Archive for September, 2008

Pumpkin Kugel?

September 29, 2008

I made pumpkin pie and pumpkin challah for the holiday.

Here is something I have to try next. My friend is serving this on lunch on Yom Tov, so I will have to post again when I have tried it. It sounds like pumpkin cornbread or cake.

Pumpkin Kugel

two or three 9×13 8×8 pans, 350 degrees, 45 minutes
large can of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Tbl. baking powder
2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
drop of honey
5 eggs
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups soy milk
1 1/2 cups oil
cinnamon for sprinkling on top

Update 8/315:
Accidentally left out the oil and it was even better:

Pumpkin Cornbread Kugel
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (7.5 ounces)14.5 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 Tbl. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cornmeal (4 ounces)
generous drizzle of honey
1 1/4 cups flour (5.5 ounces)
3/4 cup soy milk

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add the cornmeal and baking powder and stir well. Drizzle over some honey and sprinkle over a pinch or two of cinnamon and mix that in. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with adding the soy milk in three parts.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle over a little cinnamon.

Bake the kugel at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the kugel is set on top.

It sounds like the Homesteader Cornbread on allrecipes:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Update: Made and loved by my sister, who used three square pans.

Mom’s Menu

September 26, 2008

Rosh Ha Shana Menu

baked gefilte fish and salmon


turkey roast

brisket and gravied potatoes

orange chicken

honey carrot coins

roasted cauliflower / asparagus / roasted winter vegetables

salad with crunch

corn salad (Gatherings)

plum cake

rum raisin balls

pareve cheesecake or tiramisu

Honey Cake and Whole Wheat Challah

September 26, 2008

I made honey cake from Wednesday Chef. Actually, the recipe is from Home Baking by Alford and Duguid.

The original recipe calls for separating the eggs, which is how I made it last time. This time, I left that step out and just beat the eggs well with the sugar before adding anything else. It was fine. I made a second batch this way with equal success. Another change from the original recipe: I used oil instead of melted butter. While the original recipe calls for a single 9×5 pan, I have always used two 8×4 pans, or four mini loaf pans.

Ukrainian Honey Cake

2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons corn or safflower oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup tepid coffee (warm water with 2 tsp. instant coffee powder)

Whip eggs with sugar until extremely light. The mixture should be very pale yellow and be about triple the volume of the unbeaten eggs. While still beating, drizzle in the honey. Then drizzle in the oil.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the lukewarm coffee (1/3 flour, 1/2 coffee, 1/3 flour, 1/2 coffee, 1/3 flour). Try to keep as much volume as possible. Pour the batter into two greased 8×4 loaf pans or four mini loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 50 minutes to one hour (about 40 minutes for the mini loaves, but check after a half hour).

I also scaled up my adaption of Peter Reinhart’s whole wheat challah to use 5 lbs. of flour. It was an ordeal to mix, but came out fine. It was a little dry, so I would add more liquid next time. In fact, instead of multiplying the ingredients by four, maybe it should be four and a half.

5 lbs. whole wheat flour
5 cups water (5 2/3 next time?)
3Tbl. 1 tsp. yeast (3 Tbl. 2 1/4 tsp. next time?)
8 eggs (9 next time?)
1 cup oil (1 Cup 2 Tbl. next time?)
1/2 cup honey or malt syrup (9 Tbl. next time?)
2Tbl. 2 tsp. kosher salt (3 Tbl. next time?)

Instead of using the expoxy method Reinhart espouses, I have found that I get even better results by just mixing everything together. I have had spectacular results by giving the dough a fold after one hour, another fold after another hour, and then letting it rise one more time again before shaping. I think the wetness of the dough and the extra rising time gives me extra light and moist results. Now, I just have to make it work with a large batch using 5 pounds of flour.

Update: I made the whole wheat challah with craisins and walnuts and pecans. Excellent.

Whole Wheat Challah (small batch)

18 ounces King Arthur whole wheat flour, either regular or white whole wheat (about 3 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (need about half that amount if using sea salt or table salt)
1 1/4 cups water
2 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbl. malt syrup or honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup walnuts or pecans or a mix of both
1 cup dried cranberries

Combine all the ingredients in a mixer bowl. The eggs and water combined should equal about 13 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbl. The mixture will form a shaggy mass. Using the dough hook on your mixer, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball. (Don’t worry that the dough seems too wet. It will be easier to handle after it has risen. Resist the temptation to add more flour.)

Lightly oil the bowl that the dough will rise in. Turn over the ball of dough in the bowl to coat lightly with oil. Cover the bowl and set it aside.

Let the dough rise about 1 hour and then knead briefly. If you are adding in the nuts and craisins, press out the dough into a rectangle and sprinkle the nuts and craisins over the dough. Roll up the dough. Let the dough rise another hour and then deflate it, folding it over. Let the dough rise another hour and then divide it into four mini-loaves, or make two medium loaves.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the loaves rise, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake the loaves for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.


