Monday, April 29, 2013

Deep Dish Oatmeal Fudge Bars

If you love oatmeal cookies and you love fudge, then these bars are for you. But let me warn you, these bars are sinful and HIGHLY addictive. Who can resist a crunchy oatmeal cookie base layered with a thick buttery fudge filling and then topped with some more cookie- not me! Probably not the best idea that I made them without company to share them with, and after seeing how much headway I was making in the pan all by myself I decided it would be best to freeze half for Shavuot. Did I mention these go great with coffee? Or by themselves? Or as dinner :) ? Enjoy!

200 grams (2 sticks)butter or margarine, room temperature
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
3 cups quick cooking oats

In a stand mixer mix the butter, brown sugar and eggs until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick.

For the Fudge:
1 can sweetened condensed milk (you can find chalav yisroel options as well nowadays)
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant espresso or coffee
2 cups chocolate chips

In a sauce pan melt all the ingredients together.

Preheat oven to 350. In a greased 9x13 pan press half of cookie mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Top with the fudge mixture spreading it evenly and then top with the rest of the cookie mixture by placing pieces of the dough over the fudge. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool and then refrigerate before cutting.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Broccoli and Halloumi Cheese

I literally dreamed up this recipe. There I was, minding my own business and enjoying my third REM  cycle when dancing grains of quinoa appeared before my eyes adorned with sun dried tomatoes and roasted broccoli. Ok, maybe it didn't go down quite like that but I definitely woke up with a vision of this salad in my head. Quinoa has slowly made its way into my diet after much experimenting and perfecting how to get rid of that unpleasant bitterness that always seemed to  accompany it. Rinsing it vigorously under running water for no less than 2 minutes is the trick and since this discovery I am apparently happily dreaming of quinoa recipes. Of course, in honor of Shavuot there had to be some dairy involved and halloumi cheese, a Greek cheese with a high melting point allowing it to be fried or grilled without running all over the place, was where I went. If you don't want to use cheese, tofu or chicken breast can be substituted. This salad is filling enough to call it a meal but light enough that it won't weigh you down and oh, did I mention that it's yummy? Enjoy!

1 1/4 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups stock or water
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
3 Tbl oil, divided
8 sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 Tbl  pine nuts, toasted
300 grams (about 10oz) Halloumi or Tofu, cubed

For the dressing/marinade:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard
3 Tbl soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup oil
pinch of black pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

Marinate the halloumi in half of the dressing mixture for at least half an hour. Set the other half aside.

Place the broccoli on a roasting pan. Drizzle with one Tbl oil, season with salt and pepper and roast at 350 until brown around the edges and slightly crispy-about half an hour.

Rinse the quinoa very well in a fine mesh strainer. This will remove the bitter taste.  Add to a pot with the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Close flame and keep the pot covered for an additional 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Once halloumi has marinated, grill or pan fry it in the remaining oil until brown on all sides.
To assemble: Gently mix the quinoa with the roasted broccoli, tomatoes, pine nuts, halloumi and the remaining dressing. Serve room temperature.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shitake Mushroom and Beef Noodle Stir Fry

On special occasions, (usually after relentless weeks of catering) when I feel like I deserve a treat, I head to Jerusalem to my favorite sushi joint to pig out on sushi. Usually on such jaunts I don't pay any attention to anything else on the menu besides the sushi because I have this unofficial rule that in a pizza place you get pizza, a burger place you get burgers and in a sushi place you get sushi even though all the above places have lots of other menu offerings. But, for some reason on one of my most recent sushi excursions I found my eye wandering the menu where it came to a halt at a dish called Shitake Sirloin Stir Fry. It sounded delicious and I had to try it, even if it meant breaking my rule. I"m glad I did because it was so good that on the two trips since I have practically skipped the sushi and just ordered this dish. But, being ever practical and knowing that my budget cannot handle tri-weekly trips to Jerusalem to eat it I set about trying to recreate it and this is what I came up with. I have to say, it comes close. I also have to say that measuring ingredients in general is hard for me but when it comes to making Asian dishes it is especially hard. I usually am just tossing ingredients in, tasting all the way through to make sure it is perfect.  I did manage to measure  for the most part but I encourage tweaking the seasonings to make it perfect for your tastes using the ingredients I provided in the recipe. Some of the ingredients may sound complicated or hard to find such as the Hoisin sauce or Mirin but I have found them weekly in my local supermarket with no problem. I find Kosher supermarkets nowadays really have a great selection of Asian sauces and condiments. Enjoy!

For the beef:
1 lb tzli catef, pounded thin- they sell this at the butcher counter and it looks like meat shnitzel, or in America use Pepper Steak
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1 T soy sauce
1 Tbl water
2 Tbl oil
In a bowl mix all the ingredieints except the beef. Slice the beef very thinly against the grain and place in the marinade. Let it sit for at least half an hour. This will tenderize the beef.

