Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy First Birthday Applesauce Vanilla Mini-Cupcakes!

For my daughters' first birthday, I just had to make them cupcakes. They're really just healthy-ish muffins with a decadent sweet frosting. For adults, this would be good with sliced almonds, pecans or chocolate chips. Enjoy and Chanukah Samayach!

2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
2 and 1/3 cups applesauce
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
cooking spray

Vanilla Frosting

2 cups 10-X (confectioner's) sugar
2 tbsp water, rice milk or milk
2 tbsp margarine (I use Earth Balance soy veggy sticks)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 dash ground cinnamon

For the cupcakes: Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixer, beat eggs with sugar and oil, then add the applesauce alternating with the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined. Pour batter into cupcake tins sprayed with cooking spray.

For the frosting: Combine ingredients and beat in a mixer until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate if you're not using it right away!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baked Butternut Squash Latkes!

Yay! Butternut squash is a Weight Watchers "points free" food, and it's so similar tasting to sweet potato that it makes a super-delicious oven-baked latke (although with the egg and oil, this isn't a completely "points free" food any longer (but it's still a pretty good bargain!). The natural sweetness of the squash combined with lots of pepper and salt adds so much dimension to the flavor and really makes the latkes delectable. Even my husband, who DOES NOT LIKE vegetables, ate these and asked for more.

Be warned: It takes extra time to get the latkes crispy. My squash latkes were in the oven for over 90 minutes. But, if you have the time, it's a truly healthy side dish and in my house, the dish they were served in was licked clean. If you are watching Weight Watchers points, my calculations indicate that a serving of two squash latkes is two points. Chanukah Samayach and please let me know how you like them!

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and grated
2 medium yellow onions, grated
1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt (or more, to taste)
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
3 tbsp white or white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp canola oil
cooking spray
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 425F (convection will take less time, so use if possible).

Peel and grate onions and squash and place both in a colander to drain excess moisture.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the egg substitute, salt, pepper and canola oil. In a small bowl, mix together the baking powder and flour, and combine both mixtures.

Drop two to three tablespoons of the squash mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or nonstick foil (this is key!) that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 60-90 minutes, checking several times. The cooking time will vary based on the temperature of your oven and how well done you like your latkes. Latkes should be deep gold on both sides when done.

This makes approximately 20 small latkes. The recipe can be easily halved or doubled. Chanukah Samayach!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oven-Baked Potato Latke Cups

I've committed this Hanukkah to making truly baked latkes. In previous years, I have made the incredibly sinful and delicious sweet potato and leek latkes and of course plenty of classic potato latkes, but these days I am generally making Weight Watchers-friendly recipes. I'm happy with this recipe as it really does yield a crispy, satisfying latke, and it fills your home with the same latke aroma as fried latkes, though it takes longer. The high cooking temperature combined with just a little bit of oil is what makes the dream a reality. (Note: For even healthier latkes try my new Butternut Squash latkes. They're fab!)

2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and grated
2 medium yellow onions, grated
1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
3 tbsp white or white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp canola oil
cooking spray for cupcake tins
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 425F (convection will take less time, so use if possible).

Peel and grate onions and potatoes and place both in a colander to drain excess moisture. Stir mixture and repeat, allowing the potatoes to drain for at least 5 minutes. Place several paper towels on the mixture to ensure that most of the mixture has been drained.

Transfer potato mixture to a large bowl and stir in the egg substitute, salt, pepper and canola oil. In a small bowl, mix together the baking powder and flour, and combine both mixtures. Refrigerate mixture for 10 to 30 minutes.

Drop two to three tablespoons of the latke mixture into cupcake tins lined with parchment paper or nonstick foil (this is key!) that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You can also use baking sheets for more a more classic latke look. Bake for 20-30 minutes, then when the potato has pulled away from the side of the cupcake tin and browned as much as you like, turn the latkes over with a spoon or tongs, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the temperature of your oven and how well done you like your latkes. Latkes should be deep gold on both sides when done.

This makes approximately 24 small latkes. The recipe can be easily halved or doubled. Hanukkah Samayach!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fruit Bouquets How-To

I'm still teaching my class on how to make fruit bouquets, and have done two wonderful classes this season. Fruit bouquets make great gifts and they are of course *zero* WW points! It's a fun class and I always bring a very easy to follow how-to guide. Let me know if your shul or organization is interested; I'm happy to share prices and other pertinent information about the class.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Classically Kosher is Nominated for a Best of Kosher 2011 Award!

The new magazine Joy of Kosher, has developed a contest called Best of Kosher 2011, and my blog is nominated for Best Kosher Food Blog! I would love it if you would take the time to vote for my blog here. There is no login required. If I win the contest, perhaps I will finally get the opportunity to turn my recipe collection into a cookbook.

As my girls grow, I find it's even more important to cook and bake using healthy ingredients, while attempting to maintain the delicious "geschmack" of our classic Jewish dishes. This is what my blog is all about, and I'm excited to welcome visitors who are coming to see me from the Joy of Kosher site. Please feel free to look around! And don't forget to vote! Thanks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

White Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

My cousin Laurie's pumpkin chocolate chip loaf is continuing to thrive in my family's kitchens every autumn. It's a perfect pareve dessert and breakfast item (lunch, afternoon snack, dinner...). The fall flavors of cinnamon and spice pair perfectly with the pumpkin, so all that's left is really to lighten it up. It's one thing to get your family eating pumpkin, but it's another thing to think that since it's pumpkin, you can have five muffins. Not at this calorie count, unfortunately! (9 WW points for a large muffin, btw).

