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Archive for January, 2011

Super Bowl Spicy

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I don’t know much about football.  I have never understood the game.  I’m not even sure who’s playing this year…that’s probably more than I should care to admit.  I don’t feel that guilty though, because we all know that a good Super Bowl Party is only half about the game.  The other half is about what you’re serving, and how well it satisfies the munchies at half-time (and during the overpriced commercials).  Food, I know; food, I understand.  So I feel quite involved in the success of Super Bowl Sunday, no matter who wins…as long I’ve got it covered from my end and plates come back empty!

Fun, easy and casual fare is what’s needed –so put away your gourmet, high-brow recipes for another day.  If your guests can eat it with their hands, all the better.  And for whatever reason (…not really sure why!), go SPICY!

Just to remind you, here are the most popular serving suggestions for your big fanfest:

  • Chili – there are probably about a 1000 plus chili recipes out there.  Easy to put into a mug or hot cup and eat while watching the game.  Very warming and filling, great with tortilla chips and can be made ahead in your slow cooker.
  • Hot Wings (a.k.a. Buffalo wings) – spicy and finger-licking good are what you’re aiming for (recipe to follow).  And let’s face it – when else is it acceptable to serve something requiring that many napkins at a party?
  • Sub-sandwiches/Hoagies – sub or hoagie rolls work well, or if you have access to ordering a 6-foot long roll, it will be all the easier at assembly time.  Be creative with your fillings –here are some good options depending on your available prep. time:
    • Layer an assortment of mixed cold-cuts,  cut vegetables  and greens
    • Layer slices of thinly sliced grilled chicken and roasted vegetables
    • Layer paper-thin slices of slow-roasted ribeye roast or seared steak and top with caramelized onions and peppers.
  • Chips and Dips – crudités, tortilla chips, bread sticks, etc. can be paired with an array of bean dips, hummus, guacamole, spinach or onion dips, and the list goes on…
  •  Kebabs – pretty much anything skewered and grilled will be appreciated, from meats/poultry to fruits for dessert.

For all the years I’ve enjoyed Buffalo Wings – the perfect marriage of spicy and sticky sweet, tender with a crisp bite — never did I realize that they were so named because ( you guessed it!) they were made famous in Buffalo, NY.   The Anchor Bar in Buffalo made these spicy babies known and loved far and wide.   To this day, Buffalo is a city known for its wings…and I guess by extension, Super Bowl Sunday too. 

Traditionally Buffalo Wings are deep fried, or that’s how they do it in restaurants anyway.  I was able to get deliciously crisp results from roasting them in the oven, sans all the extra fat of deep frying on an already infamously caloric day.  These are also really easy, which is a plus for entertaining.   Win or lose, a sure touchdown!

Red Hot Baked Buffalo Wings

These wings are hot, but surprisingly addictive!  Have lots of napkins and ice water on hand!

Yield:  48 pieces

1 cup flour
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
24 chicken wings, split in two at the joint


This hot sauce can be mellowed by adding a little more margarine (1-2 tbsp.). 


½ cup hot red pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot sauce)
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
6 tbsp. margarine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce


Combine flour and spices in a large Ziploc bag.  In batches, add some of the chicken wings to the bag and shake to coat with seasoned flour mixture.  Shake off excess flour and transfer to a large greased baking sheet or baking dish.  Arrange in an even single layer.  Repeat with all remaining chicken wing pieces.  Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake for 40-45, turning chicken wing pieces over once halfway through cooking time.  Wings should be golden brown and have a crisp appearance.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While wings are cooking, sauce can be prepared.   Combine hot sauce, salt, brown sugar margarine, and Worcestershire sauce in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir to blend and bring to a boil.  Season to taste with more salt or black pepper, if needed.   Remove from heat and pour sauce over wings (rewarm sauce before dressing wings if already cooled).  Using tongs, toss with sauce until the wings are coated.  Serve hot or warm and enjoy as you root for your team.


