Atonement Kugel

A traditional food this time of year is noodle Kugel. I will find my mother’s traditional recipe and share it. But today, that is not what I made. Mostly because I didn’t have the right ingredients. And because I couldn’t find the recipe. And ran out of time. So I consulted Joan Nathan’s holiday cookbook for inspiration, then proceded to largely ignore it. Also because I didn’t have most of the ingredients. Etc.  

Luckily what I came up with was delicious, if a bit bizarre, even by my own rather generous standards. Still, it worked for what I needed. A quick and easy yet festive and unique one dish holiday meal without meat. Would also be great as a side dish as part of a more traditional meal. 

Ingredients 

  • One pound wide egg noodles 
  • 8 oz low fat sour cream 
  • 8 oz fat free Israeli or French feta, soaked in fresh water to reduce salt
  • Grated zest of one lemon 
  • Handful of raisins, soaked in calvados to cover
  • 2 dried figs, chopped and soaked in armagnac to cover
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 TB Sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp Hawaij for coffee
  • Handful Chopped pecans
  • 1 tb Butter

Directions 

  1. Soak feta and fruit while bringing a large pot of water to boil and preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Boil noodles for about 7 minutes, until cooked am dente 
  3. Drain noodles, allow to cool slightly, return to pot, and mix well with other ingredients 
  4. Spray medium baking pan with non stick butter flavour cooking spray
  5. Spoon mixture into pan. 
  6. Top with crushed pecans and dot with butter
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown
  8. Drink an atonement cocktail made with the reserved soaking alcohols (see previous post) while it bakes
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with an Israeli pinot noir. 

Atonement Cocktail 

I made a cocktail for Yom Kippur 
Atonement Cocktail 

  • 1 jigger (1.25 oz) calvados 
  • 1 jigger sweet bourbon (eg Michters, Elijah Craig)
  • 1/2 oz old fashioned rum (150 proof)
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Stir well with ice, strain and serve up in fancy cocktail glass. 
  2. Garnish with twist of lemon peel. It should be strong, a tiny bit sweet, and quite tart.
  3.  If you don’t have anything to atone for, reduce the lemon juice. 

Roasted Ratatouille 

Another end of summer delight. Roasted Ratatouille with sausage, cabbage, and chickpeas. Makes an easy meal in a bowl. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 eggplant 
  • 1 red bell pepper 
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 small head red cabbage 
  • 1 yellow tomato 
  • 1 red tomato 
  • Fresh thyme
  • Cooked chickpeas 
  • 2 andouille sausages
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Cut veggies into largish chunks, slice sausages 
  3. Add to roasting pan, drizzle generously with evoo, season with salt and pepper, stir well to coat evenly
  4. Roast for about 30 minutes, then check doneness 
  5. When almost tender, add chickpeas, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes to heat through 
  6. Scoop into bowls and serve with a nice syrah

Caprese Salad

One of the absolute best things in the universe. For best results use a late season Jersey tomato. The key is the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Simplicity elevated to perfection. 

Thinly slice a ripe yellow tomato, discard ends. 

Sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. 

Drizzle with evoo. 

Put a fresh basil leaf on each slice. 

Add a slice or dollop of creamy burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella to each piece of tomato. 

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 

Eat with crusty bread. 

Lamb korma

I made it last night. Was delicious. But was in a hurry and didn’t measure anything. Basic procedure is right, just adjust seasonings to taste.

First, watched this for inspiration. 

But it was too long and fussy, so skipped a bunch of steps. Started with a two pound hunk of boneless leg of lamb, cut into cubes.

Grind spices: cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black and green cardamom, coriander, kichiri, pepper, salt, red pepper. 

Add dried coconut and almonds. Grind more. 

Coat meat chunks with spice mix

Fry a chopped onion with the meat, Brown on all sides. 

In blender, mix one container Greek yogurt, 1 onion, 1 small can tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, blend into smooth paste. 

Add to meat, stir well, let simmer until meat is cooked through. Cover and cook longer for more tender, or eat as is if hungry. 

Can also do in slow cooker.

Serve with rice. 

Cantaloupe Cocktail 

Refreshing on a warm summer evening. 

In a blender, puree the following and serve in a margarita glass. 

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Hendricks gin
  • 1/4 ripe cantaloupe, peeled and cut into chunks, chilled
  • Juice of one small lime
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Ice (about 1 cup, 8 large cubes)

Conch Fritters 

Just made the best ones yet. The trick was cooking the conch sous vide first. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 pieces conch
  •  1 onion
  • 1-2 green chiles, seeded
  • 2 leaves culantro 
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Matzah meal
  • 2-3 TB Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder

Directions 

  1. Season conch with old bay and cook sous vide for 30 minutes at 120F
  2. Chop conch, onion, chiles and pulse in food processor
  3. Add egg and process until barely smooth
  4. Transfer to bowl, add dry ingredients and mix to blend
  5. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp
  6. Drain on paper towels

Mushroom-Onion Soup

I’ve never been great at making vegetable soups. But the Modernist Cuisine cookbook had an interesting technique, so I decided to try it. The base recipe was for carrot soup, but there are a dozen variations. I used what I had on hand, which was a bunch of sweet onions and a package of mushrooms.

