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Kosher Recipes for Everyone

By Anna Dantoni –

startersandsidesThe authors of Starters & Sides are Jewish women and good cooks. Leah Schapira is the co-founder of cookkosher.com, an online kosher recipe exchange and she is the author of Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking. Her good friend Victoria Dwek is the managing editor of Whisk, a kosher food magazine published weekly by Ami Magazine. This duo teamed up initially to produce the book Passover Made Easy and now they continue their adventures in a shared kitchen with Starters & Sides Made Easy.

As its name suggests, the book is easy to follow, delivers on its promise of tasty appetizers and side dishes and additionally the pages are full of lovely color photographs of completed dishes as well as tips for successful hostessing. You certainly don’t have to be Jewish to benefit from this book, but if you are Jewish, you’re more likely to get some of the references to holidays, and to the significance of certain herbs and spices. The authors understand busy modern lives and they are quick to tell you which recipes can be made ahead of time or frozen days in advance of a party.

logo-RoshThe authors have an easy-breezy style of writing which will encourage novice cooks. The ingredients are instructions are conveniently arranged on the page and the type is big enough to see when you lay the book open on your kitchen counter. And the cooks insist that every recipe in the book is triple tested. Good enough for me. I like this book and recommend it. Here are three recipes if you need convincing.

 

Coleslaw Balls with Jalapeño Dip

jl(yield 20-30 balls)

16 ounces bag coleslaw mix

1 ½ teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

¼ cup flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

oil for frying

 

Jalapeño Dip

¾ cup mayonnaise

2 scallions, chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

pinch coarse black pepper

pinch sugar

 

Place coleslaw mix into a large colander. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Using both hands, squeeze the cabbage mix very well to remove the excess water (it won’t look watery to the eye, but plenty of liquid will come out when you squeeze). In a large, combine cabbage mix, garlic, pepper, flour and cornstarch. Mix until mixture becomes dough-like. Using a tablespoon and damp hands, for into balls. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry balls in hot oil until golden on all sides, 4-5 minutes total. Prepare the dip: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, scallions, Jalapeño pepper, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Serve alongside coleslaw balls.

Leah says: “I often tear open a bag of store-bought coleslaw mix to make these great appetizers. Don’t let the name fool you – these balls have nothing in common with coleslaw. Think crispy falafel meets latke. You can freeze these balls, even after they are fried. To reheat, spread them on a baking sheet and heat, uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.”

 

Braised Steak Kebabs with Apricots and Beer 

(yield 18 skewers)

braisedsteak1 ¼ pounds minute steak roast, cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 onion, cut into strips

36 dried apricots

26 dried cherries or prunes

½ teaspoon salt

pinch of coarse black pepper

12 ounces beer

 

Marinade:

1 cup pomegranate juice

½ cup teriyaki sauce

2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup olive oil

 

Prepare the marinade: In a medium bowl, combine the pom juice, teriyaki sauce, garlic and olive oil. Add steak cubes. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours or up to overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place onion strips into a Dutch oven or roasting pan. Remove steak cubes from marinade (reserve marinade) and thread skewers with steak cubes, apricots and cherries or prunes. Place skewers over onions and season with salt and pepper. Pour beer and reserved marinade over skewers. Cover and bake for 1 ½ hours.

Victoria says: “Some people will tell you that kebabs belong on the grill. Don’t tell that to the Jewish homemaker, who does not want to be standing over a fire right before a meal, but still wants to bring these pretty, juicy bites to the table. Kebabs that we can throw into the oven and then pull out and serve are way more practical.”

 

Whiskey Sweet Potatoes

(yield 4-6 servings)

6 small sweet potatoes

½ teaspoon coarse salt

? teaspoon black pepper

 

Whiskey Sauce

5 tablespoons grown sugar

1 tablespoon whiskey

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons oil

 

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Slice sweet potatoes in half. Meanwhile, prepare the whiskey sauce: In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, whiskey, honey and oil. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Brush sauce over cut sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Return sweet potatoes to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes.

Leah notes: “These have just the right amount of sweetness, while the whiskey gives the dish a flavor kick. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the alcohol.”

(Starters & Sides Made Easy by Leah Schapira & Victoria Dwek. Mesorah Publications. Softcover. $15.99).

 

F&M

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