Entertaining: Seasonal Fruits

Spring is in the air and the assortment of fresh fruit at the Union Square Market is becoming more and more plentiful. Shiny New Jersey tomatoes & strawberries, endless varieties of apples, and the beginning of juicy peaches whet the appetite and inspire creative seasonal recipes. 

Two weeks ago I took an entertainment themed cooking class with Sindi Kaplan at the Central Synagogue. Sindi prepared a wonderful meal using key seasonal ingredients which brought out the sweetness of Spring and the ease of using readily available ingredients. The sweetness of the meal was reflected in all of the dishes she’d made from the fresh fruits used in the lite tropical sangria to currants in the brown basmati rice. The flavors in each dish flowed from start to finish, which is sometimes difficult to achieve when a meal has multiple components. 

I enjoyed Sindi’s seasonal recipes so much that I decided to put my own spin on what was already a delicious and easily preparable meal for a crowd. As I always say, be creative and use what you have! The more you cook, the more knowledgeable you’ll be on substituting ingredients. In this case, I used mango and apple instead of peaches since I had those ingredients fresh on hand. Apples are great fruits to cook with as their flavors deepen and greatly enhance a chicken dish like the Ginger Chicken with Seasonal Fruits Sindi created. 

Ginger Chicken with Mango &

Spring fruits like strawberries and even oranges are great to add to salads, as peaches cook well with chicken and pork. Figs are another wonderful and versatile fruit which I haven’t seen in the stores yet, but am looking forward to using in some other spring inspired dishes. 

 

Please feel to use the recipes below to evoke the inner chef in you this Spring. 

Whole Wheat Cous Cous with Apple, Raisins & Green Onions

Ginger Chicken with Mango, Apples, & Red Onions

Orange Salad with Red Leaf Lettuce, Goat Cheese, Red Onion, & Candied Nuts

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Passover Cooking at the Central Synagogue

A few weeks ago I attended a Passover cooking class at the Central Synagogue which was led by Chef Sindi Kaplan. Since the only Passover recipes I’ve made were macaroons and apple cake I decided it was time to expand my Passover horizons.

Sindi planned a tremendous class that involved each group cooking one of the recipes she provided and then enjoying them over an early Passover dinner. Unfortunately I was a bit too slow in the recipe choosing process and my group was tasked with making the Rhubarb and Carrot Tzimmes. Don’t get me wrong, Tzimmes are delicious, I just really had my eyes on the flourless chocolate cake!

Though I’d never made Tzimmes before, I’d certainly eaten the traditional pairing (carrots sweetened with honey, orange juice, and cinammon) many of times and figured that it would be a cinch to make. But after multiple Winkle Cocktails, which was another wonderful recipe Sindi provided us, my friend Justin and I seemed to have forgotten all about our boiling pot of Rhubarb and Carrot Tzimmes. Luckily Sindi was watching over us and made sure that our Tzimmes came out just right.

After everyone had finished making their respective dishes, we all gathered around the dinner table to enjoy our delicious  Passover-inspired meal. Thanks to the Central Synagogue and Sindi Kaplan, we were all able to learn a few new recipes just in time for the holiday!

For additional cooking classes led by Chef Sindi at the Central Synagogue you can visit the CenSyn Facebook Page.  Upcoming classes include:

  • April 23 – Light Spring Fare
  • May 21 – Entertaining
  • June 18 – BBQ/Picnic

Hope to see some of you there! And please check out the fabulous WINKLE COCKTAIL below:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Sage Leaves (or Mint)
  • 3 Strawberries or Raspberries
  • 3/4 oz Agave Nectar
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • Ice
  • 2 oz Gin (or k for p Vodka)
  • Cocktail Shaker

PREPARATIONS

  1. Muddle sage, berries, agave nectar and lime juice in a cocktail shaker
  2. Add ice and gin (k for p vodka)
  3. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass
  4. Garnish with a berry or sage leave
  5. Devour!