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Archive for June, 2011

American Grill

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I don’t know how it came to be that our country’s independence became synonymous with mass consumption of grilled meat, but somehow, throwing steaks and burgers on the grill has come to represent freedom and independence here in America (not so for the cows…just saying.).  Not that I’m complaining – any excuse for a BBQ is a good excuse as far as I’m concerned, and here is your chance to master all of the grilling tips you’ve been reading about on the blog for the past few weeks.  For good measure, I’ll throw in a few more important rules to grill by.
It can be very tricky to get a feel for “doneness,” to know how long is long enough, and how long is too long.  Raw chicken is a no-no, and dried-out steak is a waste of money and a chore to chew.  So in honor of the “stars and stripes,” let’s grill and eat well this 4th.  Here are the do’s and don’ts:

  • Do poke your meat (not with something sharp) – a well-trained finger will be able to feel doneness by touch.  Rare is soft and squishy, medium has a spring, and well done is taut and firm.
  • Do Not cut into the meat on the grill to check for doneness – all the juices will pour out.  If you must cut, remove from the grill and allow it to rest for a few minutes (you can always put it back on if necessary).
  • Do consider purchasing an instant read meat thermometer – it will take the guesswork out of grilling.
  • Do Not constantly move the food around on the grill.  Give it a chance to sear and build itself a good crust – this will also minimize sticking to the grates.
  • Do time your grilling – it will give you more awareness of how long you’ve had something on the fire and also more of a feel for the next time you grill.
  • Do allow for a resting period immediately following grilling (prior to slicing).  This will allow the juices to settle back into the meat and stay juicy.  (Resting is not needed for fish).

As much as I enjoy grilling, I like to enjoy my company more, so I don’t want to stand at a hot grill for hours.  I try to make smart choices when entertaining a crowd: either items that are fast on the grill, several of which can be made at once (e.g. burgers and dogs) or a larger item that can be sliced and serve a crowd (see the recipe below for London broil).  And don’t forget to factor in “bone time” – meaning, anything bone-in will take much longer than boneless.

With your tongs in hand and “kiss the cook” apron happily splattered, you’ll grill to the sound of fireworks in the background and a meal that will make your country proud.

Best wishes for a happy 4th,

Naomi Ross and the Park East Kosher Family

Orange-Soy Marinated London Broil

A London broil is a common term for a thick cut of meat that is generally broiled or grilled like a steak, but then thinly sliced across the grain.  Here, a shoulder London broil is tenderized by way of a flavorful Asian-inspired marinade – perfect for a BBQ!

Orange-Soy Marinade

  • ½ cup tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. wasabi powder (Japanese horseradish root)
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 lb. shoulder London broil*, about 1½” thick
  • Oil for greasing

Combine all marinade ingredients a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to blend.  Place London broil in the marinade and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate, marinating for at least an hour and up to 6 hours. (Allow London broil to come to room temperature prior to grilling –take out of the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before).

Preheat grill to high heat (about 450 degrees).  Carefully oil the grates of the grill (a wad of oil-soaked paper towels and tongs do a good job of this).  Remove meat from marinade (discarding marinade**) and place on the grill over high heat.  Close cover, and grill for about 8 minutes per side, turning once during grilling for medium-rare, about 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, or longer for medium-well done (thicker cuts will also require more time).   Transfer to a cutting board and allow meat to rest for 10 minutes.  Using a sharp, non-serrated carving knife, slice thinly across the grain and serve.

*Park East Kosher is now carrying Kobe-Wagyu beef, prized for well-marbled texture and superior flavor.  Be sure to inquire about a Kobe-Wagyu London broil when placing your order.

**Steak Salad Option: Marinade can be reserved for a salad dressing: simply bring marinade to a boil for 5 minutes in a small saucepan (to kill any bacteria).  Remove from heat and cool.  Slowly pour ¼ cup of olive oil into marinade, whisking constantly until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place thin slices of warm grilled London broil over a bed of mixed greens.  Garnish with thin slices of cucumber and radishes.  Drizzle dressing over salad.

 

By Naomi Ross

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Grill It Healthy!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

When most of us hear “outdoor grilling,” we think of Sunday BBQs, Memorial Day, Father’s Day or July 4th: the highlights of summer entertaining.  Let us not underestimate, though, the greatness of the weeknight grill.  And while we usually associate grilling with fattening foods, let us now embrace some of the healthier options before us.  Besides the obvious benefits of grilling, namely a no-mess clean up (I loathe cleaning up), a quick prep (can you say “15-minute meal”?), and being able to make a sandwich that can be called “dinner,” grilling foods naturally low in fat and cholesterol – such as poultry, fish and vegetables – is one of the most effective ways to bring out flavor while infusing your food with a delicious smokiness and character.

