Archive for the ‘beverage’ Category

Cookbook Review: Dairy Made Easy & “180 Cal (or Less!) Cheesecake” Ramekins

May 26, 2014


Disclosure: Artscroll provided me with a copy of this book to review. Opinions are my own.

Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek have released another book in their “made easy” series in time for Shavuoth. Like the earlier books in this series, Dairy Made Easy is a slim book, very attractively designed. The target audience for this book seems to be cooks who already have plenty of comprehensive, basic cookbooks and are looking to freshen up their dairy menus with recipes that are creative but not too much of a patchke.

The recipes in Dairy Made Easy are clearly explained and reasonably do-able for most cooks.  While most of them look fairly easy to make, not all of them are dead simple. Recipes that sound delicious but a little involved: Arancini (deep-fried cheese-stuffed rice balls), chocolate croissants, and cheese buns/babka.

This being a dairy cookbook, the recipes feature lots of butter, cream and cheese. Most don’t have over-the-top amounts, but some do. The Three Cheese Quiche has a pint of sour cream and almost two sticks of butter in the crust and over 2 1/2 lbs. of cheese in the filling. The Cajun Creamy Pasta, the Penne a la Vodka, the Pesto Cream Sauce and the Alfredo sauce all use about a pint of heavy cream.

The authors do include a “Make it Light” page that lists the lighter recipes in the book and provides tips for lightening up some of the richer recipes. A sidebar explains how to use Greek yogurt as a substitute for higher fat ingredients like cream cheese or sour cream. (Throughout the book, the authors suggest using a particular brand of Greek yogurt and another brand of hard cheese.) There is also a “Make it Pareve” page.

Another thing to bear in mind: the book emphasizes pasta and bread, not whole grains and legumes. The main dishes in this book are primarily divided between the chapters “Pizza,” “Pasta,” and “Soups, Salads & Sandwiches.”  There are ten pasta dishes, five pizza/calzone recipes and four sandwich recipes. Besides these bread or pasta main dishes, there is one fish recipe, one quiche recipe and one frittata recipe.

All that being said, the bottom line with any cookbook is whether or not the recipes are appealing and actually work. On this count, the authors definitely deliver. I have liked everything that I have made from this book and there are a number of other recipes I want to try. Here is what I have already made from this book:


Cold Brewed Coffee

May 23, 2014


I don’t know why it took me so long to try cold brewed coffee. It is easy to make, convenient to have on hand in the refrigerator and the taste is superior to regular brewed (less bitter). I started with a recipe from Dairy Made Easy (review of book to follow), but I then looked online for other recipes and tips on making this.

Here is the basic idea: mix coffee grounds with water, steep for 12 hours and then strain out the coffee grounds. It is kind of like sun tea.

The one thing that annoyed me about cold brewing was the mess of straining out the coffee from the water. I was taking out my coffee pot, putting a filter in it and then straining the coffee through that filter. It took more time than I would like and was messy.

Looking online, I saw that some people deal with this by using a nut milk bag to hold the grounds (kind of like a giant tea bag). You just pull out the bag with the grounds inside and discard the grounds. No filtering! You do have to clean the nut milk bag.

Here is my solution: fill a paper coffee filter with coffee grounds, staple the filter closed so that the grounds can’t escape and then brew. When the coffee is done steeping, just pull your homemade coffee pod out of the water and toss it.

I have played around a bit with how much coffee and water I use. I find that the most that the coffee filter can hold (and still be easy to staple closed) is between 6-8 tablespoons ( 1.5 to 2 ounces). I add 3 cups of water to this, but if you like your coffee stronger, you can add less (about 2 1/4 cups).


Cold Soups: Smoky Moroccan Red Pepper Soup and Israeli Salad Soup (June Kosher Connection Link-Up)

June 17, 2013


Here are two different cold soups: a smoky red pepper soup with Moroccan spices and a tangy yogurt soup with finely chopped cucumbers and tomatoes.


Vanilla Peach Soup with Cardamom Cream

July 6, 2010

Fresh farmers market peaches pureed with orange juice, sweetened with blueberry honey, flecked with fragrant vanilla seeds, topped with exotic cardamom cream . . .  Doesn’t that sound fabulous? That is what I thought when I saw this Cooking Light recipe by Jean Patterson and Danae Campbell (from August 2000, not on Cooking Light’s website).


Visinata and Honey Cake (Lekach and Branfen)

September 16, 2009

Well, the visinata (or cherry brandy or vishniak) is ready. Time to serve it with some honey cake . . .

Cherry Brandy Homebrew Underground Based Version

Cherry Brandy Homebrew Underground Based Version

Lanie S. Visinata

Lanie S. Visinata

As you can see, the recipe made by steeping pitted cherries with sugar and vodka is a darker red than the Lanie S. visinata version.

Prior posts:

Post 1: Making Visinata

Post 2: Fermentation results, July through September

Vishniak Uppdate

July 26, 2009


It is nearly two weeks since I first started brewing homemade vishniak. Just to recap, one container has a mixture of pitted cherries, sugar, and vodka. The other container, the Lanie S. recipe, has unpitted cherries and sugar. Lanie S. instructed me to let the mixture ferment for two weeks before adding the vodka. (Note: I added about 1 2/3 cups vodka)

The mixture of cherries and sugar is certainly fermenting. The sugar dissolved and the cherries gave up liquid. As you can see from the above picture, there is about an inch of cherry colored liquid beneath the floating cherries. The liquid is slightly bubbling, like a barely carbonated beverage. There is an overpowering alcoholic aroma coming from the mixture. (more…)

Homemade Sour Cherry Brandy (Visinata or Vishniak)

July 19, 2009


Wikipedia: Vişinată is a Romanian alcoholic beverage made from sour cherries, traditionally homemade.

UrsaBear on Chowhound:  “wishniak or vishniac” is  “the very soul of Eastern European Jewry, my friend, or at the very least its quintessence.”

Warning: Long involved story follows. Bottom line:  I am brewing my own cherry brandy or vishniak (or vishniac or wishniak, or visinata). I am making two batches, one from an online recipe, and one from my mother’s friend who is from Romania. Lanie S. tells me that the batch should be ready by Rosh HaShana and I should serve it with honey cake.

(update: done!)

For Part 2, see here for the fermentation results for July through September
For Part 3, see here for what the finished visinata looks like, both the Lanie S. version and the Homebrew Underground version