Rachel’s Purim Seudah Menu Idea: smoked salmon deviled eggs, mini mushroom frittatas with harissa mayo dipping sauce, lemon poppyseed coconut hamantaschen

Deviled eggs with smoked salmon and capers
Deviled eggs with smoked salmon and capers

Here we go!  Purim seudah time!

Last year I made a bold and insanely spicy “drunken noodles”, because…you know…Purim. ūüôā¬† This year, I thought of a bit more simple foods to put on the menu – more of an appetizer meal.¬† I’m a big fan of serving little salads and dips, a little scoop of this, a dollop of that.¬† So here is what I have on a menu idea for you this year!

Appetizer:

smoked salmon deviled eggs:¬† This one is pretty simple.¬† Just make your basic deviled eggs, just kicked up a notch¬†(hard boil eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, then immediately turn off heat and let sit for 12 minutes, then place in ice bath to stop cooking.¬† Scoop out the yolks, add in mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, scoop back into egg white and top with a piece of smoked salmon, fresh dill, chives, capers – whatever you have really would be good.¬† Even some caviar and green onion…YUM).

[These photos show my attempt at a “blueberry pickled deviled egg”.¬† I’m still playing around with it and though the “purple” color didn’t seep into the egg white enough, it still came out as a pretty maroon shade on the outside. All I did was boil some wild blueberries in water, with some apple cider vinegar, salt and some liquid stevia as a pickling liquid, turned off the heat, then let the eggs sit in the lukewarm water for a while, maybe 30 minutes or so – I didn’t want them to get overcooked so make sure the water is lukewarm, not hot.¬† I wasn’t going for an “Easter egg” theme, ha,¬†just something pretty for spring. Next time I’ll try beets, or blackberries, or even turmeric for a “yellow” pickled egg]

Blueberry-pickled!
Blueberry-pickled!

Appetizer or main:

mini mushroom frittata with spicy harissa mayo. Sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms in oil with salt and pepper, add the veggie mixture to a muffin tin.  Beat about 8-10 eggs, adding some almond milk and pour over the veggie mix and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes.  Top with fresh herbs like chives, basil, dill, anything!

I happen to be on a crazy harissa kick right now!¬† Harissa is a spicy pepper relish and you can find it at your local grocery store (I’ve found the brand “Mina” at my local grocery store and at Whole Foods – they have red pepper in mild and spicy and a green pepper version too).¬† Just mix a few dollops with homemade avocado mayo (or whatever you have in your fridge), mix in some lemon zest and maybe some garlic (or roasted garlic would be delish too, but what’s NOT to love about roasted garlic, except for maybe your breath afterwards).

I would just scoop some dipping sauce over the frittatas and you have a substantial app or side dish – the veggies give it bulk and the eggs give it a boost of protein and fat.¬† And if you don’t like mushrooms, fear not!¬† You can use asparagus, spinach, chard, tomatoes, broccoli – really, ANY veggie or green you feel like using up works great in frittatas!

And for dessert?

Can’t forget my lemon poppyseed coconut hamantaschen!¬† Check out the recipe here!

If you feel like adding a salad, check out my Caesar salad with roasted white sweet potato croutons on my blog riskyveggie.com!  I like to keep my Purim seudah menu ideas light and simple, and not too fussy.  So there you have it, folks!

Freilichin Purim!!

Purim: Texas Chili With Cowboy Candy Hamantaschen

Chili and HamentashenI have a confession to make, I am not much of a baker.¬† While I love to cook, I leave most of the baking to my lovely wife Ronit.¬† Not wanting to just rip off someone else’s recipe, this left me with the daunting challenge of coming up with a recipe for¬†hamantaschen, a traditional triangular pastry eaten on the Jewish holiday of Purim, from scratch.

It is pretty easy for me to come up with a recipe for most things cooked, but once you talk baking, it become chemistry and not art. Unfortunately, my degrees are in computer science, biology, and business. I dropped chemistry.  I made this challenge even harder on myself by choosing to do a savory hamantaschen, which means I had less recipes to use for reference.  Having recently done Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeno Hush Puppies I still had some cornmeal and Jalapenos to use up, which led me to a cornbread hamantaschen with candied jalapenos, also know as cowboy candy.

I was also looking for something hearty to go along with the hamantaschen to put in mishloach manot, the traditional food packages given to friends for the Purim holiday and chili seemed like an obvious answer.  I kept the the chili recipe pretty mild, as the hamantaschen will provide some heat.  You can always add some chipotle peppers to increase the spice level if you like it hot.  I am not a big fan of beans, and they are generally frowned upon when making Texas style chili, so I left them out of this recipe.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s hamantaschen:¬†Low carb lemon poppyseed coconut hamantaschen

Cowboy Candy

5 from 1 vote
Chili and Hamantaschen
Cowboy Candy Filling
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

This a great sweet and spicy treat that can be used as a filling for hamantashen, topping for a burger, or stirred into a corn bread mix.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Servings: 24 pieces
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 6 Large Jalapenos Sliced into rounds
  • 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Sliced thin
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Dried Onion
  • 1 tsp Celery Seed
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
Equipment
  • 2 qt Sauce Pot
  • 1 Sheet Pan
  • Parchment Paper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 250¬įF

  2. Add the sugar and vinegar to a sauce pot and place on the stove over medium heat, stirring regularly to prevent the sugar from burning.

