Kosher Gourmet: Cooking with love

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Heather Taback serves up some new twists for Pesach

Mrs Anne Raff, a”h, well known to everyone as “Granny Anne”, always said, “Your food has a unique ingredient – LOVE!” That continues to be the special part of my food. I do all the cooking and baking myself – everything is custom made … with love. I owe my catering career to the blessings, encouragement, guidance, and enthusiasm she showered on me. I am a school teacher by profession and have always loved cooking and baking in my spare time. Mr Louis Raff, a”h, and Granny Anne were like parents to me. When they were at a stage in their lives that they weren’t eating well, I prepared meals for them. They enjoyed them so much that Granny Anne asked me if I would train her domestic workers in kosher cooking, using my recipes. This was an opportunity to combine my teaching skills with cooking and a thorough knowledge of kashrut. And so my career began. I trained several domestic workers in their employers’ own kitchens. Thanks to Granny Anne’s word of mouth advertising, I simultaneously had a demand for ready-prepared, frozen, double-wrapped holiday meals. I was so busy that I could no longer dedicate myself to my first love – teaching. Baruch Hashem, I just love being a caterer – I find it fulfilling, creative, and rewarding. I have since built a fully-equipped industrial Pesach kitchen and walk-in freezer, and specialise in ready-prepared individually-tailored Pesach meals. I also cater shul kiddushes, teas, functions, and holiday meals throughout the year. I am truly indebted to Mrs Raff. She had the confidence and vision in me and my dreams and achievements.

For more information contact heather@secondhelpings.co.za

A huge thank you to Penina Lexi Interiors 082 3314801 for their plating décor and gorgeous presentation of my food.

Coloured ‘’spaghetti noodle’’ spiralised salad

Spiralise a medium butternut

Spiralise three large baby marrows

Spiralise three peeled beetroots

Boil a bunch of peeled beetroot and cut into wedges

Butter lettuce

Heirloom baby tomatoes, halved

Cucumber slices with soft centre scooped out

Sliced peppers in different colours

Balsamic vinegar

Brown sugar

Method:

Snip the spiralised vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Stir fry each of the spiralised vegetables (separately so that the colours don’t mix) until they are softened but still retain a little of the crunch (3/4 cooked). Set aside to cool. Roast boiled beetroot wedges in equal quantities of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar until soft and caramelised. Set aside to cool. Line a platter with butter lettuce. Arrange the roasted beetroot and the cooked vegetable noodles on the lettuce. Add the halved tomatoes, cucumber slices, and sliced peppers. Serve with my creamy salad dressing drizzled over just before serving.

Creamy salad dressing:

2 cloves crushed fresh garlic

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly crushed peppercorns

½ cup sugar

1 cup oil

1 cup vinegar

1 cup mayonnaise

Blend all ingredients together with a stick blender or in a food processor.

Baked chicken schnitzel:

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey

½ cup bought Italian salad dressing (or use creamy salad dressing)

6 chicken schnitzel butterflied

Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over the schnitzel. Marinade for a few hours or overnight. Bake open at 180°C. Baste and turn frequently, or braai until cooked and golden. This is delicious served with mashed pumpkin or mashed potato or baked oven chips. It is also fabulous cold, cut up, and served on the “spaghetti noodle” spiralised salad.

Easy apple pops:

Two large apples sliced into 1cm slices.

3½ cups baking chocolate

1 Tablespoon oil

½ cup chopped pecan nuts or toasted slivered almonds

Wooden ice cream sticks

Microwave chocolate in 30 second bursts, stirring well after each burst, until it is melted. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir to incorporate. Make a small slit in the bottom of each slice of apple and insert an ice cream stick into each slice. Dip the apple slices in the melted chocolate and place on baking paper. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for an hour. Serve and enjoy on the day they are made.

Melanzane 1,2,3:

6 large eggplants, sliced into 1cm slices, salted and rinsed

1 large bottle ready-made pizza sauce of your choice

Grated cheddar cheese

Olive oil spray

Baking paper

Place the eggplant slices on baking paper on baking trays and bake at 180°C until golden. Turn and bake until both sides are nicely cooked. Be careful not to dry them out too much. Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray. Layer the dish with eggplant, pasta sauce, cheese. Repeat until ingredients are used up. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with a fresh lettuce salad. This makes a great meal.

This recipe freezes well.

Incredible brownies

4 eggs

1 scant cup oil

2 cups sugar

1½ cups fine matzo meal

1 tablespoon syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¾ cup cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a tin foil roaster. Mix all ingredients together in an electric mix master, with the paddle attachment. Pour into prepared roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Switch oven off. Cut into squares and return to oven until cold. Plate and sift icing sugar over.

