Corn and Poblano Lasagne

My father had a standard response to a certain type of question, and that response was “only the best.”  That’s a tall order, and of course the idea of what’s best is very subjective.  The statement taught me not to settle for mediocrity.   At work I meet with families and often tell them to manage their expectations when it comes to their mentors, not because of the quality of the volunteers, but because I don’t want anyone disappointed.  Still even as I utter those words, I know I am not being true to myself or my father’s words.

When my father first arrived in NYC, he worked as a tailor for Davidow Suits. a women’s suit company whose ads I remember seeing in Vogue Magazine when I was a teen.  After coming home from a long day he would have dinner and head to night school to learn English.  Years later he decided to follow his passion and become a Stock Broker, not an easy thing for a man in his 40s who had to pass the grueling exam in English, by then his fourth language.  He studied night after night and when he passed away I found all the exams, almost perfect scores on each one.  It didn’t surprise me.

Shavuot is  holiday about relationships.  It is also the one holiday where dairy reigns.  One of my favorite cooking shows is called  “The Best Thing I Ever Made.”  The program features various chefs who talk about that one dish that they make at home for their loved ones and closest friends, the people who you want to serve your best.  Last week a female Mexican chef featured a lasagna that she makes with a Mexican twist.  The best of two great culinary worlds come together in perfect harmony.

May your relationships, your holiday, and your food come from the desire for it to be the best, even if it isn’t always achievable.  Chag Saneach.

 

 

 

Corn and Poblano Lasagna adapted from Marcela Valladolid

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 Poblano chiles, charred, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips

2 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

Twelve no-boil lasagna sheets

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add two cloves of minced garlic and the corn and sauté for 5 minutes.  Stir in the cream.  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool, and purée until smooth.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic clove along with the Poblano and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread about one-quarter of the corn mixture over the bottom of an 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Spread 1/4 of the vegetable mixture and 1/4 of the cheese over the pasta.  Repeat the layering three more times. Cover with foil.

Bake covered for about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and turn up the oven temperature to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Serves 6-8

Enjoy,

Irene

Kasha Stuffed Peppers

One of the things I enjoy is seeing how recipes change after arriving on foreign shores, much like the people who carry those family treasures with them.  Several weeks ago our friends Susan and Isaac stopped by on a Saturday afternoon.  Although our friends were born in Mexico, their parents were immigrants who hailed from Hungary and Poland.  Since I too am of Polish ancestry it is always amusing to see how some of the recipes that both Isaac and I grew up eating either were “Mexicanized” by his family or “Americanized” by mine.  Over the years I have learned that if Isaac comes over for cholent or jellied calves feet, no matter how well I season the dish, he is going to ask for hot sauce.  As I watch him pour this spicy red liquid over my creation I sit and wonder “what my mother would think if she saw him do that.”  I have adapted and even come to love some of the Schmidt family creations.  Gribenes (fried pieces of chicken fat) in a taco with guacamole or chicken soup that smells like mine but is REALLY spicy.

So, when Isaac and Susan came bearing gifts, leftovers from their Shabbat dinner, we knew we were in for a treat.  Susan uncovered the plate which held several chiles, cooked in the style of chile rellenos, something I truly love. Then the surprise.  We cut into the chile and instead of cheese, they were filled with kasha, the grain of my youth.  Plain, simple, hearty kasha stuffed into a pepper and fried.  How delicious.

So here is to old friends, old recipes and new twists.

Chiles stuffed with Kasha


8 fresh green chiles (Poblano or Anaheim (with stems intact, if possible).
Prepare Kasha cooked according to the directions on the box.  I add lots of fried onions.

Batter
3 eggs
3 tbs flour
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1/4 cup oil

Stuff each chile with prepared kasha and set aside.  Separate eggs and beat the whites until stiff.  Beat yolks and fold into whites, along with flour, salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet.  Dip stuffed chiles, one at a time, into egg batter to coat, then remove with a large spoon.  Carefully lower coated chiles into hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time.  Fry until golden brown on both sides.  Place in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy,

Irene

Here’s a link to a cookbook project that my friends are working on:
http://mexicanjewish.com