Cooking with Love

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Peanut Butter & Jelly - Sock you in the Belly ;-)

I always loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I loved wonder bread. And I loved Welches Grape Jelly. I outgrew Wonder bread and we have no Welches here in Israel. But we do have peanut butter! Not as many brands as in the states - but I am definately not one to complain!

One of my favorite blogs is Bake or Break http://www.bakeorbreak.com/ and I seriously advise you to check her amazing photo's. I swear she can probably make chopped liver look appetizing!
Her latest recipe is from Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine) .
My only change in the recipe was to use rasberry jam as opposed to strawberry. I like the tartness of the rasberries with the sweetness of the peanut butter.

Chicken Stir Fry

Stir Fry is so versatile. You can pretty much add to it whatever veggies and oriental spices and flavorings you like. Even nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts) - I mostly don't add the nuts due to their high caloric value. I like to keep my stir fry diet friendly. I cut my veggies in pretty large sizes, as I like them crisp. For some reason I still don't own a wok. But a nice size pan usualy does the trick.
I marinated my chicken pieces (this time I used breasts) in teriaki sauce, sechuan sauce and soy sauce. Always use the real and good stuff.
I also added lots of garlic. I slice them as opposed to the usual minced garlic.
The longer you marinate the meat - the better the stir fry. The marinada keeps the chicken from getting dried out.
The secret to a good stir fry, in my opinion is to keep it quick. Nobody likes soggy wilted veggies.
I first heat the sesame oil (which I love and adds so much taste) then add 1-2 onions chopped coursely. I add the chicken pieces and whne they start turning white I add the veggies - matchstick carrots first, then celery slices and only at the end do I add my peppers - red yellow and green. A few minutes before it is all done I add large peices of cabbage (I forgot to buy bean sprouts this time - but when you add them add them at the end, turn of the heat and close the pan - this way they remain crisp.
I love the Tahi chile sauce which I add for spiceness.
Decorate with sesame seeds (I had black sesame) which makes the dish colorful.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One of the pleasures of life....

Is Lasagna.
First of all - its one of the easiest recipes I can think of.
Its fast in making and can be served as a complete meal with a salad on the side. It can be a kids food and it can easily feed the yuppiest of adults with a glass of red wine.
I always have a container of fresh homemade tomato sauce in the freezer. I also keep frozen cheeses such as mozzerela and parmesan (easier to grate this way). My only disadvantage is that I am still afraid to make my own pasta....I figure that one day I will get over that fear...maybe

Lasagna

box of lasagna
1 container homemade tomato sauce + 1/4 cup cream
2 containers cottage cheese (approx. 400 grams)
2 eggs
mozzerela cheese - as much as you like

In a bowl - mix the cottage cheese with the eggs and salt and pepper, easy on the salt.
You can add basil or oregano to the sauce, as you like.
In a rectangular pyrex pan, line the lasagna sheets. Spoon 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture. Sprinke mozzerela and pour 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Line once again with lasagna sheets, cottage cheese, mozzerela and sauce...then one last time. Cover with cheese and place foil over the pan so that it doesn't burn.
In preheated oven to high, place the pan and bake 20 - 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake 10 minutes longer.

Zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant and tomatoe slices can be added to the layers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Somewhere Over the Rainbow....

My grandmother is in the hospital, so I thought I would bring something cheerful to the ward...Chocolate chocolate chip M&M cookies.
Nothing looks better when it has the colors of the rainbow in it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A day in Jerusalem.....

A close up of this wonderful mural
A mural on an old building
A typical Jerusalem street

Such a green tree on such a hot day giving out such wonderful shade

Nablus Gate - the Old City

Nablus Gate

A cafe in the middle of the Old City

The Old City

The Wailing Wall

A religious man resting under an umbrella on a hot summer day
The Golden Mosque

A glance of the Old City

The wailing wall area

The Wailing Wall

Requests to GOD - little notes stuffed in the wailing wall

The Old City

Friday, June 20, 2008

Forgive me Father, for I have Sinned...

Bacon. And Shrimp.
Shrimp. And Bacon.
Unkosher meat. Unkosher fish.
UNKOSHER. Period.
But Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh so good!
Ok. I admit. If I were a hassidic jew I would probably have a street to hell named after me....LOL. But, thank God - I am not!
So I allow myself to sin every once in a while....and if I am already sinning - why not go the whole way....
I cleaned about 2 pounds of fresh tiger shrimp (the cleaning part is kind of icky), wrapped each one with a slice of bacon and fastened each with a toothpick.
I grilled them in the oven 190 C for 12 minutes on the dot.
YUMMY!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me....

