Monday, December 28, 2009

Challah - FINAL POST!

I got it. A little reading, a little tinkering and this shabbat's result elicited the comment "you got it, Mom!". That's about the highest praise I can receive.

We were happy with the taste of the recipe after my last adjustment, but the outer consistency was still a problem. As far as we're concerned, crusty is not a description for challah that we want to eat. So in an attempt to alleviate the overdone bottom problem, I put a pan of hot water under the baking challahs - and voila!

This recipe is simple, requires less than half an hour of "working" time, and if you think putting a home made meal in front of your family is satisfying, just see how satisfying it is to say "hamotzi" on challahs you've baked yourself.

Deb’s Challah

1 kilo (2.2 pounds) flour

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

½ cup oil

¼ cup honey

2 cups warm (about 100 degrees) water

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook attached. Start the mixer on the lowest speed, and once all of the flour has been incorporated, turn it up to medium high speed and let the mixer go for ten minutes.

Put the prepared dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. The dough will be quite sticky. Place in a warm place (the counter near the pot of chicken soup lightly bubbling on the stove is an ideal spot) and let rise until doubled in bulk - about two hours. Lightly press down and let rise again for about an hour. Lightly press down again, then divide the dough into 3 or 4 equal portions, depending on whether you want 3 large or 4 medium challahs. Divide each portion into 3 portions, shape each into a long snake and braid.

Set shaped challahs onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise one more hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put a large jelly roll pan on the lowest baking rack and fill with boiling water once it's on the rack.

Brush challahs with beaten egg, and, if desired, sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or salt.

Bake 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

I got a big "thumbs up" from my favorite celiac when I used this recipe to make dreidel shaped sugar cookies sprinkled with beautiful blue sugar for a family chanukah party. The dough was easy to roll, and the cookies tasted great.

GF Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
4 teaspoons milk (or GF pareve milk substitute)
2 cups GF flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Cream together shortening, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for three minutes. Beat in egg and milk for one minute. Stir together flour, salt and xanthan gum. Stir into creamed mixture. Chill dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick (not too thin!). Use a little GF flour on rolling pin if needed. Cut with cookie cutters, decorate with sugar or sprinkles if desired. Bake 6 - 8 minutes.

Cool on rack.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Fear of Frying

How many times have you eaten a soggy, mushy latke? Or one that was burnt on the outside and raw on the inside? Or heated up frozen latkes because the idea of frying was just too much for you? Well, I can assure you that frying is not difficult, need not be messy, and once you’ve mastered it, you will never reach for a bag of Kineret latkes again.

Successful latke frying is not a secret, and will work if you follow these basic rules:

Quantity of Oil: There should be about three-quarters of an inch of oil in your frying pan. Really. Take a ruler and see how deep that is. If you fry at the correct temperature (keep reading), you will find that most of the oil will still be in the pan when you’re done. The oil should be deep enough to cook the entire bottom of the latke.

Temperature: If the oil is not hot enough, the latke batter will soak up lots of oil while frying but if the oil is too hot, the outside of the latkes will start to burn before the inside has had a chance to cook through. So how do you know if it’s hot enough? Test it! Generally, the burner should be on medium high, and you should give the oil sufficient time to heat up (about five minutes). When the surface of the oil starts to shimmer and seems to be sliding around, start testing.

Testing: Start testing by dropping one teaspoon of latke batter in the oil. The oil should bubble up around it, and the latke should seem to be nearly floating in the oil. The bottom should be browned in about four minutes, then flip and cook the other side, which should take three more minutes. If the test latke looks burnt, lower the heat, wait a few minutes for the oil to cool down a bit and test again. If the latke never browns well, turn the heat up a bit, wait a few minutes and test again.

Forming the Latkes: For each latke, stir the latke batter, and using a rounded serving spoon, scoop up some batter, lightly tap the spoon on the side of the bowl to compress the batter, and slide the “formed” latke into the oil. Don’t drop the batter into the oil!

Several latkes can be fried at the same time, but don’t overcrowd the pan; leave at least an inch in between the latkes as they’re frying. Don’t press on, push around, or otherwise disturb the latke until the edges look golden brown. Once the sides look golden brown, gently flip the latke. Using both a spatula and tongs will make it easier. Place the cooked latkes on paper towels to drain for a minute, and then put in a single layer in a 300 degree oven to keep warm (if they’re not eaten immediately). Once one batch is done, give the oil 30 seconds to reheat before starting again, and always start the next batch by stirring the batter.

Deb’s Latkes

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes

1 small onions (or a larger one, to taste)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 eggs

1/3 cup matzoh meal or potato starch


Cheesecloth or thin tea towel

In large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Peel or scrub potatoes and cut into quarters. Trim and peel onions and cut into quarters. With shredding blade of food processor, shred potatoes and onions. Using doubled layer of cheesecloth or tea towel, squeeze excess water out of potatoes/onions a few handfuls at a time. Add 2/3 of shredded potatoes/onions to eggs. Put the remaining 1/3 of the shredded potatoes/onions back into the food processor with the chopping blade and pulse a few times to lightly chop the potatoes. Add to the bowl with the eggs. Stir well. Add the salt, pepper and matzoh meal or potato starch. Allow to sit 15 minutes before frying.

Note: This recipe doubles well, but after frying the first half, start with fresh oil for frying.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Wrap Up - Part 1

Thanksgiving was just lovely. Notwithstanding having to get up at 7 to start cooking, my time line worked perfectly (discussions about time lines to follow in later posts), and we sat down to a beautiful meal nearly on time - the oven roasted turkey took a bit longer than we thought, but the mini hot dogs kept people happy while waiting.

The grilled turkey was a bit of a challenge to start off. I used a drip pan as suggested, which caught fire from the grease drippings, so I took it out. What I finally found worked was to have indirect heat. The two outside burners were on medium, and the turkey was in the middle. The edges of the wings got a little overdone, but the skin was crisp, deep brown, slightly charred and the meat was moist and delicious. The grilled turkey is in the second and third pictures.

The last picture is of the oven roasted turkey, which came out perfectly!

