Sunday, May 22, 2011

One of the basic tenets of motherhood is this: Serve Baby Corn. When all else fails and your kids refuse to look a vegetable in the eye, let them eat baby corn.  

So when I don't feel like fighting with them to eat their dinner, I serve baby corn. (Usually with some protein. I'm not a complete failure as a mother.) 

This dish is nice because it puts leftover cold cuts to good use. Of course you can buy them fresh too, but it sure feels good to use leftovers! 

Corned Beef and Rice Stir Fry
20 minutes prep, assuming you have the rice cooked ahead of time
Serves 6

Cook the rice well ahead of time. You want it very comfortably settled at room temperature for this dish. If it's warm, it'll clump. (Leftover rice from last night's dinner is fine too. Just let it come to room temperature for an hour or so, if you have the time.) 

4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 scallions
1 red bell pepper, julienned
3 stalks celery, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 can of baby corn
about 1/2 pound of deli sliced corned beef, cut in strips
3 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature (this is important!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine (use sake if you have it)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and saute for a minute or two, till fragrant. 

Add the pepper, celery and baby corn, and cook for a few minutes till heated through. Add the corned beef and cook for another few minutes, stirring, till heated. 

Remove the vegetables and meat from the pan and set aside. 

Heat the remaining oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Let it start browning and warm through thoroughly, but take care not to burn it. 

When the rice is nice and hot and beginning to brown, add the soy sauce and wine, along with the vegetables. Cook for another few minutes till heated through. 

Serve immediately. 

Linking this up to Frugal Follies and Let's Do Brunch.

Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's every cook's nightmare. You buy a whole bunch of lemons. You run into one recipe after another that calls for lemon zest. The first calls for the zest of one lemon. The second calls for a teaspoon of zest. The third calls for six strips of lemon rind.

But here's where it falls apart.

There is suddenly a shortage of recipes that call for lemon juice. All of the vinaigrettes are vinegar based. The kids have no interest in lemonade. So all the lemons are hanging out, stripped of their zest, naked and exposed, waiting to be juiced.

It is a sad state of affairs. Anyway, the bad news is that if you're looking for a lemon juice recipe, you've come to the wrong place. This is yet another lemon zest recipe that will do nothing to help with your unfortunate predicament.

But it's a really good one. Lemony and incredibly textured. It's from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook - Baking: From My Home to Yours. In Dorie's words, it has an 'appealing tickle-your-tongue roughness.' Couldn't have said it better myself.

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies, adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
The original recipe doesn't call for dipping in chocolate, but my kids laugh at me when I serve a dessert that doesn't have some chocolate. I left a few of the cookies un-dipped for some of the more boring adult members of the family. But the chocolate dipped ones are so much prettier!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 sticks margarine, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon oil
Non-pareils (optional)

Stir the flour, corn starch, salt and cornmeal together in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and zest into the bowl of your stand mixer. User your fingers to rub the two together till your hands smell lovely and the sugar is nice and moist. Add the margarine and vanilla to the same mixing bowl and use the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix well, on medium speed, for 3-4 minutes, scraping down a couple of times.

Turn off the mixer and pour in the dry ingredients. Mix on low for a minute or less, just to combine the ingredients. Don't over-mix, you want the dry ingredients JUST incorporated.

Scrape the dough into a large (1-gallon size) ziploc bag. Before you zip the bag shut, put it on a flat surface and roll the dough with a rolling pin. You should end up with a 10x10 inch (or so) rectangle.

Seal the bag and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.

When you're ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350*.

Put the bag on a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slit it open. Turn the dough out onto the cutting board and discard the bag. Use a ruler to guide you, and cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Carefully prick each square with a fork so the fork goes all the way through to the cutting board.

Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets and place in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 300* and bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes until just set.

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Once it's melted, stir in the oil. Use a spoon or knife to smear the chocolate over half of each cookie. Before the chocolate has set, sprinkle some non-pareils over the cookies, if desired. Allow to set before eating.

Read my fellow bloggers' recipes over at Baking with Dorie

Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Sunday, May 15, 2011

If there is one food that is off limits in our home during the week, it's Latkes (Jewish potato pancakes). Don't get me wrong, I like them just as much as the next person, but they're just completely out of the question for an ordinary weeknight.   

The potatoes have to be grated fresh. Whether I grate them by hand or use the food processor, I get exhausted just thinking about doing that after a day of work. 

They have to be fried fresh, on the spot, immediately before eating. (At least in my opinion. Otherwise I just don't think they're worth the effort or calories.)

But these Latkes (known in some families as Chremslach) are different. They require no grating or washing of the food processor. You can make the batter ahead of time (!). You can even fry them in advance and serve them rewarmed or cold. They make for a special treat for my kids, and are manageable even on a non-Chanukah weeknight.

