December 2007

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Quick & Kosher: Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing by Jamie Geller.
The Kosher Table

A Chanukah Feast That Is Quick And Kosher
Jamie Geller’s Quick & Kosher: Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing.

-- Lisa Kelvin Tuttle

Would you take cooking advice from a bride who knew nothing? If your answer is 'no' then I highly recommend you reconsider. Three years ago, Jamie Geller was a fast-track TV producer who didn’t know a saucepan from a spatula. But her new husband, from whom she initially hid the news of her kitchen ineptitude (she jokes that her backup title might have been the I Didn’t Tell Him I Couldn’t Cook Cookbook), patiently guided her to a point of basic comfort in the kitchen. As a baalas teshuvah (a non-Orthodox woman who adopts a traditionally observant Jewish lifestyle), Jamie’s intention to take on the cooking and entertaining demands of her household with grace and ease—and her insistence that every dish take no more than 15 minutes to prep—led her to become not only competent, but downright masterful at making beautiful meals a snap.

Quick & Kosher: Recipes from The Bride Who Knew Nothing --- the newest addition to my cookbook collection --- is a terrific new cookbook from Feldheim that makes a great Chanukah present. In addition to the many super-fast takes on traditional Jewish dishes, I’ve been enjoying Jamie’s diverse international offerings, such as her Curried Coconut Couscous, Avgolemono Soup, and Berry Crème Brule; and the easy, elegant and mouth-watering desserts, among them Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mousse Pie, Strawberry Shortcake Trifle, Chocolate Quesadillas, and Puff Pastry Apple Purses.

Special features of the cookbook include full-page color photos for most recipes, sections on setting up your kitchen and shopping like a pro, secrets of the 15-minute chef, and an informative guide to wine from Hagafen Cellars of Napa Valley. The book closes with some terrific Jewish holiday menus and a glossary of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Arabic terms used in the book.

I offer you now this sampling of recipes from Jamie’s menu for a Quick & Kosher Chanukah, with wishes for a gut yontif and much joy this festival of lights.

Until we eat again,


Challah Garlic Bread

  • 6 thick slices challah
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Place challah on prepared cookie sheet and spread liberally with butter or margarine.
  3. Sprinkle bread slices with crushed garlic, parsley flakes, and onion powder.
  4. Bake at 425 until slightly toasted and edges are crisp – watch, as challah tends to toast quickly!

Parmesan and Sun-Dried Tomato-Crusted Tilapia

  • 4 tilapia fillets, about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced, divided
  • 4-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray.
  3. Rinse fish, pat dry and place in prepared pan.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and 1 tablespoon of dill.
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 450 for 10 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, mix sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, remaining dill, olive oil, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.
  7. Remove fillets from oven and turn over to broil; spread sun-tried tomato mixture over fish.
  8. Return to oven and broil for another 4 to 5 minutes, until cheese topping is lightly browned.

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
  • 4 medium Idaho potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons matzoh meal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • Applesauce or sour cream (optional)
  1. Prepare a large bowl filled with cold water.
  2. Peel potatoes, and as you finish each, place in cold water to prevent browning.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Cut potatoes lengthwise into halves or quarters so they fit into food processor feed tube. Process potatoes using the blade that creates think, shoestring-like strips and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add eggs, matzoh meal, salt and pepper and mix well.
  6. Drop 6-8 spoonfuls of mixture into hot oil. Using the back of a spoon, pat down each latke to flatter it. Put as many as you can in the skillet without crowding. Putting them too close together will make them soggy.
  7. Fry 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden and crisp around the edges; repeat procedure until finished with all the batter.
  8. Blot excess oil with paper towels.
  9. Serve warm with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.

Sun-Dried Tomato Caesar Salad
  • 2 romaine hearts, shredded about ¼-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup croutons
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • Grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

For dressing:
  1. 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 3/4 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  4. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (see note, below)
  5. 3 cubes frozen crushed garlic, or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  6. 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  7. 1 tablespoon onion powder
  8. 2 tablespoons water
  9. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  1. Place romaine in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add croutons and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly.
  5. Serve immediately with grape tomatoes, if desired.

Note: Using Worcestershire sauce can be tricky for those who follow the tradition to separate meat and fish, because Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. Check the kosher certification mark. When it is accompanied by a "fish" notation, it means that the level of anchovies is greater than 1.6% of the whole product. When the kosher certification mark stands alone, the percentage of anchovies is less than 1.6%. When using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes, use a brand with a stand-alone kosher certification.

Sufganiyot (Chanukah Jelly Doughnuts)
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 (8-ounce) cartons vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups canola oil
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup seedless strawberry jelly
  1. In a large bowl, place flour, yogurt, vanilla sugar and eggs.
  2. Knead until all ingredients are combined and a sticky, doughy batter is formed. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Heat 6 cups canola oil in a 6-quart stockpot, covered, over medium heat.
  4. When dough is ready, uncover and raise heat to high.
  5. Scoop out a tablespoonful of batter and drop in oil. Don’t make the doughnuts too big, so they can cook through.
  6. Remove doughnuts and let cool on paper towel-lined plates. Repeat previous 2 steps with remaining batter.
  7. Fill a squeeze bottle with jelly and inject a little into each doughnut.
  8. Roll each doughnut in confectioners’ sugar. Or, shake 3 doughnuts at a time in a paper bag filled with confectioners’ sugar.

Previously on the Kosher Table

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