Quick Bone Broth

The weather is turning colder, and I feel a strong desire to cook heartier, more filling meals. One of the things I love to make are homemade broths and stocks – they are incredibly economical, you can customize them to your preference, you get a lot for just a bit of work, and they add so much flavor to even the simplest and plainest of food. There is a lot of room for flexibility as well -you can cook it for 3 hours, or for as many as 12 or even 24.  You can roast the bones first, or use fresh, raw bones. Add more vegetables, different herbs or spices – the choices are yours and they are endless. You will notice there is no salt and pepper in the recipe – that is deliberate to prevent over-seasoning whatever final dish you are preparing with the broth. This recipe is also easy to divide or multiply as needed.

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Ingredients: 

2 lbs chicken bones

1 lb chicken necks

6 frozen cubes of parsley

4 frozen cubes of basil

4 frozen cubes of garlic

1/2 lb carrots

1 head of celery

1 medium Spanish onion

small amount of oil for sauteing

 

  1. In a heavy stock pot (at least 8 qts) add a small amount of oil to the bottom of the pot. When it gets hot, add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook on medium high for 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and get a bit of color on them.
  2. Add the cubes of frozen parsley, basil and garlic. Stir into the vegetables and let soften. Then add the chicken bones, necks, and water til an inch or two from the top.

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3. Bring to a boil, then lower flame til there are lazy bubbles floating to the surface every few seconds. Skim any scum from the surface as you are able to.

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4. Cook for about 3 hrs, or until the the broth is deep gold in color. Strain with a fine mesh strainer to remove as many impurities as possible.

Pepper Steak Ziti with Mushrooms

School has started again (my boys started school this past week; my daughter starts next week) and when dinnertime comes, they act like they haven’t eaten all day. They need something to eat that is healthy and filling -and in a hurry. The best way to distract your kids from their hunger pangs while this cooks is to do what I did: get them to help with the prep! They will be thrilled to help, and more willing to eat something they helped make!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. pepper steak

3 portobella mushrooms, sliced

1 pk crimini mushrooms, cut in half

2 shallots, sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, minced fine

6 large fresh basil leaves, minced fine

1 C dry red wine

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp dried parsley

3 tblsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

32 oz vegetable stock

16 oz ziti noodles

olive oil for sauteing

 

To Prepare:

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Heat a chef pan or pot, and add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom. Add the shallots and saute on high heat til they just start to brown, then add the garlic.

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When the garlic starts to brown, lower heat and add 1/2 cup of the red wine.

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Add the portabello and crimini mushrooms, cook for 7-10 mins on medium heat, then add the pepper steak.

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After 5 mins, add your herbs, 1 C of vegetable stock, 1 tblsp of the salt and the black pepper. Stir well to combine, lower flame and let simmer as you prepare the pasta.

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Using the remaining vegetable stock, as well as an additional 3 cups water and 2 tblsp salt, boil the water for the ziti. Add pasta when water is at a roiling boil.

Cook pasta for 5-7 mins, then strain and add to the pepper steak mixture with 2 cups of the pasta water.

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Cook on medium high for 10 mins more, lid covered, stirring once or twice in between.

When pasta is done to taste, turn off flame and let sit covered for 5 mins. Stir and serve immediately.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

The inspiration: A need for a delicious, minimally processed tomato sauce full of good flavor.

I love making things for myself -I like the concept of being able to control what goes into what my family and I eat. Processed foods have a time and place, but with all the additives they contain, I prefer to use them as little as possible. So I am always pushing myself to make more at home, and one thing we love is tomato sauce. We have meals that feature tomato sauce at least twice a week – grilled fish and brown rice with tomato sauce mixed in, or pasta with beef or chicken and tomato sauce are two examples that come easily to mind. The point is, for something I feed my family so often, I want to make it as healthy and flavorful as I can.

The innovation: Not adding sugar to the sauce, and not peeling the tomatoes first.

When I first started researching tomato sauce recipes, I got really discouraged – the recipe always calls for sugar, and to peel the tomatoes, or blanch then peel the tomatoes. I didn’t want to do either.  I didn’t want to add sugar because I wanted to make something completely healthy and as minimally processed as possible. I didn’t want to have to spend the extra time working on the tomatoes, either. This recipe is a chunky but not especially thick – if you are looking for a tomato sauce recipe like you see in a magazine or on TV, this isn’t it. It’s chunky with real tomato and fresh vegetables and herbs, and the small amount of sweetness comes from cooking down the onions and garlic. Using the best quality tomatoes will improve the sweetness as well.