Naomi Ross and Park East Kosher Family
By Naomi Ross







Season, To Taste

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Every now and then, there is something deeply satisfying about returning to simplicity, especially the taste of simplicity.     My grandmother did not have complicated recipes, and did not use fancy ingredients – not that she had access to them either.   White truffle oil and chipotle peppers did not exactly abound in Brighton Beach sixty years ago.   There were no panko crumbs, let alone corn flake crumbs.  Like many cooks of her generation, what she lacked in sophisticated ingredients, she more than made up for in the ability to take basic items, season them well and cook with a yiddishe taam, a personal touch and flavor that was infused with love.  This kind of cooking had no measurements; it was completely dependent on feel and taste.  It did not require a cookbook, but rather an understanding of the food before you, and the attention and patience to see it done right.  Back then, this kind of instinctive cooking – of knowing how to bring out the best from what you’ve got – was the norm, not the exception.  It was passed on, mother to daughter.  The result: fresh, flavorful food, well-seasoned by a caring hand whose sole aim was to nourish and please.    Fast forward a generation or two and you’ve  got a lasting memory strong enough to make a grown man coo with delight at the thought of his grandmother’s fried breaded veal chops.  She served them aside mashed potatoes with schmaltz-fried onions and mushrooms (I said “flavorful,” I did not say low fat!).  Also sautéed spinach.  It probably ranks high on his “last meals” list.   “He,” of course, could be your everyman, an average Joe…or in this case, let’s just call him my husband.

Being a bit inquisitive (in the kitchen anyway), I started digging around for more information about this much adored recipe.  After hearing about it for so many years, I couldn’t help but wonder if they actually were as good as his memory led him to believe, or perhaps it was the last remnant of a tasty childhood time and place.   Perhaps like a fine wine, these chops were improving with age!  It was time for me to see for myself….it was time to taste the truth.   And then, it was time to see just how quickly I could polish off the succulent chop, having gnawed at the bone, leaving it nearly clean with hardly a crumb of crispy breading in sight.

To make such a dish is blissfully simple so long as you remember a few important points.  Namely,

1) Season liberally with salt and pepper (No, I can’t tell you how much.)

2) Invest your love and care into those chops.

3) Serve them straight, hot out of the pan.

4) Apply Rules 1-3 to all things in life.

Fried Breaded Veal Chops

Here’s how the recipe was told over to me (I’ve taken the liberty of including my “translations”)

First cut veal rib chops (one per person)

Kosher salt

Pepper (use freshly ground black pepper)

Beaten eggs (figure about 1 egg:2 chops)

Matzo meal (figure approximately ¼ cup per chop)

Oil for frying (canola or vegetable oil)

Season the chops with salt and pepper (or season the beaten eggs).    Dip chops in the eggs.  Then dredge in the matzo meal – try to get an even coating all over.  Fry until golden brown (Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan in a generous layer – at least ½ cup.  When oil is very hot – a drop of water sizzling upon contact – add the breaded veal chop.  Fry until deeply golden brown, turning once, about 8-10 minutes per side depending on thickness.  Transfer to plate lined with paper toweling to drain).  Serve immediately.

Naomi Ross and Park East Kosher Family
By Naomi Ross







Links to Savor

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

January is all about New Year’s resolutions: dieting, pretending to be more healthy (for a good week or two) and all of the promises made after “misbehaving” in December.   There’s a lot of post-holiday guilt in the air.  As I’m not much for food-guilt, I don’t “turn over a new leaf,” — I turn over a new page in a cookbook.  Winter is a great time, while we are cooped up in the snow, to explore and try new things in the kitchen.   Leave it to me to pick January to start my foray into the world of Charcuterie, specifically sausages (not exactly on the dietetic side).  And what an education it has been.

The packaged, industrialized hot dogs and bologna we buy in the supermarket are a far cry from the handcrafted artisan work of yesteryear.  Infusing the meat with your own creative touch and combination of flavors makes it unique and personal.  And though the history of charcuterie has revolved around non-kosher meats (a traditional charcutier in France exclusively dealt with pig), there has been a renewed interest in the craft of preserving and curing meats in the kosher world as well.

