Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pretty Apples and Honey

Young and old, apples dipped in honey is probably everyone's favorite rosh hashanah treat. What's very pretty, and saves honey being dripped on your tablecloth tooo much, is to give each person a small plate with their own little dish of honey and sliced apples. And if you don't have enough pretty little bowls for the honey, get lady apples (those little two inch things) and scoop out the top, and fill with honey....

Now decorate each plate with slices of apples and each guest has their own...

To avoid your apples turning brown, dip each cut slice into a bowl of water in which you've squeezed half a lemon. I promise, it works (personal note - yes Jon, acidulation is a word!)

My blessing to all for a happy new year.

Coming Soon

My apologies to those of you who were actually reading this blog.... (all three of you, I suppose). It's been a rough summer for me, and I'll hopefully have something to tell you about in the late fall...

I'll just post one Rosh Hashanah idea, so you can start your thinking and planning....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Filling the Duncan Hines Void - Pareve Brownies!!!

Very easy folks!

1 1/2 sticks margarine
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips or nuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan (or use the disposable half sheet pans). In microwave, melt margarine. Stir in cocoa until well mixed. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Stir in flour and salt. Stir in chips or nuts if using.

Pour batter into pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Pesach Kiddush Clubs Rejoice!

Gee, and I thought the only thing you could get to drink was slivovitz!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Afikoman Treasure Hunt

I'm always looking for new ideas to make the seder more interesting for the kids, to really engage them. This year we have seven kids at the seder, all boys, ranging in age from 9 to 15 plus a one year old. Five of the six boys are getting day school educations, so really ought to be able to find their way around a tanach - especially my boys - 8th and 10th grade.

I saw online an afikomen treasure hunt - with clues, but didn't love their clues so I came up with my own.

Here's how it's going to work (I hope!)

Step 1: Afikomen is hidden. I'll put the clues into their right places once the seder starts.
Step 2: When it's time (about 10 minutes after the main course is put out, the kids are done and starting to get bored...), they'll really be looking hard for the afikomen at that point, I'll hand one a tanach, with a post-it note pointing to the first clue.... and they'll have to go from there....

Clues and locations:

Oven Door
Exodus 8:3The Nile River will swarm with them. They will come up out of the river and into your houses, even into your bedrooms and onto your beds! Every home in Egypt will be filled with them. They will fill even your ovens and your kneading bowls.

Kitchen sliding door overlooking garage
Judges 5:28: "From the window Sisera's mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, `Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don't we hear the sound of chariot wheels?'

On the toothpaste
Song of Solomon 4:2:Your teeth are as white as sheep, newly shorn and washed. They are perfectly matched; not one is missing.

Mezuzah at front door
Deuteronomy 6:9:Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Bathroom scale (where the afikoman will be!)
Deuteronomy 25:13:"You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise,

Cross your fingers for me that it works. All I'm going to leave them is the reference (book, chapter verse) and make them think!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Seder Menu

As promised, following is my menu for the first seder. This menu is basically what I make for the first seder every year, with a few extra side dishes because of a brilliant idea from YS. This year, we are up to 18 people, and even with an extra table, the dining room maxes out at around 17 (and is pretty uncomfortable!). So we've decided to rent tables and use the living room as the dining room and leave the dining room table in the dining room, so YS suggested that the main course be served as a buffet. Brilliant! I hate when people are helping clear the table after the meal and say things like "ohhh, you made those good potatoes, they never got passed to me". At a certain point the table and the platters are too large, and a buffet works better. But I thought I should add a few side dishes to make a more interesting and fill the table out.

So here goes......

Hard Boiled Eggs

Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls and Soup Nuts (I make my own soup nuts, and gebrokt away, even on the first night!)

Brisket (my mother's recipe, improved a bit)
Israeli Orange Chicken
Mini Sweet Vegetable Kugels
Steamed Asparagus with Toasted Almonds and Garlic
Twice Baked Potatoes
Spinach Pie -Extra #1
Tossed Salad - Extra #2

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chocolate Cake
Sponge Cake
Almond Candy

All of the desserts are homemade, including the almond candy. If you're interested in any of the recipes, let me know. I share happily.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pesach Overview & Organizing Tips

Freedom at last - at the expense of annoyance. For this first time in twelve years, we are going out for the second seder. A break was in order, unfortunately OS was less than thrilled. He'll survive! Anyway, I'm having people Friday night too, so he'll have enough "mommy" food to satisfy him!

