Tag Archives | holiday

celebrating with soup

Holiday parties to house warming celebrations, crafting menus and cooking for a large crowd can be a challenge. I find starting a meal with soup to be a great solution for feeding a group. But of course I happen to love soup, year-round. It’s a forgiving dish to make, flavors can be adjusted, add more liquid and seasoning and the quantity stretches. And if it can be puréed, it’s suddenly something creamy and elegant to enjoy. I often enjoy a large bowl of hot steamy soup, but bowls are obviously not ideal for a cocktail party for example where guest are standing and mingling. Hence the idea of soup shooters, or in this case stackable small hearty glasses, small enough to fit in one hand and enjoy a bite. I found the glasses pictured here at Cost Plus World Market and like that they are both stackable for easy storage, and easy to clean. Shot glasses are also an option and a smaller portion ideal if you want to serve soup but have a large meal ahead such as on Thanksgiving. Check out OMG Yummy’s Squash Soup Shooters as an example.

There are hundreds (if not more) tomato soup recipes. And for season-centric cooks, tomato soup in winter may not be top choice. But if you’re able to source good quality tomatoes or can find a can or jar of chopped tomatoes that you like, then you’re in business. I kept this recipe simple, the exact quantites were a bit ad hoc as I was cooking but the ingredients and rough quantities below will get you started and produce a very tasty bite. I garnished the soup with crème fraîche and chopped chives for a little holiday flair. It does look a bit like Christmas in a glass?

Tomato Thyme Soup

– extra virgin olive oil, about 3-4 table spoons
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (remove leaves from sprigs and chop before adding to the pot)
– 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
– 16 or so medium tomatoes on the vine, Roma is also an option (about 2- 2 1/2 pounds worth)
– 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes
– kosher salt
– fresh ground pepper

One option is to roast the tomatoes before adding to the soup. Cut lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and put in a hot 400 degree oven roughly 30-40 minutes. This does add extra flavor but you can also achieve a delicious soup by simply cooking the tomatoes on the stove. The latter saves a bit of time.

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the chopped onion until transparent then add the crushed or minced garlic along with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss in the chopped thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavor in the seasoning. Chilly flakes are an option to add to the soup and can be thrown into the pot at this stage as well. You can also substitute thyme with basil or even try both. From here add the tomatoes and broth and cook for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat. If you didn’t pre-roast the tomatoes, cook the soup an additional 10-15 minutes.

Once all the ingredients have come together, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the stockpot, or carefully transfer the soup to a blender to blend. If the tomato skins are apparent, use a strainer or sieve to remove both the seeds and skins for extra smoothness. Season with additional kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper before serving. Top with a dollop of cream if desired.

Easy to prepare, elegant to serve, so grab a glass and enjoy something warm with your guests.

Enjoy more yum, would love to see you on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumivores
And leave a note, I appreciate them all!

Comments { 0 }

potato pancakes

Potato pancakes, or latkes (referred to as levivot in Hebrew) are essential to a Hannukah menu. But potato pancakes aren’t just for Hannukah, they’re delicious year-round and it’s a great appetizer to enjoy at gatherings or parties as well. Potato pancakes make for great finger foods, can satisfy your fried food cravings and is a vegetarian dish that will please a large crowd. I’ve cut back on the amount of fried foods I eat in general, but every once in a while it’s worth it and these are worth the exception. I find Faye Levy’s International Jewish Cookbook a great source for recipes, her recipe for latkes included.

When serving potato pancakes straight from the pan, some optional garnish ideas include sour cream mixed with dill, chives, or scallions based on your preference. Or in addition to the seasoned sour cream, top with smoked salmon or lox for another option. And for a little something decadent, serve with chopped chicken liver or my vegetarian alternative walnut pâté. In Israel seasoned sour cream is the usual garnish of choice for this dish. In the U.S. apple sauce is often an accompaniment; tart and a hint sweet apples mixes wonderfully with this pleasantly salty starchy dish.

