A Very Cool Day…WallStreetaversary

One year ago an amazing thing happened in my life…I was featured on the front cover of the Greater New York section of the Wall Street Journal!

I was riding the subway at 8:15 am going downtown toward Wall Street.  I thought it was my lucky day because I scurried into the last seat on the subway.  As I was basking in my glory between two different people squishing their thighs against mine, my eyes drifted, as usual, looking at every person on the subway and taking in my surroundings.  When my eyes wandered over to the guy directly across from me, I noticed he was holding a newspaper.   I thought “He’s wearing a suit so of course he’s holding a newspaper!”  My eyes took a quick glance across the paper he was reading and saw a familiar setting and person on the front cover.  I screamed in my head “Holy shnikey!! That’s me!!!”  Staring at the guy for at last 3 stops, I realized I was starting to be that creepy person on the subway gazing at people for long periods of time.  He noticed.  I whispered excuse me to him and pointed to the front page story he had already read, and told him that the girl in the chef uniform was me.  A quick nod of congratulations and 12 more very uncomfortable stops later I made my way to work.

The rest of the day people were coming up to me, emailing me, texting me, calling me….It felt like my birthday on steroids!   

My biggest worry was that I was going to be quoted wrong and my words would be understood the complete opposite of what I was trying to portray and explain.  It was a wonderful Kiddush Hashem (giving G-D a good name) and that is my biggest pride!  I went to a non kosher culinary school and sacrificed so much. To be quoted correctly, to inspire and to give over my beliefs to literally millions of people is one of the craziest and most rewarding feelings in the world!

When I got home, my boyfriend (now husband) had stacks of newspapers waiting for me!  He had gone to each Walgreens, Starbucks, everywhere you can name to buy all of their Wall Street Journals.  Each place he stopped, he would brag to the cashier while pointing to the picture that the girl in the picture was his girlfriend!  
In honor of it being one year since this, what I like to call, VERY COOL DAY, I wanted to make a recipe from Culinary School!  Click here for the WSJ article!

Chicken Stew with Columbian Ajiacio

Institute of Culinary Education

2 Each Chipotle, Ancho Pasilla Dried Peppers

1 Chicken, cut into 8ths
Salt, Pepper and  Oil
5 Oz. Onion, diced
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
¼ c. Masa Harina (corn meal)
12 Oz. Chicken Stock
2 Poblano Peppers, seeded and julienned
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and julienned
2 Idaho Potatoes, large dice
1 Avocado, sliced
Preheat oven to 350.  Seed the dried peppers and toast them in oven for about 10 min. Once toasted, soak the dried peppers in water, drain, puree, set aside.  Sauté chicken in a pan with high sides.  Once the chicken is browned, remove and put to the side on a separate plate.  Saute onions till translucent, then add the garlic, poblanos and jalapeno. Add dried pepper puree, salt and pepper.  Add the Masa Harina and a little stock.  Put chicken back in and add the rest of the stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer, no lid.  Add potatoes and braise in oven for 40 minutes.  Serve with avocado.

Me Want Cookie!

One of my most favorite foods of all time is the Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Eating a warm, crispy on the outside (I like em’ crispy) and gooey in the middle cookie right out of the oven or even straight from the freezer, brings me memories of happiness.  The smell could make someone tune into their animal like tendency’s to sniff and salivate till they munch down on their treat.  
Asking a chef their favorite dish is like asking a painter their favorite color.  It is just impossible!  Too many choices and too many ideas!  It might be just as evil to give a child an ice cream cone in each hand during the middle of the summer and tell them to finish both. 
The bottom line is, I have numerous amounts of favorite foods and dishes and will continue to be my favorite till the end of my days while always adding more to my list!  Who knows…tonight I may have an addition to make!  
I guarantee  99% of the time you ask someone if they like chocolate chip cookies you will get a resounding yes.  There is even a study shown that links chocolate chip cookies to a homier feeling.  Have you ever gone through a house you were thinking of buying and smelled a whiff of baking cookies in the oven?  Suddenly that grungy, not so perfect house, became a little more appealing!
Do you want to woo that boy you have a crush on?  Make him chocolate chip cookies!  It worked with my husband…