Chinese Chicken

2 chickens, portioned

1 large chopped onion

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 punnet fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 pineapple peeled and chopped

1 cup hot water with 1 tablespoon chicken soup powder, dissolved

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

Potato flour mixed with salt and paprika

Oil for frying

Toasted cashew nuts for sprinkling over cooked chicken

Heat about 1cm of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Cover chicken portions in seasoned potato flour. Fry in hot oil until browned, but not fully cooked. Fry in batches. Set browned pieces in a single layer in a casserole dish. Once all the chicken is browned, add the onion and garlic to the same pan and fry until golden, adding more oil if necessary. Add the mushrooms and the peppers. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over chicken. Add more water if there is too little sauce, and cover tightly. Bake at 160°C for 2 hours. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted cashew nuts.

Frozen lemon meringue

2¼ cups sugar, divided

375ml parev whipping cream

5 eggs, separated

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Beat the cream until stiff. Whisk in the lemon juice. Set the whipped cream mixture aside. Using the same mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks well with 1½ cups of the sugar, until light yellow. Fold the cream into the egg mixture and pour into a springform pan. Freeze overnight. Preheat oven to hot grill. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Slowly add in the remainder of the sugar until a meringue mixture is formed. Spread this over the frozen ice cream. Peak the meringue with a spoon or a fork. Place in the oven and watch all the time, turning the dish to ensure the meringue browns evenly. Remove and refreeze.

Chopped liver

2 trays ready kashered livers

8 large onions, sliced

½ cup oil

5 hard-boiled eggs

1 Tablespoon chicken soup powder

Fry the sliced onions slowly in a ½ cup of oil, at a low temperature until caramelised. Add the livers and fry for a further 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Mince the livers, onions, oil, 4 eggs, and chicken soup powder together. Plate and decorate with the remaining egg (grated).

Mango Sorbet

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

8 mangoes, peeled and fruit cut up and blended till smooth.

Boil sugar and water until sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar water has cooled, add the lemon juice and the blended mangoes and mix well. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for around 5 hours. Remove from the freezer and defrost slightly. Blend in batches and refreeze. The more this is done the creamier the sorbet will be.

Grape juice sorbet

3 cups water

1½ cups sugar

3 cups grape juice

1 scant cup lemon juice

Boil sugar and water together until sugar has dissolved. Add the grape juice and lemon juice and bring to the boil again. Cool. Pour into a freezer-safe dish and freeze until firm. Scoop sorbet into a food processor and process until smooth. Refreeze. Repeat the process after a few hours.

Ginger cake

6 eggs

1½ cups sugar

1 cup syrup

1½ cups oil

1 cup water

2 flat teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1½ cups matzo meal

1½ cups potato flour

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a greased tin foil roaster or a large greased springform dish.

Let it stand for ½ an hour. Bake at 160°C for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool. Mix 2½ cups of icing sugar with about a tablespoon of water and a drop of ginger to make a thick icing. Spread over the cake.

Choc-nut Biscotti

1/3 cup oil

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup cocoa

½ cup potato flour

1¼ cups ground almonds

½ cup chopped baking chocolate

¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the cocoa gradually. In a small bowl, combine potato flour and ground almonds, and add to the mixer. Fold in the toasted almonds. Place in the fridge for ½ hour. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. With wet hands form three loaves on the baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and, using a serrated knife, cut biscotti into 2cm slices. Place back on the baking paper on a cut side and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Fried Fish balls

1kg freshly minced hake with carrots and onion

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup oil

½ cup matzah meal

½ cup sugar

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. With wet hands form into balls and place on a tray. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 180°C. Fry fish balls in batches so as not to overcrowd the fryer. When golden brown, remove from the fryer and place on roller towel. Serve hot or cold. These freeze well.

Granny Anne’s Kneidelach

6 XL eggs

6 tablespoons hot water

6 tablespoons hot oil (that some onion has been fried in, for flavour)

3 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

13 tablespoons matzo meal

Beat eggs in the bowl of an electric mix master until frothy. Keep the beater running and add the hot water and the hot oil. Beat in the salt, sugar, pepper, and cinnamon. Add the matzo meal and beat until a soft batter is formed (similar to a cake batter). Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour and a half. Boil up a very large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of chicken soup powder. When the water is boiling rapidly and the mixture has set, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls with wet hands. Drop the balls into the boiling water. Close the lid of the pot and once the water boils again turn the heat down two notches. Do not open the lid of the pot until the cooking process has finished. Every ten minutes turn the heat down a notch until you have reached a medium heat. Leave at that temperature for another half an hour, shaking the pot with a dish cloth over the lid a few times.

PS: It helps to say a tefilla…

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