Silvertip Roast with Mustard Crust (Maille Mustard Review)

Many thanks to Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco of Fraiche PR  for sending me two full size jars of Maille mustard (1 Old Style and 1 Dijon Originale) to sample. All opinions are my own.

I’ve seen Maille mustard in my local supermarket, and chalked it up to one of those ingredients that I’d have in the fridge of my dreams. You know, the type of things that would be in your fridge if you had an unlimited food budget.

PHOTO CREDIT: http://maille.us/

PHOTO CREDIT: http://maille.us/

So when I got an email from Diana asking if I was interested in reviewing these products, I jumped at the chance.  I couldn’t wait to taste really excellent, kosher mustard (both of these are certified OU pareve).

I can say I wasn’t disappointed, and for the first time in my life tasted genuine Dijon mustard. In short, these are excellent products. I tasted a bit of each straight from the jar. The Old Style was a bit spicy, and I was surprised by how smooth the flavor was on my tongue. As soon as I tasted this, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

The Dijon Originale, however, gave me quite a surprise. In the past, I have tasted Grey Poupon, and was not thrilled with the taste – that had been a bit sharp and sour to the point my mouth puckered. Imagine my surprise when I taste this Dijon – bright, full of flavor – and a bit hot.  The heat lingers on the tongue a bit after eating it. After getting over my initial reaction, I found that I kept wanting more.

I will confess that I still need to develop a recipe for this mustard, but just try this- dip boiled red potatoes straight into the jar of Dijon Orignale – and then try to stop eating them. You will find it very hard, if not impossible. I know this from personal experience.

As for the Old Style mustard, I highly recommend using it as a crust on a roast. Be generous – the flavor is distinct but not overpowering, and I can say this was one of the best roasts I have ever made.

Silvertip Roast with Mustard Crust

Ingredients:

2 Silvertip Roasts, about 3 lbs each

2 cups dry red wine

Salt and Pepper for sprinkling

Half a jar of Maille Old Style mustard

2 shallots, sliced

1 pack of crimini mushrooms, cleaned and left whole

1 large Spanish onion, cut in half then cut into slices

To Prepare:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350F.  In a disposable aluminum tray (or doubled up 2 gallon Ziploc bags) pour the red wine over roasts and set in the fridge for a minimum of 20 mins, turning once midway through. While the roasts are marinating, prepare your vegetables and set aside.

2) Remove roasts and discard wine, gently pat dry and sprinkle salt and pepper over top and bottom of roasts.

3) Using a roasting pan with insert, arrange the vegetables on the bottom of the pan. Add the insert, placing the roasts on it. Using a brush (or your fingertips)  liberally apply the mustard all over the roasts, top and bottom. maille1fwp 4) Loosely cover with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour, uncovering half way through. The temperature at this point will be about 140F, or mid-rare. I would not recommend cooking this style of roast much past mid rare to meduim (150F).

5) Leave roasts to cool at room temperature at least one hour, or until it is barely warm when touched. Slice on a diagonal, and serve with the roasted mushrooms and onions from the bottom of the pan.

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For more information on these specific varieties of mustard, as well as Maille’s other products, please visit their website: http://maille.us/

Kol Foods: A Series on Duck (Finale) Duck Mujadara

The ducks used in these recipes are from KOL Foods. (http://kolfoods.com/) I received no other compensation – all opinions are my own.

One of the things I love to do in the kitchen is to take ingredients, look at them, and say “What happens if I…”.  There is two vital considerations I keep in mind at all times. One – it has to make sense to me. Two – it must treat the ingredient with the respect I feel it deserves.  Yes, even if it’s leftovers. Especially if it’s leftovers. In many homes, they are the source of whines and frowns, but in my house, they can sometimes be better than the original meal!

So when I managed (by hook, crook and bribery) to secure a full duck breast (two pieces) for this recipe I knew precisely how I was going to utilize these gorgeous leftovers. Because let’s face it – duck is delicious right out of the oven, but the next day?  It can be some of the best eating ever. The question was how to make the meat stretch enough to feed my now duck-crazy family.