My re- interpretation: Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

4 lg cloves garlic chopped

6 stalks celery rough chopped

1 lg Spanish onion rough chopped

6 fresh sage leaves rough minced

1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves rough minced

8 fresh basil leaves rough minced

Olive oil for sauteing

5 lb ripe Roma tomatoes (look for ones that are bright red and only the slightest bit soft or not soft at all) cut into quarters

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (look for a can that says Imported from Italy)

2 packages crimini mushrooms cut into halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 of 750ml bottle of dry red wine ( I prefer Burgundy)

 

1) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a 10Qt or larger stock pot. Add garlic and onion, cook on high heat til they have a golden brown color.

2) Lower heat, then add celery, fresh herbs and mushrooms with the red wine, cover with lid and leave sweat for at least 30 mins, or until vegetables look more tender.

3) Add fresh and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper ( use a little now, adjust later as needed) and let cook covered at a low simmer for at least 1 and a half hours. The vegetables should be tender, and there should be a significant amount of liquid in the pot.

4)At this point, take a immersion or hand blender and blend everything into the pot together very well, til mixture is chunky. Cook a bit longer, about 30-40 mins, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely before storing away. This will make a large quantity of sauce – I filled 4 2lb deli containers.

Salmon Pan Bagnat

The inspiration: Leftover salmon, gorgeous mixed greens, and wanting to make a quick and easy meal

Leftovers- you have to love them or hate them. Every Shabbat, I prepare baked salmon for my family and there is always some leftover on Sunday. But I was tired of making my usual salmon-with couscous, salmon-with-rice, or salmon-with-pasta using the leftovers. I wanted something with bold flavor, something that would use my leftovers and I wouldn’t have to do more than make a knife (or my hands) dirty.

The innovation: Substituting salmon for tuna, gherkins for cornichons

Pan Bagnat is the classical tuna and vegetable sandwich of southern France. Traditionally, it has hard-boiled eggs, mixed greens or romaine lettuce, roasted squash or peppers (maybe both), cornichons or Nicoise olives and canned tuna. However, like much of Provencal cuisine, the one hand and fast rule is to use whatever is the freshest, the best tasting – and what you have on hand. Works for me! I had salmon to use up, as well as some delicious vegetables and greens. Cornichons add a slightly sour/tart taste that works in perfect contrast to the Dijon in the vinaigrette, but since I was using mixed greens that were slightly bitter and the Dijon together, I was sure the gherkins would add a welcome sweet/tartness to the pan bagnat. You can always omit the gherkins, but I wouldn’t recommend substituting pickle spears or sour pickles. If anything, if you don’t like pickles, add Nicoise or Kalamata olives or capers for a similar taste profile.

My interpretation: Salmon Pan Bagnat

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Ingredients: 

For the vinaigrette:

2 heaping tsp genuine Dijon mustard 

1 and 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar 

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together, set aside in fridge to chill 

For the pan bagnat:

1/2 of a French baguette

1 baked or grilled salmon fillet, about 6 oz, already cooked and cooled

large handful of mixed greens

1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into slices

1 Roma (plum) tomato, cut into slices

2 gherkin pickles cut in half lengthwise 

Olive oil to brush on baguette

Sea Salt 

Black Pepper

To prepare:

1) Brush the insides of the baguette with a light layer of olive oil and sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt and black pepper on top

2) Mix the vinaigrette with the mixed greens til coated very lightly and add to the baguette. You may have extra dressing – that is fine, save it.

3) One layer at a time, add in the cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles.

4) Flake the cooled salmon into large pieces and add to the baguette. 

5) If desired, add the remaining vinaigrette. At this point, it is traditional to wrap the sandwich tightly in foil and refrigerate for an hour.  However, if you are hungry- bon apetite!  

