Month: April 2014
While those of us who are celebrating Passover are limited of what we can eat doesn’t mean our menu only consists of potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and chicken soup with matzo balls. True, there weren’t as many Passover friendly items when I was growing up as there is now. Aside for chicken soup and chocolate matzah, I didn’t care for anything else. While many of the Passover friendly items are not accessible where I live, I’ve learned to make my own dishes. Cooking for Passover was not so challenging for me. Despite the fact that people tend to eat more on holidays and therefore demand recipes that are thematic to the holiday they are celebrating, my menu tends to be more basic and standard. Likewise there are an abundance chicken recipe ideas that are Passover friendly, including the one I borrowed from a spicy honey chicken recipe.
Some people see Passover as a challenge for our culinary abilities and pushes us to our creativity limits. It does put things into perspective by learning to appreciate what we have. Thankfully, I am spending most of the holiday away and therefore there isn’t much for me to prepare. I can’t complain as the household is populated by two adults and we are generally organized. Hopefully sometime soon when kids enter the picture, it won’t be the same. During the week, I have soup and salad like any other week. This sweet and spicy chicken recipe is easy to prepare and the ingredients are accessible all year around.
While the original recipe called for chicken breasts, I used a whole chicken. Since side dish ideas are limited, you can serve this chicken with boiled potatoes, steamed green vegetables, roasted vegetables, or quinoa. Cooking for Passover doesn’t have to be painful. When it comes to cooking for holidays, I try to keep my menu traditional but simple. If you don’t celebrate Passover, you can enjoy this recipe anytime of the year. Wishing my Jewish friends a happy Passover! As for everyone else, I hope you enjoy the lovely Spring weather. Thank you for your readership and support. You inspire me to post and share recipes with you. What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? What do you like least about cooking for holidays? If you don’t celebrate holidays, what are your to-go Spring recipes? All ideas are welcome so don’t be too shy to share 🙂
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 fresh whole chicken quartered and skinned
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of your favorite hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (or a Passover-friendly equivalent)
- 1 onion diced
- Ground pepper for taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken and onions in a greased baking dish. Season chicken with garlic powder and ground pepper. Mix honey, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together and pour over chicken. Bake covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Yields 4 servings
Beets are commonly associated with Russian cuisine and this Russian sweet potato salad happens to have some beets in it. If you are just starting to become accustomed to eating beets like I am, this Russian sweet potato salad recipe is a great starting point. Beets happen to add a Russian flair to this unique potato salad. The flavors from the beets and sweet potato pair nicely. Learning how to make this particular Russian salad is not so difficult. I used raw beets and sweet potatoes and merely boiled them. You can use canned beets as cooking beets can be time-consuming although I recommend you rinse them in order to reduce the sodium content. I served this salad when I had company over for a weekend meal and I was surprised that each person had second servings of this salad. I suppose beets can grow on you if you give them a fair chance. I don’t regularly consume beets but won’t dismiss a recipe requiring beets either.
Potatoes and hard-boiled eggs are synonymous with Passover; many recipes abound with potatoes, as they are considered to be almost the ultimate comfort food. Considering that we eat so many potatoes over Passover I decided to try to create a similar dish with sweet potatoes (as a complex carbohydrate a healthier choice) and I added cubed cooked beets to enhance the fiber content of this Russian salad recipe. If you don’t like sweet potatoes, you can ultimately prepare this salad with regular white or red potatoes. Beets are very popular in Russia, thus the name of this original dish. While this salad makes an ideal Passover salad recipe idea, it can be appreciated all year around. You can even add crumbled goat cheese or low-fat Bulgarian cheese to this salad if you like (yet another idea that passed over my head, excuse the pun).
For this recipe, you will need:
- 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 large raw beet peeled and cubed
- 2 cups of chopped celery or snow peas
- 1 red onion cut into slices
For the vinaigrette, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons of walnut or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1 inch ginger grated
- Salt and pepper for taste
Steam sweet potatoes for 15 minutes until soft but not mushy. Do the same for the beets (although they tend t cook longer). Drain vegetables once cooked and let them cool. Place them in a salad bowl along with celery and onion. Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together until well combined. Drizzle in with vegetables and lightly toss. You can serve this Russian sweet potato salad as side dish to meat, poultry, or fish. Or you can sprinkle some toasted chopped walnuts if you like.
Remember the classic movie of “The Wizard of OZ” where Dorothy is directed to the City of Emerald in hopes for someone there to transport her back to Kansas? While making this soup, that scene was replaying itself in my head. In fact, the name I gave this soup was inspired by the movie. I thought to go with that than generic titles such as green vegetable soup recipe as there are many variations of them. Incorporating green vegetables daily in your diet seems to be one of the most recommended pieces of nutritional advice given today. While I had many objections to eating vegetables as a kid, green vegetables were an exception.