I bought myself a gift this year - a small countertop oven. It's much bigger than a toaster, but neither so huge that there isn't room, nor so heavy, that I can't store it in the basement if I want, and that made preparation so much easier! With the turkey taking up most of the oven, all of the side dishes either had to be made on the stove, or made ahead and reheated once the turkey comes out of the oven.

Next week I will write about quantities, leftovers and timelines... For now, I'm going downstairs to put up chicken soup for a nice, quiet shabbat dinner - I'm making a simple meal to follow up the Thanksgiving excess - and will save the thanksgiving leftovers for a yummy shabbat lunch.

Shabbat Shalom and happy leftovers to all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu 2009

Menus are not created in a vacuum. A holiday's menu is prepared by starting with menus with their notes from prior years, as well as all the notes hints, ideas and links I collect throughout the year. And though each holiday has it's required, traditional dishes, I always like to add one or two new dishes to keep it interesting. And just as I am always learning new recipes and techniques in the kitchen, I am also learning more about blogging.... please note that several of the dishes below have links to their recipes.

Enjoy and be thankful!

Portabella Mushroom Soup or Butternut Squash Soup served with

Corn Squash Muffins

Roasted Turkey õ Gravy

Barbequed Turkey

Sweet and Sour Tongue

Roasted Autumn Vegetables Vegetables õ Chestnut Stuffing

Grandma’s Sweet Potatoes õ Mashed Potatoes

Arugula Salad with Pomegranate and Toasted Walnuts

Harvest Bread

Cranberry Sauce õ Pickles and Olives

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And they were all happy! Teriyaki Meatball Success

Well readers, the title of this post says it all. Combining a few recipes and my own taste buds produced a batch of meatballs that are going to become a new standard! They're easy, you likely have the ingredients in your kitchen and everyone will love them!

Teriyaki Meatballs

1/3 cups Soy sauce
4 tbsp Sugar
1/3 cups water
1 Small onion, grated
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, grated
2 lbs ground beef
2 cups Breadcrumbs
1 cups Brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cups White Vinegar
1/2 cups Soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine soy sauce, sugar, water, grated onion, and grated ginger. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Combine with beef and bread crumbs. Roll into walnut sized meatballs.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in frying pan. Lightly brown meatballs.

Combine brown sugar, water, ketchup, vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over meatballs and bake about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over rice or noodles, or terrific as a first course.

Makes about 60 meatballs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shabbat Lunch - Aiming to please everyone

There's an email joke that pops up in my inbox few months..

If, according to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5764, and, according to the Chinese calendar, the year is 5724, what did the Jews eat for forty years?

I'm not sure why, but Jews stereotypically love Chinese food. And stereotypes notwithstanding, the Jews I feed on a regular basis really love Chinese food, whether authentic from a restaurant or my homemade vaguely Asian inspired recipes.

This week I only need to prepare Shabbat lunch at home, though from an earlier post youknow I'm preparing Shabbat dinner for 100 at the shul. Because I will be in the shul kitchen most of the day Friday, and Shabbat is so early, I need to prep all the food for Shabbat tonight - and I'm not in a fancy mood. As I was considering a menu this morning, the wind was howling, the sky was grey and I only wanted to think of foods that we would find comforting. Then I thought of a recipe I saw earlier this week on - Teriyaki Meatballs - and from that start, a menu came to life.

By the way, unless I have a lot of company for lunch, I've found it's much more enjoyable to do without a first course. By putting a wide variety of foods on the table, people can help themselves, there's no bouncing up and down after kiddush and motzi, and there's also less to clean up!

Shabbat Lunch

Teriyaki Meatballs
Soy Sauce Chicken
Jasmine Rice
Sauteed Mixed Vegetables
Sesame Eggplant Salad
Edamame with Dipping Sauce

Dessert will NOT be Asian inspired, but simply what the season is screaming "Apple Pie" and, as always, some kind of chocolate cookies.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shabbat Dinner for 100

There's an old saying "If you want something done, ask a busy person" - which seems to be a saying about me. From my standpoint though, it's great that I can keep up with everything, that people know they can rely on me, and that my schedule stays busy. Relaxing is NOT my favorite activity (though with recent help, I'm learning).

To that end, in addition to chairing the high school dinner in January, co-chairing the shul dinner in March, hosting Thanksgiving (as a group effort), and taking one small trip in December and one long trip in January, I agreed to run a Friday night dinner at the shul. And being just a bit compulsive, I decided to help the shul out by preparing the appetizer, dessert and kid's meals to save money. The main course and side dishes are being delivered by Main Event (Thanks HannahLee!). So this is the menu for this Friday Night:

Family Style on each table: Hummos, Pita, Pickles and Olives

Plated at each seat:
Mesclun Salad with Cranberries and Glazed Nuts with Vidalia Dressing
Served with one toast with Smoked Salmon and one toast with Bruschetta

Main Course:
Served Buffet Style
Fried chicken
Honey Orange Roasted Chicken
Yellow Rice Pilaf
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Melange of Steamed Vegetables

Brownies, Chocolate Chip Bars, Meringues

Pasta with Sauce
Chicken Nuggets
French Fries
Steamed Broccoli

I hope all will enjoy - I baked the brownies and chocolate chip bars last night - great for building arm strength - I stirred and octet batch (that's 8!) of brownies, then a quadruple batch of chocolate chips. The meringues I'll bake fresh on Friday morning.

Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Challah - Nearly got it!

With many thanks to my reader Debbie, who commented on one of my challah posts with her Challah recipe, I made challah last week that came out great, and was just as simple as anything I'd tried earlier. I tweaked her recipe just a bit and will tweak the recipe one more time and make it a bit sweeter (my personal preference), but it was just terrific! I shaped the dough into two huge challahs, and a gang of teenagers ate 1 3/4 of them Friday night in addition to Chicken Soup, Roast Beef, etc etc etc

Deb’s Challah

1 kilo bread flour

2 tablespoons dried yeast,

3/4 c. sugar

1 tablespoon salt

3 eggs

2 cups warm water

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup honey

In mixer bowl, mix dry ingredients. Using dough hook, add eggs, water, oil and honey; blend well till smooth dough forms. Knead in mixer five minutes.

