Poor Man’s Pasta

Poor Man’s Pasta

Due to the unprovoked, merciless war on Ukraine and the worsening humanitarian crisis, please consider helping by following the link below. There are a number of reputable aid agencies from which to choose.

Support Humanitarian Efforts in Ukraine

Poor Man’s Pasta has just a few simple ingredients. But never has poor seemed so rich! The humble cauliflower, garlic and some good olive oil makes a creamy, flavorful and very satisfying sauce for the pasta of your choice. Do choose a pasta with some shape that will trap and hold the sauce. I used a small shell, but orecchiette would also be a great choice.

And after watching Lidia Bastianich during the early shortages of the pandemic, I learned a trick that poor Italians used to replace cheese on their pasta. Breadcrumbs sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley until they have achieved a crunchy deliciousness makes parmesan cheese unnecessary. Have you ever wondered what to do with those left-over, dried out pieces of bread? Wonder no more! Of course, you can also use Panko or other store-bought breadcrumbs for this topping.

You will need a food processor to blitz the cauliflower into an almost powdery state. Store-bought riced cauliflower is still too big to achieve the right level of creaminess that you want here. Nothing gets wasted. You can include any fresh, young cauliflower leaves and the more tender parts of the stem. They all add flavor.

Olive oils can be pricey, it’s true. So buy the best EVOO that you can afford. I love the Mediterranean Olive Oil that I buy from Sciabica online. My daughter-in-law Frances introduced me to it and I have never looked back. There are, of course, other good brands out there, so choose one you like.

Fresh garlic is the other essential ingredient in this simple dish. Don’t use old garlic that has become bitter! Full disclosure, I did use shmushed up anchovies in my sauce. However, if you want to keep this vegan or just hate anchovies, the sauce will still be delicious if you leave it out.

I used fresh parsley in the breadcrumb mixture but you could use dried if that is all you have.

The richness in this dish comes from the cauliflower, pasta water and olive oil. When cooked together some wonderful alchemy occurs that provides depth and comfort in a healthy and affordable dish. One pound of pasta will easily make 6 servings, especially if served with a salad and some bread. I made a delicious kale salad and Andrew baked focaccia. A glass of red wine and this humble dinner became something extraordinary.

After the recipe directions is an idea of what you can do with left-overs – assuming you have any.

Recipe

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 pound of a curved pasta like orecchiette or shells

6 Tablespoons EVOO, divided

3 anchovy fillets (Optional)

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed, divided

1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste

kosher salt to taste

About 1 cup of dried breadcrumbs (Panko is great because it isn’t too fine. Those bumps soak up the flavor best.) You can make more of this mixture if you really like the topping. Just adjust the oil and parsley for the larger amount.

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried

Directions

Trim the cauliflower and cut into florets. Place these along with any fresh leaves and the more tender stems in a food processor. Blitz until the cauliflower is almost powdery.

Poor Man’s Pasta

Set a pot of well-salted water to boil. While this is coming to a boil, place 5 Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. If you are using anchovies, put them in the oil on medium high heat, shmushing them around until they break up and melt into the oil. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds. Do not burn the garlic.

Now add the cauliflower and mix it through to coat with the oil and garlic mixture. You can sprinkle on some kosher salt. If you are not using anchovies, add 1 teaspoon of salt to start. If you are using anchovies, only start with 1/2 teaspoon. You will be adding the well salted pasta water to the sauce so don’t over salt here. You can always add more, but you can’t remove it!

Sauté the mixture until the cauliflower breaks down and softens. Meanwhile cook your pasta according to the instructions on the package. Use the shorter cooking time given.

Just before the pasta is ready, take a bit more than a cup of the pasta water and add it about 1/4 cup at a time to the cauliflower mixture. Turn up the heat a bit and stir the water through until everything is creamy. I used a cup of water but depending on how much cauliflower you actually have, you might add a bit more or less than that.

Drain your pasta and mix it with the sauce.

Poor Man’s Pasta

While your pasta is cooking you can also brown your breadcrumb mixture. Place a Tablespoon of EVOO into a smallish skillet. When the oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs, 1 crushed clove of garlic and the chopped parsley. Depending on your breadcrumbs, you can add a bit of salt to taste. Brown them, stirring often until they are dark and crunchy but not burned.

Poor Man’s Pasta

Plate the pasta with the sauce and top with the breadcrumbs. Leftovers can be gently reheated or even placed in a baking dish and covered with a fresh mix of the breadcrumb topping drizzled with EVOO but which has not been sautéed. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until everything is heated through and the breadcrumbs are crunchy. Yummmmmmm!

Baked Poor Man’s Pasta

Because the Poor Man’s Pasta easily made enough for 6 servings and my husband and I are only 2 people, I decided to do something different for the leftovers.

I lightly oiled a rectangular baking dish and poured in my leftover pasta. I then added some dried oregano over the top along with a light sprinkling of shredded Mozzarella and Provolone. Yes, this is now vegetarian rather than vegan, although you could do this suing vegan “cheese.” I thickly sliced some Roma tomatoes across the top. Added more breadcrumbs and seasoning, including some salt. A bit more shredded cheese. (I probably used about 2 oz. of cheese total) I drizzled on a good glug of EVOO and baked uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes to warm everything through. I then cranked the heat up to broil and watched the tomatoes bake and everything on top brown. Yummmmmmy!

Poor Man’s Pasta Night #2
Poor Man’s Pasta Night #2

Salads for Every Meal

Due to the unprovoked, merciless war on Ukraine and the worsening humanitarian crisis, please consider helping by following the link below. There are a number of reputable aid agencies from which to choose.

