Spring is finally here. We want to be outside as much as possible, and we do not want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen on dinner prep. The kids are probably busy with after school programs and they also want more outdoor time.
What we want to eat also changes with the seasons. The second really warm weather sets in, my desire for meat fades as fast as a snow mound in 70 degree weather! I have no desire for hot chicken soup or heavy stews and briskets or even traditional roast chicken. I want salads and lots of vegetables and much lighter fare. Fish is wonderfully light and easy to prepare and veggies are fresh and bright in the markets.
Shabbat prep also changes. I love making challah during the winter. I can listen to the winds howl all day and watch it snow outside my window, while I relish the cozy warmth of my kitchen while dough rises on my counter. But once warmer weather comes, I want to be outside and I don’t want my kitchen to get overly warm. I can still make homemade bread, but I make knots or small rolls for Shabbat instead.
Easy and much less time.
Desserts in the spring become fruit-based and simple. Bars that can be grabbed and can gone are favorites and portable fruits are the best.
In short, I want my life to be easier when the warm weather comes, and I want Shabbat to also be an easier and more relaxed time. I want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time in my garden and I want lighter foods that are easier to prepare — with some exceptions.
Enjoy this shortest of seasons and get out of the kitchen and enjoy the beautiful sunshine. It’s been such a long winter.
Easy Break-Apart Bread with Onions, Chives and Cheese (Dairy)
This is a great recipe to make with children because the dough is rolled into small balls which is easy for their little hands to do. You can use some whole wheat flour, but not too much or the bread will be too heavy.
6 to 7 cups unbleached white flour (about 2 cups can be whole wheat)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt (more or less, to taste)
2 packages yeast
1-3/4 cups milk (I use 1% or 2%)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 Tbsp. grated onion
1-1/2 cup mixture of shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup fresh chives, minced
Additional 1/2 cup melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
Place 2 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Heat the water, milk, grated onion, the half-cup butter in a saucepan over low heat, until it is very warm, about 120 to 130 degrees. Do not let it boil.
Pour the liquid slowly into the dry ingredients and turn the mixer on at a very slow speed. Use the paddle attachment and mix until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Turn to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed, add one cup of flour and beat on low until incorporated. Turn to high for another two minutes. Reduce speed and add another cup of flour beating to incorporate thoroughly. You have used four cups of the flour.
Add the cheeses and beat just until incorporated. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing well between additions.
When the dough becomes too stiff, stop the machine and turn the dough onto a clean, floured surface.
Knead for 8 to10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Place in a well-greased bowl, and turn the dough so the greased side is up. Cover and set in a warm spot for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk. (Good time for a walk.)
Generously grease a 10-inch tube pan and set the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Punch the dough down and break into 20-30 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and place half of them into the pan. Brush the dough with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle most of the chives over the dough. Add the rest of the balls of dough. Brush with more melted butter, sprinkle with the rest of the chives and cover and set in a warm spot to rise for another hour. (Another walk, perhaps?)
Uncover and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Let cool for several minutes.
Remove from pan. Dough will pull apart into individual pieces. Makes one large loaf.
Roast Salmon with Citrus
and Honey (Pareve)
2 to 3 pound salmon fillet skin on
5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
3 ruby red grapefruit to equal 1-1/2 cups juice and 1 grapefruit in segments
3 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
1/2 to 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup, to taste
Juice from one lemon, about 3 tbsp.
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
Thinly sliced basil leaves or finely minced fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and then with a piece of parchment paper. Brush the parchment with olive oil. Set aside.
Pat the salmon dry and brush the skin side with olive oil. Place on the prepared pan and brush the top with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Peel the grapefruit with a knife and cut off just enough skin to expose the flesh in each segment. Cut out the segments and place into a bowl. Set aside. (Do the same with the oranges, if using oranges.)
Juice the remaining fruit until you have about 1-1/2 cups. Set aside.
Heat a small skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Add the minced shallots and cook until softened and slightly golden. Add the ginger, honey or maple syrup, some of the lemon juice and the cayenne. Add the grapefruit juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add more lemon juice or honey or cayenne as desired. Add the scallions and mix. Add the fruit segments and heat through. Remove from the heat.
As soon as you reduce the heat under the sauce, place the salmon in the oven. Roast until cooked through, but not overdone. Salmon should be just opaque.
As soon as the sauce is reduced, brush the salmon with some of the sauce as it cooks.
When the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven. Let rest for several minutes and then transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and place the fruit segments around the fish. Garnish with the thinly sliced basil leaves or fresh minced parsley, if you prefer. Serves 4 to 8.
Simple Roasted Garlicy Sweet Hot Green Beans (Pareve)
2 pounds green beans, trimmed, washed and drained
5 to 7 large cloves garlic, very finely minced
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
Pinch kosher salt
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
Place the prepared green beans in a large bowl. Place the garlic, sugar, cayenne, salt, and canola oil in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Pour over the beans and toss to coat evenly. Pour the beans onto the prepared pan and spread them evenly. Scrape out any remaining marinade over the beans. Place in the oven and roast until blistered and charred in a few places. Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl. Serves 6 to 10.