Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rustic Salmon Tart

Isn't it great that you can just call anything that doesn't look perfect, Rustic, and make it sound great? This is actually more of a galette which is not supposed to look perfect, it is supposed to look rustic and I think this tart achieves that charm. For some reason, I felt so British making this and I have no idea why- maybe the English peas? Maybe because I kept thinking about "Bangers and Mash" while I was making this- a British dish that has absolutely nothing to do with this except that it also has potatoes. Who knows- either way this was my concoction from leftover mashed potatoes and that lone salmon fillet sitting in my freezer.
Don't you hate when you have something sitting in your freezer and it's not enough for a meal so you just look at it curiously every time you open the freezer but then leave it there- ad infinitum? Maybe it's just me. But it happens to me a lot. So this time I refused to close the freezer door until I found a use for lonely Sammy and this is what I came up with. I used a buttery crust that I often use for dairy galettes and I think having a good crust is essential here. You could use puff pastry instead but if so I would recommend using all butter puff pastry. My husband declared that this tasted like salmon pot pie and I guess that is sort of what it is- an upside down salmon pot pie-and who doesn't love a good pot pie! But if that description doesn't do it for you, stick to calling it a salmon galette and enjoy!

For the dough:
1 1/4 cup flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cold, cubed
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together and cut the butter in with a pastry blender or your hands. Mix the lemon juice, sour cream and water in a bowl and add it to the flour mixture. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour (the dough will be sticky). Remove from refrigerate and add enough flour to help knead the dough. Roll the dough into a circle (it doesn't have to perfect and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet.

2 potatoes, boiled and mashed but leave it chunky
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 small onion
1 cloves garlic
2 Tbl oil
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large fillet or 2 small fillets of salmon, poached or baked and then flaked- or 2 small cans salmon
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 beaten egg
sesame seeds

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil. Add to the potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients besides for the beaten egg and sesame seeds and mix well. Pile the mixture into the middle of the dough, spread it out, leaving a couple of inches as a border. Fold the dough over the mixture to form a crust and brush the crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

White Hot Chocolate ala Pumpkin Pie

Apparently, you thought I was joking when I said I was obsessed with pumpkin. Well, I wasn't. If I could put pumpkin in my hot chocolate than that should prove it to you. But don't be turned off by this seemingly odd combo- it tastes like a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte but way better I think because it has lots of white chocolate in it and it is really, really delicious. I served this for Gourmet Breakfast Sunday (unclear whether this is a permanent occurrence) with the Dutch Apple pancake so perhaps I overdid it with sweetness at that meal but drinking this was just purely comforting and the pumpkin just made me feel less bad about all the chocolate. Of course it didn't hurt that I made fresh whip cream ( a task that is so simple I don't know why I ever bought the canned stuff) or topped it with cinnamon and sipped it through a cinnamon stick - all the above made this one of the most decadent drinks I've ever had the pleasure to drink. Enjoy!

3 cups milk
2 cubes pumpkin puree, defrosted or 1 cup canned pumpkin
1 Tbl pumpkin pie spice 
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
200 grams white chocolate, chopped

Combine the milk and pumpkin in a sauce pan over low heat until the mixture is simmering- do not let it come to a boil! Add the pumpkin pie spice and salt and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and white chocolate and mix constantly until the chocolate is totally melted in. Serve with whip cream and cinnamon- yum!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chanukah Greek Chicken- Happy Blogaversary to Me!

Happy One Year Blogaversary to me! One year ago, on Chanukah I decided to embark on the culinary journey that is this blog. It is 135 (!!!- do you know how much time in the kitchen that equals too?!) posts later and I have to say I have enjoyed all the creative efforts that have gone into concocting the dishes that have appeared here (and so has my official taste tester :). Looking forward to another year of great eats and fun in the kitchen!!!!
This Chanukah I decided to spare everyone the funky latke recipes ( cabbage latkes anyone?) and instead made this delicious Greek chicken in honor (or I should say, in memory) of the Greek culture we symbolically fight against on this Holiday. So in that vain, it's practically a mitzvah to eat this chicken, because every bite represents the "consuming" of the Yevanim and I'm happy to fulfill any mitzvah (psuedo or real) that requires the use of my taste buds.
This is actually a great chicken to make for Shabbat Chanukah which is why I am making sure to post this enough time in advance for you to get your ingredients together. I used chicken tenders for this because that is what I had lying around but you can also use whole chicken breasts. The chicken comes out so moist and flavorful and comes together so quickly that forget about Chanukah, I think I'll be making this all year round! The ingredients are simple but the results are spectacular- just the way I like it- Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders or 6-8 chicken breasts
1 cup flour or gluten free subsititute
1 tsp dried oregano
4 Tbl olive oil 
1 large leek, cleaned and chopped (or 1 large onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp oregano
3/4 cup pitted olives ( I used green but to be more authentic use Greek Kalamata olives)
3 Tbl capers
3 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Mix the flour, oregano and salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour and fry in the oil over high heat so that both sides are browned. Don't worry if the chicken isn't cooked through because it will cook through in the sauce. Remove the chicken and in the remaining oil saute the leek and garlic until the leeks are translucent. Add the wine, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and oregano season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back in, cover the pan and let the chicken simmer in the sauce for about 8 minutes. Uncover, add the olives, capers and parsley and cook another 2-3 minutes. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

