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Cranberry Sauce

13 Oct

Cranberry sauce is one of those things that is really, really easy to make, but i think a lot of people forgo making it and opt for opening a can instead.  If you have access to fresh cranberries (or frozen,  depending on the season) don’t question it — make a batch yourself and see how easy and delicious it is.

I always make it with orange or mandarin juice because I like the flavor combo. You can use water if you prefer.  I also like the addition of some ground, dry ginger.  I’ve tried it with fresh ginger, but it was too strong for my taste.  You can omit the ginger altogether, or substitute cinnamon, clove, nutmeg or allspice.  And if you’d like even more of a citrus kick, add some zest,

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Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 3 cups (or one 12 oz. package) fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange or mandarin (or tangerine or . .) juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ginger

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Wash and pick through the cranberries.  Add everything to the pot and place over medium-high heat.  Once the liquid comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberries have all popped and the sauce has thickened.  Pour into a dish to cool.  Can be served warm or cover and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Makes 2 cups.

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Pumpkin Pie

7 Oct

Pumpkin Pie

‘Tis the season and all.  Canadian Thanksgiving is next week — with American Thanksgiving (and Chanukah) coming in late November. Add to that the fact that pumpkins are available everywhere, it’s the perfect time for pumpkin pie.

I love pumpkin pie and my recipe is nothing crazy — just a good, classic pumpkin pie.  I’ve tested the recipe with cream and non-dairy creamer — both are good. You can also substitute soy, almond or coconut milk if you want to keep it parve and prefer one of those options.

I’ve done taste tests with this recipe using fresh pumpkin that I’ve roasted and pureed myself versus canned pumpkin puree. While I can detect a difference and prefer the fresh pumpkin, the results were split right down the middle by my testers.

If you choose to use fresh pumpkin, use a sugar or pie pumpkin – they contain less liquid than the ‘regular’ pumpkins. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out all of the seeds and stringy membranes, place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 375 oven for 45-60 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender. Allow to cool then scoop the flesh out of the skin and puree.

pumpkin pie

1 x 9 inch pie crust

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half of non dairy creamer, soy, almond or coconut milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After docking, blind-bake a 9″ pie crust (store bought or home-made) for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until the filling is ready.

Place all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Or place all of the ingredients in a bowl or large measuring cup and use an immersion blender to puree and combine.  Pour the filling into the par-baked pie crust and return to the oven.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling no longer jiggles and the top has browned slightly. Cool and serve.

pecan pumpkin pie slices

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

This is a slight variation on the Pumpkin Pie recipe above, exchanging some of the brown sugar for corn syrup and replacing some of the pumpkin with pecans.   I think I might actually like this one more. . shhhh.

pecan pumpkin pie

1 x 9 inch pie crust
1 cup pumpkin puree — fresh roasted or canned
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
pinch salt
1/2 cup half and half, non-dairy creamer, soy or almond milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 and blind bake the docked pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and prepare the filling.

Place all of the filling ingredients into a food processor except for the pecans (or use an immersion blender in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl). Puree until everything is well incorporated. Pour the filling into the par-baked crust and sprinkle the pecans on top of the filling.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the filling has puffed up a bit and has browned.  Remove and cool completely before serving.

Maple Pecan Biscuits

30 Jul

Unless I’m working on a recipe, or baking something for a holiday, I don’t often bake at home.  But sometimes the mood hits and I want the house to fill with the aroma of something delicious baking in the oven. Generally, this means I want a simple recipe , something that’s easy enough to prepare during the week, but special enough to make for Sunday morning brunch or to enjoy with a hot mug of tea.

These Maple Pecan Biscuits are just the thing.  A really easy recipe that doesn’t require any special equipment and only takes a short time to assemble and bake.  These are on the rustic side, so don’t waste time trying to make them look perfect.  The dough shouldn’t look uniform when it’s ready to bake — you should be able to spot little pieces of butter mixed in with the chunks of pecans.  And when they’re done, eat them while hot and crumbly with a little butter and a warm drink to wash it down.

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Maple Pecan Biscuits

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk (2%)

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Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast the nuts for 5-7 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown.  Set aside until cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 400°.

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In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar together.  Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, forks or your fingertips to work the butter into the dough. You want the work the butter into pea-size or slightly smaller pieces, but not completely incorporated into the flour.
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In a measuring cup combine the maple syrup and milk and mix.  Pour into the dry ingredients and use a fork to combine.  Use your hands to bring the dough together and then turn it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pat the dough into a rectangle that has a uniform 1″ thickness.

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Cut the rectangle into 8 squares, then cut each square in half, into triangles.  Move the pieces around on the tray so that there’s room between all of them.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Serve hot out of the oven on their own or with some butter.  Though they will keep for a couple of days if they’re well wrapped, these really are best when served fresh and still warm.

