Month: March 2013

Maztah & Cheese

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mazta cheese casserole

I know the recipe title is cliché but this dish is akin to Mac & Cheese except  this time I used maztah instead of pasta. Rather than cooking matza as you would normally cook noodles. You need to allow the matza to soak for a bit but you don’t want to over soak it. Just as using overcooked pasta to serve as Mac & Cheese will result a very mushy dish, so will soaking the matzah for a long period of time. It should still be slightly crunchy before cooking it. I tried making this dish using gluten-free pasta and Kosher for Passover pasta. Unfortunately, my heritage forbids me from using corn made pasta which is a bit of a bummer for me. I much prefer matzah. I actually prefer the real pasta but I suppose I can manage without it for the next 4 days. If you don’t like matzah, you can use other kinds of thin savory crackers for this dish. I wanted to add more vegetables to this casserole but all I had was onions. You can add sautéed mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, spinach, or zucchini. For a meat version, you can use lean ground beef and some tomato sauce. Pasta dishes are very versatile and most recipes are very flexible in terms of ingredients you prefer to use. This dish makes a tasty and filling dairy Passover dinner during the week. It’s also a great way to utilize your surplus of matza that you may have. A bit of herbs adds a nice touch to this dish.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 16 oz box of whole wheat (or regular) matzah (about 8 sheets)
  2. 1 large onion chopped
  3. 2 gloves of garlic minced
  4. 2 tablespoons of potato starch dissolved in 1/2 cup of skim milk
  5. Reduced fat shredded cheese
  6. Egg whites from 2 large eggs
  7. 1 tablespoon of chopped parsely and oregano
  8. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Break matzah into peices and let them soak in water for 5 minutes. Saute onions and garlic in a skillet until onions are transluscent. Turn off flame and set aside.  Whisk egg whites and milk in a bowl. Add the maztah and a handful of shredded cheese. Add onions and mix. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.  Transfer to a  lightly greased 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese ontop.  Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for the remaining 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Yields 8 servings

 

Braised Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

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chicken

Whenever I think of paprika, I think of Hungarian dishes. I know it’s pretty stereotypical of me but I can’t help it. Goulash heavily spiced with paprika comes to my mind when I think of Hungarian cuisine. It just comes to show you how little I know about Hungarian food. Although I do happen to like goulash, I’m sure there is more to Hungarian food than goulash. Paprika is commonly used in many Hungarian dishes. This spice is a red made from grinding dried sweet red peppers; used as a garnish and seasoning. The color varies from bright orange-red to deep red, depending on the peppers used. Most commercial paprika comes from Spain, South America, California and Hungary. Hungarian paprika is thought to be the finest, and will be labeled as from the Szeged region. In Hungary there are six classes or types of paprika ranging from delicate to hot. To maintain the stronger taste that consumers expect, some spice companies add cayenne to heat up Hungarian paprika. Paprika is often used in meat/poultry dishes and certain vegetable side dishes.

 

Aside from goulash, chicken paprikash is one Hungary’s most famous dishes. It is a one-pot classic dish combines five key Hungarian ingredients such as onions, green peppers, tomatoes, paprika and sour cream. The recipe can be pulled together quickly, especially if the vegetables are prepped the night before. I’ve decided to replicate a low fat version and exclusively use red bell peppers. I omitted the sour cream. Even though it adds creaminess to the chicken, do you need the extra calories and fat? I’m sure you can find low-fat variations. You can even use the non-dairy version or plain tofutti cream cheese. I contemplated about throwing in some crushed pistachios as red bell peppers and pistachios make a wonderful combination. I canceled that idea due to hubby’s nut allergy but it’s an option to consider. I absolutely love one-pot meals. They are easy to prepare and not as time consuming. This dish is perfect for a busy night or Passover meal. This dish serves well with potatoes or pasta

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 3 lbs of whole chicken cut up
  2. 1 large onion chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 3 red bell peppers seeded and chopped
  5. 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  6. 1 tablespoon of paprika
  7. Salt and pepper for taste
  8. Crushed pistachios (optional)

Instructions

Heat olive oil  in a Dutch oven or large skillet with a lid. Add onion and saute over low heat until translucent. Add chicken pieces and brown lightly on both sides. Add red peppers, crushed tomatoes, garlic and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 35 minutes or until chicken is tender (about 20 minutes if using only chicken breasts). Remove chicken to a heated platter and keep warm. In a small bowl, mix sour cream with flour. Temper mixture with some of the pan juices. Return tempered sour cream mixture to pan and simmer until juices are thickened. Return chicken to pan to rewarm. Sprinkle some crushed pistachios ontop and serve.

