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Crowd-pleasing Shabbat dinners

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Chef Carolyn Tanner Cohen, owner Delicious Dish Cooking School. (Janis Lempera photo)

Chef Carolyn Tanner Cohen, founder of the Delicious Dish Cooking School, recently presented My Big Fat Shabbat Dinner to some 45 eager participants. Since 2002, Tanner Cohen has been teaching sold-out cooking classes.

“I’m a home cook, not a trained chef, and I am extremely proud of that,” said Tanner Cohen. “As an occupational therapist by trade, I was born out of the grandmother’s school of cooking.”

Delicious Dish takes pride in bridging health, science and food. “I have always been drawn to holistic health and alternative medicine, with an understanding of how our body works as an interconnected system and how we function as holistic beings. What we feed ourselves impacts our mental and physical state all the time,” she said.

Tanner Cohen’s inspiration derives from her beloved grandmother, Frances Levin, who died in September.

“I come from a family where food is an expression of love,” said Tanner Cohen. “My beautiful grandmother was an amazing cook and used food and her love of cooking to bring our huge family together. To this day, every family member – and to put it into context, there are 28 great-grandchildren – cooks or loves food. My grandmother was an exceptional woman – progressive, a feminist of sorts, accepting of everyone and a genuine lady.”

The Shabbat cooking class focused on meals that can be made ahead and work with the season.

The Delicious Dish home kitchen studio infused participants with fragrant smells, trusted tips and tricks, and expert advice to master the recipes.

“Presentation is really important to me because you eat with your eyes. If you want to linger over soup or share a story after the challah blessing, you have to choose recipes that could sort of sit warm for a while,” explained Tanner Cohen.

And since Shabbat is often a family’s favourite time of the week, it’s a wonderful opportunity to share stories and dally after a good meal. “The oven fried chicken is a favourite of mine to serve on Passover.… Brining the chicken draws the moisture into the chicken, making it extraordinarily juicy. The apple crisp showcases the sweet, warm flavours fall has to offer, but without all the usual guilt. I use an assortment of apples to achieve an array of flavours and textures, and a mix of oats and nuts to achieve a healthier crisp. Most cooking schools prepare four recipes. I do seven.”

Delicious Dish is a kosher-style cooking school located in Toronto.
More information can be found at deliciousdish.ca.

Oven Fried Chicken

o 2-3 chickens, cut in eighths, or 12 boneless chicken breasts

o Oil spray or vegetable oil

Brine

o 2/3 cup kosher salt

o 2.5 l (10 cups) water

o 60 ml (4 tbsp.) sugar

o strips of lemon peel from two lemons

o 3 bay leaves

o 6 garlic cloves, crushed

o 15 whole peppercorns

Coating

o 375 ml (1½ cups) matzah meal

o 60 ml (1/4 cup) potato starch

o 7.5 ml (1½ tsp.) garlic powder

o 7.5 ml (1½ tsp.) salt

o 1.25-2.5 ml (1/4-1/2 tsp.) pepper

o 5 ml (1 tsp.) paprika

o 10 ml (2 tsp.) lemon zest

o 30 ml (2 tbsp.) fresh parsley

Mix all brine ingredients together in a large, non-reactive bowl. Soak chicken in brine all day or overnight in the refrigerator. If you are using boneless breasts, brine only for the day, not overnight.

Mix coating ingredients together.

Immediately before baking the chicken, drain chicken well, pat pieces dry with paper towel and lightly drizzle with oil. Sprinkle each piece with salt (skip if you are using kosher chicken), dip each piece in coating, shake off excess. Lay pieces on tinfoil-lined baking sheet. Spray with oil spray or lightly brush each piece of chicken with oil.

Bake for 45 minutes at 200 C (400 F) if chicken is on the bone, 20-25 min if off the bone. Serves 10.

My Grandmother’s Chopped Eggplant

o 4 medium eggplants

o 1/2 red pepper

o 1/2 green pepper

o 4 green onions

o 75 ml (5 tbsp.) Mazola corn oil

o 90-105 ml (6-7 tbsp.) white vinegar

o salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pierce a few holes in the eggplants and grill on all sides until very soft and collapsed, about 20 minutes total.

With a knife or hand chopper (don’t put in the food processor) mince all the ingredients and mix everything together.

Adjust seasoning to taste. It should be slightly vinegary, but don’t skimp on the oil, as you need it for texture. Let it sit overnight. The salt will mellow and you will likely need to add more.

You can freeze it at this point, or serve right away, but the recipe keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Makes 1.5 l (6 cups).

Fall Harvest Healthier Apple Crisp

Apples

o 5 apples (any type you like, as long as you use two Granny Smith and do not use Macintosh)

o 15 ml (1 tbsp.) lemon juice

o 22.5 ml (1½ tbsp.) cornstarch or arrowroot powder

o 22.5 ml (1½ tbsp.) coconut sugar or cane sugar

o 5ml (1 tsp.) ground cinnamon

o pinch of sea salt

Topping

o 100 g (1 cup) rolled oats
(I like large flake or old fashioned)

o 45 g (1/2 cup) almond flour

o 60 g (1/2 cup) chopped pecans, toasted

o 40 g (1/4 cup) coconut sugar or cane sugar

o 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp.) cinnamon

o 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp.) sea salt

o 30 ml (2 tbsp.) room temperature unsalted butter or coconut oil

Greek yogurt

o 30 ml (2 tbsp.) low fat Greek yogurt

o sprinkle of cinnamon

o 10 ml (2 tsp.) honey to drizzle, or ice cream

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F).

Peel the apples and, using a paring knife, slice the apples right off the core in thin, uneven pieces. (I am not a fan of coring the apples and then slicing them into wedges on a cutting board, as I find the apples do not cook as well. I prefer thinly slicing them right off the core and leaving the core behind.)

In a large mixing bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the cornstarch or arrowroot, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Toss. Place apple mixture in a medium-sized shallow baking dish (2 l or smaller).

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the oats, almond flour, toasted pecans, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Using your fingers, mix in the butter or coconut oil, massaging it into the dry mixture. Scatter this mixture on top of the apples in the baking dish.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the apples are bubbling and the topping is golden.

Serve warm in individual bowls, dolloped with Greek yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey or ice cream. Serves 8.