“Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher” is the best of both worlds


Mia Adler Ozair’s new cookbook isn’t just about kosher recipes. It also details the spiritual meaning behind Jewish food and how it can be incorporated into everyday family life.

“Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher: The Essential Kosher Cookbook for the Jewish Soul” (Oakhurst Publishing; Feldheim Publishers) includes Ashkenazic and Sephardic recipes — some of which are appropriate for Passover — as well as explanations of connections between food and the neshamah (soul). There are sections on why blessings are said before and after eating, the spiritual nature of the holidays, the mitzvah of making challah, and quotes from tzadikim (righteous people) and Jewish writings. 

RECIPE: Flourless Chocolate and Pistachio Cake


For the full article, click here.

Flourless Chocolateand Pistachio Cake

by Barry Sayag, Tatti Boulangerie, Givatayim

(from “The Book of New Israeli Food”)

Ingredients (for 1 loaf pan)

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups pistachio nuts, coarsely ground

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

3/4 cup almonds, finely ground

3/4 cup chocolate chips

2 egg whites

1 1/2 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 310 F.

Beat the eggs and the egg yolks in a mixer with 3 ounces of the sugar to a thick and fluffy cream.

Add the pistachio nuts, almonds, cocoa powder and chocolate chips and mix to a smooth batter.

Beat the 2 egg whites with the remaining sugar to form soft peaks, then fold in the nut and egg mixture. Stir in the melted butter.

Pour the batter into a well-greased pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs adhering. Serve at room temperature.

 

Bar/Bat Mitzvah – Author-Baker Rises to Bimah — at Last


Joanne Rocklin is obsessed with food. On her 60th birthday, she began summarizing her life with the essentials: “I love to cook. I love to eat.”

But it’s her passion for writing that has enabled her to come to terms with her life and her faith. The author of 20 children’s books, including her renowned “Strudel Stories” (Delacorte, 1999), is about to complete a chapter in her own life that many young Jews today take for granted. Rocklin wraps up two years of studies with Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills’ adult b’nai mitzvah program when she ascends to the bimah for her bat mitzvah on June 24. As she delivers her d’var Torah, she will share with the congregation the ways her past life connects with the discoveries she’s made about her Jewish self.

Although Rocklin is a clinical psychologist by training, her desire to write proved disruptive early in her professional life. The opposing tugs of two careers left her feeling unable to immerse herself fully in either profession. Factor in a divorce and the death of her mother, and it’s easy to understand why Rocklin craved the serious life changes symbolized by her upcoming bat mitzvah.

“I look Jewish, I eat Jewish. I felt Jewish, but I didn’t know anything about my background,” Rocklin said.

Her search for a congregation led her to Temple Emanuel, where Rabbi Laura Geller encouraged Rocklin to learn the liturgy by singing in the choir of the New Emanuel Minyan. With husband Gerry Nelson, whom she’d met through a personal ad in The Jewish Journal, she also joined a couples havurah built around discussions over potluck meals. During one havurah get-together, Rocklin demonstrated her newly developing challah-baking prowess.

But even before she discovered Temple Emanuel, the kind of study that leads to career achievement was always central to Rocklin’s life. As a young woman in Montreal, Rocklin studied to become an elementary school teacher. After moving to California in 1976 with her first husband and two sons, she studied for a doctorate in clinical psychology and soon established a practice focusing on the needs of children and families.

Yet a love for writing continued to gnaw at her. Before long, she was juggling family responsibilities, turning out children’s books in the morning and seeing patients in the afternoon. When divorce left her a single parent who needed to earn a living, a high-octane lifestyle became all the more essential.

Soon after Rocklin and Nelson married, he persuaded her to ease back on her workaholic tendencies. So she followed her heart and became a full-time writer.

The inspiration for “Strudel Stories” struck one day while Rocklin was browsing through Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America.” She spotted a reference to a Vermont woman who baked strudel with her children and grandchildren, sharing family stories while pounding and stretching the dough. The anecdote led Rocklin to invent a tale of three kitchens — one in czarist Russia, one in Brooklyn after World War II and one in present-day Los Angeles — in which strudel is made and stories are shared. Within this framework, Rocklin delicately introduced her young readers to Yiddish bubbemeises, Russian pogroms, the aftermath of the Holocaust and Jackie Robinson, as well as the joys of cooking with family.