I have used agave nectar and honey it in to replace the sugar, which works but makes a very different product, and this year I am experimenting with different kinds of flour to try to add fiber and the other health benefits of whole grains to dessert items. (Stay tuned for my recipes involving coconut flour, coming soon).

So this is the same recipe as before, but with white whole wheat flour. I found it to build a slightly chewier muffin, which was not altogether unwelcome. Remember that with the muffin method, it's important to only mix the batter until combined; Any longer will overactivate the baking powder and make a crumbly muffin. With white whole wheat, it holds together well but is drier than the same product made with white flour, so feel free to add a couple of extra tablespoons of pumpkin puree or applesauce. In this recipe's next incarnation, I am going to try a combination of agave, applesauce and honey along with the white whole wheat, to replace some of the sugar and all of the white flour. I invite you to try your own combination and tell me what you think!

3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice mix
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups canola oil (I like Mazola Vegetable Plus! with Omega Threes)
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour until half full into large, ungreased tube pan (or 9 x 13 pan). Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until dry in center. This cake also may be baked in muffin tins, two 8”x 8” pans, or two large loaf pans or three small ones. The baking time will be shorter if you use smaller pans or muffin tins, so keep an eye on them. Recipe can be easily halved or doubled.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Ain't Your Bubby's Chicken Hash!

I really, really like chicken sausage, and my friends at Jack's Gourmet just came out with a great new flavor of their delicious Glatt kosher sausages: Buffalo Chicken. It is so yummy that it won a new product award at Kosherfest 2011.

The great thing about gourmet sausages like Jack's (and no, they are not paying me!) is that they are easy to pull out of the fridge to turn into a fantastic and interesting meal. These sausages are not just for buns and mustard, though I'm sure they'd be great like that too.

What I like to do brown them and then combine them in one pan with veggies and a starch, like wild rice, potatoes or quinoa. With chicken sausage, the fat is low but the flavor is high. For those interested in low Weight Watchers points meals, the chicken sausage is only 3 points per link, and the total for this entire meal is 10 points for two servings, and the addition of purple cabbage really gives the dish heft so it is very filling. It's low-fat high-class chicken hash!

1-2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup raw Lundberg quick cooking wild rice (or 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa)
2 sweet onions, sliced lengthwise
2 Jack's Gourmet chicken sausage (I like Buffalo Chicken and Mexican Chorizo [beef, not chicken] -- both are very spicy. If you like a sweeter sausage try Sweet Italian.)
1 and 1/2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 cups fresh arugula
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the 1/4 cup of rice in 1 cup of water and a bit of salt. Slice the sausages on the bias (diagonally), and in a saute pan, brown them and remove them from the pan. Add 1-2 tsp. olive oil to the pan and sweat the onions for 10-15 minutes, until nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cabbage and the sausages and cover for 5 minutes just to simmer and let the flavors marry. Right before serving, add the arugula and let it wilt. Mix all together and serve.

Below is another version I did of this, with red quinoa, sauteed mushrooms and whole garlic cloves. I used the chorizo and instead of arugula, fresh spinach.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey and Red Lentil Soup

Even I, who didn't make a whole bird (just a roast), had a lot of leftover turkey after Thanksgiving shabbos. I was in the mood for something spicy, so I started throwing things and spices in a pot and came up with a really good, really satisfying low-fat soup. It takes under 15 minutes to make but it tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen.

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 head celery, diced
3 large carrots, diced small
3 (or more) large slices white meat turkey, torn into small pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 and 1/2 cup dry red lentils
2 tbsp Indian curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp hot chili powder or hot paprika (or to taste)
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
10 cups water (or to cover all contents and give a little space for the lentils to expand)

Sweat onions, celery and carrots in a large pot with the olive oil, just until softened. Add the chopped turkey slices, chickpeas and spices. Taste and correct the seasoning to your liking. Then, add the lentils and the water and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the lentils have softened. Turn off the heat and let stand for several minutes. Taste for seasoning (lentils often absorb salt). Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Kosherfest Highlights

Well, I'm home and resting (as much resting as I can do while chasing after my 10 month old twins) after a tiring two days at the world's most influential kosher food show, Kosherfest 2011, which took place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

No matter how blase you are about kosher food, there is always something different or new to see at Kosherfest, most often not in the booths that contain scads of deep fried samples of frozen foods you would NEVER eat at home, but usually in out-of-the-way corner booths, in chance conversations on the show floor and with people exhibiting at Kosherfest for the first time.

My "best in show" is of course always the CKCA or Center for Kosher Culinary Arts booth, which I have had the honor of being associated with for several years since that fateful day in 2009 when I showed up to join the professional program in Culinary Arts. As I tell Kosherfest attendees, I'm a graduate of the program, and in fact, I liked it so much I never left. Just knowing that there is a place in America to learn classic French culinary technique in a Glatt Kosher environment shows how far the kosher world has come since the days of being known for cloying concord grape wine and bottled gefilte fish.

But I digress: since this is my personal blog, I want to take a few moments to mention some of my favorite show highlights:

First-time Kosherfest visitors from the Philippines showed up with an interesting new Passover offering, and since I'm a recipe tester, I was particularly excited about its possibilities. Coconut flour, which is being made by Coconut Republic, is certified kosher by the venerable Baltimore-based Star K, and I was assured by their representative that pre-Pesach packaging will include the Kosher for Passover certification. This opens up a whole world of baking ideas for me. I am looking forward to testing this new flour, which not only adheres to Passover non-leavened requirements, but is also purported to be high in fiber, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, transfat-free, and low in digestible carbohydrates. In the near term, you can look forward to me sharing many new baked recipes for cakes using coconut flour.

