Archive for February, 2014

Han Solo Cup and Chewie Wookie Cookie

February 27, 2014

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I was very amused by this t-shirt of Han Solo and Chewie as a Solo cup and cookie. So, I equipped a Solo cup with a cardboard Solo Blaster and made some Wookie Cookies. Actually, the cookies are just my favorite Pesach cookies with some white and dark chocolate chips used to make eyes, a nose and some teeth.

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Hamantaschen Apple Galette with Super Easy Crust

February 24, 2014

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Pie crusts don’t have to be hard. This galette features a super easy crust that you just stir together. You mix together juice and oil and then stir it into flour until it forms into a ball of dough. The dough doesn’t have to be refrigerated before rolling out and it doesn’t have to be gently handled, either. If you can roll out hamantaschen dough, you can make this crust.

The texture is not flaky, but meltingly tender. Using apple juice and lemon juice in the dough gives the crust a flavor that matches the filling.

The resulting galette is especially delectable warm. Shaped into a hamantaschen it makes a nice dessert for a Purim seudah. You could also shape individual tarts for dessert. There is enough dough for two 9″ tarts or eight 4″ tarts.

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Rose Cookies for Princess Leia

February 20, 2014

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I made Darth Vader hamantaschen, so I thought I would also make cookies that referenced Princess Leia. Actually, these cookies just allude to her famous cinnamon bun hairdo.

You don’t have to flavor these with cinnamon and raisin (although they are delicious that way, too). Basically, this is a rich sour cream rugelach-type pastry dough that is rolled up with meringue. The meringue can be vanilla or chocolate. Optional add ins include raisins, nuts and chopped chocolate.

The inspiration for these cookies was a cryptic e-mail from my sister. She sent a picture of these cookies with no description or comment. When prompted for an explanation, she offered only this: (1) Levana made them; (2) they are filled with meringue mixed with chocolate pudding mix; (3) they are called “foam cookies” in Israel; and (4) a recipe would eventually be forthcoming.

I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for the recipe because it is my understanding that Levana is a “little bit of this and that” and “throw it in a bowl”  kind of cook (“shitarayn”, in Yiddish). So, I did a little bit of research and found that even though Levana calls these Foam Cookies (“Oogiyot Ketzef” in Hebrew?), they are also known as Rose Cookies. In Israel, that would be “Oogiyot Shoshanim.” The recipe comes originally from Eastern Europe and they are also known as Russian Rose Cookies (also see this) or Ukrainian Rose Cookies (Pechivo Troyandiy). I even found a version called Finnish Cookies (Финские Булочки).

(Brief digression: I think that yeast dough versions of this cookie, basically individually baked cinnamon buns or schnecken, are also called shoshanim or roses. Take a look for example at Zucker Bakery’s Chocolate Roses or Tatte Bakery’s Halvah Roses).

I went with the recipe from Pretty Baking in Israel, because that recipe had a filling that called for pudding mix. I didn’t like that filling so much (the problem, admittedly, might have been my KFP pudding mix), so I made the recipe again with a different filling. I also changed the dough a little bit, increasing the sugar to the amount suggested in a very similar recipe on Tastebook for Savta Tova’s Cookies.

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Banana Cake Smoothie

February 17, 2014

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Banana cake flavor in a rich, creamy drink.

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Angelina Ballerina Hamantaschen

February 16, 2014

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My daughter complained that I wasn’t making any girly hamantaschen.

To make Angelina Ballerina (or any other mouse), take the shaped but unbaked hamantaschen and pinch/flatten/shape two corners of the triangle so that they look like mouse ears. It helps if you pinch the hamantaschen completely closed so that there isn’t an opening in the center. Bake the Angelina hamantaschen and let them cool before decorating.

Spread cookie icing on top. Let it dry (I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough. The eyebrows and eyes would have come out better if I had let the icing completely dry). Use food markers to draw on eyes and eyebrows. You can either draw or pipe on the pink ribbon.

