Rosh HaShanah Dishes for the Soul

6 Sep

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul

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Personal chef Helen Gottesman of Helen’s Home Cooking prepares a kosher holiday meal. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Before Helen Gottesman looks into the depths of the new year, she glances back to remember the sweetest, most flavorful dishes of her childhood.

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul photo

The most vivid culinary memory of Rosh Hashanas past: Pflaumenkuchen, her Czech-German grandmother’s special plum tart.

“I remember the smell of the plums. My mother made a couple of dishes wonderfully, and one of them was my grandmother’s plum tart. She would use Italian prune plums. They came into season shortly before Rosh Hashana – and it was a short season,” recalls Gottesman, a New York native who works as a personal chef in Boynton Beach.

This is the great motif of Gottesman’s home cooking – comfort foods that pay homage to family memories. And as the Jewish New Year begins at sunset tonight, ushering in 10 days of reflection and repentance, she will greet it with prayer, introspection and kosher dishes reminiscent of her younger years in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens.

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul photo

“We would always have the matzo ball soup and, typically, challah,” says Gottesman, 55, who now bakes eight loaves of traditional challah bread at a time.

Helen Gottesman prepares her plum tart (or pflaumen kuchen). (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

And because Rosh Hashana exalts the sweetest of foods – as in honey-dipped apples to beckon happiness – there was always a piece of that ­fragrant, open-face plum tart, a culinary prayer for a sweet life.

Today, in accordance with her Orthodox Jewish faith, Gottesman keeps a kosher kitchen. But “kitchen” is a movable notion for a woman who turned a love of cooking Shabbat dinner for friends – and a knowledge of nutrition and kosher standards – into a small enterprise she calls Helen’s Home Cooking ( helenshomecooking.com).

Usually, she cooks in other people’s kitchens.

“Because I focus on kosher cooking and I keep kosher myself, I’m aware that people are particular about anything that comes into their house,” says Gottesman, who shares her home with husband. Robert, an educator, and 16-year-old son, Adir.

So when she cooked an early Rosh Hashana dinner at a friend’s home on a recent weeknight, Gottesman worked with fresh ingredients her friend had shopped for and brought only the items her friend was missing. While other mobile chefs may carry their own knives and trusty spice kits, she used her friend’s cooking vessels and kitchen utensils.

On the menu that day: one soul-warming comfort dish after another. She roasted a chicken with sweet potatoes, white potatoes and carrots, a sweet noodle kugel with sugar and apples, a batch of almond-flecked green beans, a steaming pot of matzo ball soup and her grandmother’s plum tart.

It’s the kind of cooking that stirs easy conversation with friends and clients.

“If I’m in their kitchen, I hear their food stories, what they like and what they don’t, what their idea of comfort food is. For some, it’s lasagna. You never know. It all depends where and how they grew up,” says Gottesman.

She says a lot of her clients are seniors who don’t cook for themselves anymore. “And they don’t like the takeout places. Typically, what they want is the comfort foods they grew up with,” says the chef.

She dreams of opening a healthy kosher café one day, “a place of coffee, homemade breads and vegetarian items.” But for now she cooks wherever a kitchen welcomes her.

“I love cooking,” says Gottesman. “When I start cooking, I can get a little carried away and my husband tells me, ‘Don’t you realize there are only three of us in this house?'”

PFLAUMENKUCHEN (PLUM TART) WITH MUERBETEIG DOUGH CRUST

TO MAKE THE CRUST:

1 cup margarine

3 cups flour

2 egg yolks

1 lemon

1/4 cup sugar

Cream margarine and sugar, add flour then egg yolks along with grated rind of lemon along with the juice. Chill dough for at least half an hour and then pat into large pie tin with fingers.

TO MAKE THE PLUM TART:

Muerbeteig dough

6-9 Italian prune plums

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut plums into eighths and place them skin side down in the pie pan starting with the outside going halfway up the side. When all of the space is covered, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 30 minutes at 350º. Tart is done when crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH VEGETABLES

Serve with vegetables on the side.

1 chicken cut into eighths or serving size pieces

1 large sweet potato or 2 medium, peeled and cut into chunks

2 white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large onion sliced or cut into chunks

1 zucchini, sliced

Garlic, a few cloves

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced or diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

In a roasting pan place bed of vegetables and mix them up and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then, top with chicken pieces skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and paprika.

