Cooking with Love

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sephardic Douhnut - Sfenj

Hannuka, Hannuka - such a fun holiday. Such a fattening holiday, but then again....aren't all the jewish holidays? Judaism is all about food. Trust me. But I do love the "merging" of the different origins during the holidays - the Ashkenzi jews (European decscent) & the Sephardic jews (African descent) have integrated over the years and on a holiday table you can find the ashkenazi gefilte fish sitting by the sephardic "hraime" (spicy fish).
I grew up with a ashkenazi spoon in my mouth. Everything is sweet. Nothing very spicy. Definately hot peppers and spices were not a big part of the culinary ashkenazi life. My Safta Tova is a wonderful cook and baker - raising us on good polish recipes. Her Hannuka sufganiyot are the best in the world. The past few years she hasn't been able to cook nor bake. The years have taken their toll on this amazing woman who is into her 90's (tfo tfo tfo, touch wood, hamsa hamsa, hamsa). So this year I was the sufganiyot maker. She called to say that they were very good. Coming from her - that is the ultimate compliment. I need nothing more in life.
Now, back to the Ashkenaz and Sephardic jewish culinary. We have the sufganyot, which  I made last week (and will make again tonight for the office potluck tomorrow) and the Sephardic have the "sfenj" - which is quite like a beignet, only with no sugar in the dough, and usualy served with an aromatic syrup on the side.The Morrocans claim that sfinj is theirs. So do the Tunisians....the Liberians....and so on. Kind of like the Hummous war...but no getting into that! It doesn't really matter. And I don't really care. As long as there are Sfinj's in the world...does it matter?

And these are yummy - best served warm.

Sfinj:
1 kg Flour, all purpose
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp sugar
1TBS. brandy
2 TBS yeast, fast acting
2-2 1/2 cups warm water

Oil, for frying

Place all ingredients in lage mixer bowl, with hook.
Knead slowly for about 5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes. Knead again for 1 minute. Let rest for 10 minutes. One more time - 1 minute kneading. 10 minute resting.
Knead last time to let out air and make approx. 25 ping-pong size balls. Let stand approx. 15 minutes, covered. In the meantime heat deep frying oil on medium heat.
Don't let the oil heat too much, or else the sfinj's will burn.
Oil your hands, take a ball and with you fingers make a whole in the middle, like a sloppy doughnut....:-)
Place carefully in oil and fry 2 minutes per side.
Cover with sugar, powdered sugar, syrup or jam.
Serve warm.


 

Monday, December 14, 2009

I am a Daring Cook Salmon en Croute



Salmon en croute:
Ingredients
Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach - 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
Shortcrust pastry - 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butterversion such as Jus-rol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or... make your own!
Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
egg - 1 medium sized
Directions:
1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.
Shortcrust pastry
While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry
Ingredients:
450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
pinch of salt
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.
For best results make sure the butter is very cold.
Instructions for Beef Wellington (serves 4)
Button mushrooms - 17.6 ounces/500gr (stalks removed and finely chopped)
Olive oil - 2-3 tbsp
thyme - 1 sprig
Beef fillet, center cut piece - 21.16 ounce/600 gr
English mustard - 1 tbsp
puff pastry (all butter pastry pack) - 17.6 ounce/500 gr
parma ham (prosciutto) - 3 slices
egg yolk - 1 pcs, beaten
For the herb crepes:
plain (all purpose) flour - 0.3 cup/1.76 ounce/50 gr
milk - 0.5 cup/125 ml
mixed herbs - 1 tbsp (chopped, use herbs such as cervil, chives and tarragon
butter - 0.5 tbsp
Instructions:
1. To make the crepes, whizz the flour, egg and milk with a pinch of salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Pour into a jug and stir in the herbs and some seasoning. Leave to rest.
2. Fry the mushrooms in a little oil until they give up all their moisture and it has evaporated, leaving you with a thick paste. Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
3. Stir the melted butter into the crepe batter, heat a 15 cm crepe pan and oil it lightly. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly. Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple more than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe.
4. Sear the beef all over in a little oil in a very hot pan. Brush with the mustard, season and allow to cool.
5. Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little. Lay over the parmaham (prosciutto). Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and put the beef in the centre. Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. Chill for 1 hour.
6. Heat the oven to 200°C/390F. Roll out the pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under. Trim to keep it nice and neat. Brush with egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
7. Cook for 20 minutes. The best way to test if the meat is done to your liking is to neatly and carefully stick a skewer into the beef, count to three and then test it against your inner wrist. If it is cold, the beef will be raw, if it is warm then the beef will be rare and if it’s hot, it’ll be cooked through. Leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