  3. Once a syrup, is formed lower the heat all the way down and add all the other ingredients. Stir to coat. 

  4. Spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined sheet pan, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes to dry it mixture out.

  5. Use to fill hamentaschen, top burgers, or stir in to a cornbread mix.

Cornbread Hamantaschen

5 from 1 vote
Chili and Hamantaschen
Cornbread Cowboy Candy Hamtashen
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A crispy savory hamantaschen dough, filled with a sweet and spicy filling.  Great accompaniment to hearty soups and chili. 

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Kosher, Tex-Mex
Servings: 24 pieces
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Four
  • 1 1/2 Cups Yellow Cornmeal
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Milk or Soy Milk
  • 1 Stick Cold Margarine Cut in to tablespoon sized pieces
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder Optional for some additional heat
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Recipe Cowboy Candy See above recipe
Equipment
  • Stand Mixer
  • Sheet Pan
  • Parchment Paper
  • Circular Pastry Ring or Cookie Cutter
Instructions
  1. In your mixer bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, chili powder (if desired), baking powder, and salt and mix with the paddle attachment on low.

  2. Incorporate the margarine a few pieces at time.

  3. Add the eggs and (soy) milk and boost the speed to medium, mixing just until a dough is formed.  Be careful not to over-mix, or your dough will be tough.

  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350¬įF. 

  5. Roll out the dough to about 1/8th of an inch thickness and cut out rounds with the pastry ring/cookie cutter.

  6. Fill with about a teaspoon of Cowboy Candy, and fold corners of dough to form a triangle and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

  7. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Hamantashen should be crispy and lightly browned.

Texas Chili

5 from 1 vote
Chili and Hamantaschen
Texas Chili
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 

A hearty dish to warm your bones and your soul.  I am not a big fan of beans, and most Texas style chilis don't call for them, so I left them out of this recipe.  You can add as little or as much spice as you would like by adjusting the amount of chipotle peppers you add.

Course: Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine: BBQ, Kosher, Tex-Mex
Servings: 12 Bowls
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 2 lb Beef Something from the chuck, cut in to 1/2" cubes
  • 28 oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Large Onions 1/4" Dice
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper 1/4" Dice
  • 1 Large Green Bell Pepper 1/4" Dice
  • 6 Cloves Garlic Finely Minced
  • 1 Bottle Beer Not too cheap or too expensive, Sam Adams Boston Lager is a good option
  • 3 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 7 oz Can of Chipotles in Adobe Sauce Optional if you want some heat
  • 3 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • 2 tbsp Masa Harina (corn flour NOT corn meal) Ground up tortilla chips will work in a pinch
Instructions
  1. Add the cooking oil to a heavy pot or Dutch oven and place over high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer add the meat in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Brown the meat on all sides and remove from the pot.

  2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook until they are translucent. Then add the garlic and continue to cook until the garlic starts to brown.

  3. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, and smoked paprika and cook until the peppers begin to soften.

  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the beef back in along with the tomatoes, masa harina, and beer. Add the chipotles now if desired.

  5. Cover and simmer on low for an hour or until desired consistency is achieved.

Low-carb Lemon Poppyseed coconut Hamantashen

I know this year is just flying by already, but who can believe the “P” holiday is almost here?!¬† No, I’m not talking about Pesach – though that too is around the corner, but Purim comes first!¬† So what better time to whip out a new hamantashen recipe!

Lately I’ve been on a “lemon poppyseed” kick.¬† It’s a very classic combination and I’ve been making my low-carb lemon poppyseed coconut scones (check out that recipe on my other blog, riskyveggie.com).¬† So as I was making a new batch of scones for some friends coming over for Shabbos a few weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment.¬† Why don’t I make lemon poppyseed hamastashen and use lemon curd as the filling and poppyseed dough?¬† Classic and delicious but also something a little different.¬† I could have gone the savory route, but Daniel did that last year with his BBQ chicken hamastaschen so I wanted to go a bit unusual.¬† It did take some experimenting and the key here is to bake the hamantashen without the filling, otherwise it will literally melt and seep through the dough (trust me, I’ve tried it).¬† So leave a big enough hole in the middle to fill your hummies with sweet, tart and silky lemon curd.¬† And don’t worry, if you’re not a huge fan of lemon, you could make it less tart.¬† I’ve just always been obsessed with anything lemon (#acidtrip) and I even insisted on having lemon meringue pie as part of our dessert bar at our wedding.¬† It’s most definitely part of a “last meal” in my book.

I’ll be honest – my hamantashen didn’t turn out to be the prettiest (mostly because of adding the lemon curd after the hamantashen are baked), but who cares.¬† They taste awesome.

So there you have it!¬† Tasty, crumbly, sweet, mouth-puckeringly tart lemon poppyseed coconut hamantashen perfect for those of you (like me) eating a keto way of eating, or anyone looking for a low-carb recipe.¬† Even my friends who came for Shabbos who are not low-carb peeps gave it the thumbs up.¬† That’s always a plus in my (cook)book.

Freilichin Purim everyone!

Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s take on hamantashen: Purim: Texas Chili With Cowboy Candy Hamantashen

5 from 2 votes
Low Carb Lemon Poppyseed Coconut Hamantaschen
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Servings: 6 large hamantaschen
Author: Rachel Katzman
Ingredients
Hamantaschen dough
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 1/3 cup Sweve sweetener You can use regular sugar or coconut sugar for this, I just like this erithrytol zero sugar sweetener
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp organic lemon flavor
Lemon Curd filling
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Swerve sweetner
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • 6 egg yolks save the whites for another use - like meringue or egg white omelet
  • 1 tsp organic lemon flavor in case you want some extra lemony flavor
Instructions
  1. To make the pastry dough:  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until a dough forms.  It'll be a little sticky but that's okay.  Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.  

  2. Pre-heat oven to 375F.

  3. Wet your hands and roll out a small ball of dough into a flat circle.  Pinch the top and the sides to make a triangle and leave enough room for a hole to put the lemon curd after it bakes.

  4. Bake the hamantaschen for 15 minutes until starting to brown.  Let cool for 20-30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a microwave for 2 minutes until hot, but not boiling. 

  6. Add the Swerve, lemon juice, zest, lemon flavor and mix to combine.  Using  a whisk, add in the egg yolks one at a time, whisking quickly to ensure you don't curdle the eggs.  Whisk until thickened, about 1 minute. 

  7. Pour the curd into a bowl or a bag and let it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours until chilled and thickened.  

  8. Pipe or spoon the lemon curd into the hamantaschen and enjoy!!

Healthy Superbowl Snack – Almond Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies

Almond Butter Snickerdoodle cookies

It’s no surprise here that before February rolls around, many of us start brainstorming what to make for our Superbowl parties.¬† If you’re like me, usually you bounce around to about 2 or 3 potluck parties and it’s always¬†quite the “show”¬†to see who is bringing what and how spicy their dish is.¬† Good time to show off your cooking skills (or grocery store purchasing skills, for a large group).¬† WOOT.

And this year for me is no different – I’m aiming to make yummy and dare I say healthy snacks that are guilt-free and perfect for those New Year’s Resolutions of all types (losing weight being the most common one). Hopefully I am giving you all some good options no matter what type of diet, or lifestyle eating plan you’re focusing on.¬† The whole idea of giving you recipes is to use them as a guideline, a base, that you can put your own spin on and show your creativity.¬† Or, if you’re a true recipe-follower, by all means, go for it!¬† That’s why Daniel and I take time out of our busy lives to create recipes that (hopefully) work out!

And no…you don’t have to make these cookies gluten-free, but I’m pretty confident that no one will accuse you of making cardboard-like gluten-free cookies if you used this recipe! Plus, the cookie recipe is only 3 (5 max)¬†ingredients, so how can you really go wrong, even if you just try them out and experiment?¬† You’ll definitely be the life of the party if you’re walking in with these homemade treats!

Happy Superbowling everyone!¬† Here’s to good food, good friends and good sportsmanship. ūüôā

 

4.5 from 2 votes
Almond Butter Snickerdoodle cookies
Almond Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
Servings: 16 cookies
Author: Rachel Katzman
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond butter Feel free to use ANY nut or seed butter for this!
  • 1/2 cup Swerve I like "Swerve" which is a sugar-alternative, but you can use stevia, coconut sugar, or just regular sugar if you prefer
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon optional
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract optional
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the nut or seed butter, sugar substitute, egg, cinnamon and vanilla (if using) until incorporated.
  3. Scoop the mixture into small balls and place on the cookie sheet.  I used a melon baller to make 16 small balls and once they flatten and bake, they turn into medium-sized cookies.
  4. Wet your hand to flatten the cookies and use a fork (totally optional) to make the cross-hatch pattern on the top of the cookies.
  5. Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of cinnamon.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, let cool before devouring.

If you are looking for a savory snack check out Daniel’s Super Bowl treat:¬†Super Bowl Snacks: Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeno Hush Puppies

 

Super Bowl Snacks: Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeno Hush Puppies

Melted Cheddar

Hush PuppiesI was trying to come up with a great bite for the Super Bowl and  I toyed with the idea of doing a stuffed pretzel,  I was all ready to make pretzels using lye, but decided I needed something a little more approachable.  I wanted something quick to make and easy to eat. I rummaged through my fridge and pantry and came up with hush puppies, or fried cornbread balls. There is one thing you do need to be careful about on this, make sure your oil is not too hot. If the oil is too hot, the outside of the hush puppies will burn before the inside cooks and the cheese melts.  I know I have been leaning on cheddar and jalapeno lately, but for the Super Bowl it seemed appropriate.

5 from 1 vote
Hush Puppies
Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeno Hush Puppies
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

A great snack with some southern influence.  These are excellent finger food for your next party. Just make sure to fry these over low heat so the inside cooks and the cheese melts before the outside burns.

Course: Snack
Cuisine: Southern, Tex-Mex
Servings: 12 pieces
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Yellow Corn Meal
  • 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Jalapeno Seeded and Chopped Finely
  • 1 Large Egg Beaten
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
  • Vegetable Oil For deep frying
  • 8 oz Cheddar Cheese Cut into 1/4" dice
Instructions
  1. Take the cheese out of the fridge to start warming it up.  If it is too cold it will not melt before the hush puppies finish cooking.

