Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Miso Soup Experiment

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As a few of you might know, I found out 2 weeks ago that my job was being eliminated. I’ve never actually been laid off before so it was a weird feeling to say the least, and I immediately kicked into savings mode. What can I cut-out that will allow us to stretch our money further? I’ve always said I was going to use the existing food I have in my tiny little pantry, refrigerator and freezer before buying anything new to add to our stock pile but have neer actually done it. This seemed like a great time to start this project. I know I’ll have to continue buying fruits, vegetables and dairy products but I probably have enough food to last us for a very long time.

It was a bit cold in Dallas last night so I decided to make us a soup for dinner. I had on-hand: chicken soup stock, miso paste, Pareve Soy cheese (Follow your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella) that I’d recently used in my experiment with Kosher Chicken Cordon Bleu, soy sauce and a few green onions.

I’ve always wanted to make Susie Fishbein’s Miso Soup recipe (page 98) from her Kosher by Design Lightens Up so I decided to give it a whirl with the ingredients I had. Here’s how it went:

Miso Soup

  • 6 cups chicken stock or water (I used 5 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of the Imagine no-chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup light miso (I used Mellow White Miso by Cold Mountain purchased at Wholefoods and originally used to make Miso Glazed Cod)
  • 2 tablespons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/4 of a 14-ounce block) (I had about half of a block of the Follow your heart vegan gourment mozzarella from my Chicken Cordon Bleu so I used that. It is soy after all and it really doesn’t have much taste but it does have the same consistency as tofu).
  • 4 medium shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced (I didn’t have any mushrooms so I left out this ingredient. My 6 year old won’t touch mushrooms anyway).
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Bring the water or chicken stock to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat. Add the miso and stir to help it dissolve. Add the soy sauce and the tofu. Stir. Add the shiitake mushrooms and scallions and heat through.

Verdict

My husband was loving the soup until I told him the “tofu” was actually pareve soy cheese. Then he decided he liked the stock but not the “marshmellows” as my daughter calls tofu. But to me, the fake cheese cubes tasted very similar to tofu and were a nice substitute. Overall, it was not bad considering I had to make do with what I had. In the future, I’d like to make this recipe with the actual ingredients it calls for and include sushi with the meal. Yum.

Have any of you made Miso Soup? Do you have any tips or tricks you want to share?

On a happy note, about a 1 1/2 weeks after I was laid off, I received a job offer within the same company, so thankfully my unemployment did not last long. I’m thrilled to be back at work, but I’m not giving up on my “use what’s in my pantry” challenge. Anyone want to take it with me?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

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Kosher Chicken Cordon Bleu

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Many years ago, I went to work for a company that was in process of relocating from New York City to Dallas. They temporarily moved me and a coworker (who I didn’t meet until we were at the airport) to train in NY for several weeks. We had the opportunity to work in the city and explore like tourists after work. We had a blast. We lived in a great apartment at 53rd & 7th. There was a Ray’s Pizza on the 1st floor of our building that seemed to stay open all night – and we didn’t mind one bit. This was long before my Kosher-keeping days.

One evening, a NY coworker offered to cook us dinner. He banged around in our kitchen for a while and finally came out with the most unbelievable food. It was my first experience with Chicken Cordon Bleu and I was in love. It was the most juicy, yummy chicken (and ham and cheese) I’d ever tasted. Said coworker later taught me how to make this amazing chicken and I prepared that dish several times later before starting to keep Kosher. Of all the foods I miss now, Chicken Cordon Bleu has to be at the top of my list.