The salmon rolled in saran wrap



Before going into the oven (I have my nephew's name put on it between the fish)


Yum


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Safta Tova's Potato Latkes


Another fried goodie for Hanukka are latkes - traditional potato pancakes. very easy, very tasty, very fattening.

  • 500 g potatoes , peeled & grated
  • 1 medium onion , peeled & grated
  • 3 egs
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper
  •  vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  1. Transfer the grated potatos and onion into a sieve and with a bowl placed below, squeeze out all the excess liquid. Discard the water, before placing them back to the bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper into the bowl of grated vegetables and combine well.


  3. Placing the frying pan onto a medium heat, add some oil and allow it to warm through. When warm, add a spoonful of the latke mixture. Using the back of your spoon, flatten it out into a disk shape. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Allow the cakes to brown on both sides then remove with your spatula. Transfer onto a plate lined with kitchen paper, to drain. Repeat with the remaining mix.
  4. Top with crème fraiche, or dust with some sugar or eat as I do - plain with no toppings

 

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel - I made it out of Clay....then I made Latkes & Sufganiyot


Well, partially true. I have never made a dreidel. And the sufganiyot I made many years ago assisted many army's in winning battles when used as heavy bombs....but this year I decided to make amends. I was willing to give the another try. I am not sure my success was wise as sufganiyot are calorie bombs....but Hannukah comes only once a year and with it all the fried goodies...
A little about Hannuka, from Dianes Desserts:

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is an eight-night celebration. The Hanukkah celebration includes lighting the candles of the Hanukiyah (in English-speaking countries this is often called a Menorah, which is the Hebrew word for a candelabra) on each day of the holiday, playing with the dreidel, eating latkes and exchanging Hanukkah gelt.

The holiday of Hanukkah is spelled several different ways in English, including "Hanukah," "Hanukkah," "Chanukkah," and "Chanukah."


Like another famous winter-time holiday, Christmas, Hanukkah is about history. The celebration of Hanukkah is a commemoration of an event that happened more than 2,000 years ago.


In 167 B.C., the Syrian king Antiochus IV began to outlaw Jewish religious practices and forced Jews to adopt Greek rituals. His men took control of the Jews' Holy Temple in Jerusalem, looted it and erected an idol of a Greek god there. One Jewish family, the Hasmoneans (led by Mattityahu and his five sons), decided to take a stand against the persecution. The Greek forces arrived in the town of Modiin, near Jerusalem. It was here that after refusing to violate his own religion by praying to the Greek god Zeus, Mattityahu attacked the Greek soldiers.


This action began the Jewish rebellion. Mattityahu and his sons became known as the Maccabees, which means "men who are as strong as hammers" in Hebrew. The small army, led by Mattityahu's most famous son, Judah Maccabee, fought sizeable Greek forces. In 165 B.C., the Maccabees were triumphant. On the 25th of the Hebrew month Kislev, the Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple.


They decided to rededicate the temple -- the word "Hanukkah" means dedication. The Jewish army was unable to find enough oil to light the Menorah, or candle holder, to be used in the service. The Maccabees found only one bottle of oil, enough for only a single night. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights, giving the Jews time to produce more oil.


The holiday of Hanukkah commemorates this miracle. By lighting candles for eight nights, beginning every year on the 25th of Kislev (usually in December on the Western calendar, but not always), Jews celebrate the triumph of the Maccabees, the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. This year (2009), Hanukkah begins at Sundown on December 11.