My Mother’s Potato Pancake (Latke) Recipe via Faye Levy’s International Jewish Cookbook

Food processor with large grating disc or hand grater*
*There is a difference between the large grating disc versus using the regular blade on the food processor. For crispier potato pancakes, similar to hash browns, be sure to use the grater. A bit easier to mold in the pan, opt for the regular blade. There is a difference in texture, a slight difference in taste, but both are delicious. The pictures here reflect potato pancakes made using the regular blade.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (12 to 15 pancakes)

1-1/4 pounds large potatoes, peeled (the russet potato works best for frying)
1 medium onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (I also add ground black pepper)
2 tablespoons flour (I prefer matzo meal, ground matzo flour, but use what’s on hand)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (not required if using matzo meal)
1/2 cup or more of vegetable oil (or canola oil)

Using coarse grating disc of a food processor or large holes of a hand grater, grate potatoes followed by the onion.Transfer the puree to a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible; discard liquid. Put potato-onion mixture in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix together.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in a deep heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet. For each pancake, add about 2 tablespoons of potato mixture to pan. Be sure not place too many pancakes in at once or the mixture won’t crisp as desired. Flatten with back of a spoon so that each measures 2-1/2 inches. Fry over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Using 2 pancake turners, turn them carefully. Fry second side about 4 minutes, or until pancakes are golden brown and crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot. Garnish with sour cream or toppings of choice.

Enjoy more yum, would love to see you on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumivores
And leave a note, I appreciate them all!

Comments { 2 }

sweet sufganiyot and the foods of hannukah

If you could walk through the streets of Jerusalem, or anywhere in Israel this time of year, you’ll catch a distinct whiff in the air of foods frying in oil. Mixed with sweet or savory flavors, it’s one way to whet your appetite and warm your soul in the cold winter. When your mouth finally gets to participate, a few bites and your taste buds are drenched in crispy fried goodness. It’s of course Hannukah, a time when oil fried foods are the king of the plate for eight days (sometimes even for weeks prior). And for many observing traditions, dairy products such as cheese pancakes or rugelach cookies are also on the menu.

Traditional foods eaten on this joyous holiday include the ever popular potato pancake, levivot in Hebrew, latkes in Yiddish. Sufganiyot, from the word ‘sponge’ in Hebrew, yeast based doughnuts are typically filled with jelly or dulce de leche and are a huge treat. In more recent years bakeries throughout Israel have come up with wildly creative flavors (similar to the cupcake phenomenon in the United States). I agree with Cafe Liz though, they’re a bit too sweet for my taste and on this holiday I prefer a little more traditional flavors (at least when it comes to doughnuts). But if you enjoy something less vanilla (or in this case very vanilla) doughnut flavors range from pistachio to rose petal to chocolate orange and are fun to experience (at least once).

Another doughnut that’s a real treat and made in Moroccan households over the holiday is called sfinj. My mother in-law dusts sfinj with powdered sugar when they’ve cooled a bit, but usually we’re hovering around the frying pan so they never even make it to a plate. Serve, as with most Moroccan dishes, with hot mint tea.

Even if you don’t celebrate Hannukah (also spelled Chanukah, Chanukkah or Chanuka), the Festival of Lights is a time your taste buds can celebrate the traditions and hopefully you can experience an evening of good food, friends and candle lighting no matter where you are in the world.

Explore more details about the history of the foods enjoyed over Hannukah, and try these great recipes:

Food History
Go Jerusalem | Why Eat Dairy and Oily Foods on Chanukah
Epicurious | Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods
L.A. Times Food | The little pancake with a big history
The Shiksa In The Kitchen on PBS | Discover the History of Latkes During Hanukkah

OMG Yummy | Eight Potato Latke Recipes
Food Bridge | Leek Patties and Hannukah, Time for Cauliflower Fritters
Tablet | Video: Joan Nathan Makes The Ultimate Latke
NPR | Beyond Latkes: Eight Nights of Fried Delights
Epicurious | How to Make Rugelach
Food 52 | Moroccan Donuts – Sfinj
SF Gate | Hannukah Sufganiyot a Simpler Approach
Karin Goren | Bakery Style Sufganiyot (in Hebrew)

In Hebrew we say “b’tayavon” bon appetite and “hag samech” Happy Hannukah!