Support Humanitarian Efforts in Ukraine

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore, there is a salad here for you. Every Shabbat I make at least four salads and dips, several of which we will enjoy throughout the week. It’s a delicious habit that I adopted after spending time in Israel where salads are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Aside from being delicious, they add so much color to any meal. And don’t we eat with all of our senses?

There are fresh salads, roasted vegetable salads and salads with a profusion of herbs and grains. Some of the salads are made with beans which add protein and heartiness. Almost any veg and many fruits, legumes and grains can be made into cold or warm salads. And when I want to make a light meal of salads I simply add some feta cheese or a piquant provolone and delicious bread, like the flaky flatbread or focaccia. The more I make these flatbreads the better I get at it. My last batch were nice and poufy and round! I simply refrigerate leftover breads and warm them in the toaster. They also freeze well. Yummmmmmmmmm!

Over the years, I have posted a number of salads and will link to some of them below. But here are three new ones (for me) that hopefully you will enjoy as well. They are guaranteed to brighten up just about any meal. The inspiration for this post comes from Sonya’s Prep. She is lovely young Orthodox Jewish vlogger that I have recently begun following. Her energy, charm and creativity make watching her a delight. And if anyone is looking to be more organized, she is someone to watch.

The three new salads are: Roasted Eggplant Peppers and Red Onion Salad; Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad; and Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

When you are feeding a crowd these salads can be doubled or tripled. And most people will enjoy these salads so much that you can go easy on the meat, if serving. Better for us and better for the planet.

I will give suggested measurements, but please don’t get too bogged down with being exact. When preparing these, I almost never truly measure, especially when it comes to adding fresh herbs. Taste as you go along, especially with the salt and dried spices. You can always add more but it is difficult to impossible to remove them once added.

For those interested in other delicious salad ideas here are just some of the ones available through my blog:

Twice-Cooked Eggplant Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Green Fattoush Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Farro Salad

Lentils du Puy and Potato Salad with Tarragon

Spiced Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

Red Cabbage, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad

Armenian Lentil Salad

Moroccan Beet Salad (Barba)

Sunshine Kale Salad

Roasted Tomato and Olive Pearl Couscous Salad

Lentil Salad with Raisins, Tomatoes and Tarragon

Get your Freekeh on – with this lemony, herbed salad

Apple, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Horta Salata: Fancy Salad

Beet and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Easy Feta and Roasted Tomato Salad

Herbed Farro Salad

Orange and Radish Salad

Recipes

Roasted Eggplant Peppers and Red Onion Salad

1 medium eggplant – about 1.25 pounds

2 smallish bell peppers in different colors

1 medium red onion

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

About 1/4 cup EVOO

About 1/4 cup of white wine or apple cider vinegar

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced including dark green stems

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Chop the eggplant, onions and peppers into a large dice of approximately equal size. Place on a baking sheet and toss together with the EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the veggies across the baking sheet in a single layer. (If you want to use foil for easier clean-up, go ahead. But it does end up in a landfill….)

Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, turning the pan once. They should be golden and tender but not mushy. Ovens vary so check after 25 minutes or it could go as along as 35.

When cool enough to handle, transfer everything to a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad

Shredded Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

About 6 ounces pre-packaged shredded carrots OR about 4 cups carrots that are trimmed and julienned

About 1 cup of shredded red cabbage

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced into pieces about the size of the carrot shreds

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

1.5 teaspoons granulated or Demerara sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper or Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1 to 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

Juice from 1 lemon

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1.5 Tablespoons dried dill

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Directions

Place everything in bowl large enough to comfortably hold the ingredients. Mix everything well, preferably with your hands. You want to massage the carrots to soften them a bit. Taste to adjust seasonings. Yup, that’s it!

Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

Wheatberry and Barberry Salad

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked hard winter wheatberries (You could use farro or barley if wheatberry isn’t available; however, they will not have that unique chewy nuttiness that a properly cooked wheatberry has.)

1/2 of a small red onion, peeled and chopped

4 to 5 thinly sliced red radishes

2 Persian cucumbers cut in to quarters and diced

1/2 cup dried barberries (You could use currants instead but they won’t be as flavorful.)

2 generous cups, finely chopped fresh herbs (I used dill, cilantro and parsley, but mint would also be good)

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or grated

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon or more to taste

1 teaspoon of kosher salt or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 to 3 Tablespoons flavorful EVOO

Directions

Soak the wheatberries for at least 8 hours or overnight. Bring 3 cups of water or broth with a glug of olive oil to a boil in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid. If using water or unsalted broth, add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Drained the wheatberries and add to the boiling liquid. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. This can be done a few days ahead. Just refrigerate the cooked wheatberries in their liquid.

You want the wheatberries to be cold or no warmer than room temperature. Place them, drained of any accumulated liquid, in a bowl and add all of the other ingredients. Gently but thoroughly toss well. Now enjoy!

Potato and Green Pea Curry

Potato and Green Pea Curry

Due to the unprovoked war on Ukraine and the worsening humanitarian crisis, please consider helping by following the link below. There are a number of reputable aid agencies from which to choose.

Support Humanitarian Relief for Ukraine

Potato and Green Pea Curry is nutritious, vegan deliciousness in one pot. This easily adaptable curry is enhanced by the fluffy and flavorful Garlic Herbed Naan shown here. All of this can be made ahead and warmed when you are ready to eat. It’s another wonderful Meatless Monday – or any day – option.

