First Shabbos dinner in Brooklyn and I was ready to welcome it in with open arms! Friday night dinners are very big in my family and are usually filled with lots of food, family, noise and lots of food! (written twice for emphasis). So I felt I had to make up for the lack of family and noise in our quite apartment with even more food. I decided to go all out for this dinner and surprise my husband with one of his favorite shabbos foods…Challah. But not just any old challah, homemade, whole wheat challah.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. A traditional recipe by none other than Bonnie Stern with yeast, eggs, flour, oil and topped with the necessary egg wash and sesame seeds but with my healthful twist of using part whole wheat flour. Braided and all it definitely gave our shabbas table that festive feel.
Traditional first course at a shabbos dinner is matzah ball soup. Well there was no way I was cooking a pot of hot soup in the heat we were having on that day. Our small window unit air conditioner can only work so hard! I went with a chilled cold soup from one of my other favorite cookbook author, Lucy Waverman. This chilled pea soup with mint was really delicious and easy to make.
Chilled Pea Soup with Mint (From Lucy Waverman’s A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen)
2 cups frozen green peas
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup packed fresh mint
4 green onions, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Combine peas, lettuce, mint, green onions, and stock in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until peas are tender. Puree soup until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
Easy Peasy right? Challah dipped in pea soup…delish! Next up on a shabbat menu, the salad course. I made one of my favorite salads…
Spinach Salad with Maple-Mustard Dressing (Adapted from Cooking Light)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove minced
Mix all ingredients together. Toss in a bowl with spinach, chopped apple (1 or 2), sliced mushrooms, dried cranberries, toasted chopped almonds, and red onions
Main course is always some sort of meat, veg, and grain (actually it’s usually 2 kinds of meats, 4 kinds of starch, and at least 5 different vegetable offerings…but i was only cooking for two!)
This chicken recipe from Canadian Living is easy and impressive…I actually just sent it to a close friend to cook for a special birthday dinner and it received rave reviews so trust me..try it!
The starch….I went with Bonnie Stern again (that Bonnie has never let me down!) I found some whole wheat Israeli couscous which is a kind of similar to barley but it’s unique ball shape is quite delicious. I like the texture much better than regular couscous so if you haven’t tried it yet…what are you waiting for?
Israeli Couscous with Squash and Peppers (Adapted from Bonnie Stern’s Best of Heart Smart)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups whole wheat (or regular) Israeli couscous
2 red peppers, diced
1 butternut squash, diced
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
Heat oil in non stick saucepan on medium heat and add onion and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes or until golden. Add cumin and couscous and cook until the couscous is toasted. add red pepper, squash and mix together. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until couscous is tender and stock is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper and add cilantro or parsley
I really liked this side dish…maybe next time I would add a bit more seasoning to punch up the flavor…any suggestions? To round out the meal, I made some simple roasted asparagus, just seasoned with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. So first shabbas meal = success!
Saturday’s at my house normally revolve (surprisingly) around the Shabbos lunch. Another huge meal of either leftovers from the previous nights dinner (shockingly we always seem to have a lot leftover), a big pot of chulent, or a Greek salad with tuna and egg if we are all meated out. Well my first Shabbos lunch was actually a delicious Shabbos brunch at Rosewater restaurant. Rosewater’s menu changes with the seasons and they try to use as much local product as possible. Everything on the brunch menu sounded amazing! Thankfully, my dining companion was also a food lover and when she suggested we share one savory and one sweet item, I knew we were a good team! We shared the peach pancakes and the special of the day and both were utterly scrumptious.
My previous best pancake experience was with the famous blueberry pancakes at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen…dare I say these were better! Light and fluffy with a background flavor of lemon zest and so moist (might have been that heaping spoonful of lemon hazelnut butter on top!).
I think this was my favorite of the two…the special of the day. That roasted tomato sauce was killer and the corn pancakes were so different from the sweet variety. I should have taken a picture of the perfectly cooked yolk…all runny and gooey like a well cooked egg should be.
So first Shabbat in Brooklyn…definitely a good one. I’m sure there are many more to come!