Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Treif Loving Kosher Girl’s Best Friend – Imitation Crab

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Before I started keeping Kosher, I loved and happily ate most shell-fish. One of my favorites was crab meat, especially when I was enjoying it at one of those all-you-can-eat crab leg places. So during the time that I was mourning the loss of my bottom-feeding friends, I was thrilled to find “Imitation Crab Bisque” on the menu at a very Kosher wedding. What? If they can serve it here, it must be OK for me to eat. But how are they getting away with it I wondered?

Not long after this divine discovery, I was invited to a neighbor’s house for Shabbat lunch where she served Kosher Imitation Crab Salad as part of the first course. It was out-of-this-world good and after helping myself to two servings, I visited the kitchen in search of the secret behind this Treif ingredient. The cook pulled a package of Dyna-Sea Imitation Crab Meat out of her freezer. Magical heavens opening up sound plays here. Where can I get my hands on this stuff?

Initially, I purchased they Dyna-Sea imitation crab meat, which is labeled Kosher Parve KOF-K Supervision, at my local grocery store for anywhere from $6.99 to $7.99 per package but later discovered that I could order it from a food coop for much less. If you are fortunate enough to have a coop like the KC Kosher Coop in your community, you can get this kosher crab meat for $5.18 per package. Yes, you have to purchase it by the case but you can either split it with a friend or if you’re like me, buy the entire case for yourself because you’ll have no problem using it. This imitation crab meat freezes well and thraws quickly. When I’m planning to use it, I take it out of the freezer and place in the refridgerator the day before or it can even be thawed in a bowl of water within an hour.

I’ve yet to venture out and actually try to make the Kosher Imitation Crab Bisque myself but the Imitation Crab Salad is a weekly Shabbat staple in my house and my 6-year-old daughter, who won’t eat much of anything, loves it. Here’s the recipe I use when making the crab salad:

Kosher Imitation Crab Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 package Dyna-Sea Imitation Crab Meat – 16 ounces (or any other brand of kosher imitation crab meat)
  • Light Mayo – 2 Tablespoons (or add as much or as little as you like based on your taste)
  • Kraft Creamy Horseradish Sauce – 1 Teaspoon
  • Lemon Juice – 1 Tablespoon
  • Dried Dill weed whole – 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt – 1 Teaspoon
  • Pepper – 1/2 Teaspoon

Place the crab meat into a large bowl and tear the pieces into smaller pieces/shreds with your hands. I think you can also buy shredded crab meat from Dyna-Star, but I always get the larger pieces because my daughter likes to eat them as a snack. Add the 2 Tablespoons of Mayo (I use Hellman’s Mayonaise and also sometimes go with the “Light” version to save some calories. I can’t tell the difference between the two so either is fine. Also, depending on how creamy you want your crab salad, you might need to add more mayo or less. It’s best to start out with less and add more as you go.

Next, add the 1 teaspoon of Kraft Creamy Horseradish Sauce (or I just usually add a squirt and sometimes after tasting everything, I go back and add another squirt to give the crab salad an extra kick.

Now, add the tablespoon of lemon juice, tablespoon of Dill, teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stir everything together until it’s well mixed. Give it a taste test and add more ingredients as needed based on your taste. In my family, my husband prefers the salad to be less creamy (aka, less mayo) so I start with a Tablespoon, mix it all together and then add as needed.

Chill for 1 hour if possible and serve as part of your first (fish) course for Shabbat.

We generally have left-overs as well that we snack on for the first few days of the week.

Are you a kosher crab lover? If so, have you tried any recipies with the imitation crab that you love and want to share?

The Challah at our Friday Night Dinner will be Very Lively

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While I was making Challah last night, my 6-year-old daughter Zoe, who NEVER wants to help with the Challah, asked if she could have some of the dough to make her own creation. And while I’m sure it’s against some rule for us to make fun and lively designs during the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av, I just couldn’t squash her excitement and tell her no.

The resulting Challah included two beautiful hearts … yes those really are hearts … and a flower.

I think she did a wonderful job, and I’ll be proud to bless these artistic creations tonight before dinner.

What sort of Challah shapes do you make? Anything fun and creative that we could copy during our next baking session?