  2. Combine the corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt and jalapenos in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and buttermilk.

  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and and stir until the batter just comes together.  It should be the texture of wet sand.  If it looks a bit dry, add some more buttermilk, and if it looks too wet, add some more cornmeal.

  5. Fill a heavy pot or dutch oven 3/4 of the way up the side with vegetable oil and place over low heat. 

  6. Form balls with the using about a tablespoon of batter, placing a cube of cheese in the middle, and fry until golden.

For something sweet (and a little healthy) check out Rachel’s Super Bowl treat:¬†Healthy Superbowl Snack & Almond Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies

Review: Backyard BBQ & Brew in Surfside, FL

Surprise with Mendel!

Upon walking into Mendel’s joint, Backyard BBQ and Brew, the first impression I got was a cool and hip ambiance with a laid back attitude, a place to chill with amazing food and drinks. The artfully decorated walls displaying just a sampling of Mendel’s awards from various BBQ competitions that he has been competing in for only the past few years, give testimony to the flavors that will be tasted in your mouth shortly.

Look at that BBQ trophy!

I ordered the BBQ burger (per Mendel’s suggestion), half pound beef patty, cooked medium rare that was skillfully layered with pulled brisket, BBQ sauce and topped with crunchy fried onions. Add a side of house fries and this is sure to fill even the most manliest of men. As I hungrily bit into the steaming burger, my mouth was thrown into a flavor frenzy between the savory ground beef and the sweet tanginess of the brisket, mixed with¬†Mendel‚Äôs sweet and tangy BBQ sauce (available on Amazon or ask your local grocery store).

Meaty goodness

After 3 large bites I was surprised to discover that I had only consumed only half the burger and still had the house fries to attack. I decided to come up for air to sample the delicious house fries and wash it down with 2 gulps of Boulevard wheat beer.

While inquiring about the selection of beer, Mendel was excited to divulge that they are hoping soon to have a selection of over 40 craft beers on hand available in cans or bottles. His reasoning was eye opening; he revealed that cans/bottles have a more consistent flavor in the batches they make versus kegs that are brewed on a smaller scale for each individual keg. This was a small, yet interesting detail that most restaurant owners don’t contemplate but Mendel does. It’s all about the details.

When I wasn‚Äôt lovingly staring at my burger, I was able to glance up and catch parts of the football game being shown on two giant 55” TVs on the wall behind the bar.

As I finished my meal I was genuinely filled and satisfied and not needing any dessert. And then a server happened to be walking past me with a fresh slice of Mendel’s famous Maple Bourbon Pecan pie. Although I did pass on ordering it, the aroma of it wafting from the table across from me did make me seriously contemplate getting a slice to go.

The environment of the restaurant makes me want to stop in every Sunday, around noon and stay to eat all afternoon until the final game of Sunday Night Football is finished. I can definitely see myself hanging out here with a group of football or baseball fans to root for our favorite teams.

Two hours later¬†I commented to my wife Rachel (a.k.a. “riskyveggie”) how tasty that burger was and how satisfied I still was. My wife commented that I should just write a blog entry about it and let everyone else know my experience from stopping by Mendel Segal‚Äôs place, Backyard BBQ & Brew. I highly recommend visiting there as often as you can while visiting Surfside/Miami area.

Check out Daniel’s review of the restaurants he visited while in South Florida:

South Florida Trip-Kosher Restaurant Review

Stay hungry my friends!

South Florida Trip-Kosher Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago my wife and I headed down to South Florida for some restaurant hopping and relaxation. Here is a review of the kosher restaurants we tried while we were down there.


Fried CauliflowerStraight from the airport we grabbed lunch at Mozart Cafe in Hollywood.¬† The first thing I noticed was the menu¬†was absolutely massive for a cafe.¬† Of course there was sushi on the menu, because it wouldn’t be a kosher joint without¬†it.¬† In my Pizzaopinion, large menus are a sign of an unfocused restaurant and the details end up getting lost in the shuffle.¬† The food was decent but a bit forgettable,¬†the service was efficient but waiter seemed like he needed to switch to decaf. We sat inside and to be honest we would have been better outside despite a little bit of heat as the decor was a bit boring and the walls¬†were dingy. Also, we received more than one item on chipped plates, which is a¬†pet peeve¬†of mine.

Chip
Chipped Plate

We started with breaded tempura cauliflower served with a sweet chili sauce to share. It was definitely breaded and not tempura.  I am not sure why they used the term tempura in the description.  The portion size was sufficient,  which is the least I would expect for $9 appetizer and the sauce tasted like it was out of a bottle.

My wife ordered gnocchi with a garlic alfredo sauce ($17.45).  The gnocchi tasted mass produced and were way over sauced. I ordered their Milano pizza ($11.50) which was what I think of as a Margarita (fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomato) with the addition of shredded mozzarella and tomato sauce.  Overall the pizza was fine, but I suspect the crust may have been mass produced. An 18% tip was automatically added.  Overall it was sufficient for a quick lunch but not particularly impressive and a bit over-priced.


