Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Talented food stylist and cookbook author, Renee Muller, invites home cooks to come to the table and partake in some of her family’s favourite kosher recipes in her beautiful new cookbook, Our Table . Renee’s recipes are refreshingly simple, distinctively delicious, crafted from common ingredients and vividly presented with beautiful full colour photos.
A tavola in Italian means “at the table.” The table is where we gather to talk, to socialize, to catch up, and most importantly…eat! At our table is where it all comes together, because it’s not just about the food, its about stopping whatever we are doing and carving out some much-needed time to nourish our souls and bodies in the company of loved ones.
Our Table is filled with heartwarming stories and culinary wisdom. “As a child growing up in Lugano, Switzerland, I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother watching them talk and cook, always with passion and dedication to the task at hand, no matter how mundane,” Renee says. “From them, I learned that meals shared with family and friends are memorable, especially when imbued with love and care.”
Throughout the pages of Our Table, Renee walks readers through each recipe with subtle suggestions, insights and techniques that turn good food into great food. Recipes are arranged in chapters such as: Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Fish & Dairy, Meat, Chicken & More, Snacks & Sides, and Desserts and Breads, providing everything needed to create an easy weeknight meal or a special holiday dinner. Some of the recipes in Our Table that are ideal for Shabbat or any holiday celebration, especially Sukkot, include:
- My Most Favorite White Flour Challah (tutorial with braiding techniques)
- Sweet Chili Salmon Cubes
- Mushroom Barley Soup Done Right
- Crunchy Asian Salad (see recipe, below)
- Tangy and Succulent London Broil
- Fall of the Bone Tender Flanken
- Oven-Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
- Homemade Egg Kichel
- Light as Air Marble Cake
- Wähe – Swiss Fruit Tart
The special selection of recipes with links to online video tutorials are wonderful, just as if Renee was right in the kitchen cooking with you! “Many times while writing down recipe instructions, I wished I could just invite my readers to join me in my kitchen and cook with me. That thought led me to create a variety of videos of some of the recipes so you can view them as you want and see some of the techniques I use when cooking my recipes.”
Renee has also included a complete substitutions guide for Passover, making Our Table ideal for any occasion or holiday.
“My treasured family recipes are sure to find a welcome place at your table – every day of the year. I welcome you to join our table, our recipes, and the foods that make my family – and I hope yours – happy.”
Raised in the pristine surroundings of southern Switzerland’s Lake Lugano, Renee Muller learned to cook in the traditional Northern Italian tradition emphasizing freshness, simplicity and flavour. When she moved to the US in 2002, she continued honing her culinary skills. On a whim, she entered and won a recipe contest, which landed her a regular column in a national weekly Jewish magazine. Our Table is her first foray into refining, compiling and sharing her favourite recipes in a single volume, all time-tested and approved by her most discriminating tasters – her family, friends, and tens of thousands of column readers. Gifted with an artistic eye for presentation, Renee has become an in-demand food stylist, working frequently with world-class food photographers. A popular writer and professional foodie, Renee lives in Lakewood NJ with her husband and children. To learn more about Renee visit her website, www.ReneeMuller.com.
For Shabbat and the upcoming holiday celebrations, I hope you’ll enjoy these delicious recipes at your table.
SWEET AND TANGY SPARE RIBS
Meat | Freezer Friendly | 4 entrée servings; 6 appetizer servings
Renee wrote: “A friend once called me, asking for a meat recipe. “It has to be amazingly good and incredibly easy,” she said. “I’m kidding,” she then added, but I knew she really wasn’t. And I had just the thing. Whenever I meet her husband, he makes sure to thank me, AGAIN, for “those awesome ribs.” Where does it say that great dishes have to be long, hard, and complicated?”
About 8 (1-inch-thick) spare ribs, nicely marbled
2 1/2 cups duck sauce
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 Tablespoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a baking pan, arrange ribs in one layer. In a medium bowl, combine duck sauce, water, teriyaki sauce, garlic, paprika, onion flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour over ribs. Cover tightly with foil; bake for 3 hours.
