Moroccan Fish

Posted: April 7, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Passover ended yesterday evening and I’ve been spending the past week and a half on vacation visiting my parents back home. My mom, for this very strictly kosher holiday, has insisted on cooking everything the entire time. “It’s your vacation,” she says, “And besides, I love cooking for you.” That must be where I get it from. What’s a Knife-Using Pretty Girl like me supposed to do?

Learn!

Here’s a quick, delicious, healthy (and kosher-for-passover) tomato-based dish that anyone can make, courtesy of my mom. She calls it Moroccan Fish, though you can use the stew and seasonings on chicken as well. It made for a fantastic Monday night dinner. ;)

Moroccan Fish

- Fillet of fish (tilapia or salmon works well, though most any fish can be used)
- Olive oil for sauteing
- Large yellow onion, chopped
- A few cloves of crushed garlic, to taste
- At least one red bell pepper, slivered or chopped
- 2 cups of diced tomatoes (or can substitute one 16 oz can of diced tomatoes)
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin: all to taste
- Cilantro or parsley (optional)

In a large pan over medium heat, saute chopped onion for a few minutes, until soft. Add garlic and sautee for another minute, but don’t let it brown. Add the red pepper and let soften, which will take a few minutes. Add the tomatoes. Sprinkle the pinch of sugar, the salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin. Add clinatro or parsley if doing so. Adjust to taste. Once the stew is thick and spiced appropriately, add the fish to the pan. Let it cook in the stew for a while, then flip so that both sides absorb the flavor of the stew.

Alternatively, you can bake the fish if that is your preference. Place the fish in a tray and smother with the stew once it’s ready. Wrap the tray tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, or whenever it seems to be done. Adjust the amounts of ingredients based on how many people you are cooking for!

If you only have eggs, you make the stew, crack a couple of eggs on top, sprinkle in some zahtar and voila! You have shakshuka, an Israeli staple dish. It goes well with pita bread.


Why is this cookie different from all other cookies?

Posted: March 24, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Keeping kosher year-round is already challenge enough but with the start of Passover at sundown this Monday, March 29th, restrictions are especially tight. Chametz, or leavened breads and grains are the big no-no for this holiday, which means no food or drink that is fermented or can cause fermentation is allowed to be eaten. So, no bread, cake, high fructose corn syrup, or most alcohols for me for a while! If you’re an Ashkenazi Jew, meaning an Eastern European background, rice and kitneot, beans, are additionally off-limits. This is a custom strictly followed by many Ashkenazim, but since my great-grandparents hail from Turkey and Syria, bring on the lentil soup! In the end it almost doesn’t matter, however, because most family friends who join us for the seders are Ashkenaz and my family wouldn’t serve anyone something they couldn’t eat. That’d be terribly ironic.

So: no bread, check. No rice or beans (for others), check. What about cookies?

The ubiquitous kosher-for-passover cookie is the dreaded macaroon which, sure, lots of people enjoy but that I detest. Awkward and lumpy, it comes from a can and tastes like fake coconut. Ugh. For years I thought that the french macaron cookie was the same thing but in French. Not so. By contrast, the macaron is elegant, sweet and usually colorful. Not lumpy at all, it’s a dainty, chewy sandwich and thoroughly chic. It turns out they too are kosher for Passover! I’m thrilled! Finally, an alternative to “delightful” post-seder desserts like chocolate covered matzah or gummy fake fruit slices. Trust me, you don’t want to eat those.

Macarons can be a bit tricky to recreate since they’re more of a bakery delight but here is a simple recipe you can try at home. May it sustain you during this restrictive holiday!

Parisian Passover Coconut Macarons
(From “1,000 Jewish Recipes” by Faye Levy)

The secret to keeping these moist and light is to make them with Italian meringue, a mixture of beaten egg whites beaten with boiling sugar syrup. Use finely grated unsweetened coconut, which is available at natural foods stores, fine supermarkets and some ethnic markets. Can be served plain or filled with a high-quality jam or a buttercream frosting.

1 4 cups sugar
w cups water
3 egg whites
3 cups (8 ounces) unsweetened
grated coconut

Position two racks in oven and preheat oven to 325F. Grease two or three baking sheets and sprinkle on matzah meal or potato flour, shaking off excess.

Prepare Italian meringue: Combine sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Boil without stirring for three minutes. Begin whipping egg whites at low speed and continue whipping until stiff.

Meanwhile, boil syrup until it reaches the softball stage (238F on a candy thermometer). Gradually pour hot syrup onto stiff egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Continue beating mixture until cooled to room temperature. Stir in coconut.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (about half-inch diameter, No. 4), pipe mixture onto prepared baking sheets in rosettes or peaked mounds of about one-inch diameter, spacing them about one inch apart. Alternatively, moisten your fingers and shape the mixture in peaked mounds of about one-inch diameter.

Bake until ridges or peaks of macaroons turn light brown, but rest of surface remains pale in color, 12-13 minutes; they should be just firm enough so they can be removed from baking sheet without losing their shape. Halfway through baking time, switch positions of baking sheets from lower to upper racks so all bake evenly.

Using a metal spatula, very carefully remove macaroons from baking sheet and transfer to a rack to cool.

Makes 50 to 60 macarons



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.