Food & Dining

New Year’s Eve tiny plates party

December 11, 2013

With New Year’s around the corner, here’s some small-plate party inspiration from Estee Kafra’s gorgeous new kosher cookbook. Kafra has assembled the best of her KosherScoop.com into Cooking Inspired: Bringing Creativity and Passion Back into the Kitchen (Feldheim Publishers, $35.99). The book is created with today’s modern palates in mind, dividing the recipes into such categories as Healthy Living, Roots, Nurture, Family, Community and are easily identified as gluten-free, Passover-friendly and seasonal.

Beautifully illustrated with full-color photos, Cooking Inspired serves as inspiration for every kosher cook.

Mexican-Style Ceviche
(Makes 12 servings)

If you want even-sized pieces, it’s best to cut the fish while partially frozen, or ask the fishmonger to do so, if you prefer.

2 pounds tilapia fillets, finely diced
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup English cucumber, finely diced
1/4 cup diced celery, finely diced
1/2 cup seeded tomato, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons taco sauce, optional
1 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
1 serrano chile, finely chopped, optional

Combine the fish and lime juice in a bowl, making sure the fish is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours or until the fish is opaque.

Strain the fish, discarding the lime juice. Place the fish on a plate lined with a double layer of paper towel to soak up any excess lime juice. (If you really like an acidic note to your ceviche, skip this step.) Transfer the fish to a serving bowl. Gently stir in all of the remaining ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Serve on salty crackers.

Pickled-Beet Deviled Eggs

(Makes 12 servings)

Devilled eggs are always among the first attractions to disappear at a party. They have an old-school charm and are fun to make, handle, and eat. The shot of fuchsia from the beet-pickling makes these even more festive.

3 cups water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 small raw beet, peeled and sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Turkish (or 1/2 California) bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 hard-boiled large eggs, peeled
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and cooled
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the water, vinegar, beet, shallot, sugar, bay leaf and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the beet is tender. Uncover and cool completely. Transfer the beet mixture to a nonreactive container; add the eggs. Marinate in the refrigerator, stirring once or twice, for about 2 hours or until completely chilled.

Finely grind the caraway seeds in a grinder.

Remove the eggs from the beet mixture and pat dry; discard the beet mixture. Halve each egg length-wise and remove the yolks. Mash the yolks with the mayonnaise, mustard, parsley and half of the caraway seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among the egg whites. Sprinkle with the remaining caraway seeds.

Egg can be marinated in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Eggs can be filled and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before serving.

Savory Mushroom Squares
(Makes 20 large squares)

These can be cut smaller for hors d’oeuvres or a bit larger to serve as a main dish. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the goat cheese complement each other perfectly.

Caramelized Onions:
1 tablespoon oil
4 Vidalia onions, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Mushroom Filling:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound puff pastry dough
1 clove garlic, crushed
12 slices goat cheese

Caramelized onions: Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the onions, sugar and vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. The onions can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Mushrooms: Heat the oil in a separate heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, saute for about 4 minutes or until softened. Strain the mushrooms to discard any excess water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8 inch-thickness (it should be thin but not thin enough to create holes). Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Smear the dough with the crushed garlic.

Cover the pastry with the onion mixture and then with the mushroom mixture. Arrange the slices of the goat cheese on top, placing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet to a rack to cool slightly. Cut into the desired shapes with a pizza cutter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

And, just in time to making eating healthier, a New Year’s resolution, Vicky Pearl has created the first-ever comprehensive kosher gluten-free cookbook featuring more than 100 original gluten, dairy- and corn-free recipes. Endorsed by the Celiac Spruce Association, Gluten-Free Goes Gourmet ($35.99) allows even the most sensitive to enjoy chicken soup and k’naidlach. Here are two recipes, perfect for your New Year’s Eve party menu.

Two Tone Vegetable Kugel
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)

It’s this simple to serve a nutritious gourmet side dish. The orange of the sweet potato layer contrasts beautifully with the deep green of the broccoli layer. This dish freezes well for up to three months.

2 large sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds frozen broccoli florets
2 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons (heaping) mayonnaise, divided
2 tablespoons potato starch, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a 9-inch round or square baking pan or dish.
Peel and cut sweet potato into large chunks. Place chunks in a large pot filled with water set over high heat. Bring to boil. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Drain potatoes;return to pot and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 1 of the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of the potato starch, and half of the salt, mixing well.

In a separate large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt. Add broccoli and cook over high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Drain broccoli; return to the pot and mash with a potato masher. Stir in remaining egg, 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise, remaining potato starch and salt, and garlic and onion powders, mixing well.

Spoon broccoli mixture evenly into bottom of prepared pan, smoothing surface. Top with sweet potato mixture, spreading evenly.

Bake in center of preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top is golden.

NOTE: To create a third tier, boil 1 pound of chopped cauliflower (fresh or frozen) in lightly salted boiling water. Mash and add 1 egg, 1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise, a pinch of salt, and onion and garlic powders. Spread on top of broccoli layer. Bake as directed.

Roll Cake
(Makes 12 servings)

This roll cake tastes as extravagant as it looks. The cream recipe makes enough icing for 11/2 cakes, so I like to double it and put away two-thirds for use later on.

Cream:
1 cup trans-fat-free margarine, room temperature (2 sticks)
7 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup agave, xylitol, or sugar
1 tablespoon coffee granules
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water

Cake:
3 tablespoons potato starch
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum
7 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons xylitol or granulated sugar

Cream:
In a saucepan set over low heat, melt margarine and chocolate together.

In a bowl using an immersion blender or in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs, agave, melted chocolate, coffee granules, and water. Cover and refrigerate cream for 2 to 3 hours or until firm enough to spread or for up to 2 days. If you are using agave, you may need to freeze cream for at least 4 hours or overnight to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15×10-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a bowl, stir together potato starch, rice flours, and xanthan gum. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add xylitol. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add egg yolks. Add dry ingredients, mixing until well combined.

Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly.
Bake in center of preheated oven for 16 minutes or until well baked and slightly golden. Remove from oven and immediately invert cake onto a clean dish towel. Carefully peel off parchment paper and roll up cake, jelly-roll style.

Let cake cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes.

Assembly:
Gently unroll cooled cake. Using a spatula, spread one-third of cream over entire surface. Roll it back up, jelly-roll style. Cut off 1/4-inch from both ends to trim cake; reserve or eat quietly!

Frost surface of cake with another third of cream, freezing remaining third for another use. Chill before serving.

All recipes reprinted with permission.

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