Garlic Herbed Naan

As those who follow me know, my husband and I have moved to eating vegetarian and vegan meals about 5 days a week. So I am always on the lookout for something that suits our tastes, is nutritious and deeply satisfying. These days, it is easier and easier to follow a vegan diet. While I admit that I am not sold on plant-based yogurt or certain meat look-alike substitutes, they are readily available. And for those who want them, their taste and costs are improving every day.

As with any meal plan you follow, it is important to put together a meal that is appealing and nutritious. After all, just being “good for you or the planet” isn’t much solace if the food doesn’t taste great. Mediterranean and South Asian cuisines lend themselves to vegan or vegetarian preparations. A place for encouragement and great recipes is Pick Up Limes, which is where these recipes originated. This vlogger is a registered nutritionist and a walking advertisement for veganism in a totally non-judgmental package.

While I made Potato and Green Curry as written, it is easily adaptable to using other veg. But because I want as much nutritious bang for my efforts, I know that this recipe covers all of the bases. I also liked that it all came together in under an hour and that I could prep it ahead. Being retired doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to spend hours in the kitchen. My husband and I love to take long walks. When we arrive home happily tired, I want a delicious dinner that comes together quickly and easily. This fits the bill.

Naan is pretty available where we live, but my husband and I enjoy baking most of our own bread. The naan shown here also comes together quickly and the seasonings can be changed to suit your tastes. While the original recipe called for plant-based yogurt and non-dairy milk, mine was made with Bulgarian natural yogurt and 2% milk. We do use soy milk as well in our house, but this is what I went with. I also deviated by using ajwain or carom seed and fresh vs. dried parsley. If you don’t have or don’t like ajwain, commonly used in Indian cuisine, you can leave it out or substitute cumin seed.

When my husband gives me an enthusiastic response to a vegan dish, I know that it is worth sharing. He was brought up in a very meat-eating family. These dishes are not look-alike substitutes for meat. Nor are they trying to fool you into thinking that you are eating meat when you aren’t. They are, however, delicious meals in their own right and can be enjoyed whether you have adopted a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or are simply looking for new dinner ideas.

As with many South Asian and Middle Eastern/Mediterranean meals, this recipe appears to have a LOT of ingredients. Most are spices that any home who eats these foods would readily have on hand. So don’t be scared off. And the fresher your spices, the more flavorful your food!

Recipe

Potato and Green Pea Curry

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon neutral vegetable oil

2 teaspoons each: whole cumin, coriander and brown mustard seeds

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 Tablespoon, grated or minced fresh ginger

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 Tablespoon garam masala

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I did NOT use this and didn’t miss it)

3 to 4 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold, but a red potato or even Russet would work) peeled and cut into small cubes

1.5 cups of water

1 cup frozen, thawed green peas

1 can (about 15 oz.) or 1.5 cups cooked, drained chickpeas

1 can (about 399 ml. or 13 oz.) full-fat coconut milk

About 2 generous cups fresh baby spinach, torn

For serving:

Potato and Green Pea Curry

Basmati or other rice

fresh cilantro

lime wedges

naan

Directions

I find if I prep everything first then the actual cooking is a snap. It may mean a couple of extra bowls, but it really is so much faster and easier in the end. And nothing ever gets missed that way. Neither am I sent scrambling to suddenly mince or grate something.

In a 3.5 quart or bigger pot, add the oil and heat on medium high. When the oil is hot, add the whole seeds and toast for 30 to 60 seconds. This will “bloom” the spices.

Add the chopped onion next and cook until translucent – about 3 to 5 minutes. If it appears that the spices are getting too dry, you can splash in a Tablespoon of water.

Next add the garlic and ginger and cook for two more minutes or until fragrant.

The bouillon cube, garam masala and turmeric go in next. If you are using cayenne pepper, add it here as well. Stir for 30 to 60 seconds.

Potatoes and water are added now. Partially cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender – about 15 minutes.

Now add the peas, chickpeas and coconut milk. Stir through well and cook until warmed. This can be done ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve, add the spinach and cook through until wilted. This should only take a few minutes. Serve hot.

Duck Bacon Spinach Quiche

Duck Bacon Spinach Quiche

Dear Friends, I initially wrote this post about 10 days ago. Before the world had spun on its axis and Putin had invaded – without any provocation – the free and independent country of Ukraine. It was scheduled to go live this Sunday morning Chicago time. However, I pulled it, thinking it was just too frivolous. Like most of you, I have been glued to the TV and internet, watching in disbelief as the Russian Military has brought in every horrible weapon but one in its arsenal in an attempt to drag Ukraine back under the Russian boot. I have watched as the incredibly brave and resourceful people of Ukraine have stood their ground and defended their homeland against incredible odds. And I have watched as they have held back the might of the Russian Military – not ceding territory and not giving Putin the easy win he had expected.

Just as we appear to be emerging from the pandemic of the past two years, we are again thrust into a very stressful time with a crazed Putin threatening the use of nuclear weapons. I am old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. We children were sent home from school to be with our families on the very real possibility of a Russian strike and possible death. Thankfully that disaster was averted and we were brought back from the brink of a nuclear war.

When I am stressed (as well as when I am happy, if I am honest) I turn to family and food for comfort and celebration. For me, if I have a big pot of soup on the stove and a bread and pie coming out of the oven, I feel just a little bit safer. It’s that warm hug that we all need at times. With that in mind, as well as hopefully providing a very brief distraction, I decided to have this post go live after all. Read this as my poke in the eye to Putin – that he will not destroy Ukraine or democracy. Let them eat quiche!

Custardy, comforting Duck Bacon Spinach Quiche is easy to make and even easier to eat. The flavor is a well-balanced blend of creamy custard with a gently savory duck bacon, gruyere and spinach filling with a hint of nutmeg all in a flaky crust. A crisp green salad is the only accompaniment needed to round out the perfect meal.

