A Taste of Spring

Come spring most of us long for lighter fare, such as vegetables, fish and a touch of sweetness.

Beet Borscht
8 servings

There are so many versions of beet borscht. Most of them are made with beef stock and served with pieces of meat, and are meals in themselves, especially in winter. This version, which is much lighter, is an all-season dish with a dazzling red color.




2 pounds beets, 8 medium, approximately
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
7 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon juice, approximately
1 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid); see note
2 teaspoons brown sugar, approximately
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar, approximately
1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Peel beets, place in a foil pan, and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, at which point they will be semi-soft. Cool to handle, and grate coarsely in a food processor fitted with the medium grating attachment. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan with a cover. Add onion and garlic, and sauté over low heat until onion is soft. Add chicken stock, lemon, sour salt, brown sugar and rice vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add beets, and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until beets are tender.

Add parsley and season to taste.

Sour salt (citric acid) is not easily available, but you can find it in some Eastern European specialty stores.

Asian Salad Dressing
Makes 3/4 cup

Greens are such a mainstay of our meals that it is nice to have a variety of salad dressings on hand.

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman Lite)
1 tablespoon honey

Bring the ingredients to a boil, cool, and refrigerate to have on hand.

Vinaigrette Dressing
Makes 1/2 cup

A good vinaigrette is one of the secrets of a tasty salad. Keep this dressing refrigerated to have on hand. If you combine the ingredients in a blender, the oil will not separate from the rest of the ingredients. Bring the dressing to room temperature before serving.

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, approximately
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, approximately
1/4 cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients into a blender and mix. Season to taste.

Salmon Teriyaki
4 servings

Even though you may have quite a selection of salmon recipes, this one should be added to your repertoire. It is easy to prepare, and you probably have the ingredients in your cupboard. This dish is flavorful and can be served hot or at room temperature.

4 center cut, skinless salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, approximately

2 garlic cloves crushed to a paste with 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman Lite)

Place the fish in a glass or ceramic dish, and salt and pepper it lightly. Pour the marinade over the fish, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Preheat the broiler. Bring the fish to room temperature.

Line a broiler pan with heavy duty foil, and place the fish on it. Pour the marinade over the fish, and broil it 6 inches from the heat source, on one side only, for about 5 minutes or until it turns slightly pink on the inside. Serve with accumulate juices if you like.

Bow Ties (Farfalle) with Peppers and Basil
4 servings as a main course
6 servings as an appetizer

The combination of peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and vinegar make for a delicious, colorful and light dish. This pasta is equally good served warm or at room temperature. In a pinch you can make it very easily without skinning the peppers.

1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil; see note
1 pound bow ties, or any other shaped pasta
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To skin peppers:
Preheat the broiler. Line the rack of a broiler pan with foil. Halve the peppers and remove seeds. Place peppers skin side up on the foil, and broil close to the heat source (approximately 6 inches) for 6-7 minutes, or until blistered and charred. Wrap in foil, and let cool. The heat will loosen the skin. Peel and dice.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan, add garlic, and sauté for a minute. Add diced peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté for a minute and keep warm.

Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large covered pot. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and all the pasta at once; stir well. Boil briskly, uncovered, for about 6 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. Drain in a colander, mix with sauce and basil. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.

You can also use dry sun-dried tomatoes. If they are too dry, place them in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water for a minute to soften them. Squeeze dry and dice.

Chocolate Mousse
12 Servings

This is one of the easiest pareve desserts to make, but it should be prepared in advance. I like to serve it in individual 1/4-cup size ramekins (pot de crème—French porcelain ramekins), but you can, of course, serve it in one serving dish. Sprinkling coarsely grated chocolate or chocolate curls on top adds a nice touch.

1/2 pound imported semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces, plus additional pieces for garnish
6 tablespoons cold water
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark rum

Place chocolate and water in the top part of a double boiler. Cover, and set over boiling water until chocolate is melted. Remove the top part from the heat, let cool for a minute. Whisk in one egg yolk at a time, then the rum. Set aside.

In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer beat egg whites, at high speed, until soft peaks form. Beat in the chocolate mixture, at medium speed, until thoroughly combined.

Spoon mousse into dishes of your choice. Freeze for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Serve straight from the refrigerator, garnished with chocolate.

Easy Brownies
84, 1-inch squares

These brownies are fudgy, simple to make, and require no pots; in addition, they freeze very well. I like to cut them into bite-size pieces. You can, of course, cut them to your taste.

16 tablespoons unsalted margarine, at room temperature
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 3/4 cup sugar (scant)
4 eggs, at room temperature, whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 generous cup (about 3 ounces) walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 13-by-9-by 2-inch baking pan. Dust it evenly with flour (Wondra), then invert pan and tap to shake off excess.

Place margarine and chocolate in the top part of a double boiler. Cover, set over simmering water, stirring from time to time, until all is melted. Remove the top part from the heat, and add sugar gradually, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is smooth. With the same wooden spoon, stir in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla extract and flour.

Blend well. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out moist.

Let cool on a wire rack. Invert onto a wooden board and cut into squares.

This article was featured in the Spring 2007 issue of Jewish Action.
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