Hazelnuts Are 4 Everyone

Of all the nuts I have hanging around my house (hubby and kids not withstanding) the one that used to be taken out only for special occasions was the hazelnuts (AKA filberts). Then I was introduced to Nuttella ® a wonderful chocolaty hazelnut spread that made my taste buds stand up and say WOW give me more!!! I had, prior to that culinary revelation, only used hazelnuts in a few cookies and an occasional cake or two. Trying a chocolate hazelnut spread on toast for breakfast (don’t judge me) made me realize just how versatile that little nut could be.

A hazelnut has a sweet slightly unusual flavor and unique texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.  But, wait, there’s more. This nut has some real substantial nutrition to offer.

Hazelnut is a terrific source of vitamin E, protein, and fiber as well as being a great source for antioxidants. The hazelnut is readily available BUT they can be a tad more expensive than a peanut, pecan or almond. That’s why most recipes tend to use them as a side note or accent rather than a main ingredient. The following recipes will let you take them from appetizer to dessert and will open the door to hazelnut heaven.

Note: Nuttella ® is available at most grocery stores right next to the peanut butter.

 

CRUNCHY HAZELNUT BARS

Cookie

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the 1/2 cup butter and mix to combine until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. While to base is cooling make the topping

In a bowl, combine the cocoa with the 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until blended. Stir in the hazelnuts and coconut. Pour the mixture over the crust and make sure it covers it completely.

Reduce heat to 325. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. Makes 16

Submitted by Ronnie Mixser-Hoffman Chicago IL

SIMPLE TILAPIA WITH LEMON AND HAZELNUT

6 six-eight ounce fillets of tilapia

Butter or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup hazelnuts, coarsely ground

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon butter

4 teaspoons flour

3/4 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons white wine

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 baking dish and place the fillets in the prepared pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Brush the top of each fillet with melted butter and top each fillet with a tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts. Sprinkle the top of each fillet with fresh lemon juice Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish to a warm plate and then melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the flour.  Whisk to blend until smooth but don’t let it brown. Add the stock and wine and stir until smooth. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve. Serves 6

HAZELNUT CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE

Great over salad greens or rice

3/4 cup fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 ounces)

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 to 6 teaspoons water (optional)

Chicken:

1 cup chopped hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)

3/4 cup panko or plain dried breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup honey mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 large butterflied skinless boneless chicken breasts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons oil

4 cups salad greens

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

raspberry sauce:

In a food processor or blender combine the 3/4 cup raspberries, white wine vinegar, and sugar and process until smooth. With blender running, gradually add the oil. Add water by teaspoonfuls as needed to thin to desired consistency. Season raspberry sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

For chicken:

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl combine the hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.  In another bowl combine the honey mustard, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and turn to coat. Then dip the chicken pieces, 1 at a time, into crumb-nut mixture, coating both sides and pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken pieces to baking sheet.

Divide equal amounts of butter and oil between 2 large nonstick skillets; heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken pieces to each skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is light brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet; transfer to oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with fresh raspberries and serve raspberry sauce alongside.

Modified from epicurious.com

  HAZELNUT LAMB BURGERS

Debbie Russell of Colorado Springs won a 1st Prize at the Build a Better Burger Cook-off with this recipe and it truly deserved to win, it’s amazing

2 pounds ground lamb

1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1/2 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil

1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts

1/4 cup unseasoned dried Italian bread crumbs

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

6 large sesame seed sandwich buns split

6 tablespoons fresh goat cheese (about 3 ounces)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 bunch spinach leaves

6 large tomato slices

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, combine the lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon, onion, fresh bread crumbs, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. On a plate, combine the hazelnuts and dried bread crumbs. Press both sides of each patty into the nut mixture, coating evenly.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with 1 tablespoon of the cheese.

To assemble the burgers, spread the mustard over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place several spinach leaves and a tomato slice. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

Reprinted from Sutter Home Family Vineyards, written by James McNair, Build a Better Burger, published by Ten Speed Press

 STRAWBERRY HAZELNUT COOKIES

1 cup hazelnuts

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup cake flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 cookie sheets and set them aside. In a food processor chop the hazelnuts until they are coarsely chopped.  Add the flour and oatmeal and pulse 5 seconds and then place it in a mixing bowl. Add salt cardamom and cinnamon. Mix to combine and then add the maple syrup and oil and mix to combine. Make walnut-size balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press cookies with the middle with your thumb, making a small indentation and fill it with about 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool. Makes 3 to 3 1/2 dozen depending on size.

