Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kosher -Delicious Looking- Elegance

These fancy cookbooks like Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind, Published by Feldheim Publishers, always make me feel terribly incompetent.  I've been cooking for decades but my food never looks like that.  Granted, some people like my cooking for eating, but I've never gotten the hang of serving like you can see in Libroind's book.

I found some recipes in Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind that I'm looking foward to trying, like Colorful Green Bean Salad.
Serves approximately 12
My friends and I planned an impromptu get-together, complete with a lavish meal. I was bringing dessert, but as a little bonus I made a salad, too. Well, I threw myself into preparing an elegant dessert, but the real showstopper was this simple salad that took two minutes to make.

1 1-pound package frozen green beans
3 cloves garlic
3 peppers in a variety of colors
1 carrot
1 handful dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

4 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Briefly cook green beans in water until crisp. Drain and let cool slightly. Chop garlic, peppers, and carrots into small cubes and add to green beans. Add dried cranberries, almonds, and sesame seeds. Mix dressing ingredients, pour over salad, and toss well.

Tip: To preserve that fresh, bright green color, transfer beans to a bowl of ice water immediately after cooking. No one will believe the green beans are cooked!

Of course I'll make a few changes like using fresh green beans and no salt.  I absolutely love the look of it, and I have no doubt that it tastes good, too.

Another vegetable recipe I must try, with minor adjustments--eliminating the sugar for sure--is Caramelized Vegetables on a Bed of Sweet Potato Puree. Yes, I do love vegetables!
Makes 6 medium-sized portions

This is one of my favorite dishes. It’s got eye appeal, it’s low in calories, and it boasts an interesting duo of textures: crisp vegetables and creamy sweet potatoes. I first stir-fry the veggies in a frying pan and then quickly grill them. Cooking them briefly lets the vegetables retain their crispness.

Sweet potato puree:
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 handful fresh or dried rosemary
1 small onion, chopped and sauteed
in 2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons soy milk (optional)

Caramelized vegetables:
1/2 small head broccoli, preferably fresh
1/4 small head cauliflower, preferably fresh
2 zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, fresh or frozen
2 peppers, different colors, sliced in thick strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh thyme (optional)

Sweet potato puree: Peel sweet potatoes and cut into thick slices. Place slices in an 8 x 12 inch baking pan. Season with olive oil, salt, and rosemary. Cover and bake at 400°F until sweet potatoes are completely soft. Remove rosemary and mash sweet potatoes well. Add the sauteed onion and soy milk and mix.

Caramelized vegetables: Separate broccoli and cauliflower into small florets. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. When oil is hot, add all the vegetables and stir-fry 3–4 minutes, mixing with 2 spoons. Season the vegetables with sugar, pepper, salt, and thyme (reserve some thyme for garnish) and stir-fry 3 more minutes. Transfer veggies to a baking pan and grill at 400°F for 5 minutes until golden.

For an elegant presentation, place a 2- to 3-inch food ring in the center of a plate. Fill ring with sweet potato and remove ring. Arrange vegetables on top.

For a simpler presentation, make a mound of sweet potato in the center of a serving platter. Put
vegetables on top. Garnish with thyme.

Tip: Caramelized vegetables also make a wonderful side dish when served on their own without the sweet potato base.

People who are familiar with Efrat Libroind's recipes probably find it strange that I'm praising her vegetable recipes when she's best known for her absolutely spectuacular desserts, like Cream Cheese, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake.
Makes 1 7 x 11 inch pan

On one of my visits to New York, I studied alongside the proprietor of a large Brooklyn bakery. At the end of the course she approached me and offered to share “a wonderful recipe: cream cheese–peanut butter mousse.” I thanked her with a smile, even though inside I was cringing from the mere thought of a cream cheese–peanut butter combination.
When I returned to Israel I found the recipe, along with detailed instructions, in my inbox, and I decided to try it. To my surprise, I discovered that it really was wonderful, and I made a few additions that upgraded it to a must-try recipe.

2 tablespoons cocoa
1/3 cup boiling water
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 heaping tablespoons sour cream

Chocolate mousse:
7 ounces milk chocolate
1 8-ounce container heavy whipping cream

Peanut butter mousse:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 8-ounce container, minus 4 tablespoons, heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup milk
4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3½ ounces white chocolate

Base: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix cocoa with boiling water. Add remaining ingredients. Transfer to a 7 x 11 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Chocolate mousse: Heat chocolate with heavy whipping cream and stir until completely combined. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Beat mixture for a few seconds until the color lightens. Spread mousse over the cake and freeze for half an hour.

Peanut butter mousse: Beat cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar for about 4 minutes. Add peanut butter. In a separate bowl, beat heavy whipping cream with sugar until stiff peaks form, and fold into cream cheese mixture. Spread over chocolate mousse and freeze for 2 hours.

Topping: Cook all topping ingredients except white chocolate, stirring until well mixed. Add white chocolate and stir until completely combined. Chill for half an hour. Pour topping over peanut butter mousse and freeze for 3 hours. Slice cake into squares or rectangles. Serve partially frozen.

Tip: For an extra chocolate garnish, melt 3½ ounces bittersweet chocolate and spread in an even layer on 3 x 1/2 inch acetate sheets, 1 sheet for each mousse square or rectangle. Place the sheets on an upside-down egg carton (for hygienic reasons, make sure it’s plastic) to create chocolate waves, as pictured. Freeze for 10 minutes, leaving sheets on egg carton. Remove chocolate waves from acetate sheets, place atop cake, and serve
I have no doubt that some of you readers are overjoyed that I included that lucious cake recipe in my review.  If you try any of the recipes, please let me know how they come out by commenting here. I'm sure many of you will enjoy owning and reading and following Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind.

1 comment:

Chats the Comfy Cook said...

I don't have this book and my budget for cookbooks has closed. My husband just gave me four kosher cookbooks for Chanukah. That should take me a long way.

I am glad you shared the two recipes, though. I am more likely to make the salad and if I do, I will let you know.