I try to keep it simple when I grill.  Foods with a higher fat content (like a rib steak) generally require little more than a seasoning of salt and pepper to yield extraordinary results, as the fat keeps the food moist and juicy, even under extreme heat.  However, for foods lower in fat or more delicate in nature, a little more care and consideration often has to be given.  There’s a fine line between a juicy burger and a dried out hockey puck.  The trick is staying on the right side of that line!  That’s said, here are a few tips dedicated to healthy grilling:

  • Know when to add fat. (Yes, you read that right).  A little fat goes a long way in terms of flavor and moisture (and practically speaking, to prevent sticking to the grill!).  Don’t worry, we’re not talking about serious calories here.
    • Brush it! Get yourself a paint or pastry brush that can be used to brush on a thin layer of olive oil to low or non-fat items that would likely get dried out (for example: vegetables, skinless chicken breast, etc.).
    • Add it! Ground poultry is very low in fat and can get dried out quickly.  As in the recipe given below, sometimes adding a small amount of fat to the ground mixture (like the aioli below) can ensure the success of the taste and texture of a dish.
  • Know when to add flavor. Let’s face it: fat tastes good.  So when the fat is missing, how do we maximize the flavor?  Spice rubs and marinades can transform food, especially for foods which can be mild in taste, such as fish and poultry.
  • Know when to protect. Open-fire cooking exposes food to intense heat.  Delicate foods like fish benefit from the smoky flavor of the grill, though often also need protection from the heat. 
    • This is where the tradition of grilling a whole fish wrapped in banana leaves comes from.  More commonly, grilling on cedar planks (that have been soaked in water) can impart wonderful flavor without scorching the fish.
    • Indirect grilling can also be helpful here. This is where you grill not directly over fire, but rather on the opposite side of the grill, a gentler method.
  • Know when to take it off. We all suffer from the nervousness of “what if it’s not done?”  Unfortunately, all too often, erring on the side of caution results in over-cooked food.  The more you grill, the more of a feel you’ll get for the timing and texture of cooked meats.  Don’t forget, you can always put it back, but you can never undo over-cooking.

With these tips in mind, I developed the following recipe: a low-fat turkey burger boosted with the zing of sundried tomatoes and aroma of rosemary.  Not sure what to make for dinner tomorrow night?  Read on…

Sundried Tomato Turkey Burgers with Rosemary Aioli

Aioli is a garlicky mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France.  Here, a Rosemary Aioli has a dual purpose: dressing the bun as an accompaniment, while also lending the turkey meat extra moistness and flavor.

Makes 8 burgers.

 

    • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing grates
    • 1 shallot, diced (about 1/3 cup)
    • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1½-1¾ lbs. ground turkey (white meat)
    • 1½ tbsp. Rosemary Aioli (see recipe below)
    • Hamburger Buns or Multigrain Rolls, sliced in half
    • Baby Arugula

      Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until translucent.  Add sundried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste; continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

      In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, shallot-tomato mixture, and 1½ tbsp. Rosemary Aioli.  Mix until just combined.  Using moistened hands, gently form into 8 patties.

      Preheat grill to high (about 450 degrees).  Grease grates of grill (an oil-soaked wad of paper towels and tongs do a good job of this).  Place burger patties on grill.  Close cover and grill for about 4 minutes per side, turning once during grilling.  Toast bun halves on the grill for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown and grill marks appear.  Remove and transfer to a platter.

      Assembly: Spread bun halves with a small dollop of Rosemary Aioli (see recipe below), then top each with a burger, and a handful of arugula.  Cover with bun top and serve.

      Rosemary Aioli

        • ½ cup mayonnaise
        • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp.)
        • ¼ tsp. salt
        • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (about 2 tsp.)
        • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled or 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
        • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

           

          Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

           

          DO AHEAD: Can be made a day ahead and stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

           

          By Naomi Ross

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          Baaaa-B-Q!

