The recent blizzard certainly smacked some wintry sense into us — Game on! Get out your crockpots and containers. Match up those lids with the bottoms. Be ready to label what you put in the freezer. Chop and prep is what tires me out the most. It’s like shoveling snow — exhausting. But once that part is over, it’s easy!
Chop, mince, brown your ingredients the day before. Then you can simply throw things into the slow-cooker or big pot the following day. All these dishes can be made in part or in total in advance. Then you won’t be too pooped to put some pizazz into presentation such as making twists for ribbon salad. Or serve your favorite chili in corn bread muffins. Scoop out the baked muffins and fill with the chili. Sprinkle a few scooped out crumbs on the tops. And no more excuses to eat unhealthy foods, just because you are stuck indoors.
Amelia Saltsman, a cookbook author, advocates “eating out less” and “cooking more” for a healthy 2016. Her newest book, “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen,” is focused on tradition and seasonality, inspired by the Jewish calendar. Her diverse Romanian and Iraqi background make for some delicious flavors. Try her unique fish and roasted ratatouille recipes (very yummy!).
AMELIA’S “MANTA RAY” CEVICHE
1 pound firm-fleshed fish, skinned, very fresh fillets, such as halibut, mahimahi or white sea bass
11/2 cups fresh lime juice (from 6 large limes)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives, in 1/8-inch pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground sumac or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sel gris (coarse French salt) or coarse grain salt to taste
Pita triangles or crackers for serving
> Pat fish dry. Remove any bones and dark patches. Cut fish against the grain into small thick slices about about 3/4-inch thick. Place in a glass bowl and add the juices, stirring to mix. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally until fish is opaque, about 2 to 3 hours. Cut onion in half into paper-thin slices. Soak the slices in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. Drain the fish and place in a clean bowl. Add the onion, chives, olive oil, sumac, red pepper flakes and salt. Toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. 6 servings. Serve with pita triangles or crackers.
- ROASTED ROMANIAN RATATOUILLE
2 pounds fleshy sauce tomatoes, such as Roma
4-6 medium-size green or white narrow zucchini, about 11/2 pounds
2 medium eggplants, about 11/2 pounds
3-4 sweet red peppers
1-2 onions, peeled
6-8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon sweet or hot paprika, or a mix
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
> Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop the tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, sweet peppers and onions into about 1-inch pieces. Transfer the vegetables to a large roasting pan (about 12 inches by 15 inches). Add the garlic cloves, paprika, cumin, bay leaves and 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Toss to mix and spread in an even layer in the pan. Roast without stirring until vegetables are very tender and browned and the tomatoes have melted into a thick sauce, about 1 hour. 10 to 12 servings, warm or room temperature.
- GREEN TAHINI DIP
1 large clove garlic, cut in half
1 cup green flat-leaf parsley
11/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup tahini
11/4 cups water
> Place all ingredients in a food processor. You may need more water for thinner sauce. Taste and set aside. Serve with cooked (fried or baked) chicken strips and/or raw vegetables. Refrigerate sauce until serving.
Tips & Tricks
Using a sharp veggie peeler, scrape large ribbons for your salad. Zucchini, carrots, cucumbers and even asparagus can be placed flat to get ribbons.
Look for Minneola or Honeybell oranges that are “in season” now for citrus recipes.
Make a unique green tahini dip for raw vegetables and/or chicken strips.
Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.