We are the Champions, my friends…

Oh, my… Well, on the final word from Blogathon ’06, it turns out I won Best Blog Overrall! Wow… This just… I’m just shocked! I am honored to win this, and thank all those who voted for me.

As for a recipe this week, I wanted to play around with the idea of Loco Moco, and modify it into a breakfast sandwich. So, my friends, let us go back to Hawaii and give it a Midwest feel with Latke Moco. We begin by shredding 1 Medium-sized Red Potato and blending with 1 egg & 1/4 onion, diced. Mix together briskly, and then shape into 4 pankakes about 3 in. in diameter. In a pan, pan-fry the latkes in 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil for about 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes until golden and crispy on each side.

Taking the cooked latkes, set them aside on paper towels to drain as we next take out 4 Veggie Burger Patties and warm them in the microwave. As they cook per dirtections on the package, take 4 eggs and cook them sunny-side up. While they fry up, toast 8 slices of your favorite bread to lightly toasted to medium brown. As the final touch, we need 1 cup chicken Gravy warmed up.

NOW we have fun! Start with two slices of toast, and spread mayo on one side of each toast slice. Setting the mayo sides up, Cover one slice with a burger pattie, a fried egg, a latke, cover with gravy, andf then finally top with the other slice of bread. This is a VERY messy, but VERY good & filling breakfast, if I may say so myself! I’ll be back next week with more insanity from my kitchen, so Shalom and Good Cooking!

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August 27, 2006. Blogathon 2006, breakfast, recipes. 3 comments.

A salute to the Union Jack!

To start things off, the OU just announced that bags of Laffy Taffy candy were accidentally labeled Kosher Dairy whilst in reality they are Kosher Parve. I thought some of you might like to know this, as taffy is nummy in anyone’s tummy! I’m writing this a bit under the weather. There’s a summer flu going around, so I’m relaxing, resting, and getting better.

I’ve also been looking into many culinary scholarships in the world, and trying to figure out HOW to pay for schooling. It’s amazing that there are MANY Jewish grants and scholarships, and not a single one for Kosher cooking that I’ve found! Note to myself, when I’m a famous chef… I’ll START one, darnit! I’ve been also trying to contact Kosher companies, seeing if any of them have cash set aside for those wanting to get into the Kosher industry. See, this is just one of the many reasons I want to hit Kosherfest.

I don’t know, though… I know I can become a chef – and a Kosher one at that! Many readers tell me via e-mail that WHEN I finish school, I should get onto one of the cooking reality shows. Thus by making a name for myself, also making a name for Kosher cooking. My worry is since my style is VERY different from normal kosher cooking, I might not be the best choice for such a thing. But then again, $100,000 or so & a kitchen full of new equipment COULD go a long way towards opening my dream restaurants.

See, I have a rather basic idea, really. Buy or build a LARGE complex in Seattle with a 24 hour Kosher coffee shop (Except on Shabbos) on the corner, and then TWO separate restaurants: One Dairy/vegetarian/Vegan, and one a Kosher Steakhouse. In between them both would be a bar in the center where people in both restaurants could, if they choose, mingle and chat. Possibly even a covered outdoor garden patio for smokers or those that enjoy the night air as they eat. And above it all, a loft for the wife and I to live, raise a family, and live out our days happily.

Already I’m finding rare meats and foods, and starting negotiations and pricing. I know I want Kobe Beef, and I know an American distributor that would be willing to sell me cattle & ship it to Kosher slaughter houses. I also am always researching vegetarian and vegan cooking to find ways to cook it without it being bland. Just because it doesn’t use animal products, it doesn’t have to TASTE like you’re eating twigs & berries.

But, this is several years off. At least 3 years, minimum… For now, I just plan, store ideas, and try to figure out the best way to design and decorate the place, as well as how to best run it. I mean, I will do everything in my power to ensure my employees have insurance from day one. I also am choosing Seattle because I not only love the city, but part of the year we’ll be open until 10 PM or so on Fridays, while other times in the year we’ll be opening at like 4-5 PM Saturdays. Either way, the staff and I will get at least ONE weekend night off, thus making them even more happy! I mean, being able to DATE and LIVE on a weekend night whilst working food service! Who knew it could happen!?

