Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

Homemade Crescent Rolls (dairy free)

January 6, 2015

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I recently served these crescent rolls at a special birthday party. Each person had on their salad plate a crescent roll and a salad inside an edible salad bowl.

Crescent rolls are, all at once, elegant and cozily homey. They look difficult to make, but are actually pretty easy to do. If you want to make them ahead of time, they freeze beautifully.

Crescent rolls are usually made with butter, but I keep my rolls dairy-free by using oil. You can use a neutral tasting oil (like safflower oil) or an extra-virgin olive oil.

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Zatilas (Kurdish Grilled Stuffed Flat Breads)

August 18, 2014

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Have you ever heard of zatila? It is a grilled stuffed flatbread that is also known as kadeh (Take a look at this post and also this post on the Jewish Food Experience; also look in the comments to this post by Sarah Melamed and also look at this other post by her as well). It is easy to make, delicious and lends itself to endless variations. Even better, leftovers can be packed for lunch.

Two years ago, Shopmiami49 posted a recipe from her mother-in-law for “these Kurdish ‘pastries’” on Imamother.com. The recipe has remained popular on that site, with users continuing to post new ideas for fillings.

The idea is this: make a simple bread dough, roll it out thin, fill it with whatever you like, fold it and seal it like a calzone and then grill it on both sides in a hot skillet until the bread is cooked and the filling is heated through. It is best straight from the pan, but it is also good reheated. At least one Imamother poster says zatilas are “great to take to work for lunch the next day.”

The recipe reminds me of gozleme, which is a stuffed Turkish flatbread. According to Ghillie Basan, author of Classic Turkish Cookery, gozleme can be made by (1) cooking the dough as a flatbread and then folding the bread around the filling, or (2) by folding the dough around the filling and then cooking it. Gozleme are filled with (1) spinach and cheese, (2) potato and cheese, (3) roasted eggplant and cheese, or (4) ground beef. I think that these fillings would work with zatilas, too.

Imamother posters have, in fact, tried similar fillings with their zatilas. Most fillings are some variation on (1) sauce and cheese, (2) vegetables and cheese or (3) a hard cheese combined with a soft cheese like feta, cream cheese, sour cream or cottage cheese with or without vegetables. Other options: tuna melt zatilas or (for a fleishig version) ground beef cooked in tomato sauce.

Bonus: After making the Imamother.com recipe for zatila, I found a recipe by Leah Hadad on the Jewish Food Experience.  She got the recipe, fascinatingly enough, from Ariel Sabar, the author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Past.  Sabar’s father was from Zakho, an ancient Jewish Kurdish town in Northern Iraq. Sabar sent Hadad his grandmother’s recipe for kadeh.

The recipe makes a similar amount of dough to the imamother.com recipe and, similarly,  gets divided into 16 pieces. Each piece is rolled into a 5″ circle and is filled with a mixture of feta and gouda (about half an ounce of each per kadeh). Instead of being shaped into a half moon, the dough in wrapped around the filling and then pressed back down into a 5″-6″ circle (kind of like some versions of Georgian Khachapuri).

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

May 26, 2014

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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:

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Cheater’s Tartine’s Country Bread

May 14, 2014

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The New York Times recently featured a simplified recipe for Chad Robertson’s sourdough bread (Tartine’s Country Bread) as well as a speedier version of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. Combining the two recipes, I came up with a yeast-based version of the Tartine bread that comes together in a few hours. The flavor is not the same, obviously, but it is very good, with a subtle sourdough flavor, a crackling crust and an open crumb.

The basic idea is that you substitute the sourdough starter with extra flour, water and a little yeast. The dough is given a stretch and fold every half hour for three hours as in the original recipe. The dough can then be shaped and given a 1 to 1 1/2 hour rise before baking (or you can refrigerate the dough overnight before or after shaping).

 

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Prune Danish Braid (use up your leftover lekvar)

March 26, 2014

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I had leftover lekvar and I mulled over all these creative options for using it up in a dessert. When I presented these options to my husband, along with the option of a simple prune danish, my husband voted for the danish.

The filling for this danish can be straight-up lekvar spooned out from the jar, but I decided to make it a little more interesting. Walnuts, mini mocha chips and an orange-vanilla glaze add extra texture and flavor.

As far as the dough is concerned, I use a few tricks to make and bake the dough extra quickly: (1) putting the dough in a warm oven to push it to rise faster; (2) folding the dough at intervals to strengthen it instead of kneading; and (3) putting the shaped dough in the oven after a very short (15 minute) rising period. With these tricks, the recipe will take about 1 3/4 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the danish out of the oven. If you take things a little slower or allow for a slightly longer rising time, it will take closer to 2 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the finished danish from the oven.

