Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Center for Kosher Culinary Arts Contest

Hello all!

I've taken a small hiatus to focus on some work related matters. However you'll be glad to know the Kosher Bride is back.

So what have I been doing all this time? Well, I've been toying with idea of writing a cookbook. This is still in its infancy but I'll keep you updated as work progresses. If you've got a favorite recipe you'd like to share, drop me a comment. If you need and new and exciting recipes for salad, chicken etc. feel free to send in a request.

I've also been thinking about taking a class at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. However, much to my dismay theses classes don't come cheap. However, there is a facebook and e-mail contest running right now that could help me win a scholarship. If you'd like to help me win e-mail kosherbride@gmail.com and I'll send you the info and my greatest thanks. Plus, if I win I'll chronicle the journey right here on blogger.

It's good to be back!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Problem With Group Shabbat Meals

The community here on the upper east side is pretty small. Yet there are about five or six different shuls and some young people may never meet the rest of the crowd because we are all spread so thin. Therefore, we are always trying to have the different graduate students, people from shul, friends who happen to be in the neighborhood etc. over for shabbat meals. It makes everyone feel like the community is getting stronger and friendlier. It helps bring in new people and lets the existing people know who is around.

There's just one problem: they take FOREVER. I like socializing as much as the next person but most of us are hardworking people and we need our shabbat nap. We might all stay up late chatting but then we have to drag ourselves out of bed the next day to make it to shul on time.

The real issue is the lack of a defined end point for the meal. No one wants to end it. The hosts don't want to feel like they are pushing their guests out so they hesitate on handing out the benchers, or serve dessert after benching. The guests don't want to 'eat and run' yet don't want to impose on their hosts either. Besides, maybe some of the single people are liking each other or maybe some of the married people are thinking of shidduchim for these single people. You don't want to ruin someone's shidduch because you need a nap.

Why not just leave? Because once somebody makes a move everyone will follow. No one wants to be responsible for that.

Of course it could be worse. I hear in Washington Heights they end up going straight from the meal back to shul. That's practically a six hour meal. Plus you'll never be dairy after shabbat.

May I am just getting old. Perhaps four to five hour meals are normal. But I still think if you can't eat it in two hours, maybe that's too much for you to be eating anyway.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting the most out of your kitchen space

As many of my readers know, I live in a one bedroom NYC apartment. This means my kitchen space is severely limited. I also did not have the luxury of designing the space/picking the oven, sink and fridge, etc. However I have discovered that there are some definite ways to maximize on space in any kitchen you have.

If it doesn't come with it, make it - I am a person who needs shelves. I tend to buy in bulk and need a place to put all this stuff. I am also very similar to most people in that I would like as much counter space as possible. Appliances like blenders, toasters and choppers are huge time savers but they take up a lot of counter space. My kitchen had two small counters. This was not going to cut it for me. So what did we do? Well, the apartment came with two four foot tall bookshelves. We had all ready decided to replace them with larger shelves so that we could fit all our books. We moved those shelves into the kitchen, covered the back with a decorative fabric (you might like to try cork-board for a functional bulletin board) and voila! I had an extra counter top AND extra shelves to keep things on. In my case it worked because the shelves were able to face in towards my small cooking area while the back faced out into the room.

Get the most out of one appliance - When selecting items for my registry I kept space in mind. Items like the Cuisinart Power Blend Duet or the Cuisinart Smart Stick are great because you get two appliances for the space of one. I leave the most frequently used attachment on the counter and the other ones are within easy reach on my shelves.

Use every inch - A Corner Shelf is a great way to get the most use out of this neglected spot. I installed several and use them to hold my spices.

Be Decorative - If there is a gap between your cabinets and the ceiling consider lacing some nice pots with foliage or other pretty item up there. Jut remember: in moderation it can really brighten the room. In excess it makes one feel cluttered and hectic.

You don't have to be a carpenter to build a pantry - If you've got a spare coat closet near the kitchen that isn't being used you might consider converting it into a pantry. There are many great shevling untis easily found at home depot that are a cynch to install. If you hesitant to do anything involving tools, or your building forbids you to put nails in the walls you can still use snap together shelf cubes.

Is it frustrating when your kitchen does not match your cooking ambition? Absolutely. But these tips can help. Remember, there's always a way to make it work.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chocolate Mice

I made these for my husbands birthday party and they were a big hit. They're so adorable but their a snap to make,

1 cup of dark chocolate
20 cherries
20 oreo cookies
20 hershey kisses
40 almond flakes

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Twist the oreos so that cream remains on one half. Place those halves cream side up on the baking sheet. Save the rest for another purpose. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Dip a cherry in the chocolate and remove when it is coated. Attach a hershey kiss to the cherry on the side opposite the stem. Lay the entire thing onto one of the oreos. Attach two almonds as ears. Let set for at least one our in the fridge.

These last for up to three days in the fridge if the cherries you have used are fresh.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Puff Pastry Five Different Ways

I love puff pastry. It is one of the most versatile ingredients out there. You can buy it in sheets to roll to your preferred thickness or in convenient precut squares. It can be used in appetizers, entrees, even desserts! Here are some of my favorite puff pastry recipes, but I'm sure there are many more out there.

1) Deli roll - everyone loves this shabbat table staple. Roll out one package of puff pastry into a rectangle of medium thickness. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the dough and top with various cold cuts. Roll up the dough just as if you were making a deli roll. Bake at 425 until dough is nice and flaky brown (about 20-30 minutes). Slice and serve.

