Monday, November 29, 2010

I know Pecan Pie isn't traditional Chanukah food, but for us adults, it's just such a welcome change from all that fried food! I'm having a small get together for desserts on the first night of Chanukah, and I had to put this Pecan Pie from Simply Recipes on the menu. Pecan pie seemed like a great choice because I can make it ahead of time (it's excellent cold or room temperature).

I made it with real butter (no pareve margarine on Chanukah!) and I have the vanilla ice cream ready in the freezer. I have to admit that I haven't tasted it yet, although the house smells so deliciously nutty and buttery that it is hard to resist.

Pecan Pie from Simply Recipes
I added a tablespoon of dark rum, and I increased the recipe by a third. It just seemed a bit sparse with only 1 1/4 cups of pecans. 

1 9-inch pie shell, frozen or chilled for an hour if freshly made. (I used this recipe.)
2 cups cups pecans, coarsely chopped
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon rum

Preheat the oven to 375*. Spread the pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. (No need for an electric mixer, you can mix by hand.) Add a few pecans decoratively around the center, if desired.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling has set.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. Refrigerate if desired, and serve it cold or at room temperature, preferably with a side of vanilla ice cream!

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

For the second week of my chulent  (a.k.a. cholent) experiment (I'm trying a new recipe every week, as long as my friends keep providing!), we tried a traditional flanken chulent with some twists. The kids loved it and took seconds and thirds. (Baby Zipora licked her tray clean. Literally.) It was a little heavy for me and my husband, so I'm not sure it'll be on the list to make again. But if you're looking for a kid-friendly flanken chulent with some flair, this is a really good one to try. If you want a lighter, healthier variety of chulent, try my turkey chulent. And if lamb's your thing, Esther Shemtob's Hamin is wonderful.

Ayala Cohen's Meat Chulent with a Twist
Ayala uses frozen french fries instead of potatoes to save time on prep. I have to say, it was quite a treat to skip the peeling and cubing and the texture of the fries is perfect in the chulent! If you want to avoid the extra fat, you could certainly use cubed Idaho potatoes instead. Reduce or eliminate the barbecue sauce if you want less 'kick.' The flanken gives it plenty of flavor.

1/2 bag chulent beans
1 medium onion, chopped coarse 

1 cup brown rice
1/2 of a 32-oz. bag of frozen french fries (or use 2 Idaho potatoes, cut in cubes)
(2-4 tablespoons of A 1 steak sauce or other favorite barbecue sauce, optional)
about 2 pounds of flanken, cut in chunks
2 teaspoons salt
a nice sprinkling of garlic powder

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and combine with the onions, rice, french fries and barbecue sauce in a crock pot. Cover generously with water, then add the flanken, salt and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low. Leave the chulent simmering on low until Shabbos morning, or until you're ready to eat, at least 24 hours if possible. Serve hot.

Posted on Saturday, November 27, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

I personally am not a major potato kugel fan. I prefer less traditional (and slightly more elegant) fare like crisps or pandowdies or simple roasted sweet potatoes.  But certain members of my family are adamant about having potato kugel on Friday afternoon, Friday night, and for lunch on Shabbos. When I'm feeling ambitious and when one of the kids is willing to help peel potatoes, I try to oblige.

This recipe is nice because you put it up on Thursday night and leave it baking until Friday afternoon. Boy, does it feel good to serve up fresh potato kugel when the kids come home from school on Friday!

What's your potato kugel secret? Tell the world about your kugel by posting in the COMMENTS section. 

Overnight Potato Kugel
My mother is horrified that I use a food processor for my potato kugel. Hers is hand-grated, and every potato is grated with love. I think the food processor does a fine job, and hand grating just isn't worth the effort. NOTE: This recipe makes a LOT of kugel, but since it bakes for so long, you probably should not reduce the quantity of potatoes. The kugel might not stay moist with less volume. It does freeze well.
8 large Idaho potatoes (about five pounds)
2 medium onions
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400*. Heat the oil in a 9x13 pan (I use disposable aluminum.)

Peel the potatoes and onions. Use the finest blade on your food processor to grate them, or grate by hand if you prefer. Transfer to a large bowl. Immediately pour the hot oil over the grated vegetables. (Leave just a little bit of oil in the pan to create a non-stick surface.)