But I do digress… We’re here for recipes and cooking, not listening to a foodie like myself ramble on about his restaurant plans. And cooking we shall do, too! You see, I feel a bit of a British flair is in order. While Irish-German, I’ve always felt a kinship to the British. I call the restroom the W.C. (water Closet), I know the proper usage of ‘bloody’ and ‘bollocks’, and have always seen the British cuisine as overlooked by many. So stop waiting for the bowler to pitch at you, it’s cooking time!

First off, I want to mention that both these recipes were a bit of a request to me. To start with, a friend in London felt bad that she loved to drink at bars, but felt guilty when eating her favorite dish: Bangers and Mash. Now, Bangers & Mash can be both the simplest and most complex dishes you’ll ever make. In essence, it’s mashed potatoes and sausage covered in gravy, and then with a side of peas or brussel sprouts. I prefer the sprouts, myself, but peas are the norm. Either way, what SEEMS like very simple and cheap ‘pub food’ can often become your worst nightmare in the kitchen if you don’t cook it right. Either the potatoes are lumpy, the sausage explodes, or even the gravy burns. This is why I think that Bangers and Mash gets such a bad rap. Someone made a mistake on one small part, and it all goes to pot. But fear not! It’s time for your favorite Renegade Kosher Cook to come to your rescue!

First off, we need to look at sausages. If I don’t want to MAKE my own sausage, I’ll order it from Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage in Los Angeles, CA. Also, if you want a non-meat route, Tofury has some Vegan Sausage Links that are surprisingly good. I know, Tofurky is, in essence, scary stuff. I remember the green tofu molded to look like a turkey, complete with a faux wishbone. It’s no longer as frightening -or- as disgusting as it used to taste. But then, the Vegan market has come a LONG way in improving flavor and taste.

Now, I like to start with 6 to 8 sausage links for cooking. Now, I use beerbrauts, myself, which means that it’s cooked IN BEER. Now, there are several Kosher beers out there: The top ones would be Coors and Miller products, which are overseen by the OU. Also there’s a nice microbrew company I’ve plugged before, Shmaltz. Nice and heady with a robust taste, I’ll drink it when I can AFFORD it. But, since I am poor, I stick with Miller, myself.

Now, to cook the sausages, we start by warming a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, then pouring one bottle of beer into the skillet. Opening another bottle for the cook to nurse on, set the sausages into the beer before covering with a BIG lid. Now, just let the sausages rest there in the beer for about 5-7 minutes. The good thing is that right now the sausage is getting all the flavors from the beer, but the alcohol is cooking away. Remember, with most meats alcohol can be your friend in cooking.

After waiting the 5-7 minutes, you want to take off the lid (Careful of steam!), and then flip them over. The sausages should be getting plump, and the smell should be delicious in your kitchen right now. Recover and continue to cook the sausages for another 5-7 minutes or until browned LIGHTLY all over. We want them cooked, but not burned. Another way to cook the sausages is to set them in a glass casserole dish with a bottle of beer and 1 onion, diced. Just cover with the lid or foil, and then bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes and continue. The bonus of this way is if you like onions, you can serve them over the sausages!

Now, we have our cooked sausages. Turn off the heat, remove them from the beer, and discard of the used beer. It’s given its all, and has nothing of value left. Or does it? There’s still lots of flavor there, and with the added meat juices from the sausage, we COULD make a gravy! YES! Let’s do that! Keeping the beer in the skillet or casserole dish (With the onions if you did it the casserole route), Now, gravy is EASY! What we want to do is keep heating the beer over low heat and SLOWLY whisk in 1 teaspoon Cornstarch to start with. If it has trouble thickening as it cooks, slowly continue to add cornstarch in 1/2 teaspoon increments every 2 minutes until nice, thick, and bubbly.

Now, scoop 1 cup mashed potatoes onto each plate, cover with two sausages, and then ladle the gravy over the sausages & potatoes. Finally, add a heaping scoop of peas or brussel sprouts and serve with a nice beer. Mmmmm, just the thing to enjoy after welcoming in the shabbos or while watching some new episodes of Doctor Who! Now, in Great Britain there’s a variation of this known as a ‘Banger Clock’. This is 12 sausages arranged like the points on a clock on a LARGE mound of mashed potatoes before being SMOTHERED in gravy. Eating a whole Banger Clock is a major bragging feat, and some pubs even have contests to see if someone can even manage the feat in one sitting.

