What could be better than summer grilling outdoors? Our new food columnist shares some of her favorite recipes.
No matter where in the world I go, no matter which Jewish community I’m visiting, there is always a remarkable sense of familiarity and connection. In this seemingly large world, when speaking to other lansmen, we nearly always find ourselves saying “Wow! It’s such a small world!” as we talk about common friends, relatives and the places we each call home.
Once the conversations, with a few rounds of Jewish geography thrown in, have concluded, the talk naturally turns to food: What did you make last Shabbat? What will you be making this coming Yom Tov? We discuss the latest diet and menu trends — gluten free, lactose free, soy free, South Beach, FODMAP, the latest supplements, nutritionists, food articles, and anything else food related.
We love to feed our families, and always seem to be doing just that! I recently took a food sanitation management class. The instructor rhetorically asked the class of mostly restaurateurs how often they would have to feed significantly large numbers of people in a home environment. I was the only one in the class who sheepishly raised my hand.
The instructor turned to me with a direct challenging stare.
“It’s true,” I stated. “Over the course of a Jewish holiday I can serve well over 100 people.” It was hard for her, or anyone else in the class who didn’t come from an observant Jewish home, to understand.
So many of our Jewish customs revolve around food traditions — shared with family and friends. No matter where in the world I go, no matter which Jewish community I’m visiting, those I meet are welcomed as a part of my extended family. “When you’re in my neighborhood, give me a call … we’d love to have you for a Shabbat/Yom Tov meal (I hear the food is pretty good)!”
As a Midwest girl, born and raised in Chicago, I am so excited to have the opportunity to be an honorary member of the Philadelphia Jewish community. I am really looking forward to us getting to know each other better in the upcoming months.
Wherever you live here in the U.S., the height of summer is upon us and the heat is sweltering. Whether you're a “Grab a towel and head for the beach” or “Cabernet out on the terrace” type, the logical choice is to keep the heat out of our air conditioned homes/kitchens and take the culinary adventures outdoors.
Although I’m an “all-year round grilling girl,” I especially love grilling in the warm summer, surrounded by my green backyard garden. Summer grilling is way better than firing up the grill while battling frigid temperatures, cold winds and mounds of snow, in a down coat, scarf, fuzzy earmuffs, gloves, with my furry hood wrapped tightly around my head.
In the environmentally friendly, parka-free summer, I can prep dinner with fresh seasonal produce and have my grill loaded and smoking with succulent family favorites, while the kids shoot hoops on the nearby court. When the food is ready, we can eat on the deck under the shade of our huge maple tree.
While that may sound a little idyllic, in reality, we have a huge grill so that I can grill enough for my hungry kids and their ravenous friends who insist on “shnukering” fabulously flavorful Romanian kosher garlic sausages, fat hamburgers and super spicy chicken as soon as they’re removed from the grill —before they even make it to the table!
I’m happy to share with you some of my favorite summer recipes. Most take advantage of the beautiful outdoor weather and the fresh summer seasonal produce. Just make sure to watch out for flying water balloons left over from the Water Balloon Chocolate Cups, while grilling and prepping the salads!
Oh, and if you’re ever in Chicago …
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken With Sautéed Crimini Mushrooms & Onions
Great for the gluten free eater (GFE) and everyone else. This recipe is a family favorite — we love mushrooms! It’s super easy to make and can easily be doubled for a hungry mushroom-loving crowd.
6-8 boneless chicken breast halves, tenders removed
1 cup teriyaki sauce
2 large Vidalia or sweet onions, cut in half, then thinly sliced
1 clove crushed garlic or one frozen cube
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
In a large zipper top bag, marinate the chicken breast halves in the teriyaki sauce for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the grill to 350˚. Place the chicken breast halves on the grill, leaving the lid open. Do not dispose of the marinade. When the sides of the breasts are white, flip the breasts and grill until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F. Remove from grill and set aside.
Heat the remaining marinade in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the sliced onions and garlic in the marinade until the onions are slightly caramelized and soft. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until all the marinade liquid has been absorbed.
Arrange the grilled chicken breasts on a serving platter. Spoon the mushrooms and onions over the chicken. Serve hot.
Serves 6 to 8.
Fresh Baby Kale Honey Mustard Salad with Grilled Pastrami and Grape Tomatoes
Kale is one of the latest and greatest “super foods” to hit the produce market shelves. I found a great mix at Sam’s Club by Taylor Farms that has kale and shredded carrots in the mix. The kale looks and tastes similar to baby spinach but seems a little hardier. If you can’t find the mix in your local store you can substitute baby kale and 1⁄4 cup of shredded carrots. If you can’t find baby kale you can also substitute fresh baby spinach and shredded carrots in the recipe.
8 oz. baby kale and carrot salad
1⁄2 lb. chuck pastrami (Romanian kosher is BEST!), thick slices
51⁄4 oz. grape tomatoes halved lengthwise
nonstick vegetable spray
Honey Mustard Dressing Ingredients:
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup honey
1⁄4 cup honey mustard
1⁄4 cup water
Preheat the grill to medium high. Place the pastrami slices on the grill, turning occasionally until the pastrami is slightly crisped. Remove from grill and set aside.
Spray a 10×12-inch sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil with nonstick vegetable spray. Place the foil on the hot grill, and with a sharp paring knife make several small slits in the foil. Spread the halved tomatoes on the greased foil and grill until they are cooked through and slightly caramelized. Remove the foil and tomatoes from the grill and allow to cool.