Anyway, when planning for pesach, the best thing to do is get a big pad, a pencil and your datebook. Start with a general idea for each lunch and dinner for each day. By three weeks before, you'll know where you are for sedarim, and if you've been invited for lunches - So you can start the game plan. If you put together a master plan of meals, you can also be more specific about your shopping lists. And this is the time to add more invitations if you feel like it.

Once you've finished go meal by meal, start expanding. Start with the meals where you have company, and want to make the best impression and use your most successful dishes there. Then fill in the other meals, making sure not to be too repetitive. And remember, everyone will feel much better if you concentrate more on vegetables over matzah-meal filled kugels. The days after the sedarim don't need more than matzah pizza (or some such easy thing) and sliced veggies or a salad.

Once you've got each meal planned, it's time to start with making shopping lists - four separate ones: 1) butcher, 2) grocery (dry goods), 3) fresh veg & fruit before the cooking starts, 4) last day before chag fresh stuff. Go item by item for each menu, and note the things you need on the correct list. Use the cross-hatching system (totaling bags of carrots for example), so you don't need to cross out, or you don't end of writing carrots six times on the list!

Next it's time to figure out what you're making when. Try to group similar items - for example, all the carrot recipes. This will cut down on washing. If you're making a tzimmes with sliced carrots, and a kugel with grated carrots, the same peeler, cutting board, food processor can be used without going near the sink! Ditto with garlic items..... It's harder to do with baking, as pesach cakes tend to be in the oven for so long, but doing prep in between each cake uses your time efficiently.

Check back soon, I'll post my menu for the first seder -

And for all you newbies out there - breathe and HAVE FUN!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Countdown to Pesach

Getting very close.....

Going to Brooklyn on Sunday - let's be real folks - the prices for meat in Westchester are ridiculous and pretty obnoxious on the part of the one butcher (I won't name the store, you figure it out!).

So off we go the holy land...

Which means of course, that time had come for me to figure everything out, which, at long last, I did, and I will post the plans, menus, recipes in the days to come.

In the meanwhile, we've been having fun eating through all the odd contents of the freezer, the end of the frozen leftover soups, odd mismatched main courses, but I'm close to empty so it's all good. And this shabbat will be the last one I cook. For Shabbat Hagadol we've been invited to friend who close their houses for pesach (bless them!!!) and there's lunch at the shul, but with what it costs, we've decided to get our own takeout instead. Though my stove and oven will have been kashered by then, I'll still have my electric hotplate to use to warm anything up.

Keep watching, I promise lots of menus, tips and recipes soon!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Shabbat Shekalim- Follow Up -

Divine intervention. That's the only way to describe the chain of events that saved YS from being extremely embarrassed this morning. Here's how it went....

Hopefully, you've read my post about Half-Shekel foods for shabbat shekalim.

Step 1
On Friday night, before we ate, I gave a little parsha quiz. Considering the amount of day school tuition that was represented in the room, I felt entitled. I asked about the name of the parsha, and the reason. We had a little talk about it. Very nice.

Step 2
Yesterday, in CVS, OS asked me to buy him a Milky Way Easter Egg candy thing. Considering the amount of allowance I had just deposited in his wallet, I suggested he could buy it himself. He said "but it looks like a half - shekel" Don't I get it just for being so creative......

Step 3
Last night at dinner, OS recounts his attempts to sweet talk me into a sweet purchase. I asked what this week's parshah was, and if we could continue the connection of parsha to menu. OS & YS both said "terumah" and which point YS blanched white and asked to be excused. Next thing we knew, he had pulled out the tikkun and was learning the leyning for this morning.

So planning my meals around the parsha had saved YS from the embarrassment of having been assigned to layn at school, and having come to school unprepared.

