Dec 5, 2017

The Best Latke Recipe, and Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

Time For Hanukkah Treats! Decorate with abandon! Stave off mid winter blues with Empty Carbs!
  Of Course, there are those who would object to the kinds of decorations I have come to love: but hey, why shouldn't Hanukkah be pretty? Like this Coconut Cake with a tiny Menorah, and blue M&Ms

Ina Garten Coconut Cake, Hanukkah Version
Hanukkah Cookies

Time for Fun and Family, Friends, and FOOD!

The Best Latkes
Under the influence of GG and Grandpa we learned, decadently, to love eating masses of them with creme fraiche and gravlax and caviar.

6 medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled
1 onion
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
fresh pepper.
(serves about 6)
Using the shredding blade of a food processor, shred the potatoes. Set colander in the sink to drain.
Grate or finely chop onion, mix in eggs, salt and pepper.
Squeezing out as much liquid as you can, put half the shredded potatoes in with the onions and eggs, and return the other half to the food processor with the steel blade, and pulse a few times.
Mix the chopped potatoes in with the rest, add flour, and mix well.

Heat about 2 1/2 inches of wesson oil in a large frying pan, and heat the oil till smoking. Drop a bit of the mixture in, it should sizzle like crazy.

Add tablespoons of the mixture into the pan, allowing the oil to come back to temperature. Turn occasionally with a slotted spoon, and cook until they are nut-brown.

Drain on brown paper bags over a rack, and sprinkle liberally with Kosher Salt. Keep latkes warm until the batch is done on baking pans, lined with paper towels in a 225 degree oven.
Serve with Creme Fraiche, Applesauce, and Gravlax (make your own with this recipe).

"Salted Caramel" Rice Krispie Treats

Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats (Vegetarian)
One of the blogs that I avidly follow is called Smitten Kitchen, and I remembered seeing a recipe for these there. I have adapted it substituting Vegan Marshmallows, and Brown Rice breakfast cereal, but I invite you to try it. If you have blue sanding sugar and want to decorate with it, shake it on top of the pan while the "treats" are still warm.

1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag vegan marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal or Puffed Brown Rice Cereal
Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square "brownie pan"

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.
As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.
Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with Colored Sugar if desired

Nov 21, 2017

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Agave Nectar (Thanksgiving Healthy)

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce with Agave

If you are like me, sometime into your Thanksgiving Cooking you realize the shocking amount of sugar that you are putting into your food. So, when I started making my cranberry relish, I realized that I could easily "lose" that four cups of sugar right there. The sauce was decidedly less sweet than the one we are used to, and in the end, I stirred in a swig of Pomegranate Molasses, but it is totally optional. I think this is really good, if you are looking for a healthier bite of Thanksgiving.

4 cups fresh Cranberries
1 orange (preferably organic) washed well, seeded, and chopped in a food processor
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup Agave Nectar
1-2 cinnamon sticks

optional: a Tablespoon or 2 of Pomegranate Molasses, a Tablespoon or 2 of Grand Marnier,  Cognac, Brandy, Orange Liqueur.

Put all ingredients except brandy into a heavy saucepan and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until berries pop. Remove from heat, stir in liquor if using. Chill.

Nov 12, 2017

Thanksgiving Do Ahead Tips (also for Latkes)

I've gotten quite a few calls today about what you can do ahead of time if you are cooking Thanksgiving, and how to optimally store the do-aheads.

Here are some tips that work well for me:


4 Days Before Thanksgiving - Start Thawing The Turkey Now:
Thawing the Turkey: If you're bought a frozen turkey, you'll need to start thawing it.
Every 5 pounds of turkey will require 24 hours of thaw time in the refrigerator (i.e., a 15-pound bird will take 3 full days). Start defrosting the frozen turkey in the coldest part of the refrigerator, in the back. A slow thaw equals a juicy and moist turkey.
NEVER DEFROST TURKEY AT ROOM TEMPERATURE - bacteria multiplies at room temperature. Another REASON TO BUY AN ORGANIC BIRD

Following information on thawing turkeys from the National Turkey Federation:
Refrigerator Turkey Thawing Time (40 degrees F)
Turkey Weight
Days to Allow for Thawing Turkey
8 to 12 pounds
2 to 2.5 days
12 to 16 pounds
2.5 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds
4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds
5 to 6 days
Emergency Thawing Only: If you need to thaw the turkey more quickly, you may thaw the bird in COLD water, in the original wrapping. The cold water must be changed every 30 minutes. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound using this method. This is not my favorite method as it is a last-minute hassle and does dry out the turkey.
COLD Water Turkey Thawing Time
Turkey Weight
Hours to Allow for Thawing Turkey
8 to 12 pounds
4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds
6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds
8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds
10 to 12 hours

What can you do before Thanksgiving?