Sausages naturally seemed like a good place to begin, as fresh sausages are of the easier and more versatile categories of charcuterie to understand and prepare.  Making sausages mostly just involves grinding the meat, incorporating seasonings and other ingredients (fresh herbs, vegetables, etc.), stuffing the mixture into casings, and smoking or cooking them.  Natural casings come from the inner lining of the animal’s intestines (yum!).  There are also natural processed collagen casings (edible) that are made from the animal’s collagen tissue which is extruded into the shape of the sausage casing (this is the kind Park East Kosher uses in their homemade sausages).

How to Cook ‘em

Fresh sausages can be sautéed, roasted, grilled and even poached.  The main thing to keep in mind though, is that the heat should be moderate enough that the casing doesn’t burst.    The internal temperature should reach 150°F.  Here are the benefits to each method:

Sautéed: main benefit is to create a beautifully browned skin with tasty texture.  10-12 minutes on medium-low heat.

Roasting: easiest and most effortless method (but no amber skin).  10-12 minutes on 300°F.

Grilling: most flavorful method and a fantastic way to impart smokiness to the sausage.  Grill over indirect heat (at least part of the time), about 10-15 minutes.

Poached: the most gentle and uniform cooking method, but does not impart color or flavor, so should be reserved for sausages that have been cooked or smoked (ex. hot dogs).

How to Serve ‘em

  • Hoagie-style.   Put the sausage in a bun with roasted peppers and onions.  Don’t forget the beer.
  • Pasta and rice dishes abound – change up the seasonings in any style of cuisine.
  • Loose sausage.  Break the casing and use the meat mixture to flavor meat sauces, stuffings, scrambled eggs, etc. (then take a Lipitor!)
  •  To add flavor to stews, soups and especially smoked sausages for braised cabbage dishes.

Sausages can be stored fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months (*double wrap in plastic and put in freezer bag).

With my newfound sausage wisdom, I tried my hand at the following recipe.  In moderation, a little bit of good sausage will cause not guilt, but new dimensions of added flavor to our food in the coming year. 

Spicy Sausage Jumbalaya

The famous Creole meal-in-one, combining rice, peppers and an assortment of sausage, shellfish and meats goes kosher.   Park East Kosher’s fresh hot veal sausages work nicely to provide heat in this traditionally spicy dish, but sweet sausages can be used for those who don’t like a “kick.”  If using smoked sausages, pre-cooking is not necessary; however, slices can be browned for best results for about 3 minutes prior to starting the recipe.


Serves 4.

 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (1/2 tbsp.)
½ tsp. kosher salt plus more to taste
½ tsp. paprika
Freshly ground black pepper (or cayenne), to taste
1 cup long-grain rice
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. hot veal sausage , grilled or roasted and sliced crosswise into ¼” slices
1/2 lb. grilled chicken, cubed (optional)
2 cups chicken stock
3 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped


Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or deep skillet (with lid) over medium heat.

Add the trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery, and sauté until the onion begins to become translucent and the bell pepper has softened a little, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and spices, and sauté for a minute more.  Add the rice, sausage and chicken, turning to coat with oil, and brown for a minute.  Add tomato paste, stirring very well to combine.  Immediately add the stock.  Stir well once more to combine all the ingredients, making sure that the rice is completely submerged in the sauce.  Bring back to a boil, cover and reduce to low heat.  Allow jambalaya to cook covered and undisturbed for 25 minutes.  Jambalaya will be done when the rice is tender and the sauce has been mostly absorbed.

Stir once by folding the rice up from the bottom and over on itself.  Fold in green onions and parsley.  Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Season to taste with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper (or cayenne pepper if you like it hot).  Serve hot and enjoy!


Naomi Ross and Park East Kosher Family
By Naomi Ross