Yields 4-6 servings

Melon Carrot Mint Salad

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melon carrot saladSalads are normally served at every meal. Passover is no exception. After all, we need something to balance out the Matzah and salad does it every time for me. Since we are already in to the Spring season, it is logical to use produce that is available around that time. I wanted to try a different salad without romaine lettuce.  Now that melon is currently available, I decided to use it to make a simple yet fresh salad.  I used some shredded carrots and a hint of ginger which fused very well. Just a bit of lemon juice and chopped fresh mint can go a long way. This also makes a great picnic or barbecue salad. This salad can be served at any outdoor event.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 lbs of green melon seeded, peel removed and cut into cubes
  2. 3 medium carrots shredded
  3. 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger
  4. 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  5. Handful of chopped fresh mint

Instructions

Toss all ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well, and serve.

Yields 4 servings

Chocoholic Pie

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chocolate-pie

Those of us celebrating Passover often ask why Passover night is different from all the other nights. Aside for commemorating the Exodus of Egypt, and turning our houses inside out, we also make several changes in our menu. We are obligated to forgo certain foods for several days, specifically anything made from wheat, yeast or legumes (depending what your Passover customs dictate). But Passover is not just about eating potatoes and Matzah. There are variety of dishes you can make that are gluten-free and Passover friendly. I’ve made and published many recipes on chocolate desserts. Some of you may be asking why this is different from all the other chocolate pie desserts that I’ve made in the past. Rather than using a regular graham cracker pie crust, I used pulverized gluten-free cookies. Aside for bittersweet chocolate chips, I used Grand Diplomat, a Passover friendly liqueur. If you choose to, you can use chocolate liqueur with a hint of orange or mint. Unlike most pies, this pie requires 8-10 minutes of baking time. Do not exceed more than 10 minutes. A toothpick test would help in this case.  This dessert can be eaten all year round and I’m sure celiac family members and friends will appreciate this pie. Eat it as it is or serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberries on top. Or you can sprinkle some chopped nuts.  You won’t miss the gluten version. trust me on that one. For a more child-friendly version, replace the liqueur with dissolved coffee, orange juice, or pureed berries (not jam).

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of gluten-free cookies pulverized
  2. 1/2 stick of margarine melted
  3. 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  4. 16 oz of bittersweet chocolate chips melted
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  7. 1/3 cup of Grand Diplomat
  8. 1/2 of sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix melted margarine with brown sugar and cookies. Place against an 8 inch pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool. Whisk one egg at a time in melted chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer chocolate mixture into pie crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Chill and serve.

Yields 8 servings

Gluten Free Pecan Brittle

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pecan brittle

If you have eaten pecan pie before, this is a gluten-free and vegan version in a brittle form. Unlike pecan pie, however, this brittle recipe does not require corn syrup. This pecan brittle makes a healthy snack food at social events and parties. They are also Passover friendly and such snacks are highly valued during this time of year. I generally enjoy virtually anything with nuts in them. Or you can eat them at your own comfort. Who doesn’t like brittle? Brittle is practically and oversized cookie that is broken into squares. Nuts, chopped dried fruit, and chocolate chips are ingredients often used in brittles. Hubby normally just sticks with chocolate chips. Sometimes he’ll throw in some oatmeal as well. Brittle can be made in many variations akin to cookies. I decided just to exclusively use pecans as I had plenty of used pecans sitting in my pantry.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of toasted whole pecans
  2.  1 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour
  3. 1 stick  of trans-fat free margarine
  4. 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  7. Pinch of salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, margarine, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  Toss in pecans.  Bake for 30 minutes or until nuts are browned.  Allow the brittle to cool before breaking them apart.