I’ve been thinking about recreating Chicken Cordon Bleu in a kosher form for some time now and finally got around to trying it for Friday night dinner this past week. When I did a Google search, I found a kosher version on the Joy of Kosher site by Ahuva Staum but she used a mayonnaise based dressing as a substitute for the cheese. I wasn’t ready to give up on the cheese part of this dish so I found a regular recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu on Allrecipes.com and combined the two. Here’s how it went:

Kosher Chicken Cordon Bleu

  •  4 or 5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Slices of deli meat. (I used 3 thin pieces of Salami in each chicken breast)
  • Pareve Soy cheese (I used Follow your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Panko
  • Spices to taste (I used salt & pepper)

So freaky to see chicken, salami and cheese all together when prepping a Kosher Dish! OK, the cheese is fake : )

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 11 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Fold parchment paper around chicken breasts and pound them to ¼ inch thickness. Be careful not to rip the flesh.
  3. Mix together the breading mix, spicing to your taste – white flour, breadcrumbs, Panko and spices such as salt, pepper, Italian seasonings.
  4. Sprinkle each chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 slice “mock” cheese and 3 slices of deli meat (salami) on top of each breast.  Roll up each breast, and secure with toothpicks. The Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella comes in a block so I sliced it into fairly thick slices about ¼” thick. I wrapped 3 thin slices of the Salami around the slice of cheese and added to center of chicken breast.
  5. Gently  dip each rolled chicken breast into the egg and then roll in the breading  mix until completely covered and lay in your 9 x 11 baking dish. Lightly spray each breast with Pam or other cooking spray.
  6. Now  here’s where I was a bit lazy. The Joy of  Kosher recipe says to fry the Chicken Cordon Bleu and this is exactly how I was taught to make it back in NY but I wasn’t in the mood to deal with flying grease so I chose the baking method from the All Recipes directions. I think the chicken would have turned out better  if I’d gone the frying route and I will definitely try this next time.
  7. Bake  for 30 – 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from oven and place ½ cheese slice on top of each breast. Return to oven for 3 to 5  minutes or until cheese has melted. I ended up having to broil the chicken on high for about 3 minutes to get the cheese to melt. That darn pareve cheese is stubborn.
  8. Remove  toothpicks and serve immediately. Now I learned an interesting lesson when I removed the toothpicks and you can probably see it in the photo. I used colored toothpicks so the chicken has some blue spots on it where I inserted blue toothpicks. So good rule to remember … don’t use colored toothpicks : )

The Verdict

Overall, it was not a bad first attempt at making Kosher Chicken Cordon Bleu. The cheese inside the chicken breasts did not melt so that yummy, oozing cheese/salami mixture was definitely missing. And the breading was not as crispy as I remember from my Treif days. I’m wondering if frying would have taken care of both of those problems.

I’m thinking for the next round, I might use the same cheese, which has a nice taste by the way, and also add the mayonnaise mixture that Ahuva Staum suggested. Also, the original Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe calls for Swiss cheese and I couldn’t find a mock Swiss cheese at Wholefoods but I love Mozzarella so went with that.

Have any of you attempted Kosher Chicken Cordon Bleu? If so, please share how you made it.

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

My favorite way to use leftover chicken – Chinese Chicken Fried Rice

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My hubbie grilled chicken breasts this past weekend and we had a lot left over, which is fine by me because I love to use the leftovers to make one of our favorites: Chinese Chicken Fried Rice. I found a recipe for chicken fried rice about a year ago on the Allrecipes.com web site. It is a good base recipe that you can easily tweak by adding a few of your favorite vegetables. My favorite part of the recipe is the egg. It’s so easy to cook, and it’s so delicious that my picky 6-year-old, who won’t eat much of anything, will pick the egg strips out of the rice and eat just that. Here are the details with a few of my tweaks added in italics:

Chinese Chicken Fried Rice II

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I use parve margarine or Earth Balance soy butter since the recipe includes chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I substitute Sesame Oil for the veggie oil. It’s delicious)
  • 1 onion, chopped (I never use the onionsbecause the hubbie doesn’t like them)
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, cold (I rarely have any cold rice so I just make a fresh batch. It’s probably sticker than it would be if it was old/cold but it still works)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken meat
  • Optional: chopped up red bell pepper, baby spinach, carrots or any other vegetable that you like. The red and green from the pepper and spinach add great color to the dish. I haven’t tried it but I’ll bet peanuts would be a nice addition as well.

