Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad

You know I love me my wheat berries! I keep a stock of them in my pantry and love to use them in all forms (they make a great alternative to barley in chulent) but I especially love them in salads because even after they are dressed they do not get soggy. They can stay in the fridge for a few days, absorbing more flavor each day and the great nutty and chewy texture will not change. This is a wheat berry salad that I made in the summer and for some reason just found that I never posted but I definitely remember how it tasted- lemony and garlicky and delicious. Of course you can add or subtract whatever vegetables you want and make it your own but this was a great combination. Most important is to dress the salad while the berries are still warm which allows them to really absorb a lot of the dressing. Enjoy!

4 cups wheat berries or farro, boiled and drained
2 roasted red peppers, diced
1 roasted yellow pepper, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 bunches of scallions, sliced
2 cups orange or red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and diced

While the berries are warm dress them with the dressing below and toss well. Add the rest of the vegetables and let the salad come to room temperature before serving.

For the dressing:
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mashed Potato and Kale Gratin

Okay, maybe it is more of a casserole but for some reason the word casserole irks me and evokes images of pot luck dinners and awfully bad tuna noodle concoctions. And anyway, a gratin is really a fancy way of saying anything that has a crust of melted cheese on top and so this absolutely qualifies. And putting kale in a dish has to elevate it above casserole status. Ok, I've made enough excuses. Call this whatever you want, it is delicious. I used kale because luckily a neighbor of mine grows her own kale and we were able to get some and I had to put it in everything I made until I used it up but this would also be delicious with a a layer of chopped broccoli or spinach or both instead. This kind of reminds me of Colcannon, a classic Irish dish of mashed potatoes and kale which I love but since St. Patrick's day is a while off we will stick with my more boring title. This dish is hearty and filling and absolutely tastes like comfort. Enjoy!

For the Potatoes:
5 large potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 cup sour cream
4 Tbl butter
1 egg
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes with the two garlic cloves in salted water until tender. Drain well and add the sour cream, butter, cheeses and egg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Kale layer:
1 lb Kale, large stems and ribs removed
2 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a large pan heat the olive oil and start to fry the garlic making sure it does not burn. Add the kale,  season with salt and pepper. Add the water and let the kale steam fry until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove from pan and chop the kale.

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups Panko
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbl olive oil

In a bowl mix the the panko with the the olive oil and then mix in the cheese.

Butter a glass pan and pour half of the mashed potato mixture in. Top with the kale, add the Mozzarella on top of the kale and then add the rest of the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the topping generously over the top. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 until the top is golden.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Linguine with Olive Pesto and Oven Dried Tomatoes

Here is the pasta I promised you. It is super flavorful and very Mediterranean tasting with the heavy olive taste, the dried tomatoes and the cheese. When I made this for Chanukah I used Feta cheese for the Greek theme but it is equally delicious with Parmesan as picture below. It is a simple and easy lunch or dinner that can be thrown together quickly. If you don't have olive pesto or don't want to make any you can always substitute regular pesto but I think the olive flavor makes this dish truly stand out. Enjoy!

1 lb linguine
1 recipe Olive Pesto
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup of Oven dried tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated or Feta Cheese Crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine according to package directions. In a small sauce pan heat up 1/2 cup of olive oil- when the oil is hot add the garlic and saute for a minute making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the pesto to the oil and mix well. To the drained pasta add the pesto, tomatoes, olives and scallions. Toss well and top with either of the cheeses.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Olive Pesto

This is another one of my favorite dips to make and serve on Shabbat with challah. When I want a more pesto-y consistency I add another half cup of olive oil but with challah I prefer it more spreadable. It's only appropriate to post this on Chanukah, where olives and olive oil are thematic. I made a big batch of this pesto at the start of Chanukah and I have been using it in everything including a delicious pasta that you'll get to see next week. Enjoy!

1 can pitted, green olives
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbl pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste (be careful with the salt as the olives and Parmesan are salty)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (omit for pareve meals)

In a food processor add the olives, garlic, pine nuts, cilantro, zest and juice and red pepper flakes. Process it until smooth and then slowly drizzle the olive oil in while the machine is running. Season with pepper and mix the Parmesan in by hand.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Swiss Chard and Feta Latkes

Move over potato, there is a new latke in town- a leaner, meaner and greener latke that will knock your socks off! Don't get me wrong, I won't turn down a good potato latke with heaps of sour cream on it (no apple sauce for me, the combination is abhorrent to me) but every Chanukah I like to experiment with new ones- some funkier than the others (those don't necessarily make it to the blog) and this is one of my new ones. Of course, besides being a latke, it is also "Greek" themed because of the Feta and because the combination of greens (usually spinach) and feta is a classic Greek combination (as in Spanakopita). I used chard because I love it and because I couldn't find good looking spinach but feel free to use an equal amount of spinach instead. So the green of the chard gives great color, taste and health factor and unlike a regular latke these only need to be pan fried in a some oil and not "deep fried" hence they are a great lighter alternative to the classic latke and honestly, in my opinion every now and then you need a little latke change of pace to jazz up Chanukah. If you are looking for other "different" latka recipes you can also check out these from years past- Cheese Latkes (always a huge hit), Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potato Latkes or a variation on the original Potato Leek Latkes. Enjoy!

1 lb Swiss chard, stems removed
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp garlic minced
2 medium potatoes, grated
2 eggs
1/4 cup matzah meal or flour
1 1/2 cups Feta or Bulgarit crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil for frying

Heat 1 Tbl oil in a pan and add the garlic. Saute for one minute and then add the chard and season the chard with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until the chard is wilted. Let the chard cool slightly and then chop. In a bowl mix the potatoes, chopped chard, eggs, matzah meal and cheese.Season with salt (not too much because the Feta is salty and pepper. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in the same pan. When the oil is hot form patties of the mixture and fry for about 2- 21/2 minutes per side until they are golden brown.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Zeppole (Fried Ricotta Donuts)- Happy Blogaversary To Me!

