There is absolutely no reason why kosher food and desserts have to be anything less than what everyone else is eating. Share with me your baking and cooking sucesses, challenges, and disasters. I will share my recipes, shabbat and holiday menu planning and my love of food.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thyme Flies

Hurricane Earl was a total bust in Westhampton Beach, New York. I came up here to do several cooking demonstrations to launch The Kosher Baker and stay for Labor Day weekend. Earl simply left us with beautiful breezes. So we opened all the windows and everything went flying, especially the fresh thyme leaves that were destined for the Dijon vinaigrette for my fresh tuna salad nicoise. At my dear friend Elena Lefkowitz’s exquisite home, all weekends are full of good friends, relaxing hours and most importantly, fabulous meals. Thyme usually moves very slowly.

Our unofficial weekend food theme was the final tastes of summer. I know that we are being rocket launched into brisket in two days, but for now, this weekend is all about grilled vegetables, colorful salads, fresh fish and barbeque. Lunch on Shabbat was tuna nicoise salad and quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and green onions.

To make the tuna, marinate it for 5 minutes in some olive oil, lemon juice and dried thyme. I seared it in a hot pan for less than 2 minutes per side so the center would be rare. I steamed asparagus and red bliss potatoes and found several varieties of olives in the fridge and cut fresh herbs from pots right outside the kitchen.

Place your favorite mixed greens on each plate, some asparagus, potatoes, olives, a few slices of tuna, sliced against the grain, and then the mustard vinaigrette. For a side dish, I made the quinoa salad that I taught at the cooking demos here in Long Island as a healthy Rosh Hashana side dish. Call this salad a bridge between bikinis and brisket.

Dijon Vinaigrette makes ½ cup dressing
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Whish together the oil, vinegar, mustard and honey.  Add the juice, water and whisk vigorously.  Add the thyme and oregano and sale and pepper to taste.

Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Dried Cranberries serves 8
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted, optional
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 scallions, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the quinoa into a small saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, covered, or until the water is evaporated. Turn off the heat and let quinoa sit covered for at least one hour, up to 8 hours.  While the quinoa is sitting, place the sweet potato cubes into a roasting pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until you can just pierce the cubes with a fork. Set aside.

Place the pine nuts into a small pan over medium heat and cook until lightly toasted, stirring often. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Set aside.  In a small bowl, place the remaining two tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Whisk well.

When the quinoa is dry, use a whisk to break apart the grains. Add the vinaigrette and mix with the whisk. Add the sweet potatoes, pine nuts, cranberries and scallions and mix gently. Serve at room temperature.

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