Jack's Gourmet is a very new company that took the kosher world by storm last year, debuting its first gourmet kosher sausage offerings only at Kosherfest 2010. This year, their Jamaican Jerk Chicken sausage won one of the Kosherfest new product awards for the category of meat/poultry. The sausage was indeed delicious, and boasted a combination of flavors that I, as a kosher-keeping consumer have never experienced. Spicy, sweet, and 100% yum. Jack's Gourmet also debuted another sausage flavor that got less attention at Kosherfest but was no less noteworthy: the buffalo chicken sausage. You basically had me at chorizo, but then you gave me buffalo wing flavor? I am very impressed and glad that this small company is delivering truly robust flavors. May you go from strength to strength.

Truly the best part of Kosherfest for me was meeting so many other women who also blog, write, edit, spin (cook, craft, cope), and otherwise make a living from the kosher world. From couponkosher.com to busyinbrooklyn.com, to kosheronabudget.com, to kosherlikeme.com, to koshereye.com, to Joy of Kosher, to Jewpon.com to Bits and Bites, to Norene Gilletz, to Elka Pinson, to Jamie Geller to Leah Schapira, and so many others. I am so glad to know you. Knowing you makes the kosher world smaller; somehow friendlier. I think this population of women illustrates just how different a role women play in the kosher scene. Many of us don't work on the production side (unless you're Zelda of Zelda's Bake Shoppe), but we show it off; we interpret it and make it beautiful for the world to see.

Thanks to the Kosherfest team for making Kosherfest 2011 an amazing event and a worthy, important industry gathering.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sukkot Salad Recipes, Part IV

In case you missed my previous Sukkot Salad Dressings I, II and III (cranberry almond cole slaw!), please enjoy these following two fantastic recipes that were published as part of a Center for Kosher Culinary Arts article in Saveur Magazine.

Marinated Cauliflower Salad

and Salade de Pois Chiches (Chickpea Salad).

Enjoy and Chag Samayach!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Classic Hungarian Rosh Hashanah Brisket

It's sweet, spicy, saucy, meaty and it fills the house with the smell of Yuntif. Enjoy this "fix-it-and-forget-it" recipe for brisket this Rosh Hashanah and year round.

2 pounds top round or first cut beef brisket
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp paprika
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 cup beef or veal stock or broth

Place chopped vegetables in at least a 2-inch deep pan or cooking tin. Generously salt and pepper the meat on both sides. Sprinkle generously with paprika and granulated garlic and place meat on top of the vegetables. Pour olive oil on top and rub in slightly to form a dark crust over all over the meat (this will get messy). Wash hands and drizzle meat and vegetables with honey. Add beef stock or broth to pan without upsetting the spices on top of the meat. Cover tightly with foil. Place in a 375 degree oven for three hours. Remove and slice meat 1/3 inch thick, against the grain. Taste and add salt or honey as necessary. If meat needs further cooking (i.e., if it is not fork tender,) place back in jus and continue cooking for an additional hour. Store sliced meat in its jus whenever possible, and reheat entire dish together with vegetables.

If you have time, remove jus from the dish and reduce in a pot on the stove for 10-15 minutes. The flavor will deepen and you can add salt, pepper or honey as necessary.

Serve hot. The jus is particularly good with the cooked veggies and mashed potatoes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Peach Apple Crisp and Yellow Plum Cherry Crisp

I'm toying with the idea of blogging a "Farmer's Market" shabbos meal, because the Farmer's Market in Teaneck every Thursday is just great in the late summer. I have been perfecting new recipes for baked eggplant, roasted veggies (it seems I can roast just about everything and have it gobbled up!) and fruit crisps, and the first photo I've taken is of last week's peach apple crisp (above). Coming next is yellow plum and cherry crisp (below). This is a far cry from the cranberry crunch side dish that has been gracing the menus of UWS young professional Shabbos dinners for years. Because that fruit came from a can, and is therefore, not fresh, local or interesting to me right now! But it's pretty good in the dead of winter, especially if you use the in-season fresh or frozen whole cranberries.

Photo at left: Yellow Plum and Cherry Crisp

Here's the recipe:

Crust and Topping:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cup quick cook oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (this is my favorite: nutmeg, allspice, or pumpkin pie spice would also be delicious)
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) melted trans-fat free margarine (I use Earth Balance Veggy Sticks)

4-6 cups chopped fresh fruit (stone fruit and berries are best for summer crisps)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the topping/crust with a fork and place half of the mixture in the bottom of a parchment paper-lined pan, and flatten to about a quarter to half an inch. Fill pan with fruit and sprinkle remaining crumble on top.

Bake for one hour or until bubbling at 350 degrees.

Makes one large or two small pans of delicious fruit crisp!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipes for the Nine Days: 'Nine Days' Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This is an adaption of Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup, which is amazing. You should try it after the Nine Days, when Jews traditionally avoid eating meat (For a recipe roundup of Nine Days recipes that I did last year when I had fewer babies in my life, click here!). By the way, I heard that Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is bringing a show to the Food Network, and I am so excited. She's really creative and her flavor instincts are just fantastic.

Since once you get a hankering for tortilla soup, it's hard to not make it, I made a veggie version several weeks ago. It's really bright, fresh and delicious tasting, and it's also quite low in fat. It's a full meal, so enjoy!