Happy two year blogaversary to me! Two full years of cooking, eating and fun times in the kitchen and over 100,000 page views! Thank you to everyone who has made this blog fun for me by reading, making my recipes and commenting! Here is to another great year of cookery and Happy Chanukah!

For my first Chanukah recipe ( I have so many planned but probably won't get to post half of them till next Chanukah) I had to choose some special and the effort to fry anything to me makes something special. May I introduce the Zeppole, the Italian version of the cake donut, but fried and with ricotta cheese, only my most favorite cheese in the world. I found a basic recipe for them and jazzed it up with orange zest, vanilla and sugar and they were scrumptious! Heat your oil to the right temperature while frying (with the help of a thermometer) and your donuts or zeppole will never be greasy. I didn't have time but these would probably be great dipped in a little dark chocolate- dark chocolate and orange being a great combination. The dough is not a super sweet dough so these benefit from a heavy coating of powdered sugar upon their exit from their oil bath. Enjoy!!!!!!

1 cup flour
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp orange zest
250 grams ricotta cheese, (or 1 cup plus 2 Tblspoons)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar

2 liters of Canola oil for frying

In a large heavy pot or deep fryer start heating up your oil. You want to fry at 375 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest and salt. Mix in the eggs, ricotta and vanilla until it comes together as a dough. The dough will be sticky. Fry by the tablespoon taking care not to over crowd the pot. Turn the donuts over mid fry to make sure both sides are browning. Fry for about 1 minute per side. Drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Orange and Chocolate Chunk Pound Cake

Chocolate and Orange were never one of those combinations that I liked growing up. I mean, ever have chocolate after you drink orange juice? Blech! I could never understand the concept of chocolate covered orange peels and more than once I was seduced by a shiny piece of chocolate on a platter only to bite into it and cringe because instead of the caramel I assumed would be there was a big hunk of tart orange peel. Fast forward many, many years later and perhaps my palate is more "refined" or I am open to new tastes and flavor combinations or maybe I just realized that anything with chocolate is worth eating- but either way the melding of chocolate and orange together is definitely a thing of beauty (but still don't drink orange juice after chocolate or visa versa- that will never get better.) 
Recently, I have been on a pound cake kick, where I try to come up with different flavor pound cakes to make on Friday to have a delicious dairy cake with my coffee Shabbat morning. Pound cakes are usually simple to throw together hence those are my go to Shabbat cakes as opposed to something more elaborate like cheese babka which is worth every minute but that I often don't have time to make. I have to say this pound cake was one of the best- the orange flavor comes from lots and lots of orange zest and lots of dark chocolate chunks can only make a cake better and the cake itself was perfectly moist with a perfect crust and a perfect crumb. In other words, put it on your agenda ASAP because it's worth every buttery calorie. Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 Tbl orange zest
225 grams of cream cheese ( 1 8 oz pkg)
150 grams butter ( 1 1/2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a mixer beat the butter, cream cheese till smooth. Add the sugar and zest and mix well. Beat in one egg at a time and then add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix till just mixed through. Fold in the chocolate pieces. Pour into loaf pan and bake until tooth pick comes out with just moist crumbs- about 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Eggplant Mocked Liver

One of my favorite parts of an Israeli meal is the mezze otherwise known as the salatim- the numerous salads and dips accompanied by fresh delicious pita or laffa that start the meal. In fact, to me that is the meal because I can barely eat anything after all that bread and spread. I like to start my Shabbat lunch meals off with an assortment of such spreads and I am always looking for new ones to try. My first rule of thumb is that I will try any spread that involves eggplant. I love eggplant in any shape or form and when I come across a new recipe for something eggplant-y it is the first thing I go to. That is how I opted to try this spread which combines my love of two things- eggplant and chopped liver. I've seen many recipes for mock chopped liver using a whole range of ingredients- from peas to walnuts and I've always been doubtful of it's taste. But I have to say, this truly did look and taste the part minus albeit with a milder flavor because it is obviously lacking that strong liver-y taste.  It does require a little effort to fry the eggplant but it makes a ton and the results are worth it. Enjoy!

2 medium eggplants
2/3 cup flour
canola oil for frying
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper

In a frying pan heat the oil Slice the eggplant and brush both sides with flour. Fry the eggplant on both sides until the eggplant is dark brown. Remove, sprinkle with a little salt and drain on paper towels. When all the eggplant is done frying add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion is translucent. Place the eggplant, onion and garlic and eggs in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper and puree until desired consistency.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year in America. The weather, the foliage,  the shopping sales and  of course the turkey and cranberry sauce feast. Here in Israel I never have time to make my turkey meal on Thursday night because I am too busy preparing for Shabbat so we try to have our traditional meal on Friday night or Shabbat Lunch. Here are a few Gush Gourmet favorites to help enhance your Thanksgiving meal.

Glazed Turkey Breast with Rhubarb Apricot Chutney

Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Corn Zucchini Muffins

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Cran-Pumpkin Muffins

Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snow Ball Cookies

Can you tell that I'm ready for winter? These cookies go by many names- Mexican wedding cookies, Butterballs, Russian tea cakes and are a favorite during winter holidays because of their wintery look. Underneath the covering of snow however, is an all butter pecan cookie that is crisp on the outside and almost flaky  on the inside with delicious little bits of pecan and just the right amount of sweetness. The cookies can be made with pecans or almonds but I prefer pecans and most recipes call for finely ground pecans but I prefer to grind them myself in a food processor and to grind them coarsely so that you get the texture of the pecans in every bite. These were our Shabbat morning coffee treat one week and since then I've been begged to make them more often. They are simple to make, and absolutely heavenly to eat. These cookies are going in the repertoire- there's no way I'm only saving them for winter!
(And Happy Birthday to the best Mother in Law Ever!)

