November 30, 2015

Cold-Busting Matzo Ball Soup


for the stock:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 onion, quartered
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, skin/fat removed and reserved

2 quarts chicken stock

for the soup:
1 onion, diced
6 garlic scapes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced into coins
1 parsnip, sliced into coins

for the matzo balls:
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat* or olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup original Vintage Seltzer, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


In a large soup pot, place onion; 1 (large) parsnip, halved; bunch parsley; sprigs of sage; 2 celery stalks; chicken pieces; broth and wine. The broth should be covering the chicken. If not, add water or additional to cover. Over high heat, bring to boil then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, every 10 minutes, skim any scum that floats to the surface off.

Pour the seltzer into a large bowl and top with matzo meal, stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons rendered fat (if you don't have 3 tablespoons' worth, make up the difference in oil), salt, egg and white pepper. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour.

After the stock has cooked for one hour, remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Strain the broth through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing the solids to release any liquids. Discard solids.

Saute the onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic, scapes and celery in a large stock pot.

Add stock and boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken and simmer.

Meanwhile, remove the mazto meal mixture from the refrigerator and, using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls.

In a second pot, bring a large amount of salted water to boil. Drop the matzo balls into the water and cook 15 minutes, they should float to the top but this does not mean they are ready, cook the full 15 minutes.

*To render chicken fat to make schmaltz for the matzo balls: Heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup.

To serve: place 4 matzo balls in each bowl (should serve 4-6) and ladle the soup over. Serve right away.

Store leftover soup and matzo balls in separate containers in the refrigerator. Add the matzo balls to the soup and warm it on the stove top to server.

My thoughts:
When Vintage Seltzer approached me about developing a recipe using their seltzer in a new recipe my mind didn't go to drinks; it went to matzo balls! Hanukkah is right around the corner and while matzo ball soup is a classic Passover dish, I think it goes great with Hanukkah which falls in a more classically soup weather time of year. So I headed straight for the beverage aisle and picked up a 12-pack of 12-oz cans. I like using canned seltzer for my fluffy matzo balls because it keeps the fizz longer than an opened 2-liter bottle so I have plenty on hand for many batches of soup! The fizz in seltzer adds a bit of lightness to the matzo balls and since it is very low sodium and flavorless, it doesn't interfere with the flavor of the matzo balls or the soup. It is one of my favorite "secret" ingredients.

It is cold and flu season so I made this a hearty soup (not just broth n' balls like some versions) and loaded it up with chicken, carrots, celery, parsnips, garlic and garlic scapes! They don't call chicken soup Jewish penicillin for nothing! The garlic and rich broth are sure to make you feel much better.

Side note: This recipe is great made with turkey too!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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November 24, 2015

Winter Greens, Leek and Feta Pie

2 tablespoons butter
1 lb sliced leeks
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves finely chopped (about 2 lb)
1 large bunch mustard greens, stems and leaves finely chopped (about 2 lb)
1 1/2 teaspoon za'atar
1/2 lb crumbled feta
8-10 sheets of filo (phyllo) dough
1/4 cup melted butter for the dough
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the leeks until soft. Meanwhile, steam the greens in a large pot of boiling water until bright green and soft. Drain the leaves and squeeze dry in paper towels (or spin out in a salad spinner and avoid burning your hands). Add the mixture to the leeks. Saute until well combined and all liquid is evaporated. Stir in spices. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in feta.

Line the bottom and sides of a buttered 10-inch springform pan with 4-5 sheets phyllo dough, buttering between each layer. Fill with vegetable, feta mixture. Top with 4-5 4-5 sheets phyllo dough, buttering between each layer, fold the edges over the top of the pan, brush with butter. Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack, unmold. Best served warm or at room temperature; wait at least 10 minutes prior to cutting for best results.

My thoughts:
In keeping with my holiday pie theme, #seasonofpie, I present this hearty greens pie. It is a bit nontraditional but hear me out, it is perfect for the winter holidays. Chard and mustard greens are beautiful and abundant right now; it can be served at room temperature (perfect for potluck); it can function as a side dish or a vegetarian main; anything made in a springform pan looks impressive; it is a wonderful alternative to many of the dodgier vegetable casseroles people trot out this time of year. I loved it. The salty feta, the earthy za'atar and the slightly bitter greens. Perfection.

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November 23, 2015

Cherry Ricotta Pie

2 tablespoons fine semolina flour
1 1/4 lb whole milk ricotta, drained
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 1/2 cup frozen whole sweet cherries (do not defrost!)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter (or spray with baking spray) a standard pie plate. Sprinkle semolina flour in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the ricotta, sugar, eggs and vanilla paste until very smooth. Pour into prepared pie plate. Dot with frozen cherries, pressing them into the batter lightly. Bake 45 minutes or until lightly browned and the pie is set (a slight jiggle is okay but it should not be liquidy in the center). Allow to cool completely on a wire rack prior to serving.

My thoughts:
Cranberries might be more traditional this time of year but cherries are just as red and festive and I think they go better with this Italian- and clafoutis-inspired pie. I used leftover cherries from the summer that I pitted and froze myself after making jam but store-bought would work just as well. Or fresh if they are in season.The best thing is that this rustic pie is light, and takes only about 5 minutes to pull together; both a major bonus in the holiday season. It is creamy like a lot of traditional holiday pies (and cheesecake!) but different enough that you don't have worry someone else will bring it to the party! #seasonofpie

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November 17, 2015

Turkey and Stuffing Pie


for the stuffing layer:
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup turkey stock
12 oz soft potato bread cubes
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
butter (for pan)
freshly ground black pepper

for the turkey layer:
1 lb cubed Yukon Gold potato
3 carrots, sliced into coins
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 1/3 lb cooked turkey breast, cubed
18 oz turkey gravy


Preheat oven to 350.

for the stuffing layer:
Heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Saute the onion, garlic and celery over very low heat until the onion is translucent and the celery is soft but neither is browned. Toss with the bread cubes,egg and spices. Pour the stock over the mixture and mix until well distributed. Set aside.

