Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Broccoli and Cheese Soup - Quick and Easy

Not all "cream" soups contain cream.  This one uses milk and broth  It is quick, easy and tastes rich and delicious.


1/2 cup minced onion or sliced and minced leek (white parts only, well rinsed)
4 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
1/2 teaspoon salt (If you use broth cubes, OMIT the salt until you taste at the end)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or ground white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne (optional but very nice)
1 clove pressed or minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable stock or 3 parve chicken flavoured or vegetable bouillon cubes plus 3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed and some set aside*
**Optional vegetables - see below

1 cup shredded cheese - I use sharp Cheddar

Garnish with croutons and serve with bread

In a medium sized, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onions, salt if not using bouillon cubes, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the garlic and thyme (or other herbs and cook, stirring, for about a minute - keep an eye on it as garlic burns easily.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.  Slowly add the stock and the milk, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, until tender, for 10 minutes.

At this point you may be able to mash the broccoli into the soup if you like it with a bit of texture.

*We also reserve some of the broccoli and add it in just before reheating the soup.

Alternatively,  puree with a hand-held immersion blender or cool and puree, in batches, in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.

If you have optional vegetables (below) add at this time.  Reheat the soup over low to medium heat

Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls.
Top with the cheese and the optional croutons.

**I often will cook up some diced or shredded carrot and add the carrot in at the end, just before serving.  If you have a zucchini lying around, shred some of that up and put into the soup when you add the broccoli.  Zucchini has more moisture so you may need to add an additional tablespoon of flour for thickening

K (D)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Avocado and Tomato Salad - Easy and Delicious

This is a salad you can make quickly and nearly everyone I know loves it. I made a GIANT bowl on Sunday for about 20 people and it was gone in a few minutes.  Lime juice is good but lemon is nice as well.  You can add a chili or not - if you don't have grape or cherry tomatoes, use regular vine ripe tomatoes.  If you want a bit of grain, then some bulghur wheat (soaked) would be a nice addition.  Sumac, if you have some, would make it taste a bit different and more middle eastern.  Have fun with it.

If you enjoy fresh foods, you will not be disappointed.  It is pretty, delicious, fresh and appeals to all ages

4 cups avocados, diced medium
2 cups grape tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups cucumbers, peeled and diced medium
1 cup red onion, diced small
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh black pepper
Lettuce (if you want) I think a jalapeño might be nice

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and top on a bed of lettuce (if desired)
Makes 8 servings

K (P)
Kosher for Pesach!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tortilla Soup

There are probably as many recipes for tortilla soup as there are cooks who make it.  This is how we make ours when the weather turns chilly.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in comments.  I love new ideas. 

    Corn tortillas, preferably a little old and dried out, cut into strips
    If you are in a hurry, good-quality, store-bought tortilla chips can be used but homemade are so easy!
    1/2 cup oil - most for frying the tortilla strips.  Reserve 2 Tbsp for the onion

    1/2 cup chopped onion
    3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    1 chilli, chopped finely - I used a jalapeño.   Any chilli will work -
     If you like a mild soup, even Ortega green chillies will be okay.  We prefer more heat
    4 cups "chicken broth" made from parve boullion cubes and water
    1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, un-drained  (I used home canned tomatoes from our garden)
    1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or some basil/oregano/thyme/rosemary - whatever you have close by
    1/4-1/2 tsp powdered cumin
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt) - To Taste!

    **Optional - tomato paste, Garbanzo beans/Chick peas
    1 firm but ripe avocado - cubed
    1/2 cup shredded cheese
    Chopped fresh cilantro
    1 lime or a lemon, cut into wedges
    optional fresh cubed tomatoes
    Greek style plain yoghurt or sour cream or a dollop of goat cheese (delicious!)
    The tortilla strips (above)

    **Optional - 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken - If you do not use the dairy ingredients above. 


 Heat oil in frying pan and fry the tortilla strips in batches.  The tortilla strips will continue getting brown
 after being removed from the oil so keep an eye on them.  Drain on paper towel

 In a soup pot add 2 Tbsp of oil, turn the heat to medium and add the onion. 
 Cook slowly, stirring until translucent.
 Add the garlic, give it a stir and then add the chilli.  Let this cook for a minute - watch carefully as garlic
 burns easily

Add the parve "chicken stock" to the pot and stir.  Then add the canned tomatoes and the herbs.
Taste the soup once it boils and then salt to taste.  It will cook down so keep that in mind when adding salt.

