We always start with dips with roasted chickpeas, which I roast in a variety of Mediterranean spices and crushed garlic. For the fish, we usually have salmon which I make differently each week. Sometimes I’ll make it pickled or poached; other times, I’ll bake a side of salmon with a sprinkle of lemon juice, white wine, olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. After that, we always have chicken soup and noodles.
For the main, I try to serve foods that are not my typical weekday suppers, so I may do chicken steaks, stuffed capons, a slow-cooked Delmonico roast, or a whole spatchcocked chicken. For the sides, I make a rice or quinoa dish with cubed roasted vegetables — mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, sweet potato, sometimes eggplant. Potato kugel, carrot muffins for the kids, and apple crisp are our side staples. I may add strawberries, blueberries, or peaches to the crisp for variety.
We’re usually too full for dessert, but if we’re in the mood of something sweet, I serve Trader Joe’s soy vanilla ice cream with mini sugar-free chocolate chips for a nice crunch.
Baking is my favorite part of Shabbos prep. I always make sure to have a counter cake and homemade cookies or biscotti to nosh on or to serve for a spontaneous kiddush. I’m not afraid of trying more complicated recipes; it gives me an opportunity to experiment. The trick is to read through the recipe at least two to three times to envision the steps and to get organized. Then I take out all the ingredients before I start so that I don’t forget to use any of them, and I put them away as I use them, which makes for an easier cleanup at the end.
A few months ago, I heard a beautiful idea from the Vzakeini challah bake. On a hectic week, we tend to cook for Shabbos and buy the challah for lack of time to bake. We should try to change our mindset and realize that baking challah is more worthwhile than the cooking, since baking challah brings tremendous brachah into the home. Ever since I heard this, I’ve been trying to bake every week.
Something I love to serve to guests:
The Best Cole Slaw recipe for the fish course...bowl is finished every time!
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/4-1/3 cup water
- box of checked dill
- 4 small dill pickles
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- sprinkle pepper
Blend in a food processor. Toss with 2 bags of coleslaw mix.
Tip: I double the recipe for the dressing which could last at least 1 week in the fridge to have handy during the week
I’m very conscious of including a variety of colors at each course. It makes for a more vibrant, prettier table and more enticing food.
I try to cook in glass oven-to-tableware as much as possible so that I’m not busy transferring the food to platters during the meal.
I recently got a great chicken soup tip from a friend: Put one to three (depending on how large your soup pot is) jalapeño peppers in a mesh bag in the soup when it’s cooking. It gives the soup a really good kick. I take the mesh bag out of the pot before I reheat it so the soup won’t be too spicy!
Mushroom-Onion Chicken Steaks
- 6 skinless chicken steaks
- kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, to taste
- panko crumbs, for coating
- oil, for sautéing
- 3 large onions, diced
- 8 oz (225 g) mushrooms, sliced
- ¾ cup honey
- 2 Tbsp chicken soup mix
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Coat the chicken steaks with spices and panko crumbs. Cover and bake for an hour and a half.
My Cooking Style
My goal is to have a balance of foods — traditional foods as well as some novelty so that our Shabbos meals don’t become boring from week to week. By varying the appetizer, main, and maybe one of the sides, each Shabbos becomes unique and special. Especially when I have guests, I try to use more novel ingredients to add interest to the meal and to appeal to different taste buds.
Meanwhile, sauté the onions and mushrooms for 15 minutes. Add honey and chicken soup mix. Mix well and cook for 5 more minutes. Pour the mixture over the chicken steaks. Bake uncovered for another 45 minutes.
Note: Please consult with your rav regarding the cleaning method and consumption of asparagus tips.
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 735)
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