2 sticks butter ( or one large bar israeli butter), room temperature
4 Tbl ( 1/4 cup) sugar
2 cups ground pecans
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a mixer cream the butter and sugar until well blended and then add the pecans, flour and vanilla. The mixture may be crumbly but should stick together when trying to form it into balls. Roll the dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until they are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. While still warm roll in confectioners sugar. Once they have cooled completely roll them again in the confectioners sugar.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nutella Banana Turnovers

What do you do on a hectic Friday afternoon when you have no time to breathe but have a defrosted roll of puff pastry sitting in your fridge? You make Nutella Banana Turnovers, that's what you do! And then you look at them longingly while they cool wishing you were dairy so you could devour them, but alas, you have to wait an agonizing hour to sample the deliciousness. This is all a hypothetical scenario of course.
I have already proclaimed my devotion to Nutella here- Usually Nutella is eaten in my house very simply- spoon in jar when chocolate hazelnut fix overtakes but I am also happy to incorporate it into any recipe I can. So take some all butter puff pastry and load it up with Nutella, bananas (to make me feel this is a somewhat healthy dessert), peanut butter and some crunchy stuff and then top the buttery pastry with lots of cinnamon sugar. Does that not sound heavenly to you? The best part of it all is how easy it is to make. If you want to make it pareve just use non-dairy puff pastry and either regular chocolate spread or pareve chocolate hazelnut spread- it will be good but nothing can compare to the authentic taste of spreadable Ferrero Rocher- enjoy!

1 kilo puff pastry, defrosted and cut into squares or 18 puff pastry squares (preferably all butter)
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 bananas thinly sliced
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, optional
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
In the center of each puff pastry square place about a Tablespoon of Nutella, a teaspoon of peanut butter and 3 slices of banana. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips and a little chopped hazelnuts and close the pastry to form a triangle. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a cup. Brush the top of the pastries with beaten and then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the pastry is a light golden brown

Inside view....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Creamy Cheesy Polenta with Wild Mushrooms

Polenta, or finely or coarsely ground cornmeal is one of  those ingredients that are transformed with just a little loving. Most people would consider polenta a peasant food, something hearty and cheap that can be put together to add bulk to a meal but add some butter and cheese to it and it become a thing of creamy beauty. Then add some sauteed wild mushrooms on top and you've got yourself a rockin' dish. Don't be alarmed by the amount of full fat dairy that goes into the polenta because the recipe makes a ton- so much that I put aside half to re-purpose for a different meal. Serve the polenta as soon as possible after making it otherwise it starts to congeal and firm up. Make this as a side dish for  fish or eat it by itself for a vegetarian main course- either way, just eat it- Peasant food never tasted so good!

For the Polenta:
6 cups of water
3 cups of vegetable stock (or just use all water)
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of polenta or corn meal
1 1/2 cups whole milk
10 Tbl butter (150 grams), cut into cubes 
3 Tbl cream cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water, stock and salt to a boil. Lower the flame to medium and add the Polenta slowly while whisking and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is cooked through- about 10-15 minutes. Remove from flame and add the butter, cream cheese, parmesan, cheddar and milk and whisk till the cheese and butter melts. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

For the Mushrooms:
3 Tbl butter
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 clove garlic crushed
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (shimeji, oyster, shitaki, portabella), cleaned and sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a pan and saute the leeks and garlic until almost tender. Raise the flame to high, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook (trying not to mix it too much, you want the mushrooms to get some color) for 2-3 minutes. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Serve over the polenta.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

When I used to shop in malls in America, inevitably as the shopping winded down and my hunger was at its peak (with the only kosher options usually being a very over priced Haagen Daz shake) I would find myself walking by a Cinnabon store with the smells of butter and cinnamon wafting toward me and the giant, over sized cinnamon buns winking at me with their generous slather of cream cheese icing. Isn't it amazing what hunger can do to your mind? The point of the above ramble is that cinnamon buns are something that I crave but often can't have. I could make them myself but that just isn't as fun and takes lots of time although apparently a kosher Cinnabon has opened in Tel Aviv and surprisingly I was not the first in line at the grand opening. So recently, to indulge my cinnamon bun craving I made these pancakes that are all over Pinterest. They look more complicated then they are and they taste just so darn good. So if you have a few extra minutes for breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning (or Friday in Israel) make them- you will not regret it!

Recipe Courtesy of the The Recipe Girl
Check out her site to see great step by step pictures of the process 
Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl light brown sugar
1/2 Tbl ground cinnamon

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbl canola oil

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 Tbl butter
2 oz cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare the cinnamon filling by mixing together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop into a small ziplock baggie and refrigerate for 10 minutes for it to firm up a little. 

Whisk the flour, b.p, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil. Do not over mix!
Heat up a skillet or griddle and spray with cooking spray or rub with butter. Add about 1/3 cup size batter portions to the pan. Snip the bottom of your filling bag and when the pancakes start to bubble squeeze a swirl of the filling onto the pancake. Cook another minute and then flip the pancakes over. Repeat with the rest of the batter and glaze.

For the Glaze:  In a microwavable bowl melt the butter. Whisk in the cream cheese until smooth and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle over warm pancakes.