But, none the less, we leave Bangers and Mash for ANOTHER British treat: Spotted Dick. I’ll let you all giggle for a while before I continue…

Okay, it’s not THAT funny! Stop it now! Jeez… Now then, funny name aside, Spotted Dick is quite the delight in Britain. And no, it’s not what happens after spending an evening with a Madam of Ill Repute! Well, it is, but… You know what I mean!!! Gah! Anyhow! Food! Let’s make this before my readers’ minds go permanently into the gutter…

First we need to mix 1 1/4 cups self rising flour, a pinch of Kosher salt, 3/4 cup bread crumbs or Matzos Meal, 1/2 cup fine sugar, the zest of one lemon, 6 oz. by WEIGHT of raisins or currants, and 3/4 cup shredded vegetable suet. If you can’t get vegetable suet, I suggest using 3/4 cup shortening. It’s not the SAME, but… It works well in a pinch. Now, mixing all the ingredients together, we want to scoop the ingredients out to the outside of the bowl and slowly add 5 Tablespoons of Milk or soy milk to the center. Then fold the dry goods into the milk and knead until a nice dough is formed. I recommend flouring your hands first, to keep the dough from sticking.

Next, flour the counter before plopping the dough out of the bowl. Flouring your rolling pin, you want to now roll out the dough until about 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Now, taking some cheesecloth, take the dough and wrap it loosely in the cheesecloth before tying off the corners and edges atop tightly. Now, taking a LARGE pot, fill it with water and bring it to a rapid boil. Taking your bag of dough, drop it into the bubbling water and boil the bag for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When it’s done, take the bag out of the boiling water, unwrap, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Then cover with your favorite custard and enjoy warm!

Okay, so now you have a delicious British dinner all hot, ready, and waiting to eat! I hope you enjoy! I’ll be back next week, once again, to bring you more food and thoughts from my demented mind. Shalom and Good Cooking!

August 18, 2006. dessert, main courses, recipes, Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Summer, Summer, how could you leave and not take me?

I’ve gotten a few e-mails asking why I’m not addressing the Israel war, and I figured I’d explain that. I am a food blog. I know the pain over there, and I know that it is a sad thing. War is never good, and I’m opposed to war in all forms. I do hope the war ends soon, and will be praying for those hurt on BOTH sides. But, as I said before, this is a FOOD blog. You don’t come here for my political views, you come here for news on the Kosher industry and recipes! Oh, and my occasional Jewish music fanboying. So, no, I’m not going to go into the war on this blog. Call me a bad Jew if you want, but this is NOT the place for such topics! We’re a FOOD blog, and I’m sticking with that!

Okay! With the info out of the way, let’s do this week’s article! I want to look at some party treats that go well at any gathering since Labor Day is rapidly approaching. The first is a Spiked Lemonade that refreshes on hot summer nights, as well as tastes pretty darn good! First we need a package of Kool-Aid Lemonade. Kool-Aid, for those who don’t know, -IS- certified Kosher by the OU. Dropping it into the pitcher with one cup of sugar, we next go for the gin. Now, the important thing to remember is that most gin, with the exception of Sloe Gin & Flavored Gin, is Kosher. But, if you want flavor, I recommend Gordon’s as their flavored gins are the only ones the OU certifies Kosher. Me, I prefer just adding one to two cups of Gin to the lemonade before topping it off with water. Stir well, and serve in glasses over ice with a wedge of lemon on the glass. Simple, cheap, and effective party drinks! The pitcher can be chilled in the fridge, and can be kept for up to two weeks before going stale.

Now, another party favorite is the dips. Ah, something to shmear all over crackers and eat to your heart’s content. Something my family & I always enjoyed is this simple family dip. First we start with one softened block of cream cheese and chop it into cubes. Adding it to your food processor, we want to put in a dash of hot sauce (optional), one can (or 12 oz.) of artichoke hearts, and one can of sliced black olives, drained. Now, from this point we’re going to mix it in pulses, watching to make sure it doesn’t get too solid. If it starts to clump up, add about 1/16th cup of milk and continue to blend. This cold dip, when done, can be served in a bowl to be spread on your favorite crackers, pita bread, and even matzos during Pesach! (Well, that is if your branch allows you to put shmear of any sort on matzos. If not, well… Um… Sorry?) But if kept in a sealed container, this dip can keep for up to about a week in the fridge.