Baruch hashem.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Parshat Mishpatim - Shabbat Shekalim - February 24-25

Hmmm.. Shabbat Shekalim. Counting the Jews with the half shekel. The only food thoughts that come to mind would be semi-circular food. Bourekas maybe? Not this week, I'm not up to it. Got it, meatloaf. Each slice looks (kind of) like a semi-circle. That will be for shabbat lunch. I make a spicy cajun meatloaf that goes into the oven to warm, and stays moist and yummy even if we eat lunch at 2:00. If anyone has any other suggestions for semi-circular food - please comment!

Friday night we have lots of company, should be at least 12 people, and happily (for us anyway), older son is staying home this shabbat (of course he is, I told him he had to. He's been away two shabbatot in a row for shabbbatons).

Friday Night:

Chicken Soup with Noodles (kreplach could be semi-circular, but I don't have time!)

Roast chicken with shallots
Spinach Loaf
Saffron Rice Pilaf
Cauliflower Popcorn (the best recipe from KBD2)
Corn Kugel (maybe - It's so easy and good)

Devil Dogs

I found the recipe online for devil dogs about six years ago. These are the best things. http://www.koshercooking.com/recipes/everyday/devildogs.html The only change I make is that I find they don't need to bake 10 minutes, maybe about 7. And don't use margarine for the filling - crisco is the way to go. To make the shells, put the batter in a ziploc bag, cut a corner, and squeeze out "fingers". You can make them small, medium or large that way. Just try to be consistent. Don't worry if the fingers don't look perfect. When they're done baking, they'll look just right. And the easiest way to fill the shells is to put the filling in a ziploc bag, close it up, cut a corner, and squeeze a line (generously) onto the flat side of one, then squeeze the other shell on. Goes 1-2-3.

As you might notice, I love ziploc bags. For baking shortcuts like this, using them instead of pastry bags, I buy the target brand ones. Very inexpensive, and you don't need such good quality for one shot use.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Parshat Yitro - 20 Shevat - February 17 & 18

This coming shabbat will be a quiet one again. Older son (OS) is away (again) at a shabbaton - NCSY this time. Lots of ruach and lousy food for him! Now, when younger son (YS) is in charge of helping to choose friday night dinner - there is always one answer- SUSHI! And since we will again be at a bar mitzvah on shabbat (in other words - no cooking lunch, huge, hot kiddush), Sushi it will be.

I prepare everything before we make kiddush, then we have a half standing/half sitting sushi dinner, while I keep rolling until everyone is full. I'll roast a chicken (more for that good smell than anything else), but mostly, we'll just eat sushi till we pop!

Monday, February 06, 2006

A week off - Parshat Beshalach

Mazal tov to Adam!

This shabbat we will help celebrate your bar mitzvah - and will be honored to join your family for meals. Hoorah for catering!

I have to admit, I love the caterer my friend is using (then again, it was my idea for her to use them!) Main Event. As far as I'm concerned, they are the best in the New York area. Their food is consistently great, and Steve Rubinfeld (201-894-8710 x120)is a pleasure to deal with - very creative, and doesn't spend more of your money than you want. Main Event did both of my son's bar mitzvah's, including a chinese banquet friday night (complete with lazy susan's on the tables).

So, all in all, it should be a great shabbat. A simcha, good catering and week off!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Yahrtzeits Converge

Going a little off topic today. I got a phone call last night, my uncle died. My father's brother. Just five days before my father's yahrtzeit. So sad for the remaining brother who now has both brother's yahrtzeits the same week each year.

Also so sad for the whole family, but not in the usual way.

I read the obit this morning in the New York Times. My uncle leaves a wife, three children (my first cousins), many grandchildren (my kids' second cousins) and we know none of them. Maybe I met his daughter once, and when we sat shiva for my father my uncle was there (criticizing me, but that's another story).

A long time ago (about 40 years) there was a huge family argument - lawsuits even. No one ever healed. How sad.

So in my own way I mourn, not for a man I didn't know, but for opportunities lost.