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small call green chilis (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can sweet corn or two ears of corn, cut off the cob
2 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 quarts vegetable stock (I use low sodium) -- enough to cover all your soup contents by 3 inches.
1 package Morningstar Farms recipe crumbles (or other soy crumbles)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 whole grain tortilla per person, chopped in long strips
sour cream for garnish
chopped avocado for garnish
red onion for garnish
1 whole grain tortilla, cut into strips, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and toasted in the oven for garnish

Sweat the onions and the bell peppers in a deep soup pot with a little olive oil, for about 10 minutes. I like them nice and carmelized. Add the black beans, corn and green chilis, and then add the chili powder, cumin and garlic powder, and enough salt and pepper to your taste. Once you have tasted this mixture and it has enough seasoning to your liking, add the tomato products, the vegetable stock and the recipe crumbles. Cook for approximately half an hour. Taste again and correct seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat.

When ready to serve, reheat and then add the freshly chopped cilantro and tortilla strips to the pot. Serve the soup alongside little bowls of toppings: sour cream, avocado, toasted tortilla strips and red onion, for people to add themselves.


Friday, June 24, 2011

'Everything Bagel' Shnitzel

Shnitzel, or breaded baked/fried boneless chicken, turkey or veal fillets, are a household standard on Shabbos day luncheon meals. Long ago, I learned that frying breaded chicken breasts in oil and then refrigerating them for a day at a time often resulted in them getting overcooked and dried out by the time they were served. I semi-resolved this problem by using a more naturally moist cut of meat, usually a boneless chicken thigh rather than the more ubiquitous breast, and then rolling it up with some sauteed spinach inside and then breading it and oven baking it on parchment paper or nonstick foil with a little olive oil cooking spray over the top.

But I digress. I still want to sometimes use chicken breast fillets for Shabbos lunch, and when I do, I fry them in oil, but I lower the carb count by using 'everything bagel' flavors ("you can take the New Yorker out of NY...") and no bread crumbs.


6 chicken breast fillet pieces, sliced or pounded thin (approximately 1/3 inch thick)
2 large eggs, beaten
4 tbsp white sesame seeds
3 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp dried minced garlic
1/2 to 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup oil for frying (I use Mazola Vegetable Plus! or canola)

Combine dry spices. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan to medium/high. Dip the chicken with egg and then cover completely with the dried toppings and then cook in a hot pan, about 2 minutes or less on each side until the toppings around browned. Try not to burn or overbake. If you are me, at this point take the battery out of your smoke detector. As each piece finishes, transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil, then place in an oven ready pan. Finish in the oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

All Natural Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Cupcakes!

I have a friend coming for lunch tomorrow who eats only gluten-free foods, and someone coming for Seudas Shlishis who doesn't eat either white flour or sugar. What will I serve for dessert??

The solution? Dark chocolate cupcakes made with Bob's Red Mill (certified by Kehillas Kosher of Los Angeles), organic agave nectar, and unsweetened applesauce!

3 cups Bob's Red Mill Baking Flour (chickpea flour, fava bean flour, tapioca flour, etc)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa (I recommend Ghiradelli)
1 and 1/2 tsp xantham gum (available via Bob's Red Mill)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp decaf or regular instant coffee granules
4 extra large/jumbo eggs, beaten
1 and 1/2 cups agave nectar
1 and 1/2 cups oil (I recommend Mazola Vegetable Plus! with Omega 3s)
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
optional (12 oz. chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix first six (dry only) ingredients together and set aside. Beat eggs and with mixer on add all other wet ingredients except the applesauce. With mixer on a slow setting, add half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, followed by the applesauce, then the rest of the dry mixture. Mix only until batter forms. If using chocolate chips, stir in now.

Pour into unoiled parchment paper filled cupcake/muffin tins or loaf pans and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Baking time will vary based on the size of the pan. Cupcakes are done well the middle is dry and a toothpick comes away clean when poked through the center.

Enjoy, my gluten free friends!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shavuot Treat: Dairy Vichyssoise, a Cold Potato Leek Soup

Here's a delicious version of the classic Julia Child creamy potato leek soup, perfect for serving on this hot Shavuot!

Dairy Vichyssoise:

4 cups leeks, white and very light green parts only, sliced
4 cups old or russet baking potatoes(very starchy, not red or new potatoes recommended), sliced
7 cups reduced or low sodium vegetable stock (or enough to cover the vegetables)
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1 tsp pepper (optional)
1/2 cup cream
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced

Bring the leeks, potatoes and vegetable stock to a boil in a deep, wide-bottomed saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat and add cream. Purée the soup (optional) with an immersion blender or food processor. Taste and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. If serving hot, salt the soup when it is hot. Salt cold soup if you're serving it cold. So depending on whether you are serving the soup cold or hot, make sure to correct the seasoning at the temperture you'll be serving it. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of chives. Makes 4 to 5 generous servings. This recipe doubles and triples easily.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Almond Lover's Birthday Cake

Someone in my house dearly loves almonds. This is his birthday cake.

Chocolate Almond Mocha Cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa (I use and recommend Ghiradelli unsweetened)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pure almond extract
2 tsp decaf or regular instant coffee granules
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cups oil (I use and recommend Mazola Corn Plus with Omega 3's)
2 cups unsweetened applesauce

Vanilla Almond Buttercream:

1 cup superfine sugar (or 2 cups powdered)
1 cup unsalted margarine, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
sliced almonds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix first five ingredients together and set aside. Beat eggs, sugar, almond extract, coffee granules and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and applesauce, mixing between each addition. Greasing only the bottom of the pan with a small amount of oil or spray, pour until half full into round or square pans. Bake for 1 hour or less, depending on the size of the pan, until dry in center. This cake also may be baked in muffin tins, 8”x 8” pans, small loaf pans, etc. The baking time will be shorter if you use smaller pans or muffin tins, so keep an eye on them. The cakes are done when the centers are no longer wobbly.