Turn dough into oiled bowl and turn over. Cover with clean dishcloth. Put in a warm spot in the kitchen and let rise four hours. Punch down, and let rise one hour. Punch down, shape into 2 large, 3 medium or 4 small challahs. Let rise one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush challahs with egg wash, sprinkle with seeds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes till golden brown.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Chestnut Stuffing - with variations!

Oh the questions! In the turkey? Outside the turkey? Stuffing? Dressing? Eggs? Sweet? Savory? The debate goes on and on! Stuffing is a dish that can be prepared an infinite number of ways, and for every recipe there are infinite variations.

Several years ago, I came across a recipe for stuffing to be made in a crockpot - that variation was new to me - and having been planning on serving fairly early in the day, having only one oven, and not being a fan of actually stuffing the turkey, I tried it - with much success! Over the years I have varied the "add-ins". The original recipe calls for mushrooms, but I have added crumbled cooked chestnuts, dried cranberries and combinations all with great success, as the basic recipe is terrific!

Deb's Crockpot Stuffing

1/4 cup oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 cup diced celery
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 package chestnuts, crumbled
1 1/4 cups broth
2 large egg
1 challah, torn in pieces, left out overnight to dry

Saute onions and celery in oil over medium heat until translucent, and just starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. If using, add mushrooms and cook until all liquid evaporates. Lower heat and add parsley, sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, salt, pepper and chestnuts.

Put challah into crockpot. Stir in vegetable mixture. Whisk together broth and eggs and pour over challah/vegetable mixture and stir well.

Cook on high 1 hour then reduce heat to low for at least 4 hours - though it can stay in without drying out for up to 6 hours.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Corn Squash Muffins

Last Shabbat, I tried out several new recipes - among them was Corn Squash Muffins. I accidentally bought the wrong ingredient, played with the recipe to compensate and came out with phenomenal results. Not only were the muffins moist, and not too heavy, when reheated for shabbat lunch, they got crisp and crunch on the outside and stayed moist and creamy on the inside -
There muffins will definitely be on my Thanksgiving table - and will be a frequent shabbat addition as well.

Corn Squash Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 12 ounce packages Southland prepared butternut squash (o-u pareve)
2 eggs
1 cup soy or almond milk (I love the Almond Breeze original unsweetened)
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (vegetable oil spray works) 18 medium or 12 large muffin cups. Stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder in large bowl. Stir together squash, eggs, soy milk and oil until well blended. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Put batter into prepared muffins cups - bake 1/2 hour.

If baking ahead and you like them moist, leave in muffin cups to reheat. If you crisper sides and edges, allow to cool briefly in muffin cups, then pop out, and put on baking sheet to reheat.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Recipes - Beating Boredom

There are some weeks that I crave new recipes; the old beloved standbys get tossed aside and I scour through cookbooks, epicurious, and the pages and pages of printed out recipes for 'someday'. Well, this week is someday. Don't get me wrong - my family and guests will not have to suffer through a meal of all new recipes, but I found a few that seemed good (which are bolded below). It may seem like too much food, but when I get into that "something new" mood, I fill in with simple easy things that I know will be eaten even if the experiments are not!

This shabbat's dinner will be:

Chicken soup with noodles and potato kneidlach

Teriyaki Silver Tip Roast
Apricot Roast Chicken
Jerusalem Kugel (I know, it's traditional for lunch, but....)
Corn Squash Muffins (trying them out for Thanksgiving potential)
Soy Sauce Green Beans
Tossed Salad
Basmati Rice
Hasselback Potatoes

Cocoa Chiffon Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Rocky Road Bars

Shabbat lunch will be leftovers..... yummy roast beef sandwiches, etc etc etc

Successful new recipes will be posted next week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Prep Begins

As much as each of the Jewish holiday has its own traditions, rituals and foods which I hold dear, the holiday which has the sweetest memories, traditions and rituals for me is Thanksgiving.

Growing up, my extended family plus many, many invited guests would start Thanksgiving morning at my paternal grandparents apartment on Central Park West, where we would be treated to a breakfast of Cracker Jack, giant gumdrops, cashews and chocolate turkeys. From the deep window seats which enclosed the radiators and toasted our legs, we would watch from our sixth floor view as the parade went by - the giant balloons seeming close enough to reach out and touch.

Other than my mother, my love of planning parties and meals and hostessing was inspired by my father's mother. From a very young age, my mother would put me on the train to Grand Central on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my father would collect me at the platform and deliver me to my grandmother, were I would help her set up for the huge party the next day. Though I'm sure in the first few years of that special treat I was not very much help, I would watch and learn. Fifty or so people stayed after the parade for Thanksgiving Dinner, so most of the meal of was catered, though my grandmother's Thanksgiving specialty was Sweet and Sour Tongue. I'm not sure what it had to do with Thanksgiving, but it was delicious - for those of us sufficiently adventurous to try it - and it remains a family tradition.

Since my grandmother's passing, our parade watching is now on TV, but breakfast remains the treasured sweets and treats - though I'll likely make fresh biscuits early in the morning before the turkey goes in the oven.

Over the next two weeks, I'll post the menu as it evolves (a joint effort between my mother, my sister, my niece and myself), with hints, ideas and suggestions.

Keep checking in - or better yet - sign up as a blog follower so you'll never miss a posting!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recipe by Request - Tzimmes

Though I love my mother's recipe for carrot/matzoh ball tzimmes for pesach, and would never serve anything else at a seder, sometimes I like tzimmes that's heartier, and more of a main course. Though I've never thought of it before right now, this would work perfectly for a shabbat lunch out of the crockpot. Next time I have shabbat lunch guests - this will be on the menu in a version made out of the crockpot!

3 tablespoons oil
2 pounds beef stew meat, dusted with flour
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup honey (optional - if you like it very sweet)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large, heavy, ovenproof pot. Brown meat in batches, making sure not to overcrowd meat. When brown, put aside in bowl. Sautee onions until lightly browned. Add in both kinds of potatoes, carrots, beef, prunes and apricots. Add water and honey if using. Combine well. Cover and bake 2 hours. Stir. Re-cover and bake one more hour.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipes by Request - Ruth's Brisket

Though you can get a copy of this recipe as part of the article written about me last year, I've been asked to post the recipe here as well to simplify.

