Sufganiyot, Jerusalem

December 8, 2015

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My husband was in Israel on Chanukah and didn’t eat any sufganiyot. The lines were too long and he didn’t have the cheshek. But, as you can see, they really looked amazing. There is this new thing (well, new to me, anyway) (correction: apparently, this a just-new-to-me-in-the boonies-of-Chutz La’Aretz thing) of putting the filling into a plastic pipette, which you squirt into the doughnut yourself before eating it. Is this to prevent sogginess? Is it just a trendy thing? Does anyone know?

 

 

Review: Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes

November 30, 2015

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Disclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Every Day Secret Restaurant Recipes. Opinions expressed are my own.

For those of you who loved Secret Restaurant Recipes, there is good news: Artscroll has just released Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes. It is an even bigger, wider ranging cookbook than its predecessor, jam packed with lots more recipes from a much larger number of restaurants. The new book repeats the original’s successful concept of dishes from popular kosher restaurants with a side order of chef tricks and tips.

While the first book had lots of special occasion recipes, the twist of the new book is that the recipes are more down-to-earth. The authors, Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek said their readers asked for “more casual recipes that work for everyday meals (or easier recipes that can also work for special occasions!).”

There is plenty here for home cooks looking to try a new technique or trend. Authentic smokehouse BBQ is an important trend, the authors say, and they explain how to home-smoke using a regular grill. A pizza recipe uses the interesting technique of par-baking the crust before adding the toppings, which is a great do-ahead trick.

If you are thinking ahead to Chanukah, there are quite a few recipes here that call for deep-frying and that would work for a party: Avocado Egg Rolls, Kani Poppers, Champignon Crispy Rolls, Broccoli Nuggets, Buffalo Cauliflower, Tater Poppers and Churros with Strawberry-Ginger Coulis (a perfect Chanukah dessert). If you like to make rugelach for Chanukah, there is a recipe for Chocolate Rugelach from Zak the Baker.

Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes makes for great armchair travel, with fascinating descriptions of kosher restaurants across the United States, Israel and beyond. The book covers an impressive 100 restaurants from 11 countries, spanning 5 continents. And the range of places covered is broad, too, encompassing high-end restaurants, cafes, pizzerias, fish grills, falafel spots, sushi bars, burger bars, delis, sandwich shops, BBQ joints, steakhouses, bakeries and gourmet take-out places.

I worked my way through 22 of the approximately 104 recipes in the book. The soups and salads were all excellent (especially the Harvest Salad from Pantry in Toronto) and the Par-Baked Pizza (from Brooklyn Pizza in Uruguay) worked brilliantly. The Dilled Salmon with zucchini and bell peppers (from Mocha Bleu in Teaneck) was delicious, super easy and had the added benefit of being a main dish and side dish all-in-one. The Gong Bao Chicken (from the Chabad restaurant Dini’s in Beijing) worked out really well made with tofu instead of chicken. The Peanut Butter Sundaes (molten chocolate cakes topped with ice cream and peanut butter sauce, from Glatt-A-La-Carte) were easy enough to make on a weeknight and a delicious twist on the usual lava cake.

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Black Eyed Peas, Tomato, Spinach and Quinoa Salad

September 17, 2015

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This is another way to combine leeks, spinach and black eyed peas. This delicious salad is worth serving year round–not just on Rosh HaShana.

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Shredded Beet Salad with Carrots and Apples

September 17, 2015

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I had roasted a large (14 oz.) beet and had no idea what to do with it. I found a recipe on Saveur that called for combining shredded raw beets, carrots and apples. I shredded the cooked beet with a large carrot and two apples. I seasoned the salad very simply, with a little Montreal Steak Seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic and some other spices). The original recipe called for garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and orange juice.

The beet salad works well as an accompaniment to gefilte fish.

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Spiced Apple Cider Carrot Tzimmes

September 17, 2015

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This year, I made tzimmes by simmering carrots with apple cider, spiced with cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. As it bubbled away on the stove, the tzimmes filled the air with the intoxicating aroma of mulled cider. Read the rest of this entry »

Leeks, Spinach, Tomatoes & Beans

September 11, 2015

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If you like to serve leeks, spinach and black-eyed peas on Rosh HaShana, here is an easy recipe that combines all three.

