Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kosherfest, Day 1 - Recon

OK, so Day 1 of Kosherfest 2015 is history. Besides the traffic and looking for parking (I'm leaving early tomorrow), it was a very good day. Here's a basic rundown of the worthwhile mentions.

But before I get to that, let me just say that Kosherfest really encompasses the entirety of kosher food today. From artisan breads to restaurant equipment, there's something for everyone in every niche of the industry. With that in mind, and in keeping within the boundaries of what I would like this blog to be, I am only going to focus on products that can either be used at home to make high-quality, foodie-style food or that actually IS foodie style food. That means that I'm not going to tell you what the re-heated frozen pizza tasted like (I actually didn't even have any), nor will I delve into the minutia of food distribution. This is all about good, high-quality food. Alright, the disclaimer is over; onto the rundown:

Malka Israeli Craft Beers - These craft beers from Israel (and, as I understand it, the only such beers you can get in America) are fantastic. The stout was really great but so were the blond ale (nice orange and coriander in the background) and the IPA. I hope to see this stuff on supermarket shelves soon. 

Pallini Limoncello - Apparently, this stuff is made with a very low-acid type of lemon (you can read more about that on their site) and so it is sweet and not tart. Personally, I like things with lemon to have some acidity but this was still quite  delicious. Other than cocktails, I'm not sure what I'd use it in. Maybe a sorbet or to flavor some cream like in a a tiramisu. Any suggestions, folks?

La Rustichella Truffle Products - Fresh truffles are usually expensive and hard to come by. Truffle products like truffle oil and truffle butter need a hechsher so they're not widely available. So it was refreshing to see this line of products with a hechsher. I had the white truffle pate and black truffle pate which are kind of like truffle spreads. They both tasted great. This would be really incredible just as it is on toast or challah. But I would like to try and get some to use for something a little more interesting. A pasta sauce? A risotto? Give me any other suggestions if you have any.

The nice people at KoKo Kosher Korean Foods
Authentic Korean Foods - OK, this was probably the most interesting line of products that I think has some really good application. I am looking forward to learning more about Korean cuisine. I know I'll be using the Gochujang! Maybe in a bibimbap. I just gotta say, I'm not really a kimchi guy. It was nice and spicy, though, which made it decent.

The Cheese Guy Cheeses and Jams - I've always liked this brand of cheeses. I found out they also make jams - which are also really very good. For me, the star was the sheep's milk Mancheli. Incredibly flavorful. Rich. Smooth. Excellent.

Speaking of cheeses, there were at least two purveyors of real Parmigiano Reggiano. For those who don't know, it is the highest quality Parmesan cheese out there. It has to be certified by an official Italian group responsible for stuff like this (and it must be produced in Italy) so it's especially hard to get in kosher form. I can't wait to see this stuff in stores.

Par-baked Artisanal Breads by Table d'Hote - This was a nice and interesting product. It's artisanal bread that's par-baked. You take it home and finish baking it. The results are quite good. I took home a small ciabatta loaf and within 10 minutes of preheating the oven, I had a great loaf of bread. Don't get me wrong, I am a big advocate of making bread from scratch at home. It's not hard and the results are incredible. But we all know that sometimes you don't have time for that. More likely, you're too lazy. So this is a really good option. Not sure what the price will be on these but it's a good product. My wife liked it also.

OK. I have to go to bed so I'll have to leave some of the products for tomorrow's wrap-up. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Recipes you want to see (there was some really good honey I tasted today that gave me the idea for a honey marshmallow)? Let me know.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Kosherfest 2015

As you know, I've been AWOL for a while, but I figure if anything's going to push me to restart things on this blog, Kosherfest is just the thing to do it. I hope to have some new recipes up soon as well, but for now we'll start things off tomorrow from Kosherfest with some live-blogging and live-tweeting (@HeimishChef).


I'm looking forward to networking with people and sampling different products to use in future recipes on the blog. Although kosher food has come a long way in the last few years, I'm hoping to see some new things I've been begging for (fish sauce, bonito flakes, squeeze tube of tomato paste, maybe?) for a while.