Not long after the publication of “Strudel Stories,” Rocklin’s mother died. In her grief, she decided to make some changes. Rocklin told her husband it was time to move out of their condo and into a house. She also wanted a dog and a vegetable garden — and she wanted to join a synagogue.

Her b’nai mitzvah classmates include 14 women in various stages of life, from a young newlywed to an 83-year-old grandmother. They’ve studied Torah trope with Cantor Yonah Kliger, pored over the words of the sacred text with assistant Cantor Judy Greenfeld and rabbinic intern Pearl Berzansky, and even gone for a ritual dip at the University of Judaism’s mikvah to prepare for their upcoming rite of passage.

It’s only recently — since discovering the pleasures of Torah study for its own sake — that Rocklin said her workaholic side has truly relaxed itself.

In contrast to her former self, Rocklin no longer feels that a garden is a waste of time unless it produces vegetables. Instead of pouring all her energies into her writing career, she’s also embracing dawdling, taking tea with friends and playing with her cats. She’s begun a regular monthly volunteer stint at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center along with her golden retriever, Zoe, fulfilling the mitzvah of bikkur cholim (visiting the sick).

Last November, all of Rocklin’s new life lessons were put to the test when some suspicious spots were found on her lungs. There was a six-week period during which she made the rounds of labs and doctors’ offices, trying not to be overwhelmed by her glimpse of “another world … the world of the sick and dying,” she said.

When her chances looked bleak, before thoracic surgery confirmed that her problems were minor, all she wanted to do was bake bread.

Rocklin said she finds paying attention to the details of a bread recipe just as challenging and as fulfilling as the study of Torah. Following a 30-page recipe by La Brea Bakery’s Nancy Silverton, she has learned to savor each stage of the complex process that turns a homemade starter into a warm brown loaf. For Rocklin today, life is all about taking time to smell the challah.

Baking “slows you down,” Rocklin said. “Bread is an amazing thing. It’s just flour, water, and yeast … and it becomes alive.”

‘Kitchen’ Lets Kid Chefs Cook Up Fun


Before I had a chance to flip through Susie Fishbein’s new “Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen,” my 9-year-old, Yair, had swiped the hardcover off the pile of mail and bookmarked the recipes he wanted to try.

And try — and succeed — he did.

In “Kids in the Kitchen,” best-selling author Fishbein has translated into kids lingo her formula for great cook books: interesting recipes that tweak the traditional, with points for presentation and originality. The full-color photos and cutesy thematics in this book are as bright as her others (her “Kosher by Design Entertains” is known universally as “The Pink Book”), with a few more smiley faces.

But what’s really nice about this book is that the recipes aren’t for silly foods that let kids patschke (mess) around but don’t actually get them cooking. As Fishbein says in her introduction, no gummy worms crawling out of cookie crumbs in this book.

Rather, she includes recipes for kid-friendly real food like burritos and meatballs and breaded cauliflower and lots of desserts. What makes this book for kids is that the recipes are written in a way that any beginner — even a latecomer adult — can easily understand and follow.

Fishbein has an intro for parents and one for kids, and each recipe is rated with one to three chefs’ hats to show the level of difficulty. She gives great advice — like read through the whole recipe before you start, set out your tools and pre-measure your ingredients. She has a pictorial glossary of kitchen gadgets and basic safety and kashrut rules, and starts every recipe with an equipment list.

So when Yair set about making alphabet vegetable soup for Shabbat, he needed only hovering supervision from me. While an adult recipe might read, “one onion, diced,” she starts off with “on the cutting board, use the sharp knife to chop the onions into small pieces.”

In no time, Yair and his helpers, Ezra, 7, and Neima, 4, were chopping, sautéing, measuring and simmering, all with an eye on the timer so as not to overcook the creation.

The soup was fantastic, as was the chocolate cake Yair made for dessert. But what was even better was his newfound confidence in the kitchen. And my favorite part: He did his best to follow Fishbein’s “clean as you go” rule, and took to heart her advice that “leaving your kitchen clean is key if you want to be invited back into it to cook.”

