Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thai Corn and Fish Soup

This is a great soup, quick and simple to make, but with complex flavors.  The original recipe called for crabmeat, but I don't eat shellfish, so I substituted cod, which worked well.  I'm sure it would be good with most any variety of seafood.  I added in the snowpeas for a bit of crunch.  To fill out the meal, I served the soup with home-made artisan bread dinner rolls (with rosemary and kalamata olives).  I will not wait long to make this again!

adapted from Flat Belly Diet Cookbook by Liz Vaccariello

1 16-oz bag frozen corn, thawed
3 c. vegetable broth, divided (I used Better than Bouillon base mixed with water)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips and then strips cut in half
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
8 scallions, sliced
1 T. fish sauce
3/4 lb. cod, cut into about 3/4" pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 t. ground red pepper (optional)
handful of fresh snow peas, cut in half (optional)

  1. Place 1-1/2 cups of the corn and 1-1/2 cups of the broth in a food processor or blender. Process until fairly smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the red pepper and jalapeno.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Add the scallions and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the fish sauce, reserved corn-broth mixture, remaining corn, and remaining broth.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  
  4. Add the cod, cover and cook another 4 minutes.  Add snow peas (if desired) and cook for 1 minute.  Add cilantro, and ground red pepper (if desired).
355 calories

Monday, April 17, 2017

Nut Meringues with strawberry topping

Adapted from Linda Amster, The New York Times Passover Cookbook
serves 6

I needed a flourless dessert recipe for Passover, and this was perfect.  But it would be great at any time of the year as a light dessert.

The pine nuts add a lovely flavor to the meringues, though I'd suggest mentioning their presence to guests to be sure they notice.  Given the price of pine nuts, you could try substituting chopped pecans or walnuts.

nut meringues
2 large egg whites
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 cup minus 1/2 T. sugar
1/2 cup pine nuts (left whole)

1.     Preheat the oven to 225F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.     In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the vanilla and continue beating.
3.     When the whites are forming peaks, add the sugar, about 1 T. at a time, beating constantly.  When the whites are stiff and smooth, fold in the nuts.
4.     Drop the meringue off a large spoon onto the parchment paper-covered baking sheet, making six large circles of meringue.  Using the back of a spoon, press down in the center of each circle to shape each meringue into a "nest" for the strawberries.
5.     Bake for 1 hour.  If the meringues begin to take on color, turn off the oven and let the meringues remain in the oven until dry.
6.     After the meringues have cooled a bit, remove them from the paper with a spatula, and let cool further on a cooling rack.
7.     If making more than a day in advance, you can store in an airtight container until ready to use.

I served the meringues with a strawberry/orange mixture recommended in the cookbook, given below.  But the next time, I'll try the strawberries with honey-balsamic sauce, given below that.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 large navel oranges
2 T. orange-flavored liqueur (Triple Sec, Sabra, etc.)
2 t. orange zest
2 T. sugar
pinch of cinnamon

1.     Put the sliced strawberries in a large bowl. 
2.     Zest one of the oranges and set aside the zest. 
3.     Peel the oranges, cut out the sections, and cut each section in half (or leave whole if desired).  Add oranges to strawberries and then squeeze the orange juice into the bowl.
4.     Just before serving, add the orange zest and a dusting of cinnamon.
5.     Put one meringue on each plate and top with strawberry/orange mixture.


1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
1-1/2 T. sugar
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
2" piece cinnamon stick
2 T. honey

Combine the strawberries and sugar; chill.
Bring the balsamic vinegar and cinnamon stick to a boil.  Cook until syrupy and reduced in half (about 5-6 minutes). Remove from heat, discard the cinnamon, and add the honey.

Put the strawberries on top of the meringues, and then drizzle about 2 t. of sauce over each serving.

Parsley salad

It's difficult to think about parsley as the main ingredient in a dish rather than a garnish, but it's great as the star of this salad.  The kalamata olives help too :-)

serves 4-6

Best served on same day it's made, but also fine the next day.

4 oz flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped roughly (about 2 bunches) (curly parsley is also fine)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 cup chopped tomato (I use cherry tomatoes, quartered)
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

1.     Toss together the parsley, onions, garlic, olives and tomatoes.
2.     In a separate small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pour over salad and toss.

3.     Put in a serving bowl and place egg slices on top.

Pickled Salmon

This weekend we had some guests for dinner.  David prepared the main course of roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, onions and carrots.  That left me to have fun with the sides:  pickled salmon for an hors d'oeuvre, parsley salad to accompany the main course, and meringues topped with strawberries for dessert.  Here's the first of my three recipes.

pickled Salmon
Adapted from Joan Nathan, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen
serves 6

This is like pickled herring, but with salmon, which makes it into an elegant (if messy) hors d'oeuvre.  Serve on plates and have napkins handy.  Note that the fish needs to marinate for 3-4 days before serving, and the marinade needs to cool before putting it over the fish, so you'll need to plan ahead. Otherwise, the recipe couldn't be simpler.

1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
3  T. sugar
1 T. kosher salt
1 pound salmon fillet, skin and bones removed (see below about removing the skin)
1 t. mixed pickling spices
3 bay leaves
1 white or yellow onion, sliced about 1/4" thick, rings separated

When serving:  matzah, crackers, or rye bread, butter, sliced cucumbers

1.     Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil.  Let this mixture cool completely.

2.     Cut the salmon into small pieces (about 1" x 1").

3.     In a non-metallic container (can be ceramic, glass, or plastic), put down a layer of salmon pieces, then a sprinkling of pickling spices and bay leaves, and a layer of onions.  Repeat with another layer.  (If you're doubling the recipe, just continue with layers until you've used all the ingredients.)  Pour the cooled marinade over the fish.  Cover the container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

4.     Serve the salmon with the onions on matzah, crackers, or rye bread.  You might want to butter the crackers, and a sliced cucumber on the bottom is also nice.  The original recipe recommended a sour cream dressing on top, but I like it without, and it's already pretty messy to eat this!

Removing the skin from the salmon: I used to struggle with taking the skin off the salmon, but then thought to search on YouTube.  Voilà--It turns out to be quite easy!  Here are a couple of videos: (this includes instructions on removing the pin bones)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toffee bars

I recently had these toffee bars at my friend Susan's house, and I made sure to take the recipe home with me--these are delicious, and extremely simple to make.  I am always happy to find a cookie or cake recipe that starts out with melted butter rather than having to beat the butter until soft--so much easier.  I made these last night for the Oneg Shabbat at Temple, and they disappeared quickly.  Next time I'll make a double batch!

adapted from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies

8 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar (either light or dark sugar is fine)
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, or 6 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (or almonds or walnuts)

Use 8-inch square pan, lined on the bottom and all 4 sides with parchment paper (foil might work also).  Toast the nuts in a sauté pan for a few minutes, or in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

BASE:  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well-browned at the edges and golden brown in the center. 

topping:  Sprinkle the hot crust with the chocolate and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes, or just until the chocolate softens.  Remove the pan from the oven and spread the chocolate evenly with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate and press them down gently into the chocolate.  Set on a rack to cool.  Lift the edges of the liner to transfer to a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 or more squares.