Quickly mix in the seasonings and eggs. Pour the mixture into the 9x13 pan and bake for one hour. You might want to put a large cookie sheet under the aluminum pan to catch any drips.

After an hour, turn the oven down to 200* and cover the kugel tightly. Bake for about 12-15 hours. (You can also leave it in longer; just set the temperature to 175* instead.) Serve hot. If you want, wrap some in foil and put it in your chulent.

Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Last week, I blogged my chulent recipe and told you I'd be trying my friend's Sephardic hamin recipe. Well, I did, and everyone LOVED it. It was such a wonderful experience that I've decided to try a new chulent every week until I run out of ideas. Don't let me down! Please share your chulent (a.k.a. cholent) recipes in the Comments section below so I can add it to the queue. Each week, I'll tell you which one we tried, write up the recipe, and let you know how we liked it. Who knows, we just may find a new favorite!

Just a note - don't be intimidated by having to write up a formal recipe. If you don't have a real recipe, just list the ingredients and I'll figure the rest out.

Esther Shemtob's Hamin
I made some small changes to this recipe to suit my family's preferences. It was wonderful. If you like lamb, you have GOT to try this. I did have a hard time finding lamb shanks at the Lakewood butchers which cater to a mostly-Ashkenazic community. Esther says you can also use lamb stew meat.

1 cup barley or wheat berries
4 Idaho potatoes, cut in cubes (about 12-16 pieces per potato)
2 onions, chopped coarse
2 teaspoons salt
some garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
2-3 lamb shanks (ask your butcher for nice, meaty ones)

Combine the barley/wheat berries, potatoes and onions in a crock pot. Mix them well and then add in the salt and spices. Lay the lamb shanks on top and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low. Leave the chulent simmering on low until Shabbos morning, or until you're ready to eat, at least 24 hours if possible. Serve hot.

Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First things first. For those of you who don't understand the title of this post, please read this online definition of chulent (also spelled cholent).

A friend of mine shared a wonderful Sephardic 'hamin' recipe with me today (thank you, Esther!) which I can't wait to try. It is built around lamb, and I just love how lamb perfumes my house. Can't wait to try it.

Seeing her recipe made me wonder what other wonderful chulent and hamin recipes are out there. I would love to try some new ones. Here's mine which is an Iraqi style chulent, modified over the years to create a personalized recipe unlike any other. This is my healthy chulent, but I have a more sinful version with the traditional barley, beans and flanken. And, I even have a vegetarian version! But I'll save those for another time.  Please post your recipes to the comments section so others can enjoy them too. I don't know about you, but I could use some change!

Rivki's Chulent
1 cup wheat berries (these are whole grain wheat kernels; you can use barley if you can't find wheat but I love how firm the wheat stays even after the chulent has cooked for hours)
1 cup chicpeas, soaked overnight if possible, and then drained
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
1 onion, peeled but left whole
1 head of garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
A bit of black pepper
1 turkey thigh or 2 drumsticks, skin removed

Put all of the ingredients in a large pot or crock pot in the order listed above. Cover generously with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low.  (If you like, put in some raw unpeeled eggs, which you can remove on Shabbos morning and chop up for for lovely brown egg salad as a first course. Be sure to find out how to remove the eggs without violating any Shabbos laws.)  Leave the chulent simmering on low until Shabbos morning, or until you're ready to eat, at least 24 hours if possible. Serve hot, with some mustard for dipping, if desired. (I also really like coleslaw next to my chulent.)

Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by Rivki Locker


Monday, November 15, 2010

I LOVE fresh spinach. For years, I avoided it because of how difficult it is to clean and check for bugs. (Eating bugs is strictly forbidden in kosher law, so all greens have to be carefully inspected before eating.) But when my local Costco started carrying triple washed organic baby spinach, I decided to find out once and for all how spinach is checked. It turns out not to be all that difficult! Check the Star-K website for instructions, or talk to a rabbi yourself.  

One of the very nice things about fresh spinach is that you can prepare it a few hours before eating. The greens are tough and take quite a while to get soggy. So this is a great salad to take to work for lunch.