Carrot Muffins

Level of Difficulty: One Chef’s Hat

Equipment list

Measuring cups and spoons
Medium mixing bowl
Small silicone spatula or spoon
Electric mixer
Paper muffin cups
Cupcake or muffin tray
Toothpick

Ingredient list

1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup canola oil
12 ounces baby food carrots (usually 3 jars)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place the sugar, flour and oil into a medium mixing bowl. Add the baby food carrots, using your small spatula or spoon to get all of the baby food out of the jar.

Add the baking soda, cinnamon and eggs.

Mix with an electric mixer at medium speed for three minutes, until the batter is smooth.

Place the paper muffin cups into a muffin or cupcake tray.

If your bowl has a spout, pour the batter from the bowl into the muffin cups; if not, use a large spoon. Fill the muffin cups almost to the top.

Place the tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Open the oven and carefully pull out the muffin tray. Stick a toothpick into the center of a muffin; it should come out clean. If it comes out gooey, return the muffins to the oven for another two to three minutes. When the muffins are done, remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool.

Makes 12-14 muffins.

 

Don’t Get Plagued by Tricky Desserts


Many a great cook has been sent over the edge trying to produce some beautiful Passover baking. Any other time of the year their kitchens produce perfect pies, crunchy cookies and lovely cakes — but the Passover arrives and the kitchen becomes the enemy: cakes flop and the cookies crumble.
This year plan on easy desserts. After a huge meal (is there anybody out there that doesn’t have a huge seder meal?) why not serve coffee with some fresh fruit and an assortment of cookies.

Amoretti Cookies
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups ground almonds

Preheat oven to 300 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using an electric mixer with a whip attachment beat the egg whites and salt until frothy. Add vanilla and continue beating on high.
As you beat the eggs, slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the eggs are stiff and glossy.
With a spatula, fold in the almonds.
Use two spoons to drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture on the baking sheet.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool.

Makes 16-20 cookies.

Chocolate Macaroons
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups coconut, shredded

Using an electric mixer, start beating the egg whites with the salt until frothy and very soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue beating on high.
Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until the eggs are glossy and stiff peaks form. Add the cocoa and beat until incorporated.
Add the coconut and fold in.
Use two spoons to drop batter on a parchment lined baking sheet (they should be heaping tablespoons). Leave the macaroons on the counter for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Place in a preheated 325 F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the macaroons are no longer glossy.
Remove from oven and cool.

Makes 18-20 cookies.

Pecan Cranberry Passover Biscotti
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups ground pecans
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder — (Passover)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup potato starch
1 3/4 cups cake meal
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment to combine the eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest and mix on medium to combine well. (You can also use a wooden spoon and mix by hand.)
Turn the machine off and add the potato starch, cake meal and pecans. Turn the machine on low to combine and mix until all of the ingredients come together to form dough.
Add the cranberries and mix to evenly distribute throughout the dough.
Divide the dough in half and form into two logs, approximately 3 inches by 12 inches by 14 inches. If you find the dough too sticky, dust your hands with cake meal to work with the dough. Place the formed logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into a preheated 350 F oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The biscotti will crack and loose the shine it had when it first went into the oven. Let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F.
Carefully slice the logs into pieces, about 3/4 inches each. Arrange on a cookie sheet so that there is space between each cookie and return to the oven.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until dry.
Makes 20-24 cookies.

 

Leftovers Go Green


Eight years ago, when my father’s Parkinson’s symptoms overwhelmed his body, but not his spirit, my mother decided she needed care-taking help. For a man who cherished his independence so fiercely, this life change would not come easy. But with same courage it took to run a profitable textile engineering business for 45 years without a high-school diploma, he accepted his reality and his need for Liz.

My mother hired Liz for four days a week shortly after she moved from San Francisco to Atlanta. And each day she came through their front door carrying her supplies and her faith. It didn’t take long for my mom to discover Liz was an excellent cook and ask her to prepare many family favorites.

But soon my father had more and more trouble chewing his food, so she made her own perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes, hearty and flavorful vegetable soups and, one of my favorites, tender and wonderfully seasoned southern greens.