To make the buttercream, make sure the butter is softened, and place it in a mixer with the sugar. Mix thoroughly and add the extracts one at a time. When everything is incorporated, set mixer to the highest setting and mix for approximately 10 minutes, or until the frosting color has lightened at least one shade.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kosher for Passover Classic Caesar Dressing

Again, this caesar dressing is no different than homemade caesar dressing for the rest of the year. That's why it's so good. All you need is a food processor. (And the ingredients, of course!)


4 anchovy fillets, or more, if you prefer a strong anchovy flavor (if you are not using a food processor, press the anchovies through a garlic press or mince small)
2 egg yolks (or 2-3 tablespoons pasteurized egg)
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 lemon, juice only
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
2 garlic cloves (pressed or minced very small)

Combine garlic, anchovies and egg and whisk until you have created a paste (this is very easily done in a food processor, and requires a little elbow grease if done by hand). Add lemon, spices and stream in olive oil while whisking. Taste and correct seasoning. If you have used a food processor, you may wish to thin the dressing with a bit of water, as it sometimes creates a mayonnaise-like consistency (or, you may like it this way). Whisk again before serving.

Kosher for Passover (and delicious all year long!) Mayonnaise

There used to be nothing worse than bottled Kosher for Passover mayonnaise. It's gotten much better in the last five years or so. I have no idea why it tasted so awful, because mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of egg yolks and oil, and should generally have nothing to do with Passover ingredients.

If you have a Passover food processor, then you have the ability to make delicious Pesach homemade mayonnaise (as good, or better than Hellman's). It's worth it to invest in a food processor for Passover just for this recipe, I think. You can also make your potato, cauliflower and other veggie kugels very easily with a food processor!

You can also add garlic and herbs to your mayo in order to make herbed garlic mayo, or you can add horseradish puree to make a chrain mayo for gefilte fish. Your fresh mayonnaise will greatly, greatly improve any tuna or egg salads you make, and since it's so easy to make (and so delicious), I would wager some people might even make homemade mayo the rest of the year too.


1 cup of oil
1 raw egg (or the equivalent in egg substitute)
Juice of 1 lemon, and/or white wine vinegar (I start with the juice of half a lemon, and then about 2-3 tsp of vinegar at the end to get the right taste)
Pinch of salt (to taste)
Water to thin the mayonnaise, if necessary


In a food processor or mixer, pulse or beat the egg and the lemon juice and/or vinegar together continuously until it turns a full shade or two lighter, very light yellow and frothy. Begin adding oil very slowly in a steady stream, with the processor on. As the mayonnaise starts to thicken and lighten, you made need to add some water to thin it. If your mayonnaise never emulsifies (very unlikely if you use a food processor, but more likely the case if you use a whisk), you can try adding another egg yolk, or simply start over. In a food processor, this is very, very easy. By hand with a whisk, it is trickier. Taste as you go along, and add more lemon and/or vinegar to get the mayonnaise taste you prefer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crunchy Sprout Chips

You're not going to believe this, but it's true. Brussel sprouts are addictively good! Especially when simply roasted until crisp with a tiny bit of olive oil, a smidge of salt and some pepper. Making chips from Brussel sprouts takes a bit of slicing and dicing, but it's worth the extra five minutes of effort. Make this and your kids will spurn potato chips and french fries in their favor.

A great idea for an easy Pesach (Passover) side dish, Brussel sprouts also have the side benefit of being a very healthy vegetable.

From Wikipedia:

Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anti-cancer compounds, steaming, microwaving, and stir frying does not result in significant loss.

Brussels sprouts and other brassicas are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.[


2 cups whole Brussel sprouts
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


Slice each sprout in half and cut out the root from each side. Gently remove as many leaves as possible from the outside of the sprout and place in a bowl. Any actual leaves you can separate in a single leaf or layer is usable for this bowl. Set the cabbage-like insides of the sprouts, as well as the roots, aside for a separate roast.

Coat the sprout leaves with 1 tbsp (max) of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Resist the temptation to add more olive oil. It's not necessary and will only stay on the baking sheet. Spread leaves in a single layer onto baking sheets lined with nonstick foil or parchment paper. Place in a 400 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, until crisp and browned. Baking time may vary a little. Keep an eye on them.

Prepare the cabbage-like insides of the sprouts in the same manner, but use a separate baking sheet and spread each sprout slightly wider and leave space in between, to give them enough space to prevent them from steaming during the roasting process. If you want them crispy, these will likely need to roast longer, for approximately 20 minutes or more.

Remove from oven and serve hot or at room temperature. Good luck even getting them out of the kitchen before you eat them all. ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chicken Chorizo Hash

So what to do, what to do, with all this leftover chicken all the time? Here's a great answer for a totally new meal when you've just had too much plain, boring chicken, whether it's leftover from Shabbos, or was on sale, or whatever. I am trying out a new product called Jack's Gourmet, (OU Glatt), which at the moment is available at Glatt Express in Teaneck. They have a spicy Mexican-style chorizo sausage, which is just delicious and perfectly suited to hash. I made this with extra virgin olive oil, so the (considerable amount of) fat in the four sausages and whatever fat remained on the skin-free chicken is the only fat present in the recipe. However, lower fat meat items can also be used to make this recipe even healthier. You can do it with only the chicken, but it's a little boring. The chorizo really is the star here. An alternative to lower the fat content of the dish is to slice and fry up the sausages first, and pour off the expressed oil and/or pat the sausages dry with paper toweling.

Hash basically means a coarse mixture of ingredients cooked with spices, and to me it usually is characterized by a meat product like corned beef, or sausage, cooked with potatoes and onions. It's a great choice if you want to do a meat meal for Motzei Shabbos, or when you feel like a home-cooked meal but don't want to make a lot of effort. All you really have to do is dice up an onion and a potato, throw it in and forget about it until it perfumes up your house. Then you sing, "Dinner's ready!"