Short Rib FlatbreadFor dinner the first night, we headed to Harbour Bistro the sister restaurant to Harbour Grill, in Surfside. The best way I can describe this place is a super high end deli.¬† Don’t think chicken soup and mile high sandwiches, rather think hand crafted sausages and artisan cured meats.¬† The restaurant is a little on the small side and feels a bit cramped, and did have a small issue with a leaky refrigerator, but once I pointed it out the waitress it was quickly cleaned up. Generally the service was excellent and the food was excellent.

My wife started with the Short Rib Flat Bread ($26) with caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms which she thoroughly enjoyed.  I tasted it and found it very good.  The bread was a little thicker than I expected.  My guess is that was done intentionally to handle the volume and moisture of the toppings.

I started with the homemade Sausage Platter, ($24) an assortment of 2 merguez and 2 lamb chorizo.  The flavor and texture Lamb Sausagewere excellent.  You could tell it was homemade and not your average mass produced hot dog.  Honestly it ate like a small meal itself.

Charcuterie BoardI followed that up with the Charcuterie Platter ($34) which a spectacular display of cured meat products.  I could not even begin to remember all the varieties presented, but know that it changes daily based on availability.  The assortment ranged from super rich to downright funky, but I enjoyed it.  I would recommend splitting this dish with at least one other person as it is a lot of food and can be a little overwhelming.

My wife order the Rib Eye ($52) described on the menu as a certified prime rib eye dry aged for 6 weeks and pan seared. It is served with sauteed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  She seemed to enjoy it and the bite I had was tasty.

For desSteaksert we shared what they called an Opera ($15).  It seamed to be some sort of hybrid of a napoleon and tiramisu.  It was fairly enjoyable and well presented.

While the wine list was large enough for me, I found the number of wines available by the glass a little low, most were only available by the bottle.

Overall the food was excellent both in taste and presentation and the service was excellent. However, the ambiance was slightly lacking, detracted by the open deli counter and the noise of the slicer and vacuum sealer.


For brunch the second day we went to Grand Cafe in Hollywood.  Of the three restaurants we caught lunch at, all Israeli style dairy cafes, this was the best. This time we sat Croissant Specialoutside and enjoyed the 80 degree weather, although the ambiance suffers slightly due to the fact it is a strip mall and occasionally you catch a whiff of cigarettes from the smoking section.  Even though they were fairly busy for a late morning in the middle of the week, the service Waffleswas very attentive, although we were cared for by multiple servers which was a bit confusing.  We started with a warmed chocolate croissant ($4) and a potato boreka ($2) which were generally good. My wife had a the croissant special ($10.45), which is a croissant omelet sandwich with cheese and tomato.  She thought is was excellent even though she does not usually like tomatoes.  I had the Belgium waffles ($12) and a cafe mocha ($4.45), both were good but nothing to write home about.  Overall a good meal.

Mocha Latte

 


For dinner the second night we headed back to Surfside to Backyard BBQ and Brew.  Before I go ahead with my review, as a matter of full disclosure I want to admit a bias. I consider Mendel Segal, the Pit Master at Backyard BBQ a friend.  I have competed both against him and in BBQ competitions that he has organized.  That being said I will do my best to be objective.

Pecan Pie

First thing I want to say is while they Backyard BBQ is open late like many restaurants in South Florida, get there early because the good stuff sells out fast.  We got there around 8 PM and all forms of beef ribs were done for the day.  The menu was printed on a simple piece of paper in a plastic sheet protector, which I will chalk up to the fact that they recently reopened with a new menu. They have a couple of televisions which I find distracting, but according to Mendel the restaurant gets a sizable crowd for football games. The service was excellent, the waiter was very attentive.  The best way I could describe the decor was elegantly rustic, which I enjoyed.

We started with the Brisket Truffle Poutine Fries ($18).¬† The fries looked fresh and hand cut in house. The gravy was nice and rich, and the brisket shreds were moist, although I don’t know that I got much truffle from the dish, but overall a good dish.¬† On the menu it says, “Ask about our combo platters,”¬† ¬†so I asked Mendel to make me a platter of whatever he thought was good that night.¬† I ended up with a combo including a 2/3 of an order of brisket¬†($20), a full order of burnt ends ($25), and a 1/2 order of lamb ribs ($21) along with sides of red skin mashed potatoes and green beans.¬† The brisket and burnt ends were excellent as I have come to expect from Mendel as the winningest man in kosher BBQ.¬† Although, as far as the lamb ribs were concerned I found the crust from the rub and the fat both to be a bit thick relative to the amount of meat on them, which I attribute more to the anatomy of the animal than the cook, and for what they cost I would not order them again.

They have a great craft beer list.  I was looking for something on the lighter side, so I ordered a Shiner Ruby Redbird, a grapefruit flavored beer.  While I found it refreshing I did not get much grapefruit flavor from it. Mendel also brought me over another beer on the house, a stout that someone had brought him that I found excellent. We ended the meal with the bourbon pecan pie which I highly recommend. Like I said at the beginning, I am biased, but if you are in the mood for some real deal kosher BBQ, this place is not to be missed.