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Nestle Toll House…who else?)
2 1/4 C. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter or Earth Balance, softened
3/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Brown Sugar, packed
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 C. Chocolate Chips
1 C. Walnuts

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

Mo-Rockin In Your Kitchen

Guest Blog Post by Elisheva Avital
I am a fairly skilled home cook, but baking has never been my thing.  I tend to do much better when I can wing a recipe.  This year, for the first time, I made a small Mimouna after Pesach.  This is an old Moroccan tradition to throw a typically loud, fun, open-house party on the night Pesach ends.  The main food served at this party is called Moufletta, which is a cross between a crepe and a flat-bread.  My poor, deprived husband has been telling me about this for years, and he hasn’t had this taste of home since he emigrated to America at 16.  The stories always made it seem like a burden to do this right after cleaning up from Pesach, but we had so much fun doing it!  
This is the Avital family method: (we halved this recipe.)
6.5-7 C. Flour

3 C. Warm Water

1/4 C. Oil

pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients.  Let dough sit for 20 minutes.  Preheat a skillet on a medium-high flame. 

On an oiled countertop, divide the dough into small balls, then open and flatten each leaf by hand until it is very thin.  

Cook one leaf on the skillet until it is golden on each side, and then place one raw leaf on top of the cooked one, and flip the stack.  It  can be tricky to pick up the thin leaves without them tearing- this can take some practice.  Repeat adding raw leaves and flipping the stack until you have about 10 leaves, and repeat until all the dough is cooked.  You will end with something that looks like a stack of large pancakes.  Serve warm, spread butter and honey/confectioners sugar, and roll up like a crepe.

It was such a pleasure to be able to give my husband a little taste of his childhood. After seeing how easy it was to make Moufletta, I was inspired to try making my own pita!

I concocted my own recipe based on combining a few others: 
1 Package (about 2 Tbs) Yeast

1 C. Warm Water (add a little extra if using whole wheat)

 2.5-3 C. Flour (I did 1 C. whole wheat, 1.5 C. white)

2 tsp. salt

2 TBS. Oil

1 tsp. honey

Mix yeast and water and let sit for 5 minutes or until it is totally dissolved.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and combine well, then knead for about 7 minutes.  Place in an oiled bowl, and cover with saran wrap or towel and let rise in a 100 degree oven for 1-2 hours, until the dough doubles in size. 

 Once it has risen, place the dough on a floured surface and cut into 8-12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball- the  more perfect the ball, the rounder your pita will be.  Flatten them by hand into a disc, and let rest in darkness (under a towel) for 10-20 minutes.  Preaheat an oven to 475, or a skillet on a high flame.  I used a skillet, because we like our pita to be a little blackened.  For more even color, do it in an oven on a preheated baking stone or preheated sheet. 

With a rolling pin, roll each pita to your desired thickness.  The more thick and bready you like your pita, the thicker it should be.  I rolled mine pretty thin.  Since I am a novice baker, I didn’t even have a rolling pin, and a wine bottle did the trick.

If doing in an oven, bake on 475 for about 3 minutes or until the pita puffs up.

If using a skillet:

Test the pan to see if a droplet of water will sizzle away immediately.  If so, it’s ready.  Place a pita in the pan, wait about 20 seconds until small bubbles begin to form, and then flip.  When large bubbles begin to form (usually about 1 minute), flip again, and the pita should begin to puff up like a pillow.  If your pita is not puffing, there are two possible solutions: Your pan may not be hot enough, so raise the flame.  If your pita is not moist enough, this can be fixed by spritzing some water on the dough before you put it in the skillet.  It’s a neat little trick so that you don’t need to re-knead all your dough with more water.  If you still can’t get them to puff, they can be passed off as flatbread (-:.

Voila!  Making home made pita was so simple and delicious that I think I will start to do it regularly, and you can too!