Baruch Dayan Emet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Parshat Bo - 6 Shevat - February 3 & 4

As much as last shabbat was quiet, intimate and meaningful - this shabbat is going to be loud fun and busy. My niece is coming for shabbat, and our best friends, still in the throws of home remodeling will be with us for dinner and lunch. We also invited a new friend and her son.

Added to to the cooking agenda is two extra desserts, to bring over to a shiva house. I hope I don't sound egotistical, but it's very satisfying that whenever such an occassion arises, the neighborhood calls on me for desserts -

So here's what I'll do.

Friday Night

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls - (never made them last week - used kreplach)

Spinach Salad with Hearts of Palm and mustard dressing

Pomegranate Chicken (KBD)
Roast Beef
Jasmine Rice Pilaf
Garlic Potato Galette (KBD again - I give credit where it's due)
Green Beans Almondine

Cherry Crumb Cake
Cookies (I haven't decided what kind yet)

Shabbat Lunch

Cajun Meatloaf
Carrot Raisin Salad
Israeli Salad

By the way, as far as I'm concerned, the real problem with OPC (other people's chulent) is too little seasoning. My chulent is pretty basic, cut lots of onions at the bottom of the crock pot, add beans, barley, potatoes, meat bones and meat. Now - the important part. Mix 1/2 cup flour with 4 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1 tablespoon HOT paprika (not the regular stuff). Sprinkle the whole flour mixture over the meat, pour lots of boiling water over - and put it on low. 5 minutes and you're set.

Sunday night is my father's yahrtzeit - I suppose I should make foods he liked in his memory, unfortunately I really don't remember what he particularly liked, only that he didn't like sponge cake - but that's another story

Shabbat Shalom (and go Steelers! - for Dan)

The best Friday Night Chicken

This is one of the best chicken recipes I make - it stays warm and juicy waiting for in a low oven, and the sauce gets better and better! It also reheats well in a slow oven on shabbat morning.

Honey Mustard Chicken

2 cut up chickens
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¾ cup Dijon mustard
2/3 cup honey
¾ cup stock

Mix flour with seasonings. Shake chicken pieces in flour. Brown in hot oil. Put in browned chicken in single layer in baking pan.

Mix mustard, honey and stock. Pour over chicken. There should be a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, but the chicken should not be drowning.

Bake about an hour at 375 degrees. Will sit around in a slow oven waiting for you on Friday night.

If you don’t overdo it the first bake, will reheat in a slow oven Shabbat morning.

OK, so besides the fact that the chicken (and the rest of the food) were terrific - and much more importantly, we had a great time. We talked, we sang zemirot, and benched. An excellent night altogether!

May all of you have such a shabbat shalom.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Least Favorite Cookbook

Has anyone else tried to make the "butter"cream frosting recipe from the My Most Favorite Dessert Company cookbook???

Last night, I tried for the third time, and for the third time, I put a batch of yucky, gucky goo into the garbage.

I follow the recipe precisely, I use a candy thermometer -

Does anyone have a clue????

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Time to Make the Challah

This past shabbat, we were invited to friends for lunch and the hostess had made challahs. It was very impressive. And as much as I (and my guys) love Zomicks challahs, it was sufficiently impressive to inspire me to buy yeast yesterday. So Thursday night, I'm going to give it a try, with a recipe that calls for the last rise to be overnight in the refridgerator.

My requirements to make this a regular process are that it takes no more than half an hour on Thursday night, and another twenty minutes Friday morning.

Just in case though, I'll get the Zomicks on Friday anyway.

I'll let you know, and if it works, and it's simple, I'll post the recipe.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Parshat Vaera - 28 Tevet - January 27-28

This parsha has a very "pesach" feel about it, so it's back to matzoh balls in the chicken soup this week.

Luckily, I have 3 quarts of soup in the freezer left from two weeks ago. The rest of my menu for this week is absolutly NOT Pesach.

Friday Night Dinner
Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls

Honey Mustard Chicken
Basmati Rice Pilaf
Garlic Broccoli
Baked Sweet Potatoes

If we end up with company, I'll add Roast Beef and Twice Baked Potatoes

Chocolate Cake with Seafoam Frosting
Cookies (depends on my mood when I get into the kitchen to bake)

Shabbat Lunch

Definitely Chulent, beyond that, it will depend on how many kids are around, so I'll have to figure that out later in the week.