So we now have a drinks and dip for our last summer party. What else do we need? Well, a cheese and veggie platter always goes over well, but I have ANOTHER idea in mind. Using a small slow cooker, let’s make some BBQ beans & franks! First we need two packages of soy/vegan hot dogs sliced into bite-sized pieces. We then add them to the slow cooker with one onion, diced and one 28 oz. Bottle of your favorite kosher BBQ sauce. If you feel at a loss, The Kosher Blog did an article on different Kosher sauces to get you started. Finally, stir in one can of chili or kidney beans, drained. I’ll warn you, chili beans are CALLED chili beans for a REASON! They have a kick, so stick with kidney beans if you’re worried about heat. Now, cook this on LOW for 6 hours, or on HIGH for 3 hours. When done, stir and serve. This side goes over VERY well with kids, and even some adults, too!

Now, I’d get into BBQing, but we did that in another article. I prefer some nice ground chuck or bison, myself. What, you’ve never made your own patties!? FOR SHAME! *wags finger* Well then, before we go, let’s do this! Now, before doing this, I assume you all ate the dairy about two hours ago, and you’re now cooking the burgers in the evening, yes? I thought so. Okay! Just making sure so I’m not yelled at!

We’ll start with 2 pds. Ground check from a cow or bison. I prefer bison meat, myself, as its leaner and the flavor is so much more rich. To this we want to mix in one onion, minced, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/4 cup matzos meal, one egg, and a dash of liquid smoke. (For the record, the OU does certify several brands of liquid smoke. It’s a great addition to any kitchen!) After mixing up with your hands, shape the meat into 3-4 in. Patties that are about 1/4 in. Thick. If you are worried, just use a hamburger press to shape the patties, but my hands work fine for me. Cook over an open flame as you would regular patties, and enjoy! Yes, I know, they seem like little personal meatloafs, but in effect that is what a good hamburger SHOULD be! A mini meatloaf between two buns with ketchup, pickles, and horseradish mustard. Mmmm…

Well, no matter where the end of Summer finds you this year, I do hope you all have a safe and fun time at whatever parties you go to, and remember to have a designated driver. The 4th of July & Labor Day are the two biggest drunk pickups across the country as everyone spends all the weekend outside drinking beer like it was soda. Drive safe, or rent a towncar or taxi if you’re going to be drinking away from home. Anyhow, Shalom and good cooking!

August 11, 2006. drinks, main courses, recipes, side dishes. 5 comments.

Carne Asada, or How the Southwest Was Won

After last weekend’s blogathon, I must have done SOMETHING right. It appears I’m nominated for both ‘Best Blog’ and ‘Best Food Blog’. I’m honored, to be honest. As for the funds raised, I ended up raising $161 for the Aleph Institute! Mozel Tov!!! ^^ Now, next year I hope to raise even MORE!

As for my FINAL contest, one lucky blogger won an entire day’s or Shabbat’s meals prepared by me for them & their family. This lucky winner is: Liesl Cluff! Now, to contact them via e-mail to set up a date for this day of nummy meals for them & their family! Also, it seems I’m in the Top 50 over at JBlog Central! Wow, this has just been a week of amazement! In other news, for Mother’s Day the wife & I gave my mother a Cypress tree for her yard, so it can grow up well and always remind her of the love I feel for her. Well, we just got a picture of it, and its doing VERY well!

So, I admit to liking the anime & manga Yakitate!! Japan. I mean, it’s anime AND cooking in one! Of course I love it. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I live in Southern California right now… This is both good and bad. Bad because its HOT!!! But good because I learn so many ethnic dishes! The one I learned the most is Carne Asada! This dish in Mexico is like barbecue in America: Every area has their own styles. Now, several articles have been written by those much more talented than I on USING Carne Asada, but what I want to look at is MAKING Carne Asada from scratch. True, gentile readers can buy it in the store, but what of those of us who must get kosher meat? We need a way to enjoy this truly authentic Mexican culinary delight!

First we need about 2 pounds of good flank steak. You want to get rather fatty steak, as it will hold flavors during the marinade and cooking, and keep the meat MOIST! Remember, fat CAN be trimmed off after cooking, and with Carne Asada it’s best. Talk with your butcher and you can likely get JUST the right cut of beef.

Now, next we need a GOOD acidic marinade. I like to start with a 1/2 cup each of lime and lemon juice and a 1/4 cup orange juice. The acid in the citrus fruits will dig deep into the meat, helping the steak to retain the rest of the marinade while adding in their own unique flavor. If you want AND its in season, you can substitute pomegranate juice for orange juice for a rather unique taste. As long as its an acidic fruit, you can use your best judgment here. But the lime and lemon juice is IMPERATIVE to the marinade!