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, beat egg with water. Melt butter (margarine)  in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add egg and leave flat for 1 to 2 minutes (I usually cook for 3 minutes). Remove from skillet and cut into shreds. To make this part easier, I slide the egg out of the skillet (and it will slide easily thanks to the margarine) onto a cutting board. I let it cool for a few minutes and then slice it into strips using a large knife.
  2. Heat oil (I use the same amount of Sesame Oil and sometimes add a bit more based on taste preferences) in same skillet; add onion and saute until soft (since I’m skipping the onion, I go straight to the next step). Then add rice, soy sauce, pepper and chicken (and red peppers, a handful of baby spinach, etc.). Stir fry together for about 5 minutes, then stir in egg. Serve hot.

I remember reading somewhere that you should really use day-old rice to make Fried Rice, but I’ve done it both ways. I usually don’t have any day-old rice when I get ready to make this dish so I make a fresh batch and it works just fine. It’s a bit stickier than day-old rice would be but it is still very yummy.

P.S. The red banana peppers in the photo game from a plant we got at the Dallas Farmers Market a few months ago. So far, my little plant has produced 4 beautiful peppers : )

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking

Parve Squash Pie – a Holiday Staple at our Table

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In my recent cooking screw-up confessions post, I mentioned the parve squash pie that I make for almost every holiday meal. Several of my family members LOVE this pie and one in particular likes it so much that I even bought her the Susie Fishbein Kosher by Design Entertains cookbook as a wedding present. The official name of the pie is Graham Cracker Crusted Squash Pie and it’s on page 226 of the Entertains cookbook.

I had to play around with the receipe a bit because I cannot find frozen pureed buternut squash that is Kosher in Dallas. When I called the local Kosher Certification organization to ask what to do, the Rabbi simply said, “why don’t you make the pureed squash yourself?” Hmm, why didn’t I think of that? So I Googled Pureed Butternut Squash and found several recipes. One would think I’d print out the recipe so I’d have it each time but that never happens, so I’m always doing another search every time I need squash. Here’s a similar recipe to the one I use to make Roasted Butternut Squash found on FoodNetwork.com by Robin Miller.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded.
  • 4 teaspoons butter (I usually skip the butter step but you could use margarine or my new favorite, Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks).
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar (I also skip this step because the pie already has a lot of brown sugar in it).
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place butternut squash halves on a large baking sheet flesh side up. (I add about an inch or water to the baking sheet so the squash is cooking in the water). Place 1 teaspoon butter in the middle of each squash. Sprinkle brown sugar over each squash. (as noted, I skip these 2 steps). Season with salt and black pepper. Roast 25 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender. Reserve 2 halves for future meal.

Once I’m finished baking, I scoop out the seeds and discard, I then scoop out the rest of the flesh. I use 12 ounces for the Squash Pie and freeze the rest in 8 to 12 ounce quantities to use for future pies or even to put a bit in my daughter’s Mac and Cheese. It’s the exact same color as the mac and cheese so she has no idea that she’s getting a bit of healthy vegetable mixed in with her cheesy dinner.

Next, here’s the details for the Squash Pie:

Graham Cracker Crusted Squash Pie

Squash Pie Ingredients:

If you have the Kosher by Design cookbook, it calls for making your own pie crust with graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine. I skip this step and use a pre-made 9″ Graham Cracker pie crust purchased at WalMart or my local grocery store. It saves me a step, plus if I use an 8″ crust instead, I can usually get two pies out of the deal.

1 (12-ounce) box pureed butternut squash, defrosted (Or make your own Butternut Roasted Squash above if you can’t find Kosher frozen squash)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup soy milk (parve)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons chilled margainre, cut into small chunks (I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, instead of margarine)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine squash, eggs, soy milk, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Beat at a medium speed until all combined.
  3. Pour into the pre-made pie crust (or your own crust if you’ve made one)
  4. Bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Prepare the topping. In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork. Sprinkle in the chunks of margarine (or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks) and use your fingers to knead the mixture together to make coarse crumbs. This step is vey messy and it will take you a long time to wash all of the doughy mixture off your hands but it’s worth the effort. This topping is what makes the pie delicious.
  6. Sprinkle the topping over the squash pie and return to over. Cook uncovered for another 25 minutes