Any suggestions - post a comment.

Enjoy the week - and remember, only 4 and 1/2 days until shabbat!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Two Hour Prep Shabbat

OK, this week, even though our friends are coming for shabbat dinner, since we've been invited out for lunch, I'm going to make an easy Friday Afternoon Only prepped shabbat dinner.

Here's the Menu:

Onion Potato Soup (an article in the newspaper intrigued me)

Nancy's Salad (an online friend/backgammon buddy emailed me a terrific looking recipe)

Roast Chicken (what could be easier!)
Tapas Potatoes (quick, and hold well on the hotplate)
Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms (ditto)
Steamed Veggies

and for once, I'm letting my friend bring dessert

This won't stop me from baking cookies on Thursday night (PBJ's I think)

Want any of these recipes? Leave me a comment.

Shabbat Shalom OoMevorach!


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Parshat Vayechi - 14 Tevet - January 14 & 15

We seem to be in a January thaw, so no chulent this week, but the warm weather won't stop me from making chicken soup. I'm "known" for a great chicken soup, but until this past November, when I bought a great pot at Ikea (11 quarts, giant strainer inside) - I'd never been very specific about my recipe, but now.....

I set up my soup on Thursday night, and leave the pot in the refridgerator overnight, adding the water Friday morning. The added advante to setting up the soup Thursday night is that it ensures that I have to clear all the leftovers and wipe up the refridgerator a little on Thursday night, heading me into shabbat knowing what's around. Other than forcing me to straighten up, and saving me from having to mess with chicken and onions early in the morning, there's no benefit to prepping the soup in advance.

This time of year, the soup goes up at about 6:40 on Friday morning (right after my older son gets on the bus to school) and cooks the whole day. Yes, I leave the stove on all day.

Into the pot (in this order)

3 to 4 pounds chicken (could be a whole chicken, or cut up, or just leg quarters)
1/2 pound pupiks or necks (not just more chicken, they really add flavor)
1 pound carrots, peeled and chunked
3 parsnips, peeled and chunked
2 stalks celery, in 2" pieces
2 leeks, dark green cut away, sliced down the center almost to the base and well washed
2 onions, peeled, left whole
1/2 bunch dill
1/2 bunch parsley
1 tablespoon salt

Add water to the top (if you're using a strainer pot, pay attention to where the top of the pot is). Bring to boil over high heat and immediately lower to slow simmer. For a few minutes, skim off the foam that rises to the top. Do not cover.

Right before shabbat, lift strainer out (or carefully strain soup), leave soup on blech. Add back whatever veggies or pieces of chicken you like.

Please note: no place in this recipe does it say stir, so don't. If you follow these instructions and DO NOT STIR, you will get clear, beautiful golden soup.

Right before serving, pour a cup of hot water from your hot pot over the noodles. And if your soup bowls are not too fragile, put them on top of some warm surface (oven top, blech) to warm them.

After shabbat, any leftover soup goes in quart containers into the freezer. When we have no extra people for Friday night dinner, I can pop a quart right out of the freezer on Friday afternoon, and melt/heat it before shabbat in less than 1/2 an hour. And if anyone is sick, there's always soup..... Personally, I love the boiled chicken, but that's me.

Betayavon - Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Shalom

Ask my kids, they'll tell you, I live for shabbat. There's something about the feeling of sitting with my boys, in the dining room, with or without guests that just gives me a feeling of peace and joy like no other. All of us find that if for any reason we're not home on Friday night, the whole week is messed up.

Starting on Sunday, the next shabbat is mapped out... guests, meals, which shul (we sometimes switch off). I take great pleasure in making everything from scratch (except the challah - Zomick's is JUST BETTER!!! You could really call shabbat my hobby - and during the chagim, I'm in my glory.

I love to help other people figure out their menus too, so just post or comment, and I'll be glad to assist.


Search for more recipes and ideas.....

Need help with menu planning?

Need household organization advice?

Want to be notified when new items are posted?

E-mail me at deb@debsdelicacies.com