Granola

17 Jul

I’m going to be honest with you.  I love my homemade granola so much that I think I had it for breakfast every day for about six months (with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries) until I finally got sick of it and (thought I) never wanted to see it again.  Then, after going on a granola fast for a few months, I woke up one day and realized that I really missed it.

Here’s what I love about it: it’s filling and delicious and flexible.  I’m sharing a recipe with you (below), but just take it as a guide. Add or replace nuts, spices, grains or anything else you like.  Just stick with the basics — start with oats, add nuts and or coconut, spices, grains, some fat and a sweetener. You can add dried fruit, but don’t add it at the beginning.  Stir it in for the last 10 minutes of baking.  And make big batches — in a freezer bag or container this stuff can hang out in the freezer for a couple of months.

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Granola

  • 5 cups large flake oats
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups slivered, blanched almonds
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

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Preheat your oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

Add the oil, vanilla and corn syrup and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Switch the position of the trays around, then bake another 20 minutes and stir. Switch the trays around one more time and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown (if you’re adding dried fruit, add it after 50 minutes or total baking time — then bake another 10 minutes or until done).

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Let cool completely and package in freezer bags or an air-tight container.  Can stay on your counter for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.

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My favorite way to have this is with some Greek yogurt and lots of fresh, ripe berries.

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Passover Post — No Time to Post

8 Mar

I started off the year well, posting more times in one week than I did in all of 2012. I did well into February until I got buried under Passover prep and all of the sudden I had no time to do anything.  I have a notebook full of recipes just waiting to be typed up and pictures on my phone ready to upload, but they’ll have to wait until after Passover before they get turned into posts. I thought I’d be able to post some great new recipes for Passover, but time got away from me (though there’s still a chance of some posts during the holiday).  Instead, I’ve done a little search online to find my Passover footprints and round them up into a single post here.  Some of the links are recipes on my blog or other websites, some are links to my business and my books and a few of them are links to eGullet.org, where I spent 3 Passovers blogging for the members there during Passover (I look back on those foodblogs now and can’t figure out how I got them done).

These are recipes on my blog:

The three eGullet Passover foodblogs I did over the years:

My family business: So, the reason I’m so busy now is that along with my parents, I own a kosher food store (the only independent kosher food store in the city) and catering company.  Passover is our busiest time of the year, no question.  We turn our store over completely for Passover,  removing all items that are not kosher for Passover from the shelves, freezers and coolers and bringing in well over 1,000 kosher for Passover items (plus beef, lamb, veal, poultry and deli). Starting last week, we’ve been getting truckloads of products delivered almost daily, starting with an initial order that weighed in at 11,600 lbs.  You can take a look at what we sell on our Facebook page, where we posted this album/tour.

On the side, I write cookbooks.  So far, two.  The second book is Passover –  A Kosher Collection. For the three weeks leading up to Passover, my days are spent (among other things) answering questions from my customers.  Younger customers are looking for help with traditional recipes, older customers are looking for new ideas and vice versa.  I realized that there was a need for a new Passover cookbook and went to work on it.  In the US and Canada, you can by it in various Judaica stores, and it’s available on Amazon.com in hard copy or for the Kindle/eReader.  You can also order them from my website, and I’ll ship them anywhere! Around the web – my Passover friendly recipes/articles from other sites:

To all those preparing for Pesach, I hope it’s an easy year for you and hopefully I’ll be back during the holiday with more recipes.  Chag sameach!

Tortilla Soup

22 Feb

I love Tortilla Soup and make many different yet similar versions of it. What’s so great about Tortilla Soup (in my mind, at least) is that it’s a bowl of hot, slightly spicy (how spicy is up to you), filling soup that’s just what I want on a cold winter day,  yet the flavours take me to southern California and I can pretend I’m sitting in the sun rather than shivering in the ice and snow.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a new obsession for me, but if you can’t get them, don’t want to use them because they’re too spicy or don’t like them, simply leave them out and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder.  If you have it, add 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika as well.

The fresh, cool avocado that I add when serving the soup is something new for me.  The last couple of times I’ve made this soup I’ve added the avocado and love it.  The creamy, cool avocado is a great addition to the spicy, tart soup flavours.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium orange pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tomatillos, paper removed, cored and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced 1/2″
  • 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • tortilla chips
  • lime wedges
  • extra cilantro

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Over medium heat, saute the onion and orange pepper in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper and the tomatillo and cook another minute.

Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce and stir through. Add the stock and tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn.  Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the soup just comes back to the simmer, the corn is hot and the chicken has cooked through.

Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir through and taste, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary.

Top each bowl with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro on the side.

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Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

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Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Cowboy Cookies / All in One Cookies

14 Feb

imageWhen I was younger we had a baker that used to make Cowboy Cookies.  I don’t know where the name came from, and an online search doesn’t come up with much, but I remember that they were huge oatmeal cookies that had chocolate chips and raisins in them. Perhaps they got their name because of their size and heartiness, making them a great snack for a cowboy.

Another name for these cookies could be the Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies — but I like to think of them as an All in One cookie.  This recipe combines a peanut butter cookie with an oatmeal raisin cookie and a spice cookie and a chocolate chip cookie. These cookies are great as they are, but there’s plenty of room to play around with the additions.  Replace the chocolate chips and raisins with dried cranberries and pecans or slivered almonds and apricots — or any other combinations you can think of.

The ingredient list calls for almond butter, but I also make them with peanut butter and like them that way too.

The recipe makes approximately 24 cookies — they will keep in the freezer for a few weeks if they’re well wrapped.

imageCowboy / All in One Cookies

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cups raisins

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars together.  Add the almond butter and mix to combine, then the egg and vanilla.  Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.

In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice together.  Add the flour mixture to the stand mixture and mix on low until combined.

Add the oats, chocolate chips and raisins and mix on low until they’ve all been incorporated.   The dough will be very thick.

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and use  two spoons to portion the dough into approximately 2 Tbsp. balls.  Use a fork to press the balls down and flatten each cookie, making sure you leave about 1 inch between the cookies.

Bake one sheet of cookies at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 17-21 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.  Remove and cool.  Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days, or in the freezer, well wrapped, for a few weeks.

Hamantashen

12 Feb

Through the years I’ve tried several different types of Hamentashen.  Some of my favorites include almond pastry with apricot filling, gingerbread pastry with pear filling, cream cheese pastry with any fruit filling, yeast pastry and chocolate pastry with cherry filling.  Though all good, sometimes I think there’s nothing better than a plain-old-simple-pastry with assorted fruit fillings.

Here’s my recipe for Simple Hamantashen dough.  You can fill these with anything you want — jam, pie filling, chocolate, etc.  I’ve made my own apricot, pear, poppy seed, prune and other fillings, but there are lots of great fillings out there, ready to go.  Use whatever you like.

I use lemon zest in the recipe because I really love the hint of lemon flavour it adds to the cookies, but you can leave it out and they’ll still be delicious.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine, soft
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • assorted fruit jams, pie fillings or other fillings

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Preheat an oven to 350°.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the lemon zest, baking powder and salt and mix through.  Add the flour and mix on low until it’s all combined and a ball of dough forms.

Divide the dough into 2 sections, setting one aside.  Roll the other section approximately 1/8″ thick on a well-floured counter.  Use a cutter to cut out 2 1/2″ – 3″ circles.  You can keep the scraps and re-roll them once.

Place about 1 tsp. of a filling of your choice in the center of each circle.  Bring three sides of the dough together to make a triangle.  Pinch the three corners together and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Continue with the rest of the dough.

Place the hamantashen in the oven and bake 15-17 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown.

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You can make the dough the day before you want to make them, keeping it in the fridge, well wrapped.

Makes approximately 4 dozen hamantashen.

Pulled BBQ Beef

7 Feb

I  planned on posting this last week for a great Superbowl Sunday dinner idea. Though I’m not a football fan (I’d watch hockey over football any day), I thought this was a great option.  Alas, do to some technical difficulties, my blog has been down for over a week.   But it’s still a great recipe and with a very short prep time, you’re free to watch the hockey game or anything else while it slowly cooks.

This is an easy recipe.  Mix everything together and toss it in the oven or slow-cooker for several hours and you’re good to go.

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This is a hearty, filling meal. It’s fun. Finally, it’s delicious.

I’ve done this with a shoulder roast in the past, and you can, but I really prefer a chuck roast (boneless here, but you can use bone-in).

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Raw, ready to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. beef chuck roast (boneless)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
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After 5 hours. .

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over the roast.  Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 5 hours, turning the roast over every 2 hours.  It’s ready when the meat breaks apart easily when you stick a fork in it.

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Shredded, mixed with sauce.

Remove the meat from the pot, placing it on a large plate or in a bowl.  Use a spoon to carefully remove as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (If you’re not eating this right away, you can chill the sauce, remove the fat, then reheat it before serving.)

Use two forks to break the roast into small chunks or to shred it.  Remove any fat as you go.

Return the meat to the sauce and mix, making sure all of the beef has been coated in sauce.  Serve on a soft bun on it’s own, or try it with some coleslaw added to the sandwich.

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Makes 6-8 big sandwiches.

** If you’re using a slow cooker, cook for 10 hours on low or until the roast is fork tender and pulls apart easily when using two forks.