  • A few days before Thanksgiving, iron table linens, designate serving platters, and clean and polish your glassware and silver. Set the table if you can.
  • Order, buy, and arrange flowers or other centerpiece and decorations. Save a few blooms to decorate platters and serving bowls.
  • Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate. You can also make cranberry chutney and applesauce several days ahead and store tightly closed in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare other sauces, jellies, and dressings; store in the refrigerator.
  • Purchase, wash and cut up vegetables that you will use for your stuffing and side dishes. Chop onions, celery,carrots, parsley etc. and store in zip-lock plastic bags. Chop bunches of herbs and wrap in a damp paper towel inside a plastic zip lock bag in the freezer.


  • You can make pies up to a month in advance, and freeze. After assembling, put the entire unbaked pie — greased tin and all — into a loose-fitting plastic bag and seal tightly. Transfer it to the refrigerator the night before baking to thaw, and the next day you’ll have a fresh baked pie on your table in the hour it takes to bake it up fresh.
  • Make pie crust pastry up to 5 days ahead and store, well wrapped in the refrigerator. Make the dough, and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper. Fold up the parchment paper around the pastry and double wrap in plastic wrap. Let it warm up a bit before you start to assemble your pie.
  • Cookies can be made up to a month ahead. You can make the dough and freeze, Or portion your cookies right on baking sheets, and freeze until hard, then place the individual cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake whenever you want. Rolled and cut cookies like sugar cookies can be baked ahead and frozen in airtight tupperware containers, and iced and decorated before serving.

Bake up to five days ahead. Cool well, and wrap well in plastic. Keep at room temperature (think fruitcake) they actually improve.

Vegetable soups can be easily frozen if they don't have cream or eggs, Making them an excellent trick. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat the soup before serving, and thin as necessary before serving if it has thickened too much. Be sure to leave enough space in the container you freeze in. Soup can be frozen in heavy duty ziplock freezer bags.

Turkey Gravy can be made up to five days ahead. When you heat it up, correct the seasoning, and add any pan drippings you have accumulated.

If you are using kale or cabbage or sturdy greens you can clean and cut them up in advance. Otherwise, I don't really recommend making salads ahead, because-- well, because they are supposed to be FRESH!

You can make hummus, eggplant dip and the like a day or two ahead. Marinate a bunch of olives with good olive oil and some herbs de provence, and a shake of red pepper.

Potato Dishes that cook in casserole pans- like our FAVORITE PRALINE SWEET POTATOES can be assembled a day ahead and put in to cook before the meal. Watch carefully when you are juggling a lot of dishes in the half hour before the meal, because the pecan topping can burn easily. Have some parchment handy to lay over the top if its browning too fast.

Because of, well, you know what, you might have to be dealing with latkes too. Make Latkes (or the given sweet potato variety) ahead. Cool, and freeze individually on cookie sheets until hard. For reheating: Put frozen latkes on cookie sheets into a 375 degree oven, turning frequently until crisp and hot. Keep warm on paper towels in a warming drawer if you have one or a 225 oven.

Mashed potatos can be made ahead by boiling them 2 or more hours before the meal, and leaving them in the warm water. then mash at the last minute with olive oil, pepper and sea salt. I love a handful of whatever fresh herbs you have leftover- parsley, a bit of sage, chives, celery tops, scallions.

Thanksgiving. New Traditions: Second Dessert

Blueberry Crumb, Apple Lattice, Perfect Pecan

Henry's Famous Smoked Turkey

Of course its your favorite holiday!
Browse the links below to some of our favorite recipes, or check the column of "tags" on the right edge of the blog for more ideas.
One of our favorite "New Traditions" (is that an oxymoron?) is "Second Dessert". Second Dessert solves two problems at once.
First, keeping kosher means that your Thanksgiving pie crusts will not be made with butter, and will not be served with whipped cream or ice cream. (And might contain nasty margarine/transfat/stuff).
Second, you know how after you finish all the yummy dinner, you kind of feel too full for dessert, but then you kind of start scrounging around for a snack a couple hours later.
So, our tradition has become: Dinner (at 5-ish), a light dessert for those who want it (apple cake, a brownie, some fruit). We continue on to a lively game of Charades, Trivial Pursuit, or Guitar Hero.
Then some time later (consult your Rabbi or the most "Jewy" in your crowd for the specific time frame), Dig into a rich, non-pareve, whipped cream garnished dessert.

Hey, all traditions had to start somewhere.

Indian Pudding
4 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
grated fresh nutmeg to taste
1 tsp. salt
1 cup molasses
1 tsp. grated orange peel
Vanilla ice cream
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan over low heat, scald milk and sugar. Gradually stir in the cornmeal. Cook and stir constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs, cinnamon, ginger, molasses, nutmeg, and orange peel. Mix thoroughly. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Makes 6 servings.

