Category Archives: Weekday Dinners

When In Doubt, Order the Sesame Chicken

We’ve all been there. Looking at a Chinese restaurant’s crowded menu and finally saying “I guess I’ll just get the sesame chicken..” You went in wanting to try something new, the choices being endless, but inevitably you go with what’s safest. We all do it, cause we all love it. (if you’re a vegetarian, go ahead and swap ‘chicken’ with ‘tofu’.. then ask yourself if you really want to be a vegetarian)

If you don’t already know, I live in NYC on top of a Chinese restaurant (good luck finding me). Does it make my apartment smell? No. Do I eat Chinese food all the time? No. Do I go there every time I don’t want to make dinner? Pretty much.

We always end up ordering what we know – either sesame chicken or general tso’s chicken (which I’m convinced is sesame chicken with some crushed red pepper flakes and a better name.) So when we found a recipe for sesame chicken in the cookbook we got a little while back, we obviously had to try it. We both love it, and it’s super accurate to the restaurant version. If nothing else – it’s your safest bet.

Teriyaki Sesame Chicken

Ingredients 

Batter

  • 3/4 Cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 Cup flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 Cup cold water
  • 3 Lbs Chicken cutlets, cut into 1 inch nuggets
  • 2 Cups oil (canola or vegetable)

Sauce

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown-rice vinegar
  • 6 Tbs soy sauce
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 6 Tbs water
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch

Directions

  1. Combine all batter ingredients.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or pot for ten minutes on medium heat. (I don’t use the full amount of oil [shocking, I know] I just pour in about 3/4 inch of oil into a small pot and fry the chicken in batches)
  3. Dip the nuggets into the batter and then place in the oil carefully. Fry until golden brown. Transfer into an empty bowl. 
  4. While the oil is heating up, while the chicken is frying or soon after – make the sauce. \/
  5. Mix the first five ingredients in a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and make sure all the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Mix the water and cornstarch and add to the sauce. Lower heat a little, and mix the sauce until it thickens.  
  7. Pour sauce over chicken and mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

[Serve over white rice.. or brown rice if you want this dish to taste less good.]

*From Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking by Leah Schapira .. no, I couldn’t come up with an authentic sesame chicken recipe on my own.

Enjoy!

Li-or

Tagged , , , , ,

Soup So Good It’ll Make You Cry

It has been FREEZING in NY this past week, and I know I’m from Albany where 20°F sounds a lot like summer, but since living in NY I have learned to seriously hate the cold weather. I guess it’s because I’m not hopping from my toasty house to the preheated car to another warm destination where I usually stay put. In NY, everything is a schlep, and in the winter…everything is a schlep with freezing cold ears.

And now I know I’m not the #1 person to look at a glass half full (unless it’s filled with dc), but one thing I do love about the winter is soup. And hot cocoa.

My Mom would always make French Onion Soup on shavuot. We never ate much dairy in my house, and since F.O.S (did you see what I did there?) is normally topped with a slice of baguette and mozzarella cheese – it clearly belonged to the dairy holiday. Now that I am married to a cheese-lover, F.O.S has become a midweek winter dinner. I would have liked to share my mama’s recipe, but the 7 hour time difference isn’t always the most convenient, and there is a F.O.S recipe in the new cookbook we got last week. So here it is: (By Leah Schapira, people)

For 4 servings:

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Tbs butter (oil for parve..although I would try margarine)
  • 3 Large onions, kept whole, thinly sliced (or 6 small onions..and probably 4 medium)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs flour
  • 4 Tbs beef flavored consomme
  • 6 Cups boiling water
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/4 Cup red wine
  • Baguettes (optional..you can also use plain croutons)
  • Mozzarella Cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Slice the onions. Cry.
  2. Heat the butter in a 6 qt pot. Add onions.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions brown a bit.
  4. Add flour and mix well, add beef flavor consomme and mix well.
  5. Add boiling water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add red wine. Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. While the soup is cooking, slice the baguette and toast for 5 minutes. (skip if you’re using croutons)
  9. Ladle the soup into oven proof bowls. (if you have oven proof bowls – good for you – if you don’t..I put ours in the toaster oven.. seemed to be fine)
  10. Top with one or two baguette slices, sprinkle with mozzarella and stick into the toaster oven until the cheese is melted.

[I took this picture from the internet (click it for the link). To be fair, it wasn’t easy finding a decent looking picture of French Onion Soup..it probably would have taken just as long to get a decent picture of mine – I don’t know what people are thinking posting disgusting pictures of their French Onion Soup online. Also we have really similar looking spoons, so I thought this could pass (even if they are for meat)]

gnight!

