A tavola in Italian means “at the table.” The table is where we gather to talk, to socialize, to catch up, and most importantly…eat! At our table is where it all comes together because it’s not just about the food, its about stopping whatever we are doing and carving out some much-needed time to nourish our souls and bodies in the company of loved ones. Food stylist and recipe columnist, Renee Muller, invites home cooks to come to the table and partake in some her family’s favorite kosher recipes in her beautiful new cookbook, Our Table (Artscroll/October 2016; Hardcover/$34.99).
Throughout the pages of Our Table, Renee walks readers through each recipe with subtle suggestions, insights and techniques that turn good food into great food. Recipes are arranged in chapters such as: Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Fish & Dairy, Meat, Chicken & More, Snacks & Sides, and Desserts and Breads, providing everything needed to create an easy weeknight meal or a special holiday dinner. Some of the recipes in Our Table include:
Sweet Chili Salmon Cubes
Mushroom Barley Soup Done Right
Crunchy Asian Salad
Silan, Lemon, and Mustard Salmon
Tangy and Succulent London Broil
Fall of the Bone Tender Flanken
Pulled French Roast Sliders
Oven-Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
Homemade Egg Kichel
Light as Air Marble Cake
Buttery Chocolate Scones
Wähe – Swiss Fruit Tart
Apple and Honey Rosh Hashanah Muffins
Dairy/Pareve || Freezer Friendly || about 48 muffins
At our house, Rosh Hashanah cannot happen without honey muffins. At least, that’s the way my kids see it. It’s a family project, and by now, a family tradition, too. This recipe was given to me by a relative in Israel who bakes them all the time and claims that no matter how many batches she bakes, there are never enough. She’s absolutely right. We once baked a quadruple batch of these (sans the apples) for a bake sale on our block and we were left without a crumb!
For the apples
2 Tablespoons butter OR margarine
4 Granny Smith apples, diced
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the muffins
2 cups prepared tea, lukewarm
2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
2 cups honey
6 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping Tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Prepare the apples: In a saucepan, melt butter over a medium-low flame. Add apples, sugar, and cinnamon; cook until apples are fragrant and soften a bit, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the muffins: In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium speed, combine tea, sugar, oil, honey, and eggs. Mix until smooth. Reduce speed; gradually add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Fill each muffin cup halfway with batter. (I like to use a cupcake pen for this; I find it very helpful.) Top with a teaspoon of prepared apples. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost dry with some moist crumbs attached.
The apples are optional; I find that some children prefer the muffins plain. We add the apple for Rosh Hashanah (very loudly singing, “Dip the apple in the hooooneeeyy” as we do so) but throughout the year, we bake them plain.
I recently discovered an amazing gadget called “The Cupcake (or Muffin) Pen.” It really removes the whole messy aspect of filling cupcake pans with batter. Look for it in specialty equipment stores.
Sweet and Tangy Spare Ribs
Meat || Freezer Friendly || 4 entrée servings; 6 appetizer servings
A friend once called me, asking for a meat recipe. “It has to be amazingly good and incredibly easy,” she said. “I’m kidding,” she then added, but I knew she really wasn’t. And I had just the thing. Whenever I meet her husband, he makes sure to thank me, AGAIN, for “those awesome ribs.” Where does it say that great dishes have to be long, hard, and complicated?
about 8 (1-inch-thick) spare ribs, nicely marbled
2½ cups duck sauce
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 Tablespoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a baking pan, arrange ribs in one layer. In a medium bowl, combine duck sauce, water, teriyaki sauce, garlic, paprika, onion flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour over ribs. Cover tightly with foil; bake for 3 hours.
2. Let ribs cool; then refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F (use the “roast” setting, if available). Remove congealed fat layer from the ribs. Roast, uncovered, spooning sauce over the ribs once or twice, until ribs are braised and glistening, about 20 minutes.
I like to cool the ribs in the middle of the cooking process so I can remove the fat layer, but it’s not a necessity. You can raise oven temperature, uncover meat, and proceed with the braising part immediately after the 3-hour slow roasting.