September 24, 2008

In my quest for perfect granola, I have tried another recipe. I mostly followed the recipe from The Traveler’s Lunchbox. I used only 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar and added 1/4 cup of maple syrup. I also replaced the butter with oil and left out the mace. It was good, though not as ethereal as I had been expecting.

The cardamom gave the granola a very interesting flavor and made my house smell like a health food store. I”m not sure whether I would go with the cardamom flavor again. It is, perhaps, a bit too esoteric tasting.

I think I cooked it too long and let it get just a hint too brown. The recipe called for baking it about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. At an hour, I think it was done. I let it go another 15 minutes.

I also made a salad dressing with amaranth seeds. I bought the seeds and then found out that amaranth makes a very gummy pilaf. I knew there was a reason I hadn’t bought it before! Anyway, the bag says that you can make a dressing with it. That’s good, because amaranth is actually very healthy. I followed the instructions on the bag and made a dressing with the seeds, soy sauce, and oil. I also added in some balsamic vinegar. The recipe is supposed to sit overnight, but I tried it right away. It looked very interesting over a beefsteak tomato and pepper salad. Kind of like a uber-healthy poppy seed dressing. We will see what the dressing is like tomorrow.

Healthy Cookies & Pumpkin Cake

September 22, 2008

I made Pumpkin Cake from Nick Malgieri’s website.

The flavor and texture were nice and the cake was well received all around, but I would add more spice next time. I would add ginger and more cinnamon. Also, more golden raisins or craisins. It needs a little more tang, I think. Maybe some lemon juice. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of water, but maybe that should be orange juice.

I also made the healthy cookies from 101 Cookbooks. Not bad, actually. Kind of like a banana chocolate pecan coconut macaroon. I used ground pecans instead of ground almonds, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. I found that the cookies too forever to bake. Even longer than the longest time listed of 15 minutes. At 18 minutes they were just starting to brown. But I used Callebaut 811 bittersweet chocolate, and with the coconut oil, the banana, oatmeal, and ground pecans, it was a really good flavor combination.

Note (a few days later): the cookies are still yummy. They taste like macaroons. If I could eliminate the oatmeal, this would be interesting to make for Passover. Maybe increase the nuts and coconut . . . .

Baba Ganoush

September 16, 2008

I bought the eggplant from the farmers market with all the good intentions in the world. It was going to be part of a healthy dinner, cut up and lovingly sauteed with other vegetables. But for days the eggplant just languished there, staring back accusingly whenever I went to open the vegetable bin.

It would have been a crime to throw it out, so I finally just put in on a toaster oven tray and cooked it on high heat until it turned black and collapsed. I cut it open and scooped out the flesh. A little tahina sauce, a little lemon juice, a pinch of cumin, a bit of smoked paprika and salt, and I had Baba Ganoush.

I know, I know, Baba Ganoush calls for garlic. Well, that is the one thing I dislike about most Baba Ganoush, the overpowering hit of garlic. The tahina sauce that I had was leftover from take-out and it was already plenty garlic-ey. Mostly, I like Baba Ganoush to taste smoky and creamy.

Here is the really funny thing. Just a few days later I get a call with a story about how someone had an eggplant going south and threw half of it it in the toaster oven and mashed it up with garlic and lemon and olive oil. So Laura, he asks, how do I make something like Baba Ganoush with the other half? And can I leave out the tahina? And how do I get that smoky taste?

Well, I’m not sure that it is Baba Ganoush without the tahina, but there are other traditional eggplant salads that are basically eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. According to Claudia Roden (The Book of Jewish Food), the basic eggplant salad, popular all over the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean is grilled eggplant mashed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. She says the Syrian variation adds garlic and mint; the Moroccan version adds cumin and cayenne, the Israeli version adds chopped parsley, tomato, pepper, scallions, and chopped chili pepper; and Bukharan Jews add just garlic and salt.

There are many, many variations on this salad. Ghillie Basan’s book on Turkish cooking has an interesting version called Nazuktan, which is grilled eggplant, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, yogurt, chopped almonds, and mint.

The common denominator is grilled eggplant. The eggplant should ideally be roasted oven an open flame, but can also be broiled or cooked in a very hot oven. As the skin burns, it imparts a smokey flavor to the whole vegetable. At least that is the idea.

Baba Ganoush

1 eggplant, roasted at 425 degrees until black, softened, and oozing juice (about 45 minutes)
2 Tbl. tahina
1 clove minced garlic
lemon juice, to taste
pinch smoked paprika, optional
salt, pepper
pinch cumin

Mash eggplant pulp (remove skin) with rest of ingredients.

Here is another idea from Basan’s Classic Turkish Cooking: Anadolu Patlican.  Eggplants are baked in a hot oven for 15 minutes and then halved. The eggplant halves are returned to the oven, cut sides facing up, to bake another 20-25 minutes, or until the flesh is nicely softened. The eggplant tops are cut and mushed down to form a hollow, which is filled with a garlic-lemon-mint-yogurt mixture. Each person eats an eggplant half, scooping up the warm flesh with the icy-cold seasoned yogurt.