1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into rings
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 2 tsp granulated garlic
2 large Yukon Gold or baking potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup carrots, diced
6 cooked bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed and diced into bite-sized pieces (or any leftover chicken)
1 package sausage, diced on the bias (I recommend Jack's GourmetSpicy Mexican-Style Chorizo)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 tsp coarse ground kosher salt (to taste)
freshly ground cracked pepper (to taste)


Sweat onion over medium heat in hot olive oil until caramelized to a dark brown color (approximately 10 minutes). Add the garlic and the diced chorizo and cook together for another ten minutes. Now add diced chicken and potatoes, cover and cook over low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve, or place on a back burner under very low heat for one to two hours, until ready to serve. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will marry. The hash is also easily cooked in advance, refrigerated and reheated. Serve hot!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Transfat-Free and Delicious Hamantaschen

That title is not a Purim joke. Heart disease is rampant not just in the Jewish community with our schmaltz, margarine and non-dairy creamer diets, but all over the country. To stay healthy, we must work to bring healthy foods into our family diet, just as we work to bring money into our bank accounts. That is my general goal with this blog/cookbook.

Hamantaschen is one of the last vestiges of our old country recipes that have been most often made unaltered for several generations with Fleishman's unsalted magarine. It's reliable, it's delicious, it's pareve and most of all, the hamantaschen come out of the oven photo-ready. They're so lovely they even the most novice of bakers can be given as gifts to neighbors. And this is why it's so hard to try to make hamantaschen healthy. Because we know what they're supposed to look like.

That being said, as my dad prepares to hear the megillah for the second year since his heart transplant, I have been working to alter my mom's famous recipe for hamantaschen, to make it transfat free. My friend Rivka has also made it with whole wheat flour, which I am working toward but have not been able to do yet for cosmetic reasons. It's a common adage drummed into us by the chefs at CKCA, that we eat with our eyes, so whole wheat flour is not yet something I am able to build into hamantaschen, because it looks so much more rustic. But next year (if the Moshiach hasn't come yet), I promise I will make transfat-free whole grain hamantaschen. But don't let it stop you this year.

4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (or 2 cups AP flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy/canola margarine (I use, and recommend, Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks -- OU pareve and quite tasty even on toast)
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs (if you are watching cholesterol, 3 tbsp egg substitute plus 1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce)
4 tsp rice milk or water
1 tsp cinnamon (optional!!)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of your favorite filling

Cream together margarine and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Separately, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the mixer on low, alternately with water or rice milk. Chill the dough for 1 hour to overnight. Chilling the dough is what is important in this recipe with Earth Balance margarine. A good stiff cookie dough will allow you to handle it easily, and touching the dough as little as humanly possibly, will keep the cookie light and delicate tasting.

Roll cookie dough out to ¼ inch thickness, and using a water glass or round cookie cutter, cut into 2'' rounds.
Fill with 1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite filling, and draw up sides for triangle. Seal edges with cold water. Bake at 375° for 12 to 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Whole Grain and Sneaky Pumpkin Lasagne

As you may know, I am on a continued quest to make delicious food that tastes classically good, without anyone knowing it's healthy. To that end, I have now perfected a fleishig (meat, no dairy) lasagne that is stuffed with veggies and other ingredients of the antioxident variety. I hope you like it as much as we did.

1 and 1/2 boxes lasagne noodles (I use, and recommend, Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain lasagne -- OU pareve).

Meat layer:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 large can (35 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 small can (14.5 oz or similar) diced or petite diced tomatoes in their own juice or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes (If your family prefers a smoother non-chunky sauce, use tomato sauce instead)
1 cup pasta sauce or 1 can tomato sauce with salt, pepper and garlic powder added to taste
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 tsp garlic, minced
4 tsp fresh basil, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes(optional)

Spinach layer:

3 cups cooked chopped spinach (I used Bodek frozen chopped spinach), defrosted
4 eggs or the equivalent egg substitute
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp granulated garlic
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Sweat the onion with the olive oil until browned. Add the garlic and the beef and cook until there's no more red. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from flame.

Defrost or prepare spinach and mix with spices and egg.

Layer lasagne sauce first followed by noodles, then spinach. Finish with noodles and the additional cup of pasta sauce on top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until noodles are fully cooked.

By the way, I filled two medium-sized lasagnes with this, but I imagine these ingredients would fill one large lasagne pan or three small.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Redux -- The Art and Science of Hamantaschen

Originally published on behalf of the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts for Purim 5770, on Kosher.com.

Few, if any, fancy culinary arts textbooks include recipes for Hamantaschen, because, hamantaschen are sentimental little triangular trifles from the old country that are really only popular one day a year. And yet we all have Jewish moms and grandmothers who we have watched carefully as they rolled out delicious rounds to create the Jewish world’s most perfect cookie.

Hamantaschen are a unique and special thing, because, unlike rugalach or even babka, the best of the best simply cannot be found in professional bakeries. Rather, the most delectable and mouth-watering of these cookies are found perfuming the kitchens of Jewish homes throughout the world, during the few days preceding the Purim holiday, which will be celebrated this year March 19th and 20th, 2011.

Bakeries never get hamantaschen truly right because the recipes we have, which are overwhelmingly passed down from our European ancestors, were meant to be made in small batches, with attention given toward the inclusion of fresh ingredients and good tasting fillings, all designed to deliver a delicate, soft, sweet cookie.