If you double the dough, you can make two small challahs plus the danish.

 

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Hamantaschen French Toast Casserole

March 5, 2014

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Imagine this: warm, buttery, vanilla and cinnamon scented French toast stuffed with whipped cream cheese and jam.  So good. Now picture that each piece of French toast is shaped and filled like a hamantaschen. Yummy and festive.

Another bonus: this is easily prepped the night before. All you need to do is pop this in the oven the day you want to serve it.

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Chanukah Hush Puppies

November 18, 2013

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A popular theme for Chanukah this year is “Food that is Thanksgiving-ish or Autumnal but still recognizable as Chanukah fare.” Put another way, the question is: What Thanksgiving food can be fried as latkes or sufganiyot?

I offer you hush puppies. It is fried–perfect for Chanukah. It is a traditional recipe from the American South that is a twist on cornbread, a Thanksgiving classic. Basically, hush puppies are mini latkes made from cornbread batter. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that hush puppies are to cornbread what latkes are to kugel.

Why hush puppies are not more popular (outside the South) I will never understand. They are, according to one journalist, “the best fried food in existence.” Hush puppies may be ready to have their moment, though. The New York Times just featured an article about quinoa hush puppies, as served at Market Table. I wouldn’t be shocked if the NYT quinoa hush puppies recipe makes the rounds for Chanukah.

There are a lot of stories about how Hush Puppies got their name. A popular story is that hush puppies were made from cornmeal leftover from frying fish and thrown to the dogs to quiet them.

My husband was reminiscing recently how his mother would make little latkes from matzoh meal/breadcrumbs and egg that was leftover from breading something for frying. I’ve done that, too. You don’t want to throw away the extra egg and breading, right?

That is kind of what hush puppies taste like, those little breading latkes, but there are also little bits of onion, like with potato latkes. Actually, they also kind of remind me of falafel, but cornbread flavored, of course.

Traditionally, hush puppies are served with fried fish and tartar sauce, but I am not such a fan of dipping deep-fried food into a fat-based sauce. I think the hush puppies taste nice by themselves or served with cranberry applesauce.

But serving hush puppies with a rich sauce is apparently the norm. Curious whether anyone else is serving hush puppies for Chanukah, I came across an article about Amanda Cohen chef/owner of Dirt Candy in New York City. Apparently, Dirt Candy has a super popular appetizer consisting of hush puppies with a side of maple Dijon butter. Market Table offers a spicy aioli to go with the quinoa hush puppies, which is a mayo-based sauce. If that appeals to you, follow the links to get the Maple Dijon Butter and Chili Aioli sauce recipes.

There are lots of recipes for hush puppies, but I offer you the recipe I have been making for many years, which comes right off the side of a bag of Indian Head cornmeal.

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Vanilla Rugelach

November 11, 2013

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Vanilla rugelach sounds not so exciting, as compared to chocolate rugelach, but vanilla rugelach can hold its own any day. The key is to use lots of strong vanilla flavor. Vanilla sugar in the filling and vanilla extract in the soaking syrup imparts an intense flavor that is reminiscent of vanilla pudding. While syrup is optional with chocolate rugelach, it is a must with vanilla rugelach. Adding lemon juice to the syrup gives a dairy taste to the rugelach.

If you want to go with cinnamon or apricot cinnamon fillings, I include recipes for that, too.

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Easy Rugelach (aka Babka Bites)

November 11, 2013

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Did you know that you can make rugelach from challah dough? Well, you can!

These won’t be super flaky yeast dough rugelach. For that texture, you need what is called a “laminated dough,” or a dough that has layers of butter or margarine rolled into it (like puff pastry, croissant or danish dough). The difference between these rugelach and the super-flaky kind is the difference between doughnuts and cronuts.

If you want super-flaky yeast dough rugelach, take a look at this. If you want something easy to make and trans-fat free (no margarine!) that tastes like bite-sized chocolate babka, read on.

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Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

August 28, 2013

 

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This sourdough bread, made with roasted sweet potato and pumpkin seeds is from Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery. I like how the breads sort of look like split sweet potatoes.

If you would like to see a detailed photo tutorial with a recipe, take a look at this Hoppy Okapi blog post (and also take a look at Farine’s post).

The only change to the recipe that I would make is to eliminate the ground cumin. The spice does complement the sweet potato flavor, but is, I think, a bit too definite. Every bite I took, I thought: This is cumin flavored bread and I’m not sure how I feel about eating cumin flavored bread.  The bread flavor would have been subtler and more versatile without the cumin.