Foods and their popularity tend to go in and out of fashion. There was a time when quiche was EVERYWHERE. And then it was nowhere. When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for my parents to invite teachers to our home for a Sunday lunch or dinner. I couldn’t imagine doing that with my son’s teachers. Does anyone do that anymore?? Nevertheless, my mother’s go to teacher’s meal was a beautiful Quiche Lorraine. It was considered very avant garde at the time and the teachers were always delighted to experience it. My mother was a wonderful cook and hostess.

Quiche also went through a phase of being super-sized – the higher the filling, the better. I’m afraid that it became lost to the American tendency to make everything bigger, but rarely better. Real quiche, though, is a delightful dish that doesn’t over-power.

A word about duck bacon. Of course, you can make this with regular, thick-cut bacon. However, duck bacon is worth a try. It is meatier, with half the fat of traditional bacon. It cooks up easily and even when crisped, it retains a lovely chew for a great mouthfeel. As my readers know by now, we eat very little meat these days. So when I do eat some, I want something where a little bit goes a long way for flavor and satisfaction.

Recently I bought some duck bacon, but I didn’t actually have anything in mind to make with it at the time. My husband, however, was getting concerned that it would go to waste, so I started to think of how to use it in a way that would show it off. I almost always have cream, eggs, good cheese and either spinach or kale floating around my refrigerator, so quiche seemed like a natural solution. It had been off my rotation of foods for years and I honestly couldn’t think why.

After checking out a number of recipes, I came up with this one. My crust is from Cook’s Illustrated minus the sugar. You, however, can use any basic pie crust that you like, including one from the grocery. The only change I might make next time would be to blind bake my pie dough first. I did use a metal pie plate on top of a baking steel, so it was fine, but it could have been a bit crisper on the bottom. On the other hand, the ease of not blind baking my crust first kind of out-weighed doing it!

If you haven’t made a quiche in a long time – or ever – now is the time to do it.

Recipe

Duck Bacon Quiche

Yield: 4 to 6 generous portions

Ingredients

1 unbaked 9-inch pie dough

3 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup of heavy cream at room temperature

1/2 cup of 1% or 2% milk at room temperature

4 slices of cooked duck bacon, cut into dice

1 cup of loosely packed, grated gruyere, Comte, Emmenthaler or aged Swiss cheese

2.5 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Duck Bacon Spinach Quiche

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Then add in the cream, milk salt and pepper.

Stir in half of the duck bacon and cheese. Pour this mixture into the pie crust. Place the spinach on top of the mixture and using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently submerge the spinach with some still peaking out.

Sprinkle the remaining duck bacon and cheese over the top,

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F. and continue baking for about another 55 minutes. There should be a slight wobble to the filling. The filling will puff up during the baking process and then settles down as it cools. Do not over bake! I then turned off my oven, left the door open with the quiche inside for another 10 minutes.

Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least one hour before serving. This can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Serve a crisp salad alongside.

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken

Sticky, tart, sweet, fiery Pomegranate Molasses Chicken! That’s what’s for dinner tonight. I came across a recipe for chicken wings that was meant as a snack to be munched during the Super Bowl. However, neither my husband nor I is a sport’s fan and we rarely eat such a filling appetizer. We are far more likely to have salads or a cup of soup – maybe a dip – if we have anything at all. But I thought that if I serve these with dilled basmati rice and some side salads, it could be our dinner. And wow! was I right.

I made a few changes both in ingredients and method from the original recipe and realized that this marvelous glaze would work with any cut of chicken. Wings are shown here, and we thought they made a satisfying, relatively inexpensive dinner for us. But we also no longer eat a great deal of meat. If you have teenagers, you definitely will need to choose another cut of chicken!

More meat bang would come from chicken drumsticks or thighs. Breast meat could be used but it tends to dry out and isn’t as flavorful as the darker meat. When choosing your chicken pieces, you definitely want meat on the bone and with the skin.

Depending on the cut of chicken that you use and your individual oven, the cooking time may vary. But you’ll know when it’s done. The original recipe called for 2 pounds of wings, which is what I used. My wings were on the bigger size so it turned out to be 8 wings. My husband and I were satisfied with three wings each for dinner and I ate leftovers for lunch the following day. However, the glaze easily could have worked with 3 pounds of chicken, in my opinion. Since the chicken is cooked before applying the glaze, any excess can be saved in the fridge for up to a week if you go with the lesser amount.

Pomegranate Molasses is not really a molasses at all. It is pomegranate juice that has been reduced down to a syrup. These days, it can often be found in regular supermarkets, but it is also readily available online and in Middle Eastern Grocery stores. I can’t get enough of its fruity, tartness and use it drizzled over salads and roasted veggies. Try it the next time you roast carrots or sweet potatoes! It’s also great over pound cake with berries. I’m just sayin’.

The chicken in Pomegranate Molasses Chicken first gets a dry rub and rests in the fridge. This can be quickly thrown together in the morning or the night before. Just pull your chicken out of the fridge an hour before cooking. Serve it with dilled basmati rice as I did or with any grain of your choice. Couscous, freekeh, farro, bulghur or millet would also be great choices. However, you decide to serve this yummy chicken, get ready to get sticky!

And please use fresh spices for this. If you are going with 3 pounds of chicken, use rounded or generous measurements for the dry rub. The sauce should be fine as is.