I’ll warn you that the pie does not look pretty and new-comers will be afraid to give it a try. I usually convince them to test a small bite by cutting about 1/4 off the end of a piece. They ALWAYS go back for the full piece and then some. Give it a try and let me know what you think?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking

Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks

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I won’t say that I feel good about it but in the past, I’ve been known to use a lot of margarine in my food, especially when I needed dishes to be parve. But right before Rosh Hashanah, there was a parve margarine shortage in Dallas. Sticks of parve margarine could not be found anywhere and believe me when I tell you that I spent a great deal of time in all of the local stores looking for said margarine. During these trips, several neighbors told me I shouldn’t be using margarine anyway because it’s not healthy but I didn’t care. I needed my margarine!

Just as I was about to be forced to rethink my menu for the holidays, my friend Marilyn told me about Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. Her Mother-in-Law had discoverd this awesome parve find and shared her discovery with Marilyn, who then found the product at our local Wholefoods. She had successfully used in as a margarine replacement in several of her recipes so I went to Wholefoods and stocked up for fear the word would get out and there’d be a Earth Balance buttery sticks shortage as well.

The sticks look bigger than a regular margarine or butter stick but they are the exact same size. I used them in everything from my Pineapple Challah Kugel to my Squash Pie to my Lemon bars. All recipes turned out great with the exception of the crust of the Lemon Bars. It was a bit mushy but not enough to make me regret the substitute.

Now I haven’t done any comparisons between the buttery sticks and margarine although I did find an interesting debate taking place on the FitSugar web site: Margarine War: Earth Balance vs. Smart Balance. I have not tried Smart Balance and I’m a bit confused as to whether their butter spreads are parve or not. It looks like maybe the “light” ones are parve but the others are dairy? Please leave me a comment if you know.

However, back to my original point, I haven’t compared the Earth Balance against margarine but I’m thinking anything that has no Trans Fat is better than something that does. I at least feel better about cooking with it : )

Have you tried the Earth Balance Buttery Sticks? If so, what did you think? Do you use a parve butter substitute that you like better?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Crazy Delicious Peanut Butter Pie – And It’s Parve!

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We were invited to a relative’s house for Shabbat lunch the week before Sukkot, and they served this crazy good peanut butter pie for dessert. It was frozen and creamy and I truly didn’t believe it wasn’t dairy.

So I bodly had my Mother-in-law ask for the recipe and they were not telling a lie … no dairy in sight, but the recipe they sent me via email did call for a few eggs … in a pie that isn’t baked or cooked in any way … so I decided to visit my friend Google to try to find a similar version of said pie that doesn’t come with the chance of giving me salmonella poisoning.

Now with all that said, the recipe was relayed to me via a method similar to a game of grapevine so I’m hoping a few ingredients just got confused along the way. But I was fortunate enough to find a yummy and very similar version of the peanut butter pie on the Gourmet Kosher Cooking web site. Here are the details:

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients

24 pareve chocolate chips cookies crushed (These 2 ingredients are for the crust. I skipped that part and just used a pre-made graham cracker crust)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) margarine, melted

1 (8 ounce) package tofutti cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) tub pareve whipped topping, thawed (I used 1 carton of Rich’s Whip)
Grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate for garnish (I use semisweet chocolate chips and chopped them in the food processor)

Preparation

Mix cookie crumbs and margarine and press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. (I skipped the homemade crust and just used a pre-made graham cracker crust from the store)

Beat together the tofutti cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Fold in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping and spoon into crust. Freeze until firm (about 4 hours). Top with remaining whip and grated chocolate if desired. Return to freezer. Remove from freezer about ½ hour before serving.

Easy breezy and totally delicious. For the first pie, I did use the parve whipped cream on the top and the chopped chocolate chips. It was awesome but for the second one, I was a bit lazy and left off the whipped cream and chocolate topping. The pie was still yummy and not a bite was left so I think either way is a great option.

Now, back to my raw egg discussion. Have any of you ever heard of using raw eggs in a pie that isn’t going to be cooked?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!