Once I asked Liz how it came to be she was cooking those greens in my childhood kitchen in the same pot that used to feature mostly matzah ball soup,

"Oh, your mom asked me one day if I knew anything about fixing greens, and I told her, sure!"

That was six years ago, and Liz’s greens are now a staple at the Solomon house.

Greens cooking in my childhood kitchen. My mother pouring over finances at her desk. My father reading by a window. A new world simmering in an old house.

Over the years, Liz became as much a part of my visits home as any member of my family. In some ways, more, because when my daughter and I flew in from Los Angeles, we stayed in my parent’s house, and we saw her every day. I listened as she talked to my dad about her life challenges, and he responded with his hard-earned wisdom. At least once a day, I heard her laugh at something my father said. Liz’s laugh, like my father’s, was down-deep full, echoing of life’s greatest joys, and deepest sorrows.

Even with my father’s determination, my mother’s selfless dedication, and Liz’s special help, he could not get better. One October morning, I received the phone call I most dreaded. When I arrived at their home, my father could no longer move, speak or hold his eyes open. During those days before his death, my family huddled close — six brothers and sisters roaming the rooms of our childhood home, every day, all day, around him — and Liz sitting by his bed. I don’t know what my father understood during those last wavering hours, but a few days before he died he gave Liz a hug. It was the first, and the last.

I have decided I will make Liz’s greens a feature at my Thanksgiving table and the weekend after. I am still having trouble saying goodbye to my father, but I can never say "thank you" enough to Liz.

Liz Sprott’s Greens

4 bunches or pounds of greens (mix of collards, turnips, mustard or kale)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 large onion (sliced fine)

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar (or to taste)

Salt (to taste)

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 teaspoon sugar (as needed for bitterness in turnips or collards)

Pinch baking soda (as needed to tenderize collards)

Cleaning Greens:

With one hand grab stem and with the other pull off leaves.

With collards and mustards, the leaves will come off in one movement. Fill sink with cold water and rinse until grit falls to bottom. Repeat two to three times until sink water remains clear. Rip or cut larger leaves into three or more pieces.

In large sauce pot (at least seven quart), sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat until light brown. Add greens with two cups of water. (Pot will be very full until greens cook down, so you may need to add in batches, stirring as you go). Add diced onion and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. If cooking collards with other greens, add a pinch of baking soda to tenderize. As greens reduce, stir occasionally, approximately every 30 minutes, making sure water has not evaporated. If so, add just enough to keep greens from scalding, approximately one-half cup. You do not want them soupy.

After greens have completely reduced, at least one and a half hours, add salt, pepper and rice vinegar, tasting as you go. Then, if needed for bitterness, add sugar. Continue to simmer another 30 minutes to an hour, or until greens are soft, tender and easy to chew. (Turnips and mustards cook in approximately two hours, while collards and kale take up to three.)

Yield: 6-8 side portions

Liz’s Greens with Leftover Smoked Turkey

Since smoked turkey is popular at many Thanksgiving feasts, here is a great way to make use of that flavor, using the same quantities from the recipe above. To complete the meal, add a warmed slice of leftover cornbread.

Place either one smoked turkey leg or four smoked wings in a large saucepot (at least seven quart) with cover. Add four cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for one hour to flavor the water. Add garlic, onion and greens to pot and continue to simmer. If using collards, add pinch of baking soda to tenderize. After greens have reduced, approximately one and one-half hours, add salt, pepper flakes, seasoned rice vinegar and sugar to taste. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until greens are very tender.


Lisa Solomon’s food articles have been seen in several publication including The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Washington Jewish Week and The Canadian Jewish News.

McDonald’s to Fund Kosher Ed


McDonald’s and kashrut? Only in Israel, one might think. But an Illinois court ruled May 20 that the world’s most ubiquitous burger joint must sink $1 million into education about Judaism’s kosher laws.

The money is part of $10 million that McDonald’s must divide among a variety of plaintiffs after it was found that french fries and hash browns advertised as vegetarian in fact contained some beef flavoring.

The ruling by the Cook County circuit court ended a lawsuit that cobbled together class-action suits by plaintiffs around the country.

Ultimately, $6 million was assigned to vegetarian groups, $2 million to Hindu and Sikh organizations, $1 million to children’s charities and $1 million to Jewish groups.

