A while ago I subscribed to one of these meal kit delivery services, where they deliver recipes and all the ingredients pre-kitted and packed. Unfortunately while the ingredients seemed great, one of the recipes was for something that really did not pique my culinary interest and so the ground pork made its way into my not-so-cavernous freezer.
I finally decided that I should do *something* with it, as it was very good quality, and because I wanted to make something in the crockpot now that the weather is ever so slightly starting to turn cooler.
After perusing a couple recipes, it seemed that there were a few consistent ingredients of a pureed mire poix, tomato paste, boxed (or canned) tomatoes, and some red wine (of course in addition to either ground beef or pork). After making some educated guesses on about how much of each to throw in, I threw it all in the crock pot and crossed my fingers that it would turn out reasonably good.
All I can say is that coming home to the scent of cooking ragu was one of the best feelings, and on top of some whole wheat linguine, made for an extremely satisfying dinner. Paired with a strong California Zinfandel, it was the perfect Monday night no-brainer dinner. (It also made for leftover for at least 2 more meals, which is always great for those nights that there really isn’t time to cook much!)
Oftentimes I look at recipes for dessert and get really excited about making these large, elaborate cakes until I realize that there are only two people eating it. Which of course means, either I need to commit to a lot of chocolate cake eating contests or something out of Matilda.
Thankfully I happened to come across this wonderful blog that specifically makes desserts for two. I modified it a bit because I wanted to use dark chocolate. The cakes turned out delicious, though I think I’d panicked and baked them a smidge too much when I thought they were undercooked. As it turned out, when I did it again in round 2, 13-14 minutes was perfect to get a runny center. Just be 100% sure to butter the ramekins or custard cups you use to make sure the cake will easily plop out.
Regardless, the result was deliciously chocolatey.
1 /2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray two small (~6 oz) custard cups liberally with cooking spray or rub with butter. (Make sure to do this as otherwise the cakes just won’t “flop” out.)
Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until the mixture is homogenous.
In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla using an electric hand-held mixer until thick ribbons form, about 3 minutes.
Fold the flour into this mixture, and then the chocolate. Divide between the two custard cups and bake for 13-14 minutes, until the tops of the cakes look well done. If you under-bake, the center of the cake will pour out the top when un-molding.
Let stand for one minute before inverting onto plates.
One of the first recipes I tried with whole wheat flour in baking was chocolate chip cookies. Cookies have extremely short shelf lives in our home as they seem to go straight out of the oven and into our happy stomachs.
But given how easy they are to make, it’s surprising that I haven’t made a chocolate chip cookie in a while. While there are some extremely decadent ones out there that I’ve certainly made, I thought I’d try this twist on the classic with whole wheat flour and olive oil.
While delicious, I definitely would have added waaaay more chocolate and then these would have been perfect (given that I used olive oil and not butter). Also of note, make sure to roll the dough into balls, or else you’ll end up with these delicious but not quite as pretty cookies:
(In fact, we found quite a few excuses to gobble up all of these less perfectly shaped ones first!)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons molasses
2 cups chocolate chips
coarse or flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a separate large bowl, combine olive oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and molasses until smooth. Add dry mixture and mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Use a small cookie dough scoop or spoon and drop cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Makes 24 cookies.
I guess my cooking goes in phases – all Mediterranean, lots of Asian or South Asian or just plain, delicious comfort food. I have recently been looking through old recipes and came across one that I always loved and which somehow fell off of my food rotation. It’s called Chicken Soong and is Chinese lettuce-wrapped ground chicken. The recipe is hand-written and is probably at least 35 years old based on the note paper I found it on. I have no recollection of where I got the recipe, but I have no trouble recalling that I really liked this dish. I will serve it alongside a comforting beef, mushroom and broccoli dish over rice. It’s possible that 35 years ago, I might have made several other dishes alongside it, but I’m a little more realistic in my expectations now.
The prep could all be done the night before so when you get home from work or school or soccer practice, all you have to do is cook up your rice and throw the ingredients in the wok. The prep for two dishes takes about an hour. Perhaps if I were a faster chopper or more used to making Asian food, it could be done more quickly. The result is delicious and satisfying in under an hour – sort of. And the bonus is that if you have any of the lettuce wraps left-over, they make a wonderful lunch the next day.
Yield: This will not be satisfying as a dinner on its own. Combined with another dish like the one below, this will easily serve 6 people. If you make two more dishes, it could easily satsify 8 people unless you are feeding teenage boys – then all bets are off!