Cook for 15 minutes.  If you have a submersible stick blender you can blend up the soup a bit.
I do not have a stick blender so I sort of smash it with a spatula or spoon.  Alternatively, cool the soup and
pour about half of it into a blender and give it a whirl.  If you feel it is too thin for your preference, add a tablespoon of tomato paste.
To Serve:
Heat the soup, set out the toppings and serve in dairy bowls.

You can add garbanzo beans (chick peas) to the soup if you like them.

**My son-in-law prefers his soup to have shredded chicken in it.  Just put the cooked chicken in the bottom of the bowl
and ladle the hot soup onto that.  Add the tortilla strips and other toppings but omit the dairy ingredients and serve in a meat bowl.

K (P,D or F) depending upon toppings used

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Qabuli Palau - Pilau from Afghanistan - Perfect for Shabbat

I got this recipe through a dear friend Mohammad Juwad from Afghanistan.  It is very much like Sefardi Pilau and would be an easy Shabbat evening or Shabbat day meal.  Try it with chicken, lamb or beef. 

Qabuli Palau


1/4 cup olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced
2 lbs lamb
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garam masala

NOTE:  The cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, cumin and garam masala are best but if you do not have these spices, 2 tsp of good quality curry powder can be used in an emergency.  When buying garam masala, purchase the best you can afford.  It is delicious.

1 tsp. salt
2 cups water.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 carrots - cut like matchsticks if you are cooking for that night.  Cut larger if cooking for Shabbat day.
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds (I use toasted pine nuts)
1 cup un-salted pistachios

2 cups basmati rice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. saffron
1 cup water


In a heavy pot, fry the onions until golden brown. Cut the lamb into bite-size cubes and add to the onions. Add salt and spices. Add water. Mix well, cover and cook until the lamb is done.

Meanwhile cut the carrots into toothpick-size pieces. Fry them on vegetable oil with sugar until tender. Remove from oil. Add raisins to the oil and fry until they swell up. Remove from the oil. Add almonds to the oil and brown. Repeat with the pistachios. Remove and set aside.

Once the lamb is done, remove from the water and set aside. Add rice to the remaining lamb stock. Add salt and water.

If you are making this as cholent/hamim for Shabbat day, stop here and put in an oiled, heavy bottom pan, cover tightly, and cook overnight in a very low oven temperature.  If some rice sticks to the bottom of the pan don't worry - that is the BEST PART!

Boil until the rice is done, about 20 minutes.

To cook the rice, boil the meat juice and add 2 cups long grain rice, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and sufficient water to bring the liquid 2 inches above the rice. Add the oil in which the carrots were cooked and 1/8 tsp. saffron (optional) to the cooked rice. Put meat and rice in a large casserole, cover and set in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

Serve by placing the lamb on a serving plate, covering it with the rice, and topping it with the carrots, raisins, almonds and pistachios (the toppings are optional depending on your taste)

K (F)
Serve with lemony salads, dips and lots of challah

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pomegranate Jelly

Pomegranate jelly is incredibly special.  It is both tangy and sweet and has the colour of a jewel when in a pretty jar.
I traditionally make this after Rosh Ha'shana when pomegranates are abundant.

There are a couple of ways to get the juice - you can use a colander and squeeze out the juice of a gazillion ripe pomegranates or you can cheat a bit like Chloe and I did and purchase a jar of pure pomegranate juice - check the label - often it will say pomegranate juice on the front but really be apple juice with pomegranate in it - get the pure stuff in a kosher shop - We found ours for about $4 but as we could not find an abundance of ripe fruit this year, it worked well.
Normally, cracking and then cooking down the fruit, then running it through a food colander and then squeezing the juice out through several layers of cheesecloth is the way it is done.  If you can find excellent quality and very inexpensive or free pomegranates then I believe it is worth the work.