This is a simple, no frills soup that is just perfect for a winter's night. Red lentils (purchased during my lentil craze in bulk) are not like green lentils that you don't want to overcook. Rather, they are meant to fall apart and as they do they thicken the soup and give it a great texture. Interestingly enough, as they fall apart they also turn yellow and so the soup sort of looks like yellow split pea soup once its cooked. And, best of all, the longer it sits the better it tastes as I discovered after making a huge potful and eating it for the better part of a week. There are no exotic ingredients here, the only spice (besides for salt and pepper) that I added was cumin and I know that lots of people don't like the taste and smell of cumin but I think the taste of it goes really well with the earthiness of lentils. Also, I'm not a huge black pepper fan, I like to use it in moderation but for some reason this soup really was able to handle lots of black pepper and it really enhanced its flavor. The pumpkin in the soup (made from my ever present frozen pumpkin puree) gave the soup thickness and subtle sweet flavor and the combo of lentils and pumpkin in the soup was deeeelish. A simple soup and easy to throw together- so make it tonight!

3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl oil
500 grams red lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 quarts chicken stock (about 16 cups) or bouillon
4 cups pumpkin puree ( 8 cubes)
1 1/2 Tblspoons cumin
LOTS of black pepper

Saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in the oil until the onions are translucent add the lentils, water, stock and pumpkin and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Bring to a boil and then let the soup simmer until the lentils have fallen apart and the soup has reduced down a little about an hour.

Do not judge a book by it's cover (or in this case, this really mediocre picture!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Orange Poppy Pound Cake with Orange Glaze

Have you seen those gorgeous oranges in the supermarket recently? Here, they are huge and bright orange and you can just tell from the outside that they are super sweet and delicious. Seeing them in the market the other day inspired me to make this cake, a take-off of  a pound cake that has great texture and unbelievable orange flavor from a TON of orange zest. I absolutely love oranges, it is my second favorite citrus fruit (coming in right below my beloved lemon) and I have so many memories of eating juicy, sugar sweet oranges when I was young.While I was making this I spotted some poppy seeds in the cabinet and while traditionally lemon pound cake gets paired with poppy seeds, the old man inside of me felt compelled to add them here and I was really happy with the beauty they added with their little black flecks and the subtle poppy flavor in the background, but you can totally leave them out. Just to make this cake more Orange-y I brushed it with orange syrup and THEN added an orange glaze. Orange Heaven. Yum.

For the Cake:
2 sticks margarine, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
zest of 4 oranges (about 1/4 of a cup)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup rice milk or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbl poppy seeds

Cream the margarine and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and the zest. Beat well. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. In another bowl mix the orange juice, soy milk and vanilla. Add each to the bowl alternating one with the other until they are both finished and ending with the flour. Pour into two loaf pans or into a 9x13 cake pan and bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool slightly and transfer to a wire rack and make the glaze.

For the syrup:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar

Combine the juice and sugar in a sauce pan over low heat. Let the sugar melt and mix on low heat another couple of minute until it reduces and looks syrupy. Poke holes all around the cake with a toothpick and brush the cake with glaze a few times.
Once the cake cools, drizzle with glaze.

For the  glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3-5 Tbl orange juice

Whisk the orange juice and sugar together until smooth. The glaze should be thick enough that it pours nicely but not too thick.