1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 lb baby portabella, sliced thinly
1 onion, diced
2 Tbl oil
8 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
400 grams (about a pound) of stir fry noodles
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup good quality teriyaki sauce
3 Tbl hoisin sauce ( a sweet and salty Asian condiment)
1 Tbl sesame oil
1/4 cup Mirin (a Japanese wine seasoning)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbl low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger

Boil the noodles according to package instructions and set aside. Saute the onion in the oil till just tender, raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms. Leave them without turning for a minute to get caramelized and then saute. Add the beef still over high heat and saute until all sides are just browned. Add the scallions and saute.  Add  the rest of the ingredients to the pan mixing to coat and cook till the sauce bubbles. Lower the heat and let the sauce cook with the beef for another 2 minutes. Add in the noodles and cook together till the noodles absorb the sauce and serve.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta

What can I say about polenta? To me, it is simple, hearty, filling, stick to your ribs goodness. But I guess simple is the key word because it does take a lot of adornment to attain deliciousness. However, polenta is almost like rice- it is a blank palette  and you can season it up to your liking and so to me it's fun to play with. My favorite polenta is simply cooked in milk with hefty amounts of butter and cheese added at the end. This baked polenta is a fancier version of that with butternut squash added for health factor but lots of cheese and just enough butter to make you crave it. Try this as an interesting new addition to your next dairy meal, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

(adapted from Food and Wine)
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
3 Tbl oil
2 onions, diced
2 Tbl oil
6 cups vegetable stock or water and bouillon
2 cups polenta or corn meal
2 Tbl butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup smoked Mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (divided)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl butter cut into small cubes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the squash with the oil, season with salt and pepper and roast until tender. Mash coarsely and set aside. In a saute pan saute the onions in 2 Tbl oil until golden.
Bring 6 cups of stock to a boil. Add the salt and polenta and whisk until the polenta is cooked through. About 10-20 minutes depending on the thickeness of your cornmeal. When it is tender it is ready. Add the butter to the polenta and then the cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese), nutmeg and squash mixture. Don't mix it too much, you want to see some of the squash. Season well with salt and pepper and pour the mixture into a buttered dish. Top with the rest of the Parmesan and dot with the butter and bake for 15 minutes until the top is a little crispy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bissara (Fava Bean Dip)

Ever go into an Israeli restaurant and see Ful (pronounced fool, as in "I pity the fool" -A-team reference for those of you 80's babies) on the menu? I see it all the time and for the life of me I could never figured out what it was.  A type of bean I presumed but no clue what type. Of course, I could have just asked Dr. Google but I guess I never got around to it. Well, I was strolling in the shuk recently with my husband  and came across these big green pods (think string beans on steroids) that people were buying up. Curious as to what they were and what to do with them we approached the vendor and found out they were Ful (talk about an "aha" moment.) We bought a massive bag of them and brought them home. Once cooked the massive bag amounted to about a cup of beans. No wonder people were buying wheel barrels full! Well, I put hubby in charge of their preparation and this is the Moroccan dip he cooked up. I have to say, it was quite tasty, almost like chummus but bright green (think Incredible Hulk) though it takes a little effort to cook and shell them. We devoured it with some pita chips and are already looking for a wheel barrel for sale. Enjoy!

1 big bunch of ful in its pod, shelled ( you want 1 cup of shelled beans)
3 cloves garlic
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
2 Tbl chopped cilantro (or parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the ful for one minute and let cool. Once cool remove the waxy outer shells of the beans and place in the food processor. Process the beans with the garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, cumin and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Blend until pureed. If the mixture is too thick for your liking you can add a little water or olive oil.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

How was your Passover? Mine was great! Filled with lots of family and endless upon endless amounts of time cooking in the kitchen. It was just one big food fest and on top of that lots of catering. So how do I celebrate the end of the cooking marathon?
By cooking!
Nothing is more relaxing and enjoyable to me then cooking just for the fun of it with no pressure on me if what I make turns out to be a disaster. The end of Passover also means my favorite culinary holiday is on the horizon- Shavuot! So stay tuned for lots of dairy recipes coming your way. And here is the first one. I'm not one of those people who can't stand Matzah and need some real bread once Passover ends. I am still happily crunching on my Matzah and looks like I will be for some time considering the almost 20 pounds of it I have left.  But what I have missed is some good cake with my morning coffee and with that in mind I set out to make this cake which is a delicious cross between cheese cake and coffee cake- two of my breakfast cake faves. Here, a ribbon of cheesecake mixture runs through two layers of buttery coffee cake and is topped with a cinnamon-y streusel- and let me tell you, PRAISED BE THE LORD it is good!! Enjoy!

For the Cake:
1 stick of butter, softened (1/2 cup or 115grams)
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2  tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Mix the flour mixture and sour cream into the butter alternating between the two and ending with the flour. Set aside.

For the filling-
450 grams (16oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Mix all together with a mixer until combined.

For the Streusel:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cubed

Mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon together and then cut in the butter with your hands until small crumbs form.

Preheat your oven to 350 and Grease a 9x13 inch pan . Put half the cake batter in the pan and smooth it out over the bottom. The mixture will be thick . Spread the filling over and then top with the rest of the batter as best as you can. it is ok if some filling peeks out. Top with the streusel and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.