          Monday, June 13th, 2011

          Americans eat a lot of red meat, and by “red meat” what I mean is beef (the kind that went “moo”).  By comparison, we eat far less lamb.  The average American consumes a staggering 65 pounds of beef per year in contrast to ½ pound of lamb.  The question is: why?  Practically speaking, America is not breeding and processing as much lamb as say, Greece, whose culture and traditions are replete with sheep herding, pasturing and culinary tradition.  With less supply and demand in the States, those little baby lamb chops have become an expensive occasional treat, not exactly the norm of every-night cooking.   Despite that, lamb is still a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, phosphorus, and manganese and also very low in sodium content.  So perhaps it’s time to mix it up and enjoy this distinctly tender sweet meat, a flavor all its own especially when grilled or broiled.

          Knowing your lamb…

          Ever wonder what the difference is between lamb and mutton? Lamb and baby lamb?  It’s always good to clarify and know just what we are eating!   A lamb is defined as a young sheep less than one year old; a baby lamb is generally between six and eight weeks old and is prized for its very tender pale pink meat.  Sheep generally breed in the fall and birth in late winter/early spring…which is why Spring is synonymous with lamb.  “Spring lambs” are generally between 3-5 months old when slaughtered.   Age matters in terms of taste – the younger and smaller, the tastier and more tender.  Mutton is meat from a sheep over two years old, and has a much less tender and darker flesh with a gamier flavor (perhaps a reason it has been unpopular in the United States).

          Bring out the flavor…

          I love braising some of the tougher cuts of lamb, like lamb shanks, for a wintry stew, but it’s often a tough sell with kids because of the gamey odor  (“ma, are you cooking my gym shoes?”) infamously associated with lamb cookery.  So if potting your lamb dish, do select the freshest meat you can get.    Pairing lamb with refreshing aromatics also quiets any gaminess and accentuates its true flavor – mint and lamb is a natural marriage, but other herbs and citrus work well, too.  In the spring and summer, I head outdoors and fire up the grill, as open fire cooking seems to eliminate any off-putting odor (and the bugs don’t mind anyhow!).  Well-grilled lamb yields wonderfully succulent results, and my kids ask for seconds and thirds to boot!

          Grilled Lamb Chops with Balsamic-Mint Reduction

          Serves 4.

          1. 12 Baby Lamb chops (about 1” thick), frenched*
          2. Kosher salt
          3. Freshly ground black pepper
          4. Oil for greasing grill

          Preheat grill on high (to about 450 degrees).  Grease grates of grill (an oil-soaked wad of paper towels and tongs do a good job of this.)

          Season chops liberally with salt and pepper.  Place lamb chops on grill and close cover.  Grill for about 4 minutes per side, turning once during cooking.  Transfer to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Drizzle Balsamic Mint Reduction (a little goes a long way!) over lamb chops and serve.

          *To “French” means to cut the meat away from the end of a rib or chop, so that part of the bone is exposed.  Park East Kosher is happy to do this upon request.

          Balsamic-Mint Reduction

          An intense sauce that can be made ahead and stored for months in the refrigerator.   Decorate a plate with a drizzle for an appealing presentation and real flavor boost!

          1. 1 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar
          2. ¼ cup honey
          3. 2/3 cup fresh mint leaves
          4. Kosher salt
          5. Freshly ground black pepper
          6. 1 tbsp. margarine

          Bring vinegar, honey and mint to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until mixture is reduced by half – consistency should be syrupy and coat the back of a spoon (about 15-20 minutes).  Add the margarine and whisk until blended.  Strain out leaves and season sauce with salt and pepper.   (If making ahead, rewarm before serving.)

           

          By Naomi Ross

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          The Dairy Catharsis

          Sunday, June 5th, 2011

          Since Passover, Jews have been counting upwards.   I am referring, of course, to sefirat ha-omer – the counting of the 49 days from Passover up to the holiday Shavuot.  While some might argue that we are counting up to cheesecake and blintzes on what is Judaism’s only dairy holiday, in fact we are anticipating the giving of the Torah.  We mark the holiday with several customs – many learn Torah the entire (first) night, we eat dairy foods commemorating our readiness in the desert to accept the new laws of kashrut (we had no kosher pots at Mount Sinai!), and many adorn the house with fresh flowers and plants representing the blooming springtime mountain that was Mount Sinai.