Kosher Shitake Bacon is Delicious on Almost Everything

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A few weeks ago, I was craving some cooked greens like my Mother used to make when I was a little girl. I’ve never actually made greens myself but I purchased a bunch at Wholefoods Market and headed home to find a recipe. I remember my mom’s greens being delicious and when I started looking at recipes, I realized why. Most of the greens recipes included the secret and non-Kosher ingredient – Bacon. Ugh. When I narrowed my search by looking for vegetarian greens recipes, I found a wonderful trick for turning a veggie into a yummy substitue for bacon. FitSugar features a Smokey Collard Greens with Shiitake Bacon recipe that includes a way to bake Shitake mushrooms until they are slightly crisp and very bacon-like.

I called my hubbie and asked him to stop at the store on his way home to pickup some Shitake mushrooms. The slight problem we discovered is that these mushrooms are expensive, around $14 a pound at Wholefoods, but he found a small package of them for $4.99 so we figured it was worth a try.

I cooked the greens that night for dinner, along with the Shitake bacon and my whole family is in love. This recipe is out of this world and a must for Kosher-keeping bacon lovers like myself. Since then, I’ve made the Shitake Bacon to use with several different meals. Here’s just the recipe for Shitake Bacon:

3/4 pounds shiitake mushrooms, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Pour olive oil and salt over mushrooms and stir to incorporate.
  3. Spread in single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake 25-30 minutes until dehydrated, but still pliable.

Last night, I made a creamy, cheesy mashed potato soup from the April 2012 issue of All You magazine, which called for 4 slices of bacon. Instead of the real bacon, I made the Shitake Bacon recipe above using a 4 oz package of mushrooms. Once the soup was ready, I sprinkled the mushrooms and chives on top of the soup for a filling, kosher meal … probably better in winter than during a hot, Texas summer but hey, what can I say, I was having a rough day and needed some good, old fashioned comfort food even if it was the same temperature as outside. This soup and “bacon” did the trick.

Have you found any other good bacon substitues you’d like to share? So far, the Shitake mushrooms are my favorite but I’m open to new suggestions. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Kosher Cooking!

Turning Treif Recipes into Kosher Meals

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I’m not what you would call “Kosher from Birth.” I only started keeping Kosher a few years ago. Before that, I was happily enjoying all of the Southern cooking I could stand including a lot of the food called Treif by the Kosher crowd. For those of you who aren’t in the know about Treif, the definition is as follows according to on About.com Treif derived from the Hebrew word teref which means torn, and originally referred to non-kosher meat only. In Exodus 22:30 it is written “Do not eat meat from an animal torn in the field.” Thus Jews were forbidden to eat meat from an animal that was torn or mortally wounded. Over time the meaning of the term treif expanded from one category of non-kosher meat to anything non-kosher.

When I think of Treif, I think of shrimp, crab, lobster, fried chicken when the batter is made with milk (mixing meat and dairy), chicken sour cream enchiladas, bacon, and just about any meal I’m used to making from my favorite Southern Living Cookbooks.

I first heard the word Treif when I was attending a Judaica studies class. We were taking a snack break during which each week, a class member took turns bringing yummy treats to eat. Fortunately, I was not assigned to bring food during this particular week because an attendee found a bag of cookies on the table that was not Kosher. She immediately started yelling – “TREIF, TREIF, Someone brought TREIF!”

While I understood the seriousness of the crime, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at how crazy this attendee sounded. To this day, I still yell out those same words any chance I get. If my husband is with me, he laughs too because he knows the joke. Others however, not so much.

Over the years, I’ve amazed my family with my ability to find ways to still enjoy my favorite Treif foods but in a Kosher way. Each recipe is a new challenge, and I’ll admit that as a resident of Dallas … where Kosher food is not abundant … I spend a great deal of time driving from store to store to find one unique, pareve item that I can use in place of a dairy one or a substitue for some other Treif item that isn’t Treif but still tastes like the Treif version. Each week is a searching, shopping, cooking adventure for me. And I know I can’t be alone.

Hopefully I can share some unique Kosher food concoctions with you, and you’ll share some with me as well. Together we can make this Treif world fit for any respectable Kosher keeping citizen.

Happy Treif Kosher Cooking!