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.

KOL FOODS: A Revolution in Kosher Meat

Thank you, KOL Foods, for providing me with the meat used in this recipe. A special thank you to Hadassah Sabo Milner (Social Media Specialist of KOL foods) for her assistance and guidance. KOL poultry hashgacha is OU and CHK (Crown Heights) certified.  Before using any product that you are unfamiliar with regarding certification, please consult your personal Rabbincal authority. I have been given product by KOL Foods, and have not been compensated financially.

I believe I can safely posit the theory that there has never been a time in modern history where a person needed to be so concerned for what went into their food, especially their meat, poultry or fish. Nor have we ever been so aware of the conditions that the animals are raised in, as well. Considering both of these topics, in my opinion, is something that gives me a great deal to contemplate.

While kosher meat is not as harmful to a person, the animals themselves, or the environment as non-kosher (in terms of how the animal is raised, what it is fed, and how it is slaughtered) there is most certainly room to argue if kosher meat does all in its capabilities to both animal and customer.

I sometimes wonder about that. Compared to the way non-kosher animals are slaughtered, shechita is far and away the kindest way to end an animal’s life. As concerned as we are to ensure our animals die humanely, do kosher meat companies also show the same level of care that they live just as humanely?  I know of one company that subscribes to this theory whole-heartedly.

KOL Foods is starting, in my opinion, a quiet but growing revolution in kosher meat, poultry and fish. In a world where additives, injections, corn enhanced feeds and feedlots are the norm, KOL  Foods is leading the charge in the opposite direction.  Their animals are grass fed throughout their entire lives, kept on pasture, and never injected with a single foreign substance. In other words, the animals are raised the way G-d intended them to. And they are slaughtered the same way. It’s a completed cycle, and one that I would be happy to support.

There are all sorts of food ‘movements’ out there – locavorism, farm to table, nose-to-tail. How about adding ‘completely humane’ as well to that list? I believe we should.  I actually got a chance to see if KOL Foods lived up to the hype. The difference in the taste, quality, and overall treatment of the end product is startling in the very best way. I tested both their boneless/skinless chicken legs and their boneless/skinless chicken breasts. To start, I was stunned at the chicken legs – they were entire chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) completely boned out and they were clean. When I say clean, I mean there was little residual fat from the skin, there were no tendons, and no bones or cartilage. The meat itself  took the marinade fantastically, and the taste at the end gave new meaning to the expression ‘it tastes like chicken.”

The chicken cutlets I shall discuss in my next post on KOL Foods- where there will also be the very first ever giveaway for this blog! One lucky reader will win exactly what I tested – a pack of KOL Foods dark chicken fillets and 2 packs of boneless/skinless chicken cutlets! But let me not get too far ahead of myself here- don’t you want to see what I made with my dark chicken fillets?

 

French Style Braised Dark Chicken Fillets with Crimmi mushrooms, white potatoes, onions and fresh herbs.

French Style Braised Dark Chicken Fillets with Crimini mushrooms, white potatoes, onions and fresh herbs.

 

Recipe for French-style Braised Chicken Legs

Ingredients for Marinade

1 package (1.5 lbs approx) KOL FOODS boneless dark chicken fillets

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

6 stems of fresh sage

4 cloves fresh garlic

Salt and pepper

1/2 C of Extra-virgin olive oil

Marinade:

Take 5 sprigs of rosemary, 6 stems of sage, 4 cloves of garlic , 1/2 C of EVOO, a handful of salt and pepper and the chicken thighs and combine.  Cover and leave sit in fridge for a minimum of an hour.