As a child I loved the 8 days of Hannuka. My grandparents would spoil us to death with various gifts and hannuka gelt, The word gelt means "money" in Yiddish. On Hanukkah, there is a tradition of giving real or chocolate coins as presents to children. Most likely because Hanukkah falls near Christmas, giving gelt has evolved into giving and receiving other presents on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

So here are my Hannuka goodies - Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season, whatever your religion is....


Sufganiyot 



  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • 1/4 cupLukewarm water
  • 3-3 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk 
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBS Brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Dulche de Leche
  • Oil for deep frying

Method


Mix the yeast and warm water together in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, milk, brandy, beaten egg, butter and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon to mixthe ingredients and bring the dough together. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet.




  1. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky. Lightly butter or oil a large bowl. Add the dough to the bowl and cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Set in a warm corner until the dough is doubled in size.

  2. Return the dough to a lightly floured surface and punch it down to deflate. Knead lightly for another 2-3 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a biscuit cutter or large glass to cut out 24 rounds with a diameter of 3 to 4 inches.
  3. Place 12 of the rounds onto a baking sheet. Put 2 tablespoons of dulche de leche in the middle of each round, taking care to keep a border of about 1/2 inch clean. Place the remaining rounds on top of each filled round and press the edges together to seal. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside again until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Add at least 3 inches of oil to a large, deep pot or deep fryer. Set the oil over medium-high heat . Reduce heat to maintain temperature. Working in batches, add a few of the stuffed dough balls to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on one side. Flip over with a spatula or fork and brown on the second side.
  5. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly, then toss in the sugar to coat. Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough. Serve warm.
  6. Ganache: 200 ml cream + 200 grams chocolate. Melt over low heat.
  7. Cover each sufganiya with the ganache and sprinkle with candy, nuts etc.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Tortilla Love Affair

I do so love tortillas. They are so versatile....fill them with guacamole and salsa - your in Spain. Fill them with Satay chicken and chile sauce - you are in Thailand. You can even fill them with Falafel and tehina and remain in Israel....but here they are so darn expensive. So I figured they must ne difficult to make. They are not. After preparing them once - I assure you that you will never purchase them again.

I found these on Tammy's blog. She has such a great blog, very down to earth.

Tammy's Spinach Tortillas
9 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 TBS water
2+ cups flour (you will use more than 2 cups)
1/2 tsp salt or garlic salt
dash of pepper
1/4 cup oil


 
The dough

Instructions:
1. In a large pan or skillet over medium to medium-low heat, cook spinach in water. Cover, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and soft. This will probably take about 5 minutes after the pan is hot and the spinach has started to cook.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, and oil. Stir until crumbly.
3. Add the (hot or warm) spinach mixture, including the water left in the pan from cooking. Knead or stir, adding additional flour as needed (may take a cup or more of extra flour) to make a smooth dough. Knead dough for about 5 minutes, which will mix the spinach in better, and give the dough an even consistency.
4. Divide dough into 8 parts (for 10 to 12-inch tortillas) or more (for smaller tortillas).
5. Pre-heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.


6. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a thin circle.
7. Brown tortillas in pre-heated pan for about 5 minutes on each side, just until cooked. A few light brown spots should appear.

Stack cooked tortillas on a plate or in a bowl with a clean towel around them, until all are cooked. Serve warm, filled with your favorite fillings - I used avocado and sprouts - but the sky's the limit.

 
 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The BEST Srawberry Cheesecake. Period

My baby is 24. This is his favorite cake in the world and it had become a tradition on his birthday. It is very rich, beautiful and yet very easy in preparation.
It is from Epicurious



Strawberry Topped Cheesecake with Graham cracker Crust

For crust
  • 20 whole graham cracker (10 ounces total), broken
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar

For filling
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs

For topping
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 16-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled
  • 1 18-ounce jar raspberry jelly
Make crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Wrap foil around outside of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Combine graham crackers, butter and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 3/4 inches up sides of springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
Make filling:
Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in large bowl until very smooth. Beat in flour. Add eggs and beat just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Pour batter into crust.
Bake cheesecake until outer 2-inch edge of cake os puffed and slightly cracked, center is just set and top is brown in spots, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Make topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl to blend.
Spoon topping over cake, spreading to edge of pan. Bake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Run knife between crust and pan.
Cool hot cake in pan on rack, Chill overnight.
Release pan sides from cheesecake. Arrange whole berries, points facing up, atop cheesecake; cover completely. Stir jelly in heavy small saucepan over medium-=low heat until melted.Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Brush enough jelly over berries to glaze generously, allowing some to drip between berries. Reserve remaining glaze in saucepan. (Cake and glaze can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover cake and refrigerate.)
Rewarm remaining glaze until pourable. Cut cake into wedges. Pass remaining glaze separately.