Yup...once again...right on time...its my birthday

So I decided to spoil the folks at work with something special. Last months Daring Bakers assignment were Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. They looked great and I envied all bloggers that posted them. I didn't have lollipop sticks and the skewers were too long. So they are just plain cheescake balls, but they are wonderful. The idea of serving a cheesecake this way is awesome!
You will love them! And they vanished within seconds. These are a definate do again in my kitchen.
I halved the recipe.
Cheesecake Pops :(Makes 30-40 pops; from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor)
5 x 226g packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
453g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening ** I used butter
Assorted decorations - optional [I used coloured sugar, strawberry powder, shredded coconut and maple sugar]
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 166′C. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 56g balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tunisian Salsa - Mashweeya

I love spicy food. I wonder sometimes how I haven't burned a hole yet in my abdomen....or maybe I have and I don't know yet...:-)
Sometimes I wish I was born to another food culture, something that has more "heat" than the polish foods of my ancestors which I find totally not to my liking....
My granmothers world famous gefilte fish with the jellied whatever surrounding it can make me faint - I go straight for the horseradish, I hog it down with a spoon. The smell of chopped liver makes me wonder why anyone would even want to get near it, not to mention the fact that almost any dish requires sugar....But, I do know that I am a total minority...
Just let me have my jalapno's and I will be happy.

This is a wonderful salsa, originating in Tunis. Its easy to prepare and you can make it as spicy as you like. Eat it on bread, with cheese, on grilled veggies and whatever you like.
As you have probably guessed - I just spoon it down.

Salat Mashweeya
2 green peppers
1 tomato
1 green hot pepper (or more)
3-4 garlic cloves
salt
caraway seeds

Heat oven to medium high.
Grill the tomato, peppers and hot pepper until chafed. The best way to peel peppers is to let them cool in a bag.
Place all ingredients including the seeds in a food processor. Pulse until salsa is course. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serve warm or cold.




Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nostalgia

My Safta Tova (Safta = grandmother) was a bakers daughter in a small village in Poland. Her family (and those of my grandfathers', may he rest in peace) were all murdered in the holocaust. They came to Israel in the 30's - and were saved.
The day they realized all their loved and dear ones were gone - my grandmother turned old. And sad.
I don't remember much laughing in the house. They both worked hard and raised their 3 children lovingly.
When I think of safta Tova - I see her in the kitchen. Never was there a time - in sickness or health that she wasn't baking or cooking. As children any pain would be gone in her eyes if we ate another cookie, gobbled a piece of cake or grabbed another matzo ball...:-)
When I was sick with the flu as a child I would beg my mother to take me to Safta so that she would watch over me....And I am positive that her cooking alone brought me back to health. This is a woman who made her own noodles for chicken soup way before the pasta machine was invented!
I could live on her rugelach alone. And if I was lucky (and my additional baby fat pounds prove how lucky I was) I would find the box of apricot cookies. Cookies made with homemade jam....ooooh my mouth waters just at the thought.
I am sorry that I never wrote down all her recipes while she was still in a clear mind. So I am always happy when I stumble across a recipe that at first bite sends me back to her kitchen.
\This is such a recipe and I am grateful to my friend Irit for the recipe. I even baked it in my Safta's loaf pan that muxt be at least 50 years old.

Cherry Cake
1 jar pitted sour cherries, drained
1/4 cup of the cherry syrup
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cut small
2 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup oil (I used 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
3 egss
almond extract (I omitted)
Topping:
2 Tbsp brown sugar + blanched almonds (I used granola)


Mix together all the ingredients except the apples and cherries until well combined.
Stir in the apples and cherries.
Grease and flour loaf pan and pour in batter. Sprinkle with topping.
Bake at medium heat till toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Abundance of Sunshine + an added warning

Tomatoes are like gifts from the sun. They are so wonderful especially in the summer. My favorite of course are cherry tomatoes. As most fruits and vegetables I find that the best are those grown in the summer. The sun is wonderful. And the tomatoes look like little jewels!
I do try to preserve fruits and vegetables and make jams and different preserves that will last me through the winter.
Today I dried tomatoes and preserve them in olive oil and garlic. You can also add basil or thyme if you like.


Slice tomatoes and place sliced side up on parchement paper. Sprinkle Kosher salt (not too much)
Aren't they beautiful?!