           

          Although the essence of Shavuot is all about Torah – accepting, learning and keeping the Torah – I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, like many, I get a little caught up in what I’ve often referred to as “the dairy catharsis”.   After a year of serving meat dishes at most formal meals, it’s easy to get carried away.  (What, like making 8 desserts is too much?  You think?)  If I may offer a deeper insight into this custom (and validate my dairy obsession!), consider this idea:  Torah is considered the spiritual food that nourishes our souls.  In other Biblical sources, Torah is compared to milk.  When a child is born, its sole source of nourishment is milk.  Just as a mother displays enormous love and nurturing by nursing her baby, without which he could not survive, so too G-d’s giving of His Torah was an act of complete love and nurturing.   Eating dairy foods on Shavuot is a reminder of this kindness, a symbolic way of recognizing this Gift.  So you see…it’s a mitzvah to eat cheesecake!

           

          With so many rich options, it is often challenging to find balance and to not get caught in the common pitfalls of good dairy menu planning.  The result may be a menu filled with overly cheesy, overly heavy dishes that leave the palate little desire for anything, let alone the hyped cheesecake.  What could be the most enjoyable holiday meals of the year often leave many lethargic and slightly nauseas.  What a shame!  Strike balance with your Shavuot menu; for every heavily creamy or cheesy dish, serve at least one that is not.  Also, go heavy on the salads.  By taking advantage of the fresh produce that springtime has to offer, you will round out and lighten up your menu.

           

          Classic through and through, Poached Salmon is an elegant yet simple entrée choice.  It will also leave you time to prepare the more fattening stuff!  Serve with a green, leafy salad and pair with a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

           

           

          Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

          A classic appetizer or light entrée, the secret to perfect poached salmon is choosing high-quality fresh fish and not overcooking it…always safer to check sooner than later for doneness!

          Serves 4 for entrée, 8 for appetizer.

          • 1½ lbs. salmon fillet
          • A handful of parsley sprigs
          • A handful of dill sprigs
          • 1 lemon, quartered
          • 1 onion, quartered
          • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
          • 1 bay leaf
          • 6 black peppercorns
          • Kosher salt to taste
          • 2 cups water
          • 2 cups white wine

           

          Place the fish, skin side down in a large, deep skillet.  Add all ingredients, adding more water and wine if necessary to cover fish (it should be immersed in liquid).   Place skillet on stove and bring to a simmer.  Cover and reduce heat to low, simmering fish for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Salmon is done when it flakes easily. Carefully remove the fish with a slotted spatula.  Discard skin and poaching liquid.   Chill until serving time.  Serve with Cucumber-Dill Sauce (recipe below) and garnish with lemon.

          Cucumber-Dill Sauce

          • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
          • 2/3 cup sour cream or mayonnaise
          • 3-4 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 3-4 tsp. dried dill)
          • 2-3 tbsp. minced onion
          • Juice from ½ lemon (about 1 tbsp.), or more to taste
          • 4-6 tablespoons milk or water
          • Kosher salt to taste
          • Freshly ground black pepper

          Mix all ingredients except milk/water together in a small bowl. Add water/milk gradually to thin until consistency resembles a sauce.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if needed. Cover and refrigerate.

          (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

          Yield: about 1 1/2 cups.

           

           

          By Naomi Ross

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          Shavuot 2011

          Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

          On Tuesday night June 7th, at sundown, we celebrate the Festival of Shavout. Shavuot which in   Hebrew means “weeks” refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Shavuot began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring harvest and the beginning of the summer harvest. Shavuot was distinguished in ancient times by bringing crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.

          Shavuot, also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, dates from biblical times, and helps to explain the holiday’s name, “Weeks.” The Torah tells us it took forty-nine days for our ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai (the same number of days as the   Counting of the Omer) where they were to receive the Torah. Thus, Leviticus 23:21 commands: “And you shall proclaim that day (the fiftieth day) to be holy” The name Shavuot symbolizes the completion of that seven-week journey.

          Customs on Shavuot are the reading of the Book of Ruth, which reminds us that we too can find a continual source of blessing in our tradition. Another tradition includes staying up all night to study Torah and Mishnah, a custom called ,”Tikkun leil Shavuot” which symbolizes our commitment to the Torah, and that we are always ready and awake to receive the Torah. Traditionally, dairy as well as meat dishes are served on this holiday to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah, as well as the “land of milk and honey”.

          Shavuot is a time when Jewish families come together to eat, learn, and reaffirm their dedication to the Torah. In this tradition, Park East Kosher will be closed on Tuesday June 7th before sundown and reopen Friday June 10th, so put your orders in early.  Chag Sameach!

          Michael, Murray, and Staff.

           

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