Look closely to see the swirls of buttery cinnamon goodness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Almond Crisps

These are an ode to the almond horns of yore. If you have ever stepped foot into a Brooklyn bakery you will find ginormous horse-shoe shaped cookies sprinkled with slivered almonds and with the ends coated in chocolate. They are made from almond paste and very few other ingredients so they taste super almond-y and they are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They are divine. I have been wanting to make them for such a long time and my almond paste has sat forlorn in my cabinet for ages and this week I just decided it had to be done. Instead of making the huge horns though I made them more like cookies though they still have the nostalgic crisp and chewy texture. Dipping them in chocolate is crucial for both aesthetic purposes and the chocolate breaks up the intense almond flavor. Instead of using almond paste which is hard to come by and expensive you can use plain marzipan which is more readily available and so that is the recipe I provided below. Enjoy!

280 grams or 10 oz marzipan, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
2 Tbls sugar
1 large eggwhite
1 1/2 tsp good quality almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. In a mixer mix the marzipan, almonds and sugar till combined (mixture will look dry and crumbly). Add the egg and extract and mix till smooth.
Lay the sliced almonds on a flat plate.
Make balls out of the dough and shape them into a horse shoe shape while rolling them in the almonds. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and dip the edges in the chocolate and cool.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower has earned a reputation over the years as a  humble, lowly vegetable but I'm not sure why. Because it's colorless? Because it looks like a brain? Because it wreaks havoc on the digestive system? Well, I'll never understand because I think cauliflower is delicious- and versatile, and healthy and pretty much my go to vegetable for roasting when I get sick of potatoes. Because throw some cauliflower florets in the oven with a little oil and just a little bit of salt and pepper and you get heavenly caramelized delicious nuggets of cauliflower goodness without very much effort (see picture below). One of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower is in a creamy soup. I make cauliflower soup a lot but this time I decided to roast the cauliflower first to really get intense sweet cauliflower flavor and then proceed as usual. I have to admit, it was a great idea (minus the fact that half the cauliflower on the tray was eaten before it made it into the soup) and really added great depth of flavor to the soup. You can make this pareve by omitting the cream and substituting oil for the butter if need be but I highly recommend the dairy version because that little bit of cream adds a heck of a lot. Enjoy!

2 heads of cauliflower, broken into florets
2 Tbl oil
2 Tbl butter
3 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large starchy potatoes, chunked
8 cups vegetable stock ( or enough to cover all the vegetables and cauliflower by an inch)
1 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 375. Toss the cauliflower with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay them in one layer on a pan and roast until they get slightly caramelized. In a soup pot, heat the butter. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted cauliflower, potatoes, and vegetable stock and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let the soup for about 35-40 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender and re-season if necessary. Add the cream while the soup is on a low flame and cook another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

                       Sorry, soup was all gone before I could get a picture.
                                           (not my picture but a good one none the less)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cherry- Cheese Coffee Cake

This delicious cake was last week's Shabbat morning treat. Ever have a cherry- cheese knish? My father used to get them every Saturday night from the pizza store and they were heavenly! The flavor of this cake reminds me of those long ago knishes- the buttery base, topped with a cheese cake-y layer and then some cherry jam and just to add a few more delicious calories- a butter crumb topping. Now, wouldn't you want a slice of that with your morning coffee? Unfortunately, if hubs and I had eaten the whole thing ourselves (something not beyond the realm of possibility) we would have not enjoyed the consequences so we tried to share the wealth with some friends who were more than happy to oblige. It's good stuff, let me tell you. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or dairy dessert and you can change up the flavor by trying out different jams- raspberry would also be delicious. It's a keeper! Enjoy!

2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter cut into pieces
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup (8oz) cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup good quality cherry jam

Grease and flour a 9 inch spring form pan and preheat the oven to 350. Combine the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor till you get course crumbs. Set aside one cup of it for later. To remaining mixture add b.p, b.s, salt, sour cream , vanilla and egg. Process till smooth.
Spread batter into bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.
In a mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg till smooth. Pour into the pan over the base. Carefully spread the jam over the cheese mixture and then sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Plum Bread

Recently, I have started a new and fattening tradition of making a dairy confection to enjoy with my brewed coffee Shabbat morning. During the week it is drink my coffee and go but on Shabbat I get to slowly savor it and what better way to savor it than with a butter-rich delicious cake. I didn't mean to make this a tradition, but I have found myself whipping things up on Friday even when I barely have the time just in anticipation of Shabbat morning. Three times is a charm and now I have no choice but to continue. This was one of the first cakes I made for the occasion. Please do not be fooled by the some what boring name, Plum Bread- this is more like a heavenly, buttery, plum-y, moist, melt in your mouth, sweet and tart cake that is just baked in a loaf pan and thus resembles bread- but I could hardly fit that all into the title, could I? Trust me, you want to make this and you don't want to wait for Shabbat. If you don't have plums you can substitute any stone fruit but I think the plums add something different and the sweet, tart flavor of them is delightful. Enjoy!

4 large plums, pitted and chopped
1 Tbl flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vamilla extract
2 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup plain yogurt

Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan well. Sprinkle plums with flour, mix and set aside. Beat butter, sugar , vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in eggs. In a seperate bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir dry in to the wet ingredients alternating with the yogurt. Mix until smooth. Stir in plums gently. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center yields moist crumbs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mango Rice

I am making a full confession right now.
I have issues with rice.
There. I said it.
I can make gourmet meals, tackle complicated recipes, cook for 250 people but I have trouble making rice. Something so simple gives me so much trouble. People have suggested that maybe it's because rice needs to be timed perfectly and have exact proportions and I do not cook like that. I throw ingredients in pots without measuring, never use timers and often rely on my sense of smell to tell me when something is ready. Well, let me tell you, I am an expert on what burned rice smells like. But I refuse to give up. I will keep cooking rice until I am a rice making expert and no, I will not buy a rice maker to help me on this mission. Oddly enough though, the rice fairy was with me  as I made this mango rice. Maybe it was the mango, maybe it was that I had enough patience to be near the stove the whole time or maybe crossing my fingers actually worked this time because my rice came out PERFECT! No random hard uncooked grains, no burnt chunks at the bottom and no starchy clumping-yay!! Likely, this was a fluke but who knows, maybe my rice luck has changed.