THAI HAZELNUT NOODLES

8 oz angel hair pasta

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon red or chili pepper

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups ground chicken or tofu cut into ½-inch cubes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups fresh bean sprouts (you can use canned but they don’t taste as good)

1 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

1 English cucumber sliced thin

Juice of 1/2 lime

Cook noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside. In a bowl combine the sugar, water, ketchup, fish sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken or tofu and garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add noodles, stirring constantly to keep from sticking. Add ketchup mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until sauce is absorbed. Remove the noodle mixture to a bowl and then return the frying pan to the heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring until almost cooked. Add the bean sprouts, 2/3 cup green onions and 1/2 cup hazelnuts, stirring until mixed with eggs. Return the noodles to the pan and cook while stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and place the noodles in a large wide bowl. Sprinkle the top with the remaining green onions and hazelnuts and decorate the cucumber slices. Sprinkle the lime juice on top and serve immediately.

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Dinosaur Eats Avocado: Film at 11

       According to the Little Green Avocado Book by Linda Doeser, Rosamond Richardson, Michelle B. Johnson there is pretty strong evidence that avocado trees thrived over 50 million years ago in what is now sunny California. Just think, the dinosaurs had guacamole before we did.

       Moving into to the current millennium we are lucky to have 3 types of avocados available in today’s marketplace. The Mexican type (semitropical) produces small fruits with thin shiny purple skin when ripe. The Guatemalan type (subtropical) yields medium pear-shaped fruits which are first green, turning purple-black or coppery-purple when ripe, with a typically tough shell. Finally there is the West Indian type (tropical) which produces enormous fruits that can weigh up to 2 pounds. Avocados are available year round and the Hass, the best known commercial variety, is a hybrid of the Mexican and the Guatemalan types

       You want to choose an avocado that yields to gentle pressure and then store it in the refrigerator for several days. If an avocado is too firm you can ripen it at room temperature or more quickly, in a paper bag with a banana or apple. BE WARNED, avocados can go from being perfectly ripe to overripe in a matter of a day so make sure to check the ripening avocados frequently. Unripe avocados will be dark green and hard. As they begin to ripen, they turn a dark greenish brown and become slightly soft to thumb pressure. The flesh of a ripened avocado should be bright lime green without any brown spots. The easiest way to remove the flesh is to cut the fruit in half, lengthwise, and twist open. The pit will remain in one side. Remove the pit by imbedding knife into the pit and twisting.

       Finally, before we get to the recipes you should know that the avocado doesn’t soften/ripen on the tree and a hard avocado is still a good avocado. However if it’s soft at the store don’t buy it unless you’re going to use it as soon as you get home.

 

AVOCADO AND OLIVE QUESADILLA

1 1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1 firm-ripe avocado

1 small red bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro sprigs

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

four 6- to 7-inch flour tortillas

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 1/3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (about 5 ounces)

 Drain olives well and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Halve, pit, and peel avocado and finely chop avocado and bell pepper. In a bowl combine the olives, avocado, bell pepper, cilantro, onion, and lime juice and mix to combine. Preheat broiler.  Put tortillas on a large baking sheet and brush tops with oil. Broil the tortillas 2 to 4 inches from heat until pale golden, about 45 seconds. Turn tortillas over and broil until pale golden. Sprinkle tortillas evenly with pepper Jack and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 30 seconds. Remove the tortillas from the heat and divide the olive mixture among tortillas. Cut the tortillas into 4 wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4.   

AVOCADO AND CORN SALSA

3 ears corn, to yield 2 cups of kernels

3 Hass avocados, peeled and chopped into large chunks

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

12 dropsTabascosauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chile powder

1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 red onion, minced

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Blanch ears of corn in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, and cool under cold water. Cut kernels off the cobs and place them in a large glass bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and chill until ready to serve. This recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance. Makes about 5 cups

AVOCADO CHICKEN AND RICE SALAD

3 cups wild and long grain rice, cooked and cooled

1 avocado

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin

12 pitted black olive

3 cup cooked chicken

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoonDijonmustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

12 cherry tomatoes

Peel the avocado and slice it lengthwise into 1/2 inch-thick strips. Coat the avocado with lemon juice, and refrigerate it until it’s well chilled. In a large mixing bowl, combine the green onions, water chestnuts, olives, chicken and rice. Toss gently just until mixed and then set it aside. In another bowl combine the vinegar, mustard, oil, sugar, and parsley. Whisk together vigorously until completely combined. Just before your are ready to serve add the avocado slices to the chicken and rice mixture. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and toss gently to combine thoroughly. Place the salad in a serving bowl decorate the top with the cherry tomatoes and then sprinkled the top with the toasted almonds. Serves 4.

CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING 

1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded        

1/4 cup cider vinegar (or lime juice or lemon juice)     

1 medium sized JalapenoChile, stemmed (seed it if you can’t handle the heat!) 

1 teaspoon garlic, minced 

1 teaspoon honey   

1/4 teaspoon oregano        

1/4 teaspoon cumin           

1/4 teaspoon salt     

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper        

1/2  to 1 cup oil        

In a blender combine the avocado, vinegar, garlic, honey, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse until everything is coarsely chopped. Slowly add 1/2 C of vegetable oil while the motor is running. Continue to add oil until the taste is to your liking. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Makes approx. 1 1/4 cup. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

PINEAPPLE AVOCADO SALSA

1 cup 1/4-inch-dice fresh pineapple

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 firm-ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño chile, including seeds

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes approx. 3 cups.

AVOCADO AND ASPARAGUS WRAPS

24 spears asparagus

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups cooked cold brown long-grain rice

3 tablespoons plain  yogurt

3 whole wheat tortillas, 10 inches in diameter

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

In a medium-sized saucepan over high heat, bring 2 inches water to a boil. Place the asparagus in a steamer basket, cover, and steam until just tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the asparagus and immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly. In a small bowl, mash the avocado, lime juice, and garlic into a coarse puree. In another small bowl, stir together the rice and yogurt to mix well. Heat a large dry frying pan (not one with a nonstick surface) over medium heat. One at a time, heat the tortillas in the hot pan until softened, approximately 20 seconds per side. Lay the tortillas flat on a clean work surface. Spread the avocado mixture equally among the tortillas. Top each with an equal amount of the rice mixture, asparagus, cilantro, and onion.

Fold in both sides and the bottom of each tortilla up over the filling; then roll to close. If made in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Return to room temperature before serving. To serve, cut each wrap into slices.

Makes 6 servings.

AVOCADO, APPLE AND HEART OF PALM SALAD

A nice refreshing and original salad that goes well with chicken or brisket.

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 pinch ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

3 cups mixed salad greens

1 avocado – pitted, peeled, and cubed

2 Granny Smith apples   peeled, cored and sliced thin

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup sliced hearts of palm

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, lemon juice, paprika, and pepper together. Stir in the chives and set aside. Arrange the watercress on 4 individual serving plates.  Place apple, avocado, hearts of palm on top. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with dressing. Evenly sprinkle dressing over salad and serve. Serves 4.

Bagel Bonanza or How Not to End Up in the Emergency Room

  

Quick, think of the most dangerous item you have in your kitchen.

 

No, it’s not that meat cleaver you never use or the blowtorch you keep on hand for kashering the oven for Pesach. Surprisingly, it’s probably one of those bagels you’ve got stashed away in the freezer. Ok, now that you’ve stopped laughing you should know that there are probably more emergency room visits for those would be gourmets who’ve “slipped” and sliced open their hand while trying to cut open a bagel than all other household mishaps combined.

For those of you who live on the moon a bagel (BAY-guhl) is a doughnut-shaped yeast roll with a thick, chewy texture and a shiny crust. Bagels are boiled in water before they’re baked because the boiling reduces the starch content and creates a shiny chewy crust. A traditional water bagel is made without eggs and, because it doesn’t contain fat, is chewier than an egg bagel. The bagel (the word means bracelet in German) was the everyday bread of the Jews in Eastern Europe. It has, over the past few decades, become the most famous Jewish food in America and standard American bread. Supposedly German in origin, the bagel came into its own and took its definitive form in the Polish shtetl. Because of their shape, no beginning and no end, bagels are supposed to symbolize the eternal cycle of Jewish life. In the old days, they were supposed to be a protection against evil spirits, warding off the evil eye and bringing good luck. For these reasons they were routinely served at circumcision, when a woman was in labor and at funerals, along with hard-boiled eggs. These days we indulge ourselves just because they taste so good.

In the interest of household safety and the need to share some really great bagel recipes (not recipes on how to make bagels but, rather recipes that use them) I’m offering the following guidelines for anxiety free slicing.

 

HOW TO SLICE A BAGEL

Hold the bagel upright on a cutting surface by forming an arch (a U shape) with your thumb and fingers. Pinch the bagel firmly between the thumb and fingers and hold it against the surface. Place the sharp (make sure it’s sharp) knife inside the arch and carefully slice downward toward the table surface using a gentle but steady sawing motion. NEVER, EVER, CUT THE BAGEL BY HOLDING IT YOUR HAND AND SLICING IT TOWARD YOUR HAND!