Seitan Tikki Masala

September 15, 2008

Chicken Tikki Masala is apparently a much beloved menu item in Indian restaurants, especially in Great Britain where it is believed to have been invented sometime in the second half of the 20th century. For this dish, Chicken is marinated with spices and yogurt, baked in a tandoor oven, and then served in a creamy tomato sauce. I think garlic naan is common go-with.

Allrecipes and recipezaar have a recipe from the Chicago Tribune that is massively popular. Vivacious Vegan has a seitan spin on this that I used along with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

This was a huge hit. I served this over rice and the Big Guy had three servings. Between the two of us we really did lick our plates clean. There was not a bit left. The Little Guy just had the rice.

I better record what I did before I forget.

Seitan Tikki Masala

Saute 1 chopped onion in enough olive oil to generously cover pan.
When onion is translucent, add 1 seeded and minced Serrano pepper.
Add 2 minced cloves garlic (actually I had no garlic, but it would be nice to add next time).
Add 1-2 tsp. minced ginger (I used a take-out container of pickled ginger leftover from sushi).
When the onion starts to turn golden, add a bit of salt, pepper,
1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, and 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala.
Add 8 ounces well drained seitan, cut in 1″ pieces, and saute until starting to brown.
Mix in 2 tbl. to 1/4 cup ketchup or tomato paste and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, and cook down juices.
Add 1/2 cup soy milk or cream (or coconut milk?)and cook down more.
I also added string beans, about 2 cups, and cooked them until tender.

fascinating theory, sad reality

September 14, 2008

Supposedly you can make a vegan approximation of processed cheese spread by mixing pureed beans, nutritional yeast, tahina or cashew nut butter, lemon juice, paprika, and mustard.

Ummmm, not really. For one, it tastes healthy instead of synthetic. That can’t be right.

To be fair, I didn’t really follow the recipe exactly. All the same, I had to wash the wholesome taste out of my mouth with some cheese crackers. The crackers didn’t taste like real cheese either, actually, but were yummy in a not-so-healthy trans-fat kind of way.

I suppose this is penance for dessert today of chocolate nemesis mousse cake, chocolate ganache tart in a chocolate crust, chocolate crumb cake, and cinnamon crumb cake. Now that was tasty. And they were made with top quality high cocoa content Belgian chocolate and cocoa powder, which is really, really good for you.

I was very surprised that the kids went mostly for the mousse cake instead of the regular chocolate cake. I wonder why? The lesson to be learned is that you pretty much can never serve too much chocolate, and that everyone loves chocolate nemesis.

sort of quesadillas

September 12, 2008

I was busy making two cakes (chocolate, cinnamon chip), so I followed my own advice and made quesadillas for dinner. Black bean, corn, and smoked cheese. With salsa. The Big Guy loved it.

Carefully Planning Spontaneous Meals

September 11, 2008

We all want to be able to reach into the fridge, grab a few things, and throw together a quick, tasty, healthy supper. Too often, there seems to be just a lot of random stuff in there. Some yellowed, wilted celery, a few slices of bread, some blueberry yogurt, eggs . . . Where is the meal?

Here is the thing: you need to plan ahead for the spur-of-the-moment feast. First, you need to keep your fridge stocked with the building blocks for tasty dishes. Second, you must have a set of game plans, solid strategies for turning your basic ingredients into something you actually want to eat.

Let’s say you are vegetarian and like Mexican food. You need a repertoire of simple dishes and a shopping list of ingredients to keep on hand.

  • flour tortillas
  • cheese
  • canned beans, refried beans
  • canned tomatoes
  • limes
  • salsa
  • onions
  • peppers
  • vacuum-packed guacamole
  • tempeh, tofu, seitan, vege-strips
  • cumin, chili powder
  • tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • canned corn
  • rice, preferably pre-cooked to save time
  1. Tortillas + cheese = quesadillas
  2. Tortillas + cheese + refried beans + guacamole + salsa = burritos
  3. Tortillas + sauteed onions and bell peppers + cumin + lime + chili powder + vege-strips (or tofu, tempeh, or seitan) = fajitas
  4. Canned beans + canned tomatoes + cumin + chili powder + cooked rice = chili and rice

Another way to think about it is in terms of types of meals: soup and sandwich, main-dish salad, etc.

Main-dish salads are incredibly easy. Just think about what a salad bar stocks:

  • chickpeas
  • hard-boiled eggs (or some other kind of cooked protein)
  • olives
  • nuts
  • canned beets
  • feta cheese (or other cheese)
  • roasted red peppers
  • lettuce (of course)

This is what I have discovered: if you have healthy food in the fridge that can be quickly turned into a meal, you are less likely to graze on junk. Most of the time, junk is what we eat when we don’t have better options. Don’t let this happen to you. Be prepared and you will always be inspired to make nutritious meals.