    Nov 11, 2017

    Thanksgiving Menu and Zia Salad

    Thanksgiving Menu

    The first time we went to Santa Fe we enjoyed a meal at Casa Sena restaurant, and I bought the cookbook on the way out. I lost the cookbook recently, and was at a loss to remember the dressing recipe. I called Santa Fe and got the chef on the phone one morning, and I asked for the recipe, he said the book was long out of print, but he'd ask one of the older staff if they had one. He sent me the recipe by fax!
    Anyway-- its great.


    toast the following in a dry frying pan:
    1/4 cup pinenuts
    1/4 cup coconut (I use the unsweetened from healthy store)
    1/4 cup sunflower seeds, or pepitas
    1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds

    assorted mixed greens
    peeled julienne jicama, or asian pear, or regular pear
    pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries or both.

    Mix the nuts/seeds with 3/4 cup of the dressing. Arrange salad on plates, top with jicama (in the zia pattern, if you want the whole
    Santa Fe experience)


    1/4 cup fresh cranberries
    1/2 cup water
    1/4 cup walnut oil
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    juice of 2 oranges
    juice of 2 limes
    1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    3/4 cup cream (soy creamer)
    2 Tbs. pure red chile powder
    1 Tbs. chopped garlic

    Simmer or microwave the cranberries and water. drain, and puree in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Let sit overnight.


    Oct 16, 2017

    Sweet and Spicy Korean Meatballs- make with beef or turkey

    Sweet and Spicy Korean Meatballs

    For Meatballs
    • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
    • 4 green onions chopped
    • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp srichacha or gochujang
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper or korean pepper
    For Spicy Apricot Glaze
    • 1/2 cup apricot jam
    • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp Srichacha or gochujang

    1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, add all the meatball ingredients and mix with your hands to combine. Form the meatballs into small 1 inch balls. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until done to your liking.
    3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Add the meatballs and toss well until all the meatballs are glazed.
    4. Garnish with chopped chives if preferred and serve immediately over cooked rice or as an appetizer.

    Sep 9, 2017

    The Imam Fainted, Imam Bayildi. The Best Eggplant dish ever

    There are wonderful stories about the derivation of the name of this iconic Turkish Eggplant preparation (fun fact!). And as many versions of the recipe. This is my adaptation of a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman from the NY Times.
    For the eggplants it is best to select small ones as fresh as you can find preferably at a Farmers Market. The reason for this is that the young fresh ones have much less bitterness because of their very small seeds. The perfect eggplants are about lemon-size. If you can find these, simply use them whole, slit before the first roasting. If they are orange- or small grapefruit size, cut them in half lengthwise (through the stems), and slit them before roasting. One of the things I like best about this dish is that it is great at room temperature, and mixes well with easy do-ahead summer salads. I served it with this chard strata, rainbow carrot salad, roasted multicolor cauliflower and a watermelon and feta salad.

    • 4 small eggplants cut in half lengthwise (or see note above)
    • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
    • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 1/2 pounds (3 large or 6 medium) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    Optional: a dollop before serving is great!
    • 1 cup labne or Greek yoghurt mixed with grated garlic and chopped dill

    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with olive oil. Slit the eggplants down the middle, being careful not to cut through all the way through the skin. (make a pocket). Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 or so minutes, until the outer skin begins to shrivel. Remove from the oven and transfer, cut side down, to a colander set in the sink. Allow to drain for 30 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender, 5 to 8 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt to taste and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil.
    3. Turn the eggplants over and place in the pan, cut side up. Season with salt. Fill with the onion and tomato mixture. Mix together the remaining olive oil, the remaining sugar, the water and the lemon juice. Drizzle over and around the eggplants. Cover the pan and place over low heat. Cook gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, checking the pan for liquid and basting from time to time with the liquid in the pan, and adding water to the pan if it becomes too dry. By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the pan slightly caramelized. Spoon this juice over the eggplant. Allow to cool in the pan, and serve at room temperature.
    Yield: Serves 4
    Advance preparation: You can roast the eggplant through Step 1 and make the filling through Step 2 several hours before assembling and cooking the imam bayildi. Once cooked, the finished dish can sit for several hours.

    Aug 21, 2017

    Cape Gooseberries? Ground Cherries? How about a Crumble?

     Do you recognize this fruit?  The botanical name is "Physalis" , some people call them Ground Cherries, or Cape Gooseberries. In any case, I have a TON of them in my garden, and therefore you might see some in your CSA, or in the Farmers' Market this week.