CHEESE BAGEL BITES

 
3 plain bagels, split and toasted
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Green onions (with tops) chopped
 
Spread bagels with mustard. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then spread the mixture to the edges of bagel halves. Set the oven to broil.  Broil the prepared bagels about 5 inches from heat until topping is bubbly, about 1 minute. Cut each bagel into 6 pieces. Makes 36 appetizers;
BAGELS WITH LEMON CHICKEN AND AVOCADO SAUCE

1 lb ground chicken

1 egg

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each pepper, oregano and paprika

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

4 bagels, halved

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 tomatoes,

sliced romaine lettuce

1/2 cup pareve cream cheese

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup pareve sour cream

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine the pareve cream cheese, avocado, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate until cold. In another bowl combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, lemon zest and garlic. Mix well and shape into 4 patties about 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Grill the patties over on the grill or in a grill pan for about 5 minutes per side until no longer pink inside. Arrange the tomato slices then sliced mushrooms over bottom half of each bagel. Place chicken patty on top of the mushrooms and cover it with the avocado sauce and lettuce and the top of the bagel. Serves 4

TEX MEX PIZZA BAGEL
 

6 bagels, split and toasted  (jalapeno flavor is great)
3 tablespoons ready made pizza sauce
1 can (8-3/4 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 cup chopped onion
1 to 2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers (remove seeds for a milder flavor) (optional)
12 tortilla chips (white or yellow), broken up
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Mozzarella
1 tablespoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425. Spoon 1-1/2 teaspoon pizza sauce on each bagel half. Evenly top each bagel half with beans onion, jalapeno pepper, tortilla chips and cheese. Sprinkle with chili powder. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and is heated through. Makes 12 halves.

TOMATO BASIL BAGEL BRUSCHETTA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup seeded and diced ripe tomato
2 tablespoon shredded fresh basil leaves
Pinch of salt
1 bagel (garlic, onion or plain), split
1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise

In a bowl combine the oil, tomato, basil and salt. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Toast the bagel in the toaster or under the broiler. While the bagel is still hot, rub the cut surface with the garlic. Spoon the tomato mixture on top. Eat at once. Makes 1 bagel. This can be multiplied as many times as you like
The traditional bagel sandwich USUALLY consists of cream cheese, lox, a slice of onion and a slice of tomato. However, bagel sandwiches are so popular these days that bagel shops often have 15 or 20 varieties to choose from and probably 40 or 50 sandwich variations on their menus. Here, courtesy of Philadelphia Cream Company are some really simple (and delicious) ways to make a quick and easy bagel snack.
Strawberry Banana Crunch: Spread strawberry cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with banana slices; sprinkle with granola.

Banana Split: Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with banana slices; sprinkle with peanuts. Drizzle with strawberry preserves.

Apple Cinnamon: Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with apple slices and raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Peach Melba: Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with peach slices; drizzle with raspberry preserves.

Apple Cinnamon Praline: apple cinnamon cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Sprinkle with toasted pecans; drizzle with maple syrup.

Health & Nut: Spread vegetable cream cheese on a toasted whole wheat bagel. sprinkle with raisins and toasted sunflower seeds.

Tropical: Spread pineapple cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with toasted coconut and almonds or macadamia nuts. 

Quick, think of the most dangerous item you have in your kitchen.

 

No, it’s not that meat cleaver you never use or the blowtorch you keep on hand for kashering the oven for Pesach. Surprisingly, it’s probably one of those bagels you’ve got stashed away in the freezer. Ok, now that you’ve stopped laughing you should know that there are probably more emergency room visits for those would be gourmets who’ve “slipped” and sliced open their hand while trying to cut open a bagel than all other household mishaps combined.

For those of you who live on the moon a bagel (BAY-guhl) is a doughnut-shaped yeast roll with a thick, chewy texture and a shiny crust. Bagels are boiled in water before they’re baked because the boiling reduces the starch content and creates a shiny chewy crust. A traditional water bagel is made without eggs and, because it doesn’t contain fat, is chewier than an egg bagel. The bagel (the word means bracelet in German) was the everyday bread of the Jews in Eastern Europe. It has, over the past few decades, become the most famous Jewish food in America and standard American bread. Supposedly German in origin, the bagel came into its own and took its definitive form in the Polish shtetl. Because of their shape, no beginning and no end, bagels are supposed to symbolize the eternal cycle of Jewish life. In the old days, they were supposed to be a protection against evil spirits, warding off the evil eye and bringing good luck. For these reasons they were routinely served at circumcision, when a woman was in labor and at funerals, along with hard-boiled eggs. These days we indulge ourselves just because they taste so good.