Yields 1 lbs of brittle

 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Avocado Muffins

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avocado chocolate muffins

While many of you have heard avocado in salads and spreads, the last place you expect to see them is in desserts and sweet snack foods. And who would have ever contemplated the thought of using avocado in muffins? Only a weirdo like me could 🙂 I’m sure you’ve heard and possibly eaten dishes and desserts with bizarre and incongruent ingredients with the food. I heard people using vegetable puree in desserts for cryin’ out loud!  I suppose chocolate avocado muffins are no exception. But don’t worry though. You can barely taste the avocado in these muffins. I neglected to mention that they are gluten-free which another plus is.  So what possessed me to use avocados in breakfast muffins? What was the outcome? A couple weeks ago, I bought an unripe avocado which I originally intended to use in a salad.  As I was waiting for it to ripen, I got sidetracked. By the time I got around to using it, it was too mushy to dice. I also realized that I had a variety of gluten-free flour (since I am passed buying another bag of regular flour at this point) cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Yes, I was in one of those moods again. After much rumination, I decided to take a gamble and give it a whirl. The risk paid off. The avocado added moisture to these muffins and they are a healthy replacement of oil and butter. A bit of vanilla balances out the flavor. Hubby was reluctant to try these muffins as he has an aversion to avocado (strange) and now there are only two left. I may try to convince him to eat guacamole one day though 😉

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour
  2. 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  3.  1 teaspoon of baking soda
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  7. 1 ripe avocado pureed
  8. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  9. 1/2 cup of strawberry puree
  10. 1 cup  of bittersweet chocolate chips divided
  11. 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl.  Melt the first half of chocolate chips. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, acovado puree, vanilla, brown sugar, melted chocolate, and strawberry puree. Stir in flour mixture with wet mixture until just blended. Fold in the reamaining half of chocolate chips and nuts. Divide batter evenly among 12-14 large muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool
5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm or cool.

Yields 12 muffins

Stuffed Cabbage

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stuffedcabbageStuffed cabbage invokes a lot of my childhood memories.  My mother and my grandmother would serve stuffed cabbage on every holiday. The smell of stuffed cabbage as it was cooking was irresistible.  I’ve met people who don’t usually care for cabbage. The two biggest complaints that they have with cabbage is 1) raw cabbage has a bitter taste 2) cooked cabbage alone reeks through high heaven. Luckily stuffed cabbage rolls made some of them reconsider their aversion to cabbage. Truthfully, I never liked cabbage as a vegetable but I won’t turn down cabbage salad or stuffed cabbage. Stuffed cabbage is normally served as a side dish or appetizer.  People mostly use a head of green cabbage which I did for this recipe.  For the filling they will use ground beef, rice, and chopped onion. For a healthier version, I used ground turkey and some chopped mushrooms to give the cabbage rolls a beefy flavor. I seriously considered using quinoa in lieu of rice but didn’t have any which would make it more Passover friendly (if you are of Ashkenzai Jewish descent).  This dish can be served at any time of the year with hot tomato sauce (I used crushed tomatoes to minimize the sodium content). You can serve this with sweet and sour sauce as well.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 lbs of green cabbage
  2. 8 cups of  salted water
  3. 1 1/2 lbs of lean ground beef or turkey
  4. 8 oz of mushrooms chopped
  5. 1 onion chopped
  6. 2 cloves of garlic grated
  7. 1 cup of cooked rice or quinoa
  8. 1cup of unflavored bread crumbs
  9. 1/4  cup of fresh parsley chopped
  10. 1 teaspoon of thyme
  11. Salt and pepper for taste
  12. 25 oz can of herb flavored crushed tomatoes

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Cut the stem from the head of the cabbage deep enough to start a separation of the very outer leaves from the core. Using tongs dip the head in boiling water. This will loosen three or four loosened leaves. Dip again and continue to remove the leaves. You will need to cut the stem as you go, until you have 18 leaves. Boil each cabbage leaf for 2 minutes until softened. Place on towel.

Saute mushrooms and onions in an oiled  skillet.  In a bowl, combine ground turkey, grated garlic, breadcrumbs, rice/quinoa, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Add the mushrooms and onions and mix well.

Put 1/4 cup meat mixture in each cabbage leaf and roll. To roll put the meat mixture at the steam end of the leaf, fold the stem up a little then each side and roll.  Pour 1/4 cup of  crushed tomatoes in a large pot. Place a couple of cabbage rolls over the sauce. Repeat layer. Cook covered on medium low heat for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring and basting with the liquid.
Yields 8-10 servings