Friday, December 4, 2009

Caramel Apples...Is the Circus in town??

As a kid, my grandparents, especially my grandfather, would take us each year to the circus. Barnum and Bailey.  After the first time we kind of understood the concept and foubd it pretty boring. Millions of people, silly clowns that were never really up to our standards and kids that fly from cannon balls. We just didn't buy it. But we knew that my grandfather adored the circus. We were just an excuse for going. Today, I really miss it. I have taken my kids on occasion to circuses but they are never the same. I miss the innocence of the silly clown, the poodles running around and the elephants! Yes. I miss real elephants.
And I miss the caramel apples. No body seems to make them like they do at the circus.
So surfing the net I found a recipe I can handle....They are great.
The caramel has a taste that you certanly cannot purchase anywhere. Completely addicting. They are easy, and they dont break your teeth when trying to take a bite.This is for you Dobby, I hope you are smiling. I hope the circus comes to visit you in heaven.


:
 8 TBS. butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch salt
1 can (14 oz.) sweetene condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10-12 small Granny Smith apples
popsicle or lolipop sticks

Directions:
Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Mix in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cool the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Stir in the condensed milk. Cook and stir until a candy or instant read thermometer reads 248 F (firm ball stage) Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Insert a lolipop stick in each apple so that it is firmly in place. Dip the apples one at a time into the caramel mixture, turning slowly to coat evenly. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper and allow to set. Decorate as desired.




 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walima - Celebrating Middle Eastern Cuisine - Aysh el Saraya


The November sweet was hosted by Joumana from www.tasteofbeirut.com - and she made a wonderful choice!
I did it!!! My first challenge for the Walima Cooking group. At first I was definately skeptical regarding this recipe....the bottom is bread....the top has no sugar in it, hmmmm doesn't sound too tempting. But checking the web and asking friends of Lebanese heritage I understood that this recipe is a winner. And it was. The sweet syrup poured over the bread with a wonderful hint of orange blossom water made this such a wonderfully typical middle eastern dessert.
I took it to my nephew's Bar Mitzva brunch and the dessert vanished way before the other desserts...:-)
This is definately a recipe I will make over and over again!!
I only wish that through our recipes maybe peace will prevail between our countries. AMEN!!!
Walima is a Middle Eastern Cooking Club, with talented cooks from around the globe.

The Club extends the invitation to all Arab Cooks around the world, as well to every cook who enjoys cooking and has passion for Middle Eastern Cuisine! In the mean time, the group does encourage and welcome every cook (blogger and/or non blogger) to join and be part of Walima’s talented and spicy team

The groups goal is to accept, support, and appreciate each other; while educating, respecting and indulging in each member’s culture and catering in a family environment. Moreover, to emphasize and generously the nutritional and healthy aspect of Arabic Food!

Walima November cooking challenge will represent the Lebanese Cuisine. Talking about Lebanon which comes from Laban or the high White Mountain, this also reflects our food and what a coincidence that both recipes have dairy