Meanwhile, saute the potato, carrot, garlic, shallot and celery and saute in a large skillet until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the turkey and gravy, cook until warmed through 2-5 minutes. Spoon into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with stuffing.

Bake covered for 15 minutes then uncovered for an additional 15 or until hot and the stuffing is browned.
My thoughts:
I was trying to think of a theme for Thanksgiving posts this year and was having trouble. This is my eleventh Thanksgiving since starting this blog and I've done everything from pomegranate-themed to Hawaiian (complete with Pineapple-infused Turkey and Spam-Hawaiian Bread Stuffing) to Polish (with kielbasa-rye stuffing) to Thanksgivukkah and a ton in between. This year I've declared it to be the  #seasonofpie and am making all of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes in pie form. First up: Turkey and Stuffing Pie. All of the taste of turkey and stuffing with a fraction of the work. Think of it as a turkey pot pie with stuffing as the crust. Homey and satisfying. Perfect for small (or potluck!) Thanksgivings or even using up leftovers after the big day.

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November 15, 2015

Waffled Italian Tortilla Bites

10 Mission Flour Soft Taco tortillas
1/2 lb thinly sliced turkey breast
1/4 lb thinly sliced lean capicola
1/4 lb thinly sliced smoked provolone
1/4 cup olive spread (prepared*)

Heat standard (not Belgian!) waffle iron. Meanwhile, spread 5 tortillas with olive spread. Top with a single layer of turkey then a single layer of capicola then a layer of provolone. Top with remaining tortillas. Place in waffle irons, one at a time, and cook until warmed through and lightly browned. Repeat for remaining tortillas. Quarter and serve hot or at room temperature.

*I buy this at our local Italian store. You can make your own by finely mincing pimento-stuffed green olives and mixing with olive oil until spreadable

My thoughts:
Italian tortillas! What? I was inspired by the ubiquitous tortilla pinwheels I see so often this time of year on blogs and in magazines. I took it to the next level by crisping them in the waffle iron and using my favorite capicola and olive spread. The result is oddly satisfying; lighter than a finger sandwich but the turkey, capicola, and cheese pack quite a bit of protein. The waffle iron created little notches in the bread so it held together better than a traditional quesadilla or panini pressed tortilla sandwich would. Perfect for a heavy apps holiday party with lots of mingling.

 Leave a comment here for a chance to win Mission Foods tortillas sent to your door!

I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site and Mission Foods. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of payment, product or experiences.

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November 11, 2015

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Fruited Wild Rice

1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 Bosc pear, cubed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the acorn squash on the parchment, flesh-side down. Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly divide among the cavities of the squash. Bake, flesh-side up for an additonal 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Serves: 4

Note: This recipe is easily doubled.

My thoughts:
As much as I hate to admit it (and the temperature seems to be with me on this, it was 60 today!) it is more than a week into November and the holidays are right around the corner. Time to break out the winter squash and holiday-worthy dishes! This one is a new favorite, serve half and it is a great vegan main course, divide it into fourths and it is a great side for pork or poultry. It couldn't be easier, too! Just bake, stir and bake again. No stovetop, no sauteing, nothing! Perfect for weeknights or busy holidays.

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November 09, 2015

Warm Italian Roasted Cauliflower Lentil Salad


for the warm salad:
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup capote capers
8 oz cooked beluga lentils
freshly ground black pepper

serve with:
2 Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garlicky Black Pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400. Place the Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garlicky Black Pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil in their included parchment envelope. Place on a baking sheet. Cover the rest of the baking sheet in foil. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer over the foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, oil, lemon juice, anchovy pasta and capers. Drizzle over cauliflower. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cauliflower to a bowl, stir in warm lentils. Plate the salmon and divide the salad between the two plates. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
With Matt taking ASL classes three nights a week and tai chi one night a week, it has been a challenge to make dinner. We are either eating very late or freakishly early for the bulk of the week. So what I've been doing is trying to make meals that are either a. quick or b. need little hands on-time. So when Bumble Bee asked me to come up with a 25 minute meal involving their new frozen seafood, I readily agreed. I was pleased with the salmon, it was very fresh tasting and honestly, had a better texture then about 1/2 the time when I make salmon from scratch. I think it is because you are cooking it from frozen which I just discovered a few months ago is the trick to really moist salmon. Since it came with a perfectly sized parchment envelope, all I had to do was wrap it up and pop it in the oven.

I thought I'd make roasted cauliflower to go with because it cooks in the same amount of time as it takes to bake the salmon: 20 minutes. I used cooked beluga lentils I heated up but you can make them fresh in the time it takes to bake the cauliflower if you wish. Simply simmer 1 cup dried lentils in 2 cups salted water for 20 minutes until tender. I love beluga lentils because they hold their shape making them a great choice for hearty salads. Since I was using the well-seasoned garlicky black pepper salmon, I went Italian-inspired for the salad and tossed in pretty much all of my favorite ingredients: anchovy, lemon and capers. The capers roasted wonderfully but take care to use the capote capers are called for, not the small non-peril variety as the smaller capers may burn.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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