My decorating inspiration came from these heart shaped cookies.

Note: I used this hamantaschen dough, but made with 5 ounces of oil instead of margarine or shortening and with the sugar reduced to 3/4 cup.

Darth Vader Hamantaschen

February 14, 2014

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I noticed a while back that hamantaschen that are completely coated in chocolate look a little like Darth Vader’s helmet.  So I decided to try piping a Darth Vader design on top to complete the effect. Piping was kind of a pain. It would have been easier to use this cookie cutter.

(Almost) Just Like the Boxed Mix Rice Pilaf

February 12, 2014

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My kids love the boxed rice pilaf that is a mix of yellow rice and toasted orzo. For a long time, I tried to replicate it with a “from scratch” recipe and it just wasn’t quite the same.

What is in the rice mix that makes it so appealing, I wondered–is there the food equivalent of crack in there? I looked closely at the ingredients and noted that there is something called autolyzed yeast extract. That is the main ingredient in Marmite and Vegemite. It is high in glutamic acids and is analogous to MSG. Autolyzed yeast extract, then, is an umami flavor-enhancer. This is the ingredient that amps up the savory taste of the rice pilaf.

I don’t have any autolyzed yeast extract in my spice cabinet, but I can produce the remaining ingredients: parboiled rice, toasted orzo, dried onion, dried onion, salt and turmeric. Using parboiled rice is key to reproducing the distinctive texture of the pilaf, but, if you don’t care about that, you can use regular long grain rice. I found that Hawaij spice mix, which contains turmeric and other spices (black pepper, coriander, cardamon and cumin), is better than plain turmeric for this rice pilaf.

Slight digression: If you want to make your own Hawaijj, or just want to read an interesting article about Yemenite Jewish cuisine, take a look at this article from Gourmet Magazine. The article is from the website of food writer Adeena Sussman, which has other interesting articles and recipes.

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Tofu Teriyaki

February 3, 2014

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This started off as a fairly complicated recipe from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. The original recipe involved using half the teriyaki sauce for marinating tofu “steaks” and simmering the other half of the marinade with orange juice and sake to make a reduction sauce. The tofu steaks then get baked and served with the reduction over udon noodles with basil, snow peas, water chestnuts, wild mushrooms and a basil/red chile/scallion garnish.

I have a much simpler approach. I use the teriyaki sauce for marinating cubed tofu, which I then sear in a skillet. The leftover marinade is poured over the seared tofu in the skillet and reduced down and thickened with a little cornstarch. The tofu can be served over rice or noodles.

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Nutty Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse

February 2, 2014

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I spent a lot of time mulling over how to title this post.The recipe is for a decadent chocolate mousse that is dairy-free, egg-free and possibly refined sugar-free. My brother invented the basic recipe, and he calls it Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse. I am going with his name for this recipe, but this also a recipe for chocolate peanut butter mousse, chocolate fruit dip, chocolate spread, and even chocolate frosting. This recipe is just that versatile.

The mousse is soft when first made and can be used as a dip for fruit. When thoroughly chilled, it is thick enough to be used as a frosting or chocolate spread.

The original, basic recipe is simply this: walnuts, plant-based milk, dates and cocoa powder processed together to form a smooth, creamy mousse. The walnuts provide the Omega-3 oil referenced in the title, but you can easily use other nuts or even seeds. This recipe is particularly delicious made with peanut butter, but hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are also great choices.

It can be made with whole nuts and dates, pureed in a high powered blender. If you use a nut butter and silan (date syrup), it can be very easily stirred together, without any high powered equipment. You could also make your own nut butter ahead of time, so that it is ready for mixing up into mousse (take a look at Mollie Katzen’s instructions for making walnut butter using a food processor).

The flavor of the basic mousse is reminiscent of brownies studded with chopped walnuts. The walnut flavor recedes more into the background if you add the optional melted chocolate. If you use peanut butter, of course, the mousse tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and adding the optional melted chocolate does not mute the strong peanut flavor in the least.

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