Ruth’s Brisket

5 lb. beef brisket

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 bottle red horseradish

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 pound carrots, thick julienne cut

2 celery stalks, in chunks

2 cups water or red wine

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Liberally rub brisket on both sides with horseradish. When oil shimmers, sear brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove brisket to large platter.

Without cleaning dutch oven, add 2 more tablespoons oil and sauté vegetables until onion begins to wilt. Remove vegetables to plate.

With Dutch oven still on medium high heat, add 2 cups water or red wine, scraping up all browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Then put brisket, with any accumulated juices into pot, with sautéed vegetables on top. Add water if necessary so there is liquid halfway up brisket.

Cook over low heat (or in 325 degree oven) for approximately 3 hours, until tender.

Best if made a day ahead of time, so meat can be sliced cold, and gravy can be degreased and cooked down to thicken a bit. Gravy can also be thickened by making a thin paste of potato starch and water and adding it a tablespoon at a time while gravy is warming.

Back to Shabbat As Usual (Do I hear sighs of relief)

The 23 days from Rosh Hashanah to Simchat Torah can invoke at the same time both increased spiritual feelings and increased exhaustion as we celebrate the holidays with elaborate meals both as host and guest. Much planning and preparation is required, and for me at least, the diligence to not gain weight.

And yet, having come through over three weeks of cooking, cleaning and serving, the cool crisp weather beckons me to open my home again for shabbat this week, with thoughts of warm soups, foods and the joy of a warm oven on a cool night. But even though I will enjoy sharing a meal with friends, and preparing will be a joy, my thoughts for menu choices are all simple ones.

Here's what I think I'll make -

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Roast Chicken and Potatoes
Salad (not sure which - this will probably be where I get fancy - adding some fruit and candied nuts)
Teriyaki Sauteed Vegetables
Spanish Rice

Dessert.... I'll think about it - post later in the week. I want this to be simple, so I'll probably make some kind of cookies -

And I think this shabbat will inaugurate "cholent season" -

Warm, cozy, filling..... This will certainly be a shabbat shalom!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Recipes By Request - Apple Crisp

Here in the northeast U.S., serving a hot dessert for sukkot is always a big hit. By the time dessert comes to the table, the warm food from the main course has long since cooled off, but noses, fingers and toes are starting to get really chilly. My mother always served a blueberry apple crisp. It was a once a year treat, and if I sit still and think about it, I can see, smell and taste all of it's sweet tart deliciousness. With or without a counterpoint to the apples, an apple crisp is always welcomed at the end of a sukkot dinner. The topping for the fruit crisp can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days, or even frozen for several months. Once you're going to the effort of putting together the topping, it's worth making a double or triple batch, and freezing containers of it. Then, whenever you have a craving for a crisp, by the time you've cut the apples, a container of topping will have had sufficient time to defrost, to be crumbled on top of the fruit and baked.

I've never been a fan of sticky sweet fruit, so I just cut fruit, put into a lightly greased pan and crumble the topping over. The grease for the pan is really to simplify cleanup, so if you're using a disposable pan that will be tossed, it's not even worth the bit of oil.

Apple Crisp

6 large apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges - don't make the slices too thin or they'll turn into mush


1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick margarine (or butter)

Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon well. Cut in margarine with pastry blender until well mixed. Crumble over fruit. Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dairy Sukkot Dinner

Though I usually keep my dairy holiday meals to Shavuot, since I am doing my larger entertaining motzei shabbat, I figured after two large meat meals, my guests might prefer a more relaxed, dairy meal. Likely we won't sit down to eat until around 8:30 or 9, to give me time to reheat and do last minute prep after shabbat. Dairy meal planning is a challenge to me, now add the complication of motzei shabbat, and the the need for warm dishes for sukkot... WHEW! This is what I came up with..

Lentil soup - served with a dollop of herbed sour cream on top

Eggplant Parmesan (made with baked eggplant, not fried)
Cheese & "Pizza" Bourekas
Corn Kugel - made dairy for once - will probably be incredible made with butter!
Challah Souffle
Roasted Asparagus
Greek Salad

Fudge Covered Brownie Cheesecake
Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

The challah souffle can be prepped, then popped into the oven immediately after shabbat. For the apple crisp, I can pre-slice the apples, rinse them in lemon water, and keep in a bag in the refrigerator. The topping can be made ahead of time too. Then it's just got to be thrown in a buttered pan (ahhhh butter!) and put in the oven when we start making kiddush - by the time we're ready for dessert it will be bubbly on the bottom and crisp on top - just perfect with the vanilla ice cream melting on top.

Chag Sameach to all!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recipes by Request - Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

A reader, Gaby, has requested frozen dessert recipes - this one is absolutely delicious!

Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse Cake


2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs or chocolate wafer crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp margarine, melted


1 3/4 cups pareve whipping cream

2 cups creamy peanut butter

2 (8 oz) tubs tofutti cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioner's sugar

2 tbsp vanilla


½ cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl combine cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and melted margarine. Press into 10 inch spring form pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool and set aside.

Beat whipping cream with mixer until stiff. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat together peanut butter and tofutti cream cheese until smooth. Stir in confectioner's sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Gently fold in beaten whipping cream, a quarter at a time. Pour into baked crust. Freeze until set.

Melt chocolate chips and put in small zipper bag. Cut off corner and drizzle melted chocolate over frozen cake. Quickly sprinkle with chopped peanuts

Remove it from freezer about 30 minutes prior to serving.


For smaller, easier to serve portions, double the crust recipe and make in 13 x 9 x 2 pan.