    They are delicious for snacking, make a terrific "new fruit" for Rosh Hashana, a great addition to any tomato salad, but in this dessert, paired with fresh apples they have a chance to toot their own tasty horn.

    Cape Gooseberry Apple Crumble

    Serves 4
    • 4 apples, peeled, cored, cut in chunks
    • handful of dried blueberries
    • 2 cups of husked cape gooseberries
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    Put the chunked apples and the blueberries in a saucepan with the orange juice and cook until apples are soft. Stir in gooseberries, and cook for about a minute.

    cooking the gooseberries, apples and dried blueberries

    Make the crumb topping-
    Rub flour and butter together, add other ingredients and mix until crumbly.
    (you can do it in the food processor)

    3/4 cup flour
    4 Tbs. butter
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup rolled oats
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts
     1 Tbsp. grated orange or lemon zest 

     Preheat oven to 400

    Divide the fruit mixture into 4 individual baking dishes. Top with the crumb mixture.
    Bake for about 40 minutes till bubbly and done.
    If they are browning too quickly, reduce heat and place a sheet of foil loosely over the ramekins.

    Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Fresh Corn Pudding

    Fresh Corn Pudding. Summer Glory in a Baking Dish.

    This is a classic and totally delicious side dish or vegetarian main course. It is easy to make, and a great thing to bring to a BBQ or pot-luck. If you need to make it after the glory of fresh corn season, you can substitute a can each of corn and creamed corn, or use frozen corn and puree half. But at least once make it from fresh-from-the-farm summer corn. Serve with grilled salmon, salad, and roasted veggie ratatouille.

    1 1/2 cups cornmeal
    1 tsp. baking soda
    8 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off and cobs scraped to extract "milk"
    1 1/4 cups buttermilk
    1 stick of butter, melted
    1/2 cup chopped fresh pepper (semi-spicy ones, like nardello or poblano if you like spice)
    1 onion chopped
    3 cups shredded cheese (divided)
    salt and pepper

    Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish.
    1. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs, and scrape the cob with a knife to get all the milky goodness. Puree half of the corn in a food processor or blender. 
    2. Whisk together the cornmeal and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the eggs; stir in the corn and the pureed corn, buttermilk, melted butter, peppers, and onion. Stir in the cornmeal mixture and 2 cups of the Cheddar cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Pour into the prepared baking dish.
    3. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven until firmed and lightly browned, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese; return to the oven for 15 minutes more. Allow it to stand 15 minutes before serving.

    Jul 20, 2017

    The Very Best Blueberry Muffins- Make Ahead and Bake in the Morning.

    What is better than warm, fresh muffins on a weekend morning? The only thing that is better is mixing them up the day (or night) before, and having them all ready to pop into the oven. You can make the batter, fill your muffin cups, wrap and refrigerate to bake within 24 hours. Alternatively, you can make the batter, fill the cups, and freeze. When they are frozen, lift the frozen muffins out of the pan, put in a ziplock bag, and return the frozen muffins to the muffin tin, and bake them without defrosting.

    This recipe works really well with any fruit (or chocolate chips) that you want to add. Because it is designed for making ahead and baking later the amounts of baking powder and soda are larger than a regular muffin recipe. So use another recipe if you want to bake right away. If you have it, you can substitute buttermilk for the yogurt and milk.

    3 cups all purpose flour
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp.  baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    10 Tbsp. butter
    3/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup if you like things really sweet)
    2 eggs (large)
    rind of one lemon (microplaned)
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 cup plain yogurt (not fat free)
    1/2 cup whole milk
    1 1/2 cups blueberries (or raspberries, pitted, peeled, cut-up peaches, chocolate chips, dried cherries, or whatever fruit you like)
    Coarse sugar (Sugar in the Raw, or Turbinado) for sprinkling

    1. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with pam, and fit with paper cupcake liners.

    2. Sift together (or whisk) flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Reserve.

    3. Cream together butter and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy, and add in eggs one at a time. Add half the dry ingredients, half the yogurt and milk, then the rest. Mix in the lemon peel and cinnamon. Remove from mixer.

    4. Stir in the fruit. (I like to mash up about a third of the blueberries, and leave the rest whole). A nice touch is dusting the whole blueberries with a bit of flour before mixing them in, the flour keeps the berries suspended in the mixture better.

    5. Scoop the batter evenly into the paper-lined muffin cups. Wrap tightly with plastic or foil, and refrigerate for up to a day.

    To Bake:

    Preheat oven to 425. Unwrap muffin tin.
    Sprinkle each muffin with a teaspoon of coarse sugar,  and place muffin tin in lower third of oven to bake.
    Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then without opening oven, lower the temperature to 375 and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Cool on rack.

    (If you are baking them from frozen the total baking time will be about 10 minutes more.)