Enjoy more yum, would love to see you on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumivores
And leave a note, I appreciate them all!

Comments { 0 }

walnut pâté

Likely I would share recipes more often if it weren’t for the fact that my props often get eaten before I had a chance to photograph them, and my home recipes are often in “a little of this and a little of that” quantities. This recipe for walnut pâté is no exception. I admit it, I break the food photography rules and nibble as I work.

But let’s get to the benefits of this dish beyond the fact that I love the taste of walnuts. This edible seed has a sweet yet slightly savory earthiness to it, and after it’s roasted it’s hard not to keep reaching for some to pop in your mouth. Walnuts are a healthy and great addition to your diet if you need an excuse to enjoy them. Interestingly, when finely ground and blended with the simplest of seasonings and creamy textures, you won’t necessarily taste the nut. But I can assure you this pâté, made with walnuts as a key ingredient, is a crowd-pleaser. It’s also a conversation starter; walnut pâté sounds intriguing. Easy to prepare, it can be made in either a vegetarian or vegan variation which makes it suitable for most everyone.

I first tasted this appetizer in Israel years ago and it was coined as a “vegetarian chopped liver”. If you’ve had chopped liver before and enjoy it, you’ll agree the name doesn’t scream deliciousness. Chopped liver is made with chicken liver, sautéed onions in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or onions sautéed in canola oil, hard-boiled eggs and seasoned with black pepper and salt. The dish (and schmaltz) is popular in Jewish cuisine originating in Eastern Europe. Offal is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, but more importantly, it’s key to many cultures who look for ways to not waste edible animal parts. Find a Jewish delicatessen near you, or easy to whip up at home, try traditional chopped liver on a good piece of rye bread, or smothered on potato latkes (potato pancakes) for something decadent and it will be a holiday for your taste buds.

orly’s walnut pâté recipes

Vegetarian Walnut Pâté
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter or canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
3 hard-boiled eggs
mayonnaise to taste
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Sautée the onion in butter (or the canola oil) until caramelized, remove from heat. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re very fine). Add the caramelized onion, two hard-boiled eggs and season with salt and pepper (and don’t be shy about it). Blend the mixture together and taste. If dry, for creaminess, add a taste of mayonnaise (less or more based on taste preference). The third hard-boiled egg can be added at this stage and either blended in completely or left a little chunky. Some versions of chopped liver have bits of chunky egg visible, it’s a taste preference or an opportunity to mimic what grandma used to make. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. For this version use regular mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s or Best Foods) not a vegan or low-fat variety. From my experience, a vegan mayonnaise will loose it’s consistency in the blender. If you like chopped liver, this vegetarian version will surprise you with it’s traditional flavor.

Vegan Walnut Pâté

1 large onion, chopped
canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
1/3 package medium to firm tofu
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Cut a chunk of the tofu and drain the water (silken tofu will be found in the refrigerator section of your market). Sautée the onion in canola oil until caramelized. Mix in the tofu on low heat to absorb the flavor of the onion, lightly season with salt and pepper. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re fine, same as above). Add the caramelized onion and tofu mixture. Blend the mixture together. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. This version does not require mayonnaise, but for flavor a tad of vegan mayonnaise or “veganaise” can be added, mix gently. The vegan pâté will be a bit lighter in appearance than it’s vegetarian counterpart. Adjust both recipes by adding more seasoning based on your preference.

I serve my signature dish on many holidays and it’s always on the table for Passover. Spreading it on matzoh (also spelled matza, matzo or matzah) is a perfect and my preferred way of sharing it regardless of the time of year. The pâté also tops nicely on crisp green Granny Smith apples. The tart tang of the apples compliments the creamy-savory-sweetness of the spread. It makes a wonderful vegetarian or vegan appetizer if hosting an evening of wine for example and you want a delightful appetizer to present to guests. Easy to make and a delicious bite to enjoy, hope you enjoy a bite of walnut pâté!

Enjoy more yum, would love to see you on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumivores
And leave a note, I appreciate them all!

Comments { 5 }