For easy melting of chocolate chips, put unmelted chips in zipper bag, press out air and seal well. Place in bowl in sink and run hot water over, squeezing chips around until melted and no hard bits of chocolate remain.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recipes by Request - Meringues

Certain recipes are so basic, and yet, each baker takes the same two or three ingredients and produces different results. One of the most basic cookie is a meringue. Consisting of just four ingredients, they can be light as air, hard as a rock, or, like I make them = crisp outside with marshmallowy sweetness inside - The tricks are to have patience when adding the sugar, and to only bake the meringues for about 20 minutes. The disadvantage to this method though is that they have limited shelf life - a day or two in warmer, more humid weather, a bit longer in the winter - but once you get the knack, you'll find they're so easy to make (and fat free!) that it's worth making a fresh batch when you want - the added bonus is that it's likely you always have the ingredients and they cost nearly nothing to make.

Deb's Meringues

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or lemon juice)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 335 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put egg whites and cream of tartar in mixing bowl with whip attachment. Start beating on slow speed. When egg whites are frothy, increase speed to high and begin adding the sugar about 2 tablespoons at a time, allowing a minute between addditions. When sugar is all incorporated and mixture is very thick and stiff beat in vanilla. Pipe into 1 to 2 inch mounds (or drop with spoon) onto prepared sheets. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shana Tova to All

I extend wishes of health, happiness, joy and peace to all in the coming year.

May the coming year bring each of us what we need. Differentiate your "needs" and "wants" then if your needs are taken care of, any "wants" you get are icing on the cake!

Shana Tovah U'metukah


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Walnut Cake

The good news - this is a phenomenal recipe - easy, quick and delicious.

The bad news - even though it's a new recipe for Rosh Hashanah, we aready know how delicious it is because I didn't grease the pan well enough the first time I made it, and ended up distributing chunks of broken cake to friends and family.

Oh well! As my grandmother would have said "let that be the worst thing that happened to you today"

Apple Walnut Cake

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 cups chopped walnuts
4 small or 3 large apples

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour WELL a bundt pan.

Put sugar and oil in the mixer bowl and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy - about 3 minutes.

Stir together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.

Peel and coarsely dice the apples. Add diced apples and walnuts to batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 75 to 85 minutes - until a toothpick tests clean. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to complete cooling.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rosh Hashanah Menus - 2009/5770

Friday Night Dinner (18 People)

Challah - Apples with Honey

Chicken Soup with Kreplach and/or Matzoh Balls

Brisket - Tangy Citrus Chicken Cranberry Kugel - Roasted Potatoes String Beans with Almonds Carrot Kugel - Spinach Loaf - Spinach Pear Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Honey Cake - Autumn Apple Cake - Teiglach - Lemon Bars- Chocolate Dipped Honey Cookies Chocolate Coconut Chip Cookies - Candies and Dried Fruit - Coffee & Tea

Shabbat Lunch (4 people)

Challah with Honey

Cedar Planked Brisket - Leftover side dishes

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Recipes - if not already posted - available on request -

To all of my readers - Shanah Tovah Oo'metukah !


Finally ! Organized for Rosh Hashana

Weather-wise, this has been a moderate summer in the northeast. With the exception of about 10 days of humidity with relatively warm weather in late august, I never experience the complete malaise summer usually sets on me. And the last two week's weather has seemed more like early autumn than summer and, as you could see from my posts, reinvigorated my inner cook. This made for happy tummies, but it also means I've started none of the holiday cooking, and will now have some late night cooking sessions to catch up - which works for me - though I generally recommend a more organized approach (too cooking and everything!).

Anyway, I've now finalized my Rosh Hashanah menus for dinner and lunch the first day - The second night will be quiet and peaceful (and we'll probably be too full to do more than kiddush, motzi and sleep). We're invited to lunch out the second day - all in all an excellent combination!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Crazy Cake

All cooks have recipes that they can rely on for quick, easy, always-have-the-ingredients, recipes for every part of a meal - ways they can turn leftovers into YUMMMMMM (without the guests being the wiser), and three ingredients in the pantry into more please. Crazy Chocolate Cake - also known to many as Vegan Chocolate Cake, or Volcano Cake is such a recipe. Anyone who bakes even sometimes likely has the ingredients on hand, and from the first "Hmmmm, maybe I'd like a piece of chocolate cake after dinner" to the wonderful smells of chocolate cake baking takes under 10 minutes - and only dirties one spoon and one bowl - If you're really lazy, it can even be prepared right in the baking pan - though that's best left if the cake is for you, and not to be served to company.

I made a batch of Death By Chocolate Cookies for dessert this shabbat - a new recipe (I'll post another time), and was feeling kind of iffy about them . It was two hours before shabbat - everything else was ready (except the amazing brisket on the grill) - why, even the floor had been mopped - so I pulled out my Crazy Chocolate Cake recipe - but got creative - found a can of sweet black cherries - and used the cherry juice from the can for part of the water and cut up the cherries right in the can with a paring knife before stirring them into the batter. The topping was the real fun part though. I usually sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on the cake as soon as it tests done and leave it in the oven one extra minute to melt the chips, which are then spread right on the cake - ta da - frosting. When I went to the pantry to pull out the chips, I noticed a bag of marshmallows - which got tossed on along with the chocolate chips - amazing topping.

So next time you've got 10 minutes - with our without the cherries and marshmallows!

Crazy Chocolate Cherry Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 15 ounce can sweet black cherries, drained and cut up
  • 2 cups liquid total - Juice from canned cherries plus water
  • about 1 cup marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13 x 9 baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing for overhang to lift cake from pan when cool and spray with PAM.

Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Pour in vanilla, vinegar, oil, cherry juice/water and stir until just mixed. Stir in cherries.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle marshmallows and chocolate chips on top. Leave in oven one more minute. Remove from oven and let sit for two minutes. Swirl melted marshmallows and chocolate chips. Allow to cool. Cake can be lifted out of pan with aluminum foil, put on tray and aluminum foil from sides of cake peeled away.

Success - Amazing Barbecued Brisket

This attempt was a huge success. Whole Foods had cedar planks. While the planks were soaking, I coated the brisket with a rub of brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. The first picture is immediately after I put the planks and the brisket on the grill, the picture on the second is after about 2 hours and the picture on the bottom is the brisket all done - with one taste slice taken!

I flipped the brisket about every 45 minutes - It's tender and delicious - When I do it again, I'd use a sauce to finish it - but for a first attempt, I'm thrilled!