Place in preheated 350º oven. After 30 minutes, turn chicken pieces over and sprinkle salt and pepper and paprika on the chicken if you have not already done so. When this is done (it will be browned) turn chicken pieces back to skin side up and cook for another 30 minutes. (Cooking time is about 1 hour, 15 minutes to 11/2 hours.)

STRING BEANS ALMONDINE

1 to 11/2 pounds string beans

1 tablespoon margarine

1/4 cup almonds, slivered or sliced

1/4 red pepper, slivered

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut tips off string beans. Either leave beans whole or slice into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Place into boiling salted water until they are tender, but still bright green in color.

Drain the string beans. In the same pot, melt margarine and lightly sauté almonds. Add red pepper and cook to soften slightly. Then add the string beans to heat through.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon, and serve.

Recipes by Helen Gottesman, helenshomecooking.com

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN’S WHOLE STRIPED BASS WITH ARTICHOKES AND FENNEL

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced in rings

2 (1.5 pound) whole bass, gutted and scales removed, cleaned

1/4 cup olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon, reserve juice

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon zahtar (a sesame seed-based Middle Eastern spice blend)

1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 cup dill, chopped

8 plum tomatoes, quartered

2 artichokes, trimmed of outer leaves, cut in quarters

1 fennel bulb, cut in small diced pieces

Preheat oven to 375º.

Place the onion in a single layer onto a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a large bowl and add the oil, lemon zest, fennel seeds, garlic, zahtar, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place the fish over the onions, reserve the oil and spices in the bowl.

Place the tomatoes around the fish, as well as artichokes and fennel bulb. Drizzle the reserved oil and spices over the fish and vegetables.

Cover the pan with aluminum and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the aluminum and raise the heat to 400º. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Check doneness of the artichokes, if they are tender they are ready, if not, remove the fish carefully with a spatula and set aside covered to keep warm and cook the rest of the vegetables until the artichokes are tender.

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN’S CHICKEN SOUP

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 chicken, about 4 pounds, skinned, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 6 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts)

2 cups minced Spanish onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 bay leaf

About 4 quarts chicken broth

1 cup finely diced chayote (small green squash popular in Latin American cooking)

11/2 cups peeled sweet potato, medium dice (from about 1 large potato)

2 medium ears of corn, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 cup dill leaves

1 teaspoon habanero pepper, or jalapeño, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1 lime, quartered or cut into sixths (1 wedge per person)

Salt and pepper

Put the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf in a large stock pot and cover with cold chicken broth or cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, moist, and tender, about 1 hour. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Add the chayote, sweet potato, corn, dill, and habanero to the pot. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes.

Shred the cooled chicken meat by hand and return it to the pot. Stir in the cilantro and cook for about 5 minutes to rewarm the chicken and further develop the flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into 4 to 6 bowls, making sure to get a good mix of vegetables in each bowl. Serve with a wedge of lime.

CHEF ALLEN’S EXOTIC SPICE BRAISED BRISKET

(Serves 6)

5 pounds brisket, first cut, well marbled

4 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrots

3 large cloves garlic, smashed

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sticks cinnamon

3 stars of star anise

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 large orange, cut in eighths

3 teaspoons bitters

2 tablespoons good tomato paste

1 bottle pinot noir (use kosher wine for a kosher recipe)

To prepare the brisket: Rub the brisket with 3 tablespoons salt and set aside in a dish for 1 hour. Rinse the salt off under running cold water and pat dry. Place a heavy braising pan over high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil. Carefully add the brisket and sear the first side for 2-3 minutes. Turn the beef with a meat tong and brown the second side for another 4-5 minutes. To braise the brisket: Preheat the oven to 325º. Remove the brisket from the pan to a platter. Add the vegetables, spices and orange to the pan. Stir in the bitters and tomato paste. Place the beef on top of the braising mixture and add enough wine to cover the meat by a good 2-3 inches.( You may add more wine or water.) Cover the braising pan with a lid or tightly with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Slowly braise with the cover on for 3 hours until fork tender.

To serve the brisket: Remove the braised beef from the oven and place on a cutting board. Let the brisket rest for a good 5 minutes before attempting to slice. Skim the fat from the braising liquid, and remove the cinnamon sticks. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary. Spoon the vegetables and pan juices into a gravy boat. Now carefully cut the beef across the grain in short thick slices. Serve with pan juice

Share-a-Chef

8 May

This week I was scheduled to cook for the second time for a senior couple in Del Ray

Beach Florida.  An hour before I was scheduled to start shopping, I got a call from Mrs. L. Her next  door neighbor, also a senior wanted the same dishes, only packed singly. I told them I could give them a discount since I was making the same dishes for each.