In the interest of household safety and the need to share some really great bagel recipes (not recipes on how to make bagels but, rather recipes that use them) I’m offering the following guidelines for anxiety free slicing.

 

HOW TO SLICE A BAGEL

 

Hold the bagel upright on a cutting surface by forming an arch (a U shape) with your thumb and fingers. Pinch the bagel firmly between the thumb and fingers and hold it against the surface. Place the sharp (make sure it’s sharp) knife inside the arch and carefully slice downward toward the table surface using a gentle but steady sawing motion. NEVER, EVER, CUT THE BAGEL BY HOLDING IT YOUR HAND AND SLICING IT TOWARD YOUR HAND!


CHEESE BAGEL BITES
 

 
3 plain bagels, split and toasted
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Green onions (with tops) chopped
 
Spread bagels with mustard. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then spread the mixture to the edges of bagel halves. Set the oven to broil.  Broil the prepared bagels about 5 inches from heat until topping is bubbly, about 1 minute. Cut each bagel into 6 pieces. Makes 36 appetizers;


BAGELS WITH LEMON CHICKEN AND AVOCADO SAUCE

 

1 lb ground chicken

1 egg

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each pepper, oregano and paprika

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

4 bagels, halved

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 tomatoes,

sliced romaine lettuce

1/2 cup pareve cream cheese

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup pareve sour cream

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

juice of 1/2 lemon

 

Combine the pareve cream cheese, avocado, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate until cold. In another bowl combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, lemon zest and garlic. Mix well and shape into 4 patties about 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Grill the patties over on the grill or in a grill pan for about 5 minutes per side until no longer pink inside. Arrange the tomato slices then sliced mushrooms over bottom half of each bagel. Place chicken patty on top of the mushrooms and cover it with the avocado sauce and lettuce and the top of the bagel. Serves 4

TEX MEX PIZZA BAGEL
 

6 bagels, split and toasted  (jalapeno flavor is great)
3 tablespoons ready made pizza sauce
1 can (8-3/4 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 cup chopped onion
1 to 2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers (remove seeds for a milder flavor) (optional)
12 tortilla chips (white or yellow), broken up
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Mozzarella
1 tablespoon chili powder

 

Preheat oven to 425. Spoon 1-1/2 teaspoon pizza sauce on each bagel half. Evenly top each bagel half with beans onion, jalapeno pepper, tortilla chips and cheese. Sprinkle with chili powder. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and is heated through. Makes 12 halves.

 

TOMATO BASIL BAGEL BRUSCHETTA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup seeded and diced ripe tomato
2 tablespoon shredded fresh basil leaves
Pinch of salt
1 bagel (garlic, onion or plain), split
1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise

In a bowl combine the oil, tomato, basil and salt. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Toast the bagel in the toaster or under the broiler. While the bagel is still hot, rub the cut surface with the garlic. Spoon the tomato mixture on top. Eat at once. Makes 1 bagel. This can be multiplied as many times as you like


The traditional bagel sandwich USUALLY consists of cream cheese, lox, a slice of onion and a slice of tomato. However, bagel sandwiches are so popular these days that bagel shops often have 15 or 20 varieties to choose from and probably 40 or 50 sandwich variations on their menus. Here, courtesy of Philadelphia Cream Company are some really simple (and delicious) ways to make a quick and easy bagel snack.


Strawberry Banana Crunch: Spread strawberry cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with banana slices; sprinkle with granola.

 

Banana Split: Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with banana slices; sprinkle with peanuts. Drizzle with strawberry preserves.

Apple Cinnamon:

Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with apple slices and raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Peach Melba: Spread cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with peach slices; drizzle with raspberry preserves.

Apple Cinnamon Praline: apple cinnamon cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Sprinkle with toasted pecans; drizzle with maple syrup.

Health & Nut: Spread vegetable cream cheese on a toasted whole wheat bagel. sprinkle with raisins and toasted sunflower seeds.

Tropical: Spread pineapple cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Top with toasted coconut and almonds or macadamia nuts.

So Who’s Counting? Thoughts On An Approaching Birthday

Reaction to a mile stone birthday (whether it’s 30, 40 or 50) can be handled in several ways. Serious denial and the contemplation of plastic surgery are, of course, one option. Total acceptance and a full speed ahead, damn the wrinkles attitude is another. Age shock usually sets in when we reach that point in our birthday parade where our teens are history and we’ve been out of school longer than we were in it. It’s also when we start worrying more about “Mr. Gravity” and “Oil of Olay” and less about whom Jennifer Aniston or Ryan Renolds  is dating.