Shabbat Shalom

The brisket was on the planks on the grill for about 4 hours - and it taste amazing!!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From Summer to Fall - Barbecue Brisket

I usually think of brisket as a fall or winter food. Between pesach and rosh hashanah, I never think to serve brisket - the idea of the oven being on that long for one dish! I don't think so..... But I recently picked up a small piece of first cut brisket, about 3 pounds - and for this shabbat I'm going to try to put it on the barbecue, indirect heat, a few chunks of hardwood if I can find some , and let it go for four or five hours ("Texas" style)- I'm hopeful - and if it's any good, I'll post the method and some pictures of the results - I'll do a dry rub marinade Friday morning before I go to work, then when I get home at 12:30, the brisket will go on the grill - wish me luck!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making the Most of the End of summer

This shabbat will feature, among other things, a corn kugel - one of my favorite "two minutes to the oven - everyone loves it" recipes - but instead of the usual canned corn, I will use fresh, sweet corn, cooked fresh for the kugel. Even adding that step, which I'm sure will make the kugel even better, it's still simple as could be sure to be a favorite.

It's a particularly good winter recipe, as it gets even better as it sits in the low oven for hours, turing gold brown and crispy chewy at the edges..

Corn Kugel

2 tablespoons melted margarine
2 cans creamed corn
1 can corn kernels (or about 1 1/2 cups fresh cooked corn)
3/4 cup soy milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk together all ingredients. Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees at least an hour.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recipe by Request - Cranberry Kugel

Cranberry Kugel

1 cup flour

1 cup oatmeal (1 minute)

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick margarine

1 can crushed pineapple

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, oatmeal and brown suger in a bowl. Cut in margarine. Drain pineapple well and mix with cranberry sauce. Place half the dry mixture in the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Put the cranberry mixture on top. Spread the rest of the dry mixture over. Bake for 1 hour.

Recipe by Request - Spinach Loaf

Spinach Loaf

6 10 ounces packages frozen chopped spinach
6 large russet potatoes
4 onions
8 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil

Slice onions into half moon slivers and sautee in 6 tablespoons of oil slowly over low heat until golden brown. Take your time with this so they carmelize but don't burn.

Defrost spinach and squeeze out well - as dry as you can.

Peel potatoes and boil until tender. Put through ricer. If you don't have a ricer, mash until very smooth.

Combine potatoes, spinach and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste - I use about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Put in an ovenproof pan - smaller with high sides if you like lots of soft inside - larger and shallower if you like crunchy better -

Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Bake at 375 for 1/2 hour until crisp on top.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not..... Delicious Tabbouleh

Wednesday or Thursday night (depending on how much cooking I'm planning to do for shabbat), I clean out the refrigerator, getting rid of the leftovers that are getting iffy to make room for all of the produce and fresh ingredients for the coming shabbat. Sometimes it results in a great "created from leftovers" dinner, sometimes it creates a very full garbage bag and sometimes it inspires a new dish.

Last night I found the leftover half bunches of dill and parsley from last week's chicken soup, still in very good condition ... what to do, what to do..... I could have made Herbed Summer Rice, but it really didn't go with everything else I was making. A quick look in the pantry and I had my answer - tabbouleh! Dill is not typical, but, why not? And I had plenty of dried mint, and lemons and cukes and scallions and, of course, a bag of bulgur! I pulled it together this morning - excellent result! I think this one is going to become a standard on the weeks I make chicken soup. Or the week after!

Deb's Dill Tabboulleh

1 cup bulgur
2 teaspoons salt (or less, to taste)
2 tablespoons dried mint
2 cups boiling water
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves only, chopped
1/2 bunch dill, stems removed, chopped
1 cucumbur, seeded and chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 lemons, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put bulgur, salt and mint in large bowl. Pour boiling water over and let sit for at least an hour until water is absorbed and bulgur is at room temperature. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill before serving. Makes about a quart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Come in Peace... Leave in Peace Boachem l'shalom Tsetchem L'shalom

This shabbat marks my younger son's return from a summer of work at camp and my older son's last shabbat home before leaving for college. Naturally, the menu must contain their favorite foods which have been, and will be, missed. While they each have some individual favorites, fortunately for me, some of their requests overlapped.

Friday Night
First Course: Sushi

Main Course & Sides: Meatballs in red sauce with pasta
Spicy Barbequed chicken
Tossed Salad
Popcorn Cauliflower
Corn Kugel
Grilled Vegetables

Shabbat Lunch

Leftovers from Friday night


Oatmeal cookies, peanut butter & jelly cookies, chocolate chip cookies and drumroll please..... a six layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling and seafoam frosting - not really a great choice in this humidity, but a MUST have for this special shabbat.

Chocolate cake with seafoam frosting is a long time favorite - with lots of history attached. My boys will happily tell you about the time when, because of a broken top layer and an overabundance of frosting, the cake collapsed and ended up in a big mush in a bowl. Deemed too ugly to be served to company, it was happily devoured in big messy spoonfuls.

I guess I've been watching too much Alton Brown, because this week I've decided to challenge myself by splitting the three layers to make a six layer cake. The seafoam frosting is very soft, so I think a ganache filling will do a better job of keeping the layers intact.

Recipes and pictures to be posted Friday - no matter if it's beautiful and served on plate or becomes another memorable mistake!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Still Summer???

I've never been a summer person. My usual organized, hyperactive self slows down, and the items on my perpetual to do lists don't get checked off with their usual regularity. My summer shabbat menus are a result of my more relaxed (lazy?) demeanor.

But by the middle of August, I'm getting tired of "summer foods". Combine that salad overload with the beginning of holiday meal planning, and I'm ready to reintroduce some cooked, hot foods to the menu. Could be my nice new air conditioner has something to do with it ;-)

This shabbat segues my menus from Summer to Fall, though I will continue with the "this is what I made, eat it at whatever meal you want" idea - Shabbat Lunch in the summer should be relaxed and easy.