I made them three main dishes, four portions for each family. I charged them only $259 including groceries for each, lower than my usual price of $275.00. the requested dishes included: Beef Stew, Apricot chicken, Salmon with ginger and Lime ( the recipe is in my blog). Also the side dishes broccoli kugel, noodle kugel, and roast cauliflower and Split Pea Soup.
when can we cook for you?
I would love your feedback. Helen@helenshomecooking.com or call me at 561-676-2078 .
Thanks,
Helen

How I Work As a Personal Chef by Chef Helen Gotttesman I have often been asked about how I work as a Personal Chef. First is the keyword Personal. I do not work as a cookie cutter service. My initial meeting with my client is in their home. We talk about what foods they like to eat, how much they eat, whether they have any dietary needs such as salt free, low fat or portion size for example. I get a deposit at our initial meeting to cover at least the groceries and some of the time I have spent planning this out. I cook all the meals in my client’s kitchens, using all their equipment (knives, cutting boards, oven etc.). I shop on the way to my client’s home for the ingredients (just for them, as I only cook for one family at a time) from the butcher, grocery store or fruit market as needed for the recipes we have chosen together. When I get to their home, I unpack, put perishables in the refrigerator organize and start cooking with the pots and pans etc. that my client has asked me to use. (Many of my clients keep strictly kosher, making this quite important). As I said there is nothing “cookie cutter about my service. There is a most popular set up people request. It is called a “five by four”, Five main dishes, five side dishes and four portions of each. The dishes vary, as do the time need to prepare and package for your refrigerator or freezer. All together there are twenty portions of food, to be packaged for one, two or four people. Some of the most frequently requested main dishes have been : Chicken Piccata Chicken Marsala Beef Stew Roasted Salmon with Honey and Dijon Mustard Oriental Marinated Salmon with Lime and Ginger Side dishes include Risotto, Spinach, Potato Kugel, For all of this planning the meals according to your taste, health issues etc. and all of the preparation, packaging and cleaning up will only cost $399.00. That is just $19.95 per serving professionally prepared in your home. Don’t forget the menu is your choice! Call me for further details and to schedule your initial free consultation. (If you live far from the Boca Raton, Florida area I have associates in other parts of the country who do something similar although I don’t know anyone else that focuses on healthy kosher.) You can pay for the service with cash or credit card. Don’t forget the gift certificates for Mother’s Day for your favorite ladies! Phone 561-676-2078 Email chefhelen@helenshomecooking.com Helengottesman2001@yahoo.com

2 May

Who Needs a Personal Chef?

16 Jan

Looking back over the past 9 years that I have been a Personal Chef, I noticed patterns.  Many of my clients have been retirees living in active adult communities in Palm Beach County , Florida .

Many of the “active adults”  whether in their 60’s or 90’s were found by their out of town children looking for a kosher ( or at least Jewish ethnic) chef.  The adult children had seen their parents were not eating right and needed someone to prepare the meals the parents wanted and followed the guidelines set in place by their medical professionals.

 

Easy chicken nuggets

1 Jan

I am always thinking of ways to make easy dishes for my family that pack a lot of flavor.I have another.

Mustard Chicken Nuggets

2 Chicken cutlets

1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp. coarse grain mustard ( I used Dijon.)

2 tbsp corn meal, corn flake crumbs or bread crumbs or oats or Ground nuts (Pecans or almonds)

Cut chick cutlets into bite-sized pieces or buy chicken tenders already cubed.  Coat the chicken pieces in egg wash, then in mustard and then into “breading”. Place on oiled baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 10 to 12  minutes, turning once during cooking, until browned.  Yum !

#glutenfree  #gluten-free  #chickennuggets  #chefhelen  #kosherchef

#nuttedchickencutlets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget This When Going Vegan!

30 Dec

This week I that did cooking lessons with a lovely woman who was trying to make her “going vegan” experience more palatable for both herself and her husband.