Also check out Rachel’s husband Elliot’s¬†Review: Backyard BBQ & Brew in Surfside, FL

BBQ Combo


On day 3 we had brunch at Yumberry in Hollywood wTuna Melthich was somewhat Yumberry Cauliflowerunimpressive.¬† Similar to when we we went to Mozart Cafe we started with cauliflower tempura ($9), described as battered deep-fried cauliflower served with¬†chili sauce.¬† The dish was very similar to Mozart’s.¬† Yumberry’s cauliflower also seemed to be breaded and not battered and the sweet chili sauced seemed like the same bottled sauce as Mozart.

My wife had a tuna panini ($13) which see said was decent, although not particularly remarkable.  I had a shakshuka ($12). The eggs in that shakshuka were cooked over easy and then added to the sauce (which I found a bit thin), despite my specific request to have the eggs cooked in the sauce.  I also had the Yum Berry coffee, a mocha cappuccino with whipped cream.  It seemed a bit small, and lacked some oomph.  Overall the meal was unimpressive.

Shakshuka


Foozo PizzaFoozo FriesLater that day we grabbed a quick early early dinner at Foozo.  The food did take a bit of time but was generally pretty good.  The pizza topping options were creative and the sauce and crust overall pretty good, although it could have been just a tad thicker as it got a bit soggy.  The fries were a bit of let down though, as they seemed to be a mass produced frozen product.


Zac PastriesWe stopped at Serendipity in Wynwood for some ice cream before leaving but they were closed to do a pop-up event offsite. So we walked up the street and grabbed some pastries from the popular Zak the Baker.  One of these days I will get to his new restaurant, as we had been to their old location a few years ago, and their stuff is the real deal, laden with rich butter and flaky puff pastry.

All in all it was nice to visit some restaurants that we don’t have in Chicago and of course the weather was definitely better than back home.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cauliflower Latkes With Salsa Verde Sour Cream

Cauliflower LatkeWho doesn’t love latkes, but definitely don’t serve these with apple sauce as they definitely are not your bubbie’s. After eating what feels like nothing but carbs for a few days, I wanted something a little lighter. Enter cauliflower.¬† And yes, I know I am encroaching on Rachel’s territory, but I think I have done a good job of putting my own spin on it.

Raw cauliflower can have a sulfuric or bitter flavor, but by roasting it first you can bring out its nuttiness and sweetness.  The cheese adds some richness to balance the earthy flavors of the cauliflower as well as acting as a binder.  The jalapeno adds some heat to sharpen all the otherwise tame flavors of the latke.

5 from 1 vote
Cauliflower Latke
Jalapeno Cauliflower Cheddar Latkes
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

This is not your bubbie's latke.  The use of cauliflower lightens up the recipe, while the cheese and jalapeno add richness and sharpness to the otherwise simple flavor.  I recommend making them on the thinner side so they cook through without burning on the outside.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Jewish, Tex-Mex
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 1 Large Head Cauliflower Core removed and broken up into florets
  • 1 Large Onion Peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese Shredded
  • 4 Large Eggs Beaten
  • 3 Large Jalapenos Chopped, remove seeds and ribs to lessen the heat
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • Vegetable Oil For frying
Special Equipment
  • Food Processor Fitted with a chopping blade
  • Parchment Paper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400¬įF. Toss the cauliflower and onion with the olive oil and place on parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Roast until the cauliflower starts to brown.

  2. Add the cauliflower and onion to the food processor and process until smooth but not liquid.

  3. Move mixture to a large mixing bowl and incorporate mix in the flour, cheese, eggs, jalapeno, salt, and pepper, stirring until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

  4. Add about a 1/2 inch of oil in a large frying pan or skillet, and place over medium heat.  

  5. Form patties of your desired size and fry on each side until golden brown.

 

5 from 1 vote
Cauliflower Latke
Salsa Verde Sour Cream
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

This recipe blends tradition with something a little more modern.  The salsa can be used on its own or mixed with sour cream to cool off the heat in the latkes.  You can also swap the bell peppers for jalapenos if you want to heat things up.

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Kosher, Mexican, Tex-Mex
Author: Daniel Peikes
Ingredients
  • 1 Large Green Bell Pepper (or 4 Jalapenos if you prefer it spicy) Stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 4 Bunches Scallions Root ends removed
  • 6 Medium Tomatillos Husks removed and halved
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro Stems removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • 8 oz Sour Cream
Special Equipment
  • Food Processor Fitted with a chopping blade
  • Parchment Paper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400¬įF. Spread out the peppers, scallions, tomatillos, and garlic on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast until they start to char.

  2. Add the peppers, scallions, tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice to the food processor. Process to desired texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. You can serve the salsa as is or combine a half cup of the salsa with the sour cream for a richer topping. If you are going to mix the salsa with the sour cream I recommend processing the salsa until smooth.