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken

Recipe

Yield: 4 as part of a dinner or 8 as a nosh

Ingredients

For the dry rub:

2 to 3 pounds of chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs – bone-in, skin on

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the glaze:

a generous 1/3 cup of pomegranate molasses

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

4 tablespoons agave or maple syrup

2 rounded Tablespoons of red harissa

1 Tablespoon of canola, safflower or coconut oil

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or good quality vegan “butter”

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken

Directions

Mix your dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. It will look like a lot of spice, but trust me, it’s the right amount.

Place the chicken (pat it dry if it seems to have a lot of moisture) in a glass or stainless bowl or freezer bag. (I chose to cut off the the tip of the wing. There is no meat there and it didn’t seem necessary to me. That was a personal choice.) Pour the dry rub mix over the chicken pieces and move the chicken around to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or up to overnight.

Remove the chicken from the fridge one hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

You can prepare the glaze while you wait for the chicken to come to room temperature. The glaze can also be made ahead and warmed up when you are ready to use it.

To make the glaze, place all of the ingredients, except for the butter, in a small pot. Heat on medium until the sauce begins to simmer. Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it has thickened, add the butter and turn off the heat. Stir through and taste the glaze. Add salt and pepper to your taste (I did not use more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt in total in the glaze since the dry rub is salty enough for me). You can also adjust the heat or sweetness by adding more harissa or agave. The amounts given were perfect for us. Set the glaze aside.

Place a wire cooling rack on top of a half sheet pan with rimmed sides. Spray the rack with a vegetable spray like PAM or lightly coat with canola or safflower oil. Place the chicken wings on top of the rack leaving about an inch or two in between pieces. It doesn’t really matter which side is facing down at this point because you will be turning the chicken a couple of times.

Place the chicken in the oven on a middle/upper rack. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken pieces over. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Now brush some of the glaze to coat over one side of the chicken. Place it back in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over and glaze this side. Return it to the oven. Repeat the coating steps one more time. When your chicken looks gorgeously glazed and smells amazing, it’s done.

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken

Now enjoy!

Wonderful One-Pot Pasta

Wonderful One-Pot Pasta

Yes, nutritious and vegan tastes this great! Wonderful One-Pot Pasta with lentils is packed with vegan power and gives you a satisfying dinner in under an hour. And this one-pot method of cooking pasta right in the sauce makes clean-up a snap. Who could ask for anything more?

For the past year, I have been watching a vlog called Pick Up Limes out of the Netherlands. It’s all about the vegan life-style. The vlogger is a registered dietician and a walking advertisement for the vegan life. She is completely non-preachy and makes everything approachable. While she now spends less time on her life, which I kind of miss, she is a wonderful resource for vegan recipes and nutrition. This pasta recipe originated with her. Per usual, I made a few tweaks to portions and method. Frankly, even I was a bit surprised how much I loved this dish.

Wonderful One-Pot Pasta layers in the flavors to make a savory, thick – and very healthy – sauce. Every element plays a part. The capers and olives lend a brininess and the lentils add smooth mouthfeel and meatiness to the dish. And after eating the generous portions you feel full without any heaviness. It’s a great introduction to vegan eating.

I served this with broccolini that I lightly sautéed in a pan with just salt, pepper, grated garlic and lemon zest. The crunch of the broccolini was a perfect accompaniment to the unctuous pasta. A small salad instead wouldn’t go amiss and some good bread to lap up every bit of the delicious sauce.

There are a few shortcuts that you can take even though I chose not to. With a pantry full of dried lentils and beans, I cooked mine up in the morning. Unlike some legumes, most lentils do not require pre-soaking and a long, slow cooking. These only take a good rinsing and 15 minutes of cooking to be ready. However, prepared lentils are often available in the produce department in vacuum-sealed bags if you choose to go that route.

And normally, if I had thought ahead, I would have bought pitted olives for the dish. Since I had some lovely picholine olives from Morocco with pits I used those. It took a few minutes longer to cut the flesh off of the pits, but not much more. Kalamata olives, which are black, are readily available pitted and would be just as good here.

I did use the recommended spinach. While it added to the nutrition of the dish, it didn’t contribute much in the way of flavor in my opinion. So as a consequence, I have made it optional. Don’t forego making this pasta if you are out of fresh spinach! The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes. My husband and I do not like every meal to be spicy, so I only used a sprinkling and might even leave it out altogether the next time. All of the other ingredients are essential to the overall mix of nutrition and flavor.

When I saw the original amount of pasta called for, I thought there is no way that the portions would be generous. Boy, was I wrong. Somehow, 300 g or 10.5 ounces of pasta resulted in a very generous four portions. If you wish to increase the portions to make this for a bigger crowd, the Pick Up Limes website has a conversion table on the recipe.

We ended up using some grated Parmesan on top, but afterwards my husband and I both agreed that it was not needed. So if you are not going full-blown vegan, you can use it or not. And while I have not tasted them myself, there are also vegan “cheese” options out there. It’s up to you.

Wonderful One-Pot Pasta

For a non-vegan one-pot pasta dish that is quite good:

One-Pot Pasta Puttanesca

Recipe

Yield: 4 very generous portions

Ingredients

Wonderful One-Pot Pasta

1.5 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Canola or sunflower could also be used)

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 cups (about 1 medium) onion, peeled and chopped

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon ground dried fennel

Up to 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (Optional)

10.5 oz. (300 g) dry spaghetti noodles

3 cups (720 ml) tomato sauce

2 cups (480 ml) water

2 cups (360 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 to 3 cups (225 g) cooked lentils (brown, green or whole red lentils) (I was fine with 2 cups; my husband wanted more, so I added the additional cup. The original recipe called for 1.5 cups.)

