Category Archives: Hanukkah

Gourmet Dinner Starter: Cauliflower Apple Soup

Cauliflower Apple Soup

In September we asked some friends up to the house to help us with the site analysis for building our own pizza oven; one is an engineer, and the other a pizza oven owner.  This story and some cups of cauliflower apple soup are a wonderful example of my motto: Eat well and share the love!

September_Pizza Oven Site Analysis

While the guys evaluated the pizza oven location, we noshed and enjoyed some wine……

Pizza Oven Site Analysis_Noshing

We all love food and we have shared some fabulous meals together, including the Gypsy Kitchen Supper Club.  On a whim, I asked everyone if they would be interested in starting up a gourmet dinner club. Thankfully it was a resounding YES and two spectacular dinners have been hosted already.  Fine wines are poured and the fancy pants recipes are pulled out – the bar has been raised very high so I need to step up my game because David and I are hosting this weekend.

Gourmet Dinners 2012

The Schenker menu is written and we tested some of the recipes beforehand.  The first test was a cauliflower apple soup that will be served as a starter.  The recipe is adapted from the cookbook  The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski, a Denver chef who owns several restaurants.  I was intrigued when I saw this recipe because, not knowing any better, I would have added potatoes with the cauliflower – which would create a heavier, denser soup.  The apples lighten up the soup and it is full of rich, velvety flavors.  For the soup base, thinly sliced onions are sweated, cauliflower and apples are added and the vegetables simmer in chicken broth.  To finish the soup before pureeing, milk, heavy whipping cream and a few basil leaves are added (the recipe calls for straining the soup but I omitted this step because I like the texture).  For an elegant touch to serve alongside the soup, an apple matchstick salad with red cabbage, shallots and basil are tossed with a green curry vinaigrette.  It gives the soup some crunch and even more depth of flavor.  I think it will be an impressive hit.  Now I need to figure out which wines to pour.

To incorporate Hanukkah, our gourmet dinner will start with some mini 2011 Hanukkah Latkeslatke appetizers along with the usual fixings (our 2011 dinner shown here) and glasses of Prosecco.  The cauliflower apple soup will start off the dinner feast, three more courses will follow, and individual apple galettes with some Andrew Rich 2008 Gewürztraminer dessert wine will finish off the evening.  As usual, I will snap some photos throughout the night and will share the fun with you later.

Cheers to a wonderful Holiday celebration.  May yours be filled with many delicious treats, loved ones, good friends and happy times.

Eat well and share the love!Logo in Word

Cauliflower Apple Soup (print recipe)
Recipe: Adapted from The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients:
Soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
6 oz. (about 1½ cups) cauliflower flowerets, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz. (about 1 cup) chopped apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji) – peeled and seeded, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon green curry paste (or madras curry)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup 1% milk
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large basil leaves
Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon green curry paste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
Apple Salad
1 apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji), peeled, seeded and cut into small matchstick pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
2 tablespoons finely diced red cabbage or radicchio

Directions:
Soup: In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, add the butter and heat over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes; do not brown the onions.

Add the chopped cauliflower, apples and ½ teaspoon salt; stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is just heated through; do not brown. Stir in the chicken broth and curry paste and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cream, milk and ½ teaspoon salt and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Transfer half the soup to a blender, add two basil leaves and place a folded kitchen towel over the lid.  With hand on lid so it doesn’t lift off, puree soup until smooth.  Transfer soup to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup, adding the last basil leaf.  If desired, strain the soup through a fine sieve for a velvety texture.  If you are serving immediately, transfer all the soup back into the pot and gently reheat – add ¼ teaspoon salt if needed.  Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, refrigerate and gently reheat before serving.

Vinaigrette: Add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Whisk together until combined.

Apple Salad: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and dress lightly with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette.  Toss gently, being careful to not break the apple matchstick pieces.

To serve the hot soup, ladle into bowl or cup (if a starter course) and serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple salad on the side. Before eating, add some of apple salad to the soup and enjoy!

· Use caution with hot items in the blender; the heat can cause the blender lid to blow off.  Be sure to place a folded kitchen towel over the lid and place your hand on top to secure it before turning motor on.  Do not fill more than half full.

Sweet Boy Murphy_October 2012

Sweet Boy Murphy in his element and sporting the “tough guy” look.

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A Once-A-Year Hanukkah Treat: Potato Latkes

Tuesday was the first night of Hanukkah and we celebrated with some golden, crispy potato latkes. The first time I ever tasted a latke (pronounced lot kuh) was at David’s parent’s house, many years ago.  Just like matzo ball soup at Passover, I was quickly hooked on this new delight made during Hanukkah.  You have probably seen recipes using sweet potatoes or zucchini, but in our house they are made the old-fashioned way.  David is a latke purist (I get it, there are some things I like to keep traditional too) so my tried and true recipe is just grated potatoes and onions, eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.  For more flavor, I use a package of matzo ball mix in place of plain matzo meal and a lot of onion.  In my food book, a plate of latkes wouldn’t be complete without some sour cream and applesauce to dunk the scrumptious potato disks; they are crispy on the outside but nice and moist on the inside.  To szoosh them up, I like to garnish the latkes with some fresh dill and chives.

Don your apron and open your windows or turn on your exhaust fan for this delectable once-a-year treat.  Oil is symbolic with this holiday so don’t shy away from frying (click here for more information about Hanukkah).  I use canola oil and less than a quarter of an inch deep in the pan.   The trick for crispy latkes is hot oil that stays consistently hot, so you may have to adjust your heat source a few times.  When the edges turn golden brown they are ready to turn.

To keep the cooked latkes warm while finishing frying the rest, store in a 200° F oven on a platter. There is no better surprise than to open your refrigerator the next day and find some latkes waiting for you (Boston Cream pie would be nice too), so I always make extra. This batch makes about 18 latkes and we were surprised that we ate 10 of them by the end of dinner! Any leftovers should be refrigerated in a sealed container – reheat in a 300° F oven or toast in a toaster oven.  They freeze well; just don’t microwave them because they will get rubbery. They are also delightful for breakfast or lunch!
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from David & Melissa! 

And a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Holly Bergman!!!

Eat well and share the love! 

Potato Latkes
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies plus leftovers, makes about 18 latkes

Ingredients:
4 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package matzo ball mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
Garnish:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Sour Cream
Applesauce
Optional Sides:
Sliced cucumber
Olives

Directions:
Heat oven to 200 degrees F (to keep latkes warm while frying) and place an oven-proof platter on the middle rack.

Add about 1/8 inch of canola oil to a large skillet.  Turn heat to medium-high; when the surface of the oil lightly ripples it is ready.   Test oil by adding a small piece of batter; if it browns on each side within a minute, it’s ready.

While the oil is heating, make the batter.  Grate potatoes and onion into a large bowl.  Add beaten eggs and mix well, making sure all the potatoes are coated.  Add matzo ball mix, salt and pepper and mix well.

When the oil is hot, add batter by spoonful (about 1/3 cup) into oil and flatten out with the back of spatula.  Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown, and gently turn latkes away from you.  If needed slightly increase heat source to maintain consistent hot oil.

When both sides are golden brown, transfer latkes to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Spoon more batter into oil and repeat process.  Transfer the cooked latkes to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

Serve latkes hot with fresh chopped dill and chives, and a pinch of salt.  Serve with a side of a dollop of sour cream and applesauce. 

Optional sides: sliced cucumbers and olives.

Pictures from our recent weekend trip to visit Beth and Steve in Chicago.  Sorry we missed you, Sara!