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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Supper Club: Jewish Cuisine

You have been so patient waiting for recipes that I decided to do a rewarding post with multiple recipes by letting you in on a little "event" I do that involves creating full menus with various courses and executing them all in one evening for company: Supper Club.

We have a couple of vegetarian friends that we get together with regularly for said Supper Club (it's fun because I really enjoy hosting and appreciate the opportunity to see my friends regularly to do something fun and creative). We usually pick a theme for the food (Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, French, Carribean, Mediterranean, Spanish, etc.) and trade off on who cooks while the guests are generally in charge of dessert and drinks...Sometimes cooking vegetarian necessitates a deviation from authenticity in certain ethnic dishes, but it forces me to be more creative with the recipes, which is always a welcome challenge! (Note: all of the recipes below can easily be adapted to be vegan!)

It was my turn to cook for this Supper Club...Theme: Jewish food! The menu: Potato Latkes with Applesauce and Sour Cream, Vegetarian Matzoh Ball Soup, Vegetarian Golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls) and Challah bread.

Potato Latkes with Applesauce and Sour Cream--Latkes are delicious potato pancakes that are usually made from grated potatoes, grated onion, egg, flour and salt...of course, there are countless variations (you could even try adding grated parsnips for a unique twist) but I went for a simple, authentic recipe...Now, if this is your first time making Latkes, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get all of the excess moisture and water out of the grated potatoes and onion before frying them if you want to avoid a watery disaster!


INGREDIENTS:

* 1 or 2 large russet potatoes (a nice starchy potato is best for latkes), peeled and grated
* 1 medium onion, grated
* 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt (sea salt or kosher salt)
* canola oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

* Grate potatoes and onion.
* Add lemon juice and mix.
* Working in small batches, place scoops of the potato onion mixture in a dry paper towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
* Add egg, flour and salt and mix thoroughly.
* Heat oil in a shallow fry pan over medium high heat.
* Use about 2 tablespoons of mixture per latke and flatten it into small round shapes for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
* Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 3-4 minutes more.
* Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with kosher salt.

Serving Suggestion: Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream (I use fat free greek style plain yogurt instead). (As a side note, I was recently mortified to find that many brands of applesauce are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which, to me, is just yucky and unnatural, so I recommend looking for an all natural, organic brand that will generally list apples and water and sometimes ascorbic acid--Vitamin C--as the ingredients).

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup--Matzo Ball Soup is traditionally made with chicken stock and chicken, but it can easily be made vegetarian and is one of my favorite comfort foods.

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 package Matzo Ball Mix (prepare Matzo balls according to directions on package)
* Vegetable stock (I prefer to make my own homemade stock)
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 or 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 2 celery stalks, diced
* parsley (optional)
* 1 tsp. oil (canola or olive)

DIRECTIONS:

* Sautee onion and celery in oil for about 3-4 minutes.
* Add carrots and cook another 3 minutes or so.
* Add stock and bring to a boil--let cook for about 15 minutes.
* Add parsley.
* Use a ladle to gently lower matzo balls into the soup.
* Cook another 3-5 minutes and serve immediately.

Vegetarian Golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls)--Golabki is traditionally a Polish dish made with cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef or pork, but I figured that there has always been quite a Polish influence in Jewish cuisine...Now, I have seen vegetarian versions that use mashed potatoes or other various vegetable fillings, but my vegetarian friend is a big fan of faux meats and so I decided to get really creative and they turned out great!

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 large head of cabbage
* 3 carrots, boiled and mashed
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 6 or 7 mushrooms (button, cremini or baby bella), diced
* 1 package Yves Vegan Ground "Turkey" (or other soy crumbles)
* 1 cup cooked rice or barley
* salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley to taste
* 1 can tomato soup (or tomato sauce, if preferred)
* grated cheese for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

* Parboil/steam cabbage leaves in large pot with shallow water. Note: There is a trick to peeling cabbage layers in order to parboil them. Flip the head of cabbage upside down and use a knife to cut around the core creating a cylinder shape and remove the core. Then cut shallow marks along the bottom edges so that you can peel away the layers without ripping the beautiful cabbage leaves (because you want to try to keep them whole for wrapping!). Once you have pulled away each cabbage leaf, arrange them in a loose circle in the pot before covering it with a lid to steam. Any broken or torn pieces can go in the middle of the pot to be used for the bottom layer of the cabbage rolls. The cabbage will cook in about 3-4 minutes--just enough so that the leaves are flexible and pliable for wrapping (be careful not to over boil the leaves or they will be a soggy mess).
* When the cabbage is done, remove leaves from water and set aside to cool.
* Boil the carrots until cooked, drain and set aside to cool. Then mash them up with a fork (some chunks are okay--it doesn't have to be completely smooth).
* In a shallow pan, heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat.
* Sautee onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
* Add mushrooms and set mixture on the side,
* Add Yves ground "turkey" to the pan and spice with salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley to taste and cook until browned.
* Add the onion mushroom mixture in with the "turkey" and mix.
* Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl to cool.
* Once the "turkey" mixture is cooled, add the cooked rice or barley and mashed carrots.
* Using one cabbage leaf at a time, place about 1/4 cup of the mixture towards the bottom of the cabbage leaf and wrap the leaf around the mixture to make a nice little bundle!
* In a 9 x 13 pan, coat the bottom with a little bit of tomato soup or tomato sauce. Line up wrapped cabbage bundles.
* Pour can of tomato soup over the cabbage bundles so that everything is covered in tomato soup or sauce.
* Grate some parmesan, mozzarella or other cheese on top.
* Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

It's true--these cabbage rolls take some time to prepare, but they are worth the effort and time and I am certain that you will find them to be a delicious and unique treat! They were a hit at the Supper Club!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A couple matzo ball tips from a bona fide Jewish person: if you like the matzo balls more dense and chewy (which I do), be sure to simmer them at a lower heat, not boil them. If you prefer a more airy matzo ball, put some 7UP soda into the mix when you make them (an old Jewish mom trick!).

Lindsay said...

As one member of the couple somehow lucky enough to share this arrangement with Morgan and Jason, I will verify that this entire meal was not only wonderful in its novelty but also utterly exquisite in taste!

Abel said...

I bought the ingredients and Vanessa cooked. The latke recipe rocks, better even than my grandmother's. Morgan, as always, you are the ultimate foodie! Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I am sneaking back to the fridge now!