Danielle Renov is the woman we need today. She has written a beautiful cookbook meant to bring everyone to the table.
Her work can also lure would-be cooks to the kitchen with her common-sense advice delivered in a gentle but no-nonsense way.
No wonder she is a social media sensation with a blog peaslovencarrots.com, Instagram feed @peaslovencarrots and YouTube channel at peaslovencarrots. They offer recipes, cooking tutorials, lifestyle tips and inspirational ideas.
The name “Peas, Love & Carrots” is no mistake. She’s built a brand to inspire a lifestyle and recipes that capture tradition without being a slave to it. Cooks, both Kosher and non-Kosher, can appreciate her debut book published by ArtScroll Mesorah Publications Ltd., 2020, $39.99.
She brings serious energy to the game.
When I spoke to her, it was just past 11 p.m. in Jerusalem. That’s home for the New York-born Danielle and husband Eli, parents of seven with another on the way.
She said she had been on Zoom before calling me.
I wanted her to share advice for those who will be cooking for the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days and may not have done that before. This year of the pandemic has meant families can’t easily gather or travel, and that holiday meal prepared by a mother or grandmother won’t be happening.
“The key is to keep it simple,” said Renov. “Pick one, two or three dishes you want to make. And for the rest of the food, don’t get too worked up.”
Buy greens and dress them simply. Buy microwaveable rice.
“Make one or two showstoppers,” she repeated.
How do you choose what to make?
Look for dishes that hold memories for you, “delicious food memories,“ she said.
“If you associate the holiday with a really beautiful brisket, find the recipe that does that. Update your mother or grandmother’s recipe, maybe, with some Middle-Eastern spices.”
“Tap into family recipes as a starting-off point.”
What really matters most for Rosh Hashanah, she added, is starting the new year off right, setting a really nice tone.
“We’ve all had an overwhelming stressful year, right?” she said. “Start the new year in a relaxed, calm and peaceful way.
“Don’t get worked up about the food,” she said.
“So you cooked your best and got a dry brisket, go easy on yourself,” Renov said. “Just have wine on your table,” she said with a laugh.
She shared two recipes from the book, one for a modern brisket and the other for a chicken dish.
The name of that dish, Apples & Honey Mustard Chicken, was inspired by her grandmother who watched “Wheel of Fortune” every night.
Renov thought it would go in the before-and-after category. Fans of the show will understand.
Fans of food will note the flavors work very well together, the apple and the mustard, for a sweet and spicy balance, she said.
Beyond her holiday cooking advice, you need to know about Renov. She was born and raised in what she called a multicultural home on Long Island. Her mother had French Moroccan roots while her father was Ashkenazi, with Eastern European heritage. Her recipes reflect both cultures.
She moved to Jerusalem 13 years ago with her new husband. She had to learn a new way to cook by heading out to the market to gather fresh ingredients.
She learned to make lists and prep her ingredients in what she calls her small kitchen. She amassed a book of recipes that she began sharing on social media.
The book has 250-plus recipes and beautiful photos. Though the shared recipe are for meat, and she loves meat, there are plenty of vegan recipes, and gluten-free ones in the book. I can’t wait to try a bunch.
In the book, Renov charms with “How to Follow a Recipe.” Why hasn’t anyone started a book this way before? A half cup of strawberries, chopped, is different from a half cup of chopped strawberries. That’s why we pay attention when we read the recipes.
Her “86 Things“ is brilliant, too. I’ve always thought 1/2 a tablespoon is not a real measurement. Now I have her reinforcement.
So that might be a flip thing, but the rest of them are truly insightful. Anyone can become a better cook just by following 10 at a time.
And I can’t agree more about her making it a raisin-free book.
APPLES & HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN
For the honey mustard
1/2 cup honey (spray the measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring the honey; it will slide right out)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
For the chicken
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 green apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or 8-10 pieces of whatever you like)
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper, for seasoning the chicken
1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large Pyrex baking dish or 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the honey mustard; set aside.
Place sliced onions and 1/2 the sliced apples into the pan. Top with chicken pieces.
Sprinkle chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
Use a spoon to coat all the chicken pieces with the honey mustard.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the honey mustard till the chicken is fully coated.
Place remaining apple slices in the little nooks and crannies all around the chicken.
Spray the breadcrumbs with nonstick cooking spray.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Remove foil; continue baking until the top is crispy and the chicken is cooked to your taste.
“Peas, Love and Carrots,“ ArtScroll Mesorah Publications. Reproduced with permission.
POMEGRANATE BRAISED CHICKEN
Renov wrote, “It’s basically the grand slam meat for the high holidays. Although pomegranate is the star of this dish, it’s really the hard apple cider (which is alcoholic carbonated apple cider, not cider vinegar or apple juice) that’s the unsung hero, bringing just the right amount of slightly sweet acidity to balance out the tart pomegranate.”
1 (3-3½ pound) 2nd cut brisket
For the rub
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sumac
1 tablespoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the meat
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (11 ounce bottle hard apple cider
1/2 cup tomato sauce (not marinara)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (syrup)
2 cups beef stock (or 1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups hot water)
To garnish (optional)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
In a bowl, combine all rub ingredients.
Rinse brisket and pat dry very well.
Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the brisket.
(The spice rub makes more than you will probably need. Freeze the rest for another brisket.)
Place spiced brisket into a ziptop bag; refrigerate overnight.
(If you’re short on time, just let spiced meat come to room temp for 1 hour. Then continue with the recipe.)
Remove from the fridge; allow brisket to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pan over high heat.
Add oil and brisket.
Sear both sides of the meat for 4-5 minutes per side until nicely browned. Remove from Dutch oven; set aside.
To the same pot, add onions, salt, and pepper.
Cook for 4 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Add hard cider, using a wooden spoon to stir it in and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add remaining ingredients.
Bring mixture to a boil; return brisket to the Dutch oven.
If you used a pan, pour the sauce and onions over the brisket.
Cover the pot tightly. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from oven; turn brisket over. Return to oven.
At this point, cooking time will vary based on the size of your meat. I suggest giving it another 45 minutes, no matter the size, and after that checking it every 30 minutes until it is soft and tender.
Mine took 3 hours total for a 4 pound brisket.
Remove from the oven and allow brisket to cool completely in the sauce. (Taking the brisket out of the sauce while it is hot will result in a dry brisket.)
If you want to shred the brisket, wait 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven and, while it is still warm, use 2 forks to shred it in the pot, where it can stay in the liquid.
To slice brisket, allow it to cool completely, then remove from sauce and slice against the grain. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, optional.
Excerpted from “Peas, Love and Carrots,“ ArtScroll Mesorah Publications. Reproduced with permission.
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