Archive for December, 2014

Easy Latkes

December 21, 2014


Okay, so, like the cookies previously posted, these are really easier latkes. Easy latkes are the kind someone else makes. As long as you are doing more than just reheating, latkes are never really easy. But, this recipe comes close.

Here is the short-cut: refrigerated hash brown potatoes, which are cooked and shredded potatoes. To make the latke batter, just add eggs, flour, salt and pepper. The potatoes won’t change color because they are pre-cooked (and also treated with preservatives), so you don’t have to worry about your latkes turning grey-ish.

You can oven-fry them (that is really easy), but truthfully, they taste best fried.

I got the idea from Rachael Ray a few years ago, but never got around to trying it until this year.

Here is another thing on my to-try list: these oven baked latkes with add-ins like broccoli-cheddar, sweet potato-scallion, lemon-herb, and smoked paprika-red bell pepper. You will note that the recipe calls them mini-hash browns, but I say laktes.


Chag Sameach! (Easy Chanukah Cookies)

December 21, 2014


“We are lucky to be living in an age where we have products that our grandparents never even dreamed of, probably because they had priorities . . . So nowadays you can buy a package of cookie cutters that comes with a menorah shape, a dreidel shape, a Magen David, a shield, and a Maccabee. At least  we think it’s a Maccabee. We’re not sure what the Maccabees looked like, but they probably looked like gingerbread men.” –“Chanukah Gelt,” Mordechai Schmutter, Inyan Magazine, Hamodia, December 17, 2014.

Yes, the Maccabees in the Chanukah cookie cutter set are basically just gingerbread men–that is until you decorate them. My daughter added tzitzit and kippot, which at least makes them obviously Jewish gingerbread men.

Easy is probably not the right word for these cookies. You still have to make a dough, roll it out, cut out shapes, bake the cookies and then decorate them.

I really mean easier Chanukah cookies. The dough is oil-based, which means you can just stir everything together instead of getting out the mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. That is easier.

The hard way to decorate cookies is with lots of different colors of royal icing in lots of different piping bags. The easier way is dipping the cookies in icing, letting the icing dry and then drawing on details with food coloring markers.

So, easier, not easy, but still . . .


Interview with the Authors of Secret Restaurant Recipes (plus recipe for Eggplant Tofu)

December 2, 2014

Secret Restaurant Recipes Cover - HI RES.jpgDisclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes and gave me access to the authors for an interview. Opinions expressed are my own.

The recently released Secret Restaurant Recipes is an especially attractive cookbook: large 9”x9” format, nicely designed layout and lots of photos of beautifully plated food. Add to this the intriguing theme of recipes “from the World’s Top Kosher Restaurants,” and you have my full attention.

Authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek spent a year getting recipes from popular kosher restaurants and then testing them and adapting them for the home cook. In the book, they reveal that “not everyone believed that we’d be able to complete a book like this, and our publisher agreed that if we could, it would be a great accomplishment.”

I asked Victoria and Leah how the challenge of creating this cookbook compared to their work on their earlier cookbooks. Leah explained that the “most difficult part was getting the chefs to give over the recipes. When we wrote our own cookbooks, we could easily go into the kitchen and create a dish. Here, we had to wait to get each recipe. Once it finally came in, we had to test it. If it didn’t test well, we’d have to get back in touch with the chef to perfect it. We couldn’t just make changes on our own, because it had to be authentic.” “Believe it or not,” added Victoria, “tracking down and testing other people’s recipes is way, way more time-consuming that simply writing our own in our kitchens.”