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Friday, July 25, 2014

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Get inspired in the kitchen

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Are you bored with making the same recipes every week? Are you looking for ways to get inspired in the kitchen? Look no further. Estee Kafra’s latest cookbook, Cooking Inspired: Bringing Creativity and Passion Back into the Kitchen, features more than 200 creative recipes and fabulous full-colour photographs. Many of the recipes are from her website, www.KosherScoop.com, one of the fastest-growing websites for kosher recipes, cooking articles and cooking videos. Her business partner, Dassi Slater, is in charge of ensuring that their website runs efficiently and smoothly.

Cooking Inspired features a collection of more than 200 creative, triple-tested recipes, plus kitchen tips and ideas that will help keep you inspired. There are more than 100 gluten-free and Passover recipes. You’ll find amazing appetizers, dips and spreads, beautiful brunch dishes, hearty homemade breads, nourishing soups, creative salads, fabulous fish recipes, marvelous main courses for holidays or every day, scrumptious side dishes, plus a variety of delectable desserts, cookies and bars.

Kafra’s recipes include traditional kosher classics as well as creative, trendy dishes for those cooks who are more adventurous: Squash Pear Soup, Roasted Vegetable Shakshouka, Spinach, Mandarin and Almond Salad, Simple Sesame Glazed Fish, Slow-Cooked English Ribs or Spare Ribs, Fruity Moroccan Chicken, Best Burgers Ever, Honey Balsamic Rice, Onion-Noodle Kugel, Marble Pound Cake, Chocolate Babke, Sweet Squash Muffins, Decadent Halva Ice Cream Cake, Almond Toffee Squares and Jazzed-Up Bread Pudding.

Cooking Inspired also features recipes from several well-known cookbook authors and chefs, including Daphna Rabinovitch, Paula Shoyer, Levana Kirschenbaum, David Blum, Sam Kanner and myself.

Estee Kafra is very artistic and an extremely talented food photographer – she did her own photography for the book. This is her third cookbook. When I recently interviewed Kafra, we discussed her passion for preparing beautiful, delicious food and the simple things that inspired her in the kitchen.

When I asked her why she decided to write Cooking Inspired, she replied: “It’s very important for me to inspire people to get into the kitchen and cook. I want them to think outside of the box. The recipes in Cooking Inspired are simple to make and taste terrific. These are the dishes that I love to cook for my family and friends. I found I was cooking ‘safe’ meals for my kids, meals that I knew they would eat and that wouldn’t cause too much grumbling. I knew that something had to change. I planted my herb garden and got my kids involved. I talked to them about all the amazing ingredients that are available to us.”

She continued: “The world around us inspires me. In order to make the most of the world we live in, we need to open our hearts and our minds to the inspiration all around us, to the myriad of experiences and items that can shape our everyday lives. Food is so central to our religion. Friday night is one of the highlights of the Jewish week. Here are some of my favourite dishes that I love to serve for Shabbat, simple classics but with a creative, contemporary twist. That’s cooking inspired!”

 

MAPLE ROAST

 

Kafra said, when her friend Rachelli came by with this roast after she had her son Chaim, she was positive that she had put chocolate in it. “Chocolate is always on my mind and the roast’s sweet scent with rich tones of flavour all but convinced me. (Did I mention that I was a chocoholic?) Alas, I blamed my inability to detect the inclusion of maple syrup and soy sauce on my post-partum status, but based on the success of this recipe, I would have to guess this was one of the best baby gifts I ever received. A great recipe is the kind of present you use over and over again.

 

1 brisket or brick roast (about 3-4 lb.)

3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 onions, sliced

2 sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 cup red baby potatoes, cut in half

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup soy sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the Dijon mustard over the sides and top of the roast.

Arrange the onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Top with the sweet and baby potatoes. Place the meat on top of the potatoes.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the meat and potatoes. Stir together the maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the meat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Chill overnight.

Slice the meat, return to the pot with the vegetables. Reheat in a 250-degree oven until warmed through. Makes 12 servings.

 

JAZZED-UP BREAD PUDDING

 

Kafra said she is “so excited about this recipe. There is something so rustic and enticing about bread pudding (especially when there is a whole challah left over from Shabbat to use). I incorporate unusual flavours, like orange and cardamom, and even the most conservative of my guests loved the combination.

 

1 medium challah

5 large eggs

1 cup + 3 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 pkg (3.3 oz) instant vanilla pudding

4 Granny smith/Gala apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1/2 cup raisins or dried cherries

 

Peel or cut away the crust from the challah. Tear the challah into large pieces and soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes. Discard the water. Squeeze out any remaining water by pushing the wet challah against a colander.

Preheat the oven to 350 Grease a 13x9-in.baking pan (or grease 16 4-oz. ramekins).

Transfer the challah to a large bowl. Add the eggs, 1 cup of the sugar, oil and pudding mix, mixing well.

Stir in the apples, spices, orange zest and raisins. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan or ramekins. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 tbsp. of sugar.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden. Serve with warm pancake syrup or maple syrup.  Makes 16 servings

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