 

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For the Stew:

1 package KOL FOODS boneless dark chicken fillets, pre-marinated (see above)

1/3 C Extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion, cut medium dice

1 bunch celery, cut medium dice

3 large white potatoes, quartered lengthwise and cut medium dice

2 10 oz packages of crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut in half

4 fresh garlic cloves, finely minced

3 stems fresh sage, finely minced

4 Gefen frozen cubes of basil

5 Gefen frozen cubes of parsley

1 1/2 C good red wine ( I used Kedem Burgundy Royale so that or better)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

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Take a 5Qt or larger Dutch oven or stock pot with a tight fitting lid and heat well. Add your pre-marinated dark chicken fillets, searing them for about 3 mins per side. You do not want to completely cook them, just get a bit of golden brown on outside. Remove from pot and set aside.

Using the drippings from searing, add the oil, keeping your heat medium to high. Add onions, garlic and celery, cooking for a few minutes til onions start to become translucent. Add remainder of vegetables, herbs and spices and cook for approx 10 mins this way, then re-add chicken pieces.

 

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Cook for about 50 mins on a low to medium temperature, stirring occasionally. Meal is done when you can cut the chicken into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and potatoes are fork-tender.

Please visit http://www.kolfoods.com/ for information on their wide range of completely free-range, organic products.

 

 

 

KFWE2012 Menu of Desserts Sampled -Finale

What’s the best way to complete a meal than with delicious desserts? KFWE2012 was no exception. I truly enjoyed each sample I tried. Hungry yet?

First stop was Pardes. In fact, someone stopped me and told me to go here “because they have good desserts”.  I tried a berry tartlet, with a meringue-style topping. There was also a spot of sauce on the plate, and I added that to the top of the tart. It was  incredibly delicious! My only complaint: I wanted more! It was light and satisfying, sweet without being overwhelming.

I feel that to enjoy a dessert, you must have a coffee or tea to go with it. Noi Due was next on my travels. The coffee they had on offer was strong and smooth. It reminded me of the strength of Starbucks, but none of the bitterness or after taste. I actually stopped by twice: one to try, one to take home. The one I took home I enjoyed cold the next morning. I will be making a trip to Manhattan to enjoy this again, soon I hope.

My Most Favorite Food is aptly named: their display was both food for the eyes as well as the stomach. In honor of Valentine’s day, they had on offer cookies in the shapes of hearts, X and Os, and lips. I got there too late to enjoy these, sadly. I did enjoy, however, a delicious variation of a linzer tart. Filled with apricot, drizzled with chocolate, it was nutty, cinnamony, and I could have easily eaten a half-dozen.  They also had the most adorable stand with little cakes on sticks shaped in hearts. Just looking at their display made me very happy.

I will say that Guilty Pleasures got my dessert vote of the night. I am a chocoholic, and these did not disappoint in the least. I took a few to sample: one with pink on top filled with dates, a rectangle with an almond on top filled with an amazing nut filling, and one shaped as a strawberry with a rich chocolate-strawberry center. While all of the chocolates were indescribable, the strawberry was the stand-out. The fruit flavor didn’t taste fake! I have to say: I was impressed.  Guilty Pleasures, fellow chocolate lovers, is one to watch out for and tasted.

Silverleaf Caterers had a secret dessert: a tiramisu cake-up! I wasn’t totally surprised that after asking people where they got them, it was from Silverleaf Caterers. They seemed to be going luxe on all their offerings-why would dessert be any different? There were layers of delicious cream alternating with cake inside a ice-pop holder, but it was the cake that got my attention the most. I felt there was too much cream, and found myself a bit impatient: I just wanted to get to the cake already! It was worth it, because the cake was everything one would want: rich, moist, and simply delicious.

Finally, I stopped by Mixology. I’m not a big drinker, but I was intrigued by these mixed drinks. The menu showed what was on offer, and I settled for the passion fruit cocktail. Not sickening sweet, it was the perfect ending to an amazing evening.

Chocolate in Various Forms

From left: Chocolate covered cherries, chocolate-almond truffles, chocolate peanutbutter squares

Eat your heart out! Top: Chocolate covered cherry Bottom: Chocolate peanutbutter square

Chocolate covered cherries and peanutbutter squares – pick as you choose!

A handful of sweetness -take 2 and call me in the AM!

The Finale: on the tray, ready to go!