Check out Rachel’s take on latke’s here:¬†Spaghetti Squash Latkes with Dipping Sauce Trio

Spaghetti Squash Latkes with Dipping Sauce Trio

Spaghetti squash latkes with garlic basil mayo and avocado crema (vegan nacho cheese dip not pictured)

I’m sure you all are in agreement with me that this year has just FLOWN by and it’s crazy that Hanukkah¬†starts tomorrow night!¬† So of course we had to bring you some unique latkes to this blog, am I right?¬† For mine, I didn’t use any potatoes (I know, I know…you’re all shaking your head, but since I’m avoiding potatoes right now, I needed something that even I could eat).¬† Enter the humble spaghetti squash.¬† And yes, I could have done carrot, zucchini, even cauliflower but it feels so “been there, done that”.¬† Plus, I had a spaghetti squash sitting on my counter that really needed to be eaten, so I decided this was the perfect use. And no shredding needed here.

First thing’s first – cook the darn thing.¬† Sure you can cook it in a microwave, but I already had some stuff roasting in the oven, so just threw the squash in there too.¬† #twobirdsonestone.¬† And I love how the cooked spaghetti squash even LOOKS like shredded potatoes, minus a TON of unnecessary carbs, so that makes me a happy camper.¬† And to make it even more low-carb, instead of using a traditional gluten-free flour like almond, coconut, arrowroot, tapioca, to name a few, I used ground flax seeds instead, to help bind it together along with the eggs, salt and pepper and my favorite personal touch – Trader Joe’s “everything seasoning”.¬† Sure, I can make it myself, but it comes in a pretty package that I just can’t say no to, and I just love all of TJ’s pre-made seasonings.¬† I’m all for shortcuts, ya know?¬† One other thing to note, if you don’t want the “stringiness” of the spaghetti squash in one bite of your latke, I’d recommend roughly chopping the squash as you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.¬† I decided not to do that, but it still turned out so good (and easy enough to eat). Also…you may have noticed my latkes are a wee bit dark, but I like mine extra crispy even if that means slightly burnt.¬† And these are so great to make-ahead.¬† Just pop them back in the oven at 400F, or you can pan fry them with a little avocado or olive oil for a few minutes just to crisp up.

As for the dips.¬† Since it’s so cold and dreary out, I needed a fresh pick-me-up, so garlic basil mayo it is. I love using the frozen cubes of basil and garlic if I need to make a quick herb dip or pesto in a pinch and I definitely don’t have any fresh basil here in my frigid apartment #dreamingofspringalready.¬† I have to give credit to my sister-in-law, Yael for this, since she created a similar concoction for her birthday party last weekend and it was so good (we layered this dip on tortillas, topped with roasted veggies = YUM).

For my second dip, I went with a tried and true favorite Рmy vegan nacho cheese..so dreamy and creamy and insanely healthy.  Check out the recipe here on my blog riskyveggie.com!

The third and final dip is an avocado crema (I’m using labneh in mine but you can use sour cream or Greek yogurt, or even mayo, I just like the tanginess it lends to the dip and compliments the smooth, mild avocado).¬† Add some fresh cilantro and you’re good to go.

And if you’re feeling nostalgic, check out one of my latke experiments (almond mustard cauliflower latkes with ginger tahini dipping sauce) from last year on riskyveggie.com!

Wishing all of our loyal readers a very HAPPY HANUKKAH and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

5 from 1 vote
Spaghetti Squash Latkes
Author: Rachel Katzman
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Trader Joe's everything but the bagel seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

  2. Wrap the squash in foil and bake for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Keep the oven on at 400F.

  3. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, everything seasoning, flax seeds and olive oil.   The most annoying part is removing all of the seeds, but be patient, you'll get there. ūüôā

  4. Wait about 3-5 minutes for the mixture to absorb some of the flax seed meal.

  5. On a parchment lined baking sheet, scoop a handful of the mixture and form it into flat latkes shapes.  

  6. Bake for 45 minutes, check to make sure they aren't burnt, and cook for another 15 minutes until crispy.  

  7. Let cool and serve warm with the dipping sauces!  

    HAPPY HANUKKAH!

5 from 1 vote
Garlic Basil Mayo
Prep Time
5 mins
 
Servings: 1
Author: Rachel Katzman
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayo I like using homemade, but use whatever you prefer or have in your fridge
  • 2 cubes frozen garlic, softened
  • 4 cubes frozen basil, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until fully combined.  Adjust seasoning if needed. (note, this spread is delish on sammies!!)

5 from 1 vote
Avocado Crema
Prep Time
10 mins
 
Servings: 1
Author: Rachel Katzman
Ingredients
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp labneh Middle Eastern yogurt, or you could use Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cube frozen garlic, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp hot sauce Adjust if you like it mild or super spicy
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice I like it tangy and this will thin the dip out a bit, so you can always adjust if you want it thicker
Instructions
  1. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients.  

  2. Add the cilantro, mix gently and serve. YUM!

If you liked this recipe check out Daniel’s take on latkes:¬†Jalapeno Cheddar Cauliflower Latkes With Salsa Verde Sour Cream

Daniel’s Recap of the 2nd Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition

I have been meaning to get this post out for a while, but it was a pretty crazy summer and life got in the way. Back on June 25th, 2017, Rachel and I competed in the 2nd Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ competition¬†hosted by Nusach Hari B‚Äônai Zion (NHBZ) under the banner of our kosher BBQ team “5 Dudes and a Vegetarian”. It was a whirlwind trip that included kosher BBQ, Indian food, and doughnuts. Rachel’s husband Elliott picked me and Rachel up from her office Thursday afternoon and of course it began to rain just as we were leaving. Lucky for us, the rain didn’t last long. ¬†We hit a little traffic leaving Chicago but still made decent time, getting to St. Louis at about 9:30PM and crashed for the night.