       Some of us even start seeing someone else’s face staring back when we look in the mirror. Oh, it’s us all right. Only the face we see has a few wrinkles, a little gray hair and it some how vaguely resembles our mothers. However, most of us charging toward or tripping past a birthday with a 0 at the end it fall somewhere in between with a “well, I guess there’s not really too much I can do about it, I’m sort of depressed, this is not funny, what did you get me?” attitude.
   Personally I’m just a little over 50 and handling it pretty well (I thought). However, my birthday is on the horizon and I’d been feeling just a tad bit “middle aged”.
   It was in this contemplative pre birthday state of mind that I drove to work yesterday. I’d reached the point in my travels where construction had two lanes narrowing into one. There, beside me was a “hot” new truck being driven by what I can only describe as the Diet Coke guy with his shirt on. As I checked him out he turned his head towards me and smiled. Why, what a nice guy, I thought. Here we are stuck in rush hour traffic and he’s smiling. Then he waved. At this point my pulses actually started to race a little. I, of course, made the quantum leap from the rational train of thought of he was waving to: he’s flirting. Yes, folks, I convinced myself he was flirting. To be technical, he was car flirting and it’s been YEARS since anyone car flirted with me. Oh, I TRIED not to look again but wouldn’t you know it, I “accidentally” caught a glimpse. Then, he did it again. That little wave. Well, I was beside myself with joy. Here it was, that sign I’d been looking for that said “you’ve still got it”, you’re not over the hill, you’re not AN ADULT, you’re still flirt worthy! I couldn’t wait to tell my husband.
       I was ecstatic. I was beyond ecstatic. But, before I could check out my Mr. Handsome again fate deemed it was time for my lane to move. I gave a little wave back (I couldn’t resist) and drove on. As I move ahead, I heard a horn. It was a long, sort of sad sounding horn and I thought, “how charming, he’s saying good bye to a love that was never meant to be”. I felt 20 pounds lighter and 20 years younger. This was going to be a great day! Over 40 birthdays could indeed be marvelous. All was right in my world.
    It was two blocks later when my dream died. The construction ended and my “boyfriend” raced in front of me, cut me off and drove on without so much as a glance. This Adonis hadn’t wanted to flirt; he’d only wanted to merge, traffic wise, that is. My first reaction was to look around and see if anyone had noticed me making a fool of myself. Then I started laughing. The fantasy was great while it lasted.
    My mystery man, well, he’s long gone but he gave me an invaluable birthday present. Through our brief encounter I came to realize that every age is fabulous no matter who’s looking back at me in the mirror. I’d been set free of my age expectations. I am what I perceive myself to be at any given moment. I’m not 55. I’m 25 with 30 years experience. I can hardly wait until I’m 60.

Beautiful Brussel Sprouts

Every now and then I get a recipe request from a reader that I just can’t answer. OK, Let me rephrase that, it’s not so much that I can’t answer but rather I don’t want to answer because the food in question is one that I don’t partially like to eat, let alone serve.

Yes, I know that this is childish (as in “YOU CAN”T MAKE ME EAT THIS STUFF MOM!”) But just such a request came across my desk yesterday from a long time reader and I decided to put aside my own prejudice against said food and do the best I could.

            Imagine my surprise and dare I say it, delight when I discovered that my childhood repugnance for the Brussel Sprout was merely a figment of my taste buds imagination and that they were actually quite delicious. What started as a chore became a search for recipes that I knew would be added to my permanent collection.

The Brussel sprout is actually a variety of cabbage.  Much like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and turnips the Brussel sprout is a biennial that produces its “sprouts” in the first year and bears seeds the second year.

“Brussel sprouts of good quality,” according to USDA” are hard or firm, compact, fresh, or bright appearance and of good green color. Those that are wilted or have yellowed leaves are usually aged or stale and should be avoided at all cost. When selecting your Brussel Spouts always try to buy them in bulk as apposed to pre packaged so that you can pick and choose the ones you want. As I said before, larger is not always better, Smaller sprouts usually are milder and sweeter.

So, join me in setting aside my preconceived notions of the Brussel sprout and try the following recipes. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts for cooking, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the bottoms of the trimmed sprouts with a deep X.

CLASSIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS (pareve or dairy)

4 cups of water

steamer basket

1 lb. Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half 

2 to 3 teaspoon unsalted butter, margarine or olive oil 

 

To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X. Pour the water into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Place the Brussel sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 8-10 minutes or until Brussel sprouts are tender. Drain, add butter/margarine/olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and toss. Place the Brussel sprouts in a bowl and serve.  Makes 4 serving. This can be doubled or tripled.

BRUSSEL SPROUT SAUTE (meat or pareve)

Not excited by Brussel Sprouts? This method turns the little heads into a deliciously different kind of vegetable dish!