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Something Sweet: Cookbook Review

September 5, 2015

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Disclosure: Artscroll provided me with a review copy of Something Sweet. Opinions expressed are my own.

Four years ago, Miriam Pascal started her kosher blog Overtime Cook as a creative outlet. What started out as a lark ended up changing Pacal’s life, leading her to a burgeoning career as food writer and photographer. Something Sweet is her first cookbook.

Flipping through this beautiful cookbook, it is easy to see how Pascal has won the loyalty of her many readers, both at Overtime Cook and through her column for Whisk (Ami Magazine). She understands that home bakers want recipes that are simple to prepare, but with a bit of “wow” factor.

Almost all the recipes in the book look easy to make. Some are classic recipes–like chocolate chip cookies–that Pascal has adapted to work with oil instead of margarine or butter. Many others put a modern spin on old favorites, such as the Blueberry Muffin Cookies or the Pumpkin Crumb Cake. Quite a few have a playfulness that should particularly appeal to kids, like the Fruity Pebbles Cookies, the Confetti Cheesecake Cupcakes, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake or the Cookies ‘n Cream Stuffed Waffles.

This mix of basic and more creative recipes makes the cookbook useful for novices and seasoned bakers alike. Even if you have many dessert cookbooks, Something Sweet will give you something new to make. On the other hand, if you are just starting out in the kitchen, you will appreciate that Pascal has included all the dessert staples: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, three recipes for chocolate cake (one for cupcakes, one for layer cake and one for bundt cake), an all-purpose vanilla cake, a few different flavors of mousse, two sorbets, chocolate truffles and barks, pie dough, tart dough, roll-out vanilla sugar cookies, cookie icing, several recipes for cake frosting and glazes and even three sauces for plating desserts.

With this cookbook in hand, you should be prepared to face almost any dessert challenge, whether it is a simple cake for Shabbos, a plated dessert for sheva brachos or even a dessert table for a simcha. The book helpfully lists which recipes are appropriate for various occasions and gives detailed advice about freezing desserts, plating individual servings and setting up a dessert table.

Pascal includes a few whole-grain/low-sugar desserts, and she replaces margarine wherever possible with oil, but this not the sort of whole-foods cookbook that replaces dairy ingredients with cashew cream, silken tofu or coconut milk. There are quite a few recipes that require (to be pareve) margarine, pareve whip, soy sour cream or soy cream cheese.

In general, Pascal is not afraid to use convenience foods to make recipes easier. For example, the lemon and strawberry mousses get their fruity flavor from store-bought pie filling that is folded into a mix of whipped cream and cream cheese. There is also a Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie that is basically pareve ice cream mixed with pumpkin puree and some flavorings, spread in a store-bought graham cracker crust.

The Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie is only one of several recipes in the book that are perfect for this time of year. Here are others: Healthy Apple Spice Muffins, Chocolate Chunk Honey Cookies, Honey Sour Cream Bundt Cake, Pomegranate Cupcakes, Pumpkin Crumb Cake, Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies, Gingerbread Biscotti, Caramel Apple Bundt Cake and Braided Apple Pie.

I made the Pumpkin Crumb Cake and can highly recommend it. The subtle flavor of pumpkin melds perfectly with the cinnamon-ey, crumb-topped, velvet-textured goodness of classic crumb cake. And both the cake and crumb topping are made with oil instead of margarine. I wanted to make individual portions, so I divided the batter between 13 tulip muffin cups.  These muffin cups are extra deep, so there is more room for batter and crumb topping. Even so, I was afraid that the very generous amount of crumb topping would spill over as the batter rose in the oven, so I only used half of the crumb mixture. It turns out, I could have used more, but the mini crumb cakes were still delicious with the lesser amount of crumbs. Read the rest of this entry »

Frozen Chocolate Mousse

July 20, 2015

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Many years ago, I had a recipe for pareve ice cream that was perfect, except for one thing: it called for raw eggs. I revised the recipe a while back by heating the eggs with sugar until they reached a safe temperature. But, that was kind of a pain to do.

