Cold Borscht? It’s better than it sounds…

It’s hot here – like really, really, really hot.  It’s too hot to slave in the kitchen all day for a hot Shabbat evening meal.  I found a recipe for cold borscht on Haaretz and thought what a great alternative to the gazpachos everyone goes crazy for in the summer (especially since I have yet to be convinced that there’s a difference between gazpacho and a really good salsa).  I’ve tweaked it a little since the original recipe was a little plain.  You could serve this with some some grilled white fish and grilled potatoes/veggies for a complete meal.  And did I mention that beets are good for you?

Here’s what you need:

5-6 medium beets, peeled

4 cups water

1tsp kosher salt

1/4tsp Hungarian hot paprika (I can’t say enough how much I love this stuff, and it’s packed with Vitamin C)

1tbsp sugar

1tbsp kosher balsamic vinegar

1tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp black pepper

In a pot arrange the peeled beets in water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender.  Remove the beets and purée.  Add black pepper and lemon zest to the beets and freeze into ice cubes.  Vigorously blend the salt, sugar, paprika, vinegar, and lemon juice into the remaining beet juice.  Chill for at least 4 hours and serve cold.  I recommend serving it in a fancy glass with the beet ice cubes mentioned above and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Healthy, pretty, and great in soup!

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Super-easy Guacamole

Following up on my enchilada recipe, I’ve decided to share my guacamole recipe.  It’s super-easy, delicious, and has converted many a no-green-stuff person.

What you need:

2 large ripe Haas avocados*

1/2 cup sour cream

1tsp garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

Slice the avocados in half length-wise and remove the pit.  Scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl and smash with a fork.  Add sour cream and the spices.  Adjust with additional amounts of garlic, salt, pepper, or sour cream depending on your tastes.  Mix well.  Done! I told you it was super-easy.

*A note about ripe avocados: I have seen many stores mark avocados with “Ripe” stickers (one chain grocer in particular is especially guilty of this) when the avocado is not actually ripe.  An avocado is ripe when it is black and gives slightly when you squeeze it (like a tomato).  If it is too soft, it is going to be very bitter and over-ripe.  If it is rock-hard and you have a few days before you plan to use it, you can place it in a brown paper bag on your counter and it will ripen.  Just be sure to keep an eye on it and move it to the fridge when it’s ready so that it doesn’t go past ripe.

Chicken Paprikash (By popular demand!)

Everyone seems to love this recipe.  I personally can’t get enough hot paprika in my diet, and I guess maybe you could use sweet paprika for this recipe, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.

What you’ll need:

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (kosher or not, and if you’re not trying to be so healthy, you could also just cut up a whole 2-3lb chicken)

2tbsp olive oil (kosher or not)

1tsp kosher sea salt

1tsp black pepper (I like mine peppery, you can put more or less)

1 chopped yellow onion

1tbsp Hungarian hot paprika (this is what makes it paprikash so you must get it!)

1/4 cup white wine (for kosher, Ben Ami Chardonnay works well)

1/4 cup no sodium-added chicken broth (I like to add my own salt, personally. [kosher or not])

1/2 cup sour cream (using real sour cream renders this recipe treif, but to keep it kosher, you can get some really good vegan sour creams like Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream® or you could make your own with tofu)

 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and brown chicken on all sides.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add onion to skillet.  Cook just until tender, but not totally translucent or worse, brown.  Stir in paprika.  Return chicken to skillet, turning to coat with all the goodness in the pan.  Add wine and broth and stand back!*  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and tender. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Boil pan juices until reduced to about 1/2 cup liquid, or for about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream (or sour cream substitute).  Heat through.  I serve this over latkes made with Streit’s latke mix (because I have not yet mastered the art of the homemade latke).

 

*It is better to add the wine first so it can de-glaze the pan, but beware!  The first time I did this, I had company over and when the white wine hit the hot paprika, it sent up a cloud of steam that burned everyone’s lungs.  You could probably add the broth first.  Either way, be careful.  That hot paprika is feistier than it appears.

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