This mango  rice is very simple, yet the mango and coconut milk give it a little interesting and exotic touch. I served it as a side dish to my chicken with mushrooms and curry which was a little spicy because I thought the sweet mango would compliment the spicy chicken well and it did.  Because the mango is actually cooked with the rice you don't have to use a perfectly ripe mango- it will still come out sweet and delicious. Truthfully, I could have probably added a cup of sugar to the mixture and called it dessert but I'll save that experiment for a different time. Enjoy!

2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups rice
1 can coconut milk (about 400 ml)
2/3 cup chicken stock or water
1 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper
one large mango, diced

In a saucepan heat the oil. Saute the rice in the oil for two minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil fold in the mango, cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Shut the flame and let the rice steam for 5 minutes before opening the pot.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jerusalem Artichoke and Leek Soup

Sunchokes, otherwise known as Jerusalem artichokes, are these interesting looking tubers that until now I had never tasted before. Call them what you will, but I call them confusing- they are neither from Jerusalem nor do they have anything to do with artichokes. They don't look sunny, though they do look like you could choke on one of them and they are certainly not the most appetizing looking veggie in the bin with their wrinkly brown skin. I have passed them numerous times in the store and almost never give them a second glance- they always seemed complicated and strange as though they should still be underground. Interestingly enough though, these gnarled, lumpy and bumpy tubers are related to the pretty sunflower- go figure! But I was recently in the shuk and passed a whole stand of them and something about them was screaming at me to buy them -oh, wait, that was the shuk vendor screaming at me to buy them- but it worked, because I packed up a kilo of them and made my way home. Don't judge a book by their cover is an apt description for their taste. Underneath their brown skin is a glossy white vegetable who when sliced thinly and eaten raw sort of remind me of a Jicama- slightly sweet, a little crunchy and altogether inoffensive. Cooked, however, they start to resemble a potato but with it's own mild distinct flavor that tastes like surprise, surprise- an artichoke! You can roast them, mash them or throw them raw into a salad (just have some gas-x handy if you are going to do that because they are known to wreak some havoc in that department) but I decided to make a pureed soup out of them. This soup is simple but delicious and as the sunchokes are mild I didn't want any intense spices overwhelming their flavor.  So  if you are like me, and have avoided those sunchokes because they looked like scary witches fingers to you, do yourself a favor and try them- they're delicious! Enjoy!

1 Kilo (2 pounds) Jerusalem Artichokes, pelled and chunked
3 Tbl Olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 cups chicken stock ( I recommend chicken stock because it really adds depth of flavor but use vegetable stock or consomme if that is all you have)
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot heat the oil and saute the leeks, garlic, carrot and celery until the vegetables are translucent. Add the sunchokes and the stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for about an hour. Puree with an immersion blender and serve.

                                                        Our Main Charachter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken Thighs (Pargiyot) in Coconut Mushroom Sauce

I have emerged from my blogcoma!!! My blogcoma (pronounced like glaucoma if you were wondering) ie: my complete disappearance from my blog for over a month was due to weeks of unrelenting catering in which I did nothing but cook. Needless to say I had not a minute to concoct anything special for myself or my family nor did I frankly have any time to breathe. BUT the saving grace was that once all the catering was done I hopped on over to the dead sea for 3 days of rest and relaxation so I am back in blog mode and I have to say this dish is a fitting come back. It is DELUMCIOUS!!!! FYI- Delumcious is my new word to describe something that is both delicious and yummy- I find that I have a hard time thinking of synonyms for delicious so I will from now on just make up my own words. For this recipe I simmered Pargiyot (skinless, boneless dark meat chicken-though you can use chicken breast or chicken pieces) in a mushroom coconut curry sauce using portabella mushrooms and these funky Shimeji mushrooms I found in the supermarket though you can use any assortment of mushrooms you find.  My house smelled like a Thai paradise while it was cooking and  I had to force myself not to stick a straw in the pan and slurp. And if you are wondering if you can come over to taste the leftovers- the answer is, there are no leftovers- it was just too darn good to leave any over! Enjoy!

6 Pargiyot
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic
3 Tbl oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger
4 portabella mushrooms, slices
1 package shimeji mushrooms, stem removed
1 can coconut cream ( you can use coconut milk as well but coconut cream is thicker and has a stronger coconut flavor)
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbl curry powder
1 pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbl fresh cilantro or parsely for serving

Coat the chicken in the flour. Heat the oil and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan. To the same pan add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Add the coconut, stock, curry powder and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil and reseason with salt and pepper if needed. Add the chicken back into the pan and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken in the sauce for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coconut Crusted LIME Pie

I have to admit how ridiculous it is to get so excited over a little green fruit that is so small but that is exactly what happened. I hopped over to the shuk last week and there before my very eyes were limes!! I had to do a triple take and confirm a few times that they were indeed limes and not oblong green clementines but they were- and 40 limes later I was happily skipping down the lanes of Machane Yehuda dreaming of Lime Pie. You see, I love this fine country and all the fine things it offers in abundance but there are just some things that you can't get, or can't get a lot of, or often enough- such as parsnips, blueberries and LIMES to name a few and if you think I am obsessed with lemons then you haven't seen me with a lime. And that is why I made this pie with the most ridiculous grin on my face and enjoyed every delicious limey bit of it. As for the other 30 limes still sitting on my counter, well, I'm perfectly content to just gaze at them but more than likely you'll be seeing some more lime infused recipes soon. Enjoy, because I sure as heck did!