Now, I have veganized that recipe, replacing the eggs with something that has recently been dubbed aquafaba, a neologism for the liquid left over from cooking beans. It seems that this liquid can be whipped into something very much like meringue. It can be turned into meringue cookies, topping for lemon meringue pie, marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, Italian meringue buttercream and more . . .

In the last several months, there has been a flurry of experimentation with this in the vegan community. It seems to have started with Jöel Roessel, who discovered that the liquid from cooked chickpeas could be whipped into meringue and then posted about it on his blog, Revolution Vegetale. It really took off, though, when Goose Wohlt shared his experimentation with this technique via Facebook (full story here and here and here). There is much more information on this Facebook page.

Theoretically, all you need to do for aquafaba mousse is whip the liquid from a can of chickpeas until it forms a dense white foam and then fold into the foam some melted chocolate (3.5 ounces). I think that the mousse has better texture when sugar is whipped into the aquafaba foam. The added sugar makes for a dense, stable meringue instead of a delicate foam. To balance the added sugar, I add in some cocoa powder and oil.

I have tried this mousse various ways. I am giving you two versions I especially liked. The first version has more sugar/cocoa/oil. The meringue is especially stable, but the resulting mousse is very light and delicate instead of dense and firm. If you like a denser, firmer mousse, try the second version, which adds in more chocolate and reduces the cocoa/sugar/oil.

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Raw Brownie Truffles

July 16, 2015

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These remind me of rum balls–intense chocolate-ey nuggets with a slight chewiness to them.  Actually, they are really more or less a chocolate-covered bite-sized Lara Bar, but with a lighter, brownie-esque texture. I keep these in the fridge or the freezer. Excellent as a quick pick-me-up snack, but pretty enough to serve at a party as a fancy candy.

I don’t remember exactly where I got the basic proportions for this recipe (I made this before Pesach and wrote everything down on a scrap of paper), but I remember looking at a recipe for raw date brownies by Chana Schottenstein on Joy of Kosher, (which is very similar to this recipe on Minimalist Baker) and that might have been my starting point.

I ended up making this three times, finally changing the nut I used, in order to get the right texture.

My first two batches of this were made with pecans. Only pecans. The first time I made it, I had the problem of the mixture becoming oiley when I tried to shape it into balls. At first, I thought this was a problem of how I mixed everything together:  perhaps the nuts were getting overheated and releasing oil as they were processed with everything else in the food processor? The second time, the mixture was okay as long as I handled it very gently.

Then I realized that the problem might be the pecans, so I researched the oil content of different nuts. Turns out that pecans are especially high in oil content, and almonds are much lower. Almonds are about 55 percent oil and pecans are 70 percent oil. A third batch of raw brownie made with almonds instead of pecans was lighter in texture and taste, more like a brownie than chewy fudge.

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African Vegetable Stew

July 14, 2015

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Originally called “Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew,” this recipe is really more about the vegetables than the peanuts. The flavor of peanuts is actually pretty subtle. There is so much else going on: chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and lots of spice.

I know . . . the right name is African Peanut Stew . . . and the concept is based on a real West African dish (Maafe or Domodah).

This comes from a cookbook that my sister-in-law has been steadily working her way through: The Oh She Glows Cookbook by blogger Angela Liddon. Everything my sister-in-law has made from this book has been fantastic, and she has made a lot of the recipes from the book. My sister-in-law makes this stew for company and it has become her most requested recipe.

Given the above, you would think I would just faithfully follow the recipe instead of changing it around. But, I changed it just a little bit. Just a little.

I added eggplant, increased the amount of spinach and reduced the amount of broth. Plus, I replaced the jalapeno pepper with a poblano pepper.

You can use my changes, or follow the recipe as originally written, but do try it. The combination of peanut butter and vegetables sounds improbable, but the end result is fantastic.

 

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