 

 

 

Salmon Salad with Donut Peaches and Pistachios

The inspiration: a long Shabbat afternoon spent with a friend

Shabbat afternoon is the time I use to catch up with my neighbors (who also happen to be good friends of mine).  I live in an apartment building in Brooklyn that is home to about 30 families, and we are all like one big extended family. So many a late Shabbat afternoon (about 2 hours before nightfall on Saturday afternoon) you will find my kids and I visiting a neighbor and sharing a light meal with them.  One of the foods we enjoy at that time besides challah is salad – something light to offset the heavy Shabbat lunch from several hours earlier. I will usually go to visit a friend with fresh produce or some sort of fish and between the two of us we make a couple of salads.

The innovation: pairing a fish with a stone fruit

Salads are fun – you can add so many different combinations. So one Shabbat afternoon I showed up to my friend’s house with donut peaches, leftover baked salmon, and roasted pistachios. It had been a last minute invite, and I was basically making it up as I went. This salad was originally made that Shabbat afternoon with iceberg lettuce, but the flavor of the peaches with the salmon and pistachios stuck with me. Donut peaches are not as sweet as regular peaches – they remind me of more of white peaches – and I find they work really well with salmon.

My interpretation:  Salmon Salad with Donut Peaches and Pistachios

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Ingredients

8 oz fresh, boneless/skinless salmon fillet, baked or grilled

10 to 12 oz spring greens or mesclun mix (you want a mixture that has both sweet and  bitter greens)

3 donut peaches, pitted and sliced

large handful of roasted pistachios, crushed

a scant drizzle of best quality light olive oil

a two-finger pinch of sea salt (if desired)

1) Make sure the salmon is completely chilled if you are preparing it fresh. I have used leftover salmon as well – warm fish will wilt your greens.

2) Carefully flake the salmon, and mix the fish, peaches, and olive oil into the greens with your hands delicately.

3) Taste and add sea salt now if desired. If not, top with pistachios.

 

Recipe for a simple baked salmon

In an aluminum tray or pan,  place your salmon skin side down. Add a sprinkle of salt and squeeze half of a fresh lemon over the fish. Cover tightly, bake at 350 for about 15mins. Fish is done when glistening and completely cooked through.

 

Leftovers Make Lazy Sunday Suppers: Lemon Sesame Salmon Rice Salad

The inspiration:  An article in a recent Cook’s Illustrated, leftover salmon, and what my children wanted for supper.

I was reading a recent article in Cook’s Illustrated about cold rice salads. I’ve eaten cold rice salads – they’re delicious when done well. Keeping my audience in mind (my family) I kept it rather simple.

The innovation: A dish that is traditionally served hot, turning it into a salad and serving it cold.

Most people would think to serve salmon fillet, with a side of rice mixed with peas and carrots hot. I’d agree with them – if I was making the salmon the same day. I was using leftover salmon, and once I cook fish, I will not reheat it. It’s a personal thing – I am very wary of reheating proteins (especially fish) after they have been cooked and sitting in my fridge for a day.

I had several beautiful pieces of lemon-sesame salmon leftover, and when my kids requested “Mommy’s salmon and rice” for supper, I knew I wanted to make this. It’s hot outside, and the kids are in and out all day – something cold and easy to make was the ideal here.

My interpretation: Lemon- Sesame Salmon Rice Salad

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Recipe for Salmon:

4 boneless salmon fillets (each one about 4-6 oz)

Juice from 2 fresh lemons

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sesame Seeds

Lay the fillets on a baking sheet (skin side down), and cover with lemon juice, salt, pepper and a thin, single layer of sesame seeds. ( Too many seeds and some will toast and some won’t) Bake at 350F for approximately 15 mins or until fish is cooked through but not dry. When fish is scraped with a fork, it should flake easily, and should look moist. Cool completely, then remove skin.

 

Rice with Peas and Carrots

3 C basmati rice, rinsed

5 cups vegetable stock

4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

16 oz package of frozen peas and carrots

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add all the ingredients except the peas and carrots. Bring almost to a boil, then add peas and carrots. Bring to a boil, stir, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook covered for 25 mins, or until rice is soft. Turn off fire, leave sit for 10 mins, then transfer to a sheet pan. Spread out over sheet pan to cool, breaking any clumps of rice gently with your hands or a wooden spoon.

In a large pan, take the salmon and break into pieces, but do not mash – when you add the rice the fish will further break apart. Add the rice in batches, folding in the fish as you go.  Taste and readjust for seasoning at this point. This recipe makes 1 very full 9×13 disposable aluminum pan.  Refrigerate fully, and serve either cold straight from the fridge or at room temperature.