It’s That Time Again! Let’s talk turkey and Shabbat

It’s time to talk turkey. Turkey on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day is the quintessential All-American meal, dating back to the Pilgrims. For those used to poultry on Shabbat, Thanksgiving Thursday sometimes poses a dilemma: Eat turkey on Thursday or wait till Shabbat? When

Pumpkin-Swirled Mini Cheesecakes.

Pumpkin-Swirled Mini Cheesecakes.

For instance, you can have roast turkey on Thursday and “Jewish up” the meal by adding a side dish such as Kasha Chili (delicious recipe below). You can use the leftover turkey on Shabbat for a hearty turkey soup or turkey chili with salad and sides. My sister uses her Thanksgiving turkey every year to make a “one-dish” Shabbat meal. She uses turkey and carcass for the broth, adds chicken or turkey broth (and chicken thighs if not enough leftover turkey) and tons of veggies and finally, barley. Serve with challah, and Shabbat is done.

For me, Thanksgiving turkey, celery, onion, cornbread, sage and pumpkin pie remain essentials. After many years of trial and error, I have perfected my method of serving turkey by slicing it ahead.

112015_food2First, roast the turkey so it will be ready early in the day or the day before. Stop roasting when the turkey is brown but slightly underdone (an internal temp of about 160 degrees). Take it out to rest, and then get your cellphone! Seriously. Now snap a photo of that magnificent turkey. Remove the skin in as large pieces as possible. Now, slice your very slightly underdone turkey carefully. Arrange slices and pieces on a large oven-proof platter, pour over some turkey juice, reserving some juice. Press skin tightly over slices, and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate and bring to room temp before reheating.  Reheat in a 350-degree oven for about one hour, basting often. Remove the skin and pour remaining juices over slices. You will save time to allow decorating your platter and have moist delicious slices. And remember that photo? You can whip it out to show guests what your turkey looked like before slicing!

Pumpkin pie for your finale is always popular.  My dessert table will have a traditional one as well as some mini-swirled cheesecakes for guests. For place cards, I use mini-pumpkins (or apples) and toothpick flags with guests’ names on each.  And always remember to invite a guest or guest couple who would otherwise be alone on this holiday.
> Fresh fragrant sage is worth the investment; fry it or add raw to stuffing and decorate platters with the leaves.
> Want made-from-scratch stuffing fast? Buy and combine two different flavors of boxed stuffing mix.  Add chopped fresh sage and sauteed chopped onions. Tastes homemade!
> Decorate your turkey platter with fresh sage, kale and raw cranberries or canned sliced apple rings.




Chillin’ Out

100915_foodAs outside temperatures cool, kosher cooks can chill out a bit too. The High Holiday rush is over—and the frantic frying of latkes is yet to come. It’s a perfect time for some sweet and savory dishes that take advantage of autumn flavors. Local markets still have fresh produce available such as corn and pumpkins plus other winter squash, and apples are abundantly in season. Visit the large Sunday farmers’ market (under I-83) to see and taste the best of local Baltimore’s produce. Then you can even put your feet up and let the slow cooker do some of the work. Here are some of my fall favorites.





Beating the ‘Matzah Diet’ Your holiday Haggadah to staying healthy during Passover

Passover is the time of the year when Jews celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt. But the endless monotony of eggs, potatoes and matzah for eight days may leave you feeling like a slave to your chametz-free diet.

However, the avoidance of bread and certain grains and legumes doesn’t have to limit the wealth of healthy and nutritious options available to you during this festive time. Consider this your primer to managing the stresses of Passover eating — your Haggadah to staying healthy throughout Passover while still enjoying family, friends and holiday festivities. Who knows? You may even find yourself making an exodus from your current pant size!

Before the Seder
Passover marks the return of springtime, and what better way to welcome back the warm weather than to peruse your local farmer’s market for the bountiful spring offerings such as asparagus, sugar snap peas and artichokes to make the centerpiece of your Seder meal.

If you’re a guest at someone else’s Seder, offer to help out by contributing a healthy dish. Your host will appreciate the gesture and you benefit from knowing there is at least one healthy option at the Seder table.

The Seder itself is a marathon, not a sprint, and like any athlete, you need to prepare beforehand. As it may be a while before you actually sit down to the meal, eating a snack with protein and fiber prior to the meal can stave off your hunger and help you make more nutritious choices at the main event. Some smart snack choices include Greek yogurt with blueberries or raw veggies with a small handful of almonds.

During the Seder
Rather than plain matzah, opt for whole wheat or spelt matzah, which are higher in fiber content. Fiber keeps you more satiated and helps relieve those digestive issues that often plague us during Passover.

When it comes to your meal, avoid black and white thinking; it’s perfectly okay to enjoy some of the foods that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to eat any other time of year. Try to fill your plate up with mostly nutritious options such as veggie-based dishes and lean meat or fish, and pick a few small portions of more indulgent dishes that you love. If you avoid feeling deprived of your favorite foods, you will be much less likely to overeat and feel much more satisfied with your meal overall.

Pace yourself with the vino! Four glasses of wine at the Seder is a lot. Not only does wine impair your judgment toward making healthier choices, it also adds up those liquid calories quickly. Instead, switch to half glasses of wine. Maximize the health benefits by opting for red wine, which contains the antioxidant resveratrol. Studies have demonstrated this antioxidant may promote heart health and decrease stroke risk.

After the Seder and beyond
While tradition may dictate that we recline at our Seder table, there’s nothing wrong with starting your own active family tradition. Try taking a walk after the Seder meal or join your kids in the search for the afikomen.

As for the rest of the holiday, your best bet for sticking to a nutritious diet is experimenting with fresh veggies and fruits as the center of your meal. This will also help you to regulate your digestion, which is a common symptom of the “matzah diet.” Try to avoid those prepackaged special Passover foods and instead, get creative with your meals. Below you will find a few recipes to help get you started.

Beef and quinoa meatballs

Cinnamon-Dusted spaghetti squash kugel with dates, apples and walnuts

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