10-12 lettuce leaves from either iceberg or leaf lettuce
1 pound ground chicken (I like the chicken to be a mix of white and dark meat so it isn’t so dry)
1 egg white (save the yolk for an omelette or baking pastry)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1-2 jalapeno chilis, cored and shredded/sliced (Know how much heat you like in your food; you can always substitute 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet peppers)
10-12 water chestnuts, thinly sliced, then diced
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
1 rounded teaspoon finely chopped ginger (you can buy it in jars in the produce section to save time)
3-4 scallions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic (you can buy this in the produce section also to save time)
3/4 cup oil (Canola or Peanut are good here)
2 Tablespoons dry Sherry
1/2 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon chili paste with garlic (harissa or Gochujang can be substituted)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (You must use the toasted Asian sesame oil)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch combined with 1 Tablespoon water
Add egg white, salt and 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to ground chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Combine the celery, carrots, water chestnuts and peppers with ginger. Set aside
In a separate bowl, combine the scallion and garlic and set to the side.
Combine the ingredients for the sauce except for the cornstarch and water
In a separate dish combine the cornstarch and water and whisk with a fork or chopstick to make sure that it is well combined and there are no clumps
Heat 3/4 cup of oil in a wok or deep skillet. Make sure that the oil is very hot before putting in the chicken so it doesn’t absorb the oil. Add the chicken, breaking up the pieces and stirring constantly for about 1.5 minutes. Drain over a strainer and set aside.
Return 2 Tablespoons of the oil to the wok and add the celery mixture. After 30 seconds, add the scallion and garlic. After 10 seconds, add the chicken and cook for 30 more seconds.
Add sauce mixture with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (if you like it HOT, you can use the sesame oil with hot peppers). Cook for 30 seconds and then add the cornstarch mixture. Mix through and immediately turn off the heat.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter and the filling in a bowl on the side. Everyone can take a tablespoon of the filling and roll it into a lettuce wrap.
Beef with Broccoli and Mushrooms
Yield: 4 – 6 servings with anothe rdish like the one above
10 ounces flat-iron steak thinly sliced against the grain (You can use flank steak but it will cost you about 2-3 times more and it really isn’t worth it)
3 cups broccoli florets, separated, with any stems, trimmed and sliced thinly on an angle
1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
About 4 ounces of mushrooms sliced (any kind will do so it is based on preference and budget)
About 2 Tablespoons of oil, preferably peanut oil divided
2 Tablespoons of water
For the meat
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
For the sauce
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil for garnish
Comine the ingredients for the meat in a bowl or heavy-duty plastic ziploc bag and refrigerate until ready to use. This can even be done the night before.
When ready to cook, add 1 Tablespoons of the peanut oil to a hot wok. Pour the oil down the side of the wok, not into the center where it could easily splash you and burn. Add the meat, separating the pieces and moving them around until mostly cooked through. This only takes a couple of minutes.
Carefully remove the cooked meat to a clean bowl and set nearby.
Add 1 more Tablespoon of the remaining peanut oil to the hot wok and then add the onions. Stir for about 2 minutes.
Add the broccoli and mushrooms together and stir for 3 minutes.
Then add back the meat and stir through. Add 2 Tablespoons of water. Cover the wok and cook for 3 minutes.
Mix the sauce together so that all of the cornstarch is distributed and absorbed into the liquid. Uncover the wok, push the meat and veggies to the side a bit and carefully pour the sauce into the center of the pan. Immediately stir everything well to distribute the sauce and turn off the heat. The sauce will continue to thicken so do not leave the heat on.
Serve over the rice of your choice. I’m usung brown rice tonight. Just be sure that your rice is cooked BEFORE beginning everything else.
Frances and I always tell each other what we are making and recipes that we discovered. We send each other photos and our respective husbands drool. So when I heard that Frances was making an apple cake for the holidays, I decided that it sounded like a good idea. Mine is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Frances turned me on to her website about a year ago and she is often a fun read for me when work is less than exciting. I have to admit that I prefer reading her blog than making her recipes, but I already knew that Frances had made this cake with great success. Since I am almost incapable of NOT changing a recipe, I made several tweaks – and one BIG mistake, which turned out to be actually quite a good discovery. Here is my version.
Apple Cake – adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Yield: 12 – 16 servings
6 baking apples like MacIntosh, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes ( I happened to be at the Farmer’s Market, so was able to purchase some heirloom baking variety apple to use)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups plus 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar (See NOTE below. You can use less sugar if you want. I would think that 1.5 cups is perfect plus the 5 Tablespoons)
2.5 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (I like Kretschmer’s)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2.5 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 Tablespoons brandy or cognac
Zest of one orange
4 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Confectioner’s sugar for sifting over the top
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously butter or coat with nonstick spray a 10 inch tube pan with straight sides (think Angel Food cake pan).
Peel, core and chop the apples and toss them with the cinnamon and 5 Tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Add the orange zest.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Then add the wheat germ, which won’t go through the sifter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla bean paste, brandy and eggs.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, scraping down the bowl to make sure that everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half of the apple chunks over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1.5 hours or until the tester comes out clean. You can learn to smell when baked goods are ready. Set your timer, but try seeing if you can smell when the cake is done. It’s a good skill to learn because every oven is different and timing can be off.