Sweet Cooked Latkes
These are very different than typical latkes, which are made with raw grated potatoes and onions. They are sweet and mild, but very delicious. And manageable on a weeknight because so much of the work can be done ahead of time!

3 large Idaho potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
about 1/2 cup canola oil, for frying

Peel the potatoes, cut them in chunks and put them in a saucepan covered with water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 1/2 hour, till they are nice and soft. You want them to mash easily. 

Drain the potatoes and mash them well. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. (This part can be done up to a day ahead of time. Just refrigerate the batter till you're ready to use it. Bring to room temperature, if possible, before proceeding.)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil's good and hot, spoon the potato batter in to form about eight roundish pancakes. Each one should be about an inch thick. 

Cook the pancakes for about 10 minutes on the first side. When you spot some nice brown crispiness underneath, it's time to flip them. (This part's easy - they are not at all runny and should flip nicely!) Flip them and then let them cook on the second side for another five minutes or so, till nicely browned. 

Serve immediately, or put aside for later. If you're going to serve them later, you can eat them cold, at room temperature, or rewarmed in the oven. 

Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Monday, May 09, 2011

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I am not a big puff pastry fan. I'm not either a major fan of cranberries. But that's what happens when you open the freezer on a Thursday night, completely unprepared for the fast approaching Shabbos. You end up concocting things that you wouldn't normally dream of.

And, guess what? This accident turned out pretty good. Pretty, pretty good. Sweet filling balanced with a savory crust. Crunchy and flaky.

If not for my aversion to bought pastry dough, I might make this every week.

Cranapple Turnovers
Serves 4-6; about 1 hour 15 minutes prep

1/2 bag frozen cranberries
2 granny smith apples
1/2 cup brown sugar or agave nectar
1 cup apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 package puff pastry dough, defrosted
1 egg yolk
Turbinado sugar, for decorating

Combine everything but the dough in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and then cook, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes. Perch a colander over a bowl and pour the fruit into the colander. Let it cool, draining, to get rid of the extra juices.

Preheat the oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat mat if you have one.

Roll the puff pastry just a bit to soften it. (I did this right on my Silpat mat.) Cut the dough into 9 squarish pieces. Put about a tablespoon of filling into the center of each square.

Fold the sides of each square in to make a pretty triangle. Seal the edges well by pinching them together with your fingers. Use a fork to crimp the edges.

Glaze with the egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375* for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350* and bake for 10 minutes longer. Cool on racks and serve as a dessert or side dish if you're feeling wicked.

Posted on Monday, May 09, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Monday, May 02, 2011

Ordinary sized pancakes aren't very much fun at all. But make them either tiny or huge, and it's a whole different story. Tiny pancakes can stack up like a roll of quarters. You can fit three of them on your tongue at a time (I've tried) and if you're really hungry you can eat more than a dozen (I haven't tried that but my kids have).

This post is not about tiny pancakes, though. It's about a giant oven pancake from a new favorite cookbook - In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.  This pancake was huge. So huge that it served my whole family, including three hungry girls, a little boy monster who can eat a horse for breakfast, and a big hungry dad who can eat even more. And me. 

The tricky thing about this pancake was what to call it. The original recipe from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite is called The Mysterious David Dare's Pancake and there's a really fun story about the name. My hungry horse-eating son dubbed it a 'pomlet.' (That's a combination of Pancake and Omelet.) One of the hungry girl monsters called it a 'pamlette,' a slightly fancier combination of Pancake and Omelette. 

In order not to play favorites, I'm going to give it a name that says it like it is. Giant Oven Pancake. Because it is giant. It goes in the oven. And it certainly is a pancake. One of the fluffiest pancake-iest pancakes I've ever had. A lovely Sunday breakfast meal. 

Giant Oven Pancakes, adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
Serves 6.  Time: 25-30 minutes
The original recipe calls for grated nutmeg but I know my customers. They are not a nutmeg-loving bunch. I substituted ground cinnamon. I also left out the final step, freshly squeezed fresh lemon juice, although I am including it as an optional step here in case you do want to try it. I also increased the eggs to 4 and all the other ingredients by about 30% to feed my family of six. 

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, optional

Preheat the oven to 425*. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon, and salt until combined but still a bit lumpy. 

Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drop in the butter and let it melt. 

Pour in the pancake batter and transfer the pan to the hot oven. Bake until the pancake is puffy and brown, about 15 minutes. 

Take the skillet out of the oven and shake the sugar evenly over it. Return it to the oven to caramelize the sugar for another 2 minutes or so. 

If you're using lemon juice, splash it over the pancake. Bring the pan to the table - it's so puffy and dramatic! -  and serve immediately with maple syrup or extra sugar for sweetening. 

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2011 by Rivki Locker