Dec 9, 2015

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

Dec 1, 2015

What to serve with Latkes? FLANKENBERRY! Braised Flanken with Pomegranate. FAST ON THIS!


Everyone has a different idea of what they want to put into their stomach before the fast day of Yom Kippur. Henry, for example liked a big steak and baked potato, and our friend Peter requested boiled beef. Now, boiled beef is not something I have included in my repertoire, so searching for a recipe, I found this one, from Melissa Clark in the NY Times. I especially liked the idea of the pomegranate in this one, because it has a symbolic meaning to Jews, for whom the many juicy seeds represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. I love the idea of serving this dish before The Day of Atonement. I wish all my readers a meaningful fast, and, the wish that we all be sealed in the book of life.

 Braised Flanken with Pomegranate
4 pounds flanken ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium celery stalks, diced
2 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned, quartered lengthwise and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock, or as needed
3 thyme branches (see note)
1 rosemary branch
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season meat generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear meat in batches until dark golden, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer meat to a platter.
2. Add oil to pan and sauté carrots, celery, leeks, garlic and shallot until vegetables are softened and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes; season lightly with salt and pepper. Add pomegranate juice and wine, and cook, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Return meat to pot. Liquid should reach halfway up sides of meat. If not, add a little more stock or water.
3. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook, turning meat every 30 minutes until fork tender, about 2 hours.
4. If you have time, let meat cool and chill overnight. The next day, remove fat from surface, then reheat over low heat. Stir in the pomegranate molasses if using, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and cilantro just before serving.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Note: You may wrap herbs and cloves in cheesecloth before adding to pot; remove before chilling or serving.

Serve with

Herb Mashed Potatoes

Scrub a couple of pounds of new potatoes, fingerling, or yukon gold potatoes, put in a pan with water to cover and cook until a knife pierces the potato easily.
Reserve about a cup of the cooking water.
Mash the potatoes roughly and add a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Continue mashing, adding the cooking water (or milk, cream, or soy milk) till smooth. Before serving, stir in a handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, lovage, thyme, or celery tops. Keep warm until serving.

Jan 24, 2015

Glazed Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Lemon Cake Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from ‘Barefoot Contessa Parties!’
2 1/2 cups (500 grams) sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
3/4 cup (175 ml) plus 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (240 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted.

Yield: 2 loaf cakes (or one bundt)
2 sticks (225 grams or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.
5. When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.
6. For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cakes, and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Glazed Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake
from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Cooking Light


3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick)
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray with flour.  

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add sugar and lemon zest.  Using your hands, mix the sugar and zest until the zest becomes fragrant and even distributed through the sugar.  Add the butter and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in lemon juice and lemon extract and mix.  With mixer on low add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Alternate adding flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with the flour mixture until batter is just combined.  

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and turn out the cake.  Allow to cool completely before glazing.


1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons low-fat buttermilk
3-4 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Adjust lemon juice to achieve a thinner or thicker consistency depending on your preference.  Pour glaze over the cooled cake.

Nov 21, 2014

Too many Jalapeños Winter Condiments

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 whole washed tangerines (or one orange) chopped in food processor
4 cups washed cranberries
2 chopped jalapenos

Bring sugar and water to the boil, stir in chopped tangerines, cranberries, and jalapenos.
Cook, stirring until all the berries pop. 
Let cool
Can keep in refrigerator for one week, or spoon into Ball Jars and process in a hot water bath.

Jalapeno Carrot Jam

chop together two carrots and
about 18 stemmed seeded jalapenos
put in heavy pan with 
1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
boil about 5 minutes,
stir in one packet of liquid pectin, or Pomona powdered pectin (follow directions in box)
cook 2 minutes, put in jars, process in hot water bath

Nov 12, 2014

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 10, 2014

    Okra for everyone

    Confession: I hate okra. Well, I guess I should say I hated okra until last night when I discovered this delicious super easy recipe that totally eliminates that sticky slimy okra thing.
    Its kind of Indian with the garam masala, but its just totally delicious, or...addictive.

    1 lb. okra
    oil for deep frying
    garam masala
    1 pomegranate, seeded

    • Wash okra, trim the stems and tips and cut into 1/4 inch slices
    • Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet to 350 on a deep-fry thermometer or until an okra slice sizzles madly when slipped into the oil.
    • fry okra in batches (not more than one layer in the oil) until light brown and crisp.
    • drain okra on brown paper or paper towels
    • sprinkle with coarse salt, garam masala, and cayenne to taste.
    • toss with pomegranate seeds.

    Oct 18, 2014

    Potato Gratin, or Scalloped Potatoes. No, not healthy. Just Yummy

    Sometimes you just have to give in to a craving. 
    This delicious side dish goes great with simple grilled fish. We had it with this great cedar planked salmon. But seriously, this and a green salad would be fine for a vegetarian dinner. It is the epitome of comfort food. You can, of course, make it with all cream if you like. 
    A mandoline slices the potatoes really beautifully, but BE CAREFUL with that thing-- especially if its one of those cheap-o japanese ones like mine.
    Serves 6 generously


    3/4 cups heavy cream
    3/4 cups half-and-half
    3 bay leaves
    3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Unsalted butter
    4-5 russet potatoes,cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (scrub well and leave on the skins)
    1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, asiago, fontina, cheddar or gruyere or a mixture. 
    Truffle salt (optional)


    Preheat the oven to 400.

    In a saucepan, heat the cream and half-and-half with the bay leaves, thyme, garlic, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Right before it comes to a boil remove from heat and allow the garlic and herbs to steep.

    Slice the potatoes and put into a bowl.

