Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm Back

Back from Istanbul and full of good food, good stories and great pix.
Watch this blog for more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Purim Make Noise for Kreplach

Most of us associate Purim foods with sweets such as hamantaschen cookies or other pastries, but kreplach, an Ashkenazi filled pasta, have long been enjoyed at Purim, probably because of the dumpling’s shape, which is associated with the tri-cornered hat ascribed to evil Haman. (Purim is March 20-21 this year.)

This Jewish boiled dumpling has roots back to medieval France and migrated with the Jews as they headed east. Making the dough and filling the pasta were labor-intensive, so kreplach were saved for Purim and a few other holidays.

I grew up eating kreplach stuffed with meat or chicken swimming in my chicken soup, but cheese and fruit jam variations are also popular.

Here are a few of my favorite kreplach recipes. These recipes use square wonton or goyza wrappers. If you want to make your own dough, use egg noodle dough rolled out very thin and cut into three-inch squares.

Don't feel like making kreplach?  Buy some premade tortellinis or wontons and enjoy the spirit of the day.

Meat or Poultry Kreplach
Makes about 30 dumplings

This recipe calls for raw ground meat or poultry. However, left-over pot roast, brisket or roast chicken make fabulous fillings. To substitute the cooked meat, do not use the ground meat, instead use ¾ of lb. of leftovers, minced fine, and add it to the browned onions and garlic. If the meat is highly seasoned you may want to reduce the amount of salt and pepper you use and not add the optional spice.

2 Tbs. oil
1 small onion, minced fine
1-2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken, crumbled into small bits
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon OR ground ginger, optional
1 egg, beaten
About 8 oz. of square wonton or goyza wrappers

Heat oil in large fry pan. Sauté onion until light brown. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Add raw meat, sautéing until cooked through, breaking up any lumps of clumps. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon OR ginger if using. Drain excess fat and let cool. Mix in egg. (For a smoother filling, process in a food processor until smooth.)

Keep unused wonton squares covered to prevent them from drying out. Place about 1 tsp. of filling in the middle of each wrapper. Lightly wet a finger or pastry brush with water and moisten the borders of the square with water. Fold the lower left hand corner over the filling so it meets with the upper right hand corner, forming a triangle. Press firmly with your fingers or the tines of a fork to make sure the edges have sealed.

Cook in a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water. Cook about half of the kreplach at a time. Reduce heat to simmer and cook dumplings for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through but still has some resistance to the bite and is not mushy. Finished dumplings can be served in hot soup or drained and fried in schmaltz or oil with onions.

Jam Kreplach
Makes about 30 Dumplings

About 2 1/2 cups of fruit preserves or jam such as cherry, apricot or raspberry
About 8 oz. of square wonton or goyza wrappers
Cinnamon and or sugar

Choose a very thick preserve or jam, or drain for a few minutes to remove excess liquid. Place about 1 tsp. of fruit preserves or jam in the middle of a wrapper. Fold, seal and cook as described above. Drain and serve warm or at room temperature sprinkled with cinnamon and or sugar.

Cheese Kreplach
Makes about 30 Dumplings

Most cheese kreplach recipes rely on pot or farmer’s cheese, which can be hard to find. This one is based on a cottage cheese-ricotta filling I developed for blintzes.

½ lb. cottage cheese
½ lb. ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon OR ground coriander, optional
About 8 oz. square wonton or goyza wrappers
Sour cream and or fruit sauce

Drain cottage cheese and discard liquid. Push the cottage cheese through a strainer or a sieve or whirl in a food processor to break up the curds. Mix with ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, salt, pepper and optional cinnamon or coriander. Place about 1 tsp. of filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold, seal and cook as described above. Drain. Serve warm or at room temperature with sour cream and or fruit sauce.

A version of this post originally appeared in the Temple Beth Abraham Omer.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Not Quite Ready for Eat. Live. Be.

Earlier this year, I signed up to participate in Eat. Live. Be., a series of blogging posts on how to eat more responsibly and healthily.  I was excited to participate. Then I had a major health scare.  The scare over, my deadlines, business commitments, etc. waylaid me from participating.  Too bad, if I had found a way to make time, I'm sure I would have benefited from participating.

Others who have been participating have been faithfully linking to Faith, so I just wanted to give a shout out to them and encourage you to visit their blogs and read their posts on these topics.  I hope to take a deep breath soon and write and about these topics (and lose weight and get healthier) when I return from Istanbul later this month.

Here are the Eat. Live. Be. folks --  please be sure to check out their blogs and watch this space for some catch up posts when I return from Turkey.

Cucina Bella
In Good Taste
Dine and Dish
The Anderson Crew
Eats Well With Others
The Starnes Family
Family and Food
Tri-Fit Mom
Cooking is Medicine
Sweet Flours
NJ Epicurean
Stop, Drop, and Blog
Hungry Housewife
Healthy Eating for Ordinary People
Sarah’s Sweet Creations
Chez Us
Lick a Plate