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, which will receive $300,000 in the settlement, will use the money for an educational program, "You Are What You Eat: A Kashrut Conversation," and to supply students with kosher recipes.

Four Jewish groups were also selected to divide the $1 million: Jewish Community Centers Association will receive $200,000 to develop curricula about kosher food laws and practices; Orthodox Union will receive $150,000 for education about kosher observances and educating kosher food supervisors; Star-K/Torah.org will receive $300,000 to expand its Web site to offer an interactive course for schools, hospitals, synagogues and others on creating and maintaining a kosher kitchen; and CLAL –National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership will get $50,000 to host conferences on kashrut and disseminate the resulting ideas.

Jeff Rubin, director of communications for Hillel, compared the case to the Chanukah miracle.

"It’s another positive thing that came out of hot oil," he said. "This will help us to promote an understanding of kashrut on college campuses around the world."

Taking the Schmaltz Out of Our Food


At sundown on Monday we usher in the happiest day of our calendar, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. For the next 10 days we’ll be called upon to reexamine our lives — to wake up and not only smell the roses, but plant them for other people to enjoy.

The Days of Awe end at sundown on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when we’ll spend the day in temple fasting and praying. Our sundown to sundown fast brings us agony and ecstasy as we internalize how fleeting life is, promise to make amends for acts we’re not proud of, realize we have a whole new year ahead of us to make a difference.

As we hurriedly leave the temple with visions of chopped liver, lokshen kugel and our beloved cheese blintzes dancing in our heads, we know it’s just a matter of moments before we can eat.

Lately though, we’ve had to rethink this. Though it’s a beloved family tradition to break the fast with our favorite Ashkenazi dishes, we also know they contain ingredients that top the cardiologist’s list of no-no’s — red meat, schmaltz, cottage cheese, sour cream and butter. Fat, fat and more fat.

In response, creative Jewish cooks have been hard at work adapting these recipes. And, as rabbi and cookbook author Gil Marks says, with a laugh, "Healthy Jewish cooking is no longer an oxymoron."

Marks modifies traditional holiday recipes in "The World of Jewish Entertaining" (Simon & Schuster, 1998). He uses meat sparingly, as a flavoring instead of the main event. He also uses recipes from the Sephardim, who migrated to areas as diverse as North and South Africa, the Middle East, India and later to the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Their cuisine revolved around the three main ingredients mentioned in the Bible: grains, wine and olive oil.

As for our traditional Ashkenazi delicacies, which nourish our souls more than our bodies, Marks substitutes yogurt for sour cream in blintzes, kugels and borsht, uses olive oil instead of schmaltz for chopped liver — or even eliminates liver altogether in favor of a pate of mushrooms, onions and string beans. Instead of stuffing chicken with oil-soaked bread cubes, he suggests apples and spinach, traditional ingredients for the New Year.

Marks has also gone where few men have ventured before him — perfecting a recipe for whole wheat challah, which subtracts eggs and extra fat, adding whole wheat, wheat germ and honey for moisture. He sweetens dishes with fruits instead of sugar. But, he cautions, "Be smart with substitutions. Don’t serve a dish just because it’s low fat. Experiment until you’re happy with the flavor."

Since we’re trying to modify tradition, not break it, instead of asking a Jewish matriarch for our Break the Fast menu, we went to premier Jewish chef and caterer, David Rubell, who serves the Break the Fast Meal at Temple Shalom for the Arts in Los Angeles.

Rubell learned about "food from the old country" from the closest person to him — his Nana Willner. "On Yom Kippur, she’d shine," he says. "Because she knew she’d be in shul all day, and exhausted when she got home, she developed a technique that I, as a caterer, use to this day.

"Nana was meticulously organized. The day before Yom Kippur, she’d assemble her ingredients, then slice, dice, and, in some cases, partially cook, then refrigerate the dishes. When she got home from shul, she’d finish each recipe and have it on the table — piping hot or ice cold — almost instantly. Nothing ever tasted like it had been sitting in the refrigerator all night. Everything was always delicious.

"I learned another lesson from Nana," Rubell says slyly. "Seltzer water in matzah balls. ‘Most people use fat, eggs and too much matzo meal,’ she’d scoff, in her inimitable Russian-Brooklyn accent. ‘And they handle them too much. Of course, they’re like lead.’