For the crust:
32 Tea biscuits or graham crackers (1 sleeve)
2 Tbl Brown sugar
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbl butter (or margarine for pareve), melted

In a food processor place the crackers, sugar, coconut and salt. Pulse until you get coarse crumbs. Mix with the melted butter and pat into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 9.5 inch pie plate. There will be a little leftover crust mixture- it's delicious on ice cream! bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool.

For the filling:
1 cup sugar
2 Tbl flour
3 Tbl cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 3 limes
1/2 cup lime juice (approximately 4-5 limes)
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbl butter (or margarine)
4 egg yolks

In a sauce pan over medium heat whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the water, lime juice and zest and mix often until the mixture starts to thicken and comes to a boil. Add the butter and mix until it is melted. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks. Carefully add 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture to the yolks in the bowl mixing QUICKLY to temper the yolks. Then add the yolk mixture back into the pot and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes until thick.   Pour the filling into the pie crust and refrigerate. Once cool top with whipped cream or whipped topping as desired.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rosh Hashana Menu 2012

We all get what I call menu-block every once in a while- I mean, after making chag for years and years you start to run out of creative ideas of what to make. I love to look at other people's menu's for a little dose of inspiration so here is my menu for one of my meals that can maybe give you some ideas! Chag Sameach!

Round Raisin Challah with Home Made Apple Butter

Curried Carrot Soup with Ginger

Pomegranate Maple Chicken
Chicken Breast with Melted Leeks and Sun dried Tomatoes 
Red Wine Braised French Roast 

Rainbow Wheat berry salad with Dried Cherries, Scallions, Roasted Pumpkin, and Chickpeas 
Roasted Beet Salad-with a Cumin Vinaigrette 
Carrot Slaw- with chives and Chinese Pecans in a light dressing 

Tzimmis (Baked Carrots, Sweet Potatoes and Dried Plums) in a Honeyed sauce  
Spinach and Leek Stuffing Kugel
Traditional Potato Kugel 
Carmelized Onion Couscous 

Toasted Almond and Coconut Ice cream
Honey Date Cake

Click here to see 2011's Rosh Hashana's Menu

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Asparagus and Basil Tortellini Salad

I forgot all about this yummy salad that I made this summer! Last year at my daughter's birthday party I made a tortellini salad that was a huge hit. So when her birthday came around and I was deciding what to feed the adults I thought, been there done that and wasn't going to make it again. But then came the requests and so how could I disappoint my guests? So I did a variation on the original, with a different dressing and using beautiful tender asparagus and my favorite slow roasted tomatoes and lots of fresh basil from the little basil plant I tenderly nurtured (read: drowned and sunburned but somehow managed to keep alive) this summer and it was as big of a hit as the first one. So, I guess it has been decided-forget about the birthday cake- tortellini salad at my daughter's birthday parties is the new tradition!

1 1/2 lbs of cheese tortellini, either fresh or frozen
1 recipe oven roasted tomatoes
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into thirds
1/2 cup fresh basil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the tortellini in salted water according to package directions. About a minute and a half  before they are done add the asparagus to blanch. Drain the pasta well and transfer to a bowl. Mix the pasta with the tomatoes and basil and add the dressing while the pasta is still warm. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. If not serving immediately make sure to taste and re-season before serving.

For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together and pour over the salad.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wasabi Ginger Salmon with Wasabi-Lime Mayo

Life has been super busy since our return to this great country. I literally dropped my suitcases and started cooking for catering jobs that I was probably crazy to take on. But I persevered through the jet lag and I can now take a minutes rest-but literally only a minute because those suitcases still need to be unpacked. The above is my excuse for why new blog posts are so few and far between but I have taken a break from the organizing to present this salmon to you. Salmon is so versatile and holds up so well to so many flavors that I love trying new ways to make it. This is a sweet, savory and spicy Asian take on salmon that is easy and quick and tastes deeelish. Enjoy!

4 fillets salmon
3 Tbl soy sauce
2 tsp wasabi powder
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp brown sugar
 Mix all ingredients and marinate the salmon for half an hour. Bake the salmon for 15 minutes and then broil for 2 minutes watching it carefully so that it does not burn. Serve with wasabi mayo.

Wasabi Mayo:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbl wasabi powder
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

mix all together and serve with salmon.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

This one is for you Gerald!
I made these peppers a while ago but every time I go to write a post about them I draw a blank. I just cannot think of a single anecdote or story to relay- I never really ate them growing up and until recently they were never on my menu rotation. But the time has come to share them even if I have nothing to say about them other than that they are just a filling, hearty, healthy and delicious dish. Enjoy!

3 red peppers
3 green peppers
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbl oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbl cumin
2 cans tomato sauce, divided
salt and pepper
1 12oz (340gram)package Smart Ground or any other soy crumble or the equivalent amount of chopped mushrooms
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the tops off of the peppers, dice them and set them aside. Make a thin slice on the bottoms so they stand up in the pan and place them in a pan. In a saute pan heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and pepper tops until they are translucent seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the Smart Ground and cook for about 5 minutes. Add one can of tomato sauce and the cumin, mix and let it cook another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the cooked brown rice and one cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stuff the peppers with the mixture. If there is extra mixture you can just pour it around the peppers to bake along side them. Take the remaining can of tomato sauce and mix it with 1 tsp of cumin, salt, pepper and granulated garlic and pour over the peppers. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Huli Huli Chicken Wings

Yes, this is a bizarre sounding chicken but there are no hoops involved. Don't ask me what it means but it is a Hawaiian chicken that is broiled til the skin is crispy and crunchy and all the sugars in the marinade caramelize. The minute I heard of this chicken I was gathering the ingredients to put it together because it has all the good stuff that I love in a marinade- soy, ginger, garlic and lots of other yumminess like pineapple and brown sugar. Instead of using chicken pieces for my Huli Huli experience I used chicken drumettes which are the part of the chicken wings that look like a mini chicken leg. As I was making these I actually pondered for way too long why they are called drumettes  and then when I finally realized that 1) I was thinking about this way too much because I don't actually care that much and 2) I could just google it instead of wasting brain power on such stupidity it dawned on me that it's because they are the itty bitty equivalent of the drum stick. DUH! So that is that in case you were ever wondering yourself. Bottom line, make them and try not to start any fires in your broiler like I did in the process. Enjoy!