If anyone asks me what one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes are, mujadara is in the top three (shakshuka and lachmagine round out that list). Many varieties of lentils and rice are staples in my home, so this made my choice pretty simple. To avoid a clash of tastes, (the recipe I was taught for this dish has cilantro, which I couldn’t see working with duck) I had to re-tool the recipe a bit. I can say these were leftovers my whole family enjoyed! (This recipe make quite a lot, so divide it easily in half for a smaller amount)

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Recipe for Duck Mujadara

3 cups basmati rice 

2 cups green lentils 

1 whole KOL Foods duck breast (two pieces), already cooked and diced

1/3 cup white wine

2 tbsp of lemon juice

heaping 1/2 tsp of turmeric

tiny pinch of cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Generous splash of olive oil

 4 cups of  duck stock, plus a little more for the lentils. (see this recipe for duck stock )

1) In a large pot, add just the lentils and a mix of water, white wine and duck stock til the lentils are covered and have an additional knuckle of liquid above that. Bring to a boil, then turn off and leave sit for a minimum of 2 hours (check and add a bit more stock if needed) and then simmer on low til prefered doneness. 

2) In another pot, add your rice, 4 C  duck stock, olive oil, a scant handful of salt and a three-finger pinch of pepper. Simmer for 25 mins with the lid tightly closed. Remove from fire and leave sit for 10 mins. (Nearly everyone I know combine steps 1 and 2, but I find either the lentils are not done as I like or the rice is too soft, so until I get a bit better at making mujadara this is how I make it. If you are able to make the lentils and rice together in the same pot, please feel free to do so.) 

3) In a saucepan, add the white wine, lemon juice, tumeric, and cumin to make a sauce. Add the duck breasts last and cook on low heat til the pieces of duck are warmed through. 

4) Combine the rice and the lentils gently, then add the duck pieces and sauce. Using a rubber or silcone spatula, fold the mixture together til well-coated (all the rice should have a bright yellow hue) and serve immediately.

 

KOL Foods: A Series on Duck part 1

The ducks used in these recipes are from KOL Foods. (http://kolfoods.com/) I received no other compensation – all opinions are my own.

Nearly a year ago, I was given my first chance to taste and review KOL Foods poultry. I wrote a series of posts back then regarding my experience and opinions on the product (http://foodwordsphotos.com/kol-foods-a-revolution-in-kosher-meat/  and http://foodwordsphotos.com/kol-foods-a-revolution-in-kosher-meat-part-2-review-and-giveaway/). So when I was given this second opportunity to review their duck, I didn’t hesitate to take KOL Foods up on their generous offer.

I was requested to develop recipes for the following: a whole roasted duck, a recipe using the bones to make stock, and a recipe using the leftover meat and stock.  This assignment was right up my street – I am an advocate of using every part of an ingredient as possible. One tiny problem: I’ve never cooked duck before.  But it couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

After asking about, I was seriously beginning to wonder if for the first time in my blogging career I’d bitten off more than I could chew. But the ducks were on their way, I already said I’d do it, and that was that. Enter my pal Simone. For traditional French or Middle Eastern cuisine, I have no better resource. The ideas and recipes I get from her are simply elegant, and incredibly easy to execute.

Duck is delicious when cooked to mid- rare and treated very simply.  Thanks goes to Simone for the majority of this concept and recipe.  The following recipe is for 2 ducks, about 4 lbs each. Add a starch and a vegetable, and you have a fantastic meal for a family.

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Recipe for Roasted Duck

2 4lb KOL Foods ducks

1 bottle of red wine

1 16 oz bottle of Pom Cherry Juice

Salt and Pepper to season

Meat thermometer

Take two 2 gallon Ziploc bags and put them inside each other to form one bag (to make it extra strong) Inside the Ziploc, place your ducks one on top of the other, then add your wine and juice. Lay on its side inside a deep pan, and leave marinate in the liquids overnight, turning once or twice.

The next day, preheat your oven to 400F. Remove ducks from Ziplocs, discarding the liquid. Place ducks breast side down on the rack of a roasting tray (or two trays, if they don’t both fit one one) and remove neck from cavity, setting alongside the ducks on the roasting rack. Using a scant handful of salt and pepper, season your ducks inside and out and tie the legs together and the ends with kitchen twine.