Speaking of new things, I just want to clarify that one of the goals I have for this blog is to introduce more people to the whole foodie thing. So if any of you have a comment or question related to anything food, or if you want to see something specific, please comment or tweet me.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dipping Is Not Just for Erev Shabbos - Chummus (Hummus)

For better or for worse, we have made dips into a course bifnei atzmon.  I don't know how this happened. When I was growing up we were lucky to have horseradish (man, I am getting old). The first signs of this new dip phenomenon came in the form of adding mayo to the horseradish and it didn't take long from there. Now we have olive dip, spicy olive dip, mushroom dip, spicy mushroom dip, avocado dip, spicy avocado dip....I think you get the point. Seriously, are we incapable of just buying the regular one and adding some hot sauce to it?

Anyway, my favorite dip has always been chummus (or hummus, if you prefer). But if, like me, you spent years loving that stuff that rhymes with shmabra, you really don't know what you're missing because that stuff is really just nasty. It tastes like someone spilled a science experiment into my chummus (a la Reese's peanut butter cups). And if you have actually moved on to real chummus (at places like Pomegranate), then you have to decide whether you can afford the stuff. Seriously, you get like half a cup for five bucks. But if you don't mind expending a small amount of effort you can make your own chummus that is cheaper (about two cups ends up costing like $1.50 max) and better than that pricey stuff anyway! This is really like ten minutes of actual work. The rest is just waiting for the beans and garlic to cook. 

And speaking of the beans, it is NOT OK to use canned chickpeas for this. Trust me on this one. The first time I made this, I used the canned and it tasted pretty bad. You can't use junk for the main ingredient and expect it to taste good. I don't know what I was thinking. So do yourself a favor and cook the chickpeas. Also, I found that there are differences in quality and salt content between varying brands of tahini. Find one you like and stick with it. Finally, use a fresh lemon instead of the bottled stuff. It'll be worth it.



Ingredients:
1 cup dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans (2 cups cooked), cooking liquid reserved
1/3 cup tahini paste
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika or to taste
1 head garlic
olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (for the garlic)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (for the chummus)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Kiddush Classic - Homemade Cream Puffs Recipe

OK. So you show up to a Kiddush or a vort and you see these amazing looking cream puffs. The chocolate glaze looks shiny and amazing and you run to grab a bite. But that mouthful is a massive disappointment. The pastry tastes like cardboard, the freezer taste of the custard makes you think that it's from a few Pesachs ago and the shattered chocolate has (thankfully) fallen off the cream puff and onto the floor. So all Shabbos you are waiting to get to the bakery to feed your craving but when you finally get there, you realize that each one costs like $2.00 and you wonder whether it was worth the wait.


Thankfully, it is extremely easy and relatively inexpensive to make cream puffs at home. And the ones you make will look professional but taste far better than the ones you saw at the Kiddush. There are three components to these cream puffs and you can even break up the tasks over a few sessions to make it even easier. If you really want, you can skip the chocolate glaze and just dust on some powdered sugar. And the best part is that you know what went into these things and in which century they were made. I made them pareve (and I think I even said "milk" once when I meant pareve milk) but you can make them either dairy or pareve. You can even substitute whipped cream for the pastry cream or make a crème legere by folding whipped cream into your pastry cream. Oh, by the way, I almost always give flour measurements for baked goods in weight (grams or ounces). It is way more accurate since when you use volume measurements you aren't sure how packed the flour is. Get a digital scale. They're like $10-$15 and are very helpful in the kitchen. I use mine all the time.

So please try challenging yourself a bit with these little desserts. You will see how truly easy they are.


Here are the ingredients:
For the pastry:
  • 1/2 cup milk (or pareve milk)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter or margarine
  • 130 grams flour (about 1 cup unpacked)
  • 3-5 eggs
For the custard:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups milk (or pareve milk)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream or pareve whip
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 160 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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