When the cake is finished, transfer it to a rack to cool completely. When it is completely cool you can flip it out of the pan and then over onto a serving platter with the apples facing down. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. This cake will get moister as it ages. It will last for about 3 days if covered.
NOTE: I have a confession to make. I got distracted when I was making the cake and only realized AFTER I had put everything nicely into the pan that I had forgotten to add the 2 cups of sugar to the batter. I didn’t panic and I didn’t want to lose the good ingredients or time I had already put into it. I suppose I could have taken everything out of the pan and mixed the apples through the cake along with the sugar, but I didn’t. I took 1/4 cup of sugar and evenly poured it over the top layer of apples. I then hoped for the best. The result was delicious apple bread. There was extra sweetness from the confectioners sugar on top. Cake would need to be somewhat sweeter in my opinion, but the texture and look was wonderful. My husband had the great idea of using Frances’ baked French toast recipe using the apple cake in place of the challah and adding 1/2 cup of raisins (no blueberries) to the mix. The point is, stuff happens – even with people who cook and bake a LOT. Don’t panic – think it through. Sometimes the experiment is great – sometimes not.
Plum Tomatoes seem to be everywhere right now, so I recently bought up a big bunch at the farmer’s market and decided I would figure out what to do with them later. Sauteed in EVOO with lots of garlic and fresh basil, it makes a quick, easy and fresh tasting pasta sauce. Just add about 1/3 cup of the pasta water at the end plus some salt and frsh cracked pepper to taste. Drizzle with EVOO and add freshly shaved or grated parmesan or romano and wow!
I also thought I might make a Margherita Pizza, but I ended up oven roasting them instead. Kept in a glass jar, drizzled with some additional EVOO they will last for at least a week in the fridge or months in the freezer. I use roasted tomatoes in sauces, soups, on sandwiches and of course on pizza. You are only limited by your imagination.
Oven Roasted Plum Tomatoes
About 3 pounds of ripe plum tomatoes with the little core removed and quartered length-wise
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs like thyme and oregano
1/4 cup EVOO
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
With your fingers (yes, get a bit messy, okay!) scoop out most of the seeds and excess gelled liquid
On a shallow baking pan, lined with parchment paper, lay out the tomatoes cut side up in a single layer.
Sprinkle wit the garlic mixed with the herbs. Drizzle with the EVOO.
Bake for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake for 20 more minutes, until carmelized.
Turn off the oven, but leave the pan in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
NOTE: Only add salt after cooking. The flavor will be too intense otherwise and too salty.
There’s something about adding whole wheat to cakes and cookies that always make them seem “healthier.” If nothing else, it tends to add a subtle textural difference to the average cake.
I came across this recipe from the same book that the Siniyeh came from as I wanted to make something with apples for the holidays. This was before we went apple picking, but we were able to find some beautiful apples at the farmer’s market that I lugged on the subway home, just to make sure this turned out right!
I wish I could bake cakes and cookies more, but as there are only two of us to consume them, we’ve been trying to pace our sweets. I’ve always loved cooking and baking with apples, and it’s fun to have an excuse to look for new, inventive ways to use apples in a sweet dish. I did substitute the EVOO for the canola oil, and it turned out delicious all the same!
This was great because I didn’t need to make a separate crust or peel the apples, and I was able to throw it together in a jiffy. We drizzled some honey on the slices, and it was perfection.
4 medium Golden Delicious (or any good baking apple) apples
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup EVOO
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Honey, for drizzling (optional)
Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan or tube pan well. Coarsley chop the apples into 1/2″ pieces. (Not necessary to peel the apples). Preheat the oven for 350 degrees.
Put the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light. Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix in the all-purpose and whole wheat flours and baking soda until just combined. Batter will be very thick.
Stir in the fruits and nuts by hand.
Turn out the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 80-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve with drizzled honey or sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.
Adapted from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene
Since I began this blog, I have been going back to old cookbooks and perusing recipes. Every now and then, I find an old treasure – something that was once well-loved and somehow was forgotten. Much to my surprise, in one of the old cookbooks, I found this brief, hand-written recipe for something that felt like finding an old friend. I had totally forgotten about this recipe which is rather amazing because we all loved it and when Frances’ husband was younger, I made this dish quite often since it was a favorite of his – all of ours really. It’s ridiculously simple to make and so rich in flavors. There might be prettier dishes, but few that could claim to be tastier. I served it with a crisp green salad and a good crusty bread. I wish you could smell just how wonderful this dish is!