The next morning, after some coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts provided by our awesome BBQ teammate, Debbie Burg, we got down to work prepping for the competition at NHBZ. The competition was sanctioned by the Kansas city BBQ Society (KCBS).  Their are several organizations that certify BBQ conceptions but the KCBS is probably the largest.  They started sanctioning kosher competitions about five years ago and about 2 years ago released an official set rules for kosher BBQ competitions.  In kosher BBQ competitions there are generally four categories:

  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey
  3. Beef Ribs
  4. Brisket

There was trimming of meats, mixing of rubs, simmering¬†of sauces, and one or two spills, but it was all good fun.¬†We prepped pretty much everything except the chicken, which we left up to Debbie to do Saturday night. Rachel’s Aunt Sue (pictured below) joined us for the prep and was stuck with the unenviable task of doing the dishes.

After we finished prep we headed to Schnucks, a local grocery with a decent kosher selection, although it pales in comparison to Chicago’s Jewel-Osco.¬† I was particularly discouraged to find out all their cakes were dairy, as it was Debbie’s birthday and we hoping to bring a pareve (non-dairy) cake to the competition.¬† As the competition was obviously fleshig (meat), the rules as well as biblical kosher requirements forbid (among other things) the mixing of milk and meat.¬† We picked up some snacks, beer, and last minute supplies for the competition.

Then it was time for lunch at Gokul Indian restaurant.¬† Definitely go for the buffet if they are offering it when you visit.¬† I way over ordered, as I almost never get to eat Indian.¬† Unfortunately, my family members aren’t as culinarily adventurous as I am, and there are no kosher Indian joints in Chicago.¬† I ordered the combo appetizer plate of Miorchi Bhajia, Samosa, Bataka Vada, and Vegetable Pakora to split with Elliott, but ended eating most of it myself, followed by the buffet where I had a little bit of everything on the menu, and side of puffy flat bread known as Puri and washed it all down with a mango lassi.¬† Needless to say, I was stuffed.

I then spend a relaxing Shabbat (sabbath) with the Freund family who were very gracious hosts, proving me with excellent food, company, and some much needed rest ahead of long night of cooking and drinking.  As a bonus, they invited a long time friend of mine, Judy Haber, for lunch.

Right after Shabbat we headed to the competition grounds and to set up.  We needed to build our own tent which was a surprise to me as this was has always been something that was done by organizers in my previous experiences. When you get to a competition, any extra work can throw you off your game when all you want to do is get set up, and start cooking (and drinking).  Lucky our final teammate, Rob Feiger, got there ahead of us and had already put up the tent.

There were a few familiar faces there, including David Horesh and his family who make up team SephardiQ and Mordechai Stricks of team Uncle Mordy and Meatzvah Girls.  A few other teams showed up late, that had not done any prep earlier.  These teams needed to choose their meat, which in a kosher competition is provided by the organizers, but they were a little short on ribs.  At one point, the organizers came around to reclaim one of three racks of ribs they had issued to the teams to redistribute them to the other teams that were shorted.

In order to keep things kosher, most of the kosher competitions supply all needed ingredients and equipment.  This event did provide a grill and a smoker as well as a basic set of culinary tools.  I have to be honest though, the knives were fairly dull and the ingredient pantry was basically non-existent.  I did reach out the organizers ahead of time and learned that it would be slim pickings for supplies so I brought most of what I needed with me from Chicago.

BBQ Ingredients

 

Mendel Segel
Mendel Segel

 

Sometime in the early morning hours the wind picked up.  This makes tending the fire a bit tricky, but we managed to keep our temperature fairly stable.  The real problem was the fact that tents, which are essentially giant sails, were fairly light weight and were not sufficiently staked down, and started to fly away.  After the tents to left and the right of me blew over, I got smart and tied mine down to our two tables, which managed to hold it for the remainder of the event.

Rachel and Her Mother
Rachel and Her Mother

 

The spectators showed up around 11:00 AM.¬† The competition sold tasting tickets so the spectators could get a “taste” of the action. I had a fewfriends stop including my co-worker Brian Kinney who was in town visiting his father, my grade school friend Nathan Waldman who moved to St. Louis for college and never left, and Judy Haber’s daughter Aliza, who at one point was Rachel’s roommate. Rachel’s parents also came down, making the drive from Kansas City and bringing bagels.

To be honest all of our food came out mediocre and our scores reflected it.¬† Our ribs were overcooked, the turkey wasn’t the prettiest, and brisket was a bit tough.¬† I have tendency to rush and end up slicing my meat a little too early. We ended up placing fifth overall.¬† All four teams that beat us were more experienced than us, and deserved to beat us.¬† Of course team RaBBi-Q took top honors.¬† Only Mendel Segal could roll in late having done no prep and take overall grand champion. Despite a few bumps, all in all it was a great time.

Check out Rachel’s take on the trip here:¬†St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition Re-cap By Rachel

BBQ Ribs BBQ Turkey BBQ Chicken Brisket

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