Heat oven on low and dry the tomatoes for approx. 2 hours. They should look wrinkled but not crispy.
Cool completely

Cut some garlic cloves and place in glass jar. Cover tomatoes with olive oil.
You can add basil or thyme as you please.
BOTULINUM Poisoning can occur so please note - any foods both homemade and commercial MUST be refrigerated and consumed within a week!!
BOTULINUM Poisoning - is fatal!!
Thanks Aviva for opening my eyes to this issue !!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Savoury Onion Cake

Another one of the holiday recipes - that is based on cheeses and frtuit or vegetables is this savoury onion cake.
The recipe, once again, adapted from Smadar walters recipes was a hit even with the children as the onions loose their sharpness when baked.
Savoury Onion Cake
4 medium white onions, chopped fine
1 cup self rising flour
2 eggs(I used 3)
1 cottage cheese (250 gr)
1 tsp salt
pepper, fresly ground
I added some grated mozeralla cheese - but add whatever hard cheese you like - or you can even omit the cheese.

Mix all ingredients together. I baked the cake in a round silicon pan dor about 30 minutes on medium heat.

Servve warm or cold. As is or garnished with sour cream or salsa - or use your imagination

Healthy, Wholesome Addicting Crackers

As usual, I am always looking for something that is both tasty and wholesome. Sure - it's easy to go into the supermarket, walk through the health aisle and purchase what seems to be healthy....But I am not always sure that it is 100% healthy. I do know what goes in my foods at home.
This recipe is delicious. It has everything that in my eyes are wholesome, so I know what goes into our bodies.
These are great as a snack. Great with cheese on them and even break them up and put them in soup.
I found them on the net, they are a recipe from a very talented baker called Smadar Walter, who is famous for her breads.
Try them - but do be careful. They are addicting...

Smadars Addicting Wholesome Crackers
1 cup wholewheat flour (130 gr)
1/2 cup natural sunflower seeds (80 gr)
1/3 cup sesame seed (50 gr)
1 Tbs. flax seeds
1/3 cup small bulghur (70 gr)
1/2 cup bran (40 gr)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1 Tbs oil (I use olive oil)
Mix together all the dry ingredients.
Add water and oil and let stand for 30 minutes. Mixture will be sticky.
Divide into two.
I advise rolling on slipat as thinly as possble.
Cut into squares and bake at 175 C for approx. 20 minutes. Keep your eyes open as they burn quickly.
Please check out Tammy's Tuesday kitchen tips http://www.tammysrecipes.com/node/2790
for great tips. You will love her site! I do!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shavout - The Giving of the Torah

Background:
In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks Hag ha-Shavuot, Festival of Reaping Hag ha-Katsir, and Day of the First Fruits Yom ha-Bikkurim.
Besides its significance as the day on which the Torah was given by God to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai, Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest here in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness. It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest. During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest was made on Shavuot.
Shavuot was also the first day on which individuals could bring the Bikkurim - their first fruits to the Temple. The Bikkurim were brought from the Seven Species - shivat haminim for which the Israel is blessed: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates . In the largely agrarian society of ancient Israel, Jewish farmers would tie a reed around the first ripening fruits from each of these species in their fields. At the time of harvest, the fruits identified by the reed would be cut and placed in baskets woven of gold and silver. The baskets would then be loaded on oxen whose horns were gilded and laced with garlands of flowers, and who were led in a grand procession to Jerusalem. As the farmer and his entourage passed through cities and towns, they would be accompanied by music and parades.
Even today, in modern times this holiday is a festival for farmers. The Kibbutzim and farms decorate their tractors and spend the day in song and dance.
We all wear white, which is a tradition and in addition to eating the fruits of the land - we eat cheese. Therefore this is also a holiday of high cholestoral :-)
But we cannot oppose tradition now, can we.
So our tables are filled with pizza's, quiches, abundance of cheeses, salads decorated with cheese and of course - cheesecakes and desserts.
Jewish holdays are definately all about food....


Cheese Balls:
Any soft cheese (I think a low fat philadelphia will be fine)
sharp cheeses
Feta cheese
Olives, paprika, sesame, zaatar, nigella seeds....
I don't really have quantities....just taste as you fo - add more of this and less of that to your taste. You can use butter too, I found it unnecessary. The mixture is so rich as is....
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Make golf size balls and roll in sesame / paprika/ nigella seeds and so on.
Keep refrigerated. They are really pretty on the table surrounded by crackers, which, By the way, I will post later on today - Parmesan Mustard Crackers. Yummy!! And also healthy wholesome crackers that are totally addicting!