In a medium bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
Place the kale salad in a large bowl. Add some of the honey mustard dressing and carefully toss until the salad is moistened by the dressing. Sprinkle the grilled pastrami and tomatoes on top of the dressed salad. Give the salad a single light toss. Place the remaining dressing in a separate bowl and serve with the salad for those that like a more heavily dressed salad.
Note: The pastrami and tomatoes can be grilled and the dressing mixed a day ahead and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator — perfect for a Shabbat lunch. This recipe can also be doubled for a ravenous crowd.
Serves 4 to 6.
Crunchy Heartland Salad
When traveling by car in rural areas of the Midwest, you are surrounded by tall green stalks of corn, miles of soybean plants and lanky golden rows of sunflowers. During one trip I turned to my husband and said, “There’s got to be a salad in all this!” and from the heartland of America the Crunchy Heartland Salad was born. Enjoy!
16 oz. fresh or frozen corn niblets, defrosted
12 oz. fresh or frozen shelled edamame, defrosted
1⁄2 cup toasted and salted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsps. vegetable (soybean) oil
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 green onions, sliced on the bias
2 packages oriental-style ramen noodle soup mix
1⁄2 cup feta cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside. Open the ramen noodle soup mixes and remove the seasoning packets. Place the ramen noodles on the prepared cookie sheet, then break into small pieces. Toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the noodles are crisped.
Place the corn, edamame, sunflower seeds and green onions in a large bowl. Toss in the vegetable oil, rice vinegar and contents of the two seasoning packets, making sure to evenly coat the vegetables, then add the toasted ramen noodles and toss to evenly distribute.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve topped with feta (optional) for a complete Midwest experience!
Notes: You can make this salad in advance; just don’t add the toasted ramen noodles until 30 minutes before serving.
Alternate method 1: Use the same amount of vegetable oil, corn, edamame and sunflower seeds. Add 1⁄2 red onion, finely diced, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, chicken or vegetable flavored ramen noodle soup mix. Proceed as directed above.
Alternate method 2: Cook 16 ounces of orzo according to package directions. Drain and cool. Blend 1⁄2 cup basil, 1⁄2 cup parsley and 2 cloves garlic, 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional) and 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil in a food processor. Combine corn, edamame and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Stir in orzo until thoroughly combined. Toss in blended basil mixture until orzo is completely coated. Served chilled.
Water Balloon Chocolate Cups with Peanut Butter Mousse
Here’s a super fun way to include your kids in your summer dessert preparations! I found the water balloons I used at my local dollar store. When you’re done making these awesome dessert cups you can use the rest for a fantastic water balloon fight!
24-36 small water balloons
14 oz. chocolate bar (bittersweet or baking), broken into small pieces.
11⁄2 cups peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
8 oz. Toffuti cream cheese
3⁄4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsps. soy milk or heavy whipping cream
21⁄2 cups heavy whipped cream (pareve)
1⁄2 cup chopped peanuts for garnish
For the Water Balloon Chocolate Cups: Cover two large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
In a large microwave safe measuring cup or small bowl, microwave the chocolate on high for 40 seconds. Stir until smooth. If large chunks of chocolate remain, microwave for an additional 20 seconds at a time. Allow the chocolate to cool until it still flows and is warm but not hot.
While the chocolate is cooling, blow up the water balloons, and tie them with a knot at the top. The size and number of chocolate cups you have will depend upon how much you blow up the balloons. With moderately inflated balloons I got around 2 dozen chocolate cups.
Dip each balloon in the cooled chocolate, around a third to halfway up the balloon. Set on the prepared baking sheet. When all the balloons have been dipped, place the tray in the fridge or freezer until the cups are set.
Using a sharp scissors, cut the knot off the top of a balloon. The balloon should deflate and come away from the sides of the chocolate cup. Peel the balloon out of the cup and set the chocolate cup aside on the second prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balloons.
To Prepare the Peanut Butter Mousse: Whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the peanut butter and soy milk. Whip for 1 minute until smooth and combined.
In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff. Fold the cream into the peanut butter mixture.
Using a 1⁄2-inch star or round tip and a large piping bag, pipe the mousse into the chocolate cups. If you don’t have a piping bag or tip, you can spoon the mousse into the cups or pipe the mousse into the cups by snipping the corner off of a large zip top plastic bag. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Serve cold garnished with fruit and/or chocolate drizzle.
Notes: When I first made the mousse cups, I had bought some “hand grenade” green water balloons. They were green and bumpy and as a result of the bumps and texture of the balloons the chocolate didn’t release properly when they were deflated. Stick with the traditional multi-colored smooth balloons.
You can serve this mousse in small plastic mousse cups if you don’t have time to make the Water Balloon Mousse Cups.
You can also make this mousse into a delicious Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. Simply spoon the mousse into a prepared pie crust, top with chopped peanuts or decorative chocolate drizzle, and refrigerate several hours until set. Serve cold.
Makes 24 to 36 balloon-size servings or 1 to 2 pies.
Chicagoan Sharon Matten is a freelance pastry chef, kosher food writer, electrical engineer, wife and mom (not in order of importance!) Find Sharon at: www.koshereveryday.com or email: [email protected].