-mushroom mixture and place it toward narrow end of cutlet. Roll chicken until spinach is covered. Dip roll first in crumbs, then in egg, and again in crumbs. Place in baking dish. Repeat this process with remaining cutlets. Refrigerate until you are ready to bake them.
  7. To bake: Dribble olive oil over cutlets. Place in 375 F oven and bake 30-40 minutes or until done. Slice one roll in half to be sure they are fully cooked. Serve hot or a room temperature.
  8. To serve as a luncheon dish: slice chicken rolls and arrange slices in concentric circles around a serving platter. Put rice or salad in the middle. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Four Hours with Noah Fecks

Wow! I just spent four hours with the incredible Noah Fecks- photographer extraordinaire! I was part of a group of foodies anxious to learn more about food photography. The event was organized by Melinda Strauss ( Founder of Kosher Food Bloggers Conference, Kitchen Tested Blog, Director of Special Events for Joy of Kosher…)Not only was there inspiration for the mind but individual pastries were  generously provided by Sapienza Bake Shop: www.sapienzabakeshop.com. But now back to photography-
Noah opened his tutorial with unpacking his equipment. He not only explained each piece but also told us how much we should spend on it-constantly counseling us that we can be sure that we will break or lose some piece of equipment at some time; so we should be able to realistically replace it. Here is a list of the more important items a photographer should have: Small and medium clamps, light stand, extra small umbrella (Noah prefers them to have shiny silver lining), speed ring and soft box, Elenchrom D-Lite 4 with modeling light, monoblock with 7 inch reflector with grid, bounce cards in black and white (double sided matte board that is cut so that it is bendable), nifty 50 lens and 100 lens, arctic butterfly for cleaning lens, Gorilla Pod, and last but not least- blotting papers for wiping grease off people’s faces.
Advice: No wind or heat on the equipment
    No zoom ever!
The bigger the light source, the closer the image will appear. The smaller the light source, the farther away the image will appear.
Shoot brighter than you think you need. You can adjust it later.
Did you know that pillow cases are the right size for placing under many food items.  Noah said napkins were usually too small-and that if those wrinkles bother you, iron the pillow case before taking the pictures!  Make sure you have flatware, plastic squares/frogs to lift or tilt your plate- basically any assortment of props you think you’ll need. Advance prep cuts down your work in the end. A man after my own heart!
Most shocking statement of the morning: Don’t use natural light. It doesn’t last long and you can’t depend on it. Set up your lighting yourself and backlight.
Noah keeps THREE copies of all his work in fire proof boxes!!!
Can I promise you better pix on my part? Noah told me to switch from my iPhone to my Canon point and shoot; and I promised I would try. At least I don’t have to adjust all the shutter speeds etc. that many of the other participants were doing with much better and more complicated cameras. I will go out and buy the bounce cards so I can have better control of shadows- and maybe even the clamps and gorilla pod! I understand a lot more than I did before. If my pix don’t improve, it is not the fault of the teacher. Noah is the consummate professional. He is charming, not intimidating, and has a great sense of humor.  Noah clearly loves what he does and is eager to inspire others. His students at Parsons are lucky indeed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


This recipe is multi purpose. You get the shells for holding the sorbet and the juice for drinking! You can cut the recipe in half if you're not having a large group.

Juicing oranges not only yields delicious juice but also creates a great receptacle for your sorbet. Serve each guest their own orange half filled with sorbet and a cookie and you have a light and elegant dessert.
Prep time: Oranges- 10 min.   Strawberries- 15 min.  Freezing- 120 min.
8 juice oranges   
one 20 ounce package frozen strawberries       
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly strained lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 egg white
Optional: fresh mint leaves
Electric juicer
Electric food processor

  1. Rinse oranges. Remove any labels. Halve oranges and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so that they can stand solidly. Juice them in an electric juicer.(You can do it by hand, but I find that the strength of the electric juicer produces a smoother orange shell on the inside.) Take care not to press down too hard or the shell will crack. Pour juice into a covered container and enjoy it. Arrange orange shells in a shallow container that can be frozen.
  2. Remove strawberries from the freezer. Carefully, cut the berries in half and place them in the bowl of electric food processor. Sprinkle sugar over berries. Pulse on and off until berries are finely chopped. It will be noisy. When berries are chopped, use the regular on button and process berries until they are slushy. Add lemon juice and egg white and continue to process until the mixture is pale pink and thick.
  3. Measure about 1/2 cup of sorbet into each orange shell. Place the filled orange shells-uncovered- into the freezer. Any extra sorbet can fill more oranges or be frozen separately. The sorbet will be frozen enough to serve in 1 ½ -2 hours. If you freeze them overnight, let them soften at least 20 minutes before serving. Garnish each sorbet cup with mint, if desired.
Note: The sorbet changes in texture after 2-3 days. It will still taste good but not as good as the day it was made.