Roast in oven for 1 hr at 400F – about 35 mins in, flip duck over so breast side is up. After one hour, use a meat thermometer to determine temperature. When plunged into the thickest part of the breast, it should be a minimum of 150F. I would not recommend cooking higher than this temperature – as the duck rests it cooks a bit more.

Leave duck rest for about an hour and 15 mins before cutting, then cut lengthwise to serve. Each side can then be cut down into wing, breast and leg pieces.

For my family, I chose to serve the duck with herb-roasted baby potatoes and grilled endive – recipe will be in a future blogpost.

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Product Review: Voilà! Hallah Part 2 AND September Kosher Connection Challenge: Spread the Joy

Many Thanks to Leah Hadad of Voila!Hallah (Tribes a Dozen)  for the product used in this review. All opinions are my own – the only compensation received was a case of Voila!Hallah for testing

So, remember a little while ago, I did a review on Voilà! Hallah, (see the first part of the review here (http://foodwordsphotos.com/product-review-voila-hallah-part-1) and promised to come back with a second post about experimenting with it? Thanks for bearing with me on this. To everything there is a season, and there was a reason why! I believe if it would not have been for Voilà! Hallah, the following incidents would have never happened.

Imagine a group of Hasidic housewives, dressed in long housecoats with their heads covered with various scarves and kerchiefs waiting in front of their apartment building in Boro Park for their children’s respective camp buses.  It was a Wednesday afternoon, and of course we all are discussing food for Shabbat. Which reminded me..

“Dassi, I’m making my challah that you like so much again, with the seeds. Want me to send you one?” That’s me, asking my neighbor who lives on the other side of my building if she wants my roasted pepita-sunflower seed-zaatar-Hungarian paprika challah. She had it once, on a Shabbat afternoon and loved it.  I never let my guests leave empty-handed, so that time a half- loaf went home with her.

” Sure! I’d love some!  It was really yum, and thanks for sending some home with me last time. My husband ate it the next morning with cream cheese – he said it was so good!” Dassi replied. ” Whoops! There’s my son’s bus – gotta run!”

My third friend turned to me, a funny look on her face. “You OK, Rifki?” I asked her. She just tilted her head and asked me a question I never considered. “How can you say that was challah?” she asked. ” Challah has to have certain ingredients in it for it to be challah. In my house we use seven, to represent the days of the week.” As she went on to list the ingredients, I was puzzled. Thinking for a few moments, I decided to answer.

” I believe that any bread, as long as it is shaleim (perfectly whole) and hamotzi (made with water and flour, versus a dough made with juice) can be considered challah. Why not? I made it in honor of the Sabbath, who says it can’t have seeds and flavors?” I asked her.

” On the outside, sure. But you put it in the inside, that just makes it fancy bread, not challah. Lots of people put sesame seeds, or everything mix (a spice blend of dried onion, garlic, salt. pepper, poppy and sesame seeds)  on the outside. My husband would never eat such a bread for a Shabbat meal” she pointed out.

” Tell you what. Come over Shabbat afternoon with your kids, and you’ll try it. It is so good, you’ll see why I can say it is challah, and special for the Sabbath.” I told her. My son’s bus came then, so I had to go.

I had made this before, and I wanted to perfect the recipes before using it on my last few boxes of  Voilà! Hallah. Now, usingVoilà! Hallah as the challah dough, I knew the challah would be exceptional.  I was not disappointed.

I had four boxes left, which I did in two batches of two boxes each. One batch got roasted pepitas and sunflower seeds with zaatar and Hungarian paprika, where I oven roasted the raw seeds with the spices til it was rich and fragrant. The second batch got the herbes de Provence treatment – garlic powder, and fresh parsley, sage, tarragon and basil.

My friend Rifky brought her kids that Shabbat afternoon, and she could not stop raving over the challahs. We agreed to disagree, after a bit more discussion, but she said she would make these for a fancy weekday lunch or dinner. She said the pepita challah tasted a lot like pita with zaatar, and the herbes de Provence challah tasted like a really good garlic knot. When I told her my mix for the challah dough came from a box, she was amazed – she said would have never guessed, it was that good!

