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.

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