Quick and easy meals make good impression

“How did you meet your husband?” I’m often asked. The truth is that we met at my best friend Karen’s engagement party. I spoke with him briefly, and was a bit disappointed that he didn’t ask for my phone number. In fact, he did get my number from Karen, but she left the next day for Israel, and didn’t want to tell me that she had given Joe my number, in the event he never called. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up.”

After a few months of movies, hikes and dinners out, Joe invited me to his place (now known as “the hovel”) for dinner. He proudly took a beautiful lasagna from the oven. What I remember is that it was very, very hot, had a lot of garlic, and how touched I was that Joe, a busy young doctor in training, took time out from his grueling residency program to prepare dinner for me.

I was impressed and began to take our relationship more seriously. Two years later we were married. That was the only time Joe cooked dinner for me, but it was all he needed to do to make him my beshert.

Few things show love more than feeding others. I’m focusing on cozy, comforting foods that are uncomplicated to prepare, but show love and appreciation nonetheless.

Vegan or Parve Garlic Mashed Potatoes | Serves 8

6 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 4-inch pieces
8 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbs. coarse sea salt
4 Tbs. unsalted margarine
1 cup soy milk
Place the potatoes and the garlic in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, add the salt, and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are very soft. Drain and purée the potatoes and garlic, using food mill or mash with a masher. Place the purée in a large sauce pan, and over very low heat, add the margarine and soymilk, and adjust the seasonings; stir until well combined. Reheat to serve.

Braised Citrus Chicken | Serves 8

4 Tbs. olive oil
2 small (3 lbs. each) chickens, cut into serving pieces
3 Tbs. flour
1 cup white table wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp. tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of an orange
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Dredge the chicken in the flour and brown in the skillet. Transfer the chicken to an oven-safe dish. Discard the fat from the skillet and add the wine, stock, onions, tomato paste, garlic and seasonings. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet, and pour braising liquid over the meat. Cover the casserole,and place in a preheated 375-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, until chicken is tender.
Remove the dish from the oven, pour off the braising liquid and remove the fat. Pour the degreased braising liquid into a saucepan, add the orange and lemon juice, bring to a boil, and reduce to 1 1/2 cups. Add the orange zest and parsley and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.

Apricot Soufflé | Serves 6

3/4 cup apricot purée (frozen apricots, thawed and pureed, work well)
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. orange liqueur
4 egg yolks
7 egg whites
4 Tbs. powdered sugar
In a bowl, combine the apricot purèe, sugar, liqueur, and egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, and fold the whisked whites into the apricot mixture, one-third at a time, until smooth. Gently pour the mixture into a 6-cup soufflé dish that has been lightly buttered or oiled.
When ready to serve, bake the soufflé in a preheated 475-degree oven for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 425 degrees for another 10 minutes or so, until the soufflé has risen and is “springy” to the touch. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.