Lamb and Eggplant Casserole
Yields: 6 servings
1/4 cup EVOO
2 pounds lamb stew meat (ask for the shoulder), cut into 2 inch cubes
1 pound of Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch thick slices (any kind will work – beef, pork, turkey – hot or sweet)
3 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, cubed (do NOT peel)
2 cups, full-bodied red wine, like a cabernet
4 small bay leaves (fresh or dried)
a good handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
28 oz. chopped San Marzano tomatoes or 1 large box of Pomi tomatoes
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet (preferably cast iron), brown well the lamb cubes in batches in about 2 Tablespoons of the EVOO. When the lamb cubes are browned, place them in a Dutch Oven.
In the same skillet, brown the Italian sausage. When nicely browned, add the sausage to the Dutch Oven with the lamb.
Adding another tablespoon of EVOO, add the onions and sliced garlic and saute until softened and the pieces begin to get translucent. Transfer them to the Dutch Oven when ready.
Add the final tablespoon of EVOO to the same skillet and add the cubed eggplant. On high heat, brown the cubes, which will have also become tender.
Add them to the Dutch Oven. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the Dutch Oven and gently mix everything together.
Cover the Dutch Oven and place in the oven to bake for 1.5 hours. This can be made a day ahead and reheated at 325 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
September and October can still feel like summer, but in my heart, it’s already autumn. The Jewish New Year always coincided more or less with the beginning of school and even though it has been many, many years since I was last in school, this is the time of year that represents hope, change and redemption for me.
I just hosted family for Rosh HaShana and made this wonderful vegan tzimmes. In Yiddish, tzimmes means “mixed up.” My father, who spoke Yiddish before he spoke English, would always call after me and my siblings if we were making a lot of noise – “What’s the ganza tsimmes?” What’s the big mix-up going on? Well, THIS ganza tzimmes is one delicious, rich and fragrant mix-up and you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it. This is a wonderful accompaniment to brisket, of course, but it is also delicious with roast chicken or fish. And if you are staying vegan, serve it over couscous or polenta or quinoa for a satisfying meal.
Fruit and Vegetable Tzimmes – adapted from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene
Fruit and Vegetable Tzimmes
Yields: 10 servings
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (if the slices are very big, cut them in half
4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup Sultana (light) raisins
1/4 cup pitted pruned, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Zest of one large navel orange
Juice of one navel orange
2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray (I like Pam).
Layer the vegetables and dried fruit, mixing gently. Dissolve the brown sugar, salt and maple syrup with the orange juice and grated zest. Pour it over the fruits and vegetables.
Dot with the margarine and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Cover the pan with a lid or foil.
Bake for 1.5 hours or until the vegetables are frgrant and tender. This can be made ahead. In fact, I think it taste better if made a day in advance.
When ready to reheat, dot with a bit more margarine and sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top. Heat uncovered in a preheated 325 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. Check it after 15 minutes. I fit seems to be browing too much then recover it. This will keep for a week in the fridge and like stews and many soups, it just keeps getting better.
While visiting Lisa a few months ago, I came across a cookbook where I wanted to basically cook everything since every photograph was so fantastic. This book was Jewish Soul Food and it seemed appropriate to pull a few recipes from here for cooking for the holidays.
This one in particular caught my eye as I loved the colorful mix of the bright pomegranates and the green parsley, and also just because I love good meatballs and like the excuse to use pomegranates.
The recipe is also pretty easy to make, it just has a few steps and so requires a bit of patience. The original recipe is called “Fesenjan” and is apparently from someone who owns a restaurant called Gohar and is favored by Persian Jews.
Usually getting the seeds out of the pomegranates make my kitchen look a bit like a red juice grenade was thrown rather rudely. Thankfully Lysol wipes and paper towels make clean up an easy job, and there’s always the huge upside of a bowl of seeds that basically taste like candy. When there’s only one bowl (such as below), Matt and I are often dueling spoons to shovel as many seeds into our stomachs as quickly as possible.
It takes us quite a bit of self-control to make sure to save the seeds for garnish!
For the meatballs 1 onion
2 lb ground beef
7 oz walnuts, finely chopped in a food processor
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
10 oz walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup Date honey (or 1/3 cup regular honey)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (or syrup)
Fresh pomegranate seeds (for garnish, optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
Prepare the meatballs by grating the onion on a coarse grater, and squeezing out the extra liquid. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the meat, walnuts, onion, parsley, bread crumbs, olive oil, cumin, pepper, and salt. Knead thoroughly with your hands.
Wet your hands or rub them with oil and form meatballs the size of golf balls. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs for 12-15 minutes, until they start to turn golden.
Prepare the sauce by heating the vegetable oil in a large wide saucepan (or two – I had to use two so that all the golf ball meatballs would comfortably sit, and then I split the sauce between the two pans). Add onion and cook until golden. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté briefly, until fragrant. Add the ground walnuts and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.
Add the boiling water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, slide the meatballs into the pan and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover and simmer for an hour. Add the date honey and the pomegranate molasses and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds (if using.)