4 cups pomegranate juice (We used a 32 ounce jar of pure juice and got eight half-pints of jelly)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
5 cups white cane sugar
1 tsp plain oil (like crisco, vegetable, etc)

Equipment: Heavy bottomed pot
8 or 9 4oz Jelly jars, lids and rings
sterilised funnel to help with the filling of the jars
Paper towel to help wipe mouths of jars clean in case you spill
Ladle to help pour jelly into jars


Prepare half-pint or jelly sized canning jars according to manufactures instructions.  I usually wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse well and then heat, upside-down, in a large flat-bottomed pan.  I put the clean self-sealing lids in a pan of water and allow to simmer.  Watch that these don't boil dry. 

Follow directions in the powdered pectin recipe or do the following;

Put the pomegranate juice and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the entire package of powdered pectin. Stir until it is COMPLETELY dissolved. It might look a bit cloudy but that will disappear with the boiling.

Measure into a bowl the 5 cups of sugar. Set to the side of where you will be cooking.

Get all your equipment ready and then begin heating up the juice/pectin mixture. One it is just near to boiling, carefully pour in the sugar. Stir in well and begin heating so it will boil.
This is the time you should add the OIL - it helps the jelly not to foam up - really nice trick.

Stir constantly until the jelly gets to a full boil and begin timing - A full rolling boil is when even with stirring, the bubbles do not disappear - Stir constantly at a full boil for 2 minutes - use a timer for this.

Once the 2 minutes are up, turn off the heat and begin ladling the jelly into the jars, putting on the lids and then the rings. It will appear to be liquid but the next day you will see that your jelly has completely set and is the clear, bright colour of a ruby. Tangy/sweet and so special


K (P)

Zucchini Relish - Preserving your garden's bounty

This year we had so many zucchini that in the end we could not even ninja it over to the neighbour's and stash it in their shrubbery.  Good friends were suspected to be in hiding, drapes drawn, hoping that we would not hang a bag of summer squash on their doorknobs.

It was a good year and this is the time for preserving the bounty.

A dear friend of mine, Joyce Kling, shared her grandmother's recipe for zucchini relish.  I knew her grandmother and had always enjoyed anything she cooked so my daughter, granddaugher and I gave it a try.  It is delicious. It is easy and fun to make.  I doubt I will ever eat cucumber pickle relish again. 

You will need to begin this recipe the evening before you cook and can it up.  Having a food processor for the shredding was a bonus.  It also helped with the chopping of the onions and the chillies we tossed in.  If you do not have a food processor, a box grater will work just fine. 

My thanks to Joyce Kling for sharing her family recipe and may her grandmother's memory be for a blessing

Zucchini relish

10 Cups grated zucchini (about 5 lb)
4 Cup chopped onion (We used Walla Walla Sweet - Other sweet varieties would work well)
4 chopped mild red chillies - we used ripe (red)  Piquillo peppers (optional but pretty)
1/4 Cup salt

5Cup Sugar
2 1/2 Cups of white vinegar (5% acidity)
1Tbs Celery Seeds or powder if you cannot find seed
1Tbs Turmeric
1Tbs Mustard seed


Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
Cover & refrigerate over night.
Next morning drain in colander & rinse with cold running water.
Drain well & press between paper towels.

Prepare half-pint or jelly sized canning jars according to manufactures instructions.  I usually wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse well and then heat, upside-down, in a large flat-bottomed pan.  I put the clean self-sealing lids in a pan of water and allow to simmer.  Watch that these don't boil dry.

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine zucchini mixture, sugar, and all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat & simmer 30 minutes, stirring often.

Pack in jars and process in boiling water 10min.

Makes 9 half pints.  We used tall jelly jars - very pretty. 

K (P)