Fresh Spinach Salad
2 cups raw baby spinach, washed well, thoroughly dried, and checked for bugs
4 or so spears of hearts of palm, sliced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
A cucumber or bell pepper, chopped 
Some toasted sunflower seeds, if you like
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the vegetables in a nice large salad bowl. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Add the vinegar, oil, and seasonings. Toss and eat within a couple of hours.

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

String beans and tomatoes

One thing that I never tire of on Friday night is string beans. I make them every week, and I never get bored of them. I do try to vary the recipe when I can, and I was pleased to come up with a new one last week. What's really nice about this one is that it works even with mediocre winter string beans, and since it's a slow cooked recipe, you can leave it in the oven for hours on Friday night, if your oven's on. I usually prefer crisp string beans, but this recipe is really nice for a change.

Do you have any good string bean recipes? Please share your favorites in the Comments section below.

Slow Cooked String Beans
1 lb. string beans, ends trimmed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 plum tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
a dash of cinnamon
a dash of Aleppo pepper or cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 300*. (If you need the oven at 350*, the recipe will probably work fine, but you may need to add a bit more water and decrease the baking time.)

Combine the vegetables in an ovenproof dish, preferably glass. Add the spices and salt, and stir.  Sprinkle the oil and water over all. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 2-3 hours until the string beans are as soft as you like them. Give the beans a mix from time to time. If the mixture looks dry, add a bit of water. The baking time varies based on the freshness and size of the beans, and also based on how soft you like them. Serve hot, at room temperature, or even cold.

Posted on Saturday, November 13, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Plum Apple Pandowdy
Our fresh pie, ready and waiting for Shabbos

I admit that traditional kugels are not my thing. I make potato kugel some of the time, and apple / lukshen kugel even less. What can I say? I'm just not a fan. This pandowdy (which is similar to a pie) really should be a dessert. But on Shabbos, I feel we have an excuse to serve it with the main. Hey, it can't be less healthy than potato kugel! Feel free to improvise and try this with pears, cranberries, peaches, or any other fruit you have handy. I'm sure it'll be delicious!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I clipped out of "Real Simple" long ago. I reduced the sugar a bit and made some other tweaks.

Plum Apple Pandowdy
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 stick cold margarine
1-2 tablespoons ice water
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices (I used a combination of Rome, granny smith, and McIntosh)
3 plums, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon margarine
1 egg yolk, mixed with a bit of water to make an egg wash
2 teaspoons coarse sugar (I like turbinado)

Preheat the oven to 375*.

To make the crust, cut the margarine into the flour, sugar and salt. It should resemble coarse meal. You can do this by hand, with a mixer, or with a food processor. Add a tablespoon of water and mix. Add more water gradually only if you need it for the dough to come together. It'll still be crumbly but should hold together when squeezed. Put the dough on a large piece of saran wrap, then cover with another piece of saran wrap. Flatten into a disc about 1/4 inch thick and put in the fridge while you prep the fruit.

In a large bowl, combine the fruit, brown sugar, lemon juice, flour and salt. Transfer to a pie plate (here's the one I like). Dot with margarine.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it about 1/8-inch thick. (Leave it in the saran wrap.) Remove the top layer of saran wrap and cut it roughly into scraps about 3-inches square. Lay the squares on the fruit, overlapping slightly. Brush with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

Bake for about an hour until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is just beginning to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

What do you serve instead of kugel on Shabbos? Share your ideas below! 

Posted on Sunday, November 07, 2010 by Rivki Locker


Thursday, November 04, 2010

roasted sweet potatoes
Lovely brown sweet potatoes

This is a great recipe for a Friday night meal when you just don't have time for kugel. These sweet potatoes are good hot or at room temperature, and they are super easy. Do you have any easy Shabbos recipes? Leave your ideas in the comments section!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
a dash of salt 
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350*. Mix together the oil, honey, salt and cinnamon.

Line a baking sheet (don't use disposable; it just doesn't come out good!) with foil and spray with a bit of Pam. Lay the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet cut side up and spread the honey mixture over them. Turn the sweet potatoes over so the cut side is down and the the honey mixture is sandwiched between the sweet potatoes and the baking dish.

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over and roast for another 20 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or even cold.

Share your ideas for easy Shabbos recipes below! 

Posted on Thursday, November 04, 2010 by Rivki Locker

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