I’ll share an amazing recipe for hamantaschen at the end of this article, but we also recognize that most people have a recipe from their own grandmother tucked away for this time of year. Therefore, we have found that the following five tips will provide excellent guidance when using any hamantaschen recipe.

1. Prepare hamantaschen Dough in Small Batches.

No matter how many dozens of hamantaschen you make this year, it is important to prepare your dough in small batches to ensure good consistency. Otherwise, you run the risk of a chalky, heavy, hard pastry; the kind most often found in bakeries. It is key to mix your wet ingredients very well, and then add the dry ingredients alternatively with liquid, and to combine everything well. And this is key: Don’t overmix the final product! As soon as the dough comes together, the mixer should be turned off. There are some baking recipes in which it is good to keep the mixer on to develop the strands of gluten in flour, like with many breads, but this is not one of those times. Like all pastry dough, it is best to handle hamantaschen dough as little as possible so that the dough keeps a light and airy consistency, not chalky, hard or chewy. The dough should also be chilled before you roll it out. This will make it less sticky and easier to manage, and it will ensure that each cookie rises and bakes evenly.

2. Shape and Seal.

Hamantaschen dough should be rolled out on a floured surface, very thinly, to approximately ¼ of an inch thick. Then, using a floured drinking glass or cookie cutter, cut a circle shape about 2 inches in diameter. After dotting the center of the circle with filling (approximately 1 teaspoon), draw up the bottom of the circle and then each of the two sides, to create an equilateral triangle with a little of the filling showing in the center. Dip your fingers in cold water, and then pinch the three corners with your fingers to seal and perfect the shape of the triangle. (For those who don’t know, the triangular shape is made to approximate the three-cornered hat worn by Haman, the bad guy in the Purim story).

3. Determine Your Precision Baking Time and Temperature.

Most recipes we see for hamantaschen recommend a 375 degree oven and a 15-minute maximum baking time. This means two things: First, make sure your oven does not run too hot, or else the edges of your hamantaschen will burn before the center is baked. And second, a 15-minute maximum means that there is a very small time period between the time your cookies are done, and ruined. The best way to solve this problem is to hover (like a Jewish mother!) around the oven from about the 12 minute mark until the 14th. To avoid making too crisp a cookie, take the tray out at about 13 minutes. If you do like a crispy cookie, it makes a difference to line your pan with white parchment paper. This will keep the bottoms of the Hamantaschen from being scorched when baking a few minutes longer to achieve a crispy cookie. I recommend using parchment paper either way, for easy cleanup.

4. Flavorful Filling, Measured Precisely.

In this day and age, we are very lucky that many kosher supermarkets carry good tasting fillings for hamantaschen throughout the year. But that does not mean that you should just add the filling from the container to the hamantaschen without tasting it. Take a sample, and remember that a squeeze of lemon juice or some freshly grated zest will take prune, poppy seed, and apricot filling to a gourmet level. Puree a mango and combine it with marmalade or raspberry jam for a tropical treat. Add a few drops of peppermint flavoring to chocolate filling for a refreshing “peppermint patty” surprise. Throw some dark chocolate chips and a dash of vanilla into your tart cherry filling, and your family will know you have baked up something special. Most often, very small changes to your filling will result in a big flavor bonus. Just make sure the filling does not have too much liquid, or else you will end up with hamantaschen soup. Achieving the consistency of paste or a very thick jam will be most successful.

Measuring exactly the same amount of filling into each cookie will also result in a nice looking plate or platter of evenly sized hamentaschen. A slightly heaping teaspoon is most often the perfect amount of filling for a two-inch-in-diameter cookie. You may decide that more or less is your speed, and that’s great. Just make sure to try to keep your measure precise for all your cookies, so that they all bake evenly and end up the same size. Measuring precisely will also cut down on leaky hamantaschen.

5. Airtight Storage.

This last piece of advice comes not from the hallowed halls of my culinary school, the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, or from our grandmothers who grew up before Ziploc and Glad containers, but from my mom, whose fantastic recipe for hamantaschen has been in great demand for many years. If you want your hamantaschen to stay fresh and soft for several days, store it in a truly airtight container, and, as insurance, cover it with lots of waxed paper. My mom’s five children each live in a different state, and we all deeply believe Purim will not arrive until her hamantaschen have been received in the mail. The best way to mail these guys is to cover them under and over, with waxed paper, place them in an airtight plastic container, and fill to the top with more crumbled wax paper. This will keep them secure and soft until delivery!

Ruth Book’s Famous Hamantaschen

My mom has generously given her daughters and daughters-in-law her best recipe for Hamantaschen, and we provide it to you here. But we have all made it our own by adding or deleting certain ingredients. For example, I add a teaspoon of cinnamon to my dough, while my sister-in-law replaces half the water in the recipe with lemon juice. We encourage you to develop your own flavors and tricks for this delicious treat, and we wish a Frielichen Purim to all!

4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted margarine
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp milk/rice milk/water
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of your favorite filling

Cream together margarine and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Separately, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the mixer on low, alternately with water or rice milk. Chill the dough for 1 hour to overnight, then roll out to ¼ inch thickness, and using a water glass or round cookie cutter, cut into 2'' rounds.
Fill with 1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite filling, and draw up sides for triangle. Seal edges with cold water. Bake at 375° for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hungarian Shepherd's Pie

This great winter classic is a twist on the old standard British shepherd's pie, and was made with leftover sliced London Broil from the previous Shabbos. London Broil, even when marinated, is a slightly tougher cut of meat, so it can stand being cooked longer with the shepherd's pie veggies to soften and carmelize. I have made the same dish before with ground turkey, ground chicken, ground beef, and leftover sliced chicken. You may have to amp up the spicing to give a little more pop if you do it with chicken.