    Butter a casserole dish. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bay leaves and thyme from the cream. Pour the heated cream into bowl with the potato slices. Mix gently to coat the potatoes. Season the mix with more salt and pepper. Mix to gently. 

    Arrange the the potatoes in the casserole dish in layers. Pour the remaining cream over the top. gently lifting potato slices, scatter grated cheese between the potatoes, saving some for the top. Scatter thyme leaves, truffle salt if using, and grated pepper on top. Cover the dish with aluminum foil (parchment first if, like me, you don't like to contact your food with aluminum foil) 

    Bake covered for about 45 minutes, remove foil, and bake open, about 20 minutes more or until golden brown and crusty on top.

    Oct 12, 2014

    Fried Green Tomatoes "Garden Clean Up Special"

    end of garden green tomatoes
    Slices or Fritters- You Choose!
    Today I went to the vegetable garden after being away for a few days and a few rains, and found some perfectly good green tomatoes on the ground. I picked them up and decided to try making Fried Green Tomatoes, after recently enjoying the version at Dinosaur BBQ. After frying the big perfect slices, I decided to see what would happen if I chopped up the last ones, mixed the dipping egg and the coating mixture, and made some fritters at the end. To tell the truth, the fritters were really great, and a lot easier than the slices. so this is one of those versatile recipes that you can take in different directions. The fritters would be GREAT with fresh corn, with corn and chopped jalapenos, with or with chopped zucchini. Use this sauce or improvise your own {ranch/creole/bbq/blue cheese/avocado/lemon aioli/green goddess}.

    • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
    • 3 large green tomatoes
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepperto taste
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 cup of cornmeal
    • 1/4 cup panko crumbs or crushed cracker crumbs (any cracker will do)
    • 3/4 cup self rising flour
    • Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste
    • 1/4 cup (or more) shredded parmesan or pecorino cheese
    1. Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Lining them up on a clean linen towel (or paper towels), blot out excess water. Season generously with cajun or creole seasoning and let sit for 5 minutes. 
    2. Mix egg and milk together in a small bowl
    3. Mix cornmeal, flour, and crumbs together in another bowl. Add creole seasoning to taste (use a lot!)
    4. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan 
    5. Dip tomato slices into the milk and egg mixture, then into the coating mixture
    6. Slip into the hot oil, (slices will sizzle immediately, if not, remove and get the oil hotter) and fry for 3-4 minutes per side, turning carefully.
    7. When golden brown and crisp remove to brown paper bag or paper towels to drain
    8. Sprinkle with more cajun seasoning and grated cheese.


    for the fritter version:

    Chop the tomatoes into 1/4 inch cubes
    Mix the egg, milk, and cornmeal mixture together.
    Stir the chopped tomatoes into the mixture, and spoon heaping tablespoons into the frying oil.
    Fry until brown and crisp.
    Sprinkle with cheese.

    Here is the Dinosaur BBQ Sauce recipe:
    Mix together
    1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    2 tsp minced garlic
    1/4 cup finely chopped chives
    1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
    1 tsp. kosher salt
    1 tsp. Creole seasoning
    1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

    Oct 8, 2014

    Healthy non dairy cornbread for chili


      • 2 cups whole wheat flour
      • 2 cups cornmeal
      • 4 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
      • 1/2 cup honey
      • 1/4 cup  coconut oil
      • 2 cups coconut or soy milk
      • 2 eggs


    1. Combine the corn meal,flour,baking powder,and salt.
    2. Add the honey,oil,milk and eggs.
    3. Mix just enough to moisten the batter.
    4. Pour the batter into an oiled 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
    5. Bake at 375 degree oven for 20-35 minutes or until golden brown.

    Sep 30, 2014

    Healthy, sugar free, additive free, First Birthday Smash Cake

    Healthy food, healthy happy baby
    Have you ever heard of a "Smash Cake"? Well, I had not, not until our grandson's first birthday approached, and Ilana requested a healthy version for the baby to enjoy at his party. Google "Smash Cake" and you will find dozens of photos of adorable babies smearing artificially colored, sugary icing into their hair. Sure, the idea is total adorableness, but our healthy baby hasn't had any sugar yet, and nobody needs artificial food coloring, and so we figured out this "cake" for him. It is not really a cake at all, but something like a sugar-free muffin, baked in a sheet pan, cut out into layers, and "frosted" with cream cheese thinned with yogurt. This one has an egg in it, and a bit of butter, but honestly, I'm sure it would be fine with neither if allergies are a concern, because... we are essentially talking about a prop for a photo shoot.

    Cake Ingredients:
    3 apples, cut up and simmered with a bit of water until soft, and pureed in blender or processor
    1 banana
    3/4 cup oatmeal ground until fine in blender
    3/4 cup flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp of cinnamon
    1 egg
    1 Tablespoon of butter, softened

    Heat oven to 350.
    Butter a small rimmed baking sheet (the one I used was a bit larger than the pan that would fit in a toaster oven)

    1. Mash banana and add to applesauce, stir in butter and egg.
    2. Mix dry ingredients, and stir into fruit mixture.
    3. Scrape into pan and bake about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
    4. Cool pan on rack.
    5. Using a bowl or an empty oatmeal canister, cut cake into 3 small disks

    Mix "Frosting"

    1 tub of room-temperature whipped cream cheese, thinned with yogurt, formula, or milk, mixed until smooth and spreadable.

    Put one disk on a plate small enough to fit on the tray of a high chair (like a salad plate)
    Spread with cream cheese mixture, top with another disk, more cream cheese, then last disk. The cake is pretty crumbly, so spread it gently.
    Starting on the sides, cover with frosting mixture, then finally on the top.

    Decorate as desired with thin slices of strawberries, grapes, or whatever you like.

    Photograph With Abandon