Sweet Challenge:The Bread of the Seraglio ( Aysh el-Saraya)
1 round loaf white bread, about 8 inches in diameter, 1 day old
9 ounces golden superfine sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
scant 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon rose water
1 3/4 cups Lebanese clotted cream or Ashta 2 tablespoons pistachios, ground medium-fine
Cut off the crust of the bread and keep for bread crumbsSlice off the top of the white bread to get one flat slice about 1 1/2 inch thick and put it in a round serving dish about the same size as the bread.Tear the rest of the bread in thick pieces and use them to fill the gaps in the dish.
Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a deep frying pan and place over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring constantly, so that the sugar does not crystallize in places, for about 20 minutes or until it is caramelized.Towards the end of the cooking time, measure 7 ounces of water and bring to a boil in a teakettle. When the sugar is caramelized, start adding the water gradually without taking the sugar mixture off the heat. Be very careful, because the sugar will start spluttering and you could burn yourself!Pour the boiling syrup all over the bread and transfer the soaked bread to the pan. Place over medium heat and cook pressing the bread with the back of a spoon to mash it and make it soak up the syrup.Clean the edges of the serving dish and slide the bread back onto it, spreading it evenly across the dish. Let it cool then cover the bread entirely with cream.
Chill then cover with pistachios right before serving.
Clotted cream or Ashta:
2 slices of white bread without the crust
2 cups half-and-half
Cut the bread in small pieces and place in a saucepanPour the cream or half-and-half over the bread Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.Cool then refrigerate. It should keep for 4 to 5 days. Makes 1 pint.Makes 4
Just a goofy picture because Sylvester was so cute in the garden

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lahma Bi Ajoon - "Meat in Bread" or Meat Pie or "Sfih'a"

These meat pies originate in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. They are highly popular throughout the Middle-East. They vary from lamb to beef. I am not keen on lamb so I chose the beef version. I also omitted the cinnamon that is very common in meast throughout the Middle-east. I also omitted the pomegranate seeds, only because I did not have any on hand.
They are very easy to make. The dough very comfortable to work with. All in all they are easy to prepare and will defibately make them again. The addition of sesame seeds is my interpretation of how they should be.
Hope you like.
Sfih'a

Dough:
1 kg ap flour
2 TBS fast acting yeast
1 TBS salt
5-6 TBS Olive Oil
2 1/2 cups warm water

Knead about 10 - 15 minutes. Cover and let fremate till double in size.

Meat Mixture
1 large onion, chopped
500 grams chopped beef
1 tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBS tomato paste
salt, pepper, paprika
50 grams pine nuts
sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients, except the pine nuts and sesame seeds.
After dough has doubled inside, knead once again to let out air. Divide into approx. 10 - 12 balls and roll out into pita sized circles. Brush with olive oil and let stand till double in size. Make a "well" in the middle of each "pita". Sprinkle sesame seeds around the well. Take a golf sized ball of the meat mixturre and place in the "well". Sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Bake approx. 20 minutes on medium heat till meat is cooked and dough is golden.
Serve warm with tehina or labane.

Have a Wonderful Eid el Adha!!



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


Pumpkin soup served in an acorn squash

Have a great Holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dinner Rolls - not only for dinner...


I work long hours. Fact. I don't mind. I juggle through my work life, my home life, my mommy life and also I am a Daddy...so thats life. I do my best. Try not to forget anything. Usually do. Today I forgot to by rolls for the kids school lunch. I've made the pita pockets and felt like trying something new. I had my eye on these from Chanit's blog. They are pretty easy to make.
The original recipe is by Dan Lepard and can be found here.


Buttermilk Buns

1 sachet instant yeast
50g wholemeal flour
450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
50g soft butter
200ml cultured buttermilk
Oil, for kneading

Mix the yeast, wholemeal flour and 100ml warm water in a small bowl and set aside for half an hour. Put the white flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, and rub in the butter. Stir the buttermilk with the yeast mixture, then add to the flour, along with enough water (about 50ml) to make a soft, sticky dough.

Cover the bowl for 10 minutes, oil a 20cm area of work surface and knead the dough on it for 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and repeat the kneading procedure twice more at 10-minute intervals. Once kneaded the final time, leave the dough to rest for 45 minutes.

Shape the dough into eight equal-sized balls, roll into 10cm long ovals, space out on floured baking trays and dust with flour. Leave for about 30 minutes, to double in size, then bake at 220C (210C fan-assisted)/ 450F/gas mark 8 for 15 minutes. Remove and, as they cool, cover with a cloth to keep them soft.