My parents never had to put in much painstaking efforts to encourage me to eat my green veggies. I suppose the parental negative reinforcement of threatening me with no dessert somewhat helped to a certain degree. Growing up, I would snack on raw broccoli and spinach. Thankfully, I never really had to compete with anyone as everyone else didn’t seem to share my love for these vegetables. They were a treat to me second to high quality Swiss dark chocolate. I’ve also looked forward to a creamy green soup my mother made for dinner be it broccoli soup or spinach soup. As much as I like green soup, I haven’t had much success achieving the creamy and velvety consistency that I desire in a soup. I didn’t want to use potatoes nor heavy cream as a thickening agent. At the same token, I don’t care for watery soups either.
This green soup has been one of the most healthiest vegetable soup ideas I’ve ever used. And one of the easiest as well. It has the best of three worlds; broccoli, spinach, and kale. Ever since my newfound love for fresh kale has been publicly vociferated to others, nearly to the point of insanity, I wanted to utilize it in other ways aside for chips, and salads. I normally wouldn’t mind eat kale raw as it is but I had a surplus of them. I shamefully confess to overstocking on produce but I do make sure that nothing goes to waste. I didn’t have to fish out too far for vegetable soup ideas for the week. While I only used three green vegetables, you can use chard in lieu or in addition to kale. You can include green peas as well. What I like most about green soup is that it is loaded with hearty, fiber-rich vegetables. Besides, a steaming bowl of green soup, packed with the season’s freshest vegetables, is a healthy way to jumpstart your dinner. Serve with a swirl of fruity, fragrant extra-virgin olive oil for richness if you like. Reserve leftovers for an improvised Alfredo sauce.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil + more for garnish (optional)
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 lbs of fresh kale leaves removed from stems
- 2 cups of chopped broccoli
- 1/2 cup of green peas (optional)
- 1 cup of fresh spinach stems trimmed
- 4 cups of reduced sodium vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper for taste
- Toasted whole wheat croutons (optional)
Heat oil in a stock pot over high heat. Add chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes till they begin to brown. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, salt, and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Pour in broth, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Puree with a hand blender or in batches using a standing blender. Serve hot and garnish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons.
Yields 6 servings
In efforts to making my house Passover friendly, i.e. wheat-free, I have been replacing wheat flour with a variety of gluten-free flour substitutes such as buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, and tapioca flour. Although I’ve thankfully have not been dealt with celiac disease, I am always looking for opportunities to make detoxing more convenient for me. I have managed to sustain without gluten for 2 weeks. Having never tasted gluten-free bread before, I had my reservations of baking a couple of loaves but I wasn’t about to go running out to buy more bread after an intensive thorough housecleaning.
I am still a bit experienced when it comes to baking with gluten-free flour but it hasn’t daunted me enough to discourage me from trying. While baking bread is my specialty, I always welcome gluten-free alternatives. Learning how to use gluten-free flour for baking bread was educational and loads of fun. Mastery is generally commensurate with practice fueled by relentless determination. I suppose my perseverance has no limitation for better or for worse. Quitting was never an option for me. Part of overcoming an unprecedented challenge is embracing it wholeheartedly. Fortunately, my uncontrollable desire to experiment was never an issue to me and the risks were usually worth taking. Without sounding presumptuous, the gluten-free treats and bread I have baked were overall satisfactory. Even if you don’t bake gluten-free bread that often, it’s a useful baking skill to have.
Wheat flour contains gluten which is a protein that binds and strengthens dough in baking. Consequently, when baking with gluten-free/wheat-free flours you may need to source alternative binding agents. Xanthan gum is often used along with gluten-free flour, especially for baking bread, rolls, etc. Wheat free recipes using gluten-free flour substitutes usually have been carefully formulated to produce the best possible result whilst factoring the problems associated with lack of wheat gluten, therefore substitution can be a risky experiment. If you use wheat/gluten-free substitution, then be aware that the end results may be a complete fiasco. Therefore, I don’t recommend that you do it for the first time if cooking for an important occasion. Test your creation on family members, especially those suffering from celiac disease before sharing it with others. I use quinoa flour, rice flour, and buckwheat flour as opposed to a gluten-free bread mix to have control over the quality and quantity of the bread. You can use other gluten-free flour of your choice if you don’t like the ingredients I provide for you in this recipe. You can find most of these ingredients at your local healthfood store.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 cup of quinoa flour
- 1 cup of brown rice flour
- 1 cup of buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup of topacia flour
- 1/2 cup of corn/potato starch
- 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon of yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey + 1/3 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup of oil
- 1/4 milk of your choice (in lieu of eggs)
Place yeast, sugar, and salt in warm water. Set aside till it starts to bubble and foam. In a bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients and whisk to thoroughly combine. Blend the sugar, oil, milk and vinegar in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Then add the yeast mixture. Kneed till elastic. Divide dough into four parts and make small loaves. Place each loaf in a small loaf pan. Allow dough to rise in an undrafted area for 45 minutes to an hour or until double in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Yields 4 small loaves