                                       Look closely and you can see all that beautiful, delicious zest in there!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dutch Apple Oven Pancake

How would you like to wake up to this beauty as your breakfast? I sure would, and my husband certainly appreciated it. And then continued to appreciate it for breakfast for the next few days since this is like a pancake on steroids and can definitely feed a crowd. Serve this at your next brunch and you will have very happy guests and lots of wow factor. The best part of the pancake is that you don't have to sit over a griddle all morning, you just pop it in the oven and let the oven do all the work. I think the best pan to use here is a cast iron pan but since I actually don't own one of those yet (shocking, I know) I just used an oven proof, teflon coated 10 inch skillet and it worked out great. Of course, apples and cinnamon are an old married couple and just make the pancake taste like a great big buttery apple pie. I served it topped with lots of powdered sugar and whip cream and my husband kept saying how he felt like he was eating something at a fair. Since I'm a big fan of all fair "cuisine" (churros, funnel cakes etc), I'll take that as a compliment!

4 eggs
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 Tbl sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbl butter melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbl cinnamon
2 green apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thin
powdered sugar
maple syrup
whip cream

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together and slowly add milk while mixing. Add vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter and mix. Let the batter rest for about 20 minutes or up to 2 days. Stir together sugar and cinnamon. In an oven proof skillet (cast iron is the best) heat 1/4 cup of the butter on the stove swirling the pan so the butter coats it all. Add half of the cinnamon sugar and lay the apples around the pan and sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top of the apples.Let the mixture bubble and then pour the batter on top and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 and then lower to 375 and bake another 20 minutes until the pancake is cooked through. It will puff up in the oven and the apples should rise to the top. Serve with confectioners sugar, whip cream and maple syrup.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cran-Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins

 If you love the combination of tart and sweet this recipe is for you. Or if you love the taste of pumpkin pie with a little cranberry sauce shmeared on it, this recipe is for you. Or if you just want to eat something deliciously moist and smelling like Fall, this recipe is for you. If you don't fall into any of those categories-I am just very sorry for you. Once again I had an overabundance of zucchini but I also have lots of my fresh pumpkin puree and putting the two together plus the addition of some* imported* Oceanspray fresh cranberries resulted in these deliciously sweet and tart little muffins. As you can see from the picture, the cranberries pop while the muffins bake yielding that beautiful ruby like look on top that is just beautiful. I think you can get frozen cranberries here as well but if you can't you can just use dried cranberries but you will probably lose the tartness. Either way, these are easy to make and with the fresh pumpkin and cranberries not to mention to the aroma of the pumpkin pie spice wafting through the house they are sure to be a winner. Enjoy!

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
3/4 cup oil
1 Tbl vanila
3 cups flour
zest of one orange
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbl pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups shredded zucchini
12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (if fresh cranberries are too tart for you substitute 1 cup of craisins)

Mix the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, vanilla and orange zest. In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the zucchini and cranberries and bake in greased muffin tins at 350 for about 10 minute or until a toothpick comes out clean.

                                                           Look at those beauties!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This is another method, rather than a recipe for getting the taste of summer in the middle of winter. Slow roasting cherry tomatoes in the oven concentrates their flavor and gives you the most delicious and intense tomato taste. They don't wind up dry like sun-dried tomatoes, rather, still moist  and they are delicious smeared on bread, thrown into pasta, or put on pizza or sandwiches. They are basically like a fresh condiment and they enhance practically everything you put them on. I was browsing through the super market and took one look at the tomatoes and felt the winter blues. This time of year the tomatoes are mostly green and the little orange that you see is so pale that you almost feel bad for them. Cherry tomatoes, however, are sweet all year and slow roasting them like this just makes them better. Once they are done you can store them in a glass container covered with a little olive oil and keep them in the fridge for a while to be thrown into anything your making, or just for snacking :). Little effort, lots of flavor = my type of dish!

2 kilo cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
olive oil
salt and pepper (garlic powder optional)

Lay the cherry tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them and season well with salt and pepper. Place them in a 200 degree oven for about 6 hours. Alternatively, you can place them in a 150 degree oven overnight. Store them in a container covered with a little olive oil in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Orange Cranberry Sauce

I firmly believe that cranberry sauce should not just be reserved for Thanksgiving. Personally, I serve cranberry sauce with turkey and sometimes even stuffed chicken all year along and I love it. However, I have to admit that until now, my experience with cranberry sauce has been the canned stuff (grew up on it and love it!) which I always dress up with other ingredients to make it not taste so can-y. This year, I happened to be in America during peak fresh cranberry season and snuck a few bags back with me. I made this fresh cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving Shabbat and was BLOWN AWAY by how delicious it is. It doesn't even seem related to the canned stuff!! It is so absolutely delicious that I literally had to lick the pot (not a pretty image but a very necessary piece of info). The best part is that it is so easy to make and easy to customize to your liking. I did some research around the supermarkets here and you can even get frozen cranberries here so I will be making this long after my imported cranberries run out. The natural pectin in the cranberries  helps to thicken the sauce and the citrus and cinnamon are just fabulous flavors with the cranberries. Feel free to add less sugar if you prefer the sauce a little tarter but 1 cup was just perfect for me. Enjoy- I sure as heck did!