1/2 cup (68 g) green or black olives (about 20 regular olives), sliced or chopped

1/3 cup (50 g) sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and chopped

1 Tablespoon (9 g) capers, rinsed if stored in salt

2 cups (60 g) fresh baby spinach (Optional)

Fresh Basil (Optional Garnish)

Directions

Dissolve the bouillon cube in the 2 cups of water. Add the oil to a large pot on medium-high heat.

When hot, sauté the onion, garlic, herbs and chili flakes, if using for 3 minutes.

Now add the pasta, pasta sauce, water, cherry or grape tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and capers to the pot. Bring everything to a simmer. Using tongs or a wooden spoon, push the pasta into the sauce as it begins to soften. The pasta will need to be fully submerged in the sauce to cook properly. [I got a bit impatient here. To speed things up, you can break the pasta in half – a heresy, I know. Otherwise, just be patient. It will take a few minutes.]

Once simmering, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on the brand of pasta. Keep checking after 10 minutes. You want the pasta cooked but al dente. 10 minutes into the cooking time, add in the cooked lentils. Stir through.

At the very end, stir through the spinach if using. Serve it generously and garnish with fresh basil, if using. Now enjoy!

Lentil and Chard Soup(Adas bi Hamoud)

Lentil and Chard Soup

Lentil and Chard Soup is one of those traditional soups which each family makes its own. I looked at several recipes for this delicious and nutritious vegan soup before making it. As always, I took what I liked from each to make it my own. Initially I read that it was a Syrian soup, but most of the recipes that I found online said that it was Lebanese. Whatever its origins, Lentil and Chard Soup is tangy from the lemons and chard with enough heft from the lentils and potatoes to make this a meal with some good bread and perhaps a salad or some hummus on the side.

If you are unfamiliar with chard (Swiss chard, Rainbow chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach) you should make friends quickly. This green, leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamins and as part of a healthy diet, it can help lower blood pressure and combat certain cancers. While in the beet family, chard can substitute in most recipes calling for spinach or kale. You should note that chard takes longer to cook than spinach – around the same time it takes to cook kale.

Winter has finally well and truly arrived in Chicago and we have been having frigid temperatures and snow. My husband and I still take our long, almost daily walks and are undeterred.

Snowy January 2022 Chicago

However, I do love to return home to a pot of soup to warm my insides. It’s like getting a big hug – nothing cozier. Lentil and Chard Soup comes together quickly and easily can be doubled to feed a crowd.

For another delicious way to prepare chard, try:

Swiss Chard Sauté

Lentil and Chard Soup

Recipe

Yield: About 8 servings

Ingredients

Lentil and Chard Soup

1.5 cups of brown or green lentils, rinsed well and drained (I like Pardina lentils because they hold their shape when cooked.)

4 cups vegetable stock

4 to 6 cups water (or more stock)

2 bunches of chard (any variety), cleaned and coarsely chopped

5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I like Golden potatoes)

7 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 – 3 Tablespoons EVOO

Up to 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (Start adding slowly and taste before adding more. The soup should be tangy from the lemon.)

Heaping 1/2 Tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) dried mint

3 teaspoons ground cumin

A good dash of ground cinnamon

A handful of fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to be golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3 more minutes – just to mellow out the garlic.

Lentil and Chard Soup

In a large pot, add the lentils, potatoes, stock and water if used. At this point, just add about 8 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir through. Add the chard, onions, garlic and cumin. Give a good stir. There should be enough liquid to cover the potatoes and lentils by 2 inches. Add more water as needed. Partially cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and lentils are tender. This will take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes.

Lentil and Chard Soup

Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and mint and taste to see if you require more salt. I didn’t. Add the cilantro just before serving.

Chickpea Spinach Curry

Chickpea Spinach Curry

Chickpea Spinach Curry, is ready in under 45 min. and packs a punch of flavors and nutrition. This vegan curry is a great option for nights when everyone is hungry and you are short on time. Or if you are trying to eat more plant-based meals and want a delicious option. It’s an easy-to-prepare dish that comes together with mostly pantry items. While I generally cook my own beans and almost always have them in my fridge, canned chickpeas (garbanzo) would work well here. We did eat this with a dollop of plain, whole milk Bulgarian-style yogurt. However, it can be eaten as is or by using a plant-based yogurt. Serve it over rice (brown rice pictured here) or any other grain you prefer.

Chickpea Spinach Curry came onto my roster because I had just bought a box of spinach for something that it turned out I wasn’t in the mood to make. I didn’t want it to go to waste. I always have chickpeas on hand and the spices in my pantry so I searched online until I found this recipe. As always, when preparing to make something new, I look at 5 or 6 versions online or in cookbooks and then pick and choose the parts I like best. I only made a couple of tweaks to this recipe to suit our tastes. While I wasn’t familiar with the website, I’ve become quite good at knowing if a recipe will work just from reading it.

As I have mentioned many times, my husband and I eat and both bake a lot of bread in our house. So I served this with store-bought naan, warmed in the oven. If you are in the mood or made it ahead, my Flaky Flatbread would also be a wonderful accompaniment. I love to make the flaky flatbread or a stuffed spinach flatbread, which I hope to post soon. They freeze beautifully and also keep well wrapped up in the refrigerator. So when I have the time and am in the mood, I make a stack to have on hand.

A simple winter dessert of spiced fruit compote that I made last week, with some gingersnaps on the side made for a satisfying and mostly very healthy meal. Every winter I prepare compote made from dried fruits in a spiced sugar syrup. It lasts most of the winter in a glass jar in the fridge. Wonderful as is or over any simple pound cake or olive oil cake, it makes a lovely end to a simple meal. It is especially great after a spicy meal, balancing out the spiciness to perfection.