Friday, November 20, 2009

Falafel Friday

Falafel. There isn't a human being in the middle east that doesn't love it. For us - it's like Mcdonalds. A fast food. There is the never ending argument in each city of who has the best Falafel. There are even blocks with at least 7-8 falafel stands. Each one announcing that he is king. We have Abraham the Falafel King, next to him is Abraham the King of Kings, and right by him another Abraham, only he is the King of all the kings. I think you get the picture.
Then there is the never ending argument of who invented the Falafel. Was it the jews in Egypt, while in exiled slavery? Did the Lebanese jews bring it with them to Israel?
DOES IT MATTER????
Falafel is Falafel, whether Jews, Israelis, Lebanese or Syrians invented it. It just doesn't matter and definately not worth the argument.
Please see this fact sheet for more interesting info on Falafel.
Since making my wonderful pita pockets I figured its time to make Falafel. And they came out great :-)

Falafel
  • 2 cup dried chickpeas or 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh corriander
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2pices of dark bread, crumbled
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil for frying

Preparation:

Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight.

Drain chickpeas.

In a meat grinder grind the chickpeas,garlic, onion, coriander, and bread. Mix togehter

Add cumin,baking soda, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. The mixtures taste should be a bit bolder than expexted. It will mellow out during the frying.

Let stand 30 minutes to an hour.

Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball.

Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).

Serve hot

The mixture
Serve in pita bread, with salad and tehina

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicken Rings...no more store bought....


Ever wonder what they put into your food? Especially Ground meats? Extra especially into your chicken fingers?? DON'T. Trust me - none of us want to know. Nothing good....
The worst part is - that this is what our kids are eating. I do try to make good healthy foods at home. And on occasion I buy the frozen prepared foods. I think those days are over. I finally found a great recipe for chicken rings (If I try - next time they will be made into chicken fingers...).
And at least I know what is in then. Hey - I even ground the chicken myself :-). Not something I like to do (had childhood flashbacks of my grandmother grinding carp fish for Friday night Gefilte Fish - which I despise). The whole grinding is messy but on the other hand totally worth it.


Chicken Rings:
1 kg. ground chicken
2 eggs
salt
pepper
1 cup corn kernals (I used canned)

Batter:
5 eggs
5TBS. self rising flour

Bread crumbs


Mix the chicken, eggs, salt and pepper. Add in the corn.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs and flour.

In an additional bowl put in bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Make golf sized balls from the chocken mix. Place in batter and then in the bread crumbs. make sure the whole chicken ball is completelty covered in crumbs.
Place on parchment paper and using your fingers - form a whole, but make sure you keep the form of a ball. Contimue with all the mixture.
Bake 10 minutes and turn each ring over. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with ketchup, mayonaise or nothing...:-)

I made a bunch and froze them - so the kids need only to warm them after school.

Easy going!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eggrolls - Made Healthier

This is really an easy recipe and is open to any creative ideas you have. It can be adjusted to your tastes and whims. Mine are veggie, but I will definately make my next ones with shrimp...
I tend to wrap each one seperately in parchment paper and freeze them. This way - if ever I have unexpected guests, cravings etc - I just pop them in the oven....15 minutes - ready!
And they are both easy and healthier than store bought and fried.
I posted pictures of the steps of their folding. Each egg roll is about 30 seconds of work :-)

Eggroll Mixture:
Eggroll wraps
Onion, sliced thinly
Cabbage, shredded
Carrots, julienned
Mushrooms, sliced thin
Brussel Sprouts
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Sweet Chile Sauce
Fish Sauce

Heat oil in a pan or wok. Sautee onions. Add carrots. After 2-3 minutes lower heat and add the cabbage and mushrooms. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, chile sauce and fish sauce. Continue muxing and make sure all veggies are covered with sauces.
When the veggies are a bit softer - but maintained their crispness remove from heat.
Place a sieve over a bowl and place the UNCOOKED brussel sprouts (we want these babies as crisp and fresh as possible!) at the bottom. Pour the veggie mixture over the sprouts and let all liquids drain completely.
When mixture is cool and "dried" follow the following steps.
Bake in preheated oven on medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes.
Place filling
Fold one side
Fold the other side
Begin "rolling"
Roll
Done
qǐng màn yòng (eat slowly in chinese)