I’m embarrassed to tell you how old I was when I first ate avocado. I was scared to try it for the longest time. But once I did, I was hooked. It’s buttery taste and creamy texture lends itself well to a variety of applications from breads and salads to desserts and pastries. Avocados don’t just taste good, they’re good for you too! They’re rich in healthy monounsaturated fat, folate, potassium, as well as many vitamins. As for me, I’m catching up on lost time. This guacamole is just one preparation that I enjoy!
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, minced
1 scallion, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
chips, for serving
Peel and diced 1 avocado. Add to a bowl and mash. Peel and dice the second avocado and add to the bowl without mashing. Add peppers, jalapeno, scallions, olive oil, lime and salt and mix to combine. Add chopped fresh cilantro, if desired (I’m not a fan of cilantro so I leave it out, but it is a classic accompaniment to guacamole, so if you like it, go ahead and put it in!) Serve with chips.
NOTE: If jalapenos are too hot for your taste, use a long hot green pepper instead.
TIP: Always wear gloves when deseeding a chile pepper as capsaicin (the chemical that gives peppers their heat) can stick to your hands. Since capsaicin is only found in the seeds and veins, you can control the heat factor by eliminating some, or all, of the seeds.
Not surprisingly, I come from a family of excellent cooks. My aunt B. is one of them. With lots of daughters to help out in the kitchen, she’s got enough sous chefs to make each and every dish not only taste good, but look good too. All of her salads are chopped to perfection and served mezze-style for each of her guests. Her pastries, too, are a work of art, and worthy of any bakery.
The following recipe is one that aunt B. prepares for many family get-togethers. The apples add an unexpected burst of flavor, while the garlic adds a nice kick. Altogether, this dip is full of flavor and perfect on the side of crudites.
So instead of buying a bottle of french dressing, or whipping up a tired bowl of ketchup ‘n mayo, give this delicious dip a try at your next party.
Apple Celery Veggie Dip
2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 c water
4 cloves garlic
1 red apple, peeled and quartered
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with crudites.
TIP: For a fun presentation, hollow out the inside of a red apple using a melon baller. Rub lemon juice over the apple so it does not turn brown. Clean a short stalk of celery with a lot of leaves and use it as the spoon.
I was first introduced to the idea of cheese balls from Nechama Cohen’s cookbook, Enlitened Kosher Cooking. She makes a version using farmer cheese and 5% cheese for a lighter variation than the classic cream cheese. I made this for shavuous in the past, and as delicious as it is, it is even prettier to look at. If you are looking for that wow factor at your yontif table, you should definitely consider making these.
There are hundreds of cheese ball recipes out there, and the truth is, you don’t really need a recipe at all. All you have to do is start with the main ingredient: creamy cheese. Then, mix in whatever filling you’d like. I had some leftover sundried tomato olive tapenade, so I mixed a few tablespoons of that in. Think of the kind of cream cheese they have at bagel shops or get creative with original concoctions.
packets of mixed herb seasonings
To incorporate the filling, bring your cream cheese to room temperature. Mix in the fillings and spices and stir to combine. Refrigerate your mixture for a few hours so the flavors have a chance to meld and the cheese can firm up again. In the meantime, prepare your toppings.
Remove the cream cheese from the fridge after you’ve allowed it to set. Form balls and roll in desired toppings. You can refrigerate again until ready to serve. If you serving these at your yontif meal, I recommend preparing the filling in advance and rolling it in the topping before serving.
Serve with assorted crackers and sliced cucumbers.
SWEET CHEESE BALLS:
While savory cheese balls make a great appetizer, sweet ones serve as a great dessert and also work well when served with cheese latkes and pancakes.
After tasting a delicious olive tapenade at a restaurant a few years ago, I started playing around with different olive dip recipes to serve on Shabbos, alongside the fish. I tried the typical spanish olives with mayo, green olives with garlic and olive oil, and finally this recipe, which proved to be by favorite. The sundried tomatoes add a delicious flavor and color to the dip. When I was plating this for photographing, my two year old daughter asked if she could have some in a sandwich. I put two pieces of crostini together, and she ate the whole thing! If a two year old can appreciate its deliciousness, imagine how much you, and your guests, will!
Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade
1 19oz can black olives (I use manzanilla)
1/2 jar of sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, about 10
4 tbsp oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes (or extra virgin olive oil)
3 garlic cloves
Add olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic and oil to a food processor. Pulse until it reaches desired consistency (I like it a bit chopped and piecey otherwise it will have a sandy/grainy texture).
My husband is not much of a sports fan. He’s more of a computer fan, if you know what I mean. So, if not for my brother, I would have no idea that tomorrow is the big day for most men out there! That, and the fact that I wanted a crunchy, healthy snack tonight, is what brought me to make this delicious and healthy recipe. Chummus is available at any grocery, in so many flavors and styles. So why go through the hastle of making it? Well sometimes, I like the chunkiness of a purely garbanzo-based spread, sans the techina. That’s when I whip out some fresh garlic, a food processor, and of course some pita bread, for homemade toasted “everything” pita chips with roasted garlic hummus.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
1 can chickpeas
1 head of roasted garlic 1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for garnish)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
parsley and paprika for garnish
Drain and rinse chickpeas. Add to food processor. Add the cloves of a small head of roasted garlic. Add the lemon, salt and pepper. Start blending in the food processor, adding the olive oil slowly. Start with 1/8 cup and add more until you reach a creamy consistency. Spoon into serving dish. Drizzle with more olive oil and garnish with paprika and parsley.
For instructions on roasting garlic, click here.
Homemade Everything Pita Chips
Regular or whole wheat pita
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut pita into eight triangles. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, onion, garlic and salt. Bake for 10 minutes until toasted and crispy.