We prepared several dishes together.  When we were almost finished I asked her if she knew about Complementary Proteins. Back in college , (a few decades ago) I took an advanced Nutrition course where we had to either teach Nutrition to men in SRO facilities near Times Square or in a retirement building in Harlem.  My protective parents and I chose Harlem. I taught the retirees about the four food groups and complementary proteins.  Everyone (a group of 30 to 40 as I recall) thought protein had to come from more expensive sources such as beef, chicken, fish or pork.  There are others that can explain better than I, but plant proteins (except soy and possibly quinoa are incomplete).  Proteins are made of  two amino acids that “complete” with another specific amino acid that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle on the molecular level.

So, beans (like black beans) and rice complete each other.  Nuts and wheat (peanut butter sandwich) complete each other.  A whole lot cheaper than a steak, burger or whatever.  Some vegetarians forget to plan for proteins.  Plan ahead, partial proteins can not be used by the body , instead they are excreted.

Need more information, let me know if you need to get in contact with a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist who can customize a diet with your health issues and dietary choices in mind.

I would love to hear your comments, see your likes and more.

561-676-2078 chefhelen@helenshomeooking.com to check my website http://www.helenshomecooking.com.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Cooking

28 Dec

Last week I received a call from a new prospect client. Barbara wanted to learn how to prepare vegan dishes so they were palatable to her and her husband.  Once she had chosen vegan way of life for her herself and her husband (retirees from New York) she was eating steamed vegetables every day.As you would expect it was BORING. They don’t like ANY spices, even black pepper was out of the question.

Like me, Barbara keeps kosher.  I told her about some dishes that came to mind: black bean soup, mejedra, veggie and tofu stir fry, brown rice, quinoa, roast vegetables, peanut butter cookies, split pea soup and vichyssoise.  Easy Peasy.

My new client wanted a hands on class.  She helped peel, slice, dice and stir. I explained how browning the vegetables slightly brings out their natural sweetness and carmelization.  It was proven successful by Barbara’s husband’s taste test of the tofu stir fry saying “hey, this is good!”.  He said the same thing about the vichyssoise (cold potato and leek soup) even before it had cooled.  Before I forget, #vegantasty, #chefhelen, #tofustirfry, #tastyvegan, #personalchefkosher, #personalchefkosher, #personalchefrecipes.

I got too busy cooking, I I find myself “in the zone” when I start cooking so unfortunately I don’t have pics to share.  Perhaps, next time I  will remember?

Next post will have recipes.  Is there anything you want to see?  Are you looking to learn how t prepare specific dishes?  I would love to help you (in the Palm Beach County, Florida area.  If not, I know Personal Chefs in other parts of the country to refer you to.

Let’s hope and pray 2017 brings us all of the health, prosperity, and more that we wish for ourselves and others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stupendous Expos

23 Oct

I am taking a break from cooking this week and setting up our expo for Special Needs families.  http://www.stupendousexpos.com We hope you can join us and meet with Special Needs Organizations, Local Businesses, Great Speakers and be entertained by our family friendly entertainers!  If you have any questions, call Rob at 561-676-2075 or Helen at 561-676=2078  Email is stupendous.expos@gmail.com

Ask us about category specific discounts!

 

 

Stupendous Expos Needs You!

 

A valuable source for families

Join us at our Expo for Special Needs Families and the businesses that support them!

Sunday November 13th, 2016 4PM to 8PM Holiday Inn 1301 Belvedere Road

West Palm Beach, Fl. 33405

ü Be an Exhibitor! Just $250.00 or kick it up by adding a radio spot to $300.00 **

ü Be a Sponsor from just $150.00 *see website for details!

ü Hear our Speakers. Share your stories!

ü Attend for free!

ü Stupendous.Expos@gmail.com

ü Share your business info by adding an item to our raffle.

ü Check out www.StupendousExpos.com

ü or call Rob Gottesman 561-676-2075 or                                Helen Gottesman 561-676-2078 for information

Deliciousness for Sale at the Mind Body Expo May 15th, 2016 Boca Raton

15 Apr

Please join me on Sunday May 15th at YMCA in Boca Raton, Florida.(rescheduled from March) I will be an exhibitor telling people about Helen’s Home Cooking and  Catering.

I will be bringing along several of my most popular gluten free desserts.   Peanut Butter Cookies, Lemon Pecan Crisps and Brownies (maybe marshmallow fluff marble) The desserts will be available for sale.  Everything is home made!

Let me know that you came because of the blog. There is a cookie in it for you.

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2 kokosh made by Chef Helen (sorry not gluten free)

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