2 lbs wings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup pureed fresh pineapple (alternatively, you can use canned)
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl ketchup
1 Tbl rice vinegar
2 Tbl grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix the soy sauce, pineapple, sugar, ketchup, vinegar and garlic in a bowl. I used a hand blender to then puree it more so the texture wasn't as chunky but you don't have to. Season the marinade with salt and pepper and place the wings in to marinate for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Lay the wings in one layer on a sheet pan and cook for about 15  minutes until the wings are almost cooked through. Transfer the wings to the broiler and broil the wings on each side for about a minute- make sure they don't burn!- until they are crispy and golden. Serve them and dip them into the sauce that remains on the sheet pan - deeeelish!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


That is what many of you may be asking yourselves right now. No, auto-correct did not get to my blog and no, I have not recently imbibed. Letcho is simply a delicious dish of stewed peppers and tomatoes that my grandmother excelled at making and that I grew up with that I think is Hungarian in origin. My Grandmother has told me it was made to get rid of tomatoes and peppers that were going bad but there was no evidence of poor quality vegetables in the letcho when we got to it. My grandmother would parcel out containers to all her children every time she made it and we would literally fight at the fridge to get to it.  Then after we got our illicit spoonfuls we would hide it in the fridge in a safe place so we could have some more later but inevitably someone else searched and got to it first.
And all it is is basically peppers and tomatoes.
It's amazing how good a grandmother's love can make a dish.
Now, everything my grandmother made had tons of sugar in it. And I mean EVERYTHING. Hamburgers with sugar- you got it. Peas with sugar- yup. Chulent with sugar- oh yeah! There is literally nothing she did not put sugar in so her letcho was also on the sweet side. But many of my friends grew up with letcho that had no sugar so make it as you like with or without though I think it benefits from a little sugar to enhance the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. I also used to think letcho was a rice dish because I would always find little grains of rice in the dish but it really is primarily a vegetable dish with just a tiny bit of rice to thicken up the sauce. It makes a great side dish and goes great served over plain brown rice which is how I like to serve it. So find your secret refrigerator hiding space and Enjoy!

2 large onions, sliced
4 Tbl oil
1 large red pepper, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced (even if you don't like green peppers they are essential for letcho flavor)
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
7 tomatoes (plum or on the vine, sliced gently-don't lose too much of the juice)
4 Tbl sugar
1/8 cup of rice
salt and pepper

In a large pan saute the onions in the oil for 2 minutes add all the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers start to wilt. Add all the tomatoes, mix, re- season with salt and pepper and cover for about 5 minutes to let the tomatoes start to release their juices. Add the sugar cover and let stew while mixing occasionally for about 25 minutes. There should be a nice amount of liquid in the pot. Add the rice, stir, check for seasoning and cook another 10 minutes covered until the rice is cooked.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Now this is a muffin! Any one bowl recipe becomes my friend and especially one that is so good. Frozen raspberries are the key here because they are soft and have already let off some of their juice and that juice will just permeate the whole muffin and make it taste like raspberry heaven. However, if you have fresh raspberries that are soft and runny already but not moldy they would work well here too.  And what can I say about the combo of white chocolate and raspberry? It's not a combination I've had many times before but it's a combo I will be using a lot more now! Serve these for brunch and they will be a real crowd pleaser or to break your next fast and I promise you they will disappear! Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks or chips
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (frozen works better in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. Add the milk eggs and oil and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips and raspberries and fill greased muffin tins with the batter until almost full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

This soup was a big fat hit! I don't usually like to have soup in the summer but for some reason no matter how hot it is, soup is a must for break -fast. Something about sweating out the calories I did not eat all day is ironically appealing. And what better vegetable to use for a summer soup than tomatoes? Walking into the supermarkets the first smell that hits you is the smell of fresh tomatoes of every kind and at the peak of ripeness there is nothing like eating a juicy tomato- it's as sweet and refreshing as any fruit.  To accentuate the sweetness of the tomatoes I decided to go with a roasted tomato soup and the roasting really added a great depth of flavor to the soup and a little smokiness. Served with some grilled cheese for dipping this soup was out of this world! Enjoy!

4 lbs tomatoes ( a little less then 2 kilo or about 12-14 tomatoes)( I used a combo of on the vine and plum), quartered
1 large onion, quartered
7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chunked
2 stalks celery, chunked
olive oil
1 bay leaf
5 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp good quality dried oregano
1 tsp good quality dried basil
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl tomato paste
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. On a sheet pan place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Toss with enough olive oil so that everything is coated and season WELL with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and then mix the vegetables, pressing down on the tomatoes a little to release their juices. Roast another 15 minutes. Place all the vegetables and all the juice from the pan into a pot and add the bay leaf, vegetable stock, herbs, sugar and tomato paste. Season well with salt and pepper and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 25 minute until the veggies are all tender.  Remove bay leaf and Puree with an immersion blender and add the cream. Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes with the cream and serve!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

After all the heavy dairy 9 days eating I was in desperate need of some light meat filled fare and this salad fit the bill perfectly. I make taco salad quite often with the salsa and mayo dressing and don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan but I wanted something a little different this time around so I went with a totally different flavored dressing and lots of yummy chicken. I marinated the chicken breast in lots of strong spices- smoked paprika, cumin, garlic to give it great flavor and then grilled it for smokiness and it was delicious atop this salad. The creamy lime dressing was the perfect cooling agent for the spicy chicken not to mention it was a welcome change from the usual dressing. I am usually not a fan of cilantro because of its aggressive shampoo taste but sometimes it just hits the spot. This dressing I think really needs the cilantro for more authentic Mexican flavor and the lime with the cilantro is just a great combo. Of course you can't have a taco salad with out some taco chips so get your crunch on and crumble some taco chips on top. Enjoy!