The trick is to caramelizes the veggies in a pressure pot, then add liquid and purée until creamy. No need to add cream! I left mine relatively unseasoned, the earthiness of the dried mushrooms was more than enough. But it’s very versatile, I plan to experiment.

Ingredients

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 package baby Bella mushrooms
  • 2-3 TB dried mushrooms
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock

Directions

  1. Peel the carrot. If large, quarter lengthwise and remove core. Otherwise just cut into large chunks, along with the onions and celery and washed mushrooms.
  2. Melt the butter in the pressure pot over medium heat, add the vegetables and stir to coat, then sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of stock. My pressure pot tends to leak a bit, so I put in a bit more, but if yours makes a good seal you only want a little bit of liquid so the carrots and onions caramelize. 
  3. Once the pot comes to pressure, cook for 20 minutes, then cool under running water before opening. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat some broth or stock or veggie juice, reduce a bit if too mild.
  5. Add broth to cooked veggies, and purée with stick blender. Adjust consistency and seasoning to taste.
  6. Push the puréed soup through a metal strainer to catch any fibers and yield a luscious silky smooth soup. It takes an extra couple of minutes but really makes a big difference. 

It probably should have been garnished with some chives and sour cream, but was delicious just as is.

Salmon Sous Vide

After watching the Cooked mini-series on Netflix, I decided that I needed a copy of the Modernist Cuisine book series. Which is really an encyclopedia, with multiple volumes, that costs many hundreds of dollars, and uses techniques and equipment that are extremely difficult to emulate in a small home kitchen. Thankfully they also subsequently released a single volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home” version, which is still enormous (the largest book I own, dwarfing even the 2-volume Culinaria set), but a lot more accessible. 

I haven’t even got through the introductory first chapter yet, but jumped straight to a recipe for salmon cooked sous vide. I should mention that I’ve never cooked sous vide before, and have none of the equipment to do so. However, the recipe also included a method to cheat. Essentially you put the fish in a ziplock bag and gently poach it in a large pot of warm water. Then lightly brown it in a pan for a bit of color. If done right, should yield evenly cooked fish, tender but not raw, and juicy without being overcooked. The good news is that it worked great! And I can see how an actual sous vide setup would be even better. But that’s a story for a different day.

  1. The recipe calls for brining the fish before cooking, but I skipped that step and put the unseasoned salmon fillets straight into the ziploc quart bag, squeezing out all of the air to create a close approximation to a vacuum.
  2. Fill a large pot (I used a heavy 8-quart stock pot) with hot water from the tap. Use a digital thermometer, it should be around 120-125F depending on how well-done you want the fish. 
  3. Add the bag with the fish, and let it steep for 25 minutes. The water will cool a bit, but that’s ok because we started with it hotter than we want the finished product, and we used a large volume of water to retain the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, melt some butter (and/or olive oil) in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan. 
  5. Remove the fish from the bath, and take out the bag. Pat dry if wet. If the fish has skin, remove it and cook separately. Season both sides of the salmon to taste (I used some of Bobby Flay’s ancho fish spice mix), and cook gently in the pan for about 30 seconds on each side. The skin will take a minute or two per side to crisp up. 

Pan-Seared Duck Breast w blueberry sauce 

It’s hard to screw up duck breast, but also difficult to get it just right. Came pretty close tonight. Patted dry with paper towels, rubbed with a spice mix of salt, pepper, chili powder, sage, thyme, and rosemary, then gently pan seared in a cast iron skillet until medium rare. Served on a bed of sauteed asparagus and fresh peas with mushrooms and crumbled duck bacon, covered with fresh blueberry sauce, a side of garlic mashed potatoes, and washed down with a Golan Heights syrah.

Based on this recipe:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/141831/pan-seared-duck-breast-with-blueberry-sauce/

The dish is actually composed of 4 parts: the duck, the vegetables, the sauce, and the potatoes. 

Mix the spices in roughly equal parts to taste in a mortar and pestle and crush into a fine powder. Or chop the herbs if using fresh, which is of course prefered. Sprinkle liberally over both sides of duck, and allow to air dry at room temperature while preparing the other components.

Boil 3-4 potatoes with an equal # of peeled whole garlic cloves. No need to peel the potatoes. Drain but reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash with butter and milk, add a bit of the liquid if too dry. Season with the duck spice mix. 

Saute two strips of D’Artagnan’s amazing duck bacon (or use pancetta or regular bacon) to render the fat until crispy. Reserve. Saute sliced mushrooms, garlic, and shallots in duck fat. Add asparagus and peas (or other fresh vegetables). Cook until barely tender but still al dente. Season with the spice mix used on the duck. Add a bit of the potato cooking water to keep from sticking and help vegetables to steam. 

Make the sauce with 1/2 pint fresh blueberries, and 2 TB (1/8 cup) each buckwheat honey, orange juice concentrate, red wine, water, dried cranberries. Deglaze with a splash of raspberry vodka or other spirit (optional). Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and enrich with a pat of butter (optional). Keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Score skin of duck breast in diagonal pattern. Make sure to cut through outer layer, but don’t damage the meat. Pan sear over medium heat, skin side down for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Test temperature with an instant read thermometer. Flip back over and cook until skin is nicely browned and fat is rendered. Do not overcook! 

Allow meat to rest for a few minutes, then slice and plate, topped with sauce.