1 12oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
juice of one orange
1 cinnamon stick
3/4- 1 cup sugar 
1 cup water
2 cloves
pinch of salt (crucial!)

Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let it cook until all or most of the cranberries have popped (about 10 minutes) Cook another 5 minutes and then cool and refrigerate before serving. The sauce will firm up as it chills.

(My apologies if you are turning your computer around, I just have no idea how to rotate this picture)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Morrocan Lentil Soup

I am embarrassed to admit that the first time I tasted a lentil was about 3 weeks ago but I am more upset  that I have missed out on them for so many years. I never had lentils growing up (not quite in the Eastern European repertoire)  and I think that if my  mother would have tried to serve it to my father he would boycotted her cooking. I mean they don't look that appealing- brownish, greenish little discs that turn water brackish looking but I have now been converted and all from some simple lentil soup my mother in law made me. They may look unappealing but they are delicious and sooo healthy- full of fiber and protein- and in my new lentil craze I have bought about 6 bags of them leaving with me lots of lentil recipes to concoct. First up is this soup- I've made plain old lentil soup a few times and it's great but we are all under the weather now and soup is about all we have any desire to eat so I figured I would make something a little more exotic. I used Harissa in the soup which is a Moroccan chili paste mixture that you can find in any refrigerator section in Israel that added a great undertone of spiciness and of course great flavor. Feel free to add more for more intense flavor and more heat but to me this was the perfect amount. As for the turnips, they have nothing to do with Morocco but I just love them in soup but I'll save my turnip tirade for a different post. Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery chopped ( add the leaves in too they are delicious!)
3 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, diced
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbl Harissa
 1 Tbl cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
5 quarts/liters vegetable or chicken stock
2 1/2 cups green lentils
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add the Harissa and mix in to coat the vegetables and cook another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chickpeas and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then let the soup simmer for about an hour until the lentils are fully cooked but not falling apart. After half an hour add the chickpeas to the soup and cook till the soup is finished.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin Puree

This is not really a recipe but rather a method for how to make your own pumpkin puree. Personally, I love pumpkin and try to use it in as many recipes as I can each fall/winter but I hate to buy the canned puree stuff because even though it claims to be all natural, it doesn't have that beautiful bright orange color nor does it have the real taste of pumpkin not to mention a can of it (at least here) is really expensive. So, I decided to make my own pumpkin puree, portion it and freeze it ( it freezes beautifully!) and this way I have fresh pumpkin puree ready for me when ever I am ready to cook (how Martha Stewart of me, right?!) The truth is that it is actually so easy to do that I'm upset at myself that I've never done it before and now there is no going back- no more over priced, brown, canned pumpkin for me. Here in Israel, pumpkin is abundant right now and practically throughout the year but in America this is really the season to get fresh pumpkin if you want to make puree to have it for the rest of the year. Make sure to buy small pumpkins like the "sugar pumpkin" and other varieties that are sold in stores like Trader Joe's or even ShopRite  and not those huge Jack o' Lantern pumpkins which practically have no meat on them (nope, sorry, you can't steal it off your neighbor's stoop.) Once you have the pumpkin, the rest is easy. I freeze them in a muffin pan which makes each frozen cube about a 1/2 cup portion so I know when I am baking how many cubes I need. Once you bake with fresh pumpkin you'll never go back!

1 small pumpkin, or 3 pieces of cut pumpkin (in Israel)
1 baking sheet
Food processor
tin foil
muffin tin
freezer bags

For whole pumpkins, place pumpkin on baking sheet and cover with foil. For pieces of pumpkin, remove all seeds and stringy parts and place on baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours for pieces and about 3 hours for small whole pumpkins. They are ready when a fork goes into them easily. Cool the pumpkin and scoop out the flesh. Put the flesh in a food processor and puree until smooth.

 If it is too watery strain the mixture to remove the water. Place the mixture into a muffin pan and freeze until solid.

Remove from the pan and place in air tight ziplock freezer bags for future use.