Li-or

Tagged , , , ,

Late Night Latkes

It’s the seventh night of chanukkah, and I haven’t found the time to make latkes…until now. It was 8:30 PM when I started peeling, but it was well worth it, because Ari’s doing the dishes, and who would object to a fried latke dinner no matter what time it was? I know most people eat latkes as a side dish, or grab a few at an annual chanukkah party…but I don’t care much for balanced meals, and if there are enough latkes to fill me up – why the hell not??

Needless to say, latkes are one of the most traditional chanukkah foods, and one of the best chanukkah foods (if made correctly). I was never in charge of making latkes growing up, but once I was married, it was fun to experiment, and no one was telling me not to eat as many latkes as I wanted for dinner. I think our first chanukkah together we had latkes for/with our dinner 8 nights in a row. Well, we’re passed that, but it wouldn’t be channukah without some good ol’ traditional latkes – so here’s my recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 Medium red potatoes, peeled and cut the long way twice (a lot of recipes call for Yukon gold or russet potatoes, but I use red potatoes for everything.. because they’re a lot better)
  • 6 Eggs
  • 3 Small onions, halved
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Canola oil

Directions

  1. If you have a food processor, use the shredder attachment and shred the potatoes and onions together. If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to use a coarse grater and do it by hand (still well worth your time and possible cuts). If you can’t peel like a pro, place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water as you go so they don’t turn brown. Also, switch off between shredding potato and onion (so they are sort of mixed in together), because the onion also helps to keep the potatoes from browning.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and try and squeeze out the excess water over a sink.
  3. Add the eggs, flour, salt (lots), and pepper. Mix well.
  4. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat up about 1/4 – 1/2 inch of canola oil. Add a little shred of potato to the oil – if it’s sizzling, it’s hot enough.
  5. Use your hands to make the latke shape. As you do this, squeeze out all the liquid you can [back into the bowl] – this will make your latkes crispy and delicious, unlike the ones you get at synagogue.
  6. Place the latke into the oil, and allow to fry until the edges are getting crispy and golden. 
  7. Flip with a spatula and allow to fry until both sides look the same. Be patient…latkes take a while to fry… 
  8. Transfer onto a paper toweled plate to get rid of excess oil (unless you want to go all out).
  9. Dig in.

[Goes great with apple sauce, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and probably sour cream (if you’re into that)]

Chag Sameach!

Li-or

Tagged , , , , ,

The Recipe That Won Over My Husband

I have to admit.. even though I love to cook, I don’t love to cook during the week. I see shabbat as my time to shine in the kitchen. Friday morning, I dive in head first, make a huge mess, come out with a huge meal, and have to clean it all up – it’s all worth it the second shabbat hits and I know the weekend will be filled with good company [for the most part] and lots of food. There will be times during the week when I really want to make or bake something, but most of the time I have a hard time coming up with ideas and forcing myself to do the dishes.

For the past two and half years, I have been doing my best to come up with good weekday dinner ideas that are both impressive in the eyes of my husband, and super easy for me. Thankfully, my husband isn’t too picky and will pretty much eat whatever is put in front of him, but after putting out main dishes with side dishes and salads (different recipes each time)… I tried something simple.

Macaroni and Cheese

…and to my surprise, that’s what did it. The first time we sat down to a macaroni and cheese dinner Ari says:

“You could make this for dinner every night and I’d be so happy.”

Is it my favorite? nope – but whatever floats his boat!

So now… whenever I can’t think of what to make, this is what I do.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. Elbows pasta (about two cups)
  • 2 Tbs Butter/Margarine
  • 2 Tbs Osem Onion Soup Mix (I suppose you can use Goodman’s if you can’t find)
  • 2 Tbs Flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • whole bunch of salt
  • some pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded cheddar cheese, plus more
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more
  • Homestyle bread crumbs for sprinkling
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F (I always forget to do this until the very end and then I end up having to wait..)
  2. Boil elbow pasta to al dente.
  3. Throw the pasta into a colander, and allow to drain.
  4. On medium to low heat melt butter/margarine. Add onion soup mix and whisk into the butter. Add flour and whisk again. 
  5. Mix in milk and stir until mixture can coat the back of a wooden spoon. (Don’t try this at home, it just makes more dishes.. just wait until the mixture begins to thicken)
  6. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, and ground black pepper. Stir in the cheeses until melted. 
  7. Add the pasta and mix well.
  8. Pour into an 8 x 8 glass dish and sprinkle with both cheeses, some breadcrumbs, and some cayenne pepper.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, until slightly golden on top.

[Goes great with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce]

Modified Martha Stewart recipe to be made kosher and a lot better.

g-night!

Li-or

Tagged , , ,