- Let ribs cool; then refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (use the “roast” setting, if available). Remove congealed fat layer from the ribs. Roast, uncovered, spooning sauce over the ribs once or twice, until ribs are braised and glistening, about 20 minutes.
Renee likes to cool the ribs in the middle of the cooking process so she can remove the fat layer, but it’s not a necessity. You can raise oven temperature, uncover meat, and proceed with the braising part immediately after the 3-hour slow roasting.
Meat | Freezer Friendly | 4-6 servings
All kids love meatballs and spaghetti, can we agree on that? When we take an old classic and make it chic, we score super points. All of a sudden, the familiar, comforting flavors are presentable, even elegant. Oh, and here’s the kicker: freezer-friendly! And you don’t have to cook the manicotti first.
This recipe is now a staple in Renee Muller’s family. It’s the kind of thing they will send when someone had a baby or moved to a new house. Quick, easy, delicious! Perfect.
Renee traced the recipe back to its roots and owes many thanks to Faigy O. Also, thank you, Faigy, for taking the time to share with us all the little tips that make it easier to assemble this recipe.
1 (8-ounce) box manicotti, not cooked
For the Filling:
1 pound ground meat
3 Tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash black pepper
1/2 (15-ounce) can tomato soup
For the Sauce:
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cans tomato soup
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients. Working with one at a time, stuff each manicotti; place filled manicotti into a baking dish in one layer. (If freezing, do so at this point, without the sauce.)
- Prepare the sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate, covered, if preparing in advance.
- Pour sauce over filled manicotti. Using a spoon, make sure the sauce flows between all the manicotti. If sauce doesn’t flow to the edges of the pan, add some water at the corners of the pan.
- Cover with foil; bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. (You can assemble the manicotti and refrigerate until ready to bake, up to 24 hours in advance. Add the sauce just before baking. If manicotti were frozen, partially defrost before baking; do not defrost fully.)
Renee was once left with some extra filling and, you know how it goes, necessity is the mother of invention. She had a few zucchini in her veggie drawer and came up with a great dietetic alternative. Cut each zucchini in half vertically, remove the stem ends, and then use an apple corer or a spoon to remove the core of the zucchini. Stuff the zucchini with the meat filling, place them into the pan alongside the manicotti, cover with the same sauce…and…voila! An almost perfectly carb-free dinner! Try it.
CRUNCHY ASIAN SALAD
Pareve | 8 servings
The credit for this unique salad goes to Renee Muller’s dear friend Debbie L. They’ve been friends since they were 15, and somehow, their best memories together always involve some form of great food. As you can see, nothing’s changed.
This is the kind of salad that will become a staple at your Shabbos table. Beware, once you try it, your kids, and especially your husband, will request it. Not quite sure what it is, but there’s something men like about this particular salad.
Renee likes to double the crunchy topping ingredients and store the topping in an airtight container for future use. Once that part is done, the salad is really a snap to prepare.
1 (16-ounce) bag shredded green cabbage
1 scallion, sliced
1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced, light green parts only (discard white and dark green parts)
For the Crunchy Topping:
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds (with the peel)
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 (8.8-ounce) package Israeli couscous (e.g., Osem)
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
- Prepare the crunchy topping: Preheat oven to 350 F. On two separate cookie sheets, spread sunflower seeds and sliced almonds. Roast for 15 minutes or until golden, stirring them once or twice. Watch seeds and almonds carefully, they go from golden to burnt rather fast. Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil; add couscous. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat till couscous is light brown, 10-15 minutes. (The couscous are part of the crunchy element of this salad, so don’t add water.) Transfer to a dish that has been lined with paper towels. Pat off as much oil as possible. Add seeds and almonds. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
- Prepare the dressing: Combine dressing ingredients.
- Pour over cabbage, scallions, and leek. Mix well.
- Just before serving, add crunchy topping, to taste. (The toasted couscous will soften slightly in the dressing.) Toss together; serve.
MAKE-AHEAD: As specified in this recipe, it’s best if you add the crunchy topping right before serving, but Renee has tested this salad countless times and the leftovers are great, too. Yes, the crunch will be gone, but the flavours are still there. Her sister actually prefers this salad “the next day.”
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website or email her at email@example.com.