New Ideas for the Jewish Holidays or Just for Great Eating

Quick Chicken Pho

This is a great variation on the obligatory chicken soup usually served for most Jewish holidays. Delight friends and family with this recipe from “The Pho Cookbook” by Andrea Nguyen.

The keys to this streamlined approach to pho include toasting spices and dry sautéing the ginger and green onion, which help to extract flavor fast. Poaching the chicken in the broth adds savory depth.

Choose a broth that tastes like chicken, such as a Swanson brand. Redboat Fish Sauce is kosher, certified and gluten free (available online on Amazon).

Serves 2; takes about 40 minutes

3⁄4-inch section ginger

2 medium-large green onions

1 very small (.5 ounce) bunch cilantro sprigs

1 1⁄2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 whole clove

3 1⁄2 to 4 cups (two 14.5-ounce cans or one 32-ounce carton) low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

1 (6 to 8 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh

about 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 ounces dried narrow flat rice noodles (linguine or fettuccine size)

2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce

about 1⁄2 teaspoon organic sugar, or 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)

pepper (optional)

Optional extras (garnish plate for 2): 2 handfuls bean sprouts,  2 or 3 sprigs mint, 2 or 3 sprigs Thai basil, 3 or 4 cilantro leaves, 1 lime cut into wedges, 1 thinly sliced chili.

Tip: If you cannot find fish sauce, just use  1 1/2 teaspoons soy plus another 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Peel and slice the ginger into 4 or 5 rounds. Smack with the flat side of a knife and set aside. Thinly slice the green part of the onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Cut the leftover sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.  Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

In a 3- to 4-quart pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and green onion sections. Stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic. Slide the pot off heat, wait 15 seconds or so to briefly cool, then pour in the broth. Return the pot to the burner, then add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken and salt.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

While the broth simmers, soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse and set aside.

After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield). Transfer the chicken to a bowl, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.  Let cool, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Cover loosely to prevent it from drying out.

When the broth is done, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a 2-quart pot; line the strainer with muslin for a super-clear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups of broth. Season with fish sauce and sugar, if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.

Bring the strained broth to a boil over high heat. Put the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk into the hot broth to heat and soften, 5 to 60 seconds. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide between the 2 bowls.

Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles and garnish with the chopped green onion, cilantro and sprinkling of pepper, if using. Taste and adjust the broth’s saltiness one last time. Return the broth to a boil and ladle into the bowls.

Serve with Ginger Dipping Sauce (optional) and any garnish or extras you would like.

Ginger Dipping Sauce

A zippy sauce to dip the chicken in while eating your pho. Makes 1/3 cup

rounded 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped ginger

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded Fresno or jalapeno chili

In a small bowl, stir together the ginger, lime juice, and sugar to dissolve the sugar. Taste to see if it is spicy-tart-sweet and adjust as needed. Add fish sauce and chili and let sit for 15 minutes to meld and develop the flavors. The sauce may be refrigerated for a few days. Serve in a bowl or use as a salad dressing.

The recipe below for Carmelized Apples is from “Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook” (10 Speed Press) by Anya Fernald and Jessica Battilana. Fernald is a sustainable food expert and  CEO and  co-founder of  Belcampo  Inc., a group of agricultural ventures in California and Belize. San Francisco-based Battilana  has  co-authored  three cookbooks and her work has appeared in numerous publications.

Caramelized Apples

What a great simple, sweet recipe and a new way to serve sweet apples for a sweet New Year.

Great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 4

1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine

1/4 cup sugar

4 tart-firm apples (Granny Smith), cored and halved

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat butter in a 10-inch cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle the sugar into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to caramelize. Cook without stirring until the sugar is a light golden brown, about 3 minutes, watching carefully so the sugar doesn’t scorch.  Add the apples cut-side down and cook without turning for 10 minutes, until the apples have begun to soften and caramelize. Flip the apples over and continue cooking until the apples are very tender and the liquid in the pan has reduced to a syrupy glaze, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat, add the cinnamon and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Serve warm.

Editor’s Note: Find more of Sheilah’s culinary treats at www.cookingwithsheilah.com.

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