2) Mushroom puffs - Sauté a chopped onion and 12 oz's. of sliced mushrooms in some olive oil. Add in about half a cup of marinara, a tsp of salt a tsp of garlic powder and if necessary a little cornstarch to thicken. Use to fill puff pastry squares. Line them up on a baking sheet and bake at 400 until dough is brown and flaky. Save the extra mushroom mixture, heat it up just before serving and pour over the tops of the turnovers.

3) Palmiers - Roll one package of puff pastry to a rectangle of medium thickness. Spread a layers of ricotta cheese on top of the pastry. Sprinkle all over with parmesan. Then top with sun-dried tomatoes and a little more parmesan. Roll up lengthwise as if making a jelly roll and place in the freezer for half an hour. Remove from freezer and cut into slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake at 325 until flaky and golden.

4) Elephant Ears - Roll one package of puff pastry to a rectangle of medium thickness. Spread with melted chocolate or hazelnut spread. Top with a sprinkle of sugar and if desired, cinnamon. Roll up both sides lengthwise, meeting in the middle like you are folding a torah scroll and cut into slices (If dough is sticky, pop it into the freezer first). Place onto a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5) Strawberry Swirls - Roll one package of puff pastry to a rectangle of medium thickness. Spread with strawberry jam (or any other flavor you like). Roll up lengthwise and cut into slices. Place on baking sheet and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guys at Bridal Showers

Is anybody else disturbed by this growing trend? Lately I've been to more and more bridal showers at which the groom was present. He's always the only guy in the room and trying not to look tortured. The girls are all milling about with their plates of baked zitti and mini pizzas oohing and aahing as the bride opens such wonders as an immersion blender and a whisk with an egg shaped handle. The poor groom is wondering what the heck any of those items are. Conversation sort of stutters and fumbles as he gets near and people try to come up with something non kitchen item, wedding planning related. He is struggling for something to say as well, trying to impress his wifes friends. Everyone is sort of wondering what he is doing there.

Most of the grooms I have actually asked have said their wife thought it would be sweet to have him there. Now sharing your wedding milestones together is nice, but if you're going to force him to come you should really have someone there for him to talk to. I applaud the thought behind wanting him to make friends with your friends but is throwing him solo in the middle of ALL you girlfriends during which time they are talking about kitchen appliances and changing diapers the best way to go about that? I vote no. If you're set on having there have some sort of joint party where his friends attend as well (yes, sacrilege in many circles since your girls and guy friends will mix. But if you think that' bad, then having your husband at the regular girls only shower is pretty bad too. After all your sexy friends are roaming around tempting him.). Your friends will meet his friends, there will be less pressure and who knows you might even make a shidduch. However, it will change the tone of your party. So if you want the traditional toaster-fest You shouldn't force your fiancee to suffer through it. You should also consider your friends feelings. If they are scared whit-less by large gatherings of guys you shouldn't torture them with your husbands friends, or even your husband, intruding on their girls only gathering. Just because your the brde doesn't give you the right to make anyone miserable. Including your friends and your husband.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What To Order on a First Date?

My seminary took the topic of dating very seriously. We had an entire class full of marriage tips and ways to prepare yourself for dating and marriage. This mostly included such pearls of wisdom as 'have the kids tucked in and ready to be kissed goodnight when your husband comes home' (god forbid he should see them awake every now and then), "constantly strive to grow and take your husband with you on that journey" which conflicted with the ever important "don't push him too hard, he needs to believe everything is his decision". We even had a field trip to the Brooklyn botanical gardens since it is a 'popular date spot' and we should know where the restrooms are as well as the different humidity conditions in the glasshouses so we could protect our perfectly ironed hair.

We even had guest speakers on the topic. One ancient looking women gave us an entire speech on how to approach the dating process. She wanted us to make lists of what is important to us. She wanted us to make lists of what is essential in our shidduch. She wanted us to make sure our parents were ready for us to get married in six months. She even had all sorts of tips about what to ask about - his yira'as hashem, his feelings towards torah, his feelings on the ever popular topic of 'growing' spiritually together. When she wrapped up this crash course and informed us that we were now fully prepared to go on shidduch dates she asked us if we any questions. Most of us stared at her like she was crazy, a few girls stared at her like she was god and one girl nervously raised her hand.

When the women noticed the hand she asked the young lady what was on her mind. The girl, clearly distraught, blurts out "What do you order on a first date? I have one tonight and I have no idea and no one else seems to have any idea. I don't even know which restaurant we're going to". Finally! Someone was being honest and practical during this class. Well, the woman did not have much advice for her. In her ideal schedule a first date involved the two parties sitting across from each other in suits, at a hotel lounge, with a drink in betwen them that no one drinks but you have to order so as not to be defrauding the lounge. (Like one drink for two people sitting there for two hours is really a simulation of the typical hotel loung clientelle). By the time the two people see each other eat there is all ready a high level of commitment implied. This date was going off the grid in a big way.

Many of us were wondering what the answer to the question would be and were disappointed about the lack of one given. After all, if everything was charted out this way and we were supposed to read into everything so much, shouldn't there be some 'normal' person thing to order? What if we ordered something that signalled we were crazy?

When she arrived the next day we all crowded around to hear what she had chosen. She happily told us that she went with the grilled chicken and it went very well.

Lesson learned? Sometimes you have to think for yourself. I've gone with the grilled chicken, sometimes I've gotten the salmon. I've even been bold enough to get a salad, with the crucnhy leaves and messy dressing (and the risk that the guy thinks your anorexic). The one thing I've never done is gotten the spaghetti. Even I'm not that adventurous.