Now, a good Carne Asada needs some other ingredients in its marinade. Next we add 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced up REALLY good! Then we need about 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ground directly into the marinade. Now, I just give my grinder a few twists to get about a teaspoon, myself. The pepper’s just there to help balance, and need not be exact. To this, we also want to add a dash to a teaspoon your favorite hot sauce. There are a lot of kosher hot sauces out there, so I’m sure you can find your favorite!

Now we come to the final marinade ingredient: Tequila. Now, to my understanding, any kind is theoretically kosher as long as there is no worm in the bottle. Now, the OU recommends ONLY clear (Also known as Silver) tequila, as its 100% agave juice -or- a mixture of agave juice and sugar cane. Some brands that they even certify is Don Bernardo G, Sol Dios Anejo, and Sol Dios Platinum & Blanco. No word on the blue tequila, though. I’ll have to keep looking into that. But, the final ingredient in this marinade is about 1/2 cup clear tequila. Don’t worry, folks, the alcohol WILL cook away. (And all the husbands and boyfriends curse loudly at this.)

Now, taking your marinate, stir it up really well in a large sealable container before COMPLETELY submerging the steak(s) into it. If you don’t have a big enough one, a bowl with tightly-fitted plastic wrap will also work in a pinch. The key is to just let the meat soak for about 4-5 hours in your fridge, and get all tenderized and flavored by your marinade. Trust me, the wait is worth it.

Next we fire up the ol’ grill. If you don’t HAVE a grill, even an indoor electric grill (I feel your pain), then you can use a cast iron skillet or griddle. But taking the steak(s) out of the marinade, put them on the grill to start cooking. DO NOT THROW OUT THE MARINADE! You’ll see why in a minute.

Now, we want to cook the steak to about medium well to well done, just to make sure there is no possible blood left in the meat. Kashrut law, folks! As this is the case, THIS is why I leave my fat ON the beef during cooking! It helps keep the meat juicy and tender, and let’s face it! It just tastes GOOD!!! Anyhoo, we’re cooking the steak(s) for about 9-10 minutes on one side before flipping. Right before flipping, take the remaining marinade and brush some all over the steak, flip it, then brush on the other side. This is just to give it some added taste, and to help even more in keeping it moist. Cook on this side for another 9-10 minutes, then check with a barbecue fork. If you pierce it and clear fluids come out, your steak is ready. If red juices, just keep flipping every 2 minutes and re-testing so neither side gets burned until done.

Taking your steaks off the grill, set them on a plate and let them REST for about 10 minutes. Resting is VERY important to beef! It helps lock in all the flavors, and makes the cutting MUCH easier! Now, as the beef rests, use a small skillet and take 1 small onion, diced up roughly; 1 green pepper, diced; and finally 1 small hot red pepper, diced and toss them into the griddle. If you want, you can leave out the hot pepper, but what’s the fun in life without a bi of a KICK! Anyhow, pan-fry these in the skillet with a little bit of olive oil. If you are feeling brave, this is a time to use my fire oil instead to REALLY add some spice! ^^ Now, I want you to just lightly saute the peppers and onion, just until the onions reach a nice golden color and start to curl & brown at the edges. The browning is carmelization, and is a GOOD thing in small doses! Once the onions and peppers reach this state, remove them from the heat.

Taking your rested steaks, you can trim the fat off, if you wish. I leave it on, just for the nummy taste, but if you want to trim… Do it NOW, and not before. It’s done its job in keeping your meat tender and juicy. From here, we want to trim the beef into thin strips, about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick or so. Just use your best judgment, okay? Taking your strips, mix them with your onions and peppers, and you have Carne Asada!!!

Now, there’s several ways to enjoy this! You can eat it plain with some beans and red rice, roll it up in a tortilla or taco shell and serve it topped with salsa, guacamole, and dairy-free sour cream (Soy sour cream isn’t recommended, but if you HAVE to have sour cream…). You could also serve the steak strips separate from the onions and peppers, and have the guacamole, dairy-free sour cream, & salsa along with warmed tortillas to serve it as fajitas! No matter how you serve it, this is an excellent main course that brings a festive feeling to ANY dinner table! Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed this article. I am experimenting with a new style of writing cooking articles, as you can see, with all the ingredients in bold. Tell me what you think? Anyhow, Shalom and Good Cooking!

August 6, 2006. Blogathon 2006, main courses, recipes. 9 comments.