20 to 25 firm, ripe Brussel Sprouts

2/3 cup onion, diced fine

3 tablespoons white wine

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

4 tablespoons margarine

salt and pepper to taste

Using a sharp paring knife cut the stem end off the sprouts, freeing the individual leaves. Carefully remove all of the leaves, cutting the stalk a second time if necessary. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter a heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Quickly sauté the Brussel sprout leaves for a minute or two. Add a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper and the white wine. Reduce the wine for a minute then add the chicken or vegetable broth, lower the heat and cover. Toss the mixture occasionally and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the margarine to the pan and toss with the sprout leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Note. You can also add 2 cups of cooked white or wild rice to the sauté just before serving and have wonderful side dish for 6 to 8.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH BABY CARROTS (pareve)

A sweet glaze is the perfect accompaniment to the crunch and mellow taste of this paring of vegetables.

1 pound frozen Brussel sprouts

1 (9-oz.) package frozen baby carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon orange rind

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Garnish: grated orange zest

Cook Brussel sprouts and carrots according to package directions and then drain. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the brown sugar, orange rind, and juice in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep the mixture warm until the vegetables are done and drained. After the vegetables have been drained pour the brown sugar mixture over them and toss to coat. Server immediately. You can garnish as desired Serves: 4

OVEN ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES

3 medium onions cut into large wedges

4 small Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, halved

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1/2 (8-10) pound Brussel sprouts, halved

2 medium carrots cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 branches fresh thyme

10 fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, halved

About an hour before cooking, in a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients up to except the last 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic. Thirty minutes before roasting, preheat oven to 450 degrees and slip in a heavy, large, very shallow baking pan (a half sheet pan is ideal) to heat up. Pour the remaining olive oil onto the hot pan, and then immediately spread the marinated vegetables on the pan, taking care not to crowd them. Roast about 50 to 60 minutes, turning several times during cooking for even browning. Add the cut garlic to the vegetables after about 1/2 hour of cooking, making sure to mix the garlic in with the vegetables. Once browned and easily pierced with a knife, vegetables are done. Serve immediately while the vegetables are hot.  Remember to balance the stronger taste of the rutabaga, celeriac, parsnip, Brussel sprouts and turnips with sweet and rich ones like onion, potato, yam, or carrot. Cut harder vegetables into smaller pieces.  Serves 8. Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X.

CRUNCHY TOP BRUSSEL SPROUTS (pareve or dairy)

3 tablespoons margarine or butter

l l/2 lbs Brussel sprouts

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup brown breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts

the zest of 1 lemon

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven 375. Use 1 tablespoon of the margarine or butter to lightly grease a large 9” X 13” ovenproof dish. (Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X). In a sauce pan combine 4 cups of water and the sugar. Cook the Brussel sprouts in the boiling salted water with the sugar for approx 10 minutes. Drain well and turn into the prepared baking dish. Melt the remaining margarine or butter in a skillet and add the bread crumbs and nuts and cook, over a medium heat until the breadcrumbs and nuts are toasted and until golden. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the finely grated rind from the lemon. Squeeze 1 tablespoon lemon juice over the sprouts and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the Brussel sprouts and lemon juice so that the Brussel sprouts are coated. Top the Brussel spouts with the crumble mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8. Note: You can replace the nuts with grated cheese and also add a little chopped onion or celery to the bread crumb mixture.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND POTATOES (pareve)

1/2 pound (approx 8) new potatoes, halved

8 to 10 Brussel sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

salt and black pepper

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until fork tender. Add the prepared Brussel sprouts and cook for 5 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat the oil and sauté the garlic for 3 minutes or until it is just beginning to turn golden. Add the cooked potatoes, Brussel sprouts, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and oregano; add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and heat through, adding more liquid if the mixture looks too dry. Cook approx 8 to 10 minutes and serve hot. Serves 4. This can be doubled or tripled

CARMELIZED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PISTACHIOS

4 pounds Brussel sprouts

1/2 cup margarine or butter

4 small red onions cut into strips

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X). Place Brussel sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 8-10 minutes or until Brussel sprouts are tender yet crisp. Melt the margarine or butter in a deep skillet, add the onions and 3 tablespoons vinegar; cook until onions brown. Add the Brussel sprouts, sugar and remaining vinegar. Sauté over medium heat until the Brussel sprouts are lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the Brussel sprouts from the pan and place them in a serving dish and garnish with the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Eat Like A Kid Diet

     Every so often I get a request for a copy of this column, one that I wrote last century (ok, it was the 90’s). It’s just as true today, only the players are different. Enjoy!