Whether you are going for a meatless Monday or are vegetarian or vegan, this meal will not disappoint!

Recipe

Chickpea Spinach Curry

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

3 tbsp sunflower or canola oil
1 large onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 inch ginger, finely grated (No need to remove the skin)
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 Tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili flakes
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (400g) (An average 14.5 oz. can)
3 cups cooked chickpeas (500g) (About 2 average cans. Exact amounts are not essential here)
3/4 cup vegetable stock (177 ml) or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup of water.
1 cup frozen chopped spinach or 142 gm fresh/frozen chopped spinach (5 oz. box)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste (I used 1/2 of a juicy lemon)


OPTIONAL:

About 5oz. full-fat coconut milk or unsweetened coconut creme (148 ml) (The coconut creme available to me comes in a 5 oz. can which was perfect. If you use up coconut milk pretty quickly then leftover milk from a larger can is no problem. You can also freeze leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray and pop them out whenever needed.)

Garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves (coriander leaves)

Yogurt (milk or non-dairy)

Directions

Chickpea Spinach Curry


Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high setting. Sauté the finely chopped onion until golden, about 10 minutes.

Add the crushed or minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic doesn’t smell raw anymore.

Mix in the next four ingredients (ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne) and toast for two minutes stirring often.

Add the crushed tomatoes, chickpeas and vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high and
once boiling, lower to medium-low to maintain at a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every now
and then.

Add 1/2 tsp salt, the sugar, and the spinach. If the spinach is frozen increase the heat until the
curry is bubbling away again. Simmer for an additional five minutes.

Add the garam masala, lemon juice and coconut milk and stir. Sprinkle over the chopped
cilantro leaves and serve hot.

Meatballs in Tamarind Sauce

Meatballs in Tamarind Sauce

These Syrian Meatballs in Tamarind Sauce are a fruity, tangy crowd pleaser. We have our son, daughter-in-law Frances and granddaughter visiting us this week. Originally scheduled to come for New Year’s and our son’s birthday, when my husband contracted Covid and the trip was postponed. Airlines were cancelling flights right and left as well. It had been so long since we had had them for a visit to Chicago that I had begun to feel that this day would never come. Thankfully, my husband recovered and because we both had been vaccinated and boostered, I managed to remain negative!

I had been dreaming of their visit forever and all of the things that we would do and meals that I would cook. Well, unfortunately the weather has been quite cold and they are used to California temperatures. So between that and Covid restrictions, a trip to the grocery store and one walk along the river is as exciting as it got. However, Nana and Grandpa made sure that we had lots of stories to read and toys to play with and Juliana helped Nana cook. Our granddaughter is only two so she has not yet been vaccinated and we wanted to be careful.

Well, I may not be able to control very much these days, but I could at least feed everyone well. As soon as I came across this recipe for Meatballs in Tamarind Sauce, I knew that I had a winner. I did make a few changes to quantities and method, but there is no one way to make these and every family has their own version.

These delicious meatballs are often served for Jewish Holidays, including Passover. Mine were made using breadcrumbs, but equal amounts of matzah meal could easily be swapped out to make them Kosher for Passover. Of course, you don’t have to Jewish to enjoy these yummy and satisfying meatballs and they likely are also made in non-Jewish Syrian communities. Traditionally served with rice, I used whole wheat couscous when I served them.

The meatballs call for a fairly large quantity of pine nuts, which are not inexpensive. A reasonable substitute would be blanched slivered almonds. However, if pine nuts are within your budget, I would encourage you to use them. Their unique flavor, especially when lightly toasted, just makes this dish truly celebratory.

The seasonings are warming baharat , Aleppo pepper and allspice with loads of chopped fresh herbs. And tamarind, which can be found in Indian and Middle Eastern stores is readily available online or in many spice stores these days.

The recipe I made called for ground beef, but ground lamb could be used instead. Meat has become quite expensive and normally my husband and I only eat it once a week, if that. However, the recipe does make 40 meatballs and will feed a crowd, especially with the usual array of salads and dips that are a part of every Middle Eastern/North African meal. Everyone, including my 2-year old granddaughter loved this dish!

Meatballs in Tamarind Sauce

Recipe

Yield: 40 golf-size meatballs

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

About 1 Tablespoon EVOO, Grapeseed or other oil

3 pounds of ground beef

5 large eggs

1.5 cups of pan-toasted pine nuts

3/4 cup fine dried bread crumbs (or matza meal)

About 2 cups of bread crumbs or matza meal for lightly coating the meatballs (I used a mix of Panko and regular fine dry bread crumbs.)

1.5 teaspoon kosher salt

1 heaping Tablespoon of baharat or allspice

1.5 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

2 large handfuls of fresh herbs, finely chopped. (Parsley, cilantro, dill and mint are wonderful)

For the sauce

2 teaspoons EVOO

1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

4 cups water

10 Tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) good quality tamarind paste in concentrated form

6 ounces tomato paste

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two sheet pans with about 1/2 Tablespoon on each pan.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl except for the oil. I like to use glass or stainless steel when working with raw meat. Wearing disposable gloves or with your hands moistened with cold water, roll the meatballs into golf-sized balls. You should get about 40 meatballs.

Place the 2 cups of bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Roll each meatball in the crumbs for a light coating. Add breadcrumbs as necessary. Place 20 meatballs on each sheet pan, with about 1 inch in between.

Place the pans in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until well-browned.

Meanwhile in one or two large skillets, mix the ingredients for the sauce. Stir and simmer while the meatballs cook.