"Not my Nana’s," he says. "Hers were always light as a feather. I used to laugh, because when we’d eat at my other grandma’s, Nana Rubell, her matzah balls were like sinkers. We never told her our secret.

"When Nana made blintzes she’d insist on filling them with pot cheese. When she couldn’t find it, she’d substitute Farmer’s. Of course, she’d grouse every time. The mystery ingredient in her sweet blintzes was salt. Just like the infamous spoonful of sugar, ‘A pinch of salt makes us remember who we are and where we came from,’ she’d tell me. ‘Life is not all sweetness and honey. Never forget that!’ This is especially relevant on Yom Kippur, which is all about that little dose of reality," Rubell muses.

As Rubell grew older and started working as a professional chef, his beloved nana took sick with pancreatic cancer. He trudged down to Florida and cooked her all of her favorite meals. "That meant more to her than anything," he says, his eyes welling up. It made him start thinking about lightening the traditional Jewish foods he’d grown up with.

Today when he’s doing a menu, he starts with the dishes she’d taught him, then replaces them with healthier variations.

For example, Rubell replaces the customary sour cream topping for the blintzes with fresh berry compote. Instead of sweet, heavy babkas that "will lay in your stomach for the next three days," he’ll serve a fresh peach cobbler. Since tuna salad with gobs of mayo is a staple on many buffets, Rubell created savory Chinese Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. Instead of the traditional sweet, heavy kugel, he’ll serve a vegetable frittata. According to Rubell, "We never forget our cultural traditions, but we’re reinterpreting them for today’s healthier lifestyles."

Have a happy and healthy New Year!


Recipes for taking out the Schmaltz from Jewish food

All recipes from Chef David Rubell.

Smoked Whitefish Salad (A favorite of Theodore Bikel’s)
Smoked Trout may be substituted for the whitefish.

1 smoked whitefish, approximately 2 lbs., carefully boned
1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise (low fat or regular)
1 bunch scallions, green part only, sliced thin

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until just smooth. Refrigerate. Serve as appetizer with crackers or challah, or as first course with baby greens and tomato.

Serves 8 to 10.

Chinese Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Mango

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon wasabi
1 1/2 pounds, fresh ahi tuna
1/4 cup canola oil
1 One-pound package wonton skins
1 quart canola oil for frying noodles
1/2 Six-ounce package saifun or dry
bean thread noodles, broken in half
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup dry roasted, salted cashews
1 head iceberg lettuce, sliced very thin
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, sliced very thin
2 bunches green onion, green part sliced diagonally
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced thin

For Dressing:
2 ounces pickled ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 bunch scallions, white only
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chinese sweet and sour sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil

Mix together soy sauce and wasabi. Marinate tuna in mixture for 20 minutes. Sear tuna in hot, nonstick skillet with 1/4 cup oil approximately 1 minute per side. Refrigerate immediately after removing tuna from heat. Allow to cool at least 1/2 hour before slicing for salad. Slice tuna into 1 1/2 inch pieces, reserving odd sizes to incorporate into body of salad.

Slice wonton skins into very thin julienne strips. Fry noodles in very hot oil in 3 separate batches, so as not to decrease oil temperature. Cook noodles approximately 1 minute, tossing constantly. Drain on paper towels.

Bring oil back to temperature. Fry saifun noodle halves separately from each other as they expand rapidly upon hitting the oil. Turn once, remove from pot; drain on paper towel. Repeat until all noodles are fried.

For Dressing:

Place all ingredients in blender and mix for 3 minutes.

To Assemble:

Reserving small handful of wonton noodles and nuts for garnish, toss with dressing, lettuce, cabbage, green onion, nuts, saifun and wonton noodles, and odd pieces of tuna. Place on platter; arrange remaining tuna slices and mangoes decoratively around salad. Top with additional noodles and nuts.

Serves 8 to 10.

Holiday Cheese Blintzes Topped with a Trio of Fresh Berries

(This recipe is from David’s beloved Nana Willner, who told him, “With every bit of sugar, you need a pinch of salt.”)

The pancakes may be purchased ready-made in the produce section of the supermarket.

For the pancake batter: