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Archive for December, 2010

Nana’s Bread Pancakes

My grandmother taught me how to make these. It’s a good way to use up leftover bread, and a perfect breakfast for when you can’t decide whether to fix french toast or pancakes.

Bread Pancakes (serves 4)

  • 6 slices bread, broken up into little pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (or more)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1 grated apple (recommended)
  • butter for frying

Break the bread up into a medium-sized bowl, add the eggs, cinnamon and fruit. Pour in the milk and mix it all up. Depending on how dry your bread is, you’ll probably need to add more milk, a little at a time until the bread has absorbed all that it can, becoming very mushy. You don’t want extra milk sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Drop by spoonfuls, and fry in a hot, well-buttered frying pan. When they’re brown on the bottom, turn them over and lightly flatten with a spatula, and continue cooking until the second side is nicely browned and crisp.

Mix everything together in one bowl.

Fry these in butter until they are nicely browned.

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Two-step Fudge

This is as easy as it gets, making a smooth and creamy fudge in just a few minutes—no kidding.

Two-step Fudge

  • 2 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (or a mixture)
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts, if you like

1. Put it all in a saucepan, stirring until just melted.

2. Pour into a greased pan and chill for 15 minutes.

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This is a full-flavored, winter bread, which goes well with your favorite soup. Often called Anadama bread (do a Google search for that story, if you wish), I chose a more descriptive name. The day I made these loaves I had no interest in following a recipe so I just started putting the ingredients that I thought made sense into the Kitchenaid mixer and the result was lovely, one that I’m happy to share. I love the flavor of molasses and the chewiness of cornmeal. Try this when you have a taste for something different.

Molasses Cornmeal Loaves (makes 2 round loaves)

  • 2-1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2/3 c. molasses plus about 1 Tbs. to proof the yeast
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1/2 c. dry milk
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 c. white flour (approx.)

Proof the yeast in the warm water with the tablespoon of molasses. After it gets foamy stir in the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, salt, dry milk and olive oil. Stir in the white flour, a bit at a time until you are able to knead the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled. Grease a cookie sheet, then sprinkle with a little corn meal. Form the dough into two round loaves, place onto the prepared cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 more hour. Then bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

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Every family has their go-to cookbook. I know friends who head right for Joy of Cooking and others who have a well-worn copy of Better Homes and Garden. In our family it is the 1946 edition of Mrs. Simon Kander’s Settlement Cookbook. This classic volume is the source of many of my family’s Jewish staples. As well as its collection of recipes it can also tell you about invalid cooking, how to make soap, and how to set a proper table; all the while adhering to its cover aphorism: “The way to a man’s heart.”

This cookie recipe is adapted from the sugar cookie recipe in The Settlement Cookbook. My mother added a good measure of poppy seeds and rolled them just as thin as possible, making a cookie so crispy and delicate that it’s easy to munch them by the handful. The poppy seeds give them a subtle flavor, very rich and not too sweet. Mom made these every year for Chanukah, although the only thing that says “Chanukah” about them is that she used Chanukah cookie cutters.

This week I made a double batch of the dough and used a variety of shapes so that I could take some to a holiday lunch party, others to a piano recital, and the rest to a Shabbat Oneg at temple. None of these events fell during Chanukah this year, but I did take my mother some of the Jewish stars, since they were once her favorite.

My copy of the Settlement cookbook was beginning to loose it’s cover so Doug got me a “new” copy of it on eBay. I gave the old copy to Joe (Joe, who is 12, wants to be a chef when he grows up), and in that copy are a lot of hand-written notes. I couldn’t remember how much poppy seed to add to the recipe so I called Joe on his cell phone and asked him where I could find his cookbook. “It’s in my underwear drawer, Mom, to keep it pristine.”

Cookies for Joe's piano recital.

Poppy Seed Cookies (adapted from The Settlement Cookbook)

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. poppy seeds

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg. Mix the baking powder with the flour. Add half of the milk to the creamed butter mixture, then half of the flour. Add the rest of the milk and vanilla, then the rest of the flour and the poppy seeds. Mix just until blended. Do not over mix or the dough will not be as flakey. Chill the dough for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Roll out very thin on a floured board. Bake on a greased cookie sheet, 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Keep a careful eye on the cookies while they are baking, remove them promptly when they begin to brown.

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Turkey Pot Pie

Bake the pies in some interesting oven-proof dishes and they become edible works of art.