Chicken Soup (yup, put it up at 7am!) with noodles

Grilled Steak and Chicken Cutlets
Egg Rolls
Basmati Rice (the extra cold rice will become fried rice on sunday)
Israeli Salad
Broccoli/Sun Dried Tomato Salad - (a new one - if it's good, I'll post it)
Sesame Eggplant Salad (another new one - ditto)
Corn (hey, even if I'm tired of summer, it's still soooo good)
Napa Cabbage Salad (shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves barely chopped, soy/toasted sesame oil/shriracha/honey dressing)

And last night I was feeling amazingly energetic, and in addition to getting the whole house cleaned, I baked. So for dessert we'll have

chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and oatmeal cookies

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Better than the Bakery

Deb's Delicacies will be taking orders again after Labor Day, with special items available for the High Holidays.

All items available for pickup or White Plains (and vicinity) local delivery.

Everything can be ordered for delivery by mail except for Frozen Mousse Cake and Meringues.

Mail Order payment by paypal - actual shipping prices apply.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Holiday Organization

To simplify my dear readers' holiday organization, I am sharing this year's meal organization chart. This chart will be basis for grocery lists, timetables, and to do lists, all of which will make your chagim more pleasant by eliminating disorganization and last minute "but we're going to the Rabbi's house and I can't find a gift bag for the bottle of wine" hysteria. As the weeks progress, come back to find more useful hints and recipes.

Click on the link and you'll find the file.

Happy organization!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Blink - The summer is half over!

Unbelievable! I blinked my eyes and the summer is half over. The act of turning the calendar page to August (a theoretical act of course, my calendar is computerized!) starts my brain racing towards the fast approaching holidays.

August is not too early to start planning, inviting and even getting a head start on some of the preparing. Because of the "clutter" of school starting, and the holidays right on top of each other, you can keep your frenzy to a minimum by starting your game plan now.

This year, the chagim mostly fall out on shabbat. This overlap can be viewed as a plus or minus, depending on your personal point of view. I see the minuses as having to prepare all the food for two days of chag ahead of time, with no last minute "chag cooking", and losing Sundays as errand days. On the plus side, fewer vacation days to use for chagim. It doesn't really matter whether it's a plus or a minus anyway, since it is!

My holiday organization goes something like this.....

I start off with a big sheet of paper (or a fresh document on the computer) and list (leaving spaces between each) every lunch and dinner of every holiday from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah. The I fill in the annual traditions (things like...we always go to Aunt Bertha the first night of Sukkot). Next would be to consider who I want to invite for which meal, keeping in mind how late lunch will be after Rosh Hashana services (don't invite people with young kids), and that my shul generally has a terrific kiddush on sukkot (no one will be hungry!). As I go along, I jot down whether I think the meal will be meat or dairy.

Once invitations have been issued and accepted, meal planning begins. More about that next week.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To Pound Or Not To Pound

Chicken cutlets may be more expensive than chicken on the bone, but have almost no waste, are easy and quick to cook, and nearly everyone likes them. When they go on sale, I buy several family packs, spend time trimming them, separating the tenderloins, and packaging them in bags of four cutlets each before they go in the freezer. The tenderloins are packaged in larger bags (always with the amount written on it), to make chicken fingers when a big group of kids are coming over. This way, I can take out just the right amount from the freezer. The small packages defrost quickly, and even if I end up cooking a few more cutlets than are needed for one night's dinner, leftovers seems to magically disappear from the refridgerator overnight!

The decision whether to pound the cutlets thin or not depends on the recipe. Shnitzel - always pounded! That way the cutlets, once breaded, cook quickly and evenly and the chicken is cooked through as soon as the coating is crisp.

For grilled cutlets, whether or not to pound depends on how the cutlets will be eaten and when. If it's a large party and people are eating hot off the grill, it's best to pounds the cutlets, give a quick marinade and then they grill in just a minute or two on each side. For cutlets cooked before shabbat to eat warm for shabbat dinner or sliced and eaten for shabbat lunch, it's best to grill without pounding. Grill marinated, unpounded cutlets over a lower heat and they will stay moist and juicy, and can be sliced on the bias for sandwiches, shredded to be added to green salads or pasta salads, or simply eaten.

This past shabbat, I made a spicy marinade and the chicken was delish!

Spicy Grilled Chicken Cutlets

8 skinless, boneless chicken cutlets

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
shredded zest from one lime
1 clove garlic, shredded or crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a zipper bag and mix well. Add cutlets. Put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. Grill over low or indirect heat.

Note: For shabbat lunch, we made sandwiches on whole wheat challah rolls spread lightly with mayonnaise, chicken sliced on the bias, arugula and fresh, ripe tomato slices - YUM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Honeydew Lime Soup - Spicy, Sweet and Tangy

Since we had no company, I felt free to take liberties with new recipes last shabbat, using more new recipes than I would customarily tackle, and tinkering with the recipes right away. There were two great successes - one was was my variation on the Honeydew Lime Soup recipe I'd come across by making the spicy feature much more pronounced. The result was fantastic. This soup was cooling both by being cool, and by it's strong spice factor, which is known to increase sweating, thus cooling you down. It's quick, simple and delicious..

Honeydew Lime Soup

1 5-6 pound honeydew melon, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 teaspoons honey (omit if melon is super-sweet)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra cilantro leaves for garnish (whole or chopped)

In batches, puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Chill well and stir before serving. Garnish with either whole or chopped cilantro.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quiet Summer Shabbat Menu

Due to some minor kitchen uproar (a little project tends to turn into a big one....), no company this shabbat - but that's no reason not to eat delicious foods to celebrate shabbat. Of course being in the throws of hot, sticky weather, oven and stove use will be kept to a minimum! I will prepare several mains and side dishes, and we will pick and choose for dinner, lunch and seudat shlishit as the mood strikes...

This week I'm making:

Spicy Honeydew Lime Soup

Grilled Steak
Spicy Grilled Chicken Cutlets
Marinated Grilled Vegetables
Cole Slaw
Israeli Salad
Tomato Basil Pasta (see earlier post for recipe)
Grilled Potatoes
Herbed Summer Rice (see earlier post for recipe)

For dessert, I'll make Spiked Watermelon Salad with Mint and unless the humidity breaks, it will be one of the rare weeks where the bakery will get my business!