When the meatballs are browned and the sauce has simmered, add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes, The sauce should have thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs and serve over rice or couscous.

Poppy Seed Window Cookies

Poppy Seed Window Cookies

Poppy Seed Window Cookies are a buttery delight with the zing of blood orange marmalade. Some people think that Christmas marks the beginning of an end to cookie season. But Christmas has always been a non-event for me. I am happily and proudly Jewish and have never felt a longing for a Christmas tree or waited for Santa to come down the chimney. So I think any season is cookie season!

This type of cookie has many different names. Sometimes called “lunette” cookies by the French because they resemble eyeglasses or Occhio di Bue Biscotti in Italian which means bulls’ eye. Also similar to a linzer cookie. What they all have in common is a buttery, eggy rich cookie dough with some kind of filling. They are a wonderful cookie to gift because they hold up beautifully. Fillings are only limited by your imagination, but blood orange marmalade, which was used here, is a wonderful foil for the rich dough. I had never seen these made with poppy seed before reading a piece on cookies by Susan Spungen in the New York Times.

After reading comments and making a couple of batches, I have made a few small changes to the directions. Normally, I tend to like things well-done. I always buy the darkest, crustiest bread I can find! But despite the instructions, I found that I liked these best when they were fully baked but not yet golden. I think that it preserved the clean buttery taste and prevents them from drying out too quickly. The only change to the ingredients that I made was to add 3/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract to the dough in addition to the vanilla. Almonds, poppy seed and orange are simply a match made in heaven.

A nice thing about these cookies is that you can make the different parts over a couple of days. The dough, itself will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator if tightly wrapped. And straining the marmalade isn’t difficult, but it is slightly tedious. That can also be done separately.

Chilling the raw cookies before baking is really important. It helps keep the cookies from puffing up and spreading during baking. Since I certainly don’t have room in my fridge or freezer for a half-sheet cookie sheet, I improvised. While it is still unseasonably warm for a Chicago winter, it is cold enough on my terrace to place my cookie trays outside covered in the step before baking. Worked like a charm.

Ovens vary tremendously as will the size and thickness of your cookie. I am giving a suggested size for the cookies as well as a thickness, but you can make these with any set or shape of cookie cutters that you wish.

When making a recipe with multiple parts, I find it easiest to read it through first several times. Then I carefully measure and prep each section so that when I am ready to bake or assemble, I am not suddenly scrambling or forgetting something. Sometimes it means washing one or two extra bowls, but in the long-run it makes things much simpler to accomplish the desired results.

While the blood orange marmalade is a wonderful filling, I did play around with some extra dough that I had. Skipped the window and used Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) as the filling. Then dipped the cookies in a chocolate glaze flavored with a bit of Cointreau. AMAZING! I do need to work on my glaze a bit for it to be perfectly glossy, and my dipping technique, but it was definitely a winner. So have fun making these. And if blood orange isn’t your jam, raspberry jam would be equally delish.

Purim begins at sundown on March 16. Normally I make my delicious Queen Esther poppy seed cookies along with hamantaschen, but I think this year I might just make these instead.

Recipe

Yield: About 2 dozen sandwich cookies depending on size

Ingredients

2 ½ cups/320 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

⅔ cup/135 grams granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (The whites can be saved and used in an omelet or another cookie.)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons milk
mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 2 T kefir)

1 cup blood orange marmalade, with the solids strained out

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

In a medium bowl, sift your flour and baking soda. Add the poppy seeds and salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes – until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts and beat well on medium speed, scraping the bowl down as needed.

With the beater on low speed, add half of the flour mixture and just mix until barely combined. Add all of the buttermilk and the remaining flour. Beat on low speed just until combined. Then turn the speed up to medium and beat until the dough begins to clump, scraping down the sides a couple of times.

Divide the dough into 2 balls that have been flattened into disks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least one hour or up until 5 days.

At any point before assembling the cookies, you can prepare the marmalade. Place spoonfuls of a good quality blood orange or other marmalade in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Push the clear liquid part through the strainer. The solids are still edible and can be reserved or you can discard them. Cover the strained jam and set it aside until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove one of the disks from the fridge. It will need to warm up for about 15 minutes before you can roll it out. Flour a sheet of parchment that fits a half-sheet baking pan or a silicone mat. Roll the slightly softened dough out, adding flour as necessary until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough starts to get sticky, you can always pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. Using a cookie cutter or glass that is about 2 to 2.75 inches in diameter cut out the shapes. Take half of the cut-out dough and using a cutter that is about 1.5 to 1.75 inches, cut out the centers. The cut-outs can be re-rolled along with any excess dough to make more cookies. Keep doing this until you use up the dough. The cookies will not spread much. I was able to easily get 12 cookies on a half sheet pan. When the pan is filled, lightly cover it with a towel and chill for about 15 minutes.

While the cookies are chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. with the rack in the middle. Bake the chilled cookies for 12 to 16 minutes or until they look done but are not yet golden. If the bottom or edges just are starting to get a bit golden, they are done! Remove the pan to a wire rack and after 2 minutes, carefully take the cookies off of the pan and place them directly on the rack to cool completely.

Continue this process until all of the dough is used or do some now and some another day. When the cookie parts are baked and fully cooled, separate your top sections (the ones with the cut-out) onto a single cooling rack or piece of parchment. Generously rain powdered (confectioner’s or icing sugar) down over them through a strainer.

Spread a generous teaspoonful of jam over the bottoms. Carefully lay a top cookie over the jam. If desired, you can sprinkle some poppy seeds over part of the visible jam in the window.

Now enjoy!