Don’t panic—this is actually an easy dish to make! And what an elegant use for leftover turkey, chicken or beef. Not to mention that this tastes infinitely better than frozen, prepared pot pies. These can be very free-form in their assembly. Look around your kitchen for small oven-safe dishes in which to bake these. I used 4-1/2″ square Pyrex oven-proof dishes. All the kids happily dug into their dinner tonight!

Turkey Pot Pie (makes 4-5 small pies)

Pie crust for double crust pie (click here for a link to a recipe)

For the filling:

  • 1-1/2 c. cooked, chopped turkey (or other meat)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3/4 c. frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

For the cream sauce:

  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 1 to 2 c. milk
  • salt
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf

1. Saute all of the vegetables in the olive oil until the potatoes and carrots just begin to get tender. Stir in the turkey and set aside.

2. While the vegetables are cooking, make the pie crust and set aside in the refrigerator.

3. Make the white sauce: Melt the butter in a sauce pan, whisk in the flour. Turn the heat to very low, and very slowly, while continuing to whisk, pour in the milk just a little at a time. Put in the bay leaf and thyme, and continue to stir while the sauce thickens. When it’s as thick or thin as you like, take it off the heat and set aside, season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Assemble the pies (the fun part): Roll out the dough very thin, cut into pieces a bit larger than your baking dishes, and line the bottom of the dish, overlapping about 1/2″. Repeat for each of your dishes. Fill each dish with about 1/4 of the meat-vegie filling. Remove and discard the bay leaf from the cream sauce, and top the filling with 1/4 of sauce, then use a spoon to gently mix it down into the filling. Roll out remaining dough and cut pieces to top each pie. Fold the extra 1/2″ of bottom crust up over the top crust and roughly crimp.

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the crust in nicely browned. Serve piping hot.

Fill each pie with 1/4 of the meat-vegie filling.

Pour over 1/4 of the cream sauce.

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Just latkes

Every Jewish cook has their own favorite way to make these. My mother always peeled the potatoes and never used flour, just a handful of matzo meal. Over the years I’ve come to love them prepared by keeping the peel on the potatoes, and using the grater attachment on my food process which gives some really long, skinny bits of potato which fry up extra crunchy.

Potato Latkes (makes 14 pancakes)

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • a few green onions (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • oil for frying

Grate the potatoes and onions in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl, squeeze out and discard liquid from the potatoes, then stir in the eggs, flour and salt. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a pan, somewhere between 1/16″-1/8″ deep. When very hot, use a serving spoon to spoon in the batter. If possible use more than one frying pan since these are best served hot from the stove. To keep batches warm, arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels in a warm oven.

Options:

  • substitute 1 sweet potato for one of the russet potatoes
  • add 1/2 cup chopped Swiss chard or kale
  • substitute 1 cup packed grated zucchini for one of the potatoes

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We had bad luck with our turkey this year. For some reason an entire half refused to cook. I wound up carving half, which was more than ample to serve the five of us, and I threw the rest of the turkey—undercooked half, carcass and all— into the freezer. This morning I took it all out and turned it into a heavenly pot of soup. With a rich, smokey flavor, this is absolutely my favorite soup. The main ingredient is a turkey carcass, and you can usually find someone who is happy to part with theirs after the holiday. On more than one occasion I’ve left a Thanksgiving dinner with the carcass in a bag—the best possible party favor.

Turkey Soup

To make the stock:

  • 1 turkey carcass
  • extra gravy (optional)
  • 2 onions, halved
  • the leafy tops of a bunch of celery
  • a bunch of parsley
  • 2 Tbs. salt

To finish the soup:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of greens, chopped: bok choy, kale or swiss chard
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • egg noodles or matzo balls

In your largest pot, cover the turkey carcass half-way with water, add the other stock ingredients and bring to a boil. As the carcass cooks you’ll be able to break it apart and push it down so that the entire thing is covered with water. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain out the broth into another large pot or into a very large bowl. Set the strained boney parts aside to cool. While that is cooling, add the rest of the soup ingredients to the stock, bring back to a boil, and let simmer. When the sweet potatoes are soft, mash some of them against the side of the pot, and then stir them back into the stock to thicken and sweeten the broth. When the bones are cool enough to handle, pick through them and remove all usable meat, then chop and add the meat to the soup. While the soup is heating, cook your noodles. To serve put a spoonful of noodles in the bottom of each bowl and then ladle over the soup.

Throw the carcass in your largest pot, along with the onions, parsley and celery tops. Cover half-way with water.

Strain the stock into another large pot or bowl.

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