Shabbat Shalom and happy air conditioning to all!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Recipes By Request / Lessons Learned / Tapas Potatoes

There is great satisfaction to a blogger to know your posts are being read - similar to a cook's satisfaction in being asked for a recipe. When a guest enjoys a meal I've prepared so much that s/he follows up with a phone call or note asking for a recipe - that's a fantastic thrill. And it's also a great thrill for me when readers post comments and ask for recipes.

Last week, a reader commented about a menu I'd posted years ago, requesting the recipes. It happens that I recall the menu well because I'd broken one of my cardinal rules of menu prep - no more than one new recipe per meal! The post/menu in question is and both the soup and the salad were new recipes - that were both bombs!

The Tapas Potatoes - my variation on a recipe I read in Kosher by Design Entertains is always a big hit!

Debra's Tapas Potatoes

3 pounds red potatoes, divided
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (or use microplane grater)
28 ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco (less or none to taste)
2 teaspoons salt

Peel potatoes and cut in 1/2 inch dice. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium high heat, saute 1/2 of the diced potatoes, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. When potatoes are browned, and crispy, about 10-15 minutes, remove to a bowl and repeat with two more tablespoons of oil and the other half of the potatoes. Set all potatoes aside.

Bring skillet back to heat, add last tablespoons of oil. Saute onion until soft, add garlic, saute one more minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, lime juice, cumin, crushed red pepper, Tabasco and salt. Bring to boil. Add potatoes, stir, cook uncovered fifteen minutes. Serve hot or room temperature.

Note: The spices are to my kids' tastes - super spicy! Adjust accordingly

Friday, July 17, 2009

Herbed Summer Rice

Made a terrific rice recipe last shabbat - perfect for the summer with all the fresh herb flavors coming through - and also perfect since the stove is only on for 25 minutes! The rice was also delicious cold.

Herbed Summer Rice

1 vidalia onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (or less to taste)
3 tablespoons chopped italian parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

Sautee onion in over medium high heat for about five minutes, until soft, but not browned. Stir in rice, stirring around for about a minute. Turn heat to high, add water and salt. When water boils, stir, cover, turn heat to low and cook 20 minutes.

Turn off heat and let rice sit for 10 minutes. Stir in herbs.

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grilled Summer Salad

I was once served a meal where every dish included the hostesses favorite summer ingredients - corn, zucchini, tomatoes and basil - in some way.

Browsing Epicurious this week, I came across a Zucchini Corn Salad recipe, with all raw ingredients - I thought it would be a good starting point - but made a few (ok a lot) changes.

Here's what I came up with:

Deb's Grilled Summer Salad

4 medium zucchini
2 ears corn
extra virgin olive oil
1 container grape tomatoes
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (more or less to taste)
large handful basil leaves, cut into fine strips

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices and brush with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side on preheated grill. Brush corn with olive oil and grill, turning to cook all sides, until cooked with light grill marks. Set zucchini and corn aside to cool.

When cool, cut zucchini intro 1/2 inch dice. Cut corn from cobs. Half grape tomatoes. Put all vegetables in large bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. Gently stir in basil. Toss and serve.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Summer Shabbats

Like most people without central air conditioning, I hesitate turning on the oven in the summer. A cool evening will inspire me to bake lots of cookies and get them in the freezer, but regular shabbat meal planning revolves around the barbecue and lots of salads. While making salads frequently requires boiling some water (for the pasta, potatoes or rice), the stove and boiling water don't produce enough heat to bother me.

Unless company is coming, I prefer barbecuing several kinds of meat, making four or five salads, and serving both Friday night dinner and shabbat lunch as buffets, letting everyone pick at their favorites.

One of my favorite summer dishes is Fettuccine with Raw Tomato Basil Sauce. It's wonderful served fresh, with bright green strands of basil, and tomatoes that still have a bit of bite to them, and less elegant looking, but even yummier the next day when the fettuccine has had a chance to really absorb all the flavors.

Fettuccine with Raw Tomato Basil Sauce

1 pound fettuccine
1 bunch basil
6 ripe tomatoes (not overly ripe)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or microplaned (see 6/9/09 post) (more or less to taste)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, rinse basil very well, pat dry, stack the leaves and slice into very thin strips (referred to as chiffonade )
Dice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces, making sure to reserve all the juices. The best way to do this is to put your cutting board inside a baking pan. Put tomatoes, basil and garlic in a large bowl. Add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper (if using). Pour hot drained pasta over tomato mixture and gently toss together. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ketchup Shocker

Though this post has nothing specifically to do with Shabbat or Chagim- since ketchup is an ingredient we all use (and is nearly always kosher), I thought I'd pass this info along.

I check's blogs every day and was totally shocked to see this ketchup taste test - the only time I've ever bought ketchup other than Heinz was for pesach - and stopped doing that years ago since my kids decided it was better to do without for a week than to use the awful pesach ketchup.

Gonna have to do a taste test of my own..... Ok, now that's the connection to Shabbat - in a few weeks when my son and I will both be home for shabbat, I'll make foods that are ketchup related - as an ingredient, and a dip .... Menu to follow

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Third Time's the Charm

Even though I was almost satisfied with the results of my last attempt at challah, when I started the process this week, I made several changes. First, I've given up on the food processor for mixing. Last time, the motor started to overheat, and so I switched to my mixer, which, after all, is really the machine for the job. The entire process was interspersed with a few other kitchen tasks tonight, including shabbat food and tonight's dinner.

Probably more significant though, is I've given up on the idea of the overnight rise. I'm not sure what I thought the benefit would be, but I've learned that the rise time is directly affected by temperature, so I can make the challah work around my schedule. The baking time is only a half hour, so it can be the last thing baked on a Thursday night, and can cool overnight on a rack (which is what the picture shows).

If this batch tastes as good as it looks, I'll post the recipe.

Post Shabbat Review..... The taste is good but the challah still has a cakier consistency than I want. I'm going to do some reading to see what gives bread the chew and pull that I'm going for. All that said though, if you have a good mixer or a good food processor, baking challah is simple, doesn't require a huge amount of time or effort and it's very satisfying to put homemade challah on the table!

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