 Any woman who has given birth (no matter if it was 25 years ago) or man who wants to attend a high school reunion is going to be on the lookout for the newest diet to hit the market. The trouble with most diets, however, is that they don’t give you enough variation, variety or there are just too many steps (please, all you weight watchers devotes, don’t call me, I’ve been there and fallen flat on my face, into a bag of M&M’s 20 minutes after my first meeting).

            As sure as we all diet at some point in our life we will cheat on our diets, quit after 3 days, and go right back to their same old eating habits. Some die hards never give up and try every new fad, gimmick and product that hits the market. I even have one friend that is so optimistic that the next new stratagem is going work that she keeps a size 4 spandex jump suit in the front of her closet. She hasn’t been a size 4 since the 7th grade.

            Last week, however, after watching my 2 year old nephew Robbie eat the most bizarre and unusual kinds of food and still keep his boyish figure I realized that I had the answer to the dilemma that has plagued everyone who ever wanted to drop 5 pounds. I call it the EAT LIKE A KID AGAIN DIET.   

            This diet it truly unlike any diet you’ve ever tried and due to its “amusingly unique” nature April 1st is absolutely the perfect time for everyone to start it. It’s economical, has a wide variety of unusual items and in many cases offers unlimited amounts of specific foods. As with all diets, make sure you check with your physician (and any 2-year-old you know) before starting.

 

DAY ONE

Breakfast:

One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with any red jelly and 5 pieces of cubed cheese.  Eat 2 bites of the egg and, using your fingers, dump the rest on the floor. Take 1 bite of the toast and then smear the jelly over your face and clothes. Don’t eat the cheese.

Lunch:

2 magic markers (permanent, non-toxic is preferred), a handful of corn chips and salsa, and a glass of milk (1 sip only, then refuse the rest).

Dinner:

A small toy, 1/2 a banana, a button, 4 sips of chocolate syrup and a Dr. Pepper.

Bedtime Snack:

A handful of Cheerio’s eat 6 and toss the rest on the floor.

DAY TWO

Breakfast:

Find the stale bagel (from yesterday that you hid in the closet) and eat it. Drink half bottle of “low fat” salad dressing or 6 glasses of apple juice.

Lunch:

Half a can of Play Dough and 2 doggie treats, (any flavor). Applesauce and strawberries until they come out your nose.

Afternoon Snack:

Play with any Popsicle until its sticky, take it outside, and drop it in the dirt.

Pick it up, don’t wipe it off and continue eating it until it’s totally clean again.  Then bring it inside, making sure to drip on the carpet, and flush it down the toilet.

Dinner:

A dirty stick with leaves on it or left over fried rice or what ever you didn’t fix for dinner.  Pour your grape juice over mashed potatoes eat 9 helpings while singing. Sneeze with your mouth full and hit the wall.

DAY THREE

Two frozen waffles with way too much syrup. Eat one waffle with your fingers and put the other in your pants, rub any leftovers on face and in your hair. Drink 1/16th of a glass of milk. After breakfast, discover a sucker in your underwear drawer and feed it to the dog.

Lunch:

An eraser and a tuna sandwich. Mash the sandwich into the table and pour your glass of milk on top. Cram the entire mess into your mouth and spit out half

Dinner:

Red pop that stains, chicken and the jelly beans from last week’s playgroup.

 DAY FOUR

Breakfast:

All the toothpaste you can squeeze before someone stops you and a pickle. Pour a glass of orange juice over bowl of Rice Crispies. Fling the bowl at anything that moves.

Lunch:

All the crumbs you can find on the kitchen floor and table as well as 3 apple slices.  Ice cream after a 30 minute hissy fit.

Dinner:

A bowl of spaghetti and chocolate milk (literally a bowl of spaghetti and chocolate milk after you mix them together). Leave handprints of sauce on every surface you can reach ( this is a great aerobic work out because inevitably someone will be chasing you). An entire package of gum for dessert.

DAY FIVE

Breakfast:

Macaroni and cheese

Lunch:

Macaroni and cheese

Dinner:

Macaroni and cheese

Day Six

Breakfast:

Macaroni and cheese

Lunch:

Macaroni and cheese

Dinner:

Refuse any and all Macaroni and cheese. Wake up at 3 am and demand Macaroni and cheese.

DAY SEVEN

Breakfast:

Reject everything offered and then whine for 20 minutes. Demand popcorn and candy. Settle for grapes.

Lunch:

8 slices of leftover pizza

Dinner:

Chicken, green beans, and potatoes. Scare everyone by actually eating everything and refusing dessert.

(c) Eileen Goltz