The pie also stands up great to reheating, which is pretty important to me these days, considering that my two-month old babies aren't yet on the same dinner schedule as their father and me!


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil (I use, and recommend Mazola Corn Plus+ with Omega Threes)
5 tbsp water
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tsp dehydrated or granulated garlic


1 to 2 pounds cooked london broil beef or similar already cooked roasted or ground meat, in bite-sized pieces
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups onions, minced
2 cups carrots, chopped fine in food processor
2 cups celery, chopped fine in food processor
2 cups sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped fine in food processor
2 packages mushrooms, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1-2 tbsp smoked paprika (optional)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper (or less, to taste)
1-2 tbsp kosher salt (to taste)


2 large baking or yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold or Idaho)
2 tbsp margarine (I use and recommend Earth Balance Soy Veggy Sticks)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix crust ingredients together and press into a non-stick pan (I use my favorite pie pan but I line it with Reynolds Non-Stick foil), approximately 1/4 inch thick. Press up the sides of the pan for a more attractive look. Prick all over with a fork. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

In one pot, peel and boil potatoes with salt. Drain and mash with margarine and additional salt, garlic powder and pepper as desired.

In a deep saute pan, carmelize the onions with olive oil until soft and browned, at least 10 minutes on medium heat. Add the meat in bite-sized pieces, or simply cook ground meat with the carmelized onions. Add carrots, celery, peppers and garlic, and cook until all are softened before adding the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook down until they produce liquid. Take mixture off flame. Do not drain liquid.

Spoon meat/veggie mixture on top of the crust, then top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until potatoes are browned. Serve piping hot!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cinnamon Streusel Challah

I've been working on my old cinnamon brioche challah recipe and tinkering around with it for each of the last three shabboses. I've finally come up with a totally different product from the brioche; it's still cinnnamon, with a very nice challah-like consistency, but I think it has a nicer balance between the sweetness of cinnamon with the slight saltiness one expects in challah. This is truly a great challah for every week (if you have family members with a sweet tooth) or for a special occasion like the high holidays.

4 eggs (plus one beaten egg for later to brush on top)
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted margarine, melted (oil may also be used -- I recommend Mazola Corn Plus+)
7 cups all-purpose flour


4 tsp oil
8 tsp flour
8 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water by mixing gently and add a dollop of honey if you like (it helps the yeast rise faster). Beat the four eggs, and combine them with the other ingredients except for the flour. Mix in the flour without kneading in a stand mixer (fitted with the dough hook attachment). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap that you have sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (again, I recommend Mazola Corn Plus+). Allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), for approximately 2 hours. You can speed up this step by placing the bowl on a warm surface, or by the previously mentioned dollop of honey in the yeast water mixture.

You can now refrigerate the dough for up to five days, or bake it off. To bake, add flour to the surface of the dough and shape as usual. I cut off a baseball-sized piece to make two large-ish loaves and four small loaves. Take about half the dough if you are making two large loaves. It is initially quite sticky, so dust the piece with a little more flour if necessary and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides.

How to make the traditional challah shape: Divide a ball into thirds. Roll the balls between your hands, stretching, to form each into a long, thin snakelike rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for a few minutes and try again as the gluten relaxed. Braid the ropes, and place either in a tin pan or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with streusel.

Allow the bread to rest and rise on the pan for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Bake at 350 degrees near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require different baking times watch closely. The challah is done when golden brown. Be sure to cool the loaves before moving them from the sheet pan.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recipe for Happiness

Our babies, at rest.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shepherd's Pie Redux

I originally published this recipe in November of 2009, but I've recently improved it. I hope you like the changes. For WW followers, this is about 11 points per serving if you use lean ground beef (less if you use turkey or chicken), and I count the whole recipe as having five servings.

What do you cook when you don't have much in the house except leftover turkey, or a random pound or two of ground meat from the freezer? Here's something really, really good that you can make with a pound of lean ground beef, turkey or chicken, or even a mound of leftover turkey, chicken or beef.

Quick savory pie crust (makes 1 crust):

1 cup flour
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 and 1/2 tbsp water
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary

Mix together in a bowl with a fork and press into a pie pan. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven.

Shepherd's Pie filling:

1 cup carrots, minced
1 cup celery, minced
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme or rosemary
1 pound lean ground beef, turkey or chicken (or 1 pound turkey or other meat slices, chopped)
1 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 and a half baking potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with salt, pepper and granulated garlic

First, put your potatoes up to boil. Then, in a large deep bottomed saute pan, combine the carrots, celery, onions and cook with olive oil until softened and lightly browned, about ten minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking an additional three to five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the beef or turkey, making sure each piece is reasonably bite-sized. If you are using ground meat, make sure the meat is already thoroughly cooked and drained, with no pink.

Now, push the veggies and meat over to reveal a fourth of the pan, where you will make a very simple low-fat roux. Place your flour in that empty corner and combine it with a small amount (approximately 1 or 2 tbsp) of the vegetable stock. Mix thoroughly, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. Continue mixing it for approximately 20 seconds to cook out the floury taste, then add the rest of the stock and mix the roux together with the meat and veggie mixture. It should be smooth. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Turn heat to low and cover.

Mash the potatoes. For additional creaminess, you can also add 2 tbsp of almond milk, MimicCreme or non-dairy creamer, but generally, I recommend salt, pepper and granulated garlic.

Pour the meat mixture into the pie shell, and then spread the potatoes over the mixture, so that no meat shows through. For added sheen and that trademark crispiness, spray cooking spray on top of the potatoes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for half an hour, until the potatoes are crisp and the inside is piping hot. Enjoy!