For the grilled chicken:
3 chicken breasts
salt, smoked paprika, granulated garlic, cumin

Sprinkle the chicken breasts on both sides with the seasonings and grill until ready.

For the Salad:
2 heads Romaine lettuce
1 red onion diced
2 avocados, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can of sweet corn, drained
1 bag taco chips, crumbled
Toss all the ingredients together, add dressing and chicken and serve with taco chips on top.

For the dressing:
1 cup mayo
Juice and zest of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
 1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and let dressing sit in the refrigerated for at least half an hour for the flavors to really come together.

                                                          Dayummmm that looks good!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coconut Dream Bars

It's hard to choose what my favorite chocolate bar is but a Mounds bar definitely makes the top 3. There is something about the chewy, sweet flavor of coconut with chocolate that is delicious and I am always drawn to recipes calling for the two together. This recipe has been on my to do list for about a year but since it calls for cream of coconut which is essentially sweetened condensed coconut milk and I could not find it in the literally 15 stores I looked in Israel I had to wait to make it. It all started when I got this bug in my head one week that I NEEDED to make this and spent too many hours and way too much gas in my car looking for it. I finally gave up and decided to make it when I got to America. Funny enough, I went to my parents house, opened a cabinet and what do you think was standing right there? That's right-the ever elusive can of cream of coconut. Even though the can looked like it went through something traumatic I whisked it off to the country with me so excited to finally satisfy my craving for these bars. I made the crust as per the instructions, and lovingly opened the can and BOOM-I was hit with a smell that can only be described as rancid- much like coconut covered dead animal - and had to throw out the can. Then came a new search for coconut milk that took me to 4 stores until finally I found it. What is the moral of this story? That after all that work, even if these bars were disgusting I would still eat them and serve them just for the effort that went into making them. Luckily for me and everyone I would have force fed them to they turned out great and for the next very long time I don't plan on making anything with coconut milk again. The End.

(adapted from Kitchen Adventures)
For the crust:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbl butter
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan and spray well with cooking spray. Process everything but the butter in a food processor until just chopped. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like course crumbs. Press it into the bottom of the pan and bake for about 18 minutes until golden brown. Cool.

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup cream of coconut ( Coco Lopez is a kosher brand)
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbl flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

In small bowl combine coconut and cream of coconut. In a different bowl whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla and salt together and then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Spread this mixture over the crust and then dollop the coconut mixture on top spreading it so that it covers the filling (it's ok if it isn't covered perfectly.) Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool and then cut into bars.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini Garlic and Parmesan Bubble Breads

I am already dreaming of breaking my fast on these and the fast is still a few days away. But what could be better then a big ole bite of these cuties? They are like cheesy garlic bread only cuter and just the thought of these makes me do a happy dance. If making bread is not your thing you can make this using frozen or pre-made refrigerator dough but of course there is nothing like fresh and one of the good things about this bread is you just have to roll the dough into balls- no fancy braiding- so that makes things easier. So bottom line, if the thought of bread dipped in a buttery,garlicky, Parmesan-y mixture and then baked with more Parmesan on top appeals to you then make these. If it doesn't appeal to you, than I'm not sure how we are friends to begin with. Enjoy!

Makes about 18 mini buns
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm milk or water  (make sure it's warm NOT hot)
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups flour
Dipping Mixture:

1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl dried chives
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt and pepper

Mix the butter, garlic, parsley, chives and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Season it with salt and pepper.

In a mixer place the warm milk and sprinkle in the yeast and mix well. Add the eggs and mix again. Mix the flour and salt together and add it in mixing at low speed. The dough will be a little sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place until it doubles. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Make small walnut size balls and dip each into the  butter mixture. Place three balls into each tin, drizzle each with the remaining butter mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden making sure they do not over bake.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spinach and Raspberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

How bright and beautiful does that salad look?!! This salad sings of summer and it is everything summer food should be- light, fresh and tasty. I've never seen fresh raspberries in Israel so I knew I wanted to do something while I'm here with these ruby beauties and they are just too pretty to not showcase whole. As for the raspberries that didn't fare so well in the package, I pureed them and add them to the dressing  which served to highlight the delicate raspberry flavor and added subtle sweetness ( if you don't want to make your own vinaigrette Ken's makes a great bottled raspberry walnut dressing that would go well here.) Add some sweet and juicy nectarines, fresh spinach, thin slices of red onion and some toasted pecans and OH BABY you got some good summer eats. I didn't add goat cheese here because most of the people I was serving this to wouldn't have appreciated it but I think the tang of goat cheese would be great in this salad as well. Enjoy!

1 lb of baby spinach
3 ripe nectarines, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans 
1 log of goat cheese, crumbled

Toss the spinach gently with the nectarines, onions and raspberries and pecans. Drizzle with dressing and top with goat cheese and serve.

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup of raspberry puree (strained to get seeds out)
2 Tbl honey
1/3 cup light olive oil
4 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together to emulsify them . Drizzle over salad and serve.