In the end, she understood my point of view, I understood hers, we respectfully agreed to disagree, and I thought this was a good story to share for the September Kosher Connection Challenge. The theme is ‘spread the joy‘. Food is a universal ground-leveler, peacemaker, conversation-starter. In a way like nothing else can, it can overcome prejudices, cross social-economic divides, and bring healing to both body and soul.  In this case, this lady (myself) from Philadelphia, a semi-recent transplant to Boro Park who only became religious in her twenties and Hasidic a whole lot later started a discussion and gave food for thought to a woman ten years younger than herself, who was born and raised in Boro Park with a strong, European/Hasidic background, who does things the way her great-grandmother did them.  If sharing food and dialogue doesn’t spread the joy, I can’t think what else can. Can you?

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Product Review: Sneaky Pete’s Oat Drink

Special Consideration to the Baddish Group (http://thebaddishgroup.com/) for providing the samples for the product review.  All opinions are my own. 

When it comes to food and beverages, I’d like to say I am a pretty informed consumer. I’ve known for years that drink companies have added different types of vitamins and minerals to beverages to make them healthier, and hopefully more appealing to the people who drink them.  Some lines of beverages have built their entire reputations on being a healthier alternative to the traditional soft drink.

Oat Square The biggest complaint I hear from so many people I know is the following: ” I know I’m supposed to drink more, but I hate plain water! I need what I drink to taste good!”  Sound familiar? If I may, I’d like to suggest you try Sneaky Pete’s Oat Drinks.

Even I was skeptical at first:  who put oats in a drink? I’ve heard all about the benefits from oats and oat fiber, but this was something completely outside the box for me. When I was given a chance to review it. I didn’t hesitate.  I decided that not only would I try it, I’d set up an informal tasting panel of eight people whose ages ranged from 5 to 70 to assist me. This way I could get other people’s opinions as well. I was given one bottle of Apple and one of Peach to sample. Putting both into clear plastic cups, I gave one of each sample to each member of my group. Here are the results:

Out of 8 people, 5 liked the Peach flavor better, 2 liked the Apple flavor, and 1 person liked both equally. The people who prefered the Peach flavor liked the ‘sweet, clear, very peachy’ flavor.  Those who liked the Apple were pleased with the ‘fact that  it tasted like apple-cinnamon oatmeal.”

SPB Icons 2013

I was more impressed with the following: Per 12 oz bottle, Sneaky Pete’s only had 40 calories, 5 grams of sugar in the entire bottle, and 3 grams of oat fiber.  Most of the time, a bottle of equal size has at least double the amount of sugar and at least one and a half times the amount of calories. The very best fact: there is nothing artificial in the beverage. No artificial sweeteners of any kind.

SPB Booth Image 2013

Sneaky Pete’s comes in 5 different flavors: Peach, Apple, Mango, Raspberry, and Grape. You can order the beverages from their website, http://sneakypetesbeverage.com/ or from a retailer near you http://sneakypetesbeverage.com/about/find-a-stor.

 

Preserving Cherries

The inspiration: Preserving cherries for the winter

I received these stunning cherries from Stemilt Farms! www.stemiltfarms.com

Stunning cherries from Stemilt Farms!

Cherries are my favorite fruit. I’ll take dried or jarred cherries in a pinch but the best by far are fresh. Nothing compares this fresh fruit, and starting in May, I start watching to see when I can find the sweet red beauties in my local markets.  This year, it seemed as if they would never arrive. When they did, for several weeks the prices were outrageous. This got me thinking – there has got to be a way I can have some form of fresh cherries all the time! I decided I was going to find a way to preserve cherries.

The Innovation: Taking fresh cherries and drying them in the oven

Fresh cherries dried in the oven for 8 hours at 200F

Fresh cherries dried in the oven

 

I had tried simply putting  cherries in a double Ziploc and freezing, and it worked pretty well except they were a little mushy and had a slight bitter taste to them upon defrosting. I also have some cherries that are frozen in whiskey, but I won’t know how they turn out until Chanukah, when I will thaw and air dry them slightly to make boozy chocolates. So after doing a bit of research and experimenting, it seemed to me that the best way to preserve the cherries would be to dry them out.

After winning 4 lbs of cherries from Stemilt Farm, (http://www.stemilt.com) I decided I would use those for drying out. I removed the pits, cut the cherries in half, and baked in a 200F oven for 8 hours. When I removed them, I was concerned they were still not dry enough, so I thought about how to dry them out even more.

My interpretation:  Twice Dried Cherries

Perfectly dried cherries!

Perfectly dried cherries!

 

I’ve heard about how rice dries things out – electronic gadgets, mainly- but I was curious. If I take my dried cherries and put them in uncooked rice, would they dry out more? I took the oven-dried cherries, mixed them in with a few pounds of dry basmati rice, and left the whole thing sit in the back of my fridge for a few days.

Separating the cherries from the rice was a hassle, but my idea worked! They were perfectly dried, almost as well the kind you find in the store. Now not only do I have dried cherries, I also have cherry infused rice that will be prefect for my High Holiday menu.

 

Product Review: Voilà! Hallah Part 1

Many Thanks to Leah Hadad of Voila!Hallah (Tribes a Dozen)  for the product used in this review. All opinions are my own – the only compensation received was a case of Voila!Hallah for testing.

Allow me to confess a few things before we begin.

Number one: I don’t bake. OK, there is an occasional recipe for a cookie (same recipe, different variations) or a cake (same concept) on my blog, but I really don’t bake. Years ago, yeast and I had a major disagreement and it won.  I haven’t used yeast again til I picked up a box of Voilà! Hallah.

Number two: If it is a mix, and it is in a box, I am instantly skeptical.  Call me a snob, but I like my food as fresh as possible, and as close to homemade as I can get it.  I am a no-sell-ever for boxed mixes of anything.

Number three: If you can combine Number One and Number Two, you will see I was coming into this ready to dislike it. On principal, I don’t ask anyone about a product I am going to review (I like forming my own opinions) so I come into whatever I am testing blind.

I can say that after the second time I tried it, all objections went out the window. I say the second time because I messed up the first time (I didn’t mix it long enough or oil the bowl or my hands and the dough stuck – that’s user error for you- but it still made a great product. Keep reading.)  The second time, I had DH read me the directions and the times, and it came out exactly as the box said it would.

So what do you get from one perfectly made box of Voilà! Hallah? You get one medium challah that reminds me very much of the challah I made in cooking school: not egg and not water, but one that is very light with a delicious crumb. Perfect for Shabbos, and excellent for Sunday french toast. I sent some to my across-the-hall neighbor (a real hasidic lady who uses a recipe from her great-grandmother and an ardent egg challah lover) and her precise words: ” Scrumptious, not eggy and not water. Closer to water challah, though. I’d totally eat this again.”

I even tested it on my own family – we love water challah. I told my kids we had different challah this week. I can say that all my kids, as well as DH ate at least 50% more challah over Shabbat than they normally do. We even used it for open sandwiches on Sunday morning. DH wants to know when I am making more.

Will I say it’s perfect? To me, it could have used more flavor ( it was not discernibly sweet or salty) but for someone who is nervous to bake with yeast (that was me!) or who is willing to experiment in terms of flavors (I am!) this is an excellent, reliable way to make challah.  So what happened to the challah dough that I didn’t mix it long enough and didn’t oil the bowl or my hands? A teaspoon of oil on my hands, and an extra few minutes to rise took care of most of the stickiness. I decided to make that my ‘tester’ and added dried parsley, thyme, rubbed sage and salt. I also added some finely chopped garlic to the top. First, let’s see how to make the Voilà! Hallah :

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Then the finished product:

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The bottom line is the following – is this a product I would recommend to others? I would recommend this to friends of mine who are nervous to make challah (I know so many people are afraid to try because they will either mess up or get a product that doesn’t taste good -if I can’t mess this up, I don’t believe anyone can!)

I would ask you to refer back here in a few week for the second part of the review. I have several boxes of